We are Youth Leaders in our church and even though I have a Kia Sportage, it only seats 4 passengers. So when we heard a friend was selling a van, we went to check it out.
This 1997 Dodge Grand Caravan Sport is a decent and typical looking minivan. It seats 7 passengers and possibly 8, if I drove all the girls, since they are smaller. This van was a blessing and even though we are empty nesters and figured our next car would be a 2 seater convertible, God had other plans. We purchased this for $2400, which was around $1000 less than the blue book value in June 2009. So we felt we were getting a good deal. It had almost 80, 000 miles, since it was only used as a Florida car by our friend's sister-in-law when they came to visit.
Cons: The headliner of the van needs to be replaced, as you can't repair them easily. The sticky substance that holds the fabric to the roof of the van has worn out. At first we thought we could repair it ourselves, but after checking around, found out that's not really the best solution. So, this will cost us $200 in a shop, which is still not too bad. Our friend thought it'd be $100, but that's for a normal sized car. In the meantime, we have used little upholstery screws that we got at Wal-Mart and made it look as best we can. Fortunately, it's only the front half that is sagging some.
Now, the other common problem that we found out after 1 day of owning it, was that the ingition switch fails. Yep, we had been visiting friends on a Sunday and when we went to leave, we could not turn the switch at all. We tried putting graphite on the key to help make it stick inside the gears; I tried crying (that didn't work at all); went to a local auto shop to get a new key made and that didn't work. But while I was waiting on my husband and our friend, I was googling this issue from my iPhone and saw tons of people having this same problem. Ends up the ingition gears or bearings don't fall into the proper position and it jams. Many people stated they started carrying a rubber mallet (yes, a mallet) and they'd put the key in, lightly tap the key about 3-4 times while it was inside the ignition and the bearings would fall into place. Would you know we tried that and it worked!??? Well, you can be sure to know that I went to the auto store on Monday and they fortunately had a generic ignition switch for under $15. It was SO easy to install. You just pull out the old switch and pop the new one in. The van has been fine ever since. Go figure! The only drawback is that we need 2 keys for the van - one to open the door and the other to drive. But we've adjusted and don't need to worry about being stranded.
With that being said, we really enjoy this van. It's great to fit our kids from the youth group in it and we even took it up to Georgia and it did great. Gas mileage is around 20-25, and it about the same as my Kia.
My husband normally drives this van to work and it has become our "family vehicle" even though our family is the kids in our neighborhood. :)
This van has a 3.8 V6 engine, automatic door locks that lock when the van begins to drive, 2 passenger sliding side doors that have to be opened manually, automatic steering, a/c, radio/ cassette player, and 166hp.
I know we'll be able to enjoy this van for quite a while and don't regret purchasing it. It is suiting our needs and the needs of our community's kids.
Update On Mar 07, 2010: Just an update on the year of this van. It's a 1998, not a '97 like my hubby first told me.
We are in the process of needing new brakes and thank God that our friend will once again help with this repair. The brakes themselves should not be too much and our friend will replace them next weekend. Then the squeal while we are driving will be gone for a long time!
Update On Jun 26, 2010: We traveled to Georgia again in our van. We removed 1 of the captain chairs and the whole back bench. The amount of room inside was wonderful and we even had room to lay down. Our dachshund loved it because he got the whole back of the van to walk around or sleep. My sister had also traveled with us, so the amount of space was so nice, compared to taking my Kia Sportage again. This van runs so smoothly too.