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Full Sized Vans



  • Any word on safety and reliability of teh Chevy Astro AWD passenger Van for '98 or earlier?

  • gcr4gcr4 Posts: 3

    Thanks a lot for the info, especially about the new rebate program. I have been waiting to make my special order, because I had heard nothing about new rebate programs from Ford.

    I will also be making a special order and hope to be able to make a deal as good as yours. I plan to call around to the various dealers within a hundred miles or so and see who'll give the best price on my factory order.

    I intend to order the Club Wagon XLT HD because I want the 12 seat capability and stronger suspension. Mine WILL fit in the garage if I remove a 1 by 4 decorative header.

    I agree wholeheartedly with your comments of full-size vs. minivan. Although more costly at the fuel pump and difficult to park, the full-size are much more useful in every other way.
    I own a 1996 Dodge Ram Van. I purchased the van after carefully considering the FORD and GMC products. Overall the Dodge projected the most value for the dollar. The Ford Club Wagon had the best fit and finish, yet the 5.4 V-8 engine is gutless and somewhat noisy for a new designed. Also several individuals informed me that the Ford Motor Company could careless about its' customers. The GMC/Chevy products fit and finish was very poor. I drove one GMC 3/4 ton Van that shook and rattled soooo much - I thought the interior was going to self destruct.
    The GM twins do have an extremely powerful and strong drive train (Plus for Towing), yet the fit and finish is unexcusable in a new vehicle.
    My Ram van has excellent power and is much more versatile than a mini-van. My only major complainant is the wind noise during high cross
    winds. The Bottom Line is - the Dodge Ram Van is just a good value for the dollar.
  • MJKMJK Posts: 4
    I wish to echo your sentiments, right down to the wind noise during high cross winds. Mine is a '95 B250 Ram Wagon that I am really satisfied with. However, since the new '98 Ram Wagons promise many new innovations including double sealed doors and elimination of vent windows to aid in eliminating wind noise, I am trading in my '95 for one of the new '98's. It won't arrive until mid to late February and I will post the pros and (I hope there aren't any) cons on this board.
  • runnerrunner Posts: 5
    I will be getting my 8,000 mile "used" 1994 Dodge Ram Conversion Van. It will have the 5.2 liter V8 but I have to put in the rear seating. Any recommendations? What kind of gas milage can I expect? Though discussed elsewhere on this list, how will the rear passengers do with only a front end a/c and heating source? (No one mentioned how the Dodge would do). Thanks for any info. I never had a full sized truck before and wer'e kind of excited (compared with minivan life we had before). Any more things we should be aware of? Thanks very much. compared to minivan travel?
  • MJKMJK Posts: 4
    First of all, you '94 should have the re-tooled 318 which included multiport fuel-injection and 220 horsepower. You will have plenty of power with this combination. You should be able to get 11-14 mpg in the city and 18-20 mpg on trips with this engine. Rear air/heat is a nice option to have, but in its absence, you/your passengers won't fry/freeze if you don't have it. Especially with a conversion van where the front vents heated or cooled air will flow directly back between the two front pairs of bucket seats!

    I think you will really like your full-sized conversion van compared to a mini-van. I recall that '94 was the first year for the redesigned, more streamlined front end too!

    One more thing. If 8000 miles is the correct reading, the van was probably one used for vacation trips. It practically new!! I'd explore through Chrysler, the dealer or Warranty Gold, if you could pick up some sort of extended coverage. Why the original 3Yr/36000 mile warranty expired due to the Year factor! How often does that happen?
  • rwfrwf Posts: 2
    We looked at a '91 Ram250 Conversion van today. Conversion by "Classic Vans" I think? It has 31,000 miles and is very clean. The usual nicities like power windows, door locks ect. and a 10'' color TV, VCR, Nintindo. The dealer asking price is $12,900, which seems a bit high. I was thinking along the lines of $9,800. Does any body have a good idea where I can expect a price for this vehicle to fall in at?

  • runnerrunner Posts: 5
    MJK, thanks a lot for your response to my (our) inquiry regarding the '94 Dodge Ram van. A "second" buyer can obtain the rights to the remaining power train and engine warranty (7/70) for $150. to the local dealer, which is obviously worth it. I have been enjoying reading other people's discussion of their vans though it is evident that there are a lot of question out there. I'll keep listening. One of the reasons our family chose a full size van is for comfort and space, and we hope longevity too. 'Ride on'
  • runnerrunner Posts: 5
    I'm writing to ask if anyone can us any further ideas on what we should be aware of in the purchase of a full-sized van, compared with a minivan? Any service issues in general? What about this thing I keep hearing about the loose rear end on a non-front wheel drive vehicle? (Sand bags behind the rear wheels?---I already have a tow bar, that seems heavy enough.) I getting the 1994 Dodge RAm Conversion van in a few days. My mechanic will look for seating in the rear for me since it was taken out. Mark III told me I could only replace the rear seating with their equiptment but my mechanic indicated otherwise, he said the original seat stays were punched out at the factory before Mark III got the vehicle. Charlie.
  • jboaterjboater Posts: 199
    To runner:
    If I understand your question concerning "loose rear-end" correctly, I believe your wondering about traction (or a lack of). Over the past 6 years I have driven a GMC Safari, GMC/Starcraft short wheel base, Chevy/Tiara regular wheel base, and for the past month a Ford/Coachmen regular wheel base. All four vehicles were/are rear wheel drive with standard rear axle differentials. I live in suburban Detroit. I have found that these vans are no more difficult to drive in snow, rain, etc. than the front wheel drive cars I drove previously. Additionally, when it snows in this area, the snow is cleared from the roads rather quickly. To maximize traction, I recommend using good all season radial tires. Avoid the sporty, high performance tires like Goodyear Eagles. The GMC Safari came equipped with these tires and I found they wear more quickly, and traction dropped significantly. The new tires I put on that van were all season radials and the difference was like night and day. Also, for improved traction, you might consider changing the differential to a posi-traction or limited slip differential. When I checked into it for the Safari, I decided it was too expensive. About $700.00. By comparison to minivans and cars, you will also notice that your full size van will have a greater sensitvity to wind, particularly cross winds. Use care when driving in windy conditions on slippery road surfaces.

  • runnerrunner Posts: 5
    thanks for your information and cautionary advice regarding windy driving conditions. I never would have thought this would be a concern with a full size truck. I should be getting the van next week now that my loan has come through. I believe that the van has all weather Michelins (nothing fancy) but I don't think it has the limited slip differential.
    The original owner did install an ampheremeter over the steering wheel though I'm not certain of its function (to check how the battery is maintaining its charge? Do you know how to read this?)
    In the rear the owner also installed an AC-DC converter. What is this exactly? If its for running accesories (someone told me) how does it get recharged? Does this allow me to run lights, music, while sitting in the van without the engine running? (But again, how would one recharge it?)
    Thanks for info. Charlie.
  • jmbljmbl Posts: 5
    Hi: We're starting to look for a conversion van
    as well, but we're in the market for a used one,
    around the years 93-95. We want something that'll
    be great for camping and long hauls. We're in the
    military and love to travel.

    Any advise on what to get/stay clear of for those
    years, what dealerships/areas to avoid (i.e. avoid
    Staten Island--we're in Brooklyn), better deals for
    the money, etc. We'd prefer a high top, bed in
    back and TV/VCR for sure.

    If anyone's in the general area selling his/her
    van, we'd love to hear from you too with the details
    of what you have for sale.

    Thanks for any and all tips!


    P.S. Haven't had a chance to read ALL the responses in this category, so if what I've asked for is a repeat, forgive me...
  • jboaterjboater Posts: 199
    hello again runner,
    Needless to say, I've not been here in awhile. The ammeter in your van should give you a measure of the rate of power consumption being drawn from your battery. For more info on its use you may need to talk to an electrical expert. The ac/dc box is a power inverter. It will invert the dc battery power to ac household current. The power output of the unit should be marked on it somewhere, usually in watts. A unit with continuous output of 300 watts or more is a handy accessory. A 300 watt unit should power a 13" color TV and a vcr. I believe (confirm with an electrical expert) that to estimate the power requirement of an accessory that doesn't have its rating marked in watts, multiply its amp rating by 10 to determine approximate watts, i.e. 13" color TV might have a 13 amp rating and the vcr a 6 amp rating. A total of 19 amps would equal about 190 watts. The inverter may be wired in such a way as to permit you to run ac equipment without the engine running. To avoid running your battery down too low, you will need to know the amp hour rating of your battery and monitor power usage when the engine is off. The ammeter probably will show your consumption rate in this situation. The van may also have a device that will automatically shutdown the inverter when battery power is reduced to a specified level. I'd check with the seller on these issues.

  • I have a 91 Chevy Astro Van AWD and last year purchased a 97 Astro Van AWD. I put 127,000 miles on the 91 with no maintenance at all except for oil changes every 3,000 miles and lube at 6,000. It gave me unconditional pleasure throughout. The 1997 has 13,990 miles on it with same excellent results. It is a TRUCK and handles ice and snow well. We live at 4,000 feet and get many snow and ice days. Highly recommend this vehicle. BA for California
  • jboater,
    Thanks again for the feedback. I think I'm going to have to do some homework. I will try to use the I-net to track down some further infor. on inverters and the like. I could probably track down Trailer Life/Good Sam type addresses which I haven't done yet. I really like the feel of the full-sized truck though compared to the minivan. The ride is smooth,and relatively quiet. Real powerful feel too. Tires are Michelin, I think MX4s? which feel pretty good. I will also search local 'salvage' places to get my seating which I see can be pretty expensive. Thanks, Charlie (runner)
  • I am a big fan of full size Dodge Van Conversions. My old '76' just died and am looking at new ones. There are some nice '97' conversions on the lots, but am not sure of the dealer markup on the conversion packages. The one I am looking at is a Ram Van 2500 with the 5.2 V8 and what they call a Mark III conversion package. Sticker on the package (conversion) is $15,595. Any ideas on the dealer invoice for the conversion package? By the way it is a '97' Van.
  • pilarpilar Posts: 1
    We're looking for a van/van conversion which will accommodate our five kids (12-17) with the usual sporting equipment. During the summer, we haul our two jet ski's about 20 miles a trip, several times a month. Anyone have any comments regarding the best kind of van for our needs?
  • wymakwymak Posts: 1
    I am interested in the Mercedes V-Class V230.Anyone has any info on this vehicle?
  • KinseyKinsey Posts: 2
    I am looking at a 1990 Ford econoline conversion van.....So far I like what I have seen and the test drive but my main concern is How will it handle in snow???? any one help me???
  • jboaterjboater Posts: 199
    Hi Kinsey,
    You might want to see my post #33 in this topic, if you haven't yet done so.

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