By on November 6, 2012

11,285 miles. Or maybe not?

This 12 year old minivan graced a fairly large audience of dealers that were long dog tired of all the minivans that were passing through. There were green ones that were as unloved as they were large. Purple ones that dated back all the way back to the Y2K era and the peak of minivan mania. A red one that came in an unsellable three door version.

Then there was this one.


The auctioneer peered, gazed and squinted at the run sticker on the windshield.

“11,5 miles? That can’t be right?”

After a brief debate with the lane rep, they decided to run it as having 111,000 miles instead. The asking price quickly went down from $4000 to $2500, and within about ten seconds, this white minivan of eternal suburban blandness went for the fair price of $2600 plus a $135 auction fee.

The buyer fumbled around his pockets to show his bidder number. One pocket. Two pockets. Four pockets. Then folks began to notice the usual things of a public buyer that was truly out of his element. He began to ask questions to the auctioneer about the vehicle while the bid caller was trying to sell about sixty more cars in the next half hour.

After the third question, the auctioneer had it with the constant blathering about.

“No sale that last vehicle! No sale!!! Now leave me the hell alone!!!

The buyer slinked back to his netherworld of Hamlet impersonations while the lot manager walkie-talkied their employees to bring the vehicle back through the sale.

Ten minutes later, as sure as Dolly Parton will sing “Here You Come Again!“, at one of her star studded concerts, the minivan went back  in the barn.

As the vehicle went back on the auction block, the ringman peered in to see whether the miles were indeed 11,285 miles.

“I think this thing has a five digit odometer?”

I shook my head vigorously at that thought. As someone who used to liquidate about 10,000 vehicles a year for an auto finance company, my one personal tender spot has always been lane announcements that were inaccurate. If there was an announcement on my list that I didn’t believe was right at my sale, I wouldn’t sell the vehicle. Pure and simple.

“Nope, these things are six digits. So what’s the announcement?”

At this point the auctioneer offered me an ear to ear grin that would be pure nostalgia for the both of us. We had been ringmen at the same auctions way back in the day. Both young. Both well educated. Both guys whose only purpose at the auctions was to help the auctioneer create the urgency to buy by pointing our hands towards bidders and yell, “Yep!”

A dealer would wink and sure enough, one of us would yell “Yep!”

Another would tap his elbow. Another “Yep!”

If the bidding went down to a ridiculously low level, like seven grand on a ten grand car, all of a sudden a whole lot of dealers would bid at the same time.

Our job, at a hundred bucks an hour, was to profess the following.

“Yep! Yep! Yep! Yeaahhhppp!!!”

At that moment, the auctioneer gave me his trademark smile and informed me of the following.

“Let’s go back to those old classical days of long ago and sell it as ‘Miles Exempt’. How does that sound?”

Miles exempt is auctioneer shorthand for, “We don’t know if it has 11k, 111k, 211k, or 311k. But since the State of Georgia doesn’t require mileage verifications on vehicles that are ten years or older, we’re selling it the way it is and we really don’t give a flip about the miles. Bid accordingly!”

After another fifteen seconds of “Yep! Yep! Yeahhhppp!”, the minivan sold for $2300 plus the same fee as before. The brief saga that was would be a very distant memory with over a hundred vehicles going through the block in an hour.

But you dear readers get to take part in the aftermath.

Today’s question is this. Study the pictures that I have given you and see if you can SWAG the following for me.

“Does this minivan have 11,285 original miles?”

Statistical wild axe guessing is a bigger part of this car buying business than you may imagine. So consider this an early education. Point at the blemishes or the beauty. Make your opinion known. Then let out your own personal “Yep!” in the comments section below. Oh… guess the engine as well and for extra credit, see if you can identify the two things that were added to this Mommyvan after it left the factory.



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26 Comments on “Monday Mileage Midget: 2000 Dodge Grand Caravan SE...”

  • avatar

    The tires don’t look original. I really can’t make out the brand. The leather seats appear out of place in this SE.

    I suppose it’s entirely possible it only has 11k original miles. The tires could have been replaced for severe flat spotting or dry rot.

    Since it’s a Grand Caravan, it probably has the old reliable 3.3L V6.

    • 0 avatar

      Not a Chrysler guy, but I was under the impression the 3.3 was gone by 2000 MY. There was a thread a few weeks back about a 2000 MY Intrepid and IIRC it was concluded in 2000 only 2.7 and 3.5 were available.

      I agree leather looks aftermarket, but the hubcaps (and possibly tires) are factory. I would say the headlights aren’t factory, they would have long fogged up by now.

      • 0 avatar

        The 3.3L could be had in the Grand Caravan until 2010! The only OHC V6s available in the Chrylser minivans before the Pentastar (’11 MY) was the 4.0L (’08-’10) and the Mitsu 3.0L (2000 back to ’88 or ’89).

        The 2.7L and 3.5L were never options on the vans (very fortunately in the case of the 2.7L).

        In the case of this van, if it were a shorty, it would have had the Mitsu 3.0L valve guide droppin’, oil burnin’ lump.

      • 0 avatar


        If you go back even further, the first V6 Chrysler minivans were SOHC sixes: the Mitsubishi 3.0L which was available through MY2000.

        If this Grand Caravan is truly an SE trim it’s a 3.3L, but if it’s a “base” trim it could be the 3.0V6 or the 3.3V6 depending on what state it was originally shipped to, with the majority being 3.0V6.

      • 0 avatar

        Yeah I caught that right away when I thought about the other V6 available in this one. You must have posted during my edit.

        I really try and forget about that Mitsu 3.0 and all the time spend working on those turds.

    • 0 avatar

      The tires look newish. I didn’t know they offered leather seats on the lower end models with black plastic bumpers and door trim–I agree that they’re probably aftermarket.

      • 0 avatar

        Given that this pig is a ‘SE’ bargain basement awesome, I’d say the leather interior with Cap’n’s Chairs is later installed as is the steering wheel mounted Cruise Control switches.

  • avatar

    Was the odometer replaced? If so, aren’t they supposed to put a sticker in the door jamb or something? I remember buying an off-lease 1986 Dodge Lancer at auction circa 1990. It was showing like 56,000 miles. Got it back to the lot and it had bad compression in several cylinders. Turned out the odo had been swapped. Chrysler Credit made good and gave me my money back.

  • avatar

    I’m betting it’s 11K original miles. The paint on Chrysler minivans of this era wasn’t the greatest, although in white it would be the hardest to detect the early signs of fade. There do not appear to be any rock chips on the bumper cover or lower hood edge, so it’s either freshly repainted or very low mileage. Given the present but minimal fade on the black plastics that seem biased at the rear of the van, it spent most of its life parked in the same spot in the same orientation facing generally northward.

    It should have the 3.3L V6. I know the 3.3 was still around at least past 2005, maybe up until 2008 when the 4.0L bumped the 3.8L down a peg.

    For the aftermarket parts, I’m going with the seat covers and the wheel covers, although the radio antenna is suspect. They were all black but the covering may have come off or it may have been replaced with the silvery one.

  • avatar

    I’ll say yes to 11K
    3.3L V6

    New Antenna
    Can’t think of another addition, but the front bumper is missing the clunky license plate frame

    • 0 avatar
      Joe McKinney

      Georgia and all of its neighboring states are one plate states. The front plate frames are often installed at the dealership, and in these states the dealers usally don’t bother.

  • avatar

    The steering wheel looks lightly worn, but worn nevertheless. An 11k mile steering wheel would look brand new.

    The driver’s seat also would look brand new at 11k miles. This seat has wear on it.

    I’m betting on higher miles.

  • avatar

    These photos don’t show enough detail to make the call … but …

    If the question is truly one of 11k vs. 111k this should be a VERY easy determination, a cursory glance at the following will tell the tale;

    bumper skirts (look for rock chips)
    front brake roter wear (check the lip)
    drivers seat upholstery (check wear of the material and seat filler)
    steering wheel wear
    wheel wear (chipping and curb strikes on the rim)
    parking lot dings

    These are all easy things to check and the difference between a low milage and a high milage vehicle should be very easy to spot. You will need to use your noggin a bit. For example, if the wheels have been painted then thats yet another data point.

    From what I can discern from the above photos, the touch pieces appear quite work so I will go with 111k miles. I can’t see anything in the pictures that appears after market so I will guess window tint and iPod adapter.

    Lastly, CarFax is your friend, use it. I’m sure Mr. Lang is more than familiar with all this, so whats the answer?

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    My mom’s seldom driven 94 Sentra had all of 12k miles when I sold it to a buddy, he had to replace more stuff than if the car had 120k miles instead, all things rubber, alternator, starter, A/C leak not to mention tires and headliner/sun visor.

    • 0 avatar

      A very good example of why low mileage vehicles are often falsely coveted.

      I’ll take a decently maintained high mileage newer car any day over a low mileage old one as a keeper.

      Not to say I haven’t driven old, low milage cars daily. Just expect to replace things often.

    • 0 avatar

      I have a 90 something neighbor where I grew up has a ’95 5 spd Sentra < 20K original miles I was hoping to scoop up when he leaves us. Sounds like its better left to his heirs than me.

      • 0 avatar

        If it can be had for a good price, go for it. Just inspect the rubber bits like belts and hoses and be prepared to change them.

        Brakes and e-brake cables often seize up from lack of use too.

        On the plus side, low mileage cars often have really nice body work and the interiors are in good shape. This is generally worth the tradeoff IMO.

      • 0 avatar

        This one is unique because its been parked outside for almost twenty years and it *looks* beat as hell, faded interior, peeling paint, if I didn’t know the history of the old man I would assume TMU (true mileage unknown). Since it looks to be north of 150K based on looks and reputation, and I figure with a kill switch this thing would make an excellent beater… whose going to steal the ’95 5 spd Nissan that looks like it barely runs?

      • 0 avatar

        Then it all depends on price. I’d drive ANY car for the right price.

      • 0 avatar

        I’m hoping for the ‘my dad knew your grandma and mom for fifty years before he died, it hasn’t started for awhile come and get it’ $500 special.

  • avatar

    My father would always look at the gas and brake pedals to check for wear.

  • avatar

    How has no one mentioned the 3.8L engine? That’s what I would guess since my parents had a 2002 with that engine.

    As for non-original equipment, I’ll guess leather seats and hubcaps don’t look stock, no Dodge branding on them.

  • avatar

    I don’t care even if this thing only has 11 miles on it – it’s a Chrysler minivan and it’s 12 years old! Everything is dry-rotted, the Ultradrive tranny fluid has more than likely never been changed and may have the viscosity of cold corn syrup. Engine oil? Ha! Is it sludge by now?

    What I’m saying is that it’s just too plain old and not worth a lot to anyone. This vehicle was designed to get through the warranty period, more-or-less, so unless you can recoup your investment quickly, I wouldn’t trust this van any farther than I could throw it.

    Besides, those awful one-color-gray-for-all bumper covers that were all the rage back then turn me off immediately.

    BTW, has the chrome foil peeled off any of the lettering, yet?

  • avatar

    I’m gonna say leather seats as they didn’t come in that seat pattern. If you got leather you got adjustable headrests. And I don’t recall leather being available on the SE. Also, I bet tinted windows because the back window is lighter than the rest and has the appearance of having once been untinted.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    A lot of great insights and observations.

    This vehicle did indeed have 11,285 original miles according to the Carfax and Autocheck histories.

    Wheel covers came directly from Autozone. Side and rear windows have been tinted to a far darker shade of black. Seats are aftermarket and downright gorgeous.

    Now having said that, I wouldn’t be too enthusiastic about becoming the new owner of this model.

    All the fluids, filters, and most of the hoses would need to be purged and replaced. The weaknesses related to this generation would also likely require near-term financial outlays for a new power steering pump, a new evaporator core, and a transmission cooler as well.

    Long story short, the extreme DIY owner would only be looking at three grand. While the one who seeks an independent garage would likely have at least four grand invested in this model.

    Is it worth it? If you haul a lot of stuff and/or people, then sure. But most other folks would be better off with a similar one that has been driven 5k to 8k miles a year. Regular driving is far better for a vehicle’s longevity than a Rip Van Winkle’s level of inactivity and neglect.

    Besides… minivans ain’t selling these days. I now have three tributes to the Mommyvans of yesteryear on my lot as we speak. Not even the Cadillac of minivans, in a Premiere edition no less, can attract so much as an earnest glance these days.

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