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Dodge Caravan: 4 Cylinder Reliability

Ok, I just purchased a new 4 cylinder Caravan SE. I have just had it for one full day and am delighted with how it runs. But then, it's brand spankin' new. Anyway, I have just read an opinion on Epinions.com warning people away from buying the 4 cylinder version, saying it isn't powerful enough for the load. Is this true, in your opinion?

By the way, I have removed the seats and will likely keep them stored indefinitely. Also, I don't plan to be carrying heavy loads, but will mainly be transporting light but unwieldy objects. Since the seats are heavy I'd think their removal would take a significant load off the engine.

Comments

  • jpfjpf Posts: 496
    I just purchased a base Caravan with the 4 cylinder engine as well. I did some checking on the internet and there does not seem to be many recent complaints about this engine. In the mid-ninties these engines had a head gasket problem that Chrysler seems to have corrected. The same engine is found in the PT Cruiser which has been fairly reliable to date as reported by Consumers Reports. I checked the maintenance booklet and there are maintenance items that are specific to this engine (e.g. check for belt adjustment at 15,000 miles and timing belt replacement at 90,000 miles). Chrysler has had many complaints about its 2.7 V6 but not the 2.4 as far as I know.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    The only thing I would recommend would be to use a very high quality oil (Havoline or Castrol GTX) with 3K Oil Change Intervals, or more preferably a fully Synthetic oil (Mobil 1 or German made Castrol (says "Made in Germany" on the label)) and go with the factory recommendation for the OCIs, until at least the expiration of the warranty period.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • jpfjpf Posts: 496
    I have a 2006 Dodge Caravan, 4 cylinder. It has about 10,000 miles on it. For my next oil change, I want to switch to synthetic. Is it OK to do so, with this mileage? Is Mobil 1 the only synthetic oil that I should use? Please advise. Thank you.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Switching to a synthetic oil at the 10K mark will be just fine. As for which oil and how long you keep it in the engine, for the remainder of the warranty period, adhering to the following guidelines is highly recommended:
    - Keep the OCI down to the recommended limit as set forth in your manual
    - Oil should be certified API SM
    - If your manual states which DC oil spec is required (i.e. Chrysler MS-6395 or Daimler Chrysler 229.3/229.5), any oil you buy should meet that as well
    - Do not deviate from the recommended oil weight except to lower the first number. Said another way, if your Owner's Manual recommends 5W-30 oil, any 0W-30 and 5W-30 oil that meets the above criteria is acceptable, oils such as 10W-30, 5W-20 or even my personal favorite 0W-40 are not.

    Regarding Mobil 1 versus the others, I am a personal fan of Mobil 1. That's not to say that it's the absolute best oil in any given weight class, but every indication suggests that it's clearly in the thick of things, errr, as it were. ;-)

    Anyway, once your van is out of warranty, you can start experimenting by trying out different oils and extending your OCIs. By experimenting I mean, change one thing, have a UOA performed, change another thing, have another UOA performed. Extrapolate from there what seems to be working the best and go with it.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • standepuystandepuy Posts: 23
    I have 92k miles on my SWB Caravan - The transmission (3 sp) is noisy but the engine (TBI) always starts easily and required little maintenance over the 13 years I've had it (bought it used in 1995 with 42k miles).
    I put in a new timing belt/water pump at 85k miles, new radiator, and catalytic converter (amazing how small the replacement was). The most expensive item was the a/c repairs at 50k - I needed a new evaporator (it's copper not aluminum like the old one).
    The van has been one of my best cars :)
  • jpfjpf Posts: 496
    On my last oil change I just found out that the dealer put the wrong grade of oil in the engine - 10W30 and not 5W30. I had to use a new dealer because the previous one had closed its doors for good. Is it OK to switch back to 5W30? I use fully synthetic oil. Not problems so far. The van is a 2006 Dodge Caravan with the 2.4 liter 4 cylinder engine. Any advice is very much appreciated.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    No worries, these days virtually all oil is compatible and you can change grades, brands and types to your heart's delight. Regarding the 10W-30 in your van now, if you live north where the weather is cold, I might be inclined to get that stuff out of there and go with either a 5W-30 or even a 0W-30.

    Best regards,
    Shipo
  • jpfjpf Posts: 496
    Thank you for your help. I live in Mississipi. The last few days it's been 60+ degrees.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    No worries then, 10W-30 should do just fine. The only real drawback with 10W-30 compared to 5W-30 is that it doesn't pump up to the top end of the engine quite as quickly, and as such, you might want to wait an extra twenty or thirty seconds or so before throwing the transmission in gear.

    Best regards,
    Shipo
  • jpfjpf Posts: 496
    I have a 2006 Caravan with the 2.4 L engine. It has about 63K miles now. I've been using synthetic oil since 10K miles. Runs great (knock on wood). I've checked the owner's manual and it states that the timing belt should be changed at 90K miles. This seems too long to me. Has anyone else had the timing belt changed for this engine size? What mileage did you have it done? Any advice is appreciated.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    While the 90,000 mile recommendation in-and-of-itself isn't all that long, I've seen belts age and fail before their replacement interval. I'm thinking five to six years is about the tops I'd run a timing belt; that said, at the rate you're going you'll see the mile mark before six years.
  • jpfjpf Posts: 496
    We now have close to 80k miles and I'm looking at having the timing belt replaced within the next six months. Originally, I planned on having only the timing belt and water pump replaced, but others have replaced the tensioner and idler pulley. Are these other parts an issue with the Chrysler 4 cylinder minivans? Any help is most welcome.
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