1. Attention: We have put together a thread with tips and a tutorial video to help with using the new software. Please take a moment to check out the thread here: Trapshooters.com Tutorial & Help Video.
    Dismiss Notice

OT: 2011 Grand Caravan ownership experiences?

Discussion in 'Off Topic Threads' started by AveragEd, Jan 28, 2012.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. AveragEd

    AveragEd Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 1998
    Messages:
    5,477
    Location:
    Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania
    This has me a little nervous as I am about to purchase my first vehicle that is not a GM product. I work part-time for Enterprise Car Sales and have a 2011 Grand Caravan Crew coming that was taken out of rental service in Florida yesterday and is en route to our office in Pennsylvania. I'm not obligated to buy it but barring any horror stories, I plan to do so.

    I know the powertrain warranty has my back for another four years or 80,000 miles, so I'm not worrying about that. But this one has "all the toys" electronically-speaking and not knowing much about late-model Chrysler products, I wonder if an extended service contract that covers that stuff is worth buying. We sell the GM Major Guard plan, so I know the coverage is good.

    The Internet has mostly praise for these vans but I'd like to hear from owners I "know."

    Ed
     
  2. bluedevil

    bluedevil Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2008
    Messages:
    644
    Location:
    Colorado
    Bought a 2003 Grand Caravan, 0 miles, now have 137,000 on it and still love it. 3.8 engine, plenty of power, seats come out and I sleep in it up on the Poudre River fishing, haul my clubs, guns, bike, racquetball gear to tourneys. 28mpg on the road and still looks great. Will probably buy a new one if the ebgine ever gives me trouble but it still runs like a clock.
     
  3. AveragEd

    AveragEd Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 1998
    Messages:
    5,477
    Location:
    Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania
    We have what sounds like a twin to yours except for being a 2007 model that we use as a driver shuttle vehicle. It was retired from rental service in 2008 with 12,500 miles on it and the odometer now reads 183,000 miles with no major problems experienced. Oh, the ABS warning light is on and some interior trim has been broken but the cloth upholstery isn't even worn-looking.

    The 2011s and 2012s have a 3.6L DOHC V6 with variable valve timing that produces 283hp and is supposed to deliver high-20s highway, too. This would be my first DOHC engine and I was glad to find an exploded view online that shows it has a timing chain instead of a belt that requires periodic replacement.

    We rented a twin to the one I have coming for four days over the past Labor Day weekend to take to our son's wedding in Virginia, as I was charged with transporting the groomsmen to the various functions. It delivered 28.3mpg highway and 22.4 for the entire trip, which included a lot of idling to provide a cool refuge from the humid weather (it was an outdoor wedding).

    That trip was what got me thinking about buying one. For arthritic folks like me, you don't have to torque your knees and hips getting in or out as you do with a car nor do you have to climb up into one as with an SUV. You step straight in and out - no high door sills either. We were only about 50 miles from home when my wife commented about how comfortable the rental was.

    Ed
     
  4. 870

    870 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 1998
    Messages:
    2,390
    The hood will rust through at the front edge if it's anything like the older model.
     
  5. Ross

    Ross Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 1998
    Messages:
    2,638
    My brother switched to Dodge trucks & Jeep 25 years ago and is still driving them but he does trade every 2--3 years. They must be treating him well. Ross Puls
     
  6. John Thompson

    John Thompson TS Member

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2007
    Messages:
    756
    My current mind set is Ford, "THEY NEVER TOOK ANY MONEY"
     
  7. Art Jensen

    Art Jensen TS Member

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2011
    Messages:
    27
    I am a tech at Jerry Ulm Dodge in Tampa, Fl. The newer product is really good. Better than it has been maybe ever. We just don't see the major trans issues or ac issues we used to. They are a little rough on brakes, but the trade off is some serious stopping power. I would say buy it with no hesitation. Excellent vehicle. Having said that, I would buy the best Chrysler Service Contract you can afford. You want a Max Care policy. I say this because if something should break down the road, you don't want to be the footing the bill. Most CSC policies pay for themselves many times over. And the tech can go right to work instead of waiting for an adjuster and approval. Hope this helps.
     
  8. AveragEd

    AveragEd Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 1998
    Messages:
    5,477
    Location:
    Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania
    Thank you for that input, Art - it is exactly what I was hoping for. I have always recommended buying a service contract from the auto manufacturer for they have an interest in your satisfaction with the vehicle - they want you to buy another one while a third-party company couldn't care less what you buy next. Enterprise Car Sales is GM's largest non-franchised vendor of their Major Guard plan; that might afford us some leverage if needed.

    But as I got up this morning, I pretty much decided that I'm going to forgo the warranty right now. The van's in-service date is 02/15/11 and I will be buying it with 20,000 miles on it so I will have two years and 16,000 miles of basic coverage and four years and 80,000 miles of factory powertrain warranty remaining. Given that, $990 for an extra six months and 12,000 miles of coverage on just the non-powertrain components seems high - it would mostly be duplicate coverage.

    My best bet might be to wait until the 36/36 portion of the factory warranty is about to expire and do something then.

    Ed
     
  9. noknock1

    noknock1 Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 1998
    Messages:
    1,399
    Location:
    Stranger in a Strange Land
    We are not happy with our 2007, town and country, signature series. It burns a quart every 1500 miles, two dealers say that is within spec. The road noise is less horrible after I put quality tires on it, but still extremely loud. The leather seats are cracked. The A/C went out in 2009, covered under extended warranty. Just turned 95,000 miles.

    The wife slid into a traffic sign on a stretch of rural state highway last week. Tore off the driver mirror and dented the driver door. I replaced the mirror and she took it for an estimate on the repair to the door. The person while writing up the estimate asked my wife if she liked the T&C. The wife explains other than what I mentioned above, specifically the oil thing... that the van has been reliable.

    The auto body lady stated that her and her husband own a 2004 and have the exact same issue with the oil consumption and road noise at highway speeds. They are trading theirs off...

    We are going to get rid of ours this spring.

    But that is apple and oranges... with the new engine and body style, hopefully you will have a better ride than the old models. A fellow at work has a 2010 T&C and has not had any major issues.
     
  10. shot410ga

    shot410ga Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 1998
    Messages:
    7,763
    I have a 2008 with the lifetime power-train warranty. They were hurting for sales back then. But, it's turned out to be a great vertical. The seats fold out of the way, leaving a level surface and I can carry just about anything, including 10' 2/6's. I just took the center console out (very easy to remove and install. Gets 21-24 MPG. No issues, at all.
     
  11. AveragEd

    AveragEd Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 1998
    Messages:
    5,477
    Location:
    Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania
    noknock, you won't like hearing this but your engine's oil consumption is not excessive. As of when I retired in early 2008, The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) said that anything over 750 miles per quart was "normal." Yes, I know that most people experience a lot more miles per quart than that but that is/was the industry standard. If it has changed, I doubt it has doubled in four years.

    A lot of "oil consumption" isn't really oil consumption at all. First, engines HAVE to burn some oil on every firing stroke or the piston rings would seize to the cylinder walls. Next, every time you start your cold engine, condensation develops on its inner surfaces as the engine warms. It takes something like 35 miles of driving to get the oil temperature (NOT coolant temperature) high enough to cook that water off - obviously, more miles in cold weather. Since most of us don't drive that far every time, that water stays in the crankcase. That's why people say their car "never burns a drop of oil" - the level on the dipstick doesn't drop but as you can see, that isn't telling the true story.

    I cannot tell you how many times we received frantic calls from customers who took their car on a long drive for the first time in a few thousand miles. They would check the oil at their first fuel stop and be shocked that their engine just "burned" a quart of oil in three or four hundred miles. I would tell them to add the quart and when they recheck it at the next fuel stop, they'll no doubt find it is still full. No one ever called back saying it wasn't. They simply got their engine oil hot enough long enough to cook off the water in it for the first time in a while.

    All of my cars require adding a quart at around 1,500 to 2,500 miles after an oil change, depending upon how they have been driven. If they didn't, I would be worried.

    Ed
     
  12. Ross

    Ross Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 1998
    Messages:
    2,638
    Average Ed: When did oil and water start to mix???? I have changed my own oil-gas filters- etc. for 55 years now and have never seen them mixed (maybe I just don't know how to tell), also never saw any separation when or after I drained the oil, I rarely drive 35 miles non stop. When I started driving we changed oil @ about 1000 miles then stretched it to 2000, now I Run about 3500-4000 with new filter every time. My dad also worked for a GM dealer 1946 till he retired. Ross Puls
     
  13. Joe Potosky

    Joe Potosky Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 1998
    Messages:
    5,484
    2006. 96,000 miles. New battery, breaks and tires last year. Tires could of went longer, but one less thing to worry about when traveling. I change the oil twice a year. Excessive oil use not an issue...

    I put in a raised platform where the rear seats go (seats lowered). Built a bit higher then my deepest O/U case when sitting flat. Made out of pine and 1/2 plywood to save on weight. Covered with vehicle carpet. Stores four guns comfortable on the underside. Bought two soft take down cases for the 1100s to save on length.
     
  14. AveragEd

    AveragEd Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 1998
    Messages:
    5,477
    Location:
    Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania
    Ross, you know how condensation develops, I'm sure. That water that coats the interior of an engine as it warms up has to go somewhere. It is in with the oil until the oil gets hot and stays hot long enough to cook it off. If left in there, I'm sure your dad will tell you it causes sludge to develop. If he was in the business and at a Chevrolet dealership in the mid-80s, he had to attend a mandatory training class on engine oils, short trips and sludge.

    Pour yourself a glass of a cold beverage and watch the warmer outside of the glass "sweat." That water stays there until it evaporates, just as it does in an engine.

    Ed
     
  15. CalvinMD

    CalvinMD Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 1998
    Messages:
    9,861
    Location:
    Northeastern MD @ the top o the Bay
    What Ed said: thats why you should change oil on shorter intervals if you are a short tripper...my grandmoms Olds got driven about 35miles a week for 50K...it started getting too much oil building up under the valve cover from sludged up drainbacks and the rings were stuck on all cylinders with horrible blowby overwhelming the PCV and blowing the oil up into the air cleaner...it was a Ciera with the 2.5L Iron Duke...no obstruction to the oil pan so I kerosened it then reringed it and did a valve job in her driveway
     
  16. noknock1

    noknock1 Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 1998
    Messages:
    1,399
    Location:
    Stranger in a Strange Land
    I guess that I have just been fortunate over the years with other brands of vehicles. I drive a lot for work and also there are hours that I sit in a car with it idling for hours on end in either extremely cold temps with the heater running or hot days with the A/C running.

    My 2006 Ford Expedition I turned in at 111,000, burned at most 1/2 quart every 3000 miles.

    The 2001 Intrigue had 129,000 and change and it burned 1 quart every 3000 from the first day I picked it up with something like 11 miles on it.

    My 2004 Envoy didn't burn anything considerable every 3000 miles, nor does my 2003 Duramax.

    Those are the recent cars, the ones older than that were similar in oil consumption. And again that is 3000 miles, but with numerous extra hours of idle time.

    I understand that it is an industry standard and not a Chrysler standard, but like I said, I have been fortunate that I have not had to worry about oil in between 3000 mile changes until this stupid van.

    I am now in another Ford for work, so we will see how this one fares over the next 5 years or so.
     
  17. AveragEd

    AveragEd Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 1998
    Messages:
    5,477
    Location:
    Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania
    Ross' disbelief is common. I work with a guy who restores older Corvettes and he argues with me about that all the time. But I had the privilege(?) of seeing the results of short trips and infrequent oil changes first-hand.

    In the mid-80s, Chevrolet supposedly had "soft camshafts." Lobes would wipe off cams at over 50,000 miles with pretty decent regularity - enough that the Federal Trade Commission got involved. Turned out that the FTC decided that the GM Owner's Manual was defective - it called for oil changes at 7,500 miles and a filter every 15,000 unless the vehicle was used under "severe operating conditions" and that was explained on the following page that no one felt inspired to read. In GM "engineer-speak," towing a trailer, dusty roads, hilly terrain, swings in daily ambient temperature in excess of 35 degrees and short trips were "severe operating conditions." Then, you were supposed to change oil and filter every 3,000 miles or three months, whichever came first, and the time was as important as the mileage due to the condensation buildup. Water isn't a very good lubricant. Since GM's Owner's Manual was unclear, the FTC required GM to replace those worn camshafts.

    We replaced worn camshafts in well over 100 small-block V8s and only one engine was not sludged up. One was so packed with sludge that when the rocker covers were removed, you could read the "Chevrolet" script in the sludge!

    Take the oil filler cap off your engine and look at the bottom of it. If the engine is warm, you'll probably see water droplets on it. If the droplets are on a brownish-orange mucus, that's sludge.

    Ed
     
  18. Ross

    Ross Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 1998
    Messages:
    2,638
    Average Ed: Well he worked there from 1947 until he retired 1970 something,, never heard that complaint (a ton of others though as you know if you were a shop foreman) He was shop foreman for a few years didn't like it went back out on the "floor". Maybe it was due to my oil change intervals, or our average trip was usually 10--15 miles, dad was adamant about that interval and it has just followed me all my life. Still have never seen water in oil I drained and I did my own service work until my back went away at age 63, still do the light easy stuff (70 now). I do agree that acid and carbon build-up i.e. sludge wreak havoc with internal combustion engines. Wife bought a new S10 Blazer in 91 the 1st year of the 4dr. model, drove it 16 years, 1 window motor, 1 starter repair (bendix), 2 sets front brakes and 1 set rear. She finally just wanted something different, I said OK what do you want this time she said a newer Blazer, found a pristine 2002, we're still driving that one, sure hope it's as good. Ross Puls

    PS Will send you a PM.
     
  19. CalvinMD

    CalvinMD Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 1998
    Messages:
    9,861
    Location:
    Northeastern MD @ the top o the Bay
    For what its worth Ed..my next door neighbor has a 11' Chrysler 200 with the same engine and loves it...drives to Philly every day from Rising Sun..About a 90 mile round trip every day and says it is one of the best built/riding and running cars hes ever owned and he was a Toyota person
     
  20. AveragEd

    AveragEd Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 1998
    Messages:
    5,477
    Location:
    Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania
    My van arrived from Florida at an Enterprise rental office in Philadelphia late last night. It left Florida with 19,000 miles on it on a one-way rental to Philadelphia; since we retire rental vehicles at 20,000 to 25,000 miles and they had an employee interested in it, they made that trip its last rental voyage rather than try to find another one-way rental customer en route to Florida. My wife and I drove another vehicle that the Philadelphia sales office had a buyer for to Philly and brought the van back to the sales office where I work in Mechanicsburg today.

    We averaged 28.3 miles per gallon on the trip back and it runs absolutely great. The only quirk, and I understand it is to be expected, is a sort of "goofy" transaxle operation when the "Economy" mode is selected. In that mode, the transaxle upshifts sooner and sometimes skips gears in order to get into sixth as soon as possible. It also downshifts later, so the cruise control will drop two to three miles per hour on a hill before the throttle opening is increased. But for that kind of economy from a 4,500 pound vehicle with that much room and comfort, I'm okay with it.

    My wife loves the back-up camera (she isn't the world's best backer-upper) and I loaded five music CDs into the touch-screen entertainment center's 28GB hard drive. I'll never use all the technology that gadget has but after all, I still just use a CEL phone as a phone. I already signed up for SiriusXM service, though.

    I think it's a keeper.

    Ed
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
Search tags for this page

trans fluid level 2011 grand caravan