1999 Dodge Ram Van Cargo Van 3500 Maxi 3dr Ext Van
We were the second owner of the 15 passenger version, white w/ dark tinted windows. First off I want to say, I really wanted to love this van. It was priced $10k below the comparable Ford 15 pass van. But, now I realize with good reason. We purchased this used, with 45k miles on her from a used car dealer. We bought the extended warranty, luckily! The former owner was a church, or group home, so the miles were hard miles mechanically. Within 6 months the front-end needed a complete overhaul. The first of 2 that would be needed within 100k. More on that later. Then the whole AC system needed replacement: from the compressor to the dryers to the hoses! Fortunately the $1500 it cost was in the last month of our extended warranty, on the dealers dime. Having a big family, the size and ride were very good. And she ran very reliably for us, needing very little maintenance besides the usual, oil, filters, cooling and tires. Tires on this baby were a huge expense, but we only needed one set in 60,000 miles or so. Back to the front end on this series van.... I have a friend who was a Dodge/Chrysler mechanic and he said the front end on these were always wearing out. IMO Chrysler didn't get the design right. The van always creaked and made weird noises, like the geometry wasn't right. Even with the new parts and alignment was done. And the van always felt like it wandered on the freeway. And you were always correcting the steering. At first it was annoying, but I guess you get used to it after awhile. Again, I wanted to like/love the van. But there was always something to complain about, despite the solid reliability it had for us. If you are considering this vehicle? Make sure the front end has been checked. Its quite pricey to do. And it seems the parts only last 40-50,000 miles before you will need another go. The van will run forever. But you will need to repair the front end at some point. Its not an option. Oh.... if the one you are considering has the 4sp overdrive tranny? Don't do it! My mechanic friend said the standard 3 speed automatic is way more reliable, on any Chrysler product in that time period.
Bought this baby used with 58,000 on it with no indication it had ever been worked on for major problems. Drove it from CA to MO twice and got between 13 and 17 mpg from the 318cc engine. Have replaced water pump, front wheel bearings, and spark plugs in the 20,000 miles I put on it. I have one concern with a noise from the tranny on backing up. This noise started after the van was frozen shut for several days during the ice storm in Springfield and the -5 degrees temps. This is the most comfortable ride I have ever owned although my Cadillac Biarritz was a close second.
Factory stereo is awesome. Captains chairs and fold down back seat make travel a snap.
Back doors don't open far enough and the spare tire is a little tricky to get to. Turning radius is surprisingly bad...u turns often take a second try to clear..
Good hauling capacity, got the 6 way adjustible seats which are the cat's pajamas, used mostly n the summer, fishtails on the slightest ice. Smooth riding for such a big vehicle. Would have liked the 3500 if I knew about the lower cargo capacity
Cruize, windshield washer squirters,
Better interior lighting, access to engine, quick release for rear doors so a 4 foot wide plywood can fit in without unscrewing the door hinges
Extended roof with T.V. and Video
Player; Plush Captains Chairs (4); Mood
lighting; fold down rear bench;
However, chairs don't rotate :( Plenty
of hauling room and comfort for
passengers and 'CAPTAIN'.
Visability; larger than most other
vehicals on the road; cruises nicely on
long distance trips