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  1. #1
    Unregistered - Kathy
    Guest

    Question 1985 VW VAn vs. 1999 Dodge Caravan

    We currently own two 1985 VW Vans. One is in the never-ending process of having the engine replaced, so essentially, we have one van. The seat configuration is one 3-seater back bench (no headrests) with lapbelts (though I have retrofit one seat with shoulder belts), one 2-seater middle bench with lapbelts and two front seats with headrests and shoulder belts. Since there was no back/shoulder/neck/head support, the boys (9 and 7) have always been in a car seat (5 pt harness) and currently ride in Britax SE's (rated to 80 or 100lb, I don't remember, but it is moot because they are both hovering around 60lb). I have also retrofit the van with anchor bolts (to the frame) for all 5 back seats. The engine is in the very back of the van. It needs a new clutch (Jamie can do that) and the suspension is starting to go. It will need a new engine in about 50K miles or so, but has been a real workhorse. The new engine will cost around $2-3K.

    My parents recently came into a very large inheritance and left their currently lifestyle - getting rid of everything - for life in an RV - they are travelling the country (well, searching for the warmth right now ) for an undetermined period of time. They gifted us their 1999 Dodge Caravan. It has headrests for all seat positions and shoulder belts for all but one of the 5 back seats. It has airbags for the two front seats and an engine up front. It has a new transmission (automatic) and around (I'm totally guessing here) 120K miles.

    Our delima is whether we should sell the Dodge van (we could probably get $5-6000) and pay down some of our debt or keep it and get rid of the working VW Van (worth maybe $1000, plus maybe $200 for both the Britax SE's). I'm not exactly sure which car is safer - the VW is a bit higher off the ground and has a pure steel frame - absolutely NO plastic on that car .

    My heart lies with the VW van - we've always had VW in the family and I've always felt incredibly safe in it.

    Any ideas?

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  3. #2
    Unregistered - Kathy
    Guest

    I forgot to add

    we need a van because we have 4 kids and care for one more. All 5 are in Britax seats - 2 RA's, one marathon and the boys in SE's. We'd dump the SE's if we kept the Dodge because the boys wouldn't need them, but would have to have the Dodge retrofit with anchor bolts for the other 3 seats.

    I must admit that I really am leaning towards selling the Dodge - we could really use the money to decrease our debt (we're "poor" enough to qualify for food stamps) AND, I can't see myself as an American-made minivan driver. (smile) Right now we drive a REAL van. (smile)

  4. #3
    Admin - CPS Technician Emeritus UlrikeDG's Avatar
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    Jul 2001
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    Iowa
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    Darren should have some good advice for you. I suspect he'll recommend you keep the Dodge, but I'll let him post the details of why as he's done a lot more research on vehicle safety than I have.

    I just wanted to say, you "look" really familliar. Do I "know" you? :-)

    Either way, welcome. I'm sure you'll get excellent advice here!
    Ulrike, mom to:
    Roman (3/98), Evalina (3/00), Nadia (3/03), and Kira (11/07)


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  5. #4
    Unregistered
    Guest
    yeah, U. You know me. I'm mamakat
    / pikey / want3/ harvestmoon /greenschoolsomethingorother.

    Long time no see! After PP changed their board format I stopped frequenting the Car Seat board and lost track of you. good to see you!

  6. #5
    CPSDarren - Admin SafeDad's Avatar
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    Jan 2003
    Location
    Illinois
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    11,980
    Safety wise, your kids are probably very safe in either one. Being in the back seat in properly installed and used Husky/SE is a big help. Since you have a rear shoulder belt available, you will be OK when one needs a booster, too.

    On the other hand, the Dodge is probably quite a bit safer for you and anyone else in the front seat. 15 years is a long time in the auto industry, and many new standards and advances have been implemented.

    Financially, I can't tell you what to do- only you can decide that. For safety, keep the Dodge or better yet, sell them both and get a base model 1997 or newer Ford Windstar with the proceeds. You might even have a little left over to pay your debt depending what deals you get on your sales and purchase. Still an American minivan, but the Windstar had great safety ratings in the mid-to-late 1990s.

  7. #6
    Kathy
    Guest

    Well, we got the Caravan and

    now I'm really wondering. It has almost 80K miles on it but the 3rd seat is so small that we can't fit the 2 SE's and RA on it (fit with room to spare in the VW) and there are absolutely NO tether anchors in the floor. I've taken up the carpet in the back and can find no pre-drilled holes (it is a 1999 Dodge Caravan). So the boys now ride in the 3rd seat in neither a booster nor a carseat and none of the carseats are tethered.

    I called Dodge and it will cost $250 to install anchor bolts for the tethers (and that is with ME providing the anchor bolts (from Britax)).

    Is the Caravan still safer? I'm sad to say that I'm really enjoying having a radio and tape player and side mirrors that work (though I keep feeling for the clutch each time I start the car) and everything works PERFECTLY in the car and there are cup holders and little compartments in the car but it really is a car for only 4 carseats, not 5. Oh, and it must be shorter than the VW because everyone can kick the back of everyone else's seat.

    So, with the 9yo and 7yo now out of carseats, would the safety aspect shift back to the VW? We're now considering selling the Dodge AND the 85 VW and looking for a 90VW (with headrests in ALL positions and shoulder belts in the back) and going with that.

    Here's a link to an interesting page on Vanagon safety. http://www.vanagon.com/info/safety/
    http://www.vanagon.com/info/safety/v...ash/index.html

    Thanks so much Darren for any help you can offer - we'd like to have a car that is as safe for our children as it is for us, but without spending a mint. (right now our carseats (2 SE's, 2 RA's and a Marathon) are worth more than the van).

    (imagine smilies where i wasn't able to post them)

  8. #7
    CPSDarren - Admin SafeDad's Avatar
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    Illinois
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    As for the tether anchors, you should be able to install them yourself for the second row outboard and third row center and outboard. There may be illustrations in the owner's manual as to where the anchors are, or they may come with the parts kit from Chrysler. Do not use generic anchors from a carseat manufacturer, since Chrysler does have them. Here's what you need:

    1996-2000 Dodge Caravan/Grand Caravan:

    Second Row Outboard: 04864118AB
    Third Row Outboard: 05018506AA
    Third Row Center: 05018506AA

    These should be listed in your manual, and if not you should have the dealer verify them to be sure they are correct. Also, Chrysler has a policy that they will install at least the first one free of charge. If your dealer is not aware of this policy, you can contact Chrysler directly and have them inform your dealer. 1-800-992-1997. You might also try another dealer and refer to Technical Service Bulletin 23-08-00 Rev A. The parts kits should probably cost between $10-$20 each, and you should be able to install them yourself if you are handy. I've never installed one in these vehicles, so it may also be complex enough to let the dealer do it.

  9. #8
    Trish
    Guest

    You got an idiot at the dealership....

    Originally posted by Kathy
    I called Dodge and it will cost $250 to install anchor bolts for the tethers (and that is with ME providing the anchor bolts (from Britax)).

    Dodge will install them FOR FREE. They did in our 1991 Caravan. You just have to talk to someone who knows what they are talking about.

    I'd agree w/selling both and getting a newer (but better) van.

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