Is it worth keeping?

My husband and I own a 2003 Dodge GrandCaravan, and in the last 3 years its cause more problems then our 1997 GMC Yukon.

Here’s a list of the problems its had.

1. Alternator died

2. Needed New Spark Plugs

3. New Transmission (That costed us almost half what we paid for the van)

4. The air conditioner had to be fixed, because it stopped working

5. The van was over heating after 5 minutes of driving, because some of the hoses had holes in them.

And now, I had gone out of town on business for awhile, and left my van at the airport. I got in late one night, and went to my van, and it wasn’t starting, so my husband had to drive 40 minutes to the airport and jump start my van, and I’m just afraid its gonna keep happening. Personally, I don’t like being stranded places.

So, my question is, is it really worth keeping and fixing all these problems that keep popping up, or should I look at buying a new van?

First off…EVERY vehicle (except diesels) need to have new spark plugs.

Alternator…shouldn’t happen but they do now and then.
Transmission - This should NOT happen…but for some reason the Chryco Mini-vans have been plagued with these problems for years.
AC - Depends on what the problem was. But should last longer then 5 years before needing service.
Hoses - After 5 years they do need replacing.

Do you keep up with maintenance?? Sounds like you only fix things as they break and forgo the preventative maintenance.

As far as keeping…it’s still going to be cheaper to keep it and fix things that pop up then buying a new van.

It gets new oil when its needed, and it has a new battery, new brakes. We try to keep up with the maintenance of the van as much as our budget will allow us too.

It sounds like at the rate you’re replacing parts, pretty soon you’ll have a new van! Some things (spark plugs, etc…) are somewhat understandable. The transmission and AC are pretty serious fixes for a car that old. How many miles are on it?

You need to open the owner’s manual and in there will be a list of things that need to be done for your car and when they need to be done. It sounds like you have not made sure they were all done as specified in that book. Failing to do all that maintenance, even the stuff you don’t see why, can lead to some very expensive repairs.

What was wrong with the transmission and what did they say caused the problem?

Sorry I haven’t responded for awhile, been busy getting the kids ready for school and all that jazz. The van has 83,475 miles on it, when I got home today, or something right around that. Also, a couple more problems have popped up in the last couple of weeks. Such as, I’ve noticed it doesn’t accelerate like it used to. It takes much longer to get up to speed. The second problem I noticed about a week ago. I was turning off the highway, and into my driveway, and as I made the turn, and van started to shake, but as soon as the wheels were straight again, it stopped, but now every time I turn my van starts to shake.

Oh and one more thing. My van has an automatic starter, that was put in after we purchased the van. Yesterday it stopped working, so I stopped by Best Buy on my way home to have them look at the actual keyless entry pad, and they said it was working fine, but I didn’t have time to have them look at the actual van. Could this just be an easy fix?


At 80,000 miles it should have been getting it's second transmission fluid change, did it get them? (I am assuming an automatic).  If you bought it used, likely it did not have it done. The rest of the list is mostly normal maintenance or nothing out of the ordinary.  

Take the transmission out of the list and consider what you have paid and how much a replacement would cost you. Even with the transmission, a replacement likely would have cost you far more. The same is going to be true in the future.

[b] We try to keep up with the maintenance of the van as much as our budget will allow us too [/b] 

Putting off maintenance usually means paying far more in the long run.  It means saving pennies and paying dollars.

I am going to try to be gentle here to avoid turning this thread into a firestorm of controversy.

Based on the fact that you have recently replaced the tranny, alternator, and battery, the other problems you can reasonably expect over the next 2-3 years will be significantly less than new car payments. If you replaced ALL the hoses, most of the problems you can expect will not leave you stranded, so logic dictates that it makes more sense to keep the car than to get rid of it.

Next time you go car shopping, however, please look at the Consumer Reports Used Car Buying Guide for resale value, reliability, and cost of ownership ratings. If you do that, you probably won’t be buying another Chrysler minivan.

Anecdotal account: In 1990, my friend bought a new Caravan and I bought a new 240 Volvo station wagon. He laughed at me for spending $2000 more than he spent ($18,000 vs $16,000) and told me how the Volvo was obsolete technology in 1990.

Within 5 years, he stopped laughing because his cost of ownership had already far exceeded mine, and his car was no stranger to a tow truck. At 7 years, his Caravan was in the junk yard. After 18 years, my Volvo is outside right now with 270,000 miles on it and it looks and runs great.

Thank-you all for the help. I really appreciate it. My husband and I have discussed our mini-van and we’ve decided that we are going to keep the mini-van and sell the Yukon and replace it.

Thanks to all that helped,