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Rustybolt
11-18-2009, 07:43 PM
My wifes 1997 Dodge Caravan transmission has gone TU and it won't pass the air inspection anyway, so I'm looking for a reliable used SUV type vehicle.What experiences have you had with different makes and models.

BTW Don't ever buy a Dodge Caravan. A rebuilt transmission goes for about $3000.00. A new one twice that .More than the rest of the van is worth.

lugnut
11-18-2009, 07:51 PM
The best I have ever owned was the Subaru Forester, It was rated #1 for safety and they are pretty snappy for a 4 banger. Also hold their value pretty good.
Mel

bob_s
11-18-2009, 08:04 PM
Go to any pick-and-pull and you should be able to pick-up a used one for a $100 or so

smitty1157
11-18-2009, 08:22 PM
I have a 1996 caravan with the 4 speed auto transmission that was acting very strange when it shifted or would shift very hard. I changed the filter and transmission fluid and it has been fine for over 90 days.

pgmrdan
11-19-2009, 11:58 AM
My wife wanted a Dodge Caravan and I didn't. Too many automatic transmission problems.

I told her she could have one if it had a manual transmission. We found 2 new ones on the dealership lot and bought one.

Never had a problem with that transmission but the engine blew at about 130,000 miles.

Never again!

BWS
11-19-2009, 01:54 PM
Wife won't drive a car with an auto............She's cruiz'n in a hot 5 sp Black,Sube racecar.She wore out a TDI Jetta 5sp before that.

gnm109
11-19-2009, 04:37 PM
My wifes 1997 Dodge Caravan transmission has gone TU and it won't pass the air inspection anyway, so I'm looking for a reliable used SUV type vehicle.What experiences have you had with different makes and models.

BTW Don't ever buy a Dodge Caravan. A rebuilt transmission goes for about $3000.00. A new one twice that .More than the rest of the van is worth.


The all time weakest SUV transmission was installed at the factory on the Ford Exploder...ahh, err, I mean Explorer.

$3,000 is about par for an transmission R&R at a shop nowadays.

Falcon67
11-19-2009, 05:30 PM
>$3,000 is about par for an transmission R&R at a shop nowadays.

Exactly - no matter what make. Boss had the trans in their Honda repaired, IIRC that was $3200 ish. Engine will run you 3500~5000+. I would not buy any car made after about 1999 thinking you can fix it cheap unless you do all the work yourself. Get a big warranty - 6 yr/100K mile at least - and trade before it expires. Sure, that adds $1500+ to the vehicle cost. Compare to trans cost noted. A rear end repair will run you about $1500. Or make sure you pay off the vehicle before it expires, then put a few $K back from payments in case something breaks. I build/fix the race cars, the trucks I take to the dealer. By the time I got even close to being outfitted with the o-scope reader, special tools, knowledge base, etc they will have it fixed cheaper. To get a good shot at the motor in the F150 for a serious repair, you lift the body off the frame - quicker than pulling the engine. Not really a home shop kinda deal.

saltmine
11-19-2009, 05:58 PM
Pick yourself up an old Chevy Astro Van. Make sure it has a 4.3L V-6 and either an automatic or the B-W five speed manual.

Make sure you and your wife like the color, because you won't wear it out.
I know, we tried, when I worked for the County, the jail used one for transporting prisoners. They would put 8 prisoners into it, with chains, and drive the daylights out of it. I figure it was pretty close to it's GVW with all of the security cage and bars in it, but it never complained. We auctioned it off with 240,000 miles on it, still running.

We tried Caravans, but couldn't keep a transmission in them, and the body around the door hinges developed spider-webs of cracks that would have required major body repair to keep the doors from falling off.

uncle pete
11-19-2009, 06:59 PM
Falcon,
Funny you should mention about takeing the cab off, I work for a open pit mine in northwestern B.C. and couldnt believe it when I saw them re/re an engine with the cab off. Mechanics said this is the easiest way to do the job on Ford pick ups. That tells me the engineers and at least Ford dont give a rats hind end about the customer or what maintence costs the end user.

Pete

x39
11-19-2009, 09:11 PM
I agree with saltmine. Besides longevity GM products have great parts interchangeability, strong after market availability, and good used parts availability.

bruto
11-19-2009, 11:50 PM
I've had good luck with Jeep Cherokees. Not the grand. The XJ with the 4 liter 6 cyl. engine. The engines are just about unkillable. I like manuals, and both my current ones (95 and 99) are 5 speeds, but the automatic is also one of the most bulletproof around.

airsmith282
11-20-2009, 09:33 AM
My wifes 1997 Dodge Caravan transmission has gone TU and it won't pass the air inspection anyway, so I'm looking for a reliable used SUV type vehicle.What experiences have you had with different makes and models.

BTW Don't ever buy a Dodge Caravan. A rebuilt transmission goes for about $3000.00. A new one twice that .More than the rest of the van is worth.

the cost of fixing the motor to blow clean can be cheap dpeningo n whats wornge ,, this vans are nasty on the V6 for blowing valve guides and seals but can be repaird for about 300 canadian dollars.., And an O2 sensor dont cost the much either, , look aroud for a used caravan thats still got a god trany in it shuld not cost you more then 200 or 300 bucks for the whole van,

i never once lost a tranny in caravan and i have owned a few on them, but thoes v6 sucks for valve gides and seal.,you could also drop down to the 4 banger model they are pretty decent and saves a bit on gas at the sametime..

if you know what your doing and your good at working on cars and such you can put in any motor and tranny you want into any car or can or truck etc...

x39
11-20-2009, 09:47 AM
I've had good luck with Jeep Cherokees. Not the grand. The XJ with the 4 liter 6 cyl. engine. The engines are just about unkillable.
Yep, very nice engines. A friend of mine has one with over 350k miles on it, says an acquaintance of his has one with over 600k!

bruto
11-20-2009, 09:58 AM
Yep, very nice engines. A friend of mine has one with over 350k miles on it, says an acquaintance of his has one with over 600k!Nice. Mine are just breaking in, with only 263 and 241 K respectively. Here in Vermont, the rust eats them up long before they wear out.

Too_Many_Tools
11-20-2009, 01:22 PM
My wifes 1997 Dodge Caravan transmission has gone TU and it won't pass the air inspection anyway, so I'm looking for a reliable used SUV type vehicle.What experiences have you had with different makes and models.

BTW Don't ever buy a Dodge Caravan. A rebuilt transmission goes for about $3000.00. A new one twice that .More than the rest of the van is worth.

How many miles on your van?

Are you the original owner?

I would say the timing of its demise is good...as you say it has other serious problems that was going to force it off the road.

The downside of its time of demise is you will be looking for an used vehicle along with many others during this economic downturn. Prices for used vehicle are higher and supply is down...when people don't buy new vehicles, they are buying used even with the decrease of overall miles driven.

While you may not like the Dodge Caravan, you now own a donor vehicle...and that value can be leveraged into the next van if it is another Caravan and if you find a suitable one. MILLLIONS of this van have been made (I believe the 1996-2000 vans are the same design) and that model design is considered the best of the bunch.

Vehicle reliability data is incredibily hard to get...companies guard it with a vengence.

The best way to research is to go locally to independent general repair shops, engine/transmission rebuild shops and ask those who know what are the winners and losers....and remember they will have some bias also. You will NOT get accurate info from any dealer...I repeat...no dealer or shop with dealer connections will give you any useful data. Consumer Reports will give you vague generalities but nothing specific.

Local references like the neighbor, brother-in-law or computer discussion groups ;<) will again give you a slanted vew. Sample sizes are just too small to give you accurate info.

Now soon someone is going to discuss how to reduce maintainance costs...the only SURE way to lower your maintainance costs on a vehicle is to reduce its usage...drive less. For many people that is a hard lesson to learn. When one considers that we have seen a significant decrease of miles driven due to higher gas prices and the Crash of '08, it tells you that many miles driven are subject to "want to" versus "have to".

I also ask..."Why a SUV?"...gas prices are up despite the deep, deep recession and when the recovery finally comes they will easily exceed what we saw in '08. You are used to the Caravan gas mileage...used SUVs don't have that.

Good luck with the search and be sure to tell us what you buy.

TMT

Scishopguy
11-20-2009, 02:26 PM
Back in 2000 I bought a '95 Isuzu Rodeo, v6. Everyone told me that they were expensive to repair and a lot of trouble. I put a lot of highway miles on that car. It had 127K on it when I got it and it now has 206K. All I have had to do to it was rebuild the cooling system, alternator, and swap a rear end from the junkyard when one of the bearings at the end of the axle tube spun. The original water pump went 170K miles. The car is near the end of it's operational life but I can say that it has been one of the best I have ever owned. I have heard from mechanics that the later models, with more Chevrolet parts in it, was not as reliable, but that may or may not be true.

saltmine
11-20-2009, 04:55 PM
Brings to mind something that happened to one of my nephews.
Recently married, with a new child, they were looking for ways to cut their expenses, like most young couples.

They eventually traded in their 3year old Dodge Neon SRT-4 for a used Chevy Suburban 1/2 ton with a 5.3l V-8. Not logical? The Dodge had already proved itself unreliable, and with normal driving averaged, 14mpg. The Suburban is ledgendary for reliability, and they soon discovered easily returns 18mpg in town and 22mpg on the highway. The wife never has to leave anything behind when she takes a trip, and the Suburban will carry the whole family while still using the same ammount of fuel the SRT-4 did, packed with three people.

Since buying the Suburban they have had to replace a defective tire, and the original battery.....But, at least the Suburban didn't have it's flywheel fall off two weeks after they took delivery of it brand new.

MickeyD
11-20-2009, 08:25 PM
Tahoes and Suburbans last forever, as well as look at the 4 door full size GM trucks. The half tons have been out for six or so years and comfortably carry 5 and can do 6 in a pinch and get 20 on the highway and still tow 9500 pounds or carry a Bridgeport in the back.

Too_Many_Tools
11-20-2009, 11:25 PM
Brings to mind something that happened to one of my nephews.
Recently married, with a new child, they were looking for ways to cut their expenses, like most young couples.

They eventually traded in their 3year old Dodge Neon SRT-4 for a used Chevy Suburban 1/2 ton with a 5.3l V-8. Not logical? The Dodge had already proved itself unreliable, and with normal driving averaged, 14mpg. The Suburban is ledgendary for reliability, and they soon discovered easily returns 18mpg in town and 22mpg on the highway. The wife never has to leave anything behind when she takes a trip, and the Suburban will carry the whole family while still using the same ammount of fuel the SRT-4 did, packed with three people.

Since buying the Suburban they have had to replace a defective tire, and the original battery.....But, at least the Suburban didn't have it's flywheel fall off two weeks after they took delivery of it brand new.


Perhaps you could give us more info as to how this trade was a money maker.

The EPA mileage for a Dodge Neon SRT-4 is 18 mpg in the city and 24 on the highway, according edmunds.com.

The Suburban is known as a gas hog. 14 - city, 19 - highway for the 2008 model.

Making the trade cost additional money.

Sounds like someone wanted a bigger vehicle after Junior arrived...which occurs often.

And wait till gas prices go up after the recession ends...remember just last year how people could not give SUVs away?

TMT

Too_Many_Tools
11-20-2009, 11:32 PM
My wifes 1997 Dodge Caravan transmission has gone TU and it won't pass the air inspection anyway, so I'm looking for a reliable used SUV type vehicle.What experiences have you had with different makes and models.

BTW Don't ever buy a Dodge Caravan. A rebuilt transmission goes for about $3000.00. A new one twice that .More than the rest of the van is worth.

Not knowing the condition of the van, I am guessing here but ask yourself..."How much of a different vehicle can you buy for $3000?"

You may be fixing that van yet.

TMT

Oldbrock
11-21-2009, 02:07 AM
If you want a crappy transmission get an old Aerostar. Peter

bruto
11-21-2009, 10:52 AM
Perhaps you could give us more info as to how this trade was a money maker.

The EPA mileage for a Dodge Neon SRT-4 is 18 mpg in the city and 24 on the highway, according edmunds.com.

The Suburban is known as a gas hog. 14 - city, 19 - highway for the 2008 model.

Making the trade cost additional money.

Sounds like someone wanted a bigger vehicle after Junior arrived...which occurs often.

And wait till gas prices go up after the recession ends...remember just last year how people could not give SUVs away?

TMT
I think saltmine did explain. I'm not saying his explanation was true, or well calculated, but it seems the Neon wasn't delivering the mileage Edmunds says it should, and if it's unreliable, it doesn't take much in the way of parts and repairs to burn up the difference in mileage anyway.

saltmine
11-21-2009, 11:15 AM
I guess an explanation is in order, or a bit of clarification.

The Dodge Neon SRT-4 was a 2005 model (I believe), it was fast, but evil handling. My nephew works in a shop doing dyno-tuning and high performance Corvettes....So, he installed a stage II kit on the Neon. This upped the horsepower and killed any chance for decent fuel economy.
Aside from the flywheel falling off of a brand new car, the Neon suffered with multiple complaints regarding interior trim, alignment, and a stubborn oil leak that the dealer was unable to fix. When their firstborn came along, they discovered there was barely room enough for the three of them in the Dodge, and even shopping for groceries meant two trips.
He found a gently used 2003 Chevy Suburban 1/2 ton, two-wheel drive that was going to be whoesaled at a local dealer, and traded the paid off Dodge practically straight across for the Suburban. A CarFax report showed that the Suburban had never been in an accident, but had a brand new transmission installed just weeks before it was traded in @75,000miles.

They have been driving the Suburban now for a couple of years, and his wife loves it. Absolutely nothing has been a problem or failed, with the exception of the factory original battery and one tire. My nephew thinks he made a pretty good deal, and doesn't mind the slightly higher fuel consumption(?) compared to the Neon. On a safety related note, he feels his wife and kids are much safer in the Suburban than they would have been in the Dodge...

BTW, Edmunds is usually wrong....

true temper
11-21-2009, 12:17 PM
Wife and I drive a 2000 Yukon XL, good car 18MPG. Last week I hauled a 7" logan shaper with a cast iron base home in the back, didn't even know it was back there.

x39
11-21-2009, 01:01 PM
And wait till gas prices go up after the recession ends...
Perhaps you know something we don't? ;)