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Chrysler/Plymouth Voyager-Dodge Caravan Real World MPG

jay81jay81 Posts: 7
edited April 7 in Chrysler
I bought a 2006 Grand Caravan and have had poor mileage on two tanks now. I got 14.6mpg on the first tank and 17.8 on the second. The 17.8 was almost all freeway. My F-150 gets better mileage under the same use as this minivan. I have 21,000 on it and am ready to sell it. I took it in and Dodge says it is running as designed. I guess I know why friends told me to buy Toyota or Honda. My wife drove my F-150 in the same fashion she drives this and got better mileage. I have the 3.3l engine. My wife loves the look and the ride although a bit soft it is decent. We don't want to sell it, but at 14.6 I think a Sequoia could be a better economy vehicle. Has anyone else had this kind of mileage?
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Comments

  • sfitz3sfitz3 Posts: 3
    I have an 05 Grand Caravan SXT with the 3.8 and get about 18 average. I think the best I've done on a tank was around 21 being mostly highway miles at that point. Its got about 26k miles on it right now.
  • nvdfwnvdfw Posts: 3
    We do around ~18-19 in the city (driving kids to school, sports, groceries) and around ~22 when traveling.

    I found my wife does better MPG than I do :)

    We already have 45K miles in 30 months. Really pleased
  • jpfjpf Posts: 496
    We have a 4 cylinder 2006 Caravan. On the highway, we get between 25 and 30 MPG. Driving at a constant 60 MPH on flat roads gets us the 30 MPG. In the city, the mileage drops down to about 22 MPG. Overall, we're quite happy with the van.
  • aaron_taaron_t Posts: 301
    34k miles on a 2005 T&C Touring w/ 3.8L. About 20mpg overall. Sometimes down to 17-18 on cold city cycles and crappy fuel and up to 25mpg at 70mph highway. Suburban trips/commuting yields 20-21 mpg for most tanks.

    1500 miles on a 2007 same drivetrain yields the same.

    @ 21k miles, I'd change the fuel & air filters if never done before.
  • jay81jay81 Posts: 7
    Thanks for the reply. Only problem about changing the fuel filter is it does not have one. It is now in the tank. I still continue to get bad mileage. I am going to clean the injectors. I also am a mechanic. I don't have a check engine light and no driveability symptoms. I just want to know if there is a 3.3l getting bad mileage or did I get a limited edition gas guzzler? I can't fix what is not broken. Chrysler e-mailed me after I initiated contact and gave the generic hope it all works out for you speech. I think maybe I should have bought a Sienna.
  • marine2marine2 Posts: 1,155
    I have a 2005 Dodge GC with a 3.8 and I get right around 16-17 city. I get around 22 highway. The best I got highway was 23.8 mpg. This van also uses 5W20 oil, which is suppose to get better mileage.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Your mileage is actually slightly lower than our two 3.8 DGCs running on 0W-40. That said, ours are well broken in (read over 230,000 combined miles), and both of them continued to improve their mileage for at least the first 50,000 miles.

    According to my log of such things, the first trip we took in the 1998 started with fewer than 100 miles on the clock. That trip took us from Bergen County New Jersey up to Camden, Maine, and racked up nearly 1,000 miles. Total mpg for the trip was just over 19, and the single best tank was 19.7 (on non-ethnol gasoline no less). That van now has 141,000 on the clock and gets about 23 mpg on E10 over the same route.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • This probably doesn't help with the intial problem by jay81. But heres a story. I own a 1995 Plymouth Voyager SE with a 3.3 Liter V6 and overdrive trans. A few years back I had a 70mile each way to and from work, I was consistantly getting 25 mpg. All the sudden one day I get a check engine light. Code reveals it is an Oxygen Sensor ($70.00) for about 2 months I drove with that light on and my gas mileage dropped instantly to 5-7 mpg. I changed it and got my 25 mpg back. I would suggest having that sensor checked, Might be faulty and just not bad enough to kick the light on.
  • shagyashagya Posts: 5
    This might be helpful to some. I have a 1992 Caravan with the 3.3 litre, four speed automatic, 300,000 kilometres on the clock. Before I had the (single) oxygen sensor changed I was getting about 14 mpg [in American gallons but I live in Canada]. After changing the O2 sensor this almost doubled. The fuel economy readout on the trip computer is calibrated in American gallons or SI units but NOT imperial. Now it is about 11.5 - 12.0 litres/100 km or around 20 mpg American or 24 imperial. At moderate highway speeds I easily get between 9-10 litres/100 km.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    In message # 8 I reported that our 1998 typically gets about 23 mpg highway (on E10 fuel) now that it's fully broken in. What I didn't mention was that occasionally I've taken it real easy on long road trips (something that is difficult for me to do) and gotten as high as 26.0 mpg for a single tank of fuel (about 450 miles).

    Well, last week when there was 143,625 miles on the van I replaced the head gaskets due to a slow but annoying coolant leak. I finished that job last Saturday and then promptly fired'er up and took'er on a 2,000 mile road trip. On the way out I was delightfully surprised to see the OBC registering average mpg readings that hovered within a few tenths either way of 26.0 mpg, and I wasn't even taking it easy. Hmmm...

    Thursday as I was heading home I filled the van about fifteen miles outside of Port Huron, MI and then proceeded to drive 505 miles to Albany, NY before stopping again for my next tank of gas. Yes I took it easy (I kept the Cruise Control at about 67), even still I encountered a 10 mile long construction related traffic jam/bumper to bumper crawl and two international border crossings to negotiate. In the end the OBC registered an astounding 28.2 mpg, nearly 10% higher than my best reading ever. Not too shabby for an old 3.8 liter DGC with over 145,000 miles on it. ;-)

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • jay81jay81 Posts: 7
    Wow!! I can't understand why anyone would buy a smaller lighter vehicle when you can buy a van and get the same mileage. I think Chrysler is doing a wonderful job. With the new OBD two systems if you had a bad o2 sensor you will get a check engine light. The computer tests o2 systems, both pre and post catalytic converter every obd2 drive cycle. If it does not see correct switching of the o2 pre-coverter or too much switching post converter guess what? A check engine light appears. But, as long as you defy everything fueleconomy.gov and window stickers state you should call them to correct what real world numbers are. My F-150 now gets 38 mpg pulling my trailer in rush hour traffic. So Coool. And my Grand Caravan gets better than a prius!!!!
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,567
    That is rather amazing, Shipo! Does yours have the reactive AWD system or just FWD? I have a '98 with 3.8L AWD and it is pretty consistent at 19 mpg with about 70/30 h/c. I go real easy on it for fear of the transmission going 'kaboom.' It is very consistent at 19 and I expect it might get as high as 21 on a strictly highway trip. Just shy of 174,000 on the ODO, but I have only owned it for 4000 miles.
    2010 Subaru Forester, 2011 Ford Fiesta, 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup, 1974 Ford Pinto Wagon
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Thanks. My 1998 DGC Sport was produced late in the model year and is one of the very few with both FWD and the 3.8 liter engine (an engine that was normally reserved for the optional engine on the FWD ES and all AWD models).

    Prior to the head gasket swap that van would typically deliver between 23 and 24 mpg during the summer on a long freeway trip, and more like 21-22 with your 70/30 h/c split. I only have about 2,500 miles on it since I did the gaskets, but so far it seems to be running about two mpg better in all driving environments.

    Given the rather astounding jump in mileage I find myself wondering if that van has had a head-gasket leak since we picked it up new in July of 1998. FWIW, when I pulled the heads, the front head had to be kind of cracked loose before it would give up its grip on the head gasket, however, the rear head simply pulled free, no coaxing required.

    Regarding your van, your mileage sounds just about spot on for an AWD model. 174,000 miles huh? How long before you figure you'll cross 200,000 miles? ;-)

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,567
    We put about 20,000 miles a year on our vehicles, so I would expect to cross that line by the end of next summer, given no catastrophes in the interim. Overall, it runs very well and was well maintained by its previous owners. I am constantly leery of the transmission though, because I do not know any owners who have one with more miles (and on original transmission), so I am basically traveling uncharted territory. My '96 Outback had 220,000 on it when it was destroyed, and was running well, so I have little fear of high miles.... but this is a Chrysler product! :surprise:

    The only problem that I can see currently cropping up is the dash gauges went dead on my wife and I twice since we purchased it. Both were of short duration (about 2 minutes on me, 5 or so for my wife). I am sitting on it for now until I can either get more information on a real fix or until it gets bad enough that I must address it.

    I think the sway bar bushings are getting worn and allowing some suspension noise, but it is not bad by any means. I am actually very surprised that this engine does not leak or burn any oil. I check the oil with every fuel fill up (about 320 miles between fills) and it has not even wiggled since I purchased it. It is due for an oil change, so now I have to decide what to run in it. I really liked the Amsoil 0W-30 I put in my 07 Outback, but I do not think I want to swap it over to synthetic at 174K - that is probably asking for a gasket leak to develop in short order, but it really depends on the condition of the gaskets. I check the engine over regularly, and I do not see any other leaks (coolant, transmission, etc).

    Unfortunately, when asked, the prior owner said he did not have any maintenance paperwork because "all the maintenance was performed by him." Now, he is a certified Chrysler mechanic, so he was likely telling the truth, but I am surprised he did not at least keep a log of when he did what. Maybe I was just supposed to take it on faith that the maintenance was performed at the factory intervals. He did specify that he had done the maintenance on this vehicle since new, and he would change the transmission fluid every 15-25K miles, depending on when the 1st owner would bring it to him.

    The hardest thing to get used to with it is the FWD torque steer, which is very noticeable. This is the first (primarily) FWD vehicle I have owned. Oh, and the ground clearance is very minimal, which also causes surprises on the rough roads I drive daily. :blush:
    2010 Subaru Forester, 2011 Ford Fiesta, 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup, 1974 Ford Pinto Wagon
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    FWIW, there are a few high mileage vans (i.e. over 200,000) out there with the original transmission. Two things seem to be key, changing the fluid early and often and having a tranny cooler added to the cooling lines that run to the radiator.

    Regarding the sway bar bushings, yeah, I think I hear ours getting a little loose as well, not terribly surprising given the miles. That said, the bushings that Chrysler used on the Gen 4 vans (we have a 2003 too) were junk and needed to be replaced. When I did that job I was delighted to find that it is a relatively simple task with the parts costing only about $11.

    Regarding your oil, I switched our vans over to Mobil 1 fairly early in their respective lives, and am currently using Mobil 1 0W-40 in them with stellar Used Oil Analysis (UOA) results. After pulling down the top end of engine I'm fairly confident that if you were to switch over to synthetic oil you wouldn't develop any oil leaks as there are basically zero of the old style gaskets that might swell or might be inclined to leak due to being washed off..

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • akburbakburb Posts: 3
    I have a 97 GC, 3.3 that appears to be leaking coolant from the right rear corner. It looks like it is coming from the head gasket. Where did yours leak? Is this a common problem? How difficult was it to change the gaskets?
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    See my initial response to your other post here:

    shipo, "Voyager/Caravan leaking coolant" #5, 9 Oct 2007 2:17 pm

    I'll respond about the head gasket job over there as well. ;-)

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • Jay,

    Is your post a typo? You say your mpg improved on your F150 and your Caravan? What exactly did you do to improve mpg in both vehicles?
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    I think Jay's post was a tongue-in-cheek way of saying that he didn't believe my post regarding the jump in my fuel economy following the head-gasket replacement job I did on our 3.8 liter 1998 DGC last summer. Said another way, I don't actually think he was claiming that the fuel economy on either of his vehicles changed one bit. ;)

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,567
    Yep, you can never please everyone's sense of doubt. Frankly, I see no reason why a well aged, well maintained engine should not provide better efficiency than one that is green. People spit out the word "van" like it is contemptuous, but these are not big, boxy Econolines that push more air than they let pass. *rolls eyes*

    Funny enough, I never even noticed that post (by jay) prior to now. Really, it added that much to the topic. ;)
    2010 Subaru Forester, 2011 Ford Fiesta, 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup, 1974 Ford Pinto Wagon
  • jay81jay81 Posts: 7
    There is no improvement. I was sarcastic and don't care what you post. My van has a whopping 25,000 on it and my F-150 gets better mileage that it does. The 12mpg in the city happened again during a cold spell we had. (29 degrees) It does not matter though as it always gets around 15 or less in the city. Our friend has a 2007 3.8 Grand Caravan and are about the same. The difference is they get on the freeway and we don't as we have no need to. If I do get on the freeway here and there I have seen as good as 18mpg. I just thought it would do better as I had a Quest that did 17 all the time and 23 on my freeway best. I am glad technology has allowed us to lose mileage as you vintage vans crush my best mileage. Dodge has looked at it when they did the steering rack warranty for me. The exact quote was" Fuel trims are goof on the DRB 3 and o2 sensors pre and post switch, nothing we can do". My neighbor and I must have the two gas guzzler editions though. I am an ASE Certified mechanic and Phase two cretified emmission specialist. I am not on a rant and speak facts. The fact is it can't get what is claimed in the city. Most cars don't. Pick up consumer reports and read the issue last year where they exposed many vehicles getting 30 - 50% less than claimed. In the meanwhile good luck to all with the great mileage you get and the future carbon tax you will get to pay. Let EPA know the correct tons per year you all put out so they can correct the error.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,567
    Well, you are on a rant, but that is okay. You can be on a rant and speak facts simultaneously.

    One thing about the Dodge vans that has come to light this winter is that they are not equipped with cold-weather friendly lubricants. At -40F, it takes an annoyingly large amount of effort to get my van to move simply due to the viscosity of the lubricants in the drive train. As this van is 10 years old and lived here during its entire service life, I would have expected the fluids to be changed to the climate. Apparently not, so I will do that this spring/summer.

    For the record, my economy is about 13.5 this winter - pretty awful compared to the 19.5 experienced during the summer. But, my old '96 Subaru Outback used to dip down to 16-18 mpg in the winter compared to 24-25 in the summer, so I suppose it is not so bad, but at least the Outback would move with relative ease in the extreme cold.

    Aside from maintenance concerns, driving conditions make all the difference to fuel economy - one person's city driving is not the same as the next, necessarily. Vintage. Hahahaha; I have a "vintage" van, a '69 Ford Econoline. Your mileage beats it. ;)
    2010 Subaru Forester, 2011 Ford Fiesta, 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup, 1974 Ford Pinto Wagon
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    I cannot believe the mileage that the two of y'all are getting. The absolute worst city mileage I've been able to conjure in either of our 3.8 liter DGCs is high 17s in the winter and just a hair over 20 in the summer. I just filled up this afternoon after running errands all over the Boston area for the last couple of days, and the mileage was a relatively decent 18.7 mpg. A few weeks back I took our 1998 on a nice easy road trip up to Okemo Mountain in Vermont for a little skiing; with the cruise control set at a fairly conservative 72, I recorded 21.6 mpg for the entire trip (which included a fair amount of tooling around town). Sounds pretty reasonable for a van with over 154,000 miles on the clock. ;-)

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • jay81jay81 Posts: 7
    First, I liked all my spelling errors in my last post. I was in a hurry. If you are honest on your mileage than you are rare. Most people I talk with in the great Northwest get the same as I am. The temperature is usually around the upper 30's to low 40's in the winter here. Temp as well as winter blend fuels destroy mileage as well as performance. As far as lubricants go I never have a problem moving the vehicle. ATF 4 is still the trans fluid they use. The newer van runs the 5w20 in the engine as it has tighter bearing tolerances and most manufactures are using it. Ford is one of the first American line vehicles to run it. I like the van, but wish it did better. I saw in the consumer reports article I referred to that the Honda got 12 in the city. So it is not just the Dodge.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Yeah, we get the oxygenated winter fuels here too, unfortunately, now that the infrastructure is in place (as of about a year ago), we get winter fuel all year round. :( Regarding my mileage, I have a complete log of every fill-up both of our vans have been given, going right back to the day they rolled out of the showroom (which totals some 259,000 combined miles). Needless to say, I have a pretty good idea of how far they both go on a gallon of fuel.

    For both of our vans, their worst fuel economy was logged during the first 1,000 miles (geez, our 1998 got 17.2 on a road trip when it was new :P ), and their best fuel economy was recorded after there were six figures showing on the odometer. So far, the best the (heavier and more powerful) 2003 3.8 has been able to do on a road trip was 26.3 mpg while the 1998 3.8 managed that one 500+ mile tank last summer (immediately following the head gasket replacement job) that worked out to 28.2 mpg.

    As for the weather and the oil that I use, here in New Hamster we've been seeing morning temperatures that range between just below zero to a bit above freezing; and to keep everything nice and lubricated I've been running both vans on Mobil 1 0W-40 for several years now (0W-30 before that, and in the case of the 1998, 5W-30 before that).

    Regarding the mileage that other folks get, hmmm, well I'm fairly active on other Chrysler Minivan forums, and to be quite honest, neither of our vans are considered all that unusual by the other members. There is always a group that gets crap mileage (and complain about it a lot), a group of "hyper-milers" that make my numbers look pathetic, and then everybody else who manages to get decent but not stellar mileage from their vans (my category).

    So, the question remains, "Why does your van get such lousy fuel economy?"

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • jay81jay81 Posts: 7
    Are you an accountant? Just kidding! When I say I drive city only I mean it. I am stop and go all of the tank with no trips further than 5 miles. If anyone has a digital read out and sees the mileage on acceleration they see how bad it can be. I drive a lot of cars. I drove a 2008 Malibu with a 3.6 and when lightly accelerating it was getting 6-8 mpg. A Ford Fusion I just saw yesterday had an avg speed of 25 on the digital info center and the mileage on that little car was only 20.2. The best part is he drives strictly freeway in stop and go till he gets to the city. That city driving is better than what I do and that car weighs much less, thus needs less fuel to move it. I have hills out here as well most range from 6-12% grade. I am from the Pennsylvania area and remember the things I thought were hills till I moved here. Maybe your fuel grades are better there or I should have bought a 1998 DGC. There is no check engine light on, all pids are within spec, and tire psi, etc. are good. The driveability tech (both of them) looked at it and these gentleman know there stuff as I have known them for a long time. Tell me Chrysler only lets them check pids and general things under warranty. They did more for me than that and still came up with nothing. ( If you have a tip let me know as I don't claim to know everything). Again I have looked at it as well with the $5000 DRB 3 and came to the same conclusion. Fuel cells in the adaptive fuel stategy are within spec. There is not much else to do except complain at this point. I looked up the Honda Oddesey and found the same complaint. Some were amazed with their mileage and some were astounded. We have several Caravans in our fleet and I am going to check with the drivers on their mileage. We have an 08 and I was told by the driver of that one it is a thirsty vehicle. Well anyway. Take care.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    He-he, no, I'm not an accountant. ;)

    I think you've identified your problem (at least to a certain extent). Urban cycle trips of less than five miles are guaranteed to produce crappy mileage results, even on a new Civic or other car of that ilk. Even still, I find your mileage lower than I would expect. Could it be that you've been driving those short trips for so long that you've actually unseated the rings due to running rich all of the time?

    Regarding the digital read-out, yes, both of our vans have it too (although for 2003 Chrysler dropped the "instant" mpg display), and I have seen very low readings, however, I cannot remember a time when I saw less than 10 mpg with a fully warmed up engine, errr, unless I was at full throttle in first or second gear climbing a mountain. FWIW, I live on a street with a 7.5% grade and have a 12% grade in my long driveway, and when the engine is cold I've seen as low as 4 mpg displayed, even under light acceleration.

    Regarding our fuel, up until about a year and a half ago, we were getting 100% gasoline in the summer months and gasoline laced with MTBE during the winter. Now that New England has the necessary infrastructure to support ethanol, all of our fuel is E10 (10% ethanol) year-round. Needless to say, I noticed an instant drop of between 5% and 8% in the fuel economy of our cars. That said, I do admit that for my record fuel economy run last summer, I filled up in rural Michigan (about 20 miles southwest of Port Huron), which is an area where I believe they still use 100% gasoline. I then proceeded to wait in a line queue to pay the toll at the Blue Water Bridge, and then in another for Canadian customs. Following those two long delays (with lots of engine idling), I managed to get almost all of the way to Hamilton before road construction conspired to slow me to a bumper to bumper crawl (with lots of episodes of no movement at all) for about 12 miles. Then came U.S. customs in the Buffalo area, a toll booth or two, and then finally the NY Thruway.

    Even with all of the stop-and-go stuff and all of the idling, I managed to get over 500 miles on that tank. The weather conditions were mid to high 80s, moderate humidity, and little or no wind. I kept the windows open, the A/C off and the cruise control at about 67 for the entire trip. I'm thinking that I might have gotten at least one more mile per gallon (maybe even two) if I'd been able to set the CC and go the entire distance with no stops.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • jay81jay81 Posts: 7
    I have had the van for 6000 miles now so I doubt the ring issue is a problem. If my rings were bad I would also consume oil. I suppose if I were anal I could run a leak down and compression check, but I do not believe this is an issue. I have had tanks with mostly 60/40 hwy/cty and still only get my best 18mpg. Anyway, fuel, road, whatever. I have a friend who works for the state and he is currently checking the mileage on the GC's they have and they have to track the MPG on all there vehicles to the T. I will let you know what I find. In the meanwhile, I have no answers why it gets what it does.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,567
    The couple of tanks I have had in the 13s (last night I filled up 14.985 gallons over 204.1 miles) are after cold spells. The temperatures over the last tank were no warmer than -30F. Most of the time it was between -40F and -50F. Most folks from down south can scarcely comprehend those temperatures, but the difference between zero and -50 is the same as the difference between +50 and zero. ;)

    It is not the transmission or engine oil that is the problem, it is the differential oil and the grease. After changing things out this summer, I hope it will produce a more tolerable 16-17 mpg next winter. As a reminder, this is an AWD van with 178,500 currently on the ticker.

    The sub 5-mile trips of stop and go are the culprit. In those conditions the van is scarcely even warmed up by the end of the trip. Just as an example, my Subaru has an instantaneous MPG readout. When the engine is cold in the morning, the readout will max out at about 20 mpg driving at a steady 55. When it is warm, it reads out about 35 mpg over that same flat stretch of road. The average economy over a tank is right at 26 with that car. If I was running it on short errands every trip, it would definitely be under 20.
    2010 Subaru Forester, 2011 Ford Fiesta, 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup, 1974 Ford Pinto Wagon
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Yeah, when the mercury goes-a-hidin', short trip fuel consumption goes through the roof. That your van is an AWD version just compounds the consumption issues with significantly higher drive-train loss in the diffs.

    I learned to turn a pretty fair wrench from a dude that did his apprenticeship before WWII, and he told me that back in his time, the transmissions (all manuals in those days) and differentials were all treated to two fluid changes per year, one for the summer months and one for the winter months. Geez, I was even tempted to do that to the New Process 4-Speed in my 1970 Challenger after I moved from San Diego to north-central Michigan back in the late 1970s. I remember wrestling with that sucker when trying to switch gears following a cold start was lots of fun. ;)

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
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