Converting Dodge Caravan to diesel?

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Chase's picture
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Joined: 05/27/2004

OK, hair-brained scheme of the day...

I have an '02 Dodge Grand Caravan that is out of warranty. Experiencing the joys of my new TDI getting 43.7 mpg with the AC on and only 1000 miles on the car makes me want to convert the van.

Having family in Hungary, my visits have made me jealous at the fact that all our domestic models are available in diesel over there. Yep, Grand Caravan diesels all over the place.

So, is it feasible to swap out my gas engine for a diesel one from EU? Of course I watch Monster Garage and know that anything is "possible", but I'm looking for basic plug&play as far as engines go. If it will entail all manor of drivetrain changes then it probably won't be worth it.

Of course I could get a full van "shipped" over here and change all the VIN tags. ;)

TDIguy's picture
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Joined: 06/07/2004

Mass production being what it is I bet you could buy a motor from overseas and it would indeed bolt right into place. But thats just my best guess I doubt car manufacturers change the chassie around for there own different motors. Hell i could probably take a jetta vr6 car and bolt a tdi engine into it.

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01 vw jetta TDI
Vag-Com tool at home
RC stage 2 ECU (loveing it)
VR6 clutch / single mass flywheel.
Running on Veg sence summer 04 still learning new tricks
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tenknots's picture
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Joined: 11/29/2004

I suspect your biggest problems are electronic compatability. Gas and diesel computers are going to be different as will the entire wiring harness. The diesel probably used a different transmission too. Then there's the vacuum problem and associated hoses. If you could find an entire engine/transaxle from "over there" it might work. But it would take years to ever get out $$ what you put in it.

Chase's picture
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Joined: 05/27/2004

Hmm... I suspected there would be more to it. But hey, even if I spent $6000, that would be only be 2222 gallons of veg at today's $2.70/gal for fossil, and that's only about 88,000 miles driven until I hit ROI! :D

Well hey, I'll keep digging just in case there is a cool work-around. Do they have the diesel Caravan in South America?

Ahillbilly's picture
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Joined: 08/28/2005

It is best to get doner van or if you have oversea connection bring one in. But beware or emission laws and safety certs. I know someone that braught a Bmw 535 in from Germany and could not register it here because the motor was different. This was back in the 80's when the big 3 were makeing big block gassers.
Gmc had verious different diesels in the pickup trucks and cars
the 4cly 3.9 cummins they had I think would have been a prety interesting engine as far a fuel mileage is concerned . I don't think they sold any in this country I'm sure I seen one in the Dominican republic. It was a 90's style extended cab and it had a very different sound to it.
I built my owen truck and I'm not looking back but the best advice is get a doner for the transplant the more alike the betterl. Little things will nickel and dime you to death.
I would love to get me fingers on a diesel powered minivan

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93 Gmc k3500 powered by 5.9 cummins

Chase's picture
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Joined: 05/27/2004

Yea, I came to the same conclusion. It is so friggin annoying that I could get my exact same Grand Caravan with a CRD that gets 40mpg if I were in EU. 40MPG!!!!

VeggieRanger's picture
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Joined: 04/27/2005

6 grand *might* cover the bill for the forwarding agent, duty, EPA and DMV paperwork. You still might not be able to get a tag depending on where you live.

I would recommend finding someone who does this for a living to get their take on feasibility. There is a company in NM or AZ that imports SWB diesel Gelaendewagens that would probably be able to help you.

Veggie Ranger

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'86 Ford Ranger Turbo Diesel running on WVO and B100
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