Minivans are still a thing for many people who aren’t ready for an SUV or just aren’t interested in getting one. The Dodge Grand Caravan has been around for a while and is a well-known name in the automotive industry so buying any model year should be okay, right?
Not so fast. CarComplaints.com shows that there are three models that have numerous complaints from owners. Of those three, they deem one the worst model year to buy. Look at each one and see how bad they really are.
Dodge Grand Caravan 2005 model
The 2005 model year for this van had several problems, but three of them stand out. The first issue deals with the power lock system.
The key fob wouldn’t lock or unlock the doors on random occasions. Some owners spent hundreds of dollars to have the computer module flashed, firmware updated and switches replaced, only to have the problem come back. Other drivers found a fix by removing the IOD (Ignition off-draw) fuse and then replacing it to reset the computer.
The second problem plaguing this model are the brakes and rotors wearing out fast. Some owners complained that they had to have brake jobs done almost every year.
The third biggest complaint deals with the AC/heater. Drivers would turn on the AC/heater, only to have the blower fail to blow any air. Some owners reported that they would spend hundreds of dollars on it only to have it come back with the same problem. Eventually, the issue was traced to the resistor behind the glove box. Replacing that would often resolve the issue.
Dodge Grand Caravan 2008 model
The three biggest complaints against the 2008 model of this minivan have to do with the brakes, electrical issues, and air conditioning problems. The brakes, like the 2005 model, wear out prematurely.
Owners complained that they have to replace the pads 1-2 times a year. Some drivers tried high-performance parts, but they didn’t help. Another problem reported was the air conditioner’s blower quit working and wouldn’t blow cool air. Recharging the unit didn’t help and most said that the air conditioner had freon in it. Replacing the blower worked in some cases, but some had it quit again in two months.
The most expensive and frustrating problem plaguing this model is the faulty TIPM or Total Integrated Power Module. Basically, it’s a fuse box located under the hood of the van. Owners would find that they had mysterious electrical issues come up.
Wipers, radio, windows, and even the fuel pump would turn on by themselves without having to press a button. Sometimes the van wouldn’t start or would start hard. The TIPM turned out to be the culprit and is a known issue for other Chrysler and Jeep vehicles.
There is a recall out for it, but this Dodge isn’t included in the list. Owners have to replace the unit themselves at a cost of over a thousand dollars.
The 2011 model is the worst of all
The worst problem with the model is the same TIPM problem discussed with the 2008 version. However, most of the complaints dealt with the fuel pump relay, which is what powers the fuel pump and allows it to send gas to the engine to start the vehicle.
Without sufficient power, the van wouldn’t get enough gas to start or would start hard. Replacing the TIPM with a newer unit would help the issues, but it’s very expensive. Some drivers found an inexpensive fix with a cable that bypasses the faulty relay on the circuit board.
Another issue found in this version is the same found in the other two models. The brakes wear out too fast in this van. Customers complained that they spend hundreds of dollars a year on brake pads and most either have to resurface the rotors or replace them altogether.
The engine in this minivan doesn’t get by without some complaints from drivers. The van’s engine service light would come on and the codes from it would point to cylinders misfiring. Drivers would change the spark plugs, plug wires, and ignition coils to no avail.
Some replaced fuel injectors and the engine service light still comes on after a short while stating the cylinders are misfiring. There were even reports of having to replace the cylinder heads, which worked in those cases. The cost reported was anywhere from $200-$4,000, depending on what repairs were performed.
In the end, the 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan is the worst model year you can buy. Mostly because a lot of these issues came about with 50,000 to 60,000 miles on the van, not when it was in the higher mileage range.
But, the 2005 and 2008 models aren’t exactly prime examples of reliable vehicles either. All in all, you should avoid all three of these models and find a year that isn’t known for a high number of complaints.