2004 to 2009 Nissan Quest
The Draw: A silky 3.5L V6 engine and a generous standard features list helped set the Quest apart, as did its unique, distinctive styling. Nissan’s minivan offered no less than three trim grades for selection’s sake, and could be had with power adjustable pedals, Bose audio and plenty of other high-end features. Handling, the sky-view roof system and the upscale interior looks were all highly rated.
What to Check: Listen to the engine during idle, after confirming that its oil level and condition are satisfactory. Loud rattling sounds at idle or lower revs may be indicative of a somewhat rare but relevant timing-chain problem that’s expensive to fix. This seemed to affect 2004 models, mostly. Note that timing chains generally don’t require maintenance provided oil change schedules are strictly adhered to. Be sure that’s been the case for the used Quest you’re considering.
Double check for proper operation of all instruments, the remote fobs and the climate control fan.
A noisy front suspension may indicate worn-out components, and moisture in the headliner could be caused by a known water leak resulting from a blocked sunroof drain tube. Power tailgate and power sliding door mechanisms should be triple-checked as well.
Useful: Your potential used minivan has a complicated suspension system that keeps it anchored to the road while largely dictating its handling, ride, steering and even braking characteristics. A mechanic can quickly inspect the suspension of the minivan you’re considering to make sure it’s in tip-top shape for family cruising. If the unit in question is suffering from worn-out bushings, busted shocks or broken ball joints, now’s the time to check. You’ll experience better ride quality, handling and safety by opting for a model with a healthy suspension system.
Nissan Quest (photos by Haney Louka) & Honda Odyssey (photo by Michael Clark). Click image to enlarge
2005 to 2010 Honda Odyssey
The Draw: Honda’s knack for interior space optimization, reliability and safety hit the minivan scene with this generation of the brand’s popular Odyssey minivan. Standard V6 power and plenty of trim grades mean selection will be plentiful, and all models get up to 4,170 L of cargo space. Owners comment positively on spaciousness, comfort, power output and even fuel mileage. A useful navigation system and power sliding doors are among the most loved features.
What to Check: Confirm proper operation of the power sliding doors and power liftgate, if equipped. Any strained or non-operation should be called into pricing negotiations or repaired. Listen to and ‘feel’ the transmission for any signs of shuddering as you drive gently up to highway speeds. This sensation could be a precursor to a failing torque converter or transmission mounts. Don’t buy an Odyssey with this shuddering sensation without having a mechanic investigate. Finally, ensure the steering wheel maintains consistent, easy effort throughout its entire range of travel. Any ‘binding’ or ‘lumps’ in power steering effort could indicate a problem with the power steering pump.
Useful: Check your used minivan’s tires for wear, but also for signs of a bad alignment. Uneven wear across the tire treads, or excessive wear on one edge of one or more tires likely means an alignment is in your future. A properly aligned vehicle saves you money on tires and brakes, and steers and handles more safely.