1995 Chrysler Town & Country
1995 Chrysler Town & Country. Click image to enlarge


By Chris Chase

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In the more than 20 years since it invented the modern interpretation of the family hauler with the Magic Wagons minivans of the 1980s, Chrysler Corporation (now known as DaimlerChrysler) has put a lot of effort into updating and refining its original concept to keep it competitive in a crowded segment.

The 1991 models sported updated exterior styling, but maintained virtually the same dimensions as the 1990 models; and the interior got a new look as well. The biggest mechanical update was the addition of an all-wheel-drive option for both short- and long-wheelbase models. Base-model, short-wheelbase vans got a 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine as standard equipment, while a 3.0-litre V6 was an option; both of those engines were carried over from 1990. New for 1991 was a 3.3-litre V6 that was standard on short-wheelbase vans with all-wheel-drive, and also on all long-wheelbase vans, and in 1994, a 3.8-litre V6 was added as an option for the Grand Caravan and Voyager, and became the standard engine for the Town & Country. A five-speed manual transmission continued to be the base transmission four-cylinder models, and a three-speed automatic was the base transmission for 3.0-litre V6 versions. A four-speed auto was part of the package for buyers who opted for the newer, bigger V6s.

One of the best aspects of these vans was their safety in collisions, according to data from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In 1992 and 1993, these vans earned four and five stars respectively for driver and front passenger protection in frontal impacts, while 1994 and 1995 versions scored four stars each in the same test. The NHTSA didn’t conduct side impact testing, and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) didn’t test these vans at all.

Naturally, the larger engines use more fuel: consumption ranges from about 11 L/100 km city and 8.5 L/100 km highway for the four-cylinder, to a high of about 14 L/100 km city and 10 L/100 km on the highway for 3.8-litre, all-wheel-drive models.

Four generations fo Chrysler minivans
Four generations of the Minivan, 20th Anniversary – 1984 Plymouth Voyager, 1994 Dodge Caravan, 1996 Chrysler Town and Country, and a 2002 Chrysler Grand Voyager (outside North America). Click image to enlarge

Reliability hasn’t been stellar, mainly due to brittle automatic transmissions; if you do go for one of these vans, look for one that’s recently had its transmission rebuilt by a reputable shop to take some of the guesswork out of how much life is left in it. The 3.3-litre V6 tends to leak oil, and the 3.0-litre prefers to burn it. Brakes can be problematic too. In general, these vans react poorly to neglect; regular maintenance goes a long way towards prolonging the life of a Caravan, Voyager or Town & Country. This page at MOPAR enthusiast website Allpar.com – http://www.allpar.com/fix.html – contains a comprehensive list of trouble spots and repair procedures for these vans.

According to Canadian Red Book, used values are dirt cheap, ranging from $2,375 for a basic, short-wheelbase 1991 model to $2,875 for a 1995 long-wheelbase version with a full load of options. At the time of this writing, short-wheelbase Caravans listed on AutoTrader.ca were selling for anywhere from about $3,000 to about $4,500. Anything between $2,500 and $3,500 would be a good price for a well-maintained example with reasonable mileage for its model year.

The popularity of these vans in general speaks well for them, as does the fact that there are so many from the early- to mid-1990s still on the road. No, they’re not bulletproof, but with regular maintenance to keep everything working right, older Chrysler minivans are solid and simple carry-all vehicles.


Pricing


Online resources

www.allpar.com – Allpar.com is one of the premier spots on the web to go for information on just about any Dodge, Chrysler or Plymouth product, including the companies’ Magic Wagons. The forums here are chock full of good information posted by helpful members, of which there are more than 28,000. There’s also lots of technical information about the Caravan, Voyager and Town & Country, like a comprehensive list of specs broken down by model year.

www.chryslerminivan.net – This site bills itself as the “Chrysler Minivan Fan Club.” Well, now we know someone out there thinks minivans are cool. A note on the main page trumpets the site’s forums as its key asset. Indeed, they are decent, though membership is low, at less than 1,200, and newer versions of Chrysler’s minis get more attention than the second-generation vans that are the subject of this review. There’s a live chat room here, too, which offers members the chance to “talk” in real-time.

www.moparchat.com – This is a very active forum, with almost 34,000 members, but minivans get very little attention compared to other, more exciting, vehicles. All minivan discussion is lumped into a “front-wheel-drive” forum, and as a result, there’s little information to be had that’s specific to any generation of Chrysler minivan.


Recalls

Transport Canada Recall Number: 1997162; Units affected: 153,541

1991-1993: The first row rear seat outboard side seat belt anchor hook can become unattached from the body anchor position. Also, the covers on solid stalk mounted seat belt buckles may become dislodged. Should a cover become dislodged, the release button may stick inside the cover creating the potential for the buckle to become partially latched. In the event of a vehicle crash, either of these conditions could result in the occupant not being properly restrained. Correction: anchor hook retaining clip will be replaced with a revised profile clip and cover plate. Dealers will also install a cover retaining clip to the stalk mounted buckle cover to prevent dislocation of the buckle cover.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 1991157; Units affected: 4,754

1991: On vehicles equipped with an anti-lock brake system (ABS), the high pressure hose may leak or detach due to inadequate crimping of the hose-to-end fittings. This condition could result in loss of brake power assist and a possible increase in stopping distances. Correction:(526) ABS high pressure hose will be replaced with a hose of different design and construction. (527) Four hundred and twenty six of the identified mini vans will also have the abs pump casting inspected for porosity. Leaking pumps, if found, will be replaced.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 1999145; Units affected: 163,025

1991-1993: On certain vehicles, the left hand windshield wiper pivot drive arm was not mechanically staked to the pivot shaft. This may allow the drive arm to disengage from the shaft and lead to a loss of wiper function. Correction: The left windshield wiper pivot assembly will be replaced with one that incorporates an improved mechanical connection of the drive link to the pivot shaft.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 1997104; Units affected: 246,405

1991-1994: A combination of no bolt torque, high pressure in the strut and a severe duty cycle can create the potential for the liftgate strut attaching bolts to separate. This could result in injury to persons standing under the liftgate at the time of failure. Correction: liftgate struts will be inspected for loose fasteners. If fasteners are loose, the strut (and integral bolts) will be replaced. If the bolt shows evidence of torque, the bolt will be removed, larger washers will be installed and bolt will be torqued to specification.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 1996198; Units affected: 77,024

1991-1992: The steering wheel armature stamping may crack and separate from the centre hub of the steering column. This could adversely affect steering control and result in a possible crash without prior warning. Correction: steering wheels exhibiting cracks will be replaced. All other involved vehicles will have a anti-separation plate installed to prevent separation of the steering wheel from the steering column.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 1996063; Units affected: 24,055

1991-1993: Note: vehicles equipped with the bendix-10 antilock brake system. Vehicles with ABS brakes may experience premature actuator piston seal wear in the ABS hydraulic control unit and/or actuator pump motor deterioration. If this occurs the ABS function may be lost and reduced power assist may be experienced during vehicle braking. Correction: vehicles with ABS malfunction will be repaired as necessary. Warranty on all ABS components will be extended to 10 years or 160,000 km (except for the brake actuator piston assembly and the pump-motor assembly which will have lifetime coverage)

Transport Canada Recall Number: 1991046; Units affected: 244

1991: These vehicles do not comply with C.M.V.S.S. 108 – Lighting. Signal flasher inhibits signal lamp outage indication in the event of a signal lamp failure. Correction: turn signal flasher will be replaced with the correct flasher.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 1992018; Units affected: 2,829

1992: A steering column coupling bolt may fracture due to hydrogen embrittlement, causing loss of clamping load on the steering column shaft coupling with resultant loss of steering control. Correction: zinc plated steering column coupling bolts will be replaced with a phosphate coated bolt.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 1991152; Units affected: 11

1992: The brake pad to pedal arm strength may not be adequate due to mis-location of welds. Should the brake pedal separate, loss of vehicle braking integrity may occur. Correction: brake pedal assembly will be replaced with a properly manufactured one.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 1993086; Units affected: 115

1993: Vehicles equipped with 15″ stamped road wheels or spare wheel may have a misformed wheel lug nut seat configuration. This could cause a reduced nut to wheel contact area and limit the wheel self-centering capability during installation. This could result in loosening of the wheel lug nuts and possible wheel loss. Correction: suspect wheels will be replaced and installed with new lug nuts.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 2000256; Units affected: 72,232

1993-1994: On certain vehicles, there is a potential on high mileage vehicles for the steering wheel armature stamping to crack and separate from the centre hub attachment of the steering wheel. This could result in loss of steering control and a possible crash. Correction: Vehicles will be inspected for armature cracks in the centre hub attachment area. Steering wheels exhibiting cracks will be replaced. All other vehicles will have a reinforcement plate attached.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 1999104; Units affected: 129,978

1994-1995: On certain vehicles, an intermittent short circuit in the air bag initiator wire that occurs between 1.5 to 1.7 seconds after vehicle start-up (or “key on”) may lead to an inadvertent air bag deployment. This short is caused by an unprotected metal sharp edge where the clockspring wire passes through the lower instrument panel. Correction: An electrical diagnostic check will be performed and any short circuits will be repaired. In addition, a mastic patch will be added to the lower instrument panel to prevent chafing of the clockspring wire. If the air bag warning light is illuminated due to a rear wiper motor short circuit condition, the shorted motor will be disconnected and the fuse replaced.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 1992147; Units affected: 512

1992: Improper stamping of the fuel tank flanges could result in damage to the fuel tank mounting straps and/or the fuel lines which in turn could result in fuel tank separation or fuel leakage. Correction: vehicles will be inspected for proper fuel tank flange bends and if necessary the flange will be bent to the specified angle. Damaged mounting straps and fuel lines will be replaced as required.

Used vehicle prices vary depending on factors such as general condition, odometer reading, usage history and options fitted. Always have a used vehicle checked by an experienced auto technician before you buy.

For information on recalls, see Transport Canada’s web-site, www.tc.gc.ca, or the U.S. National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA)web-site, www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

For information on vehicle service bulletins issued by the manufacturer, visit www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

For information on consumer complaints about specific models, see www.lemonaidcars.com.

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