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Chrysler Minivan Transmission Problems

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Comments

  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    "I am thinking of using Valvoline ATF for older cars and hoping it has extra detergents to clean it. It's about twice as expensive. I'll post results later."

    Ummm, I think you would be much better off with the standard issue Mopar ATF. There have been entirely too many clutch slippage issues with Chrysler transmissions that were using non-Mopar stuff.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • vchengvcheng Posts: 1,284
    Please consider using the appropriate Chrysler spec ATF+3 or +4 only. Your transmission will appreciate it in the long run!
  • 93 grand voyager trans was rebuilt at 65K (torque conv), now has 155K and new trans problems. Twice last week with cold start and while in drive the trans slipped into neutral. then worked OK after coaxing into gear. This morning, same thing only now trans won't shift, engine runs at high rpms. Is there a simple diagnosis and is the fix high $?
  • vchengvcheng Posts: 1,284
    I mean, 90,000 miles may be the useful life of the transmission under some circumstances. I would start with a fluid and filter changes with the correct fluid type, and hope for the best.
  • use is 50/50 road and city, and trans maintenance spotty to nonexistent I'm sad to say. Hope you are correct. Your recomendation is requested on the fluid (Chrysler ATF 3 or 4?) and is it temp dependent, like motor oil? Gets hot down in Texas.
  • vchengvcheng Posts: 1,284
    ...temperature dependent, but the transmission type. ATF+3 is conventional, while ATF+4 is synthetic, and thus offers longer life. However, 1999 and older A604/41TE Chrysler transmissions use ATF+3 only, while newer than 1999 use ATF+4. I am not sure, but the three speed transmissions use Dexron III fluid.

    (I am assuming that you have a 4-speed transmission.)
  • use is 50/50 road and city, and trans maintenance spotty to nonexistent I'm sad to say. Hope you are correct. Your recomendation is requested on the fluid (Chrysler ATF 3 or 4?) and is it temp dependent, like motor oil? Gets hot down in Texas.
  • olizerolizer Posts: 38
    Sodak, I've got a '96 Chrysler T&C, 78K, religiously self maintained by the big book and more.. (As an aside - I've had nothing but Chrysler products in my lifetime [retired] and I don't think I'll ever have another. Read on). The extended warranty ran out last year but prior to that I had a "wiggle" shimmy which started at 68 mph and got worse as speed progressed, but not so much that the car could not be driven. I had the wheels balanced four times, alignment, rotated tires, new rotors, new tires, new half shafts, new hub bearings, transmission serviced and even went so far as to switch wheels with another T&C. NO GOOD. Zone rep (ha,ha - kid out of college who knew nothing)looked and said the service manager would take care of it. After all the above the service manager said to me - "we've done all we can - I can't think of another thing to do." Now it begins to shimmy at 40 mph. I myself have never done a half shaft job but am wondering if the transmission has some type of bearing race where the half shaft enters and that is defective. Anyone have any other ideas. I'm looking for a new mini-van in late autumn but would like a summer of shimmy less driving.
  • royallenroyallen Posts: 224
    birdman14, I'd check for low transmission fluid - and change fluid and filter.
    olizer, I'd take your problem and work report to an independent allignment shop or two until I found a person with a recommendation that made sense to follow. I would think a dynamic evaluation looking at the axles and wheels spinning might get to the source. Roy
  • 204meca204meca Posts: 366
    I recently purchased a 97 Caravan Sport 3.3L salvaged vehicle with 19,000 actual miles. Service history was sketchy so I had it checked out by a reputatable local tranny shop. There was no detectable abnormalities on the road test. There were no error codes & the CVIs were normal. However, there was a "small beard" of metal filings on the pan magnet and the filter had some clutch material and 6-8 discernable metal shavings and twice as many small silver flakes in it. The tranny folks were pretty non-commital about how serious this was. I had the tranny flushed & refilled with ATF-3.

    Does this suggest doom is likely in the next 10,000 miles or might it be good for another 30 -60K with TLC and changing the tranny filter & fluid 18,000 miles (2 years driving for me)?

    Now I am debating whether I should keep this for my intended use of my about town vehicle & outdoor activity rig. Also, I expect to tow a 1,900 lb boat 6-12 times per year. Most towing trips will be less than 60 miles one way (most less than 20) with one or two 300 mile trips over the Washington Cascades.

    On one hand I do not want to put sink a lot of money into it such as new tires (the 7 year old originals are about to fall apart due to dry rot), a tranny cooler, and tow hitch if the tranny is going to fail in another 10,000 miles.

    On the other hand I figure I only paid $6,200 for it, everything else seems to be in pretty good shape and what if I have to put $700 into upgrades and $2K into the tranny -- it is still very low mileage & still be a good deal even if the tranny needs work.

    What do ya'll think?
  • jpelderjpelder Posts: 235
    Well, I got the van back today after the dealer replaced the alternator. They assured me that the whine was gone. I drove home and sure enough, after the engine warmed up, the whining was back. The mechanic doesn't think it is the tranny, since the van also makes the noise when you rev it in neutral. It will go back to the shop tomorrow!
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Have you had the Idler Arm/Belt Tensioner checked. The one on our 1998 got a rather noisy after 70K miles or so.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • yrnehyrneh Posts: 5
    Man, after owning a problem free (except the famous head gasket of oil pan) 95 Neon, I bought a 01 Voyager thinking that I could get a good value. I got 160,000 miles out of Neon in 6 years. After 75,000 miles, my voyager needs a new transmission. Worse thing is that I missed their 7/100 warranty incentive by 4 weeks. I bought mine in October, 2001 and the warranty incentive began in November. I called Chrysler for a good will repair, but they turned me down citing high mileage. I'm still upside down so trade in for another vehicle seems unlikely at this point. What should be my next action? Should I continue to fight for coverage? If so, what to do next? Write letter, call everyday? If not, should I get my van fixed at the dealership and add more money to their pocket or get it fixed at local tranny shop? I would really appreciate any advice...
  • royallenroyallen Posts: 224
    Dan(204meca),Your odds of major repair/failure seem above the average of 1/6 per year I expect to see in the April '04 Consumer Report Auto issue. On the other hand, a good rebuilt transmission will serve you well and you might beat the odds. I have with a '95 Caravan purchased used with 48K and 5 years and 55k later is doing fine with certain care and operating rules: Drain and fill once a year, OD off in city driving, an auxillary cooler, etc. Roy
  • jpelderjpelder Posts: 235
    I'll mention the tensioner to the mechanic. I just had a new one put on my mom's '98 caravan last month at 105,000 miles. Just had a foot of snow here today, so I won't make it to the mechanic until tomorrow. I'll keep you all posted.
  • rg144rg144 Posts: 4
    OK, 7176 fluid is in it now and no wiggle reported in a week. In an attempt to save on the $13/gallon at the dealer, I went to a trans shop to see if they had it (Pep Boys et al do no carry Mopar). They said sure, bring in a empty container but it was 7176 "equivalent"! My mechanic friend said his shop puts in what is on the dipstip (in this case it says 7176). So beware.
    This is my 3rd Chrysler van, all purchased as used cars - I give them 4 stars. The 4 cyl '85 has 140K, we towed a pop-up camper, only lost it's head gasket around 100K. The engine smokes and it's plain out of style so it's parked at the end of the driveway and I use it as a shed. My '91 had 10K on the OD tranny when I got it. I used it 2 years and sold it when the trans started get a little noisy. Then this 3-speed '96. We liked them all - we're satisfied. Maybe the moral of the story is definitely get an extended warranty on a used GC with OD transmission.
    But we miss the old VW bus days. Over the eyars we had 2 of them and one VW camper. We were camping near Woodstock NY when I started losing power going up hills. While my wife was in the laundramat I was pocking around inside the engine compartment and traced it to the needle valve had fallen out of the left carb. Just walking by a girl asked if I was having trouble with it. I said I needed a part - she said she had a junk VW around the corner and I could have anything I needed off it. We went over to the van which had curtains in the windows and she told me to wait as she knocked on the the VW bus - she said she rented it out to 2 guys who lived in it. They weren't "home" and I got my needle valve. (True story).
    So to those who want risk-free, trouble-free living - it doesn't happen, and like my VW experience, makes life interesting. Instead get smart, know your options, then decide. Proverbs 4:7-8 says: Wisdom is the prime thing. Acquire wisdom; and with all that you acquire, acquire understanding. Highly esteem it, and it will exalt you.
  • steverstever Ex Yooper, just arrived in New MexicoPosts: 40,547
    Great story! I had way more trouble with my '69 Bus that I did with my '89 Voyager, but it's hard to beat an old VW van for character.

    Steve, Host

    Moderator
    Need help navigating? stever@edmunds.com - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

  • dougd7dougd7 Posts: 71
    For the 3 speed trannies, ATF+3 is stilled the preferred fluid. Dexron III can be used in the older 3 speeds without the electronic lockup feature. 3 speeds with the electronic lockup should use ATF+3.
  • Our 2003 Caravan (2 months old ) is in the shop yet again ( last time was 3 weeks ago)for a leaking transmission. This time the transmission fluid is down to the add fluid level. The last time it was in I was told it was because I dive it when it is cold outside. Well yes, this is Canada after all ! I can't stay home from work just because it is cold outside !
    Anyone know the lemon laws for Canada?
  • olizerolizer Posts: 38
    Don't feel bad - the Dodge/Chrysler mechanics go to the same alibi school. My Chrysler guy told me that my fuel pump went bad twice in 50K because I didn't use middle grade gas. I use regular. This one is the best though. As explained above I have a very noticeable vibration that starts at 68 mph. The Chrysler mechanic said that the highest "speed limit in NJ is 65mph" and that if I stayed under the limit the van wouldn't vibrate. I told him that I often visit my son in NC where the speed limit is 70. he told me to then have a dealer in NC look at the problem. Says I - "you sold me the van and you don't know how to fix it but you think that some NC dealer who doesn't know me from Adam is going to get involved in this problem?"
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    My apologies to you folks fopr not posting sooner.

    If the wiggle is there all of the time, does it ever go away when you take your foot off of the accelerator pedal at speed? What happens if you slip the transmission into neutral at road speed?

    Torque converter shudder is usually noticeable only during acceleration.

    Best regards,
    Dusty
  • Thanks for the post. That one does win for sure !
    Unfortunately, if they say such stupid things to our faces, what the heck are they doing to our vans, behind our back. I have only 3,500 km(approx 2,000 miles) on the thing and the transmission is leaking???? for the second time yet! If they are not going to stand up to the Canadian cold, then they should not sell them here. If I have this much trouble already, what do I have to look forward to? I am trying to find out about lemon laws here in Alberta where I live.
    If anyone knows where to search, please pass along the URL, thanks.
  • I would see if the dealer would put that excuse on the repair order, I think that would win the case for you.
  • jpedler, Did your whining noise ever get resolved?. We have had a similar noise coming from our brand new 04 SXT Grand Caravan. Started @ 200 miles. Our sound is constant in all gears, including neutral, louder when cold, and primarily while coasting. Whe gas peddle is pushed, whining noise dissipates substantially. Dealer says tranny probably needs to be opened up and they might be able to shift the sound to a higher gear (so they say) but it is not a matter of which gear since the sound is in all gears. We will be down at least a week with the Van in the shop. Anyone else ever hear of this problem with a brand new Caravan?
  • I have to go pick up the van when it is fixed. If they say that again, I will ask them to include that comment on the work order.
    I called Chrysler Customer care this morning and opened a file on the van. I was told that Chrysler was responsible for getting the van working as it is expected to work. I was also told that if they can't find anything wrong, it is considered fixed. We have also noticed that the PRNDL indicators all light up together at times. I have told them to check this also. Will post again once I find out what is what.
  • Did you check to see if the belts needed to be replaced? Sometimes it can be the simplest things that need to be fixed.
  • Believe it or not, they did put on the work order that it was a power steering cooler hose clamp that stretched and that is was caused due to extreme cold . I wish I was able to post the work order for all to see.
  • rg144rg144 Posts: 4
    The shudder happened to me going up hills and when accelerating. Taking foot off pedal and immediately accelerating again was all that was required. My mechanic said it's because you disengage the TC when decelerating or tapping brake (electric sensor) and it will re-engage when at cruising speed again.

    A few months before I had drained the tranny (my fluid had gone low due to loose pan bolts and what was left was toast) and topped off with a dexron III (in ignorance I did not purge the whole system) - don't remember the flavor but probably Pep Boys.

    Do not recommend the Neutral maunever. Rather find the root of the problem. Try new 7176 fluid, filter and the two band adjustments first. If you don't take it to a Chrysler dealer, make sure your tranny shop will use the right stuff (someone said get them to put it in writing on the receipt).
  • My first time here and I've been reading all night and now am so confused I'm not sure where to start. I'd just like some straight opinions if you don't mind.

    My '96 DGC w/140k miles on it - I've customized the interior in order to use for my work (I own an entertainment company and have installed a wood floor and ramps) and planned when I got it a year and a half ago to keep it forever and just fix things when they need fix'd. I've noticed that it uses a little tranny fluid here and there (I did have the tranny flushed and new filter after I bought it along with regular oil changes). I'm hearing noises that I'm not sure are separate issues or all leading to the same problem. The last few weeks I hear a "hammering" effect, sounds like it's coming from under the dash (passenger side) when I turn the heat on. Also, a problem since I've had since I purchased the van is FINDING heat! I have to wiggle the heat control back and forth until I finally get heat (don't seem to have any probs with AC in the summer, though).

    This past week I was driving to town and it didn't want to shift out of 2nd gear on the highway--drove straight to an oil change place and they found it was a quart low/tranny fluid and topped it off--ran fine. Two days later I hear a loud scraping sound (you can feel it when your foot is on the accelerator), seems to happen just after turning (but then again it happens sometimes when I'm driving forward, too). A day later I'm hearing a whining/whistling (sounds like in the dash?), seems to get higher when I accelerate. This scraping and whining has become increasingly worse in just a few days.

    I'm being told by my mechanic that my tranny is about to go out and needs rebuilt. When I came here to read up on this I'm getting scared to death. Does this sound like tranny rebuild to you guys or something else? Along with the other problems, and since I've pretty much destroyed my van for resale value, what are your suggestions for keeping it vs trading it in? The van is paid for, and I really DON'T want a car payment right now. I realize I'm probably looking at rebuilding the engine in another 50k miles or so as well(?).
    I'm also reading to be sure (if I have it rebuilt) to use 7176 or ATF+3 fluid, right? Does this even sound like a rebuild to you or should I go for a flush/service first?

    Please guide me in the right direction. I'm a female and am sooooo use to getting ripped off by mechanics and don't want to pay such big $$ for a rebuild if that's not what I need. I appreciate your advice (thanks! And sorry for such a long post!).
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    Keep in mind that whether the van is a Dodge, Ford, GM, Toyota, Honda or something else, a transmission rebuild is not uncommon at the age and mileage of yours.

    It's hard to say what the issue is with it now, but since your problem has started soon after a filter change and flush, it makes me wonder if they used Dexron-Mercon fluid.

    Pre-'99 electronic four-speed transmissions did have a few maladies that can be resolved by upgrade at rebuilding time. If the vehicle is in good condition otherwise, I wouldn't be afraid of investing in a competent rebuild. This might be the time to trust a Chrysler-Dodge dealer. They should pull some diagnostic codes first before giving you an estimate.

    As to the engine, I've seen a number of Dodges with well over 200,000 miles on them and still running well. I don't think you are in for a engine rebuild soon unless it appears its using an unreasonable amount of oil.

    Best regards,
    Dusty
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