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Chrysler Minivan Transmission Problems

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  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,406
    Ah, so we are down to sensors and the TCM. Good luck with that! :cry:
  • I have a 1999 Dodge Caravan Sport with a 3.3 in it. I pulled into the driveway the other day and it was leaking tranny fluid. By that night, it looked like someone butchered a pig under the van and all of the fluid was out of it. I did not drive it with low or no fluid in it. My question...so is my whole tranny shot? Like I said, it has not been driven after it started leaking as there was no, zero, nothing leaking before this. I did start it up and checked forward and reverse and had neither one. No driving with it like that though. What should I be checking to see what leaked?

    Any help answering this question would be appreciated.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    It sounds like the internals are probably alive and well, that said, you do need to find where the leak is coming from. If either your pan or your solenoid are leaking then it's an easy fix, if the tranny case itself is cracked (very-very rare), then you're probably better off with a new tranny. Anything else (such as one of the various input and output seals) is a more involved fix, but way-WAY cheaper than a new transmission.

    Keep us posted.

    Best regards,
    Shipo
  • Thanks for the info shipo. Hopefully you are correct with the lesser of all the evils that could be wrong with it. I was quoted $1250 to have the tranny replaced, so hopefully it will be lower than that.

    Another question...does it pay to put a tranny cooler on these vans? I do some towing of a boat, normally not long distances, but sometimes a couple hours one way. I am not going to keep the van for more than 8 months longer as I want to get back into another Expedition. Not sure if I should look at investing in a tranny cooler for it.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Given the history of these transmissions, especially the ones built before 2001, I think that if I was towing so much as a bicycle behind me I'd be putting a tranny cooler on. :P

    I had another thought regarding your leak; I've heard sporadic reports that the tranny cooler lines occasionally leak, especially at the point where they enter the radiator. Give those a good look-see while you're checking things out. ;)

    Best regards,
    Shipo
  • Hey Shipo...

    Well, my future brother-in-law came over and we added a quart of ATF-4 tranny fluid. I had forward, reverse and all other drive gears. No noises, clunking, nothing. They all worked good. There was some tranny fluid dripping off of one of the tranny solenoid brackets. Now, if the solenoid needs replacing is there any other parts that should be replaced at the same time? I thought I read somewhere that there is another part that often goes bad at the same time. Also, any guestimates on what I could expect for a cost to fix this if it is not the tranny itself?

    Thanks for all the help!!!

    Chuck
  • I just wanted to add that a sudden massive leak is usually a cooler line that blew off of the trans. The 2 lines are located right above the solonoid pack and if looking from below it will look like the solonoid is leaking. It is however very common for the solonoid to leak in cold weather but not all the fluid out at once. Hope this helps.
  • chuckls68chuckls68 Posts: 6
    edited February 2010
    Well, the transmission case is cracked and the tranny needs replacing. Just does not make any sense as to why this happend. New tranny going on for under $1,500. This van is gone by fall!!! I will NEVER buy another Dodger/Chrysler product.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    What is the history of your van? Did you buy it new?

    FWIW, the transmissions in the Gen 3 vans were a weak point, that said, when the transmission went out in our 3.8 liter 1998 DGC after 109,000 miles, I gladly put a new one in as opposed to disposing of the van. Why? Because prior to that point the van had cost me a whopping $8.00 in unscheduled maintenance since it was brand new. I am also happy to report that after the new tranny went in I drove the van another 70,000 miles before trading it in, and during that time the unscheduled maintenance was extremely low (like $400 for a starter, a window regulator, and a muffler). In fact, I was so impressed by the vans mechanical reliability that when we needed a third vehicle for our family, I went out and found a fully tarted up 1998 Chrysler Town & Country LXi with 180,000 miles on it and bought it. I have no doubt that the T&C will soldier on in our family for a number of years. :)

    Long story short, I understand being frustrated with needing to pony up for a large maintenance expense, but given that your van is eleven years old, and given that there are many folks that are getting three, four, and even five hundred-thousand miles out of these vehicles, you might A) forgive the van for the failed transmission, and B) find that keeping your van will be the best financial investment you could make.

    Best regards,
    Shipo
  • 1998 Dodge Caravan Sport. Purchased used in September of 2008 from a dealer. They had just done a flush of the tranny. Since then, I have had it flushed twice to keep the fluid fresh. I did a lot of highway driving and pulling the boat no more than 60 miles one way. I was told that this vehicle would be just fine for pulling a boat of the size I have. I wish I would have done my own in-depth homework before buying the vehicle. My next vehicle will be a Suburban, Yukon or Expedition. I had a 2000 Expedition that I never should have gotten rid of.

    I realize that you can have problems with any vehicle...new or used, but with my fiancee having a mid 1990's Caravan that went through 2 transmissions before I met her, we both vowed to never go with another Dodger/Chrysler product. I just hope that this van now makes it until fall when I hope to be able to afford my larger SUV.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    edited February 2010
    A couple of points:

    1) "Flushing" most automatic transmissions is generally considered both a bad idea and a way for a service center to empty your wallet. Why? Because your transmission wasn't designed to have the fluid run through it in reverse and because more often than not, the fluid that ends up in your transmission is worse than what you had in it to begin with.

    2) More often than not, Gen 2 and Gen 3 41TE transmissions have failed due to either the incorrect fluid being put into the transmission and/or the transmission being flushed. Bear in mind that the ONLY fluid that should be put in the 41TE is Mopar ATF+4 (or its predecessor ATF+3). If any other transmission fluid, be it Dextron. Mercon, Amsoil, Pennzoil Universal (I've heard rumors that Pennzoil does sell a Mopar approved ATF+4 which is acceptable), then you are almost assured of a transmission failure.

    As for your towing, some vans had the "Towing Package"; most did not. If you're driving a van without the package and your boat is heavier than what is outlined in the Owner's Manual, once again, you are highly likely to experience a failed transmission.

    Best regards,
    Shipo
  • I bought a 97 Plymouth voyager less then a month ago it was running fine and I had no problems with it but today the van started to squeel and jerk. I pulled over at a shop on the side of the road and the man there told me that the transmission has no codes in front pump and has internal failer. but he told me to rebuild the transmission will cost me about $2,150.. I dont believe that this will help with every one here saying that they have tried this and still transmission failer later.

    My question is can i put a transmission in the van out of a different make and modle of van? and if i can what would be the best kind to try? :confuse:
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    'My question is can i put a transmission in the van out of a different make and modle of van? and if i can what would be the best kind to try?' :confuse:

    Yes, you can put a transmission in from either a Chrysler Town & Country or a Dodge Caravan. ;)

    Sorry, the Devil made me say that. :P

    Long story short, your best bet would be to put in a remanufactured transmission as opposed to having yours rebuilt. Remanufactured transmissions can be had for about the price you're being quoted for the work on yours and come with the additional benefits of a 3 year / 36,000 mile warranty and of having certain updates that will effectively match the latest engineering build of the Gen 3 transmission, which by the way was from 2000. While you're at it, you might consider adding a transmission cooler into the mix.

    Once you get the new tranny in, perform a pan drop, filter change and oil top-off every 30,000 miles. If you do this the transmission will most likely last the rest of the life of your van.

    Care and feeding guidelines for your new transmission:
    - Do not under any circumstances have the transmission "flushed". Flushing is a bad idea for most transmissions and especially bad for the 41TE.
    - Buy your transmission filters from a dealership. I've heard of entirely too many trannys failing because of cheap aftermarket filters.
    - Buy MOPAR approved ATF+4 transmission oil. Said another way, the various "Universal ATFs" or Dextron, or Mercon are NOT acceptable for these transmissions. Using anything other than ATF+4 will most likely result in a transmission failure in the not too distant future.
    - Do NOT use any transmission additives regardless of what is written on the packaging.
  • We put a rebuilt tranny in the van in July. We replaced the ECM the alternator etc.. The tranny still acts up at times and it shudders when you go uo an incline or if you are stopped and then go. It does not do it all the time, but it is frustrating since we have replaced so much. Also sometimes when you go to put it in gear the computer shows it eitther not in gear or the wrong gear. Could these problems be cause by the computer that controls the transmission?
  • I own 2002 Dodge Grand Caravan ES. I love the car. I changed engine oil on time as well as transmission every 30.000 miles. Right now i have 88.000 miles on it. A week ago while I drove my car on hwy the engine light popped out. Checked the codes. I had 2 of them 700 and 740. I replaced the tranny selenoid, cleared the codes. After driving for app.40 miles the same codes came on. I erased the codes again and again after 40 miles the codes came back on. Did not notice any change in tranny perfomance or how it shifts the gears. Is it possible that it has some kind electrical malfunction(wiring)?
  • Well, the tranny case was MORE than cracked. There was a hole punched in it about big enough for me to put my fist through. A pin came out and then another post let loose punching a LARGE hole in the case. This was the largest hole that the mechanic had ever seen. The tranny that was put in was re-done with a different design so the pin cannot come out. The mechanic has replaced a few dozen transmissions on Dodge/Chrysler vans; all were originals. He said that from 1998-2002 there were MAJOR transmission issues and it took 14 years for Dodge/Chrysler to change the design of the transmission.

    I was also told that there are no Dodge/Chrylser products assembled in the United States after 2002. Dodge/Chrysler I guess are done in Canada and Plymouth products are done in Mexico or something. I have my next vehicle choice as a 2005 or newer Suburban or Yukon XL. Completely different vehicle that I am sure I will be much happier with.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    edited February 2010
    I don't know where you and your mechanic are getting this information, but most of what you just posted about the problems, the redesigns, and where vehicles are produced is complete horse hockey.

    FWIW #1, there was a minor redesign of the transmissions for the1998 model year that eliminated a number of problems, and a much more substantial one in 2001 for the Gen 4 vans that made the transmissions fully compatible with ATF+4.

    FWIW #2, I am a moderator on another board that is dedicated exclusively to Chrysler minivans and have been tracking the transmission issue for a number of years now, and the number of Gen 4 vans (which include the 2001 and 2002 model years) that have had transmissions are very few indeed. The transmission in our 2003 is identical to the unit used in the 2001 and 2002 vans, and it now has 140,000 miles on it without so much as a fluid and fiter change (thank you ATF+4).

    FWIW #3, North American (i.e. Canada, Mexico AND the U.S.) Chrysler produced vehicles continues to this day.
  • vchengvcheng Posts: 1,284
    Shipo: I vaguely recall all these complaints of "holes in the gearcase" had one thing in common: excessive wheelspin while stuck or other type of abuse, that caused the differential pinion ring pin to loosen and come out due to the very high rotational force. Of course people then complained of crappy transmissions while neglecting to mention what they did to it.
  • My bought new in 2007 Caravan would not engage in reverse today. I had it towed to dealership. They told me that since I did not have a transmission flush at 50,000 I would have to have it done. My van has 73,000km so it is still under warranty. I see previous suggestions to NOT have trany flush? If the dealer insists can they nullify my warranty if I refuse to have the flush? :confuse: Do you think that the transmission is going? Thanks :
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Your dealership is scamming you. Ask them to put their claim about voiding your warranty in writing, their reaction should be worth a post or two. ;)

    A few points:
    - 1. Your Owner's Manual makes no recommendation for any transmission service for the life of the vehicle under "Normal Driving".
    - 2. If you operate under the "Severe Service" category, then your Owner's Manual says the following: "Every 60,000 miles/100,000 kilometers'60 months, change the automatic transmission fluid & filter if using your vehicle for any of the following: police, taxi, fleet or frequent trailer towing."
    - 3. Under no circumstances should have the transmission "Flushed", this service is only useful for "flushing" the contents out of your wallet, not to mention the fact that there are entirely too many reports of transmissions failing shortly after a "flush".
  • cookie28cookie28 Posts: 1
    I have a 2002 Dodge Caravan EX my check engine light has been on since september. my husband, along with my mechanic both say it has something to do with the "evap sensor" and the light will not go out until this "evap sensor' is fixed. my mechanic ordered one in september and it's still not in. Can anyone help me with info on this, because I have been driving around with a rejected inspection sticker since sept. and find it hard to believe it would take this long to get one part?
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    1) Try a different mechanic
    2) Try shopping for one yourself via the likes of Napa, Autozone...
    3) While I have occasionally heard of the Evap Sensor failing in these cars, I have heard of far more cases where the evap system integrity is compromised due to a cracked rubber hose (such as those that connect to the evap cannister).

    Keep us posted.
  • glisdaglisda Posts: 1
    My van was running with no problems until I was driving 30 mph felt a slip like a ice patch. The engine light came on and the tranny went into limp mode. Took it to my local tranny shop read the codes (700 & 755) I guess they point to the solenoid pack. He swapped out my solenoid pack with a new one ran the car same thing happened same codes and limp mode. check all my connections/wires couldn't pin point problem. Ended up taking it to the dealer who ran a simulator on the computer said the solenoid pack needs to be replaced to START. Paid my bill left with no work done. No shop can pin point the problem they want to take the harness out and test each wire which will of course build a large labor bill. Can anyone help guide me suggest a starting point or anything.
  • my transmission had a seal failure while driving and i hvae since replaced it but now when i put it in reverse and all gears including nuetral it goes forard im lost as in what will cause this or what to this is my only car and im extreamly straped for cash and hard pressed to come up with 1400 dollars for a rebuild can someone point in me in the right direction to hopfully fix this cheaply or am i just boned
  • dasboot72dasboot72 Posts: 115
    The only thing that will make your trans go forward in reverse is catastrophic internal failure with parts being essentially welded together due to extreme heat. If you just had the trans replaced and this happened within a day or two I would suspect that he trans cooler was plugged and not reverse flushed during replacement causing the new trans to fail. Check the fluid, if it smells burnt which I suspect it will, you have problems.
  • dasboot72dasboot72 Posts: 115
    A very common area of wire rubthrough is where the harness that runs up to the solonoid pack touches the front edge of the trans pan. You need to carefully follow the harness from the solonoid pack back looking for any contact areas. The problem with hooking up a trans simulator laike the dealer did is that you have to disconnect the wiring at the trans and hook it to the simulator which moves any possibally shorted wiring away from the area it was shorted to, hence passing the simulator test. It is usually difficult to find a shorted wire but it has to be done. Another option is to hard wire from the TCM to the solonoid the effected circuit. In your case P0755 is the 2/4 solonoid circuit.
  • skutrskutr Posts: 1
    I have spent most of this morning reading posts on Chrysler transmissions.
    I owed a '96 G/C w/3.8 for 10 years and was amazed that it always shifted smoothly for over a 100k with one power flush @ 60K. Though it had its share of problems i.e. a/c loosing charge ever year after 8 yrs, serpentine belts annually shredding till I found out the water pump pulley bearing was loose and causing misalignment. But all in all it was a pleasure to own.

    My '07 with 24K was dropped off this morning for a couple of routine items however we have experienced the common tranny problem of the initial cold morning hard shift from 0-20 mph. Last time in they performed the software update and though it seams better I am concerned that over time this will cause wear or damage. I am not sure at this time if it warrants my pursuing the dealer to change out the torque converter. I have told my wife to ease through those cold morning first shifts. Any input would be appreciated. :confuse:
  • I dont know if you still come here. I just have a transmission question. I have a 98 town and country. My service engine soon light would come on and it would not shift out of first gear. After I would turn it off and wait a few seconds it would drive and shift just fine. I figured resetting the trouble code and letting me go. Yesterday it pretty much decided not to go anymore and stopped on the highway. Like it ewas in neutral. I pulled off the road and was able to "reset" just enough so it would move very slowly with a high pitched noise coming from it. I then towed it home and it sat til this morning when it would go forward and reverse with the same high noise and acted like it wanted to jump from gear to gear. I also had to play with the shifter in order to get it to move at all. So I pulled the pan off and drained the fluid. Which smelled horrible by the way. Replaced the filter and gasket, put some lucas in it and tried again. It went in to forward and reverse no problem. I drove down the road no problem. However now it will barely shift out of first on occasion and it still jumps back down into first after a min or 2. Any advise you can give me would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so very much. You can even email me at setchieson1425@yahoo.com.
  • dasboot72dasboot72 Posts: 115
    You have nothing to worry about. The software update changes some shift strategies and adaptive learning stratagies. If you still have harsh shifts try having it quick learned and see if that solves the prob. If the prob comes back then you may need further diag for internal repair.
  • dasboot72dasboot72 Posts: 115
    Hi, if the old fluid was burnt you have burnt clutches as that is the onlly way for that to happen. What you are seeing as 1st gear is actually 2nd gear as that is the limp in gear for this trans. You really need to see what DTC's are in the system causing the engine light to come on to see what direction you need to head in. If you find out the codes let me know and I'll give you some more info.
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