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Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan 2005+

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  • dennisctcdennisctc Posts: 1,168
    Has anyone purchased the 2nd row bins for Stow-n-Go?
    Comments? Seems like alot of $$ for them, the carpeted factory area seems fine..?


    I purchased the 3rd row bin and folding table. Like the bin but not impressed with the table/lid. I used the table a few times camping for my 2 burner coleman propane stove. The stove isn't heavy at all, and the table sags?

    This is my 3rd Minivan, I love em and don't care with others think :) If someone has a problem with you driving a minivan, it's their problem, not your's :)
  • gctonygctony Posts: 7
    Thanks for the table/bin info..The table does look pretty flimsy...But what exactly do you like bout the third row bin? Just easy to remove and hose out?

    I am digging on the overhead bins, I think I found out they are $140 EACH though the guy is not sure...Wouldnt that be rich?
    http://www.leeparts.com/item-1-59-326-427.html
    He thought it was one bin but has to dig ...
    Tony
  • Maybe the harmonic balancer wasn't installed correctly on the engine. The dealership mechanics should be able to detect any unusual vibration very quickly. Let us know what you discover with the test drive. I can feel some vibration in my SXT steering wheel, but it is no problem. According to the following statement from DBC, they do a lot to reduce vibration and noise:
    "State-of-the-art technology is used to ensure quietness in all seating positions for 2005 Chrysler and Dodge minivans. By combining computer simulation techniques with vehicle testing in Chrysler's state-of-the-art Auburn Hills wind tunnel and on environmental four-post shakers, Chrysler Group engineers were able to create the quietest minivans in the marketplace. Some changes for 2005 models include:

    * Robotically applied liquid spray dampener technology to prevent noise from entering the passenger compartment. The damping treatment is applied to the floor, toe-pan, cowl, and roof panel.
    * Expandable polyurethane foam is injected into cavities at the base of the cowl plenum, liftgate opening, and center and rear door pillars to cut noise.
    * The new underbody structure is designed for high bending and torsional stiffness, which helps isolate suspension vibration and chatter from passenger compartment.
    * A fluid-filled hydro engine mount significantly reduces engine vibration into the front rails to help isolate engine vibration.
    * Suspension control arms utilize tuned hydro bushings to further reduce suspension vibration."
  • rrc1rrc1 Posts: 5
    After the second day I drove my new van and really noticed the vibration, I started looking up information on vibration in Dodge Grand Caravans and read about all the engineering that had gone into the new models to reduce noise and vibration. I also read reviews where people commented on the smooth ride they had with the same model of van. This makes the annoying vibration in my 2005 Grand Caravan even more bizzare. Something is definitely not right. I'm getting to the point that I don't want to drive it at all. One thing I have noticed recently is the vibration stops when you put it in park.

    This is much more than the normal engine vibration you feel in a van, I have never felt uncomfortable driving before. The van also seem to wobble when going over small bumps in the pavement, adding to the uncomfortable ride. It may be because I am feeling ill from the vibration that I'm noticing any other movement more intensely. I won't have time to get back to the dealership before next friday, but I'll let you know what I find out from driving another similar vehicle.

    I just find it annoying to have to keep going back to the dealership after buying a brand new vehicle. This has been a very disappointing experience.
  • dennisctcdennisctc Posts: 1,168
    I just find it annoying to have to keep going back to the dealership after buying a brand new vehicle. This has been a very disappointing experience.

    I hope you're documenting all this(conversations with dealer/reps, work records etc.), it sounds like you might need it if it comes to a lemon law situation.
  • I purchased a 2005 GC 3.8L used with 15K on it last summer. Currently have 24K on it with mostly highway miles. Bought at dealer & service records show previous owner changed around every 3000 miles. I am using Castrol 5W30 and the engine is using a quart of oil every 3000 miles. Is this is the normal range? Previous caravans with the 3.0L engine I drove at work didn't use this much oil even after 75K miles. Is anybody with a new GC using this much oil?
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Three comments:

    1) A car (ANY car) that uses a quart every 3,000 miles is just fine. Typically manufacturers have some arbritrary point (like 1 quart per 1,000 miles) where the car is deemed to be using too much oil.

    2) We have two DGCs, both with the 3.8, one with 106,000 miles, the other with 57,000 miles, and neither use a full quart between 7,500 mile oil changes.

    3) If an engine doesn't use some oil, that to me is more of a worry than if it uses a little too much. The fact is that the oil that lubricates things like valve guides is not recoverable, and as such, if no oil is being consumed, then the valve guides aren't being lubricated.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • Thanks for the info Shipo! However, I'm more used to the kind of oil consumption you're seeing on your higher mileage DGC's! I very much agree that using some oil especially through valve guides is better than none. Chevy designed the 350 to use oil through the valve guides for lubrication. Someone pointed out to me that using a quart in 3K may foul the Cat-converter. I wouldn't think so. What do you think?
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    "Someone pointed out to me that using a quart in 3K may foul the Cat-converter. I wouldn't think so. What do you think?"

    Hmmm, not too likely, especially so since many engines (the Cadillac Northstar comes to mind) are considered very frugal with oil at anything over 2,000 miles to the quart.

    Funny thing, there was a time when the older of the two vans was using oil more along the 3,000-4,000 mile range, but that was with conventional oil. Given that I find that fairly normal I've never given it much thought, however, when I converted it to Synthetic (Mobil 1 5W-30) I sort of expected consumption to get worse (given its superior flow characteristics), however, it gradually got better. Why? I haven't given that much thought either, however, a theory has just descended upon my brain. I wonder if the oil rings had become partially clogged/sludged on dealership oil, and if it just took a while for the synthetic to clean up the mess. Hmmm, thinking about this a little further, for the first year or two (between say 20,000 miles and 50,000 miles) after I started using Mobil 1, the oil would be quite black after only three or four thousand miles, now however, the oil stays amber color almost for the entire duration of my typical 7,500 oil change.

    If you want to take a look, I posted a couple of rocker arm pictures a few weeks ago at http://photos.yahoo.com/shipo inside of the "Caravan Stuff" folder. In those two pictures you can see a small pool of oil puddled in the rocker arm, and clearly see through the oil. These photos were taken at about 104,200 miles, 4,200 miles after I had changed the oil. If you do take a look, click the "Download" button to see them in their full resolution.

    I have heard a few (very few) rumors of some DC engines sludging, although I don't think that any of them were MiniVan engines. I wonder, even though the previous owner of your van changed the oil every three thousand miles, if the fact that they were using dealership oil (i.e. whatever the dealership got a good deal on from their supplier) meant that you've got some clogged oil rings. As a suggestion, you might want to convert to a good Synthetic (not Castrol, unless you can get the German version which is true synthetic). If you decide to convert, I would only go 4,000 miles for the first couple of changes because the amount of dirt that synthetic cleans up and then needs to hold in suspension is rather amazing. After the first couple of changes you can then return to a more normal 7,500 mile OCI regimen.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • micwebmicweb Posts: 1,617
    I second the vote for Mobil 1 5-30; it's available at Costco and WalMart fairly cheap. If you want to clean the engine out even faster, the "Extended Performance" version of Mobil 1 has extra detergents; but it is a couple of bucks a jug more than regular Mobil 1 5-30, and the 5-30 viscosity range is hard to find at Walmart (10-40 is common).

    BTW, my Caravan has the 4 cylinder engine, which works a lot harder than the 6 cylinder, so I switched to Mobil 1 at 1,500 miles and will thereafter do changes at 6,000, 12,000 etc. (the 2006 allow a maximum 6,000 mile interval, compared to a couple of years ago when 7,500 miles maximum was common in DC products; probably due to sludging concerns).

    2d BTW, the "1" in Mobil 1 signifies it is their full-synthetic formulation. There are other flavors of Mobil oils - Mobil Drive Clean (or just Clean) and Mobil 5000, Mobil 7,500. Be warned these are NOT full synthetic. When in doubt, read the label!
  • rrc1rrc1 Posts: 5
    Maybe the harmonic balancer wasn't installed correctly on the engine. The dealership mechanics should be able to detect any unusual vibration very quickly. Let us know what you discover with the test drive. I can feel some vibration in my SXT steering wheel, but it is no problem.

    I took my Caravan back in to the dealership last night and went for a drive with the Head of Servicing. He said there was definitely something strange in the ride. I brought the van in today for servicing and they found that a belt in the right rear tire was broken and causing the wobble at speed that I was feeling. This was fixed and the van is driving much smoother than before.

    The vibration in the steering wheel and seat are still there but not as intense as before. I took another new 2005 GC for a test drive last night and it had the same vibration as bad or worse than my van, so I guess it is just something in the way these vans drive. I think I was overly sensitive to the vibration because of the wobbling from the rear tire that was making me feel sick. I'll see how the drive to work is tomorrow.

    The dealership has been very good at investigating the problem and listening to my complaints so far. I'm glad they found something that could be fixed and I wasn't imagining the weird feeling I was getting when driving this new van. :)
  • dennisctcdennisctc Posts: 1,168
    The vibration in the steering wheel and seat are still there but not as intense as before. I took another new 2005 GC for a test drive last night and it had the same vibration as bad or worse than my van, so I guess it is just something in the way these vans drive. I think I was overly sensitive to the vibration because of the wobbling from the rear tire that was making me feel sick. I'll see how the drive to work is tomorrow.

    Maybe the bad tire effected other areas? kinda when you have a gut, and that messes with your back muscles and alignment (only thing I could come up with :)
  • Thanks for the thoughts Shipo & Micweb on Mobil 1. I will consider using a synthetic. The previous owner used dealer oil which was Quaker State 10W30. It bugs me that the dealer would use 10W30 exclusively instead of 5W30 as owners manual states. Hope this didn't create problems with break-in. The oil looks quite dirty to me at 3,000 miles with Castrol dino just before I have been changing it. Maybe Castrol is cleaning up the engine. I note that more oil is used in high speed highway driving. Does this Forum think that Castrol is one of the best Dino oils? I wonder if Castrol is a "thinner" dino oil than some of the rest.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Back in the late 1970s and early 1980s (before I went to Mobil 1) I used to swear by Castrol GTX. Are they still that good? Unknown. I know that for their Castrol Syntech brand, they cut corners and sell a Hydro-Cracked oil instead of a true synthetic (except in Germany), and for that reason, I've stopped using their oil.

    As for "thinner" oils, it depends upon what is causing your consumption issues (albeit issues that many a VW and Cadillac owner wishes they had). If it is simply oil making it past the valve guides, then the thinner the oil when hot (the second number in the oil spec), the more you're likely to use. That having been said, if the problem is your oil rings, my suspicion is that the thinner oil may actually be better able to work its way in there and clean that gunk out. If you do decide to convert to a fully synthetic oil, switch back and forth between 5W-30 and 0W-40 for a few oil changes and see if you notice any difference.

    A quick note about Quaker State oil: Back in the mid to late 1970s, I used to be the "go to guy" at my college for my fellow students who were driving old beaters that needed a new engine. Dumb though it was, I would overhaul any I6 engine from the Big 3 for $100 plus parts, and any V8 for $175 (Chevy Vegas and them furrin thangs was extra), and as such, I made a fair amount of money and saw the insides of lots of engines. The engines that I hated tearing down the most were those that had been run on a steady diet of "Pennsylvania Grade Crude", meaning Quaker State, Pennzoil, Wolf's Head and a few others that escape me for the moment. Why? Two reasons, 1) because of how much gooey crap was inside the engine, and 2) because of how said gooey crap smelled. Yuk, barf! Is Quaker State et. all still "Pennsylvania Grade Crude"? Don't know, don't care, I simply won't use it.

    As for what type of driving uses the most oil, our older van (a 1998 GC Sport 3.8) spent the first half of its life as a bus-station hack and maybe only got out on the highway every other week or so. Once we moved up here to New Hampshire (from the NYC metro area), it started spending easily three quarters of its time on the highway. With all of that said, I haven't really seen any correlation between average speed and oil consumption. In fact, last summer I drove it from just north of Boston to Chicago to Manhattan and then back to the Boston area. I drove nearly three thousand miles at an average speed of 72 mph (per the trip computer), which meant that I spent lots of time north of 80 mph, and my oil consumption didn't seem to change at all.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • micwebmicweb Posts: 1,617
    We are a family with two cars. Until recently, the two cars were a 2005 Ford Focus ZX3 hatchback with a stickshift, and a 2005 Honda CR-V with a 5 speed automatic transmission and a 2.4 liter 4 cylinder engine. In November of 2005, we traded in the hatchback on a bigger hatchback – a 2006 Dodge Caravan SE, with no options and thus the 4 cylinder 2.4 liter engine. Although the lack of power windows and power door locks, and manual side mirrors, is a little spartan these days, I grew up on cars like these and find the presence of air conditioning, good upholstery, and carpeting plenty of frosting on the cake. The rest, as my dad used to say, is for Cadillac owners and not practical people (he never met an accessory that didn’t eventually break down).

    The big question gnawing at me when I switched to the Caravan, was whether a 4 cylinder – the lone surviving 4 cylinder in a minivan – would be strong enough to propel it. To keep up with traffic, including freeway merges. And to haul a reasonably sized cargo – not 7 adults and their overseas luggage (unrealistic, get the 6 cylinder!), but at least four “old fashioned” (not fat!) adults and light luggage.

    The answer afater 4,500 miles of driving it in all conditions, including mountain and snow, is – yes. It isn’t fast, but it’s adequate. It used to be that the CR-V felt considerably slower than the Focus ZX3. Now the CR-V is top dog, it is considerably faster than the Caravan! But other than the subjective difference in pick-up, the Caravan keeps up with traffic just fine, and it is extremely quiet at high speeds.

    The only negative the typical driver will notice, is that there is a fair amount of engine roar if you have to get on the throttle in a short freeway merge situation (in other words, run it up to 50 mph in second).

    For city driving, the 4 cylinder is definitely more than adequate, since the gearing and throttle tip-in are set up for good off the line performance up to 35 mph.

    I am getting 23.8 mpg based on a 35 mile (each way) commute to work via a fast flowing freeway, with only some slow and go for a couple of miles on the trip home. On roadtrips (gas up, get on the freeway, get off to gas up, drive some more on the freeway, gas up again etc. with no significant) I have hit as high as 25 mpg. So this is one of those rare new cars that comes close to its freeway rating (even those “highway” on the EPA cycle is more “rural” than the modern 75 mph or faster interstate trips).

    While the SE can be had with a power package, or a V-6, for years Dodge has been using this entry level van as an advertising tool to get shoppers onto their lot. They list less than $100 over $19,000, but often go on sale in dealer ads for less than $15,000, or even less than $14,000. The lowest I have ever seen them is for $13,500, and when I saw that, I had to buy one. At least in California, what they advertise, they have to sell, and the dealer had 7 to choose from. Although this base model has the grey polyurethane bumpers (the same plastic used on the Honda Element), I was able to choose a darker color van which hides, very well, the fact that this model has unpainted bumpers.

    I’m not zipping around other cars anymore, and I’m not getting 31 mpg anymore, but the automatic is very convenient, the Caravan is incredibly quiet, and when I load up family and friends for a long drive, I am probably getting one of the best “miles per passenger” ratings out there.

    I highly recommend the 4 cylinder Caravan (at least 2006 and later, since they cleaned up emissions to match passenger car standards in 2006).
  • micwebmicweb Posts: 1,617
    frogger123 bravely asked for a flurry of opinion:

    "Does this Forum think that Castrol is one of the best Dino oils?"

    Who knows? Once upon a time, Castrol, as a European oil, was one of the few oils whose cans indicated it passed obscure European and Japanese test requirements that were more severe (due to overhead cam designs and higher rpm) than those for American cars (due to cam-in-block ohv designs and lower rpm). At that time I ran Castrol exclusively.

    Since then, small, high revving, overhead cam engine designs have become common from American manufacturers, and oils from major refiners have become much better.

    In particular, some large refineries, like Chevron/Texaco and Conoco Philips (although C-P still had conventional motor oils), have implemented some pretty advanced refining techniques (hydrocracking - see here: http://baseoil.conocophillips.com/products/grp2_base_oils/index.htm ). Chevron invented and licenses hydrocracking and "isodewaxing" and calls its resulting base stock (the basic oil to which additives are blended) Isosyn and has this to say about it: "ISOSYN™ base stocks, ... rival synthetics in critical engine tests." Chevron explains Group I, II, II+, III, and III+ here: http://www.chevron.com/products/prodserv/BaseOils/gf4_faq.shtml

    What is very interesting to note, is that Syntec, Castrol's line of "fully synthetic" motor oil, is a Group III oil sold at $5.00 or so a bottle, but in actuality it only exceeds the performance of Type II+ oil (Chevron Supreme) by a tiny margin (the intrinsic viscocity index of III oils is slightly better than II+ oils). Yet Chevron Supreme is only 1.50 a bottle, or even less at Costco.

    General consensus on other user groups is that Castrol GTX no longer rules the roost, but has incredible marketplace momentum since it started out as one of the best oils. Castrol is now owned by BP, British Petroleum, which produces some of the most advanced Group V base stocks in the world; thus the rave reviews on German Castrol.

    One other factor to consider is the obscure Chrysler MS6395L specification for the oils to be used in its cars. This is in addition to the grade requirement and any SAE or ILSAC starburst requirement in your manual (in my manual, I could find the MS6395L requirment, but the SAE and ILSAC requirements were missing! maybe the Chrysler requirement includes them).

    The following oils that I know of satisfy the Chrysler specification: Mobil 1 5-30 (not the Extended Performance version); Chevron Supreme 5-30; Havoline 5-30; Castrol GTX 5-30; Castrol GTX 5-30 Start Up.

    FWIW, in the manual for my 2006 Caravan, Chrysler has shifted radically away from encouraging longer oil change intervals. I owned a 1999 Dodge Neon, 2002 Neon, 2004 PT Cruiser, and finally this minivan. Oil change intervals used to be 7,500 miles, except severe service, which was NARROWLY defined. Now, the maximum is 6,000 miles, and severe service (3,000 mile changes) is BROADLY defined, to the point where Chrysler adds a note that "most drivers fall into one of the severe categories."

    Thus the reason I use Mobil 1 - it has the most stable (Group IV) base stock, and the best additive package, and Exxon Mobil's FAQ guarantees its perfomance up to the car maker's maximum oil change interval, unless the car is driven according to Exxon Mobil's definition of severe service - which really is severe service, not the whimpy DC version. I don't want to live in the dealer's waiting room, since I drive a lot, but do want to protect my vehicles, and Mobil 1 seems like the best bet for full protection with the convenience of 6,000 mile oil change intervals.
  • micwebmicweb Posts: 1,617
    This is my last post on oil, since this isn't an oil forum. However, the original post by frogger123 was based on consuming a quart of oil every 3,000 miles in his 6 cylinder Caravan, and what impact (if any) that might have on his catalytic converter.

    Here is what Chevron says:

    "What are the drivers behind GF-4?
    "The simple answers are tougher Emissions and Fuel Economy standards mandated by the U. S. Government. Automotive OEM's need better fuel economy to meet Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFÉ) limits. They also need their catalytic converters to provide reduced emissions for 120,000 miles. Higher quality base oils are an important part of the solution to GF-4."

    and

    "Why do emission regulations impact lubricants?
    "There is no engine test that measures emission system stability, but the OEM's have data showing that sulfur and phosphorus are poisons for catalytic converters and must be limited. Thus, in GF-4 oils sulfur is limited to 0.5%, maximum, in 0W- and 5W- engine oils and 0.7%, maximum in 10W- engine oils. Phosphorus is limited to 0.08%. This restricts the amount of zinc dialkyldithiophosphate, the workhorse anti-oxidant and anti-wear agent, which can be used in engine oils, which in turn, may restrict the amount of Group I oil in GF-4 blends."

    Obviously, using a quart of oil in 3,000 miles is going to expose the catalytic converter, over a long period of time, to more contaminants than with an engine that uses less oil. Also obvious is that the new SM grade oils will contain fewer contaminants than a non-SM oil (there are a few non SM, non GF4 oils available for passenger car use - Mobil 1 Extended Performance, because it NEEDS those extra antiwear additives to go the extra distance, and Shell Rotell T Synthetic, because as a dual purpose oil, diesel and passenger car, it needs extra antiwear additives to protect in the punishing diesel environment).

    Does it matter when replacement aftermarket converters are now only a couple of hundred dollars? Is 120,000 of service (formerly 70,000 miles) from a converter reasonable to expect? Have converters been failing in large numbers so far?

    I guess when it comes down to it, as an individual, I don't want to chase the last fractional mile per gallon at the expense of engine wear and tear, nor do I need an absurdly long catalytic converter life at the expense of engine wear and tear.

    That is probably one of the reasons, in addition to being able to tout an extended drain interval oil, that Mobil 1 has taken the amazing step of selling an oil (Extended Performance) that doesn't satisfy either the SM or GF4 requirements...let's see if they can survive in a market place that demands conformity.

    Meanwhile, on Aisle 3, consumers everywear are buying 10-40 oil (the most popular in parts shops etc.) and dealers are installing 10-30 instead of 5-30....which is why I carry in my own oil, no matter what vehicle I own. More and more owners are doing the same.
  • Boy Micweb - what a rendition with some very thought out advice - I'm impressed! Gives me alot to consider. Thanks Castrol 5W30 is a SM rated oil - I double checked. I won't worry about my CAT. I will really consider using Mobil 1 when my castrol is used up - probably in 6,000 more miles. Castrol has become pricey & I am considering switching to chevron or conoco for my 1993 chev pu 350 when my castrol supply runs dry. Two more questions for you Micweb. First, I have been using castrol in my 93 chev pu for about 65,000 miles. PU has 123,000 on it now. Do you think it is wise to switch to conoco or chevron now? There is quite a debate about switching oils due to additives and mileage on an engine. The second question is, at what mileage do you think rings are fully seated in a new engine. As stated before my 2005 GC 3.8L engine has 24,000 miles on it. If I drive hard once in a while i.e. get up to 5000 RPM once in a while in the next 1,000 miles or so, could the rings have a chance to seat better?
  • micwebmicweb Posts: 1,617
    You can switch oils pretty much anytime. I don't like to switch oils at every oil change, for just the concerns you describe (the possibility of battling additives), but I have come a long way from doing double Mobil 1 oil changes at the same time to "flush out" residual dino oil in my vehicles. If your PU has 123,000 miles, why not keep it on Castrol? The difference in cost is negligible (compared to other costs of ownership), and that way you'll really know just how good the Castol is. At this point, I'd say "good enough!"

    As to seating the rings, my understanding is that this is done, or not done, in the first 600 miles of driving - there are, as I recall, some crosshatching on the factory cylinder walls to help them scuff in. Even if your 24,000 miles is a typo (did you mean 2,400?) the rings are probably no longer an issue; but "driving hard once in a while" and varying speeds during the first critical 600-1,000 miles are definitely a good idea. I personally try to avoid full throttle until I hit 3,000 miles, but will use up to 3/4 throttle to hit high rpm, once the car is FULLY warmed up.

    I have also noticed engines continuing to break in over the first 10,000 miles, so something is definitely going on even after the first 600-1,000 miles, and long term car tests in the magazines often show performance increasing (not decreasing) as their test vehicles approach 15,000- 30,000 miles.

    I guess the total break-in process is a lot longer than we think, but at least our ability - as drivers - to harm the vehicles is a lot less after the first 600-1,000 miles.
  • jipsterjipster Posts: 5,345
    "avoid full throttle until I hit 3,000 miles"

    Curious as to anyones thoughts on reliability with Caravans(or any van)that have been rentals and are usually sold to the public at around 20,000 miles. Much is said about proper "break in", yet usually people(myself :blush: ) who rent autos are pretty hard on them from the get go(i.e frequent and heavy throttle, usually long trips at a constant high speed)...or as some say "they get ragged out" Keeping this in mind, it seems to be a bit risky in buying a rental.
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