I have nothing bad to say about my 1996 Dodge B1500. I have just passed 202,000 miles and the engine runs like a horse.The interior holds up well i have kids so thats important. Gas Mileage is also very good for a van of this size.But i do have the 3.9 Liter V-6. I would recommend this van any day to anyone. Good Job Chrysler!
I am the third owner and here is my one year review. The second owner had it for three months. Original owner only used it to tailgate redskins games so I got my van with 86,000 miles on it and the interior was near immaculate. I took out the rear bed/bench seat and the middle right hand seat for easy loading. I bought this van for my band and I mainly use it once a week for local shows that are less than 14 miles away. I have driven from Washington DC to Atlantic City NJ once. I have the 3.9 v6. (shorty version) It is good on gas. It handles highways well. The wind against the side of the van while going over the Millard E Tidings bridge is a very scary experience. You will have to replace a few things. You will have a leak of some kind. I am changing the water pump, temp gauge and that is why I am writing this. Once that goes you will start breaking down once the engine gets hot after driving 2-4 miles. Rear springs are getting replaced because of all the hauling of speakers and leaving them in the van all the time. I suggest you empty the van and not leave heavy things in it constantly. The engine area is cramped and hard to access things like power steering reservoir. Or if you wanted to fix things yourself. This van will get rusty underneath it. I am a little concerned about the amount of rust I see. I looked at a few before buying my current van and some have frame rust so make sure you get underneath and look for that in the rear and the front behind the bumper! The fit and finish are horrible. Very poor quality compared to foreign brands of the same era. However as a work truck it will be good enough. Road noise it loud. You will have leaks in the rain. I have sealed them with silicone and now all is fine. The rear upper middle brake light plastic has rotted. Getting a new one costs $100. SSo make your own or get one off of another truck. (hopefully you will get an exact fit) I changed the light inside there to an LED and it was easy to do. Due to water getting in there the bulb will constantly blow. So some silicone, some tape and the LED are now making it work for much less. This truck bounces when you go over things. I bought it for $2000. put $1000 in it with the dealer when I first got it home so that it would be reliable. THen the water pump leak, temp gauge, tune up and springs have just cost me $1391 at AAMCO. So in total after one year I have spent $4391 on this van not including gas and insurance. My insurance is low because I do not drive it a lot. Were I to have rented a UHaul for all of the events it would have cost just shy of this number. So hopefully more things will not break in this next year and the cost of ownership will pan out. This full sized van is a great hauler. When my gear is in it there is not much difference in feel. It does not seem sluggish. Make sure you add power steering fluid or it will shut off when turning. Power steering fluid need not be empty for this to happen . It can just be somewhat low and you will notice it. I seem to have a very slow leak in power steering fluid. Once full it is okay. A/C does not work. No cold air on hot days. I think it needs freon. They told me it would cost another $250 so I declined and I drive with windows down when hot. Heat works. I don't drive it enough to make it necessary. The spare tire is on the back door. If you take it off and take out the little locks in the doors the dorrs can then open fully wide. However you will likely crack your rear brake light as the mechanism for holding the tire hits the light. So you have to decide if you can live with one rear door only opening 75%. Which is what I do. Which makes for awkward loading at times. Just poor design really. That is all.
I find this to be the best Van we have owned. Runs like a tank and has never left us stranded. Now it has around 124k on it and runs as well as the day we got it. This year I've spent time doing preventative maintenance since it is now 14 years old. These vans are also very easy to work on. Gas mileage is also very good for this giant van. I get 10mpg-14mpg city(depending on the weight of my foot)and 26mpg on the freeway. The 5.2L 318 is a fantastic engine.
Timing Chain and gear replacement at 75000 miles. Thermostat replaced at 76000. Hard to start and keep running when cold. Noisy engine overheats. Leaks rain at all doors. Bad roof design retains rain water, encourages rust-through. Build quality shabby. Door stops breaking. Metal at front hinges cracking. Roof welds show movement. Paint flakes for no apparent reason. Rear muffler hanger fails. Driving: Crosswinds push vehicle around. Gutless on long moderate hills. 13 mpg avg. Cramped legroom.
1996 Elk Conversion. This vehicle is great for traveling with 5 or more people I also have a Suburban which is better on the highway and in winter driving and is more comfortable for the driver, but has nowhere near the passenger rooom that this van has. Driver visibility is good and I have had very few mechanical problems to date. This has been a good reliable vehicle for our family.