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3.3L VS 3.8L Engine - Which is better?

04-03-2007, 11:47 PM

I've owned 3 dodge caravans in the past and my father has owned 12 caravans in his life so far. My first caravan had the 3.0 mitsubishi V6 and my dad's first few also had the 3.0 engines in them. They all blew smoke at 100,000 miles and had their fair share of minor problems. A few years ago he bought a caravan that had the 3.3L engine in it. He put on 376,000 miles on it without ever rebuilding the engine or even having a major engine problem. He sold it at 376K in perfect running condition. He now has 253,000 miles on his 96 caravan with the 3.3L engine and its running great.

I am wanting to purchase either a Caravan or Town and Country. I like the looks of the town and country better but i've notice most of them have the 3.8L engine and I know nothing about that engine. As far as reliability goes, is there any problems or drawbacks with the 3.8L engine? And does the 3.8L engine have a timing chain like the 3.3L or a timing belt like the 3.0L? I want an engine with the chain, not the belt.

I'd like as much feedback on this as possible as I'm looking to purchase in a month or two months at the latest.

Thanks in advance!

Bernard Feltzer
04-04-2007, 01:29 AM
The 3.3 and the 3.8 are the same engine, both have timing chains.
The 3.8 has a bigger bore and a very little bit longer stroke.
Which is better? Which is less expensive and does the same job?
I prefer the 3.3, the last one I had lasted 15 years. It was nice not having a car payment for 10 years, and lower insurance premiums near the end.

04-04-2007, 03:06 AM
My 96 GC with the 3.8 has been running great for 190+k miles. The 3.8 has a bit more torque and HP which might come in handy for towing. Other than that there's not a whole lot of difference. Both of these engines are fairly bullet proof.

04-07-2007, 09:43 AM
I've had 3 with the 3.3 and now i have a 2002 with 3.8 WOW does it move, but this winter I started to notice a rod knock at startup, I only have 55k on it! Also a friend had a 2000 with 3.8 and he's was knocking as well with 90k on it. I love my van, I step on the peddle and we move! but rod knock not good!! people say it's rare but it happens. I will be getting a 3.3 next time! I just hope I can get all the goodies with the 3.3

04-07-2007, 01:29 PM
thanks for feedback. more is appreciated. i've heard about the rod knock in the 3.8L engines which scares me, but is it a common thing on the 3.8L or not? I've had some good Dodge products, and I've had some really bad ones. Im looking for like a 2002-2004 Town and Country and will be paying all I've saved up in cash for it so I don't want to buy a vehicle with a potentially bad engine as we have a baby on the way and by then won't have the money to fix a rod knocking engine. Also, does anyone know if you can get the 3.8L Limited model WITHOUT all wheel drive? I DO NOT want AWD. Thats more that can go wrong. I appreciate the feedback so far.

04-14-2007, 03:26 PM
For me, the saving grace of dodge/chrysler products is their motors. They seem to have really good motors. They've always had famous motors too. The legendary Hemi, the powerful Cummins, etc. I just wish for pete's sake that they could put a transmission to these motors that would make it mean something. We used to have a 1990 Dodge Dynasty that had a good engine. Nice power, great mileage, but in the end we never took it out of town in fear that we'd have to put yet another transmission in it. As for interior components, the build quality wasn't too good. Our 98 T&C seems to have improved a little, but it does have a broken belt in the driver's side window that we haven't bothered to fix yet.

03-15-2017, 11:06 AM
I've owned 2 Chrysler T&C's-- Both were 3.8L engines, so I can't make a comparison, but here's my experience...
The first van we owned was a Ford Aerostar extended version, with a 4.0L V6, which was an excellent vehicle. It wasn't pretty, but the boxy shape meant maximized space inside. It had POWER, and was a pleasure to drive, so when it died we decided to get another van.
That was our 2002 T&C, with the 3.8. It too had GREAT power, and one of the features I LOVED (along with the burled wood trim and sliding doors on both sides) was the moveable center console.. I LOVED that! If I wanted to put it between the two captain's chairs in the back I could, or in just two seconds I could unclip it and put it back in between the front seats. It was wonderful for cleaning the van, too. Made it so easy...I even overlooked the fact that the sleek shape of the T&C kind of killed some of the storage space in the back.
We hit 100K and started wondering how long it would last, and just then we got a flyer about year-end deals at the dealership, so we stopped in...
We left with a brand-new 2007 T&C Limited Touring model with heated leather seats, Stow-N-Go, a DVD system, XM Satellite radio, a lifetime powertrain warranty, and 0% interest... We were feeling pretty cool.
Before long, I learned to regret my decision. Despite the big engine, this tank is so heavy it has no pickup. And when you get off a highway and hit the brakes to stop, it feels like you're trying to stop the Queen Elizabeth II. It's 10 years old now, with 140,000 miles on it, but I've replaced front brake pads and rotors 4 times, along with FIVE sets of tires!! I buy 60,000 to 80,000 mile-rated tires, and we've been burning through them every 28,000 miles on average. This is because the vehicle we have was clearly under-designed for it's weight, and has poor quality front-end parts. We've had the front end checked, aligned, re-checked, and everything is "perfect," except the the right side tires always get eaten up on the outside tread. And the Stow-N-Go? If you don't mind cracks and crevices jammed with all manner of crumbs and sticky goo and impossible to vacuum, then you'll be OK with it...
But otherwise it's been GREAT! Except for the problems with the sliding doors, and having to add a quart of oil every other fill-up...
Needless to say, our next vehicle will NOT be a Chrysler van... Oh well.

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