COAL: 1993 Dodge Caravan – Hip To Be Square

After a disappointing experience with the ’90 Ciera, I was on the hunt for a new vehicle.  I had my new job for a while, and was able to get a small loan for a good vehicle.  Mom had a 1990 S-10 Blazer that I liked, so I was looking for something kind of tall.  While passing a Chrysler dealer on my trip home, I spotted something with a roof rack in a back row.  

I wasn’t specifically looking for a van, but something about this one caught my eye.  I stopped and had a look, and took it for a test drive.   I loved the visibility and driving position, and it seemed to pull along good with its 3-liter V6 and 3-speed Torqueflite.  Numbers were discussed, and we settled on a price.  I think it was $4000 and tax.  I finalized the loan, and the van was mine.

I must have just bought the van.  No plates.

I had a problem the first week I had it.  The throttle pedal stuck down.  I had a look, and the throttle cable was frayed and had stuck in the sheath.  I pulled off the extra cabling, and called the dealer.  They initially said that the van was sold as-is, and it was my problem.  I pointed out it didn’t actually say that on the bill of sale, and they agreed to repair it.  Not impressive.  Plain but functional.

It didn’t have a whole lot of features.  Crank windows, non-functional A/C, AM/FM cassette (which I replaced with a GM CD player), and cruise.  It was pleasant enough to drive, with enough power to haul around a full load of people or a small trailer.  The transmission developed a shudder around 170,000 KM, which worried me a bit.  I found Allpar to be an excellent resource over the years, and it suggested it was a torque converter lockup shudder, and some new ATF+3 fluid would cure it.  I picked up the supplies at the local dealer, and performed the deed.  It took care of the shudder in no time.  The V6 also gave no trouble either – smooth, revvy, and a good match for the Torqueflite.

I did just get the van – there’s the temporary permit in the window.

I put a hitch on the van, and occasionally pulled a trailer with it.  I moved a friend home to Cape Breton from the Annapolis Valley once, with a U-haul trailer and the van fully loaded.  It didn’t give a minute’s trouble at all.  There were a few small issues.  It had a tendency to throw the serpentine belt when driven in deep snow.    I carried a 15 MM wrench under the seat for that problem – a new tensioner didn’t even fix it, so one had to be prepared.  A more serious issue reared its ugly head when had to make a panic stop – the rear wheels locked up and the van started to slide.  I was a lot more cautious after that.On a fall ritual – looking at the leaves changing.

Being 23 at the time, I got some ribbing about buying a van.  Being single and a young guy, I was told I should have something sporty – more suitable for my age.  I didn’t really care what they thought – or even still do for that matter.  I drove the van for a year and a half, till I had paid my loan off – and had grown tired of it.  I wanted something smaller and better on fuel as fuel prices were kind of high in 2003.  My experience with this Chrysler was excellent – and is still my favourite Caravan variant.  They’re pretty thin on the ground now, though.  I had a few more Chryslers over the years, and they were all good.  I was able to sell it, and bank some of the money sold – and bought another, smaller Dodge.  I do wish I could be satisfied with a car over the long term, but there are very few that I have kept longer than a year and a half.  Does anyone else have this affliction?