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Chrysler Minivan Transmission Problems

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  • My family has been through 2 Transmissions and 1 rebuild (easy driving) within the last 120,000 miles with our 1997 Chrysler Town & Country. From what I read the problems seem to continue.

    A website I found with some information about premature Dodge/Chrysler Transmission failures that seem to continue unbelieveably even with newer Dodge's and Chrysler's

    I have had too many problems with the Chrysler and Dodge vehicles I've owned and don't think I'll ever be buying another Chrysler vehicle again.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Claiming that the problems are all Chryslers fault is convenient, however, I suspect more than a bit disingenuous. There are just too many of these transmissions that make it up into the one hundred thousand (and even the two hundred thousand) range without failing for at least some of the blame for your three failures to fall on your shoulders.

    As for why your transmissions have failed, well, the only one(s) that I would trust are ones sourced from Chrysler directly. Third party rebuilders and remanufacturers are highly suspect at best. Some questions to ask:

    - Did you make sure to have the transmission fluid and filter replaced by the dealership every thirty thousand miles? If you didn't, either because you simply didn't have the service performed or you had the service performed by a non-dealer, then kiss your tranny goodbye.
    - When driving in heavy bumper to bumper traffic, or moderate "speed-up/slow-down" traffic, did you shift your transmission into 3rd (as recommended by the Owner's Manual)? If you didn't, you've shortened your transmission life.
    - Did you and those that drove your van make it a habit to come to a complete stop before shifting from "R" to "D" (or the other way around)? If you didn't, kiss your tranny goodbye once again.

    The fact of the matter is that these transmissions will last a good long time if properly cared for.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • tpfitz07tpfitz07 Posts: 2
    I have a 1995 Dodge Grand Caravan, 3.3L engine. The engine has nearly 300,000 miles on it. Last night, I lost complete use of every gear in the automatic transmission except "L" gear. Needless to say, I had a longer than expected drive home. In your opinion, is the transmission seen its last day? Or, could I have someone possibly repair it? The van is worth maybe $750 at this point. Thanks for the advice.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Hmmm, tough call. At 300,000 miles the van certainly doesn't owe you anything, that said, if the rest of the vehicle is in good shape putting a rebuilt tranny in it might be less expensive than buying another car of similar capabilities.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • My 2007 Grand Caravan SXT has a rough downshift just as you are about to stop, 3-5 mph. Also sometimes there is a rough upshift around 8-10 mph, especially on an incline.

    Dealer says no service bulletins or computer codes.

    Anyone else having these issues?
  • fezofezo Posts: 9,328
    I'm with Shipo on that. Normally at 300K I'd consider it done but heck, you've had the van for a long time and if you're confident it has even another 59K in it with a new tranny it's loads cheaper than another van!

    Of course I replaced an Ody after 118K so what do I know?
  • brent10brent10 Posts: 1
    I have a 2000 voyager with approx 140,000 miles, with really no problems up until now. This vehicle is a daily driver mostly highway and service on a regular basis. I left the van at the airport for a week and the weather was very cold. After starting the van I noticed there was a slipping problem for a few minutes, I really did not allow time for van to warm up. After a few minutes and driving around the airport a couple of times had no problems on the 80 mile trip home. Has anyone been thru this before and it is the beginning of a failure and are there any short term fixes, I can't really afford a new transmission in this vehicle. Thanks for you help in advance
  • masterpaul1masterpaul1 Posts: 421
    A week outside in cold weather, with out being started, is a long time. What you discribed sounds normal, after a long sleep outside in cold weather. Allow the van to run for a few minutes to allow all of the moving parts and fluid to circulate through the engine and trans. before driving. We have an 01 DGC EX and It sat in the garage in cold weather for a few days. The van started, but not as fast as it would after sitting for a day. I also, noticed it was running a little rough at start up. I let it idle for a few minutes and no problems. :shades:
  • My van is doing the EXACT same thing. It has 3000 mile on it and has done it after having it about a week. I bought it in Fenruary. It has been like pulling teeth to even get the dealer to recognize it. They say that they have to contact Chrysler about it. I think it is the blow you off routine. I'm following up with them today. One technician I talked to at the dealer told me that in the early 2007 models, Chrysler put a lower pressure Transmission pump in to improve fuel economy at idle while in gear. He said if my van is one of those (my van was manufactured in 9/06), they would have to pull the transmission out of the vehicle and replace with the appropriate part. LONG PROCESS!

    Keep you posted!
  • aubreydaubreyd Posts: 7
    My son has a 92 caravan that we recently replaced the transaxle in. We took it to a shop to have the computer reprogramed but for some reason it will only shift to 2nd gear.We where told that for some reason the tranny isn't getting the signal to shift but all the wiring seems to check out fine.any ideas? Could it possibly a vacumm problem?
  • jayz1jayz1 Posts: 1
    yep sounds like it!!!! to all and every body out there,i have a reliable solution,mor for a master mechanic,but im doing this conversion now. i found an 89 thru 91 2.2l 4 clynder turbo ,with a 5 speed (MANUAL) TRANS.. of the 555 model designation.this 555 trans is supposed to be a heavy duty trans (drag racers use it in the cars). now i have a 94 voyager, 3.0 l 3-speed tranny,the origonal trans went after,127,00 miles, found a used trans from a 90 caravn , put 60,000 miles on it and its ready to blow out again!!! aghhh!!! so im converting to a turbo 4 clynder and a hd 5 speed manl.trans!! at least u can get a clutch job done for cheaper than an automatic these days!!!! so now i am installing the shifter,pedals, and cables and wiring to convert it to a man. trans!!! by my self of course,and the whole parts van cost me 250.00!! but they are rare to find,i got lucky and found minein a bone yard. good bye automatic,hellow man trans and reliabilty!!!!!and the funny thing is... u can get hot rod parts for the motor and heavy duty cluth stuff for this settup!!! so u can have a reliable,and damm fast caravan!!!! lol!!! this only works with the first and second generation vans!! but i would have to research,if they have a man. trans on the newer vans (gen 3 vans) they do offer the 2.4l motor in the newer ones,and yes the turbo for a neon srt-4 or a turbo pt cruiser should bolt right in,with some tech. support and a little time and work!! (maybe a neon 5- speed from a srt 4-would work???) well thell me what do u think???? jay!!!!
    reach me at fracker_lover03@yahoo.com!!!! i work as a chrysler tech, i like this conversion idea,i hope to keep every body posted on the results of this!!! :shades: :shades:
  • Aaaaaaahh!! The van is in the shop again with the same symptoms. Now they say that nothing is wrong. Yeah right. Why does the van not show the symptoms to the techs when they drive it, but everytime I do, the problem is apparent? Are there not enough warranty hours for the tech to do the job? I'm really losing faith in Chrysler. I can't believe that they keep going around and around on this one. :lemon: That's right. I bought a freakin' :lemon: ! The worst part is that they are trying to deny the whole thing. One more go around and then the sparks are going to fly!
  • Hello.
    We bought an 06 Caravan in October 06. We left the lot and drove 10 miles to a restaurant. After dinner we hopped into the van and proceeded to leave. When I put the van in drive, it took aprox 3 seconds, before it dropped or clunked heavy into gear. I put it back in park and when I did the process again, the clunk was there.I called dealer and they say it's because it's to new < bullshitzu <that's what I said.
    Bill :lemon:
  • dsssedssse Posts: 4
    HI,
    I just got a 2007 Grand Caravan SXT last week. Almost right away i noticed a wierd "shudder" right before the van comes to a complete stop. I'm talking about maybe a second before the stop. It feels like a "shake" or "shudder" almost like when anti-lock brakes kick in. The whole van does'nt shake, I just feel it and so does the passenger. But i think its more transmission related. Does anyone else have this ?
    Thanks. Dan
  • amcelmurryamcelmurry Posts: 3
    Same thing happening with mine. I bought a 07 SXT in January. The more research I do the more I find it is a common problem. Check out some of the posts under "Chrysler Minivan Transmission Problems".
  • playtimeplaytime Posts: 12
    I really do not think your feeling a "TRANSMISSION SHUDDER" it sounds more like you might be feeling the transmission doing what its suppose to do when it comes to a near stop or stop and that is down shifting to first gear. I bet it does not do it every time does it. Hey give the transmission along with everything else at least 8,000 miles to get broken in if it already does not have that many on it now. Its not hurting a thing other then you might be looking or thinking something is going wrong with the transmission. Has it done it sense you first got it? Does it do it every time you stop? My 2005 will do it every now and then and I just don't pay any attention to it because the transmission does everything else just fine including pulling my 3600# boat on average of 200 miles a week and has done so for the past 2 summers and will this summer in Michigan. Yes mine has the trailer package but our vans have the same transmissions in them. Just let it do its thing and try to stop worrying about it other wise take it to the dealership but I think they might tell you the same thing as I did. I am a retired from General Motors and did alot of transmission testing and some just work a bit different then others. Cheers
  • twocycle2twocycle2 Posts: 55
    I have an 06 SXT with the 3.3 engine....I have had no transmission "problems", but I am amazed that the personality traits of the this tranny hasn't changed since my parent's 91 Dodge Dynasty (3.3) and 94 T&C van (3.8). The tranny in my 06 still has that stumbling feeling shifting from 1-2 and has what I call a "long-duration shift" as it shifts into 1st when approaching a stop. It also has a slight whirring/flapping noise when coasting at 10-20mph. If I hadn't had previous experiences with this, I'd be concerned. But both of my parents vehicles did this from day 1 and lasted 90k miles before having any trans problems. My dad did zero maintenance on the transmissions on those cars, and both began to slip right around 90k. I think most of us can assume reliable service for up to 100k these days, but if you're looking to drive yours over that, then I would do regular fluid changes, upgrade the trans cooler, and drive it as easy as possible.....these trannys don't take abuse very well.
    Twocycle2
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Please be aware that the transmissions that were in the Dynasty and the 1994 T&C REQUIRED a pan drop/filter replacement/fluid top-off with ATF+3 transmission fluid every 30,000 miles. That the transmissions in those cars didn't fail until the 90,000 mile mark is actually a bit surprising, I would have expected them to fail much sooner.

    The transmission in your 2006 Grand Caravan uses a fully synthetic ATF+4 transmission fluid, and per your Owner's Manual, you don't need to replace the fluid ever (assuming you aren't towing or driving in a high dust environment). That said, some folks still adhere to the 30,000 mile schedule of the earlier vans, others drop the pan and such every 100,000 miles on the Gen4 vans.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • twocycle2twocycle2 Posts: 55
    "Please be aware that the transmissions that were in the Dynasty and the 1994 T&C REQUIRED a pan drop/filter replacement/fluid top-off with ATF+3 transmission fluid every 30,000 miles."

    Shipo,

    Don't get me wrong....had maintenance been done to those tranny's, it is quite possible they would have lasted longer. I don't remember what the manual for the Dynasty said, but I do know the T&C said that no maintenance was required for "normal" service duty. That struck me as odd back then, given the problematic history of these units, and that was even back when Chrysler offered the 7/70 warranty on the powertrain.

    Question for you....do you know specifically what the problems were with those early units that caused the early failures (I apologize if this has been asked previously in this forum, as I have not gone back and read every page). I heard of people in the early 90's who barely got 1k miles before it failed.

    thx for the info
    Twocycle2
  • whvwhv Posts: 1
    Hi, I have exactly the same problem on my 2007 Caravan SE(3.6L) starting just a week from purchase. There is no ABS equipped with mine and I only put less than 600 km on it. I feel more like a rough down-shifting of the gearbox. Have you got any answers from your dealer or mechanics? From the playtime's reply, it seems normal with his/her 2005 Caravan. I hope it is not a serious problem.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    As I understand it, there were a few software problems when the 41TE first came out, however, those were corrected within the first year or so. Under the same proviso "as I understand it", the vast majority of problems with these transmissions was due to the introduction of incorrect fluid. Folks would take their van to Jiffy Boob or where ever and wind up with a Dextron based transmission fluid in their tranny. These early 41TEs required ATF+3 transmission fluid (which was a semi-synthetic fluid), and as such, it has a different coefficient of friction. By introducing Dextron into the mix meant that the clutches wouldn't grip the way the computer was expecting them to grip, so the computer would cycle the clutch trying to get it to lock up properly. Unfortunately it would do that again and again and again, several times per second, until the transmission failed shortly thereafter.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • playtimeplaytime Posts: 12
    I have heard or been told the same as you about the fuild "but" I have been told and it does state in the owners manual "use only Chrysler approved or Chrysler transmission fuild only" and if you do not adhere to this statement in the owners manual you can be expected to pay for a new transmission. I know when a transmission is taken apart from looking at them myself what type of fuild has been used whether synthetic or regular fluid. There are reasons for using the man made trans fuild and that is in the winter time your fuild starts circulating almost instantly and with the old based fuild it takes time for it to warm up and same as an engine you end up with metal on metal surfaces touching along with a pump that runs empty for a few seconds and in some cases that just enough time to do damage to a transmission. Just like my 2005 T&C when I purchased it I asked about using a synthetic type of oil and was told it would be a waste of my money only to have Chrysler 3 months later advise all of its dealers to start using at least a semi-synthethic engine oil. At that time they stated it was to help with fuel milage only to later find out its because Chrysler has such a high problem of sludge in their engines mostly the 2.7 v-6 but that is another complete story for another place. Also I have heard that Chrysler had received some bad programed computor chips for some of their vehicals causing all types of problems but they were not the only company using the same type of chip with programed problems them being programed wrong. Cheers to all
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    "I have heard or been told the same as you about the fluid "but" I have been told and it does state in the owners manual "use only Chrysler approved or Chrysler transmission fluid only" and if you do not adhere to this statement in the owners manual you can be expected to pay for a new transmission."

    And yet here we are, some eighteen model years or so since the 41TE was released, and if you go to Jiffy Boob or Pep Boyz and have your tranny serviced, they will insist on using Dextron in combination with some kind of a magic elixir to make it okay to use in the 41TE. I guess it isn't at all surprising that there are still transmissions out there failing due to the incorrect fluid. Annoying.

    As for why to use it the synthetic ATF+4, I don't believe that winter has anything to do with it. Automatic transmissions get HOT due to the constant shearing going on inside (primarily in the torque converter), and synthetic tranny fluid deals with the heat WAY better than semi-synthetic or conventional ATF. Oh, that an as of the 2000 model year virtually all Chrysler automatic transmissions were designed and built specifically for that fluid and its very specific coefficient of friction.

    Regarding synthetic engine oil, well, I'm one of those that never bought the company line anyway. I converted our 1998 DGC Sport 3.8 to Mobil 1 (currently using 0W-40) at the second oil change, and I switched our 2003 DGC ES 3.8 over at the first. Warranty or no, I then went to 10,000 mile OCIs (supported by UOAs of course), and now, with a combined 230,000 miles on the two vans, their engines are as robust and spotlessly clean (on the inside anyway) as they were the day they left the factory.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • rasilla24rasilla24 Posts: 2
    We just bought this car (used w/ 26k miles - the smaller engine version) and as we drove it off the lot experienced transmission problems. Thankfully, the dealership has agreed to "find and correct" the problem. However, they have tried 2 times with no results. It is back in the shop (for a third try) and I was wondering if any of you have experienced similar problems and if you could help give a diagnosis. Our desperation for a working car is growing fast as I am expecting our second child in the next 6 weeks. Please help :)

    Problem: It refuses to change gears (seems stuck in second) when accelerating/decelerating (most commonly in highway entrance ramps, but has also happened leaving the grocery store). When this happens all of the gear indicator lights have those boxes around them. This is sporadic - we did not notice it during the test drive when we purchased it.

    The dealership has replaced "electrical control modules" - to no avail. Any ideas?
  • rasilla24rasilla24 Posts: 2
    Can you replay to my recent posting (its somewhere near the end) regarding my 2002 Voyager. You seem to have a balanced perspective and know a bit more than me. I'd appreciate it!
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Hmmm, electronic gremlins. Yuck! :P

    One of the problems with electronic problems (especially with a used car) is that you almost never know going in where the problem might lay. Was the van in an accident? Did the previous owner mess something up trying to add a modification? Is there a bad wiring harness? Is the Transmission Control Module (TCM) somehow hammered (apparently not as it is an odds-on bet that that was the first thing your dealer replaced)? Is the power supply to the TCM clean? Are all of the sensors inside the transmission, and the sensors that report on engine operation, throttle position, vehicle speed, gear selection and a whole host of other conditions, reporting the proper metrics?

    At this point, were I in your shoes I'd be losing confidence quite quickly in your dealer and be looking to reverse the transaction. Said another way, it's time to start asking for your money back, possibly with the help of a lawyer.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • playtimeplaytime Posts: 12
    I might have missed it some where in the forum under transmissions but I will comment anyway just in case. If your having any type of engine problems "such as rough idling - hard starting engine - engine lacking power compared as compared to previously engine running good" can also effect the transmissions operation. If the engine is lacking power for instance the transmission will try to make up for this by shifting at different speeds - down shifting rougher etc. The reason being is the computor thinks the engine is working harder and the computor will send signals to the trans letting it know it needs to shift for power now. Example I am sure everyone has noticed if you have a full loaded van the engine has to work harder to get the van up to speed well the transmission works differently by later shifting and down shifting to a gear meant for power sooner. Point being if the engine needs a tune up this also can effect the transmissions operation just like towing a trailer does. This is why some vehicals had a switch "like General Motors Vehicals-some of them" that you while towing there is a switch to engage the that changes the shift points to give the engine a helping hand under a load. Do not always assume your transmission is at fault when it could also be an engine issue even a bad tank of fuel can cause systems that will cause the computor to retard or advance the timing. Good example would be to pull a spark plug wire off and then try driving your van this would give you a great idea of what the engines performance has on the transmissions operation "but do not pull a spark plug wire off I was just using this as an example thats all". If your engine has a vacuum leak it can also cause the engine and transmission to operate some what differently under some conditions. So lets not forget that things also need to be checked in some cases with how the engine is operating also such as over heating. You should even notice a change in the operation of the transmission while using the ac because of the amount of horse power the compressor needs to operated. I hope this helps those that are having both transmission and engine problems so that you do not right away assume its the transmission - when it might be the engine having a negative effect on the trans. Cheers to all-Jack playtime
  • Hello. I am a new poster, so bear with me. I've read MANY of the 1300+ posts in this discussion hoping to find an answer to my question, but am more confused than ever. Most everyone has a shifting problem, which isn't really rellevent, per se. We had a new/rebuilt transmission installed two years and 40,000 miles ago at 100,000 miles. For a couple of months we have had a slow leak of tranny fluid, for which we've added a little bit here and there, but have had no problems otherwise. Then two days ago I checked the fluid and found it was a bit low again, so I added fluid, drove about 15 miles and stopped at the in-laws and turned off the engine. I was only sitting there about five minutes, so I was suprised to see drips on the cement as I pulled away. I got out, left the engine running, and called my husband to get his input. As I was talking, I leaned down to have another look and to my horror, fluid was not just dripping, but there was a steady stream! I then drove it to the nearest auto shop (without any shifting problems, though I didn't drive very fast). He says one seal is gone and the other is leaking for no apparent reason and I have to take it to a transmission place and have the tranny rebuilt AGAIN. I just have a hard time believing that there isn't a simpler fix for the leak than another rebuild. Anyone out there had any such experience? Oh, and I was particularly interested in Shipo's theory about the ATF+4, as that is the fluid I added just before my seal disappeared! We have four little ones, and as work is all but non-existent in Northern Michigan, $2500 or more is hopefully not our only option!
  • 97xpresso97xpresso Posts: 249
    A leaking seal(s) does not mean you need a rebuilt trans. Some seal replacement requires that the transmission be removed from vehicle, which isn't cheap. You did mention that it works fine, other than the leak. Where was it rebuilt the 1st time? Don't drive it with low fluid or you will need a new transmission.
  • amcelmurryamcelmurry Posts: 3
    I took my van in again. The regional tech said that it is a common problem with the 07's. They have pin pointed it to a software problem and the torque converter. Because updating the software would effect emmisions the fix has to go through the department in the government that deals with emissions before Chrysler can release the fix.
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