Want to buy a used minivan, but have no idea what the normal price is? Want a good vehicle, but scared of making a bad purchase?
If you have chosen to travel by minivan, that means that you might look the popular models, like Kia Sedona, Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna, Chrysler Pacifica and of course, the classic Dodge Grand Caravan.
If you are looking for a bigger van, this article is not for you, quite simply because we are not the specialists;) But you will find on the internet a multitude of answers, for all tastes, all budgets!
Many people choose to travel by minivan for the discretion (you can park almost anywhere quite discreetly), the maneuverability of the vehicle, but also the price. We have listed some things for you to keep in mind when buying your van!
1- Questions to ask yourself when choosing your mini-van and transforming it into a camper
- What budget do you want to allocate to your project? This will define the year, mileage and general condition, among other things, to guide your research.
- How many seats do you want to keep? Quick tip here: Dodge’s Stow’N’go option is useful if you have children and / or if you plan to travel with more than 2 people.
- Are you comfortable with not being able to fully stand up in your van? You can also install a “pop-up” style roof, but that makes a great big addition to your budget!
- How do you fare in relation to shower / toilet use? Unless you choose to take a portable toilet (Porta Potti type), the “personal hygiene” part will take place outside your van or in the snanitary blocks that you will pass on your way.
- If you have a big dog, have you thought about giving him a comfortable space?
- Depending on the road trip you are planning, be sure to take a vehicle that can be repaired relatively everywhere with accessible parts!
- If you’ve planned a lot of off-roading, the Sienna’s 4WD function will be a great asset for you.
- If you buy a used minivan, have you thought about saving some money for potential breakages to come? You will also need to plan maintenance inspections, to keep your van as long as possible!
2- (Almost) know everything about the Dodge Grand Caravan.
The Dodge Grand Caravan is by far the most suitable minivan for a mini camper and it is no coincidence: the quality / price ratio of this model is unbeatable in used cars.
This Dodge model was born from the extension of the Dodge Caravan, the brand’s flagship minivan until 2007. The name Grand Caravan will be definitively used from 2008.
Even if the chassis remains the same from 2008 to 2020, we must clearly differentiate the 2008-2010 models from the 2011-2020 models:
- From 2008 to 2010, there were 3 engines: 3.3L; 3.8L and 4.0L.
- The 3.3L is the most popular and reliable model. It is also the one that consumes the least gasoline.
- The 3.8L is more powerful, but less easy to find on the market, and therefore fewer parts available in the used.
- The 4.0L is the top of the line engine, but unfortunately the only one with a timing belt that will need to be changed. This repair is among the most expensive for a vehicle.
- From 2011 to 2020, only one engine is available, the 3.6L Pentastar, which is one of the most reliable engines on the market. After 2014, the rear brakes were oversized, which brings a little more safety. These vehicles are recent and therefore more expensive.
If your budget is under $ 5,000, we suggest you go for 3.3L, staying below 200,000km if possible. After this mileage, more or less serious problems begin to arise.
For a budget between $ 5,000 and $ 10,000, you will have a choice of models between 2011 and 2014. Ideally, stay below 200,000km and if possible, below 120,000km. This will allow you to resell your vehicle below 200,000km, which will give it value.
For a budget over $ 10,000, you will be able to find models after 2014 without any problem.
Now let’s talk about the options. Note that there are several models of the Dodge Grand Caravan: SE, SXT, CREW, GT, R / T and some special series. The SE model will hardly ever have the Stow ‘N Go system, meaning that the second row seats will not be able to be stored in the floor. On the other hand, for all models, you will have the third row seats that fit into the floor. This is also often the case with models from other brands.
If you want to be able to ventilate your van at night, having the sliding side door windows that open is a must! This is an electric option and you can quickly see it in the vehicle photos. The control on the driver’s door has 4 buttons for the 4 windows, and a fifth for the windows in the third row.
If you can’t find that option, it’s not the end of the world. These windows will still open manually, and the other windows will always be electric, regardless of the vehicle model.
When you have selected your Dodge Grand Caravan with all this information, it’s time to go see it and try it out! The first things to check will be rust, headlights, condition of the body, interior and maintenance bills.
For rust, if it is already showing under the tab under the trunk lid, the vehicle will start to rust all over the place (this is often where it starts).
Most known issues:
- Door handles that tear off (we know where to have them repaired for about $ 150)
- Tire sensors that light up (often nothing serious)
- The check engine can also come on quite often on these vehicles. It’s not always serious. Get yourself an OBD-II for a few tens of dollars and you will immediately know the reason for this light.
3- How to make a good purchase?
New or used, that is the question.
For the price, we necessarily recommend a used vehicle. On the other hand, if you are planning for a long time, then it may be worthwhile to look to buy new and take advantage of certain warranties and financing offered by the dealers.
Many sites offer used vehicles, for example LesPAC, Kijiji, Marketplace or Craigslist. We always love when people sells their own vehicle because it’s easier to have the history and know if they’ve taken care of it. Sure, you can find rare gems at dealerships and dealers, but since they often buy at auction, they likely won’t have the vehicle’s history.
Having the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is a good thing to request the full history report of your future van (also called CARFAX). Some dealers provide it with the vehicle, but you can request it by clicking HERE.
Finally, when you have a crush, it is essential to go foran inspection at an external mechanic, even if you already have an inspection report provided by your seller (Be careful, beware of sellers who are a little too rushy !)
Some objectivity doesn’t hurt, and for $ 80 to $ 120, you’ll know exactly what’s going on with the mechanics and overall condition of the vehicle. It’s cheaper than towing in New Brunswick, trust me: P!
To buy a new Dodge Grand Caravan, Chrysler Pacifica or Toyota Sienna and have your conversion kit financed at the same time, contact us! We will put you in touch with our partner dealers directly. It makes us happy and we do not take any commission 🙂
4- Administrative, insurance, assistance, and the rest of it!
This is where the worst part comes in: Managing the purchase!
Let’s first break a first myth: you can buy a vehicle in Canada even if you are not a resident, but the procedures are longer and tedious!
In Quebec, it is mandatory to have insurance to drive. If you are already a resident with a driver’s license issued by the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ), you shouldn’t have any problem finding one. There are good online insurance comparators, but you can also check with your home insurance to get a complete package. You can sometimes save by combining these different insurances.
If you have just arrived in Quebec and you do not have a history or a valid driver’s license, you will probably have to shop longer. It might be interesting to do business with an insurance broker company to avoid searching from noon to 2 p.m.!
Be aware that the history of your insurance file in your home country could lower your premium. If you have a high school diploma, mention it! It can also help.
* The French license is valid 6 months after your date of arrival on Canadian territory, longer for the international license. If you settle in the province, you will have to remember to apply for your Quebec permit, payable each year on your birthday. It will become useful (and mandatory)! You will find all the details on the website of the SAAQ.
Every year, vehicle owners are required to pay their licence plate fee, which is a flat fee for a minivan that often ranges between $200 and $350 and, among other things, helps cover medical costs in the event of an accident whether you’re responsible or not.
Payment to the SAAQ
If you buy from a company, you will have to pay the TPS on top of it (some already include this in the price). In all cases, you will have to pay the SAAQ the TVQ (9.975% of the purchase amount) according to the following two cases:
- If the vehicle is less than 10 years old, you will have to pay the TVQ on the value of the vehicle registered with the SAAQ. It’s always a bit of a surprise.
- If the vehicle is 10 years old or more, then you will pay the TVQ on the declared value agreed by both parties when going to the SAAQ.
Once the vehicle has been purchased, we strongly recommend that you take roadside assistance. The ones from CAA and Canadian Tire are working well in our opinion (but we have never tried other services).
5- Now the fun part: converting your van!
We have been traveling in a minivan across North America for 4 years and it is always a pleasure to take advantage of our kit. We redesigned, reworked and tinkered with it, to finally arrive with the new 2021 kit, now suitable for several vehicles(see the product below).
If you already have your minivan or your friend / aunt / uncle has one, why not borrow him a few days and rent our kit before you buy to find out if you like it? If you like your experience (and we’re pretty sure you’ll have a blast;)), we offer to deduct 50% of the amount of your rental from the purchase price of a new kit.
In fact, why not start with this article on our blog about the essential applications for a successful road trip in Quebec!