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Chrysler Minivan Transmission Problems



  • i have exactly the same problem...right down to replacing the headlight switch. what did you end up doing?

    i'm trying to sell mine, but i need to fix it somehow first.

  • I've had a 1997 Grand Caravan for 3 years now and it's been relatively problem-free.

    But lately I think I'm having transmission issues. There are times when I push the accelerator and it acts like it's in neutral instead of drive--the engine revs, but no acceleration, nothing. The other day I had to pull into a parking lot, put it into Park, then back into Drive. It doesn't happen all that often, though it seems to be happening more frequently.

    Is it the transmission? If so, what could be wrong--and most importantly, how much would it cost to get it fixed?
  • I'm having similar problems with my 97 Grand Caravan, though it only recently started. I have to put it into Park, then back into Drive. I'm going to use my husband's car until we can figure out what to do.

    My engine light doesn't even come on either.
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,931
    Your symptom could be caused by low or high transmission fluid. With the engine fully warmed (full operating temperature) and the vehicle on a level surface, check the fluid level on the transmission dip stick. It should be in the "hot" range and not above the full mark.

    You don't state how many miles is on your vehicle, but the transmission filter should be changed every 25,000 miles to ensure good transmission life. Always use Chrysler ATF+3 or ATF+4 in that transmission. Do not substitute another type, especially Dexron-Mercon.

  • Dusty,
    two things 1)If there is too much transmission fluid, how can it be emptied mine is well above the third hole in the stick when hot indicating too much fluid and my wife just had the fluid changed and now my 97 isn't shifting. 2) How do you change the filter. Is this something that can be done by a novice or should either be left to a professional. I've done quite a bit of engine work but I've never touched a tranmission other to remount one.

  • Okay I'm a novice, but I realize that the transmission is a very important part of the vehicle.

    So, I am asking all of you transmission experts to give me any tips so that my 2005 Chrysler Town & Country can go for many years without having transmissions problems.

    So far the only real tip that I saw was Dusty's a few posts up which said:

    "the transmission filter should be changed every 25,000 miles to ensure good transmission life. Always use Chrysler ATF+3 or ATF+4 in that transmission. Do not substitute another type, especially Dexron-Mercon."

    That is the type of tip I like.

    By the way, can I change the transmission filter myself or should I bring it in for that?

    The only type of work that i do on my vehicles is replace the air filter and change the oil and oil filter.
  • I have less than 120K miles on it.

    I noticed that it tends to happen more often on a cold engine. In fact, today, when I went to take my son somewhere, before leaving the house I had to put it in park and start it no less than three times to get it going...and just recently the nights here have been much cooler.

    On a warm engine I don't seem to have any problems. Someone suggested to me that it could be the linkage.

    Fortunately my husband and I make it a point to get a repair manual for whatever vehicle we acquire, so I'm going to look up the section and see if a novice such as I can change the transmission filter...if that's what it needs.

    I'll go out there a little later and check the levels. Thanks for the advice. :)
  • I just went on the first installation for my company today with a 97 Chr T & C 3.8 w/ AWD I just purchased 1 1/2 weeks ago. I absolutely love the van for every feature that it has and all the room it has over the Ford Escort that I have progressed up from. We took freeway for approx 160 mi to our destination with about 2 stops over 1/2 hour each. No problems beautiful traveler. On our way back it was on 2 lane road averaging 55-60 mph. On a slight upgrade and I mean slight, while on cruise, the vehicle jerked which only shook the chassis not us as passengers.
    The van passed 110,000 miles on this trip. I changed the oil in the engine just before the trip using Castrol High milage 10-30 and a treatment of Prolong as an expirienced user of this product. I did not change the tranny fluid not being the wiser and the lack of time. The vehicle sat for this past summer as the previous owner purchased a Durango and waited a while to decide to sell.
    Description. I would explain what occured as the computer/vacuum system hit a finite "sour" spot (as opposed to sweet) in which the tranny received a command to downshift one or two gears at which immediately received the command to resume. This resulted in what I would call a torque spike that "jerked" the eng/tranny assembly in it's mounts and resonated through the chassis.
    The other option is that it could be that the clutch plates slipped and then gripped again. I would rule this out as the jerk that was experienced would be likened to shifting to neutral, revving the engine, and shifting into drive at the same time you let off the gas and the rpms are JUST leaving redline on the way back down after letting off the gas.
    This occurred with the cruise on and without. But consistently on a slight incline, between 55-60 mph either 3 or 4 times within 125 miles traveled.
    I'm just an amateur and have worked on all the vehicles I've owned and should own a nicer one than I drive (the T & C is strictly a work car) with all the money I have saved doing my own work. I have removed, rebuilt and replaced the tranny's in my 92 Mazda MPV and 89 Nissan P/U which until I got into it are the same base transmission with different assemblies for mating to different engines and transfer cases (both are 4WD). So dive right into any detailed info freely, use laman's terms and anything that I don't follow I will reply on. I just want to know if this has occured to anyone else and what was found of the situation. Is this something that can be fixed with a module gasket and a module remove-clean-replace and new tranny fluid or should I prepare my bank account. Welcoming any and all comments. Thank you.
  • mikee4mikee4 Posts: 1
    Make sure that when the transmission fluid was change, the replacement fluid is OEM Chrysler transmission fluid. Dextron with additive was put in my van by Midas, when they strong armed me into letting them flush the transmission fluid, and the transmission failed about 3000 miles later. Subsequently, I learned through internet research that you CANNOT put any other fluid into your transmission. Cost me $2300 at the dealer for a rebuilt transmission. I recommend changing transmission fluid immediately if they used dextron. Maybe you can save the transmission. Good luck.
  • Alex, I just called a rebuilder with a similar problem.
    He told me there are two sensors, one on the front and one on the back of the transmission.
    They can cause the Torque converter to lock up solid. When you pull the lever into gear, the engine dies.
    When you approach a stop sign the transmission wont shift down. It kills the engine before you can shift it down.
    When you are heading up a slight slope at freeway speeds, on cruise control, and the Torque converter should unlock so the engine can maintain the speed, the engine just slows down and the car slows down as well while the transmission stays locked in high gear.

    He says those conditions sound like the front sensor, but could be either one.
    HOWEVER.....if it's not those sensors, it's inside the transmission. Some Neoprene double flapper type valves.
    Not something for the ordinary brain surgeon to be hacking away at.
  • I just added transmission fluid and so far so good--even running on a cold engine. If anything my van appears to be running better. I added the fluid a couple of days ago and so far the problem hasn't come back.

    I'm hoping that's all it was! I still have fluid to spare, too--I didn't use the whole quart.

    I'm going to be checking it weekly to make sure there isn't a leak or anything.
  • I had the exact same symptoms including the check engine light @ 125,000 miles. I was also told it could last a long time. One day, my car started making a loud whining/grinding sound. I pulled over and had it towed. Within 5 miles of the first sound, my transimssion blew entirely!!

  • We purchased our '05 Grand Caravan in January & by April were faced with over $6,000 in damages when the van lunged into a concrete column. While helping a friend locate their vehicle in a parking garage, I pulled into the corner (on the rooftop yet!) for a three-point turn. While still in drive, with foot on brake, I turned my head to be sure traffic was clear. As I began to turn forward with arm raised to shift into reverse, the van surged or lunged forward into the concrete column but (thankfully) bounced me back from the roof's edge. I managed to drive home, but the dealership came out in record time to tow the vehicle in. My husband didn't even have the opportunity to see the van as it was towed within an hour & torn apart shortly thereafter. Of course we've been told that no troubles or engine problems registered on the computer. I haven't driven the van since. Anyone out there hear of or have similar experience with an '05??
  • I have a 1997 Dodge Caravan Sport with almost 170,000 miles on has been a great van for us and recently the transmission has been acting up. I am grateful the transmission has lasted thus far! My mechanic says they don't usually hold up this long...but what I'm wanting to know is when I'm accelerating (has happened at varied speeds), my van starts to "shutter", but if I lift off accelerator it stops, I coast momentarily, accelerate again, sometimes "shutters", sometimes doesn't...and I can keep going...also it does seem to mostly do this while going up an incline of any degree...but, has also done it on level surfaces...any idea what is causing this?
  • fljoslinfljoslin Posts: 237
    I had a 92 Grand Caravan that went 170k with the original trans working fine. I then donated it to charity. I used synthetic Dextron III in it from about 100k on, changing it about once per year.
    I also had issues of a shudder on acceleration. On one occasion this was due to a bad CV joint. On another occasion, which behaved exactly the same way, it was caused by a bad spark plug wire. It ran fine, but mis-fired under acceleration. Also, the condition of the engine mounts seem to affect shudder..
  • My wife took our 02 grand caravan in today for routine service and they told here the tranny fluid looked dark and it needed to be flushed and replaced.

    They used Wynn's flush service. The total was 160 plus tax. Doesn't this seem high?

    Also why should it have needed it? We have 42000 miles and the van is 3.5 years old. the only reference in the manual is to do it at 48000 miles if you tow trailers which we don't.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Hmmm, $160? Yikes, I had the transmission fluid and filter on our 1998 done just yesterday at a dealership no less for $110.60 ($54.00 Labor, $22.00 Trans Kit and 4 quarts of Automatic Transmission fluid @ 8.65).

    Regarding your early service (Part 1)... IF the transmission fluid did indeed look dark and burnt, then yup, it should have been changed. The thing is that at only 42,000 miles with no obvious heavy duty service, I'd be highly suspicious of whoever told me that. Said another way, I'd want to see the fluid side by side with some new fluid.

    Regarding your early service (Part 2)... I just checked the service guide for both our 1998 3.8 GC and our 2003 3.8 GC and noticed a marked difference in what services are called out for the transmissions. For the 1998, a complete flush and filter replacement is recommended every 30,000 miles (for Schedule "A", 15K for Schedule "B"). For the 2003 (which most likely has the same service schedule as your 2002), there are no such transmission flush recommendations.

    Best Regards,
  • Why did you have this "flush" done? What type of fluid was used for the flush? What type of fluid is in your transmission now? I am willing to bet that it's not ATF+4 which is the ONLY fluid that should be used. Your money would have been better spent for a pan drop, filter change and re-fill at the Dodge dealer. As you stated, this is not even necessary with normal usage, but I will have the service done at the dealer at 50 k miles for peace of mind.
  • Older DCX vehicles, transmission service was required every 30, 000 miles. No where does it ever state that the transmission should be flushed. Newer DCX transmissions (ATF+4 factory fill) say no service required for normal usage, but to service at 48,000 miles under severe usage. Again, no where stated that a flush be done, just a pan drop, filter change and re-fill, like you had done for $110.60
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    "Again, no where stated that a flush be done, just a pan drop, filter change and re-fill, like you had done for $110.60"

    Hmmm, interesting. Acknowledged that the manual doesn't state that a "Flush" should be done every 30K, however, I did ask them to perform a "Flush" and on my reciept it says, "1 -- PKBGT -- BG Trans Flush -- $22.00". That said, now you've got me wondering, I suppose the indicator is how much trans fluid they used for the refill. Under the assumption that a complete flush (ie. draining the torque converter) would use more fluid than just a pan drop and filter swap, do you have any idea how much fluid should be used for either operation?

    Best Regards,
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