Allpar Forums banner

1 - 18 of 18 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
543 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I have been driving my 98 Caravan @ 3.0L A670 for years and she has been very reliable. I rebuilt its transmission and took care of the usual 3.0L issues such as timing belt / waterpump and oil seals. The colour of this van is White and still very good to look at and drive.

Recently I have considered upgrading to another 3rd GEN or 4TH Gen Van such as a Caravan SPort or a Town & Country.

Its been years since I have owned a 3.3L/A604 drivetrain but I do remember their strengths and weaknesses. A604 issues abound!
So I have seen a few 96 - 2000 Town & Country LXi vans in very good condition. I have decided to stay away from the AWD in favour of FWD only.

I had noticed from researching Hollander Interchange that A604 are very date/application specific.

The 3.8 engine looks the same as the 3.3L with the exception of the longer stroke.

Which is the more fuel efficient and reliable of the two V6's?

The was one T&C that drove nicely but had P0700 and other error codes present in its memory. The vehicle had 187,000km ( about 114,000miles) on the original transmission. The original owner had no recollection of ever doing a trans fluid service with filter over the last 15years.

I am hoping to find one with a rblt transmission and reasonable mileage.

How are these engines/transmissions for longevity?
 

·
Vaguely badass...
Joined
·
43,887 Posts
I've owned a '95 GVLE with the 3.3L/41TE, a '99 GCSE Sport with the 3.8L/41TE, and currently an '02 Caravan SE Sport with the 3.3L/41TE.

I personally prefer the 3.3L, as the extra power offered by the 3.8L didn't seem to be worth the drop in fuel economy. My '95 averaged around 18MPG in the city, the '99 about 12MPG, and the '02 around 17MPG.

The '95 3.3L lasted until 198000 miles when the diff pin sheared off and grenaded the transaxle.

The '99 3.8L lasted until 149000 miles when the oil pump failed and starved the engine. The transaxle was operating fine.

The '02 3.3L just turned 418000 miles this evening. From the service records I've been able to find, the engine and trans appear to be original and have had regular maintenance done on them (I bought the van almost 2 years ago with 397000 miles on it.) To date, the only trans-related issue is that when first fired up in the morning, the PRNDL display lights up with every letter and their "boxed" all illuminated - I'm told it's likely a poor ground to the TCM.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
543 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Stratuscaster said:
I've owned a '95 GVLE with the 3.3L/41TE, a '99 GCSE Sport with the 3.8L/41TE, and currently an '02 Caravan SE Sport with the 3.3L/41TE.

I personally prefer the 3.3L, as the extra power offered by the 3.8L didn't seem to be worth the drop in fuel economy. My '95 averaged around 18MPG in the city, the '99 about 12MPG, and the '02 around 17MPG.

The '95 3.3L lasted until 198000 miles when the diff pin sheared off and grenaded the transaxle.

The '99 3.8L lasted until 149000 miles when the oil pump failed and starved the engine. The transaxle was operating fine.

The '02 3.3L just turned 418000 miles this evening. From the service records I've been able to find, the engine and trans appear to be original and have had regular maintenance done on them (I bought the van almost 2 years ago with 397000 miles on it.) To date, the only trans-related issue is that when first fired up in the morning, the PRNDL display lights up with every letter and their "boxed" all illuminated - I'm told it's likely a poor ground to the TCM.
Well that's a good survey! IT seems that the longer stroke in that 3.8L really is noticeable in city fuel consumption . But now,our gas prices are getting pretty expensive... so that too is a factor. What concerns me is the unpredictable nature of those A604 / 41TE units with diff pins and planetaries self destructing.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
36,933 Posts
A604 issues are generally over blown. I have owned four A604 vehicles I bought dirt cheap where the previous owner was told the vehicle needed a new transmission. Only one of them did. For the other three, I drove them for years on the "bad" transmission with a little work and a little money.
 

·
Virginia Gentleman
Joined
·
14,681 Posts
Aldergrove said:
How are these engines/transmissions for longevity?
All I can tell you is we had a '00 T&C Ltd AWD 3.8L we picked up in '03 with 78K miles. Five years later with 162K miles we traded it in for a '09 Journey SXT. Never had any transmission problems though it did develop a leak. Only engine problem was the flexplate developing cracks and had to be replaced. Since it was a heavy van (4340 lbs empty) it tended to eat brakes every 30-35K miles.

Overall, I'd say the engine/transmission combo were rock solid for us. Yes, the 3.8L's fuel economy(especially in city type driving) is not all that great - we averaged 15-16 mpg in local driving (worse than my Hemi....) - but the extra torque is nice to have (we had 4 children at the time). Highway fuel economy was excellent - averaged 24-26 mpg on the highway.

I actually miss that van. It was a loaded edition - power everything, memory seats, heated leather seats, quad seating, video system (found out it was aftermarket added by the dealer), Infinity stereo. Wouldn't hesitate to buy another one. Wife wants a "new" T&C but they are currently out of our budget. And no, she won't settle for a Grand Caravan.
 

·
Vaguely badass...
Joined
·
43,887 Posts
Aldergrove said:
What concerns me is the unpredictable nature of those A604 / 41TE units with diff pins and planetaries self destructing.
All the various issues with the A604/4*TE have been dealt with through the years to the point where I would not hesitate buying a late-model vehicle equipped with one. Basic maintenance using the correct fluid (ATF+4) is key - the bulk of all the stories of issues I found could be traced back to the wrong fluid being used. Dextron is a "grabbier" fluid and will really help to kill an A604/4*TE/6*TE quickly - yet there are many places that insist it's OK to use. It's not.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
35,284 Posts
I personally prefer the 3.3L, as the extra power offered by the 3.8L didn't seem to be worth the drop in fuel economy.
If you live in the hills and really want the extra power, get the 3.8. But as a 3.8 owner (2006), I recommend the 3.3! I drove a 2006-or-so 3.3 minivan from Virginia northwards over the mountains, deliberately to get a sense of the power of the engine, and it was just fine. My impression was that you needed to rev it a bit more but on the whole, the tradeoff for economy was worth it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
543 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
DaveAdmin said:
If you live in the hills and really want the extra power, get the 3.8. But as a 3.8 owner (2006), I recommend the 3.3! I drove a 2006-or-so 3.3 minivan from Virginia northwards over the mountains, deliberately to get a sense of the power of the engine, and it was just fine. My impression was that you needed to rev it a bit more but on the whole, the tradeoff for economy was worth it.
Great to hear that the 3.3L is more than sufficient to deliver both power and economy. 70% of my driving is hwy so I can lean into the 3.3L up the mountains when needed.
With all the testimonials of those who have responded in this and other threads it appears our Chrysler vans will continue to perform well up to and beyond 418,000 miles. Very impressive! As a preventative measure, I will drop the tank and replace the fuel pump for added security. Cross fingers for the 41TE being stable. despite regular maintenance and ATF+ @ filter changes .... some owners have not been lucky when their transmissions fail or self destruct.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
13,926 Posts
I'm very impressed with the 3.3L: I have a 1994 Caravan SWB (oddball but I wanted a shortie with the 3.3L 1995 or older) and; mechanically, it's been a gem with well over 200K miles. No comment on the hideous turning circle, ride, road noise as well as the body integrity though.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,710 Posts
I have had 03, 05 and 08 vans with the 3.8l and I loved all of them. I think that is one of the best engines ever built. I had a 97 intrepid with the 3.3l and it was a great little engine as well. I don't think you could go wrong with either engine, but I would go with the 3.8 and get the extra power to help haul that 2 ton monster around.
Mick
P.S. good luck with your hunt
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
762 Posts
We had a 2001 Dodge with the 3.3 and we now have a 2007 Town and Country with the 3.8. The 2001 was a lot lighter. Same body style, but no Stow and Go. We got better in town mileage with the 2001. MPG is about the same on the highway. The 3.8 is better on the highway. The 3.8 is geared higher, so the engine turns slower at highway speeds. That's nice. According to fueleconomy.gov, the 2007 3.8 should get 1 MPG more on the highway than the 2001 and the same mileage in town. I've noticed less mileage in town and on the highway I've noticed no difference. We put about 100,000 miles on each of them.
 

·
What sanity?
Joined
·
3,705 Posts
We've had several of these vans in the family with the 3.3 and 3.8. Dad's been buying them since they hit the market in '84. My own general impressions are that the 3.3 is ok, but only when the van's empty. I very much prefer the 3.8.

The laundry list with the two engines in question:

1993 Grand Caravan LE, 3.3, A604 - not that fun to drive, but decent performance. Tended to get sluggish with the whole family in there. This was a while ago when I was in high school, however, and we didn't have that van too long, so my memory's fuzzy. It was pretty loaded for the time.

1996 Grand Caravan LE, 3.8, A604 - much more able to get out of its own way than the '93. Transmission was made of glass and was rebuilt three times, but if I knew then what I know now, I could have save Dad thousands of dollars. I know at least once, Dad threw Dexron in there to top it up not knowing any better. We also never, ever did any fluid changes in it. That said, it hit 275k kms before it went out the first time and made it to 420k by the third time.

2002 Caravan SE, 3.3, A604 - like the '93, the engine was decent right up until you put people into the van. Then it turned into a slug. The transmission couldn't have been better - was still working fine at 415,000 km because I knew how to care for the A604 by then. That van just went and went with only minor issues the whole time Dad owned it.

2008 Grand Caravan SXT, 3.8, 62TE - decent power, but sometimes seems a bit lacking. Not very often. First one in the family to blow a transmission just out of warranty, but the replacement tranny has already hit the mark the last one did when it croaked. Methinks up to date firmware installed when the new unit went in has played a large part in the tranny's longevity. I have a feeling I'd like the 4.0 or 3.6 more in this van than the 3.8, though. Gets rather decent gas mileage.

The bottom line... I'm currently thinking hard about using a 3G-4G minivan as a storm chasing vehicle. I'm very much prioritizing the 3.8. Gotta have that extra torque. I'm not scared of the A604 anymore... I've got a transmission jack and am not afraid to use it. Incidentally, the Imperial has a 3.8, too. It's totally spoiled me - I've seen it hit 28-30 mpg highway. Drops to 25-26 over the 100 kph mark. Not as fuel efficient as the 3.0 was in my New Yorkers, but the extra power is so worth it to me.
 

·
Vaguely badass...
Joined
·
43,887 Posts
I'll agree that the 3.3 can feel a bit pokey with a full load. A vacation trip to the Dells in the '95 GVLE with me, the wife, the 2 kids, and grandma and grandpa went fine, but I had to plan ahead a bit when encountering an uphill climb. That said, we still averaged 26MPG on that trip.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
36,933 Posts
In my opinion, the 3.3 powered 91 Grand Voyager LE and the 3.8 powered 99 Town & Country LXi "felt" about the same as each other performance wise given equal people or cargo loads. I'm not sure how much more the 99 van weighs but the 91 got a couple MPG better in town but the 99 could beat it on the highway.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,862 Posts
If you frequently drive full, get the 3.8. If not, the 3.3 is great. Traded a 94 T7C bought with 48K in at 280K. Well maintained is the key.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
20,078 Posts
One thing I noticed over the years, given I take a 1200 mile trip every few years and drive through the Siskyous (sp) Mountains of northern California and Oregon, usually driving a bit above the speed limit to get there, the 3.8 minivans are the only ones that routinely keep up with me, bar none. It is one of the few V6s available I would love to swap into a small British sports car for a little more fun, even over a SBC swap. I am also positive, as always, porting the heads for improved flow would more than fix a few of the issues, to which the 3.3 may then be able to easily keep up with the 3.8 under loaded situation.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,422 Posts
For the average driver, the 3.3 is jsut fine. As seaid though, if you plan on lots of road trips, the 3.8 is much better. My 2000 TC is doing just fine and get about 25 on the highway.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,693 Posts
You wont get neck snapping accelleration from the 3.3 . It is after all only a measly 180 HP compared to the current 3.6 which
 
1 - 18 of 18 Posts
Top