mini van

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by mawalla, Mar 15, 2004.

  1. mawalla

    mawalla Well-Known Member

    Oct 27, 2002
    We are considering purchasing a minivan. Used, of course! Do any of you drive one? What are the models out there and what do you think of them? Problems and pluses.
  2. Alice In TX/MO

    Alice In TX/MO More dharma, less drama. Supporter

    May 10, 2002
    Texas Coastal Bend/S. Missouri
    I have a 1991 Toyota Previa. I am its first and only owner. It has 330,000 miles on it. This has been an absolute dream vehicle. The only problems I have had are with the air conditioner. I'm on my third AC unit, but as the van still has the original muffler and transmission, I can't complain much. The engine has never had any major work done on it either. I am VERY concientious about oil changes and other maintenance.

    I do add a lubricant additive to the oil and have done so since before I drove it off the lot the first day, way back in the fall of 1990. It's called Power Up, and it enhances the film strength of the oil. We had a Nissan Maxima that we put over 300,000 miles on as well, using that product in the engine oil.

    Here is the link to the Power Up website. I do not sell this product or have any afilliation with them.

  3. RAC

    RAC Guest

    Is this an only vehicle or a second vehicle? Do you plan to do any hauling (other than people) in it, or do you have or have access to a truck for that? Do you need 4wd because of the weather where you live?

    Unless you have a lot of people to drive around, don't rule out the smaller SUVs--gas mileage is about the same, but they are more versatile, imho, unless they're making minivans with 4wd now.
  4. cwgrl23

    cwgrl23 Chief Vegtable Grower :) Supporter

    Feb 19, 2004
    South Dakota
    I have an Oatsmobile Silloette. :no: I will not buy one again. It has the big sloped window and nose in front. The front sticks out way too far and it is hard to tell how close you are to the item in front of you. The big sloped glass makes it hard to heat or to keep cool. :waa: It doesn't handle to bad on gravel or dry pavement but look out in the winter. It handles on slippery or snowy roads like a pig on roller skates. :( I agree with the others, I would look at an SUV.
  5. Kirk

    Kirk Well-Known Member

    Oct 30, 2003
    Dodge Caravans and all the chrysler caravan clones are awful. Junk transmissions and everthing else. I would recomend stepping up to a Chevy astro van. Less fuel economy but better built and built more like a truck than a car.
  6. Terri in WV

    Terri in WV Well-Known Member Supporter

    May 10, 2002
    south central Kentucky(finally out of all the snow
    We had a Chevy Lumina cargo van that I really liked(would still have it if it wasn't for the baby), Great gas mileage, easy to haul things in and went great in the winter(frontwd). My bro has it now so I can still use it when I need too. :)

    We now have an Astro van. I was surprised at how well it goes in the snow with not having front or fourwd but then it is a heavier van(truck frame). One thing I like about it is that it has real bumpers and metal wrapped around you. Not too bad on gas either. It took some getting used to driving it because it sits up so much higher than the other van(but then that one took some getting used to also, with the long nose)

    I wouldn't hesitate to buy another one of either of these and will have one or the other as long as I have the kids to haul around(and even after for that matter).

    I would not recommend a Ford Aerostar. My dad had 2 of them. Lousy on gas and no power. I don't know why he ever got a second one.(I think he was starting to get dementia then and didn't know better)
  7. clovis

    clovis Well-Known Member

    May 13, 2002
    My uncle has a Ford Windstar. He has 243,000 miles on it, and it doesn't use a drop of oil. Has been a terriffic van, and trouble free, even though he drives it extremely hard.
    I have another friend that has a Windstar, about 120,000 miles, trouble free, he loves his Ford too.
    I wouldn't rule out any of the GM models either, especially the Astro/Safari van, which uses a truck platform. Excellent vehicles, heavy duty, comfortable, reliable, if you can sacrifice a little gas mileage.
  8. Peanut

    Peanut Member

    May 10, 2002
    British Columbia
    My mom drives a 1990 Maxda MPV. It's a great little van and goes anywhere. They made these vans with four wheel drive up until 1996 I believe, and ours has a Hold button that acts like an engine brake in any gear (it's automatic), and a differential lock that makes all four tires spin at the same rate, not just whichever one has the most traction like four wheel drive. Another nice thing about it is that it doesn't have the sliding side door. It's a regular door except that it opens 90 degrees so there's more room to get in and out. We bought it when we lived in the middle of nowhere with a 3km long dirt driveway, and it was the best vehicle for getting up it in winter--even better than our four wheel drive diesel landcruiser and 4X4 pickups. And the MPV doesn't look too much like a minivan. They sell for under $4000 here in BC. I don't know what the going rate is where you're from.
  9. Teresa

    Teresa Well-Known Member

    Oct 8, 2002
    Definately check out an Astro van. I had one, a 1986 model we purchased very used and I loved it. Gas mileage isn't great and the odometer wasn't actual mileage when we bought it so don't know how many miles it went. Very roomy and handled fine. Got a 2002 Kia Sedona almost two years ago and it's ok. Not hardly as roomy but I don't have any other complaints about it. It has a great warranty but I don't know if it transfers to a second owner, seems like it doesn't and that's how they can offer such a good warranty. It has a 5 star safety rating and new is about $2,000 cheaper than a caravan. Wishing I'd checked out another Astro though.
  10. Teri

    Teri Well-Known Member

    Jan 13, 2003
    I drove a 91 Toyota Previa for 10 years. Finally had to get rid of it because we couldn't fit into it any more (seven kids). Broke my heart. I loved that van. In all that time the only thing we had to replace on it (other than regular maintenance) was the starter. Very reliable vehicle.
  11. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

    Aug 13, 2003
    I have had two Astro vans. I loved them. Tons of room, reliable, great vehicles. My family logged lots of miles in those vans driving all over the country. They are really a mid-sized van and much larger than a true mini-van.

    I've heard of other people who hated their Astro vans, though. I think it's a love 'em or hate 'em thing. I only sold mine because I needed a truck.

    My mom had a caravan. It was awful and cost her tons of money in repairs.

  12. We have 2 aerostars and love them. Have one extra long one regular. We even bought a junker for parts to keep these running. The ac needs recharged every spring, so if you have one converted to the new stuff its great. I have one I left the seats in and one that is a carry all with only the front seats. Because these have a short front on them they are easy to handle. By the way both of mine are '89-just look for one with low mileage. I hope to find one soon that is 4wd.
  13. Graceless

    Graceless Gypsy in ALabama

    Apr 28, 2003
    We have a 1990 previa and although the A/C is gone and we can't afford to have it replaced it has hauled everything from goats to chickens to my small children.We are dreaming of a 4door truck but are in no way dissatisfied with the van.It has 200,000 miles on it and still going strong.Not one trouble with the engin or anthing else other than routine oil change and only 2 tune-ups in it's life.We will use it until it dies but that is not looking like any time soon.I like the Honda vans and the Toyota vans for a newer version.They stopped selling the Previa in the US around 1997 so they are becoming hard to find.Some of the previas had all wheel drive which if you live out and about is a nice feature in any van for that matter.
    Good luck!
  14. swamptiger

    swamptiger Active Member

    Oct 15, 2002
    northern mn
    Dodge Caravan.

    We are on our third one, and we wouldn't drive anything else. The one we have now is a 1996 Grand Caravan with a 3.3 liter V-6. I like the 3.3 liter engine - it's easier to service than the 3.0. And this van has a heater that will absolutely roast you out!! I know the Caravans have a reputation for transmission problems, but we have never had any trouble with any of our vans. We do service the transmission occasionally, though - change the oil & filter - and never pop the transmission into reverse when it's cold - always put it in drive first.
  15. prhamell

    prhamell Well-Known Member

    Oct 11, 2002
    We have a 1996 GMC Safari minivan with about 130,000 miles on it. No real major repairs except the heater last winter and the back door handle. A few years ago the windsheild wipers began acting up but GMC paid for that to be fixed. Some recall or something. It's roomier and boxier than most minivans, also higher up off the ground. Mine is all wheel drive which I need for winter driving (comparable to 4wd in a suv. yes they do make a few vans with all wheel drive. most are front wheel drive. I think chevy and ford make a few models with back wheel drive for towing purposes) and has a bigger engine than most minivans. 4.6. The safaris are supposedly classified more as trucks than minivans. I like the four captain chairs with a bench in back. It makes it so much easier to seperate kids and help buckle those in car seats who are sitting in the bench seat in back. Cargo space isn't the greatest in any mini van. No matter what commercials on tv tell you. We have an old beater truck for hauling stuff home or trips to the grain elevator. I've looked at other mini van models but will probably always stick with safaris or Chevy astros. Becky
  16. beaglady

    beaglady Well-Known Member

    Oct 7, 2002
    Let me cast another vote for the Chevy Astro. Ours is a 1998 and has 148K miles or so. The only problem we've ever had is that the wiper switch is going bad. Its an all wheel drive model and is great in snow and can deal with the mud in front of my barn. I took the back seats out along time ago, and use it like a truck with a roof :) It's hauled a 1/2 ton of bagged feed more than a few times with no trouble. Used it to take crated chickens to be processed... (the back cargo area is covered with a sheet of rubber roofing) We'll have it til it dies of old age, and will probably fix it a few times after that.
  17. bare

    bare Head Muderator

    May 9, 2002
    The only problem with Astro Vans is that they never quit. I have an '85, an '87 and a '90 sitting on the place here and I drive a 94. All except the 94 have more than 250,000 miles on them which is why I replaced them. I was afraid that the motors would give up after so many miles but they all still drive fine and have very few problems.

    I use them as service rigs, most are cargo vans but a couple I've torn the seats out of and added racks and bins to.

    They regularly haul 1500 lbs of tools and materials and I have reciever hitches on them all to pull a small 12' trailer for stuff that's too tall to put inside.

    I can haul full size 4x8 sheet goods inside, on the ladder racks or in a trailer.

    Milage isn't great, mine average less than 15mpg but are always loaded to the gills. I would think that if you were just hauling people, they would average around 20 or more mpg.

    They are'nt mechanic friendly, so it's a good thing that they so seldom break down. It takes an act of congress just to change the air filters. exterior door handles do seem to be a weak point, but I notice that new replacements are built much better than the originals.

    My road is famous for beating the crap out of rigs but these things seem pretty indestructable. I don't have much need for 4x4 because they get around so well in the winter, I just throw a set of chains under the seat for the occasional need.
  18. Dodge Caravan all the way!!

    Driving an 04 Grand Caravan with the 3.8L V6... an absolute dream to drive and tonnes of power. No issues whatsoever. Had a Grand Caravan in the past, a 90 with a 3.0L V6 with the 3 speed auto and that was bulletproof as well.

    The reason these vans have had issues with their transmissions is because people/dealers/other shops incorrectly (and without reading the owners manual) replaced the factory issued Chrysler-Only transmission fluid called ATF+4 with a low grade standard fluid ATF+3 commonly known as Dextron. The Chrysler transmission in these vans (the 41-AE/TE) is an advanced fully electronic transmission which includes drive-logic software to customize shift points to the way you drive. This requires a high grade thin transmission fluid ATF+4 in order to work properly... the ATF+3 (Dextron) is thicker and gums up the internals and therefore causes the transmissions to self-destruct. Use the proper fluid and these things will last a very long time.

    These vans are tried and true and with proper maintenance (just like anything else) will last a very long time. The motors are iron block pushrod designs with gobs of low end torque and are known for their longevity. The transmissions are descendants of the most bulletproof transmission ever made (the 3 speed torqueflite transmissions) and are very sturdy to this day (with the proper fluid). The current generation (2001-2005) are very reliable and solid to the core. Find a Grand Caravan with the 3.3L (180HP/210TQ) or 3.8L (215HP/245TQ) with the quad seating package, 3 zone climate control, and midline interior (incl. front lowback buckets), and you'll be very happy.
  19. Mullers Lane Farm

    Mullers Lane Farm Well-Known Member

    Feb 27, 2003
    NW IL
    Dodge Caravan or Plymouth Voyager. I started 10 years ago with a Dodge, bought another Dodge when the first had 100K on it, bought a new Ford Windstar and couldn't wait to sell it - junk, junk, junk! (don't ask me to give up the Ford pick'em up though). Finally sold the '99 Windstar and am driving a '92 Grand Voyager. It has 150K on it and is going strong.
  20. Donovan K

    Donovan K Well-Known Member

    Feb 25, 2004
    I bought a 1997 Plymouth Voyager about four months ago and I love it.

    It is my first mini van but I am crazy about it. Great handling, smooth ride, lots of space, quiet, good mileage.. I got it with seventy thousand miles on it. The six cylinder engine runs like a champ and everyone I have talked to about it tells me what a workhorse it is.

    I was looking at a Jeep Grand Cherokee for about the same price (the Jeep was a couple years older) but I liked the space and handling of the Voyager better.

    I took out both sets of rear seats (the advantages of being single) and can get all kinds of junk in the back.. there's a brass daybed I picked up at an auction for a dollar in there right now waiting to be delivered to its new home.

    I can highly recommend the Plymouth Voyager...and am looking forward to putting another quarter million miles on it....