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2009 GRAND CARAVAN/T&C FEED BACK

etpetp Posts: 153
Just bought two of these (a Grand for me and T&C for my daughter). We both got the 4.0 with 6 speed and they drive perfect. I was a mechanic until 911 and these seem to be tight well built vehicles. Just wondered how eveyone else was doing with their 2009 GC and TC. :) :) :) :) :)
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Comments

  • huffyhuffy Posts: 10
    I was wondering how different the 4.0L felt (power, pep, noise, vibration, etc.) compared to the 3.8L. I am leaning toward getting a 09 Touring with the 4.0L option, but I didn't know if I should bother spending the extra $$ on it. Would I notice that big a difference?
  • etpetp Posts: 153
    The 4.0 had less noise and it comes with the sports suspension (anti lift/dive and sway bars both front and rear) as well as the 17" wheels. The 3.8 is a Jeep engine and the design looked a little dated. The plugs were in plain view as well as the plug wires. I suggest you drive them both at highway speeds. Do not just go around the block, and be sure to take a passenger in the second seat to listen and feel.. Make sure it shifts perfect with no noise and drives exactly the way you like. :shades:

    My only regret is that I did not get a back up warning system.

    PS// the Town and Country has different options so check it out before before you buy.
    Whatever you want make sure the vehicle has it. Doing this stuff afterwards is not practical.
  • huffyhuffy Posts: 10
    Does the Touring model with the 4.0L option also come with the sport suspension / anti sway bars? I didn't know if the "sports" suspension came as part of the 4.0L engine option or if it was an extra option (like part of the towing package).
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Please understand that the 3.8 is NOT a Jeep engine in any way, shape or form. The 3.8 was a purpose built engine for minivans that dates back to the mid 1990s, and while it has been used in a few other applications (most recently in some Jeeps), well over 95% of the 3.8's ever built have been installed in minivans.

    A few other items of note:
    1) The 3.8 has a long-long history of reliability with many engines reaching into the three and four hundred thousand mile range.
    2) The two 3.8s in our two minivans (a 1998 and a 2003) have amassed a combined 290,000 miles without even a single engine related repair. Not so much as even a small oil leak from the valve covers.
    3) The 3.8 design, while a bit "dated", uses a timing chain to actuate the cam and valve train. This timing chain arrangement is in most cases, good to go for the life of the vehicle.
    4) The new 4.0 engine is as of yet an unproven engine from a reliability stand point (although I have little doubt that it will ultimately be regarded as a very good engine).
    5) The new 4.0 engine uses a timing belt to actuate the overhead cams, and the belt needs to be replace on a periodic basis (not all that often, but I'm betting it isn't all that cheap when replacement time comes).

    Were it that we were in the market for yet another minivan, we would think long and hard over whether to opt for the tried-and-true 3.8, or go with the more powerful 4.0.

    Best regards,
    Shipo
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,269
    I will toss in my two pennies for the 3.8's reliability. I have 195,000 miles on my 1998 DGC; the engine runs perfectly. It purrs, leaks no oil, and remains plenty powerful while giving us an average of 18.3 mpg with an AWD platform. Were winters (constant temps below 32 degrees F) not six months long, I suspect the average would be a solid 2 mpg higher.
  • etpetp Posts: 153
    Thanks all on the engine feedback. Very good news. Yes I love the chains man.
  • etpetp Posts: 153
    Does the Touring model with the 4.0L option also come with the sport suspension / anti sway bars? I didn't know if the "sports" suspension came as part of the 4.0L engine option or if it was an extra option (like part of the towing package).

    (SXTL)The 4.0 with leather has the sport suspension and 17' wheels in the Dodge. My daughters does not have that option in a more loaded Town and Country with a 4.0/6 speed. I highly suggest you cherry pick one with a sport suspension off the lot. It sounds like the 3.8 and 4.0 will be fine by the feed back I have seen so far. But again, be sure to drive it and decide for your self with your wife in the back seat. I drove 8 units before I bought the 4.0/6 speed with leather. I was just plain quiet and shifted all 6 times like a clock.
    BTW// all the vans drove fine for me, we just like a quiet vehicle. If you need a cheap van the 3.3 base units drove fine. They just had more cabin noise.

    Also the 3.8 looked easier for a mechanic to work on/maybe!

    We have 7 units in our family and have sold 5 over the years. Not a single one had a bad engine and three had transmission problems (two of those had a 100K plus). Nothing since 2001 has had any problems to speak of. I consider the Dodge vans one of the highest quality products on the road.

    Important note for me. I do not or any member of my family work for Dodge or have ever worked for Dodge in any capacity. I am just a consumer who has ejoyed this product as well as my Chevy trucks and Honda Civics. .
  • etpetp Posts: 153
    5) The new 4.0 engine uses a timing belt to actuate the overhead cams, and the belt needs to be replace on a periodic basis (not all that often, but I'm betting it isn't all that cheap when replacement time comes).

    Good points, but my Mitsubishi 3.0 1994 Dodge Caravan with a timing belt was the most solid engine I have ever owned. I replaced the belt myself at the shop at 70K as well as the water pump, oil seals and all tensioner pulleys. Quality engine in every way. Do not let the timing belt run you off even though I prefer a chain myself. Most newer designed engines except the Honda Hybrid have timing belts.
  • huffyhuffy Posts: 10
    We currently have a 2005 Honda Odyssey. I am considering the Chrysler because of all the new features (2 DVDs, swivel seats, MyGig hard drive, in floor storage, etc.) Plus, I was thinking I could get a good deal on one right now. We have 5 kids and having all of those entertainment features and storage is a HUGE plus for trips, etc. My wife likes the Odyssey because it drives very much like a car, almost spritely. I wonder if the T&C will handle more "heavy" (sway / lean in curves, not have as peppy an engine, etc.) The Odyssey is very easy to drive and park. The Dodge GC might handle more similarly to the Odyssey than the T&C, but we like the luxury trimmings and overall appearance of the Chrysler better.

    I was wondering if the 4.0L engine would make any difference or should I just save extra money and stick with the 3.8L (if the overall handling is the same between the 3.8 and the 4.0).
  • etpetp Posts: 153
    I would get the (SXTL) GC with leather as they will no longer make that model as well as 17" wheels and sport suspension. The SXTL comes with the sport suspension/4.0/6 speed and 17" wheels. Now is the time to make deals on loaded GCs as the leather ones are getting hard to find without a full load. You can easily beat the deals online by several hundred dollars and maybe over a thousand or two. If all the have left is a 35K van, make them an offer and still get the 0%. My daughter did that and drove off the lot a 35K list GC for 30K. 30K as in not a penny more out the door for anything (tax tags and all fees included). If you don't want leather then the 3.8 would do you fine.
    The 3.3 was a little slow and a little noisy in the cabin, but ok.

    PS/ My daughter basically bought the vehicle you are describing. She wanted the DVD system and leather. However the TC did not have 17" wheels or sport suspension. But she loves it and was driving a Honda Civic hybrid until she out grew it.
  • etpetp Posts: 153
    Just for grins.

    102,000 Miles (170,000 km) or

    102 Months Maintenance

    Service Schedule

    ❏ Change the engine oil and engine oil

    filter.

    ❏ Rotate tires.

    ❏ Flush and replace the engine coolant.

    ❏ Replace the ignition cables (3.3L and

    3.8L engines).

    ❏ Replace the spark plugs (3.3L, 3.8L,

    and 4.0L engines).

    ❏ Replace the timing belt (4.0L engine).
  • etpetp Posts: 153
    Still trying to get my homelink to work. ARGH! Had the service manager out to my house as well as the sales woman. The homelink passes all tests but will not program with my garage door opener. My Overhead Garage Door (4060L) opener seems to be fine as well as compatible with homelink. It is only 16 months old and a high end unit. Needless to say the service department is perfect. The service manager is scheduling my van to adjust the drivers door so it shuts easier and center the steering wheel by adjusting the toe. So far everything works as advertised.

    BTW// I noticed most of the vehicles on the lot had a 3.8 engine. So in answer to all those questions the 3.8 and 4.0 should be perfect. The manager really liked the 4.0 and 6 speed combo and it is the first year for this engine and is a design effort with another large company. He could not remember which one.

    So if you don't trust your own judgment on this one item, then get the 3.8. With a full lifetime warranty and the Democrats not willing to let any of the big 3 go completely out of business, I think you are safe. Remember in chapter 11 your warranties are still good.
  • etpetp Posts: 153
    Update.
    Road trip to Disney world went fine. 26.7 MPG at 70MPH.
    24.9 at 80 MPH. I think this beast would get great MPG at 50MPH. 19 MPG to work and back.
    It used a little oil the first 1000 miles but seems to have stopped once the rings set. This engine and tranny rock folks. I found out that Mercedes Benz designed the drive train and this is the first year it made production.
  • I'm looking at buying a 2009 Doge Grand Caravan and unsure as to which engine to get. I have a question for any one who owns a 2008/2009 Grand Caravan about the engine options and real world fuel economy. According to Dodge the 3.8 liter with the 6 speed gets 17/24 and the 4.0 gets 17/25. Can any one tell me what sort of fuel economy they get City/Highway with either engine and the 6 speed transmission and any thoughts on why the fuel economy would be better for the 4.0 liter? I am happy to stick with the 3.8 liter and the 6 speed but if the 4.0 would for some reason truely be more fuel efficient I would be willing to consider it.

    Also had a talk with the dealer and was told all their engine options have timing chains designed to last the life of the engine without maintenance or adjustment. He made a big point of telling me that. There was a post here that was talking about the 4.0 liter having a timing belt? Just wondering about that reference or clarification.

    Thanks.
  • etpetp Posts: 153
    I am getting 25.9 at 65, 25 at 70MPH, 23.8 at 80 and 19.7 going to work with the 4.0. I suspect if you ran 42 PSI in the tires, used synthetic oil, and drove 48-56 MPH you will get 28-30 MPG.
    The 4.0 and 6 speed are a good combo but this is a brand new engine designed by Mercedes Benz. It runs like it is a balanced engine. My daughter has the same vehicle and loves it. The 3.8 has been around a long time and has a proven track record. But with the lifetime warranty who cares. Government backed too.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    I've seen any number of claims that Mercedes-Benz designed the engine and transmission of the Gen 5 minivans, however, I've yet to see a shred of evidence to support those claims. As far as I know, the 4.0 V6 is quite simply an enhanced and upgraded 3.5 V6; in fact, they're both built on the same assembly line and use the same tooling.

    As for the new 62TE 6-Speed automatic, it also traces its roots back to earlier Chrysler automatic transmissions (from the 4-Speed units of the 1990s and 2000s in this case). Yes, its supposed to be greatly upgraded, stronger, more reliable, and offer much improved performance and fuel economy, but no, it was NOT designed by Mercedes-Benz (and given the automatic transmission issues they've had starting in the mid to late 1990s, I'm not sure you'd want it to be).

    Best regards,
    Shipo
  • Hi and thanks to etp and shipo for your responses. I had to ask my dealer's mechanic about the timing chain vs belt question (all engines in question have timing chains) he linked me to this website which has a very informative piece on the 3.3 3.8 and 3.5 4.0 engines. apparently the 3.5 to 4.0 is viewed as a stop gap development to be phased out by 2015 once the Trenton engine plant renovations are completed.

    http://www.allpar.com/mopar/38-40.html

    It is somewhat comforting to know there is a history of longevity and proven performance behind the 4.0 derived from the 3.5. Given the information about the improvements in the design and its performance data to date I think I will go for the 4.0. Its only $630. for the upgrade in the SXT. that's about the same as the towing prep package and with that you don't even get the trailer hitch out of them. I'm sure the difference will be well worth it especially once I'm towing something and the MPG info looks very promising so far.

    Regards, Dave
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    "I had to ask my dealer's mechanic about the timing chain vs belt question (all engines in question have timing chains)."

    Just to be clear about this; the 4.0 liter engine has a Timing Belt, not a Timing Chain.

    An excerpt from a Town & Country Owner's Manual:

    Page 494
    Chapter 8 - Maintenance Schedules

    Replace the timing belt on 4.0L engines. -- 102,000 miles -- 170,000 KM -- 102 months

    I hope this helps. :)

    Best regards,
    Shipo
  • That is interesting news. I wonder what acounts (other than confusion) for the conflicting information I have gotten from the Doge dealer? I'll have to look in to this, if I learn anything of interest I'll let you know.

    Regards,
    Dave
  • etpetp Posts: 153
    My dealer said it was a joint design with a major manufacturer and my daughters dealer said it was a Benz designed engine. The manual says it has a timing belt ( manuals and mechanics can be wrong). Also this is the first year for the 4.0. I was surprised how little the dealers know about the transmission and engine this year. So if the experts on this thread have some real links for us with the real truth, please help us. I can only repeat what I was told and tell you it is a quality product so far. Time will tell for sure. With the government now backing your warranty if GM or Dodge goes out of business, I say go make a deal on a 4.0 SXTL with sport suspension.

    PS/ I ordered all the service manuals so that should settle the matter when they get here unless someone has built this engine on this thread. If so please speak up.

    PS/2 On fit and finish I consider the paint job and interior perfect and better than my Honda. As far as body parts fit they are not as good as a Toyota or Honda but good enough for me and I am picky. Also with all the sliding doors I bet it is a night mare to align up everything perfect.
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