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Chrysler Minivan Transmission Problems

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  • My van is a 1993 Town and Country. This past week, off and on, it will not shift out of third gear. After we added fluid, it shifted for the rest of the day. Next day same problem. It will drive fine for a while, then the next time we get in it, it will have the shifting (no shift) problem again. This is the second transmission for this vehicle which has an amazing 195,000 miles on it. We love this van. Could it be time for transmission # 3? Previous owner had last transmission installed around 90,000 miles. Also, any ideas on cost to replace transmission.
    Thanks, D. Pettit
  • pluto5pluto5 Posts: 618
    Could be--we are on our third with much fewer miles. Cost is under $2K in most cases for a reman but shop around; I got an estimate from a reliable local trans shop--dealer will likely match their price if it's lower.
  • I had the first transmission replaced at 80,000 and that was covered by my extended warranty. My second transmission was put in just under 110,000 and that was June '02. I've had my van back in the same shop 6 times since June trying to figure out the intermitten problems with my transmission. In sept it started with the not shifting in overdrive after a few hours on the road. It was in again in Oct, Nov, Dec and now they have had it for the past week. I'm spending a fortune on rental cars. They can't seem to keep it running smoothly over a few weeks at a time. Any suggestions? I really love the van, and would like to keep it for at least another year. I have around 130,000 miles now.
  • Hey, I just got the recall letter for the clock spring. This should cure the air bag light problem, and horn not working, and who knows what else!!
  • What problems specifically are you having? Check out http://www.allpar.com, they have a whole list of things you can try to fix the infamous 4 speed minivan transmission. My suggestions, not knowing anything else about your problem, are:
    1. Try installing an auxillary transmission fluid cooler if you haven't already. This shouldn't cost more than $50 and it's easy to install. Overheated transmission fluid kills tons of transmissions, and if you're having problems after driving long distances perhaps the fluid is getting too hot.
    2. Fluid and filter change, if this hasn't been done already - with the correct fluid (Chrysler 7176 - NOT Dexron!) of course. Also not incredibly expensive, and it's about time to do this anyway after 30,000 miles. This is also fairly inexpensive.
    3. If the first transmission the shop put in only lasted 30,000, and they can't get the second one they installed working properly after only 20,000, maybe it's time to find a different shop to do your tranny work for you.
    Hope this helps! keep us posted!
  • badgerfanbadgerfan Posts: 1,564
    Some time ago I posted about a problem with my 96 Caravan(3.3 L with 4 speed automatic) hesitating to drop into the "Park" position. Monday, my wife took it in to get the "clockspring" (in the steering column) recall replacement done and she had them check out the hesistation to go into park.

    Turned out the problem was very minor. A screw holding the bracket on the end of the transmission shift cable, which connects the shift lever to the transmission, had come loose. This was under the hood below the air filter housing. They found it, adjusted the cable and fixed it for $45.00. Not bad considering it is hard to get anything done for less than 3 figures these days.

    She didn't even get any high pressure sales tactics by the dealer service rep to pack on unneeded service. I was pretty impressed, since the previous time they tried to sell her several hundred dollars worth.
  • dtownfbdtownfb Posts: 2,915
    Glad ot hear that badgerfan. Not all service departments are out to get you.
  • badgerfanbadgerfan Posts: 1,564
    Well, this same dealership service department was the one that wanted to pack a lot of unneeded service when she had the van in for a previous minor recall. However, the service rep was different this time, so whether the better experience was just a result of a different rep or a change in the dealership procedures is still unresolved.

    At any rate, I was glad it was a minor repair and not some symptom of a developing major expensive transmission problem.

    '96 Caravan is at 64K now and after nearly 6 years of ownership (we bought it as a new leftover in March, 1997), the only other non-routine maintenance that has been required was a fairly expensive AC repair last summer. Otherwise, it drives like new.
  • tm152tm152 Posts: 1
    Regrettably, we have a 2000 Grand Caravan with a 3.8. I had a 3yr / 36 warranty. It was always serviced as required. Without warning at 43,000 miles the tranny blew while the family was driving down the freeway. It was so badly damaged that the "core" was unusable and there was collateral damage. Of course I called Dodge and they said I was on my own. The cost of the repair is going to be around $3400. The experience has been sickening and I will never ever buy or ride in a Dodge product again.
  • arjay1arjay1 Posts: 172
    I have posted here before with our tranny problems in our '96 Town & Country.
    Lean on Chrysler about this. They have been covering the cost of out of warranty transmission service for years. They paid for 1/2 of my transmission service when ours went out with 49,000 miles on the van. In '96 we only had the 12/12 warranty.
    Call and tell them that you know that they have covered these costs for others. Don't give up, they will pay for at least part of it.
  • pluto5pluto5 Posts: 618
    Sorry to hear about your trans problem but arjay1 has a point; sometimes if you call DC on another day of the week they pop for out of warranty repairs, like they haven't made their quota yet for the day. In any case don't take a "no" from the dealer as final because they get a lot more for repairs from the retail customer than from DC and may not help you. You must call DC customer service directly.

    Doesn't auto comprehensive cover this anyway if it's sudden, like may you ran over something?
  • I have a 98 caravan sport version, and I used to replace the transmission fluid with filter by myself at every 15000 miles. Recently, I found there is a minor fluid leaking from tranmission pan(mainly from the back bots of pan), I tighten those bots, and still leaking a little bit, especially after driving. I did not get this problem during the first 2 times I changed them. This afternoon, I take out the pan and check it carefully and did not find anything abnormal, put the new gasket, with new fluid, but still have this problem.

    Does any one else have similar problems or know the solution for this? Thanks!
  • vchengvcheng Posts: 1,284
    Just replied to your message in another forum....
  • I recently bought a '99 t+c limited awd w/ 30k miles and bought the service manual but when I went to look for info on how to drain and fill the power transfer unit and the overunning clutch,as well as the rear diff.,there was nothing in the manual indicating a procedure on how to drain and refill these three units.I also looked underneath and could not see anything that looked like a drain plug on the bottom of the ptu or the overunning clutch.What gives?? do you have to suck the old fluid out through the fill hole???? HELP!! I would like to do the service myself if at all possible. Any and all tips appreciated.
  • Get this: new 2003 T&C Limited, bought 7 weeks ago, have put 2100 miles on it. Yes, this is a car that hasn't even had it's first oil change.

    Tranny started shifting strangely: bad vibration when shifting from 1st to 2nd, engine slip and rev up when changing from 2nd to 3rd or 3rd to 4th (overdrive?). Also felt "strange" when downshifting - held on too long so that the car slowed down a lot with engine compression, let go suddenly, etc. None of this happened every time - you know, the usual pain in the a$$ intermittent problem that means you'll have nightmares with the mechanic.

    Took it to the dealer expecting the run around. They had it less that four hours and called me back saying yes, the transmission has a problem. Yes, it is internal to the transmission. No, we won't bother trying to fix it - we'll just put in a new transmission. Not what I expected, honestly. This REALLY makes me wonder if they aren't painfully aware of some kind of problem.

    Anyway, what's also weird is that supposedly there is no transmission to be found closer than California (I'm in Richmond, VA). And of course, it's a reman transmission.

    Questions:
    1) They have to ship a transmission from CA? By truck? To Virgina?
    2) A reman? Should I accept this? Remember, the car HASN'T EVEN BEEN 3000 MILES YET!
  • pluto5pluto5 Posts: 618
    If you read the warranty there is probably a provision to use reman parts, but the dealers usually have one on hand.
  • ed12ed12 Posts: 100
    I agree with the other posters. Call Chrysler. A year ago the tranny failed on my Chrysler sedan. It was about 4000 miles out of warranty. I called Chrysler and with no argument they insisted on picking up the whole cost(less $100). Could not be more pleased.
    Just for the record, I have owned Chrysler products since 1969. Each one has been better than the previous as far as build quality and reliabilty is concerned. My latest, a T&C van, I find superior in build quality to my friends AValon.
  • mrnimmomrnimmo Posts: 271
    Just for the record, I have owned Chrysler products since 1969...

    My God... that's suicidal. You must be a glutton for punishment.

    I had a few 70's and 80's Chryslers, no more thanks. Some of my friends own Chrysler minivans and borrow their transmissions. Funny, they gripe about them dropping trannies regularly, head gaskets and valve seals failing, and the electronics screwing up intermittently, but will buy another DC because it's a thousand or so cheaper than a well made product. You get what you deserve.
  • steelengsteeleng Posts: 71
    mrnimmo - It is good to see you could pop in and ridicule someone who has obviously enjoyed his experience with Chrysler through the years. Luckily we have your up-to-date Chrysler information what with you having owned one some time within the last 20 years. Did I ever tell you about my 1974 Honda CVCC? What a piece of garbage! I'll never own another Honda again!! (TIC)

    On topic - I currently own two Chrysler products and have not had tranny problems with either one. I won't say that they have been perfect but they have been good vehicles for me.
  • mrnimmomrnimmo Posts: 271
    Did I ever tell you about my 1974 Honda CVCC? What a piece of garbage!

    The Civic couldn't have been that bad. It was the beginning of the Honda (and Toyota) invasion into the US. Timed perfectly with the bankruptcy of Chrysler.

    How many miles on those Chryslers? I have a friend with a caravan who made it to 37,000 and another with a ram who dropped the rear end at around 12,000. Don't know anyone else who owns a pentastar, so even the anecdotal evidence is limited. Of course, the plural of anecdotal evidence is not data, but CR and JD Power seem to be the most objective for data. I noticed that CR has started giving black dots to the drivetrains of all those "redesigned 1998+ caravans." Did a google search of "caravan transmission problems." Mine produced about 10,000 hits.

    Good luck with yours.
  • mrnimmomrnimmo Posts: 271
    I forgot to read the subject line. Early TROLL gets the worm. Hard to imagine an intelligent come back to that. ROTFLMAO.

    Good one!!! You got me there. Phew. I must concede. You're right. Chrysler trannies, especially caravans, are very reliable.
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,414
    Even better, try a google.com search on "odyssey transmission problems" and get ~11,000 hits. link

    My search engine is bigger than yours, nyah nyah nyah :-)

    Now, anyone got any problems or solutions they want to talk about?

    Steve, Host

    Moderator
    Need help navigating? stever@edmunds.com - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

  • steelengsteeleng Posts: 71
    mrnimmo - You also missed the TIC after my Honda analogy. It really wasn't much of a car but it wouldn't stop me from considering a Honda 30 years later.

    I have a 95 Chrysler Cirrus that has 75k miles on it and a 01 Grand Caravan with 17k miles. The worst problem I have had was replacing the distributor on my Cirrus because the built in camshaft positioning sensor failed. It was out of warranty but Chrysler covered half of the cost of the repair. The funny thing is that my brother lost the distributor (mechanical failure) on his 92 Honda Civic shortly after that.

    I am not necessarily loyal to Chrysler, it just happens that they have had vehicles that I wanted at the time I was looking to purchase. I do struggle with people who bash other makers about vehicles they owned decades ago and fail to allow that there might be a chance that there have been improvements over time.
  • mrnimmomrnimmo Posts: 271
    >Now, anyone got any problems or solutions they want to talk about?

    Yes, don't buy a caravan. The fullsize Dodges have about the same footprint, and well-proven trannies and engines. Or wait for Dodge to sell it's own version of the very sweet MB Vito.

    >I am not necessarily loyal to Chrysler, it just happens that they have had vehicles that I wanted at the time I was looking to purchase.

    Chrysler's design studio is top notch. Their vehicles are sexy. Probably the best interiors and exteriors on the market. I certainly understand the attraction, especially compared to the boring designs of the imports.

    >I do struggle with people who bash other makers about vehicles they owned decades ago and fail to allow that there might be a chance that there have been improvements over time.

    I think bashing is very strong. I don't think I bashed. I don't understand repeat customers, but clearly there are plenty. The sales numbers suggest that. These posts suggest people who buy a new DC minivan every three years.

    Admittedly, my opinion of DC was established years decades ago. I know it's been awhile, but it was my money. And now they have an uphill battle to get back into my pocket. I have that right.

    I've yet to see any objective data to suggest that DC has changed their ways significantly, occasional posts by new caravan owners notwithstanding. Every new car owner seems psychologically wedded to their 25,000 purchase. Remember Carleton, Duke of Padded Armrests and Defender of the DC Faith? One blown headgasket and a dead tranny and he's long gone.

    I've heard the promises of the last two or three bandaid approach tranny redesigns, none of which change the reliability of the van. Now data concern the post-1998 vans are showing the same problems. I like the looks and price of the DC vans, but it will take more than a promise of a redesign or better quality to bring me back.

    The crazy thing, in my opinion, why don't they just beef up the trannies? That would seem less expensive than the complete exterior and interior redesign that seems to occur every 5 years or so.
  • steelengsteeleng Posts: 71
    mrnimmo - You mentioned a 1998 redesign so I have to assume you are referring to transmission changes that were made in 1998. The body style changes were made in 1996 and 2001. The 2001 body style change also brought major drivetrain changes.

    I too would like to see stronger trannies but drivetrain redesigns are much more difficult than body style changes. With the body the parts either fit or they don't. With mechanical pieces you really don't know how they will hold up until they have been out in the real world for several years. Unforseen problems lead to dumping large amounts of money into updates and patches and takes that money away from new development. Fully developing new transmissions is extremely expensive as is shown by the fact that GM and Ford are actually teaming up to develop an all new transmission.
  • royallenroyallen Posts: 224
    I seem to be drawn onboard about quarterly for my experience and the 1.2.3. My wife drives a '95 Caravan, 3.3L bought 3 years ago with 48K, now at 92K. I've had one repair over $100- a water pump and serpentine belt $180. Looking at CR data over the years a tall majority of the '95 transmissions have failed. My strategy is 1. I put on a transmission cooler for $35 and 1.5 hours work (needed on models before '99), 2. Change fluid +/- filter every 15K (I do fluid only myself at 15K and take in for both at 30K), 3. turn OD off in city driving (it does little below 45 mph), 4. be sure tranny fluid is OEM (I use AAMCO ATF+3), 5. when backing, stop before shifting to drive and no wheel spinning if progress stopping due to grade/slickness.
     P.S. I put $2000 in the bank when I bought in case the transmission didn't last. The low repair costs to date have about covered that risk and freed the contingency fund for other things.
  • mrnimmomrnimmo Posts: 271
    1. I put on a transmission cooler
    2. Change fluid +/- filter every 15K
    3. turn OD off in city driving
    4. be sure tranny fluid is OEM (I use AAMCO ATF+3),
     5. when backing, stop before shifting to drive and no wheel spinning if progress stopping due to grade/slickness.

    Excellent advise for anyone with an AT.
  • royallenroyallen Posts: 224
    I would disagree that either 1. or 2. are needs of anyone with an AT. This is the first vehicle in 35 years which I felt I needed an auxillary cooler for normal use and the first that needed more than 1 (a lot more) service before 100,000 miles.
  • vernon3vernon3 Posts: 4
    We have a '96 Grand Caravan that has given us much trouble from the transmission and the electronics. We still owe about $2600 on it, with another year to pay. The problem is that the warranty on the 3rd transmission will expire in 3 mos or 3,000 miles, whichever we hit first. I really don't have $1600 for another tranny. The van also has a pair of small dents over the front wheels; they are not rusting and they do not interfere with operation. (My son hit both sides of our garage while learning to drive.)

    I am not very sales-smart when it comes to cars, but I know that if I simply trade in this van on another one, I will end up paying for most of the remaining $2600 on the new car loan, even though I won't own the old van. Sooooo, here's my question:

    I would like to go to a local dealership that is selling '02 T&Cs for around $16K, sticker price, and offer to pay the sticker price in exchange for them taking my old van off my hands and paying it off. Does this sound reasonable, or am I overlooking something here?

    Also, if this is a dumb idea, do any of you have any reasonable ideas for getting myself out of this dilemma?

    BTW, Consumers' Reports rates the '02 T&C as a "Good Buy", with the gold checkmark by its picture in their April 2002 issue.

    Sorry to rattle on so....

    Thanks,

    \/\/\
  • vernon3vernon3 Posts: 4
    Sorry, I forgot to mention that our DGC has about 135,000 miles on it, most of which have been highway miles. We've driven from central Texas to San Antonio numerous times, Colorado 4 times, Minneapolis once and to the Mexican border 4 or 5 times, plus daily expressway commuting.

    \/\/\
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