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Chrysler Minivan Transmission Problems

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Comments

  • mrnimmomrnimmo Posts: 271
    I forgot to read the subject line. Early TROLL gets the worm. Hard to imagine an intelligent come back to that. ROTFLMAO.

    Good one!!! You got me there. Phew. I must concede. You're right. Chrysler trannies, especially caravans, are very reliable.
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 39,940
    Even better, try a google.com search on "odyssey transmission problems" and get ~11,000 hits. link

    My search engine is bigger than yours, nyah nyah nyah :-)

    Now, anyone got any problems or solutions they want to talk about?

    Steve, Host

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

  • steelengsteeleng Posts: 71
    mrnimmo - You also missed the TIC after my Honda analogy. It really wasn't much of a car but it wouldn't stop me from considering a Honda 30 years later.

    I have a 95 Chrysler Cirrus that has 75k miles on it and a 01 Grand Caravan with 17k miles. The worst problem I have had was replacing the distributor on my Cirrus because the built in camshaft positioning sensor failed. It was out of warranty but Chrysler covered half of the cost of the repair. The funny thing is that my brother lost the distributor (mechanical failure) on his 92 Honda Civic shortly after that.

    I am not necessarily loyal to Chrysler, it just happens that they have had vehicles that I wanted at the time I was looking to purchase. I do struggle with people who bash other makers about vehicles they owned decades ago and fail to allow that there might be a chance that there have been improvements over time.
  • mrnimmomrnimmo Posts: 271
    >Now, anyone got any problems or solutions they want to talk about?

    Yes, don't buy a caravan. The fullsize Dodges have about the same footprint, and well-proven trannies and engines. Or wait for Dodge to sell it's own version of the very sweet MB Vito.

    >I am not necessarily loyal to Chrysler, it just happens that they have had vehicles that I wanted at the time I was looking to purchase.

    Chrysler's design studio is top notch. Their vehicles are sexy. Probably the best interiors and exteriors on the market. I certainly understand the attraction, especially compared to the boring designs of the imports.

    >I do struggle with people who bash other makers about vehicles they owned decades ago and fail to allow that there might be a chance that there have been improvements over time.

    I think bashing is very strong. I don't think I bashed. I don't understand repeat customers, but clearly there are plenty. The sales numbers suggest that. These posts suggest people who buy a new DC minivan every three years.

    Admittedly, my opinion of DC was established years decades ago. I know it's been awhile, but it was my money. And now they have an uphill battle to get back into my pocket. I have that right.

    I've yet to see any objective data to suggest that DC has changed their ways significantly, occasional posts by new caravan owners notwithstanding. Every new car owner seems psychologically wedded to their 25,000 purchase. Remember Carleton, Duke of Padded Armrests and Defender of the DC Faith? One blown headgasket and a dead tranny and he's long gone.

    I've heard the promises of the last two or three bandaid approach tranny redesigns, none of which change the reliability of the van. Now data concern the post-1998 vans are showing the same problems. I like the looks and price of the DC vans, but it will take more than a promise of a redesign or better quality to bring me back.

    The crazy thing, in my opinion, why don't they just beef up the trannies? That would seem less expensive than the complete exterior and interior redesign that seems to occur every 5 years or so.
  • steelengsteeleng Posts: 71
    mrnimmo - You mentioned a 1998 redesign so I have to assume you are referring to transmission changes that were made in 1998. The body style changes were made in 1996 and 2001. The 2001 body style change also brought major drivetrain changes.

    I too would like to see stronger trannies but drivetrain redesigns are much more difficult than body style changes. With the body the parts either fit or they don't. With mechanical pieces you really don't know how they will hold up until they have been out in the real world for several years. Unforseen problems lead to dumping large amounts of money into updates and patches and takes that money away from new development. Fully developing new transmissions is extremely expensive as is shown by the fact that GM and Ford are actually teaming up to develop an all new transmission.
  • royallenroyallen Posts: 223
    I seem to be drawn onboard about quarterly for my experience and the 1.2.3. My wife drives a '95 Caravan, 3.3L bought 3 years ago with 48K, now at 92K. I've had one repair over $100- a water pump and serpentine belt $180. Looking at CR data over the years a tall majority of the '95 transmissions have failed. My strategy is 1. I put on a transmission cooler for $35 and 1.5 hours work (needed on models before '99), 2. Change fluid +/- filter every 15K (I do fluid only myself at 15K and take in for both at 30K), 3. turn OD off in city driving (it does little below 45 mph), 4. be sure tranny fluid is OEM (I use AAMCO ATF+3), 5. when backing, stop before shifting to drive and no wheel spinning if progress stopping due to grade/slickness.
     P.S. I put $2000 in the bank when I bought in case the transmission didn't last. The low repair costs to date have about covered that risk and freed the contingency fund for other things.
  • mrnimmomrnimmo Posts: 271
    1. I put on a transmission cooler
    2. Change fluid +/- filter every 15K
    3. turn OD off in city driving
    4. be sure tranny fluid is OEM (I use AAMCO ATF+3),
     5. when backing, stop before shifting to drive and no wheel spinning if progress stopping due to grade/slickness.

    Excellent advise for anyone with an AT.
  • royallenroyallen Posts: 223
    I would disagree that either 1. or 2. are needs of anyone with an AT. This is the first vehicle in 35 years which I felt I needed an auxillary cooler for normal use and the first that needed more than 1 (a lot more) service before 100,000 miles.
  • vernon3vernon3 Posts: 4
    We have a '96 Grand Caravan that has given us much trouble from the transmission and the electronics. We still owe about $2600 on it, with another year to pay. The problem is that the warranty on the 3rd transmission will expire in 3 mos or 3,000 miles, whichever we hit first. I really don't have $1600 for another tranny. The van also has a pair of small dents over the front wheels; they are not rusting and they do not interfere with operation. (My son hit both sides of our garage while learning to drive.)

    I am not very sales-smart when it comes to cars, but I know that if I simply trade in this van on another one, I will end up paying for most of the remaining $2600 on the new car loan, even though I won't own the old van. Sooooo, here's my question:

    I would like to go to a local dealership that is selling '02 T&Cs for around $16K, sticker price, and offer to pay the sticker price in exchange for them taking my old van off my hands and paying it off. Does this sound reasonable, or am I overlooking something here?

    Also, if this is a dumb idea, do any of you have any reasonable ideas for getting myself out of this dilemma?

    BTW, Consumers' Reports rates the '02 T&C as a "Good Buy", with the gold checkmark by its picture in their April 2002 issue.

    Sorry to rattle on so....

    Thanks,

    \/\/\
  • vernon3vernon3 Posts: 4
    Sorry, I forgot to mention that our DGC has about 135,000 miles on it, most of which have been highway miles. We've driven from central Texas to San Antonio numerous times, Colorado 4 times, Minneapolis once and to the Mexican border 4 or 5 times, plus daily expressway commuting.

    \/\/\
  • royallenroyallen Posts: 223
    Vernon, The trade concept seems feasable. Have you checked the trade value on Edmunds? If the dealer doesn't go for it, have you considered selling it yourself? The wheels, by the way, are easy to find at recyclers or $12-20 ea. If there is a problem it would be the change in rating by CR which just released the April '03 Auto issue. The T&C ('03model) is no longer "check" rated and the some '01 & '02 DC vans (not T&C) are now on the list of "Used cars to avoid" p.89. My '95 Caravan is also on that avoid list, though I couldn't be more satisfied with my experience. Roy
  • stockdoxstockdox Posts: 7
    My van has 37100 miles and has developed a transmission problem. I bought the car used with 35000 miles on it and it looked to be in good shape. Ran fine for just 2,000 miles then the transmission started to downshift harshly in overdrive. Thought the van was covered till 70000 miles but Chrysler said not your vehicle. Fortunately, the dealer threw in a 12000 mile warranty or I would be stuck with a big bill. When I took it in the Chrysler dealer mechanic he said not to worry it sounded electrical in nature and not mechanical to the transmission. I called back later in the day and found out that they now believe that it IS internal to the transmission and that they need to drop the tranny to check it out. Near as I can tell the vehicle was maintained to spec. seems like to me that Chrysler has not fixed its problem transmissions yet. Chrysler Corp is going to get an earfull on this one and I may have cause for a lawsuit against the dealer that sold me the vehicle in the first place.
      I will keep you posted.

    Jay
  • mrnimmomrnimmo Posts: 271
    >I would like to go to a local dealership that is selling '02 T&Cs for around $16K, sticker price... Also, if this is a dumb idea, do any of you have any reasonable ideas for getting myself out of this dilemma?

    This is the part that I don't understand. Why would you buy ANOTHER Chrysler van? If you're on your third tranny, why would you give them your money again?
  • steelengsteeleng Posts: 71
    >This is the part that I don't understand. Why would you buy ANOTHER Chrysler van? If you're on your third tranny, why would you give them your money again?

    Good question. Maybe you should ask the same question to the quy on the Odyssey Transmission Problem board who is on his 4th Odyssey after having three transmission failures.

    In this particular case I have a feeling that it has more to do with the $16000 price tag. For that price he could get a brand new T&C or a '99 Ody with 50000 miles and a rebuilt tranny. Take your pick.
  • vernon3vernon3 Posts: 4
    My thanks to all of you who took the time to reply to my questions. Here are my replies.

    I called a local Chrysler dealership (not the one I'd be dealing with) and asked one of their salesmen pointblank what percentage of their sales were for sticker price, and he said very, very few. I then described my 96DGC, warts and all, and asked him what I asked this list, and he said "Sure - we can do that. No problem." Of course, this is a used car salesman talking, so I guess I'm still wondering a bit. It might have been his way of luring me to his dealership.

    >Have you checked the trade value on Edmunds?
    *No, because my banker said that Edmunds tends to "over-estimate" and that the NADA Blue Book gives a more accurate estimate. Their estimate for me was about $2500 trade-in value, $3000 resale.

    >The wheels, by the way, are easy to find at recyclers or $12-20 ea.
    *Sorry I wasn't clear. It's not the wheels that are dented, it's the fenders above the wheels. One side is dented, the other side is scraped; the side with the scrape has a loose headlight (it works, but you can jiggle it horizontally a little, and it aims a little high).

    I just got the April issue of CR, and my wife is studying it at home right now. I saw what you did about the '03 T&C not being "check-marked" and was not very pleased.

    >Why would you buy ANOTHER Chrysler van? If you're on your third tranny, why would you give them your money again?
    *Because this is not our first DGC. Our first one, a '91 model was ideal. Its only problem for the 1st few years was an inaccurate gas gauge (the tank was dropped twice to replace a gauge inside it). We traded it in on our 96DGC when it became apparent we would have to replace the entire AC system (front and rear), but that was back in '99. Looking back on it all, maybe I should have gotten a loan to pay for the new AC system, but seemed like paying for a repair that cost more than the van was worth at the time.

    >In this particular case I have a feeling that it has more to do with the $16000 price tag. For that price he could get a brand new T&C or a '99 Ody with 50000 miles and a rebuilt tranny.
    *You're right. I may go ahead and get a brand new T&C, if only for the warranties. I'm in central Texas, and maybe a Chrysler dealership in a small town not too far from me will have a new T&C for close to $16K, but the locals are all selling them for $26K and up, so I'm not very hopeful. Maybe $16K will get me a used '02 (it was advertised as that price last weekend).

    Thanks again - hope I cleared things up a bit.

    \/\/\
  • durdur Posts: 1
    My 98 grand caravan has just developed a whine that sounds like it may be in the transmission. I have 98k miles with no problems until now. It has been a great van and I would like to keep it but would like to have an idea what is wrong before I get it checked out by someone else. Is this the sign of bad things to come?
  • dtownfbdtownfb Posts: 2,915
    Here's some food for thought. Yestereday in the paper they were running ads about the T&C. 2003 T&C $28k vehicle going for just over $20k. this includes all rebates and matching down payment (upt to $750). I would seriously look into buying new instead of used if you ca swing the extra money. Also a new car dealer may be willing to give you more for your van since their sales are taking a huge hit.
  • uga91uga91 Metro AtlantaPosts: 1,065
    Have not read all 15 pages of posts--only about every third page or so. I have noticed, however, one piece of pretty interesting information. The vast majority of the problems are for 1996 to 1998 vans. One guy about 10 posts ago bought a used and badly abused 2002 T&C (as evidenced by the 35k mi in less than a year!) and is having problems, just about every one else has a van at least 4 years old. The vans since 2001 have different transmissions, and they do not seem to be showing up on this thread. My 1993 Caravan SE had transmission problems. I trusted that the new ones would be better, so in 2001 I bought a new Voyager. Nothing but flawless, smooth operation. Traded for a 2003 Voyager LX almost two weeks ago, took a road trip to the beach last week, and this van feels better than the 2001 model. All I can suggest is that to the owners of 1996 Caravans having problems and saying they will never own another Dodge product again are doing themselves a huge disservice. The new vans are very smooth and comfortable--and from what I can tell, the transmissions work great! They would not cover them for 70,000 miles if they thought they would have to replace them at 60,000 miles.
  • uga91uga91 Metro AtlantaPosts: 1,065
    You are right. My 2003 Voyager LX stickered for $26,010 and had a selling price of $20,588. Then, I got the additional $750 off when I put $750 down myself.
  • feldmanbdfeldmanbd Posts: 12
    I think one of the reasons the newer van transmissions may be reliable than the older ones is that I heard starting in 98 they began using different seals for the transmissions. And in 99, they started adding an automatic transmission fluid cooler. Burned tranny fluid (and Dexron) are definitely reasons for a lot of the failures. And the later vans are now using ATF+4. I've also read that Chrysler's warranty costs are down a lot from a few years ago. My guess is that Chrysler started beefing up the small electronic components and other parts that caused the larger problems and it's been paying off. People also have to realize that Chrysler is the first to go mass-market with a lot of innovations, notably the electronically controlled transmissions. Unfortunately the extended warranties don't appear to be helping Chrysler sell a whole lot more vehicles - but it's funny that it worked for the Korean car makers.
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