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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello!

I've been in the market for a van for a while. I wanted a cargo van, but those can be hard to find. So, I was also searching for low-trim passenger models that I could use for work duty. Found some nice Gen 4's, and even a nice Gen 3, but for various reasons the deals all fell through.

You can see my efforts here.

Then just last Wednesday (i.e., two days ago), a 2009 C/V popped up on Autotrader. It has an original 45K miles and spent its whole life in Arlington VA as it was owned since new by the FBI. The dealer that bought it on auction said they have a source for federal government auction vehicles, and they have bought (and sold) over 30 vehicles of all types in such auctions. Says they are always low miles, very clean, and well maintained.

They had only received this one the day before, so, just by coincidence, I found it within minutes of them posting it for sale. I didn't hesitate, bought (and paid for) it online, and flew to Chicago to get it. Made the 7-hour drive home, and now it's mine!

I tend to like Gen 5's with the 3.3 as that generation has the most generous engine bay space and the pushrod 3.3l is compact and easy to work on. I love the simplicity of the C/V trim as it's pretty spartan-- just the way I like it. But it does have one frill that I do kind of like-- it's not the usual refrigerator white!

So, I feel like I was able to go back in time and get a (practically) new 5th Gen, 3.3l, C/V. Perfect!

Here she is, right off the road from coming home (so a little dirty). Also note that the center console is a homemade thing installed by the FBI. There's also a blue switch on the dash and a pigtail at the top of the hatch along with some screw holes there. My guess is that they had some kind of lights mounted there.

The dealer put new tires on it and changed the oil, otherwise it's exactly how they got it. Paid $13K out the door plus about $250 in travel costs to get it and bring it home.

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3rd gen > all others
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No rear heater - bonus! You don't have to worry about those plastic coolant hose fittings breaking, since they're not there. (y) Looks great with the front windows tinted too!
 

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2009 Dodge Grand Caravan SE
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Nice clean '09 C/V! It's not too common to find a C/V of this age that doesn't look worn out inside and out, at least from where I'm at anyway, given how they're typically used commercially. I also like how yours doesn't have solid panels in place of the rear windows, so it looks just like every other normal Grand Caravan from the outside.

As it's a 5th gen van, the factory upgrades possible on normal passenger versions are also possible on it. Two I'd suggest looking into are the SXT white instrument cluster with tachometer and the SXT steering wheel-mounted audio controls; unlike the later 2011-2020 models, the tachometer and steering wheel-mounted audio controls weren't standard features for 2008 to 2010.

No rear heater - bonus! You don't have to worry about those plastic coolant hose fittings breaking, since they're not there. (y)
Another thing to not have to worry about is the rear A/C evaporator corroding out and leaking refrigerant, which seems to be a common problem in the salt belt.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Looks great.(y)

Hopefully it serves you well for a long time.
Thanks for that, and thanks again for all your input on the other thread!

No rear heater - bonus! You don't have to worry about those plastic coolant hose fittings breaking, since they're not there. (y) Looks great with the front windows tinted too!
Yes, indeed-- no rear HVAC is something I really wanted as I'm aware of the problems related to that.

I'm a little nervous about those front windows-- I'm not sure that level of tint is going to be legal everywhere.

BTW, I was pretty geared up to do the front strut repair on the Plymouth based on your input-- almost disappointed now that I don't have to do that! :)

Nice clean '09 C/V! It's not too common to find a C/V of this age that doesn't look worn out inside and out, at least from where I'm at anyway, given how they're typically used commercially. I also like how yours doesn't have solid panels in place of the rear windows, so it looks just like every other normal Grand Caravan from the outside.
Agree-- I really had a strong bias against a C/V with panels instead of glass.


As it's a 5th gen van, the factory upgrades possible on normal passenger versions are also possible on it. Two I'd suggest looking into are the SXT white instrument cluster with tachometer and the SXT steering wheel-mounted audio controls; unlike the later 2011-2020 models, the tachometer and steering wheel-mounted audio controls weren't standard features for 2008 to 2010.
Actually, I'm fine with it exactly how it is. The simplicity of this van reminds me of my youth. Back in the late '70's, my Dad had, as part of his business, several Dodge Maxivans. They were all between the years 1974 and 1979 and were cargo vans. The business was a bank equipment business, so I spent many a day in the summer traveling with him in those vans waaaay overloaded with safe deposit boxes, vault doors, etc. either in the van or on the flatbed trailer made from a mobile home chassis. Amazing how tough those vans were...

This van gives the same vibe, and I really like it. At the moment, I can't think of anything I would change.

However, one nod to modernity that it has and I appreciate-- the sound system is surprisingly good! The bass is so strong in the speakers, it sounds like it has a subwoofer!
 

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2014 Ram C/V, black, delete seats, windows, factory hitch
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In spite of some issues with mine, I still think its a great vehicle, suits me perfectly. I had an S10 pickup before this, and this can do everything that could do and more (I never could fit a sheet of plywood inside the S10 bed, or a dozen 2x6x10ft boards, but I can with the C/V).
My windows are black plastic, so they look like tinted glass, but are not. I also have the aluminum floor with I didnt like (although it looked fantastic), so I covered it with 1/2" sheet rubber horse mat from tractor supply, now I dont have to worry about it. I only wish I had gotten the window version so I could have gotten some seats, not because I transport anyone, but I cannot drive one parkways with the commercial plates, which sometimes makes things difficult when following a GPS.
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
...I never could fit a sheet of plywood inside the S10 bed ... but I can with the C/V...
I have an old F150, and I agree with your analysis. I got the van but I'm also keeping the truck because, while there is some overlap, there are some things the truck will be better for (at least for me). I would say that, for my usage (which involves some minor farming on a small acreage), the van can do about 80% of what the truck can do, the truck can do about 80% of what the van can do. But that means I can't do about 17% of what needs to be done if I only have one or the other, so it's great to have both!

The plywood thing is interesting. I've seen it said many times that 4x8 sheets have to go under the front seats and that limits how many you can stack. I've seen some videos too, indicating about 3" of height possible before you run out of space. But it was never clear to me how much stacking height could be gained by moving the seat up as far as possible (and still be able to drive it) and whether the sheets were clear back against the tailgate or not.

I currently don't have a lot of sheet goods on hand to test for the maximum number that could be stacked, but I was disappointed to find that there is a definite limit even with the seat as far forward as possible (and still be able to get in and drive). I had to put blocks under the two sheets of 4x8 3/8" plywood I had to lift them to various heights, and I'm estimating that the most stacking height I could get was about 5". So that's six or so 3/4" sheets. Not thrilled about that, but I could stack more and drive home with the hatch slightly cracked open, so maybe it's not a huge deal.

The inside panel of the rear hatch as a scallop in it several inches up. Too bad they didn't align that with the seat. Would have been clever if once the stacked items had to start moving back to clear the seat, they would have fit in a relief scallop in the hatch.
 

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2014 Ram C/V, black, delete seats, windows, factory hitch
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I dont seem to have any problem with plywood, there appears to be about 5 inches clearance to the gate, at least for the first several pieces. The seats do angle back severely though so I guess maybe I havent stacked enough plywood. The 10ft boards stack nicely between the seats. Only real issue is the roof height at the gate, which I think is about 34", however once past the gate the actual roof is closer to 38". I need to pick up a sheep with it soon, and a full grown sheep will be tight inside for headroom, so I will probably have to hook up the trailer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
This forum is the bomb!

A couple of days ago I started having the problem with the A/C working intermittently. I had already seen several threads talking about this problem and that a bad battery ground (of all things!) is often the problem.

Well, today I had some time to look at it. Battery is brand new, but the hold down was missing so it was just sliding around loose in the tray. The negative terminal was pretty loose on the battery, and there was some corrosion evident where the wires are bolted to the terminal.

So, I fabricated a hold down to secure the battery, cleaned the post and terminal and get the terminal properly seated and tight on the post, and took apart and cleaned the connection between the terminal and the wires.

Started up, and the A/C has been perfect all day!

So, lots of good help while I was making my purchasing decision and now a quick and easy fix for the A/C that I wouldn't have thought of in a million years.

This forum rocks-- thanks to everyone who contributes to it!
 
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