February 12, 2009
Last week I took our Caravan in for a routine oil change. The on board computer requested it.
I drove it to Buerge Chrysler Jeep in Los Angeles because they're close and because they have an express lane that promises a quick in-and-out experience while you wait. (You know, the way it used to be before they realized they can drag an oil change out to three hours of billable work.)
It took an hour to their 25-minute claim and when I was checking out, my service advisor told me there was a recall on the power-steering hoses. They didn't have the parts in stock but they're on order. I should be getting a call sometime this week about 'em.
Total cost: $27.84
Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assistant @ 23,500 miles
January 14, 2009
I started up the Dodge Grand Caravan thismorning to the unwelcome sight of its tire pressure warning light. A broke out my tiregauge and a quick check of the pressures confirmed my fate.Three tires were at spec and one was down 10 psi.
Ilive within 2miles of a tire shop andthe leakerhad plentyof airto survive the trip without my having to mount the spare.SoI drove over,had the tire patched and was ready to leaveafter 30 minutesand $17.18.
As I walked back to the Caravanthis guy in hisInfiniti i35 pulled into the driveway. His mangled tire clunglifelessto the rim, which was visibly damaged itself. "The tire looked low" he told the approaching mechanic "so I drove straight over." This brings me to my gripe.
A lot ofpeople check their tire pressures by the bulge of the sidewall. By the time a tire "looks low" it is already too late.To drive on it at this point is risking safety, tire replacement costs and in the case of this guy, wheel replacement costs. Why don't drivers understand this? Spendthe $20 foratire pressure gauge. And check your tiresregularly. Spread the word.
So how many out there carry a tire pressure gauge in yourcar - - and use it?
Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 24,374 miles
December 29, 2008
Does the left rear tire on our 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan look flat to you? Well, not flat exactly, but maybe just low?
Actually, it does look kinda low in this photo, but in person, it looks pretty much like the rest of the tires, all ofwhich were pumped to spec a mere 10 days ago.
For the second time in two weeks, the Caravan's tire pressure warning light illuminated.The first time, all of the tires were slightly off, but nothing major. Unfortunately, the warning light doesn't show which tire is low or offer the current PSI, so when the light came on this weekend, I had to check them all again to find the possible culprit.
The left rear was only down two poundscold. Could that really be enough to set off the warning?
Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 23,542 miles
September 25, 2008
Thereit is. Ourlong-term Dodge Caravan parked in the shadows of the service drive at Cerritos Dodge. It'sour 4thvisit to this dealership since June.Afterthe 5thvisit we get our choice of an Avenger keychain or Caliber beer cozy.
This isn't the first time we've been here forabnormally noisy brakes. Last round the dealer machinedourpittedrotors and the brake squealvanished. For awhile. This time the front padsand rotors willbe replaced altogether.
New rotorsshipped herefrom back east, which tookfour days.So theCaravan sat waiting patiently on the dealer lotfrom Wednesday to Monday.We pickedup a freshly washed Caravan Monday afternoon, and toour surprisewere not charged for the service.
Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 15,349 miles
September 23, 2008
On the third floor of our office building is a super secret room that houses the Inside Line editorial department's test car sign-out board.
This morning, after I fed theguarddogs and passed the retinal scan,I noticed a hint of sarcasm had crept into the room.
We'll report on the Grand Caravan's recent dealer service laterthis week.
Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 15,354 miles
August 11, 2008
After a few days with the Dodge Grand Caravan, I have this to say.
There'sa loud snappish creak coming intermittently from the driver-side B-pillar area. It seems to happen most over bumps, and during harder accelerations and harder braking. Quick stop: CREEAK. Hard acceleration to merge on the freeway: CREEEAK. -1
Something is definitely up with the brakes: Before I took the keys, Vehicle Testing Coordinator Mike Schmidt mentioned to me that the DGC's brake rotors might be warped and that I should look out for any sound or feeling that could indicate that, soI set my Spidey senses to "tingle." The first night, I heard and felt nothing. But the next day,a Friday,I did notice a disturbing groaning/grinding sound and feeling whenever I hit the brakes. Seemed to get worse the harder I depressed the pedal. On Saturday, the noise and sensation disappeared, only to reappear on all three trips we took in the minivan on Sunday. We'll be taking it back to the dealer. It did make me forget about the B-pillar creak, though. -2
On an impromptutrip to Ikea, I was able to lay a bundle of 5-foot-long bamboo garden stakeson the seat back of the third-row seat and fit them into the space between the second-row seats (blue arrow above points to one of the poles peeking over the seatback), while tucking a whole lot of other Ikea stuff (plus the various bags and toys and things we needed for a trip to grandma's for the day) into the deep storage well behind the third row. Very convenient. We never have impromptu Ikea adventures on the way to grandma's in our personal vehicles (both coupes). +1
Stay tuned on the brake rotor issue.
Bryn MacKinnon @ 12,589 miles
July 30, 2008
It was time. At the close of a recent road trip (see worn-out child in above photo), our 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan had racked up some new and reoccuring issues, making a service appointment necessary.
I made the call to Cerritos Dodge.
"I'm calling to schedule a service appointment for a 2008 Grand Caravan," I said.
Service Advisor Dave said, "Sure, what are you coming in for?"
"Well, I have a list," I said, starting to rattle off the firstcouple ofitems.
Dave interrupted me. "I thought you said this was a 2008."
"It is," I said, a touch of sadness creeping into my voice.
I've always felt that the positive packaging aspects of the new Dodge minivan outweighed some of its questionable ride characteristics, and have defended its honor numerous times to different members of our staff. But even I had to admit that the number of problems was a bit excessive for a new vehicle. Our list included:
--Passenger sliding door won't close all of the way. The power feature lets it get a couple inches away from complete close before it kicks it back open.
--Rear tailgate won't open due to warped bumper cover.
--Shifter is often difficult to move from "park" to "drive."
--Intermittant ignition crank without engine turning over. (An issue we've been experiencing since we received the minivan several months ago).
The dealer was able to address just two of our concerns.The sliding doors were reprogrammed and seem to be fixed. A new bumper cover was ordered and the minivan went to the paint shop to finish the job.
"Operating same as like equipped vehicle" says the service report regarding the shifter and crank issues.
I sure hope not.
Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 11,805 miles
July 23, 2008
Click photo above for larger view
As Jacquot first reported and Dan Edmunds confirmed, the Dodge Grand Caravan (and almost certainly Chrysler Town & Country) is prone to having a warped bumper. It's a phenomenon I've seen on other DGC's as well. We originally thought ithappened only whenleaving the van in the heat -- which isprobably what initially causes the problem -- but now it permanently looks like it does above.
This sort of body panel warping is not only horrible looking and a sign of terrible quality, it makes opening the tailgate rather difficult as the below videos show.
James Riswick, Automotive Editor@ 11,400 miles
This is what happens when you press the power tailgate button on the key fob. The videos were taken on a temperate (ie NOT HOT) day.
May 06, 2008
I have met the high-plains drifter. And its name is 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT.
Turns out there's not a whole lot of, um, vertical things in Nebraska or eastern Colorado. This means that wicked crosswinds just come barrel-assing over the dirt and ram the side of the Caravan full force...
So many steering corrections are needed to keep the Caravan in its shipping lane that I felt like I was filming a green-screen driving screen for a television program. But it's a box right? And it's probably not worse in this regard than any other van. And it was still nimble enough to dodge the tumbleweeds.