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Chrysler Minivan Transmission Problems

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  • gjpuffgjpuff Posts: 1
    While driving my 2000 T&C home the other day I was slowing down for a stop. The transmission downshifted hard to second. When I took off, the transmission wouldn't shift into 3rd until the RPM's were high. Then, when I slow down, it downshifts hard again. The check engine light came on. I assume this is from engine overspeed. I brought it home and changed the fluid and filter (NAPA now carries ATF+4 full synthetic by Valvoline). That did not help at all. Anyone have any suggestions? I am hoping it is a solenoid or something.

    Thanks
    :cry:
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    If you would like to view the thread that covers my own transmission replacement from just a few weeks back, click on the "recent messages" link or click on this link:

    shipo, "Chrysler minivans transmission problems" #1052, 16 Mar 2006 9:06 pm

    Our 1998 DGC with the 3.8 engine (probably the same engine that you have in your LXi) is now about 1,100 miles into its new transmission, and so far, so good. When the transmission first failed, I called around a bit and found that I could have a "Rebuilt" unit put in for about $2,100, including a 6 month and 6,000 mile warranty. Not terribly impressive. The other option was to get a factory remanufactured unit (from your local dealer) for $2,900 (subsequently lowered to $2,600), which included a 3 year 36,000 mile warranty. I chose the latter.

    With the factory reman, not only do you get the superior warranty, you also get factory parts and a transmission that is built to the latest engineering build (model year 2000 in the case of both of our vans) for the generation of the transmission in your van. I felt that getting this later build was important if for no other reason than it is certified to run with the newer ATF+4 fluid. Given that ATF+3 is either in short supply or already extinct, and given that according to two different TSBs our vans should not use ATF+4, I think that the upgraded unit is pretty damn important.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • willemwillem Posts: 16
    My T&C is same vintage.
    Transmission problems: See your dealer!
    I did a rebuild on my previous one ('96) with an independant, it never worked well, I was always crossing my fingers that it would last.., and it did until someone fortunately flew thru a stopsign and totalled my van not to long after that rebuild! I think the main worry is that they use the wrong fluid.
    Bring it to your Chrysler dealer and at least they won't screw up that part. Good luck! :)

    Willem
  • phillymomphillymom Posts: 30
    Just bought a 03 T&C (31,500 miles) from a dealer so not sure what maintenance has been done prior, but the maintenance log does show some entries at 15 and 24K miles.

    We need this van to last awhile so I need some advice on what we need to do to make that happen. I see ton's of maintenance schedules in my log book..is it really necessary to follow each one exact? Does all the work need to be done by the dealership?
    Any specifics for the trans since it seems if they are not taken care of they seem to fail?

    Thanks for any advice you can pass on :)
  • 97xpresso97xpresso Posts: 249
    Follow the maintenance schedule in your owners manual, NOT dealers recommended schedule. At 31,000 miles your front brakes may need work,(unless already done), air filter, regular oil changes, and if you want to keep the van a long time, a transmission service. I would avoid the dealer for routine services EXCEPT for the transmission service. After all these years, independant shops still use the wrong transmission fluid, which will affect the operation and life of your transmission.
  • masterpaul1masterpaul1 Posts: 421
    We have a 01 DGC EX that we bought used in Sep. 03 with only 36K. We now have 74K miles and all routine and none routine service has been done by the dealer we purchased our van from. We get free oil changes and a 14 point inspection every oil change. Not to mention we can rent a vechicle if we want to leave our van over night or don't want to wait a few hours for it.

    I guess for me, I am so use to doing regular maintenance on our vechicles, that it would be very hard to trust an independent shop to do the service. I'd rather pay the extra money for it to be done right the first time. (Although there may be a time when it won't be fixed right the first time by either.)

    We follow the dealers schedule for the most part. As it has been said, follow the maintenance schedule in your owners manual. Right now, you will not have a lot of stuff to do out side of oil changes every 3K. Changing the air and cabin filter at least once a year. Checking your tire pressure once a month. Oil and lub the rollers for the sliding doors, all key holes and door latch mechanism. Vacuum inside the sliding door wells where the tracks are for the sliding doors every time you clean the inside of the vechicle or at least every few months. Every 30K miles, have your trans. serviced. (Do it now if it has not been done and make sure it's by a Daimlerchrysler dealer. Get a trans flush every other trans. maintenance schedule.) This will make sure that all the old trans. fluid it out and replaced. Trans. holds about 14 qts. and only 2 to 4 qts are taken out when doing a filter replacement. When doing a complete trans. flush, all 14 qts. are taken out and the trans. and lines are flushed, but the filter is not changed. Both services should be under $150. Make sure to top off all fluids every oil change: trans. fluid, coolant, brake fluid, power steering fluid, washer fluid. I believe the life of the coolant is for 5 yrs or 150K. Change the wipers every year. (We use Bosch and it cost us about $60 to replace all three.) Make sure to inspect all the hoses and spark plug wires every year. (Ideally, they should not need to be changed before 100K). The drive built should be replaced at 100K or there after. I hope this helps. :D
  • royallenroyallen Posts: 224
    Another approach: My wife's '95 Caravan, purchased 7 years ago has never been to a dealer. It is a 3.3L with the 4 speed automatic at 120K. We have had the transmission filter changed twice by our independent mechanic who listens to my service request including the fluid I expect to be used and an empty container is saved for my inspection. Once a year between filter changes I siphon the 3.7 quarts from the pan and replace it with new fluid. Other points of transmission service are that before '99 there were no auxiliary coolers so I added mine. Next, I keep the OD (overdrive) off in city driving (following recommendation in owner's manual). I do not shift into drive while rolling backward and I avoid wheel spin on slick surfaces.
    Another cost effective preventive maintenance is to drain and refill the radiator (only) every 2 years. I disconnect the lower radiator hose after having a drain valve leak that was hard to stop. This requires about a half gallon of antifreeze mixed 50:50 to refill the radiator.
    I have had few repair issues: battery at 59K, front brake pads (lifetime warranty) at 59K replaced at 92K for free. Water pump failed at 70K. AC has lost its charge each of the last 4 winters- refills about $85 ea. One axle CV boot failed at 108K and the starter failed at 110K.
    This week I'm having the failed and pealing factory paint removed and repainted. The later is my only case of poor build quality. Roy
  • johnny18johnny18 Posts: 4
    While I am sure most people will agree that American car products fail miserably in quality when compared to Toyota or Honda, The Chrysler / Plymouth versions of the minivan are among the best American products I have owned. While there are some design issues and it is difficult to repair/replace certain items, (ie. the air filter), it is a decent vehicle in general. What I have to say about Dealer service is quite a different story.

    I will never again buy a new car from a dealer or get service from a dealer, thanks to Gurnee Dodge, (in Northern Illinois). I must also thank Rockenbach Chevrolet in Grayslake Illinois for their part in my decision.

    I have bought both new and used vehicles. I almost always feel cheated when buying a new vehicle for various reasons, but for the sake of keeping it short, most people would agree with me that dealers like to use slight of hand and are not usually helping the customer. Only one dealer was less evil and actually seemed somewhat helpful, Motorwerks of Barrington (Illinois). Their policies are different and they only carry Honda plus several very high end cars. Their service was good, (under warranty).

    I will start with Rockenbach:

    I purchased my Plymouth Grand Voyager from them in 1998 with 28,000 miles and 1 year old. They lied about it having been in an accident which I discovered 3 years later. They also cheated me on the actual price paid for a 3 year extended maintenance contract by several thousand dollars. My wife bought an identical vehicle from a private party. We had all our service done at Rockenbach. I realized the dealer contaminated my brake fluid then tried to charge me to replace the master cylinder, (around $700). They figured that since it had been just under 6,000 miles since my last service that the people that changed my oil could be blamed for contaminating the brake fluid. Lubpros informed me that I hadn't been in for an oil change in 6,000 miles, (I actually missed my appointment). It turns out that Rockenbach serviced my brakes less than 6,000 miles prior and they were the last service personnel to touch my vehicle.

    I brought my vehicle to Gurnee Dodge, where they confirmed the contamination, however only charged me $375 for the same part replacement.

    Now on to Gurnee Dodge:

    Gurnee Dodge had been servicing my mini-van for some time. They got it right, usually but charged a lot. I brought both vans in for a recall on the key switch, as my wife's van had problems related to the recall. Her van was fixed and mine, (that was working fine) now failed. I had to rent a car at my cost while they repaired my vehicle again.

    Last summer my both my wifes and my air conditioning went out at the same time. It had to do with the change in seasons, swelling and shrinking of O-rings and the leakage of coolant. I was familiar with this phenomenon and figured I would recharge both vehicles.

    My van recharged fine and still works fine almost a year later. My wifes van did not work after the recharge and I much later learned that it was because she had a front and rear system with 2 evaporators. This required a more professional recharge to even work right. Not knowing this, dressed in a suit (after interviewing), I brought her van into the Gurnee Dodge dealer. I figured that for $133 it would be done right the first time and it was less expensive than Pep-Boys for the recharge. They told me at the dealer that the $133 would be the charge even if they could not fix it, but it would count toward the labor if I had any problems fixed. Knowing that it was just a seasonal leak, I decided to continue with the recharge. The service manager said for $133, they would recharge my system with dye and perform a thorough inspection for leaks. 10 minutes after being seated in the waiting area, they drove my wifes van into the service area. After another 10 minutes only, the manager came to me and stated that my van had a defective evaporator which needed replacing for $1,300. I asked if there were any leaks in the system and the manager said there were no leaks at all, just an evaporator that would not work at all. Since the van was over 87,000 miles, I decided to hold off on the repair, loosing the $133. After refusing service, I realized the dealer stated on the receipt that the evaporator needed replacing because it leaked which is not what he had told me. When I got home, I called a mechanic and asked about the cost of replacing the evaporator. He told me that sometimes a valve on the evaporator sticks and the dealer will not easily repair it, but replace the whole unit. Matt took me immediately and inspected my evaporator for free. He told me the valve was not stuck. He then looked at the place where coolant is added and questioned me about the tests at the dealer. Matt found absolutely no evidence that dye was used to test my system and thought the story of the dealer was a little strange. Matt said he thought there was nothing wrong with the system and would recharge it. If it did not work he would eat the cost, however if it worked, I would pay $166. Matt charged the system and it worked very well the first time. To prove his theory about the dye and check for leaks, he evacuated the system and recharged it again with dye. I then saw new evidence of the dye and we found no leaks. I brought the vehicle back to Matts a week later and there were still no leaks. This same mini-vans air conditioning still works well a year later.

    I contacted a Vice President at the dealer and he had me speak with a Director of Service. The director brushed me off and offered me a $133 credit at their shop to make me feel better. I was upset in that I felt the dealer was trying to cheat me. After speaking with others, I figured out why they tried to cheat me. They saw me in a suit, their shop was empty and they had to pay several service people to work. Simply charge the unsuspecting for expensive service, only recharging the airconditioning and stay in business. Apparently this practice regularly occurs at dealers.

    I contacted the better business bureau and filed a complaint. The dealer tried to explain the situation and state that there were and still are leaks in the evaporator because it leaked out. After explaining my seasonal expanding/shrinking o-ring theory, the dealer president stated I did not know what I was talking about. I offered proof of my theory and the dealer backed down. The president offered me a $166 refund, the amount I paid them and the difference in cost in going to the private shop. But they said they admit no wrongdoing in the whole matter.

    Restating the obvious, a dealer is not sacred because they stand behind the Diamler Chrysler logo, nor does the manufacturer stand behind their dealers. A dealer is simply a franchise that sells and repairs merchandise under their own policy. Do yourself a favor and find a reputable private
  • tximomtximom Posts: 1
    I have been getting an education scanning this discussion. Could anyone clarify the AFT needed for a 99 Town and Country? Yesterday my Service Engine Soon light came on and it seemed like it wasn't shifting right.....the van has been in the shop all day. The ind. mechanic (seems like a good guy--always been straight with us) says he thinks it is an electrical component of the trans.... a computer sensor...that the trans is stuck in 2nd gear. Never had problems with the tranny; just had it in for a fuel filter problem, and had $700 worth of reg. maint. done. (New plugs, filters, ...and the kicker...trans flush and filter.) The mech says that he filled it with a "Mercon mix" and that should have no effect on this problem.
    (I can't run out to the car to check the right fluid requirements, since it is at the shop). Any idea what the right fluid is, and what could I expect from putting the wrong fluid in? Thanks for the heads up... :sick:
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    WARNING: Get that "Mercon Mix" out of your transmission immediately!

    Your transmission is designed to use Mopar ATF+3. Period, full stop, the end. Anything else WILL destroy your transmission in short order! FWIW, Mercon transmission fluid is for Ford cars.

    FWIW (take 2) if your transmission is ruined, I'd consider action against the mechanic that put the Mercon in there. Using ATF+3 in late 1990s Chrysler transmissions is a long and well known bit if information, and the very fact that your mechanic didn't know that makes him very suspect in my mind.

    As a point of reference, here are a few links to various manufacturers who still provide ATF+3:

    http://www.shell-lubricants.com/products/pdf/FormulaShellATF3.pdf#search='atf3%2- - - 0transmission%20fluid'
    http://www.pennzoil.com/TechData/pdsheet/DomesticMarketing/Gear&Transmission/pdf- - - /atf3.pdf#search='atf3%20transmission%20fluid'
    http://www.havoline.com/products/na/trans_atf3.html
    http://www.mobil.com/USA-English/Lubes/PDS/GLXXENPVLMOMobil_ATF+3.asp?Print=yes
    http://www.chevron.com/products/prodserv/nafl/auto/content/atf.shtm

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • gregmangregman Posts: 24
    According to the 5-star dealer I bought our '05 T&C from, they no longer do fluid replacements on tranny's. I was inquiring about fluid replacement vs pan drop, filter replacement and refill fluid. Was told the reason was that when doing fluid replacement you're draining out the old fluid and putting in the new fluid under pressure which can break loose particles inside the tranny and cause a failure.
    I think this is hogwash but didn't tell him so. Anybody verify if this is truly a Chrysler directive?
    Got filter & fluid replaced with ATF+4 according to receipt.
  • 97xpresso97xpresso Posts: 249
    I no longer get coupons in the mail from the dealer for the standard pan-drop-refill. They want you instead to get the flush which is twice as profitable for the dealer.
  • jc86jc86 Posts: 18
    I have a 2001 T&C EX. It has about 63K miles. Couple of weeks ago, after I back out of the garage, the transmission would not shift to "D"rive (it stayed in "R"everse). I had to turn off the engine and restart to get it working.

    Now, whenever the transmission downshifts from 3rd to 2nd (I think), I feel a jerk on the car similar to if someone pops a clutch on a manual tranny. Otherwise, the transmission works fine.

    Is this the beginning of the end from my transmission? Any help would be appreciated.
  • 97xpresso97xpresso Posts: 249
    At 63,000 miles has the trans ever been serviced? If not, I would get the fluid and filter replaced. Make sure the fluid is ATF+4 ONLY!
  • jc86jc86 Posts: 18
    The transmission was serviced twice at 30K and 60K miles, and it was done at a Chrysler dealer. Whether it was ATF+4 or not, I don't know.
  • 97xpresso97xpresso Posts: 249
    The dealer would use the correct fluid. Sounds like a "bump shift" which I have read about in other forums. I don't think it's fatal, I tried a search for that term but cannot locate a fix for it.
  • johnston1johnston1 Posts: 3
    i have changed all 3 seals and the same day it started leaking agian i have a 93 plymouth grand voyager 3.3. my dad has the same problem with his dodge caravan also and he re- build his transmission. the guy at the part store said something about a bushings but where is the bushings at? we cant find it. :confuse: :sick:
  • chowbuickchowbuick Posts: 13
    PLEASE BEWARE OF DEALERS WHO SAY THEY CHECKED YOU VAN BEFORE PURCHASE WE HAVE GOTTEN BURNED BUT GOOD 1ST ISSUE SES LIGHT STAYED ON FINALLY GOT IT OFF AFTER 300.00PLUS transmission pump seal leaking like a siv replacing it hopefully will not need a tranny with my luck it will need a tranny i found out that i can not trust a chrysler plymouth dealer for any thing the above issues we repaired at a GM GARAGE AND WAS DONE RIHGT THIS VAN IS ON A PART TIME SHORT MAIL ROUTE AND IS SERICED REGULAR I HAD TO REPLACE SERPINTINE BELTS LIKE WATER FINALLY GOT THE ISSUE FIXED WITH A NEW BELT TENSINOR IT WAS CHEWING BELTS LIKE CRAZY I HAVE OWNED THIS VOYAGER FOR 4 MONTHS AND ITS BEEN A MAJOR NIGHTMARE IT ONLY HAS 126000 MILES AND IS A 1998 BUYERS BEWARE . WHEN THIS VAN IS NOTIN THE SHOP IT IS A VERY NICE VAN I LOVE THE FACT OF A 34,0 ENGINE I HAVE HAD THEM IN THE PAST AND LOVE THEM IF I HAVE A CHOICE TO BUY A NOTHER VECHICLE I WOULD BE SURE I WOULD PUT LIFE AND TRUST IN TO THE BUICK CENTURY THEY ARE THE BEST CAR GM EVER MADE I HAVE ONE I WILL NEVER PART WITH
  • johnston1johnston1 Posts: 3
    well my abs light and parking brake lights were on and we finally got those to go out by cleaning the wheel sensors but the part store guy said bushing in the trany that we cant find where they are! i replaced all three seals in the trany and not even 2 hours later they were leaking again. my van is a 93 and this is the major problems i have had with it in the 2 years i have owned it! i only paid 1000 for it so i got my moneys worth but i want to solve the problem. my dad got a new trany that cost him 1500 and his seals started leaking also so i would benifite both of us if we could find the bushings!
  • chowbuickchowbuick Posts: 13
    thanks for your reply to my message so i am not alone i am now working with a gm dealer not plymouth i fullybelieve and trust in the gm mechanics that has worked for us my ses light issue was i needed a tune up and to plug inthe egr valve vacum line the light then went off also what can trigger the ses light is a belt tensioner if they are out of alignment they will chew belts and give the ses light issue good luck to you i good to get other ideas and opinons check at napa auto parts for the bushings its a shot in the dark
  • chowbuickchowbuick Posts: 13
    5/4/06 after yesterday i got my horror phone call and the nightmare got worse it was not the pump seal alone it also was a crack need to get a rebuilt tranny to the tune of 3000 plus chrysler plymouth and dodge are CRAP AND JUST THROWN TOGETHER I PITTY THE POOR SOLES THAT OWN THIS GARBAGE FOR VEHICLES ESPECIALY THE ELDERY PEOPLE BEWARE AND THINK LONG AND HARD BEFORE BUYING THIS CRAP
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    "chrysler plymouth and dodge are CRAP AND JUST THROWN TOGETHER I PITTY THE POOR SOLES THAT OWN THIS GARBAGE FOR VEHICLES ESPECIALY THE ELDERY PEOPLE BEWARE AND THINK LONG AND HARD BEFORE BUYING THIS CRAP"

    Let me get this straight... You bought a used eight year old DC minivan with an unknown service history, with no warranty and with mileage north of 120,000 miles on the clock. The van then suffers from a transmission failure and you are using that as a blanket reason to condemn its design and build quality and that of all other DC products as well. Is that correct?

    What if it were a Honda or a Toyota or a van from any other manufacturer? The truth of the matter is that ANY vehicle from ANY manufacturer with similar age/maintenance/mileage properties might could well suffer the same fate. Said another way, when buying a vehicle with that kind of mileage on it, it's an absolute crap shoot as to its future reliability.

    In my case, I trust our 1998 DGC (that we bought new) enough to use it to commute to and from work (plus the odd trip to Chicago or New York), a commute that is roughly 100 miles per day. Said van has 112,000 miles on the clock and has no significant issues. Were it to get totaled in an accident tomorrow, would I replace it with another DGC of identical age and mileage? Not a chance. Would I replace it with another van from another manufacturer with identical age and mileage? Not a chance of that happening either. Why? Unknown history.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • badgerfanbadgerfan Posts: 1,565
    Shipo,

    I tend to ignore those who post and do not even make half an attempt at writing coherent sentences with proper punctuation.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    I hear you but I took the bait anyway. :blush:

    That having been said, I do feel it is necessary to point out the obvious irrelevancies in some posts so as to allow the casual lurker to get a balanced viewpoint. ;-)

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • chowbuickchowbuick Posts: 13
    well shipo i should have known that your answer to my post would be degrading FOR YOUR INFORMATION THIS VAN WAS CHECKED BEFORE PURCHASE AND THE DEALER HID INFORMATION FROM US THE VAN WAS MISREPRESENTED ACCORDING TO THE DOT I DARE YOU MAKE REMARKS LIKE YOU DID ENJOY YOU CHRYSLER PLYMOUTHS I HOPE YOU BREAK DOWN TO
    NOW ITS YOUR TURN TOGET A LEMON
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,970
    If we can't maintain courtesy on the board I'm going to have to start removing posts.

    I trust this is the end of this exchange?

    Shifty the Host

    MODERATOR --Need help with anything? Click on my name!

  • gregmangregman Posts: 24
    Let's cut to the chase here. What's a realistic expectation for a reasonably maintained transmission? From what I read, I guess 85,000 miles. Any arguments?
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    I got 109,000 *EXACTLY* from mine. As it turned out, that was 9,000 miles after having it serviced (with what I suspect was ATF+4 instead of the ATF+3, although I cannot prove that).

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • johnston1johnston1 Posts: 3
    i just found out that if your van gets stuck in second gear go and get a dianostick check done because it is fixable for around 250. my dad had that problem it got suck in second and he had the check and he almost went and got a new trany but he found the part at a reasnoble price. :)
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,970
    If I owned a modern van with an automatic, first thing I'd do is install an aftermarket transmission cooler. HEAT is the first and foremost enemy of automatic transmissions, above anything else.

    MODERATOR --Need help with anything? Click on my name!

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