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Honda Odyssey vs Dodge/Chrysler minivans



  • odd1odd1 Posts: 227
    Thanks for the info. I know no manufacturer is immune from problems. That said I'll go with Honda's long term reputation for reliability over DC. As you point out Honda corrected the issue within a year. Chrysler claims that they fixed their transmission issues twelve years(I don't remember is 98 is when the reliability numbers got better?) after they've known about them.

    That is why I'll never buy a DC product. What is the saying? Fool me once it's on you twice it's on me?

    BTW carlton1 my 84 Accord(auto) had no transmission problems for the 185,000 miles I put on it. The college student I sold it to sold it about a year ago with 250,000 on it with no transmission problems.

    Honda is not perfect by any means. With their reputation for engineering, why do they still design timing belts that will take out the whole engine if it breaks?
  • 4aodge4aodge Posts: 288
    I agree and disagree with what odd1 is saying about DC minivan reliability. It is true that they have known there has been an obvious problem with the transmission in their vans for at least a decade. Yet they have made only started to make modifications to improve reliability in the last few years, and this has always troubled me.

    However, I do not understand why someone would not buy a future DC product when they have obviously increased the build quality and reliability of their minivans significantly. The complaints of tranny failures in DC minivans shrinks every year, and it's only a matter of time before the quality in DC minivans is truly comparable to that of some Honda vehicles, like the Ody.

    Basicly, I think holding a company's past failures and mistakes against them while they have made significant and intense efforts to improve the quality of their products is silly and unfair. It's almost as if some people with Ody's WANT to be able to say "I WILL NEVER BUY A DC MINIVAN" just because of some troubling tranny problems the past.

    As for Accord transmission problems, I've never had a friend or family member with an Accord of any model year that has reported problems. Same for many of my friends with Toyota Camry's who seem to like them very much as well.

    We'll we have owned three Chrysler vehicles within the last three years. All have performed as well as we ever could have expected them to and none have suffered from any major problem.

    Here the DC products we've owned in order...

    1998 Grand Caravan SE: traded it in at 70k miles; NO PROBLEMS

    2000 Chrysler Town & Country LX: currently have 25k miles; NO PROBLEMS

    2001 Chrysler PT Cruiser Limited: currently has 3k miles; NO PROBLEMS

    -Adam (16/m/CA)
  • DTKWOKDTKWOK Posts: 131
    Typically if the timing belt broke on a Honda, there is a very good chance that the engine will suffer a good deal amount of damage. Why? Because Honda's are usually interference engines, that means if your belt broke, the pistons will still be translating up and down BUT, the valves will NOT, and chances are, you'll end up with some bent/destroyed vavles in the process (pistons running into valves, vice versa). Other car company engines don't have that type of system (i.e. non-intereference). Just change your belt at the recommended times and you will not have any problems with it.
  • wellphytwellphyt Posts: 28
    Change the timing when recommended. I owned a 1985 Honda Prelude and the timing belt broke at 68,000 miles. DTKWOK is exactly right. When the belt broke the valves stopped but the pistons kept moving. The result was one bent valve guide and 9 bent valves. Thankfully Honda payed for the repairs. At the time timing belt replacement on the Prelude wasn't part of the maintenance schedule.
  • jimj139jimj139 Posts: 6
    The big difference in the Dodge vans and Odyssey is resale value. The dealer I just visited carries Honda and Dodge. Odyssey had to pay sticker $26,640. Could get a Dodge EX caravan for $23,800. Salesman said you could buy the dodge used in 2-3 months for about 18K, they had a 99Honda Ex with 50k miles and just it for 21K.
    Dumb to buy a new Chrsysler, they have flooded the market with these vans. Buy one slightly used for 2/3 the cost of a new one.
    Comparing both vehicles, the Dodge was a much better ride, quieter, excellent sound system.
    Dodge had cheap upholstery, child seat tethers sticking out of the seats, ouch!. The 2001 dodge is smaller, they went for style over function.
    From a drivers standpoint, buy the Dodge EX, for passengers, buy the Honda.
    I still don't know which way to go!
  • carleton1carleton1 Posts: 560
    The Odyssey currently holds resale value better.
    The GC and Ody would be equal for me as the driver. Although I appreciate the padded door armrest of GC, I would like the manual height adjustment of current Ody LX. The GC is more comfortable for front passenger due to Ody glove box intrusion. 2nd row seating is better in the Ody. 3rd row would be better in Ody if GC had 50/50 split 3rd seat as in GC EX. Our 99 GC SE has more comfortable seating with one piece 3rd row seating than does the Ody. Ody has twice as much space behind 3rd seat.
    I would NOT buy a used DC minivan. True, one may be able to buy a USED GC EX for $5k to $6k in a couple of months BUT it will have between 20,000 and 30,000 miles on it since it was a fleet or rental where it probably was ABUSED. Most USED DC minivans available for purchase at 1 year or less were driven by people who did NOT own them. If privately owned, the GC was probably a lemon. Most people who buy a new GC love their GC and will keep it. The popularity of DC for fleet or rental contributes to the lower resale. Used car managers will pay only the amount auctions are indicating. However, they will make more money on a lower mileage used one-owner GC that usually has more features than standard fleet/rental units.
    My sister and brother-in-law got a NEW 2001 Odyssey EX not long ago for $26,660 which was $180 less than MSRP of $26,840. They love it with power sliding doors that my sister loves. The large cargo area is important to them as they frequently pick up family members at the airport.
    The 1999 Ody LX we drove March 16, 1999 (without a salesman present) drove very similar to our 99 GC SE. I could not tell any difference in handling, road noise, performance. Perhaps the lighter weight of our GC SE is commensurate with less power?
    Unless you plan to keep the minivan for a very long time, buy the Odyssey. If you believe DC minivans to be less reliable, get the Ody. We plan to either sell or give our 99 GC SE to one of our daughters or keep it for a LONG time. We were apparently lucky and got a very good GC SE that has 30,604 miles with ZERO problems. All of the many DC minivan owners we know have had no problems and love their Caravans/Voyagers/Town & Country minivans. Many have owned 1 or 2 DC minivans before purchasing their current one.
  • 4aodge4aodge Posts: 288
    Today I took our new 2001 PT Cruiser into our local 5 star Chrysler dealership to have the 3k mile oil/filter change done. While there I asked Dave, one of the service managers about the causes of the notorious Chrysler transmission over the last decade and half and why so many have either failed or have serious problems.

    He said the blame could be passed around to many places. He said Chrysler has re-done their transmissions over three times since the first minivans rolled out in the 80s and the current version used on the 2001-2002 model DC vans are "bullet-proof". According to Dave, a big part of the problem has been the owners of the vans with failed transmissions because many of them fail to properly service and maintain their vehicles. For example, he said not too long ago a customer came in and complained about his van's transmission and when asked about how often he serviced his car, he said "what service???".

    Obviously, Chrysler did not make the best transmission on the planet to put into their vehicles. However, I would be willing to bet that the rate of failure in 2001 models is much lower than it was during the re-design in 1996.

    Carelton, I think your right when you say the Ody's weight really ties down the powerful engine Honda put into the van. I think the same can be said for the 2001 long-base DC minivans as well. When I test drove a 2001 Town & Country Limited with the new 3.8L V6 it was only moderately more powerful than the 158hp 3.3L V6 in our 2000 Town & Country LX. In that respect, I was rather dissapointed.

    -Adam (16/M/CA)
  • 4aodge4aodge Posts: 288
    If Chrysler would really like to boast about having the fastest and most powerful V6 engine offered in any minivan, it should reconsider offering the 3.5L V6 engine as an option on the 2002 Town & Country Limited and 2002 Dodge Grand Caravan ES. Offering this powerful engine would attract people who not only like to enjoy the driving experience but also those who carry heavy loads and tow boats, trailers, ect.

    The 3.5L V6 engine is the same one that is optional on the Dodge Intrepid ES and standard on the Chrysler 300m/Prowler. A salesman and friend at the local Chrysler dealership said that with without any computer speed-chip limiting the 3.5-liter SOHC 24-valve V6, it could reach speeds of at least 150 mph. This would be a great option for AWD long-wheel base DC minivans which are heavier than the regular long-wheel base models. It also might allow these vans to tow significantly more than they currently are able to.

    Hopefully, DC might choose to put this babby into future models. It would really bring a new level of performance to the minivan market.

  • wellphytwellphyt Posts: 28
    Your comparison above is right on. Dodge EX has quieter and smoother ride and better sound system. Ody EX feels more spacious, has better engineered second and third row seats, and comes standard with climate control, traction control and the homelink system. The Ody overall is a more functional van. I think the Honda design team must have done some extensive consumer research before they designed the current Ody.
  • drew_drew_ Posts: 3,382
    Re-do as in updated. The transmission has never been completely redesigned from the ground up. What they have basically done is to look at what has failed, and then to tried to strengthen it so that it doesn't fail again. This has worked only marginally well at best, which is why it has taken them literally decades to work it out.

    Although part of the reason for the transmission failures was due to improper maintenance or the wrong fluids being used (much of the time by the Chrysler service department), the fact remains that the transmission design was never really good in the first place and many owners were having problems within the first 20K-40K miles of their vehicles' lives. That's practically brand new and obviously something terribly wrong there. Chrysler knows this, and the owners who have had problems know this.

    In any case, we have a seperate Chrysler minivans transmission problems discussion topic, so feel free to carry on this discussion in there if you wish.

    The 3.8L V6 engine is not new, simply updated with more horsepower and torque. It's still the basic same 165hp 3.8L V6 engine that my '94 Grand Voyager LE AWD has. I found the 3.3L V6 sluggish in comparison though and the 3.0L V6 was worse, even in the non-"Grand" version of the vans. In my experience (and I've had plenty of experience with Chrysler loaner minivans) the fuel economy from the smaller engines isn't much better/worse than the 3.8L V6 either. The 3.8 in my van is good, but it runs out of breath in certain conditions.

    BTW, what does the "(16/M/CA)" sig at the end of nearly each of your messages mean?

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  • DTKWOKDTKWOK Posts: 131
    16/M/CA = age/sex/location, very popular in online gaming conversations.

  • 4aodge4aodge Posts: 288
    If only the weight of these new vans was improved, I think their powerful engines would shine even more. Especially in the case of the Ody's 3.5L V6 and the T&C's 3.8L V6. While the 3.8L engine is not new, it certainly does feel that way when compared to the 3.3L V6 in my 00 T&C, as it is much smoother and quieter under hard excelleration.

    Drew, under what conditions do you feel your 165hp 3.8L V6 "runs out of breath"?

    The fastest I've ever taken our van was to 85 on the freeway but only for about two minutes. I was worried about cops and possibly getting a ticket, and my parents would not be to happy about that. Anyway, the van seems to be very comfortable at 80mph but as you near 85 it seems to be nearing the end of it's threshhold.

    However, I have two friends who have take then their DC minivans slightly over 100mph on several occasions. One of these friends has a 96 Grand Caravan LE and the other has a 98 Grand Caravan SE, both with the 3.3L V6 engine. On optimal conditions I think the 3.3L could pull 110mph, but that might be pushing it.

    What do the Ody owners have to say about the 3.5L VTEC engine in their vans? Any performance comments? Problems?

    00 T&C LX
  • DTKWOKDTKWOK Posts: 131
    I personally have taken my Ody to 95 mph (Vegas run), at which point it's running about 2500 rpm, seems to rev quite happy still (V-TEC kicking in I guess).
  • drew_drew_ Posts: 3,382
    Adam, it runs out of breath when climbing up a grade at higher speeds (48-60mph). I have to literally floor it if I want to pick up more speed. More torque at higher rpms would be nice. However, what I usually do is pick up speed at the bottom of the hill and then maintain a steady speed, around 90 km/hr. No problems doing that.

    I also find that the transmission ratios between 3rd and 4th gears also a bit far apart. When driving up to one particularly ski resort, I have to constanty switch between 3rd and 4th. It revs too high in 3rd gear, but starts bogging down in 4th gear. Eventually I just stopped using the van to go up to this ski hill :-) The new vans appear to be improved in this area.

    I've taken the van up to 145 km/hr, but only for about 30 seconds and on a flat, smooth, and deserted road. However, at that speed, and in fact above 110-120 km/hr, the front end doesn't feel very stable. Almost as if it's starting to lift. No surprise there. Oh yes, and the wind noise is quite noticable at those speeds ;-). In contrast, the MB SUV that I also drive feels as planted at 145 km/hr on the same stretch of road that it does at 50 km/hr. Since I don't typically drive at such high speeds, I'm not too concerned about this.

    DTKWOK, thanks I figured as much, but I just wanted to make sure :-)

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  • carleton1carleton1 Posts: 560
    No problems encountered with transmission of DC minivans owned by people who had proper, routine maintenance performed. (I asked each of them when the other one was not there while getting 30,000 mile service performed).
    BTW, how does the gas mileage and performance with PT Cruiser compare with the T&C? I would suspect the mileage of PT Cruiser slightly higher with performance of T&C the winner. I would like to see a DC minivan with PT Cruiser styling from the front doors forward (enlarged to the same size as T&C/GC) AND with at least the 3.3L V6.
  • cgaydoscgaydos Posts: 116
    "No problems encountered with transmission of DC minivans owned by people who had proper, routine maintenance performed."

    Based on what evidence?

    I babied our tranny in our '94. First, we got the towing package for the extra duty AT cooling, but never towed. Second, we made sure to always come to a complete stop before changing gears (our mechanic strongly urged this). Third, we changed the AT fluid every 15k miles, and yes with the correct fluid (our mechanic specializes in DC minivans and can give lectures on tranny care).

    Result? Almost made it to 50k miles. Granted, this was over 7 years of predominantly short, 1 mile or less stop-and-go trips.

    Based on incomplete evidence I've heard over the years, your likelihood of having a pre-98 DC minivan tranny fail is affected by the following factors:

    * Luck. Some failed in the first year no matter what owners did.
    * Driving severity. Lots of long trips on flat, uncrowded highways won't strain the tranny as much as soccer mom trips. When I hear of pre-98 DC minivans going 100k+ miles with the original AT I usually find they were predominantly highway miles. Too bad DC minivans are bought more by soccer moms than traveling salesmen.
    * Driving like an adult. Don't strain the AT by, for example, switching from R to D before the minivan has stopped.
    * AT maintenance every 15k miles with the correct fluid.
    * Keeping tranny cool. Good: heavy duty cooler. Bad: Towing, especially uphill.
  • drew_drew_ Posts: 3,382
    I'm starting to wonder if it's worth adding a tranny cooler at my next oil change, even though this van won't be with me for more than a year or two at most. Like you, the transmission in my van was babied with the Chrysler dealer doing all of the necessary maintenance, but yet at 35K kms, it started bucking occasionally after stop lights/signs and the torque converter failed eventually, a day before the scheduled appointment at the dealer. "Park" was the only thing that would work. Fortunately this was at a parking lot (it just refused to shift into drive or reverse) and the van was parked nose forward so towing was relatively easy. Dollies had to be fitted to the rear wheels because of the AWD.

    Since I live on a mountain, I do drive up and down at least once a day, and my commute is also mostly through city traffic, though I try to time the lights so that I don't have to stop and go as much.

    I'm curious if you had the tranny cooler fitted to your '01 Grand Caravan?

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  • cgaydoscgaydos Posts: 116
    I can't say how much difference the tranny cooler makes, so can't say with authority whether you should add it to yours. You didn't say how many km's you have currently, and when the tranny was last repaired. IMHO, if the last repair was fairly recent I'd add a cooler, if only because of the mountain trips.

    As I recall you have a '94 GC SE? Did it come with the "O/D off" option? Do you use that up and downhill? According to my '94 manual, using O/D off when on hills will increase the life of the AT.

    And, yes, I made sure my '01 had all the HD options. The price was very small given the benefit.
  • drew_drew_ Posts: 3,382
    Currently with just under 96,500 kms on the odometer and I'm still on my first tranny (knock on wood) :-)

    It's actually an almost fully loaded '94 Grand Voyager LE AWD with everything but leather and the towing package, so it does have the O/D off switch, which I use quite frequently up and down hills. I usually shift into 3rd manually when necessary anyway.

    BTW, how did you like the digital dash on the '94 T&C?

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  • carleton1carleton1 Posts: 560
    Both service writers said they had some DC minivans that needed transmission repair...but when the owner was asked when the transmission was serviced, the response was "What service" Does the Transmission need to be serviced"?
    NOT one of the dozens of DC minivans (owned by people I know)has had transmission failure. Read of the many Odyssey transmission failures reported in Edmund's Town Hall. Okay. Do not believe the Odyssey owners who post in the Town Hall. Call it anecdotal or whatever, but for me, the 1999 GC SE represented a far greater value than the Honda Odyssey AND my 1999 GC SE has had ZERO problems in 30,650 miles. How many Honda Odysseys have a better reliability than ZERO problems?
  • cgaydoscgaydos Posts: 116
    I liked it a lot, and actually miss it. It was more precise ... I could set the cruise at 74 mph exactly very easily. It was a piece of cake to swap back and forth between miles and kilometers, instead of trying to read those tiny km numbers on the regular dash. It had more gauges. The fuel gauge changed from E-to-F to E-to-1/4 when the gas got low, allowing for a more precise reading of how much gas was left.

    Still, I think it was only available on the '94 and '95 T & Cs, as I recall. And prior to '96, the T & C was produced in very small numbers. And I've heard that problems with it were common, although I never had any.
  • calgcalg Posts: 53
    of odyssey owners with great reliability. We have had our 2001 Odyssey EX for almost a year and have put 19,000 trouble-free miles on it... only into the dealer for scheduled maintenance, AND we paid UNDER MSRP, imagine that!
  • 4aodge4aodge Posts: 288
    Hey drew, do you think you will ever consider buying a 2002+ model year DC minivan? Since Chrysler is still the only company that makes minivans with an AWD system, if you want another van....a DC vehicle would be the logical choice. I hear Chrysler has updated the AWD system for its 2001 and 2002 models and has made it lighter and more efficient.

    I wouldn't buy a 2001 model DC van, but I would certainly would want a 2002 AWD van from Chrysler. A Grand Caravan ES AWD with the 3.8L V6 would be really nice. I'd like to see the look on wanna-be-macho SUV owner's faces when they look at my new van and I tell them it has AWD and heavy-duty suspension:)

  • odd1odd1 Posts: 227
    I'm glad to see you believe in people. Did you really think the Chrysler mechanics were going to tell you that the transmissions have been a problem for years? The proper maintaince line by Chrysler is a great way to avoid admitting fault. It has been the company line for years. You are a military man. You should know that it's rare that anyone admits fault. They just state the policy that they higher ups tell them to. Do you think people that own the other makes without troubles are ALL doing the proper maintaince? Also, why is it that so many people have gotten assisantance from Chrysler for payment of transmission problems out of warantee? Could it be Chrysler knows it is more than improper maintance?

    Does this remind any one of we can't duplicate the results of the failed part that the IIHS found TWICE? With, it causing a fuel leak once.

    When your van's tranny makes it past 80,000 then you can have something to crow about.
  • cho7819cho7819 Posts: 20
    Go to . It clearly states that the fault is not in driver abuse but rather in a design flaw in the transmission that Chrysler has neglected to fix over the years.
  • DTKWOKDTKWOK Posts: 131

    I believe GM/Chevy still makes the AWD Safari/Astro van, that thing has towing capabilities (5500 lbs, I think.)
  • odd1odd1 Posts: 227
    Never say never. Who knew 15 years ago that D/C could sell that many? It will be another 15 years before we'll know if another manufacturer can do that. In which case it will be all the more impressive because there won't be years of sales with no real compition. Twenty years ago I doubt anyone thought the top two selling cars(Not vehicles. I know that trucks are the top sellers.) in America would be Japanese makes. How many years have they been one and two since?

    Don't forget that that number is a lot of customers that won't buy another without improvements in reliability due to the problems they have had in ownership of a DC and the need for safety improvements. I count myself as one.

    You seem to forget that if Honda had the manufacturing capabilities to keep up with demand; you would be driving an Odyssey right now. It was your first choice wasn't it?

    As for 99 odyssey problems, Honda has addressed its transmission issues within two years. They are not the maker that has spent over a decade blaming driver maintaince for their tranny problems. Chrysler has known about these problems for years but didn't do anything about until they had tough compition. It will be a while until we know if the 99 have a forty percent failure rate that has widely been reported for D/C transmissions for some model years. I personally doubt it. Once, again you are using an extremely small sample, posters on the boards here, to "prove" your beliefs. Give me hard facts and the stats to back them up.

    Carlton you continue to attack the Odyssey without ever having an answer to any of the Chrysler issues that anyone brings up. If Chrysler was never able to reproduce the part failure that caused the fuel leak in the IIHS test and they feel it is safe. Then, why did they redesign the part for every vehicle made after they received the results?
  • Nice to know my old school DC van from '91 can still kick some honda A$$. The oddysey has just been added to my honda slaughter list, along with the civic, accord, cr-v and crx. Heading north on hwy 45 in WI with an oddysey behind me and an accord in front of me, we were all going about 90. Well this lamer in the oddysey kept trying to get ahead of me when a slower car was coming up and each time I'd just punch it and stay in front of him and he'd back off. After about 5 times of this the weener figured he could outrun me, but needless to say I left him in my dust. By this time I was pretty tired of him, so I took it up to about 120, I watched in my rearview as he eventually caught up and slowed down, but he didn't try passing me after that. He must have felt silly, his 3.5 liters to my 3.0, his dual overhead cams to my single overhead cams, my '91 Plymouth to his '00 Oddysey! Oh and did I mention I have 139,xxx miles, no rebuild only a tranny rebuild at 118k? I'll be honest, mine's not stock, but that honda owner must have felt silly.

    Joe Ng '91 Plymouth Voyager (honDUH eater)
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    ummmm, I think you are looking for the Where are the high performance minivans? discussion.

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  • 4aodge4aodge Posts: 288
    odd1, even if honda could produce enough vehicles to keep up with demand i doubt they would outsell dc minivans. out of the millions of people that have purchased dc minivans, most are satsified and return for a a new chrysler minivan, if they are still interested in buying that type of car. chrysler has the strongest brand loyalty when it comes to minivans than any other company, including honda.

    i doubt people who are on their 3rd, 4th, and even 5th dc minivan are going to jump ship just to get a honda with a dissapearing third row seat. our old 1994 mitsubishi expo had a seat that folded into the floor and we did not miss that feature when we got our 1998 grand caravan se with the roll-out seats. its really too bad a "magic seat" is now the benchmark that determines the worthiness of a minivan.

    in fact, dc has not gone 10 years without doing anything about their transmissions. they have upgraded and modified the 41TE transmission as time as moved on and it became more clear that there was a problem. the transmission failure rates have declined over the last few years, which shows improvment. also, dc minivans are not the only chryslers that use the 41TE transmission. many other new chrysler products use this transmission and are flawless when it comes to trany problems.

    out of all the 2001 dc minivans that are on the road, some are bound to get into accidents. some of which are very serious, similar to the insurance company's test. have there ever been reports of a crashed dc minivan leaking fuel and exploding? i havent heard of any. chrysler tests their vehicles in a different and more realistic way than the insurance companies do. sorry oddy owners, dc minivans in fact do not blow up spontaneously as you would like to believe.

    why did chrysler redesign the fuel part in the 2002 vans? thats a rather simple question. why go through the same media-enduced panic over a part that is called "faulty" a second year in a row? car companies always make their parts stronger and harder to break, chrysler is doing the same. its also interesting this is the same insurance company that seems to have a habbit of giving the most popular cars bad crash tests. a perfect example is the best selling vehicle in america, the ford f-150. ford is probably one of the safest car companies out there in terms of their new car designs. people like to give sales leaders a hard time in order to shift the balance of power.

    this "fuel problem" is of no concern to me until i hear of a real accident where fuel was leaking from a dodge caravan or town and country, which has not occured yet and probably never will. until then, im not going to run around calling dc minivans "firebombs" just so i can make myself feel better about buying a honda, as some others are doing in this thread.

This discussion has been closed.