Dodge minivans

I am thinking about buying a dodge minivan but I have heard they have a lot of problems with their transmissions. Is this true?

Mr. Or Ms. Fenton Bubba, Please Tell Us The Range Of Model Years Which You Are Considering.

Also, are you talking 3-speed or 4-speed electronic transmission ? I have owned a Caravan since new, for over ten years. It has been one solid machine. I get 26 MPG.

Early (quite a few years ago) transmissions had problems. I think even Consumer Reports magazine finally quit bad-mouthing Chrysler transmissions in more recent years.

I had a Dodge Grand Caravan for 10 years and 160,000 miles and it was a great van. But I did have to replace the transmission. Every other owner I spoke to about that problem, confirmed they’d had to do the same.

Friday, What Model Year, Please ?

My stab would be at least 1/3 of them have problems when used and older. Another minivan with a high tranny failure rate is the early to mid 2000’s Honda Odyssey.

In my personal experience with family and friends it is nearing 50% who have had a failure or symptoms looming somewhere beyond 100k+ miles with them.

Despite this pricey issue with Dodge/Chrysler they really are a great van for the money used. Just be prepared with a repair slush fun.

almost all minivans regardless of make are prone to transmission problems - basic problem - the same trannys that go into sedans tend to go into the vans so they tend to be undersized.

the legendary caravan problems are on older models. imho the caravan transmissions are now no more or less reliable than those of other brands.

but if you plan to own a minivan, plan the repair slush fund (as andrew_j said) in the event that the tranny goes.

We have a 1997 Chrysler Town & Country that we’ve been very happy with (bought used at a good price). I bought this knowing that Chryslers have had a reputation for weak transmissions (and according to the paperwork the first owners indeed replaced the tranny on our van at 40K under warranty). But I wonder if in some cases this reputation is unjust.

The big warning I’ve heard over and over is that you need to use the correct fluid (ATF +4) no matter what or you risk seriously shortening the life of the transmission. Some shops say they will use a generic fluid and add a friction modifier that makes it compatible–go somewhere else where they use the right stuff, it is not the same. When we serviced the transmission a couple of years back I watched the shop pour the correct fluid in.

I’ve also heard cases where a transmission was deemed dead when it only needed a new input sensor or solenoid pack (much cheaper than a new transmission). But what I’ve heard most is that the wrong fluid will ruin the transmission.

So while some Chrysler transmissions may die young of natural causes I suspect that many more die due to either neglect, bad troubleshooting or using the wrong fluid. Our owner’s manual doesn’t even cite a schedule for changing the tranny fluid except under the “severe use” table–and it’s a long interval. We do ours around every 30K miles.

Overall, I think that used Dodge/Chrysler/Plymouth vans are a great value for the price as long as you maintain them and, as others have said, you have a slush fund.

I’m also aware of some Honda Odyssey minivans that likewise had early transmission replacements and have heard other scary stories about some of the other brands, such as Toyota Sienna sliding doors falling off due to weak hinges.

Count me in for 3 on a 91 Caravan.


I bought a '90 Voyager a few years back with 154k miles and drove it to about 190k with no problems, but I have no way of knowing how many times it had been fixed. I can say that it was the best engine/transmission I have ever driven. It was always in the right gear and didn’t do a lot of downshifting, altho it was the 4-speed trans. We also bought a '93 Grand Caravan (new) with the 3 liter engine and three-speed auto trans and up to 80K there was no problem with engine or trans. We bought a '96 2500 van and sold the Caravan to a friend.

True, but a lot of people speed everywhere they go and really take off too fast. The transmissions aren’t being rated bad until they’re three or four years old but they don’t all have problems. I wouldn’t have a Toyota or Honda minivan for the prices they charge.