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Chrysler Minivan Transmission Problems

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Comments

  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Given Honda's on going problem with their transmissions, it seems that Hell hath frozen over already. ;-)

    Regarding the Toyota, I'd be much more worried about engine sludge (Toyota's current bug-a-boo) than a transmission failure.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    Yep. Honda transmissions are punky on everything they make. Despite having the transmission rebuilt once and apart two more times on our Avalon, those are generally okay. But the Sienna's transmissions are fairly popular at transmission repair places.
  • impact01impact01 Posts: 95
    I was under the mistaken impression that only Honda had unwavering and apologetic faithful, but you guys are proving me wrong. LOL.

    Hondas 4 speed auto transmissions for 4/6 cyl while may not shift as smoothly as GM/ Toyota, they are bullet proof. Also the 04 Sienna 5 speeds are too new (actually they have been in Lexus for sometime now I think), older Sienna tranny failures are very few and far between. There is not even a transmission problem forum on the Sienna side. As much as people dig GM's reliability, their transmissions are one of smoothest shifting and relatively reliable ones. Just my opinion of course.
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,127
    There is a Honda Odyssey Transmission Problems discussion and a recent recall involving 600,000 trannies (including Odys). I guess you'll say these are 5 speeds or something, but still not entirely bulletproof :-).

    Even though we don't have tranny boards for the Sienna (or Quest, Windstar/Freestar, MPV etc.) minivans in general seem to have their fair share of transmission problems. Probably a normal amount, but sometimes it seems high.

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  • antonioantonio Posts: 12
    I guess I am in a similar situation as the guy looking at the '98 GC except I am a little farther along in that I just purchased my '97 GC 3.8liter with 67k! I initially took it for a pretty extensive test ride, had a mechanic check it out, etc.... and it drove great, was really clean, no problems found by the mechanic expcept needing a front break job which they did. Days later when the deal was done and I drove it home.....after riding it for a few hours here is what I noticed.....
    - When accelerating from a coast - a few times the transmission "jumped" into a higher gear
    - When coming to a quick stop, transmission does a slight surge before coming to a stop. One time it was more of a thump, but I think it is more like a noticeable one second lag that the transmission has between when you want to stop and it wants to stop
    - When parked on a downhill, going from Park to Drive, the transmission clunks.

    I know I am a very obsessive person, so forgive me if I am being a bit anal here! But, this car is brand new for me and I can't afford a bad car. Being a brand new Dodge owner (have owned Toyotas for the past 10 years), is this what to expect? Is this normal? Or, is this the 1st symptom of troubles to come? (If the latter is the case, I will be bringing it back while I still may have the chance!)

    Many, Many Thanks,

    Anthony (^_^)
  • Jason5Jason5 Posts: 440
    Was searching today and discovered that Chrysler is offering a "marketing incentive" of $5500 on 2004 mini-vans. Combining that with the usual discount, loyalty incentives, and others is what allows some dealers to advertise $8000-10,000 off 2004's as I've seen in the local paper. FYI.. If you don't need or prefer Stow N'Go these incentives could prove useful.
  • masterpaul1masterpaul1 Posts: 421
    antonio, did the previous owner give you the maintenance history on the van? It sounds like the transmission. Did you check the trans fluid level and color? If I were you, I'd take it to a 5 star Chrysler/Dodge dealer to have them to test drive it and look at the trans.

                                      Good Luck!
  • antonioantonio Posts: 12
    I did not have any info from the previous owner. It bought the van from a dealership - a reputable one at that and I did ask for the number of the previous owner, but they were not willing to do that. I've only had the darn thing for one day. I can't believe that I amy be looking at a bad trans already! I am not sure why I did not notice anything in the test drive either! Bummer! I may also be way over-reacting as well and am just not use the way this thing drives. That's why I am posting here!

    Antonio (^_^)
  • davids1davids1 Posts: 411
    Hope it turns out to be a non-issue.

    As far as getting the name/number of the previous owner, it's a state law that dealers must provide that information. Can't waffle at all. They must provide it. Maybe not that way in your state, but it sure is worth checking out for future reference.
  • badgerfanbadgerfan Posts: 1,564
    Since you bought it at a dealer who is supposedly reputable, and I assume you did it just recently, you must have at least a 90 day warranty, right? I would think if this is a very recent purchase, you should go back to dealer and have them check out the transmission even to the point of having the mechanic drive it with you along, or with you driving it with the mechanic along.

    Another thing you can do is check Carfax, for paying a fee you can I believe get a history of the car, maintenance and ownership, though I have never used it myself. They are an Edmunds sponser so you can click on a link thru Edmunds. It might give you a way of tracking down the previous owner.

    By the way, we have a 1996 Caravan with the 3.3 liter engine(we bought new) and at 75K miles, the transmission has been fine, aside from a small drive shaft leak and a valve pack gasket leak that showed up recently, which were fairly inexpensive to fix. And we only recently did the first transmission fluid and filter change. They don't all self destruct (knock on wood), as you might get the impression on some of these discussions.
  • antonioantonio Posts: 12
    Thanks badgerfan. I already did a carfax long ago, but Carfax will never tell you an owners name. As far as it being the law to reveal a previous owners information, I do not think that is the case in New York (privacy issues). That is actually the reason they denied me the info in the first place.

    I actually have an appointment tomorrow at a different place which is a 5 Star certified dealer. They are going to charge me $19.95 to do a test drive with a mechanic as well as check out the trans fluids, put it on the lift, etc..... I feel this is a $20 well spent. After I tune in with them, I will probably head back to the place I purchased it from and have them check it out with me as well. I think that overall, I am just being over sensitive because it is a new car for me that I am not sued to and I've got some of the complaints from this board lodged into my brain (^_^)

    Thanks Again!

    Antonio (^_^)
  • masterpaul1masterpaul1 Posts: 421
    antonio, make sure that you get everything in writing including detailed repairs if any needs to be done. Good Luck!
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Regarding your slight surge when slowing down, we have two 3.8 caravans, one of them a 1998, and in both cases, when we are slowing down, and nearly stopped, the transmission will automatically shift into first, and under very light braking, I too feel a surge.

    We bought both vans new, and they have both done this since new. If you only feel the surge under light braking, the answer is fairly simple; as you are nearing a stop, the transmission shifts into first gear and that transmits more of the engine torque from the idling engine to the front wheels, thus the surge. If you feel the surge under heavy braking, then you might well have a problem.

    Good Luck,
    Shipo
  • antonioantonio Posts: 12
    That sounds about right to me shipo! I am just not used to driving this type pr transmission let alone one with a 3.8liter V6. This is the most powerful vehicle I have ever owned. I previously had a couple of 4banger Toyota vans and an Isuzu Trooper. Thanks for the advice! I am going for the checkup tomorrow anyways! I guess it can't hurt to have a 5 star check it out. I will for sure be on guard for the "we want to make money off of you" trouble pitch! I will be taking my visit with a grain of salt (^_^)

    Many Thanks..... and on to the next round.....

    BTW Shipo - I posted in another area regarding a rough idle / idle vibration as well as a hissy sound when my air unit is in defrost mode. Either of these two familiar to you?

    Thanks again,

    Antonio (^_^)
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Hmmm, rough idle, that is a tough call for me as my normal mount is a BMW 530i which has arguably the smoothest six cylinder engine in the world. Next to the I6 of my car, any V6 (one of the worst engine configurations from a smoothness standpoint ever devised by mankind) is going to be rough. That said, now that I think about it, our 1998 does idle a little rougher than our 2003, although given that (if I'm not mistaken) the first actual tune-up of the 3.8 is at the 100,000 mile mark, and the 1998 has 60 some thousand more miles on it, I guess a little extra idle roughness should be expected.

    Regarding the hiss from the defrost mode; most cars these days (if not all) turn on the A/C compressor to dry the air that is then being sent to the windscreen. That facilitates the defrost/defog process dramatically. To confirm if this is what is going on, simply engage your A/C button when your vent selector is pointing anywhere from the floor position or left (note: one click to the right of the floor position will auto-engage the A/C circuit). If you hear the hiss, you will then have confirmed my theory, and as such, it's normal.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    As I said in an earlier post, mini-vans of all makes in general have a higher rate of transmission repairs or failures than anything else. I believe it is the way they are used and maintained.

    Transmission problems with the Sienna, while maybe being less than others by rate, is still not stellar. I most certainly can't agree that they are "rare." As to GM's transmission reliability, I know better!

    Dusty
  • djb63djb63 Posts: 11
    My 2002 T&C LXi AWD lost it's transmission at 22,343 miles. It looks like Chrysler has not fixed their Tranny problems..
    I now have a brand new transmission. Hope this one lasts a little longer than the original Tranny.. Transmission was never right from day one. I pointed this out to the dealer while having my first oil/filter change, their response was are there any red lights on, and I said no and they told me not to worry.
    Approximately 20,000 miles later the transmission failed and there were still no red lights.. So much for Chrysler's Improved Quality.
    djb63
  • masterpaul1masterpaul1 Posts: 421
    I'm going to need a trans. flush in about 1000 miles. The dealer wants $149.00 and Jiffy Lube wants $99.18. As far as price is concerned I would go with Jiffy Lube, but not sure as to the quality of work and I don't know anybody that has had this done with them. The dealer said they would still honor the powertrain warranty if I had the trans. flushed at Jiffy Lube or any other Trans. place. I haven't had any trans. problems but concerned because of all the comments on edmunds regarding how other places like Jiffy Lube didn't flush it correctly or put the wrong type fluid in. Any help or opinions with this would be helpful. Thanks
  • just4fun2just4fun2 Posts: 461
    if they are going to use the same transmission fluid that you would get at Chrysler?? I would be willing to bet that they will use something other, but not what should go into your transmission.

    My advise is..... DON'T DO IT. Take it to the dealer and get the correct transmission fluid and you will avoid problems with your transmission.
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    Without knowing the year of your vehicle, the current automatic transmission fluid for Chrysler vehicles is ATF+4. It is expensive compared to Dexron-Mercon, but Dexron-Mercon should never be used in a Chrysler vehicle.

    Around here there have been a rash of lawsuits against quick oil change establishments because they used the incorrect ATF in Chrysler products. Personally, I would trust a dealer on this type of service regardlesss of the price different. No quick lube place can replace 14-18 quarts of ATF+4 for $98.

    Best regards,
    Dusty
  • masterpaul1masterpaul1 Posts: 421
    Thanks a lot for your comments. I will take it to the dealer when the time comes. It's better to be safe then sorry. I don't mind paying the extra cash. At least I won't have to worry about the wrong fluid being put in and have peace of mind. By the way it is a 2001 GC.
  • Jason5Jason5 Posts: 440
    Dusty.. Do any of the minivans in your fleet have the Towing Prep Package? I'm wondering if the enhanced cooling and load leveling shocks would be worth it given that I will likely carry some heavy loads.
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    All of our mini-vans have heavy duty suspension. These vehicle are used by our technical representatives or field service engineers and they generally carry a lot of machine parts. They can drive them for personal use but must pay for that based on mileage.

    The individual is allowed to order her/his vehicle with just about any option above the company specification (except for engine) at purchase time. Some do, I'm sure, have the trailer towing option but fleet performance reports would not reflect this information. I'd have to go into the database and pull up individual vehicles by our number in order to see which options were selected by the assigned driver.

    Based on years past, I would say that about 2-3% might opt for trailer towing option.

    Best regards,
    Dusty
  • Jason5Jason5 Posts: 440
    Many thanks... I thought you might be familiar with the components of this package. I believe the "load leveling" suspension are just rear shocks that "level" themselves based on load and motion..
  • katlinkatlin Posts: 1
    this discussion got my attention since I had to replace the transmission on my grand caravan at 70000 mi. at over $3000. Now I'm told that my power steering pump is going out too! Poor quality product from Dogde--will not get another one-have a 2000 van and have kept maintence and oil changes as required but am very dissappointed with this van!
  • I am purchasing a 2000 T&C limited AWD 3.8 engine with 58,000 miles. Beautiful van, every available option and drives like a dream.

    what is my best course to maintain the tranny? I need maintenance 101 :D How often do you do a flush and fill, I would have to have the dealer do it, I am not mechanical nor is my DH. What is this about the tranny oil and filter? do they do that when they flush?

    Can someone tell me how to look at the fluid and what is should look like?

    I wanna own this van a LONG time! :D
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,127
    I keep reading that it's better not to flush. Just empty and refill at the scheduled interval. But I'm not a wrench turner.

    Try the Transmission Traumas? discussion for advice too.

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  • dougd7dougd7 Posts: 71
    We have the exact same minivan. Ours now has 104K miles with no problems. As far as tranny fluid changes, I would have your local Chysler dealer do simple fluid & filter change every year. The 2000+ minivans use ATF+4 fluid which is only available at the Chrysler dealers. And it is somewhat expensive - $7/qt. It is a semi-synthetic. Some dealers sell it by the gallon for $16 which gets the price down to $4/qt.

    Some owners have a flush done every other year with filter & fluid change done in the intervening year. A filter & fluid change normally does not get all the fluid changed out - about half is trapped behind the torque converter. Check with your local dealer as to what the tranny service includes. Some change the filter (requires dropping the pan) while others do not drop the pan while doing a flush. And do not let anyone put or use Dexron III or Dexron III with friction modifiers in your van's tranny. The use of Dexron will spell death for your transmission. Only use ATF+4.

    Fluid should appear red in color with no burnt smell. Purchase a quart to compare.

    Enjoy your new van. :)
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    I believe that up to 2001 or 2002 Chrysler owners' manuals stated that the transmission filter should be changed at 60,000 miles under "normal" operating service, 30,000 under "severe duty" service. The definitions of both should be listed in the manual, but in general if you do any towing or drive in a lot of city traffic (stop & go) you qualify for severe service.

    There are opinions on whether to flush the entire transmission -- which is a complete purge and evacuation of the old fluid -- or just change the filter and the corresponding amount of fluid lost from the filter removal (about 4 quarts).

    The rationale behind the "no flushing" philosophy is that the pressure of force-flushing will dislodge accumulated debris and cause more of a problem soon afterwards. The problem with this is that the professional evacuation systems that are used by many transmission shops does not "force" the new ATF into the transmission. In fact, done correctly it is not desirable to move fresh ATF into the transmission faster than the normal flow. This is to prevent aeration of the fluid and potential damage to the transmission.

    The problem with only replacing the three to four quarts of fluid that is lost when replacing the filter is that a significant quantity of highly oxidized ATF still remains. Oxidation is the primary depletion of the friction qualities of the fluid. The transmission is designed to operate at the optimum with non-oxidized ATF. While the three to four fresh quarts help, the remaining 10-14 quarts of old ATF depletes the friction determining component of the fresh ATF very quickly.

    A complete evacuation of the ATF and replenishing with fresh fluid should pose no harm to the transmission.

    The admonition to never use Mercon-Dexron is extremely valid. Dexron has probably ruined more Chrysler automatics than abusive or neglectful operation.

    By the way, Chrysler has just recently lower the price of ATF+4 to under $5.00 a quart, or $27 a gallon.

    Best regards,
    Dusty
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,127
    Dang it Dusty - I need to do a 90k service on my minivan and now you have me leaning on the side of the flush fence (again).

    decisions, decisions :-)

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