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Chrysler 300M Transmission Problems

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  • The 300M transmission has a built-in (brake pedal) safety switch , incorporated into the shifter cable mount , on the top of the transmission - which requires specific measurements to "set" the cable for proper alignment. If the cable/brake pedal switch is incorrectly set , the transmission might not engage properly , or the brake pedal safety switch may cause a malfunction in the normal electronic detection operation status , when used. There is a specific measurement that must be followed when installing/adjusting the cable's set point. The shifter lock/setting is NOT seperate as some others are. This entire setup works as follows :

    The cable itself shifts the transmission , but the switch is connected to the brake pedal , which must be pressed (safety feature) , or else the shifter release button will not unlock. When this incorporated setup is correctly set , you should test the shifter unlock button (front of shifter) , by attempting to move the shifter "without" pressing the brake pedal. If the shifter moves (without having pressed the brake pedal) - it is NOT set correctly , and a fault code may be recorded by the PCM as a result - or a short circuit could exist (lights flickering). When the incorporated cable/switch mount is set correctly , only when you have the brake pedal pressed (should the transmission come out of park).

    As far as hard downshifting or like symptoms , there are some factors involved that pertain to the transmission filter/fluid and fill volume. Firstly , the original transmission filter is of a specific type (spring loaded felt) , and has a Chrysler emblem stamped onto it's metal casing. Any other filter may be inadequate or perform abnormally (not the same filtering material and no internal filter spring). Secondly , the proper transmission fluid must be used (MOPAR ATF+4) , which "is" red in colour when poured , but it also appears as "blue" in it's entirety (brown would be very overused or aftermarket fluid). According to the Chrysler Service Manuals & Owner's Manual , the fluid should be (4 quarts) , which is the amount required to reach 1/8" below the cold mark as suggested by the Service Manual as the correct replacement amount (volume of transmission oilpan). "If" you only replace 4 quarts of new fluid , you will find that the transmission will not operate correctly , and that in fact , 5 quarts or slightly more is necessary "if" you allow the transmission to fully drain dry (so that you can more effectively get a seal when you reapply the silicone to the oil pan gasket). There is no drain plug or hole in the transmission oilpan. Moreover , both the Service Manual and the Owner's Manual specifically state that the use of "other" types of transmission fluids are NOT recommended , and that more frequent fluid and filter changes will be required if you do. Also , that the use of transmission fluid additives is absolutely NOT recommended. Case in point also - is that the actual MOPAR transmission fluid container states that it's contents (chemical/oil properties) - are specifically designed and include additives that protect and promote proper operation of the transmission [meaning : any other ATF+4 fluid is NOT specifically tested or made with the same additives required for proper operation of the Chrysler transmission]. The MOPAR transmission fluid DOES contain additives not found in all ATF+4 fluids. Note also , that the MOPAR container is 5 Litres (approx. 5 quarts) in volume - NOT 4 Litres (approx. 4 quarts).

    In some cases , even the Chrysler Service Manuals can be incorrect. You should refill the transmission with 5 quarts/litres of MOPAR ATF+4 fluid to achieve proper operations.
  • I have a 300M, bought used. I live in Colorado, high altitude. At just under 94,000 miles, my transmission suffered from "catastrophic failure" according to my mechanic. The warning light came on while driving at freeway speed (but not in the mountains), several loud noises occured, and the transmission was gone. No gears whatsoever. Coasted to a safe stop (after midnight in a scary area) and had it towed to our mechanic the next day. He took out the entire transmission, and said he had never seen anything so destroyed, when he opened the case, chunks of metal and parts just fell out. So, we purchased a rebuilt transmission from Chrysler, to the tune of $3,000, along with a 3 year, 100,000 mile warranty on the tranny. 500 miles after replacement, while driving at night (naturally) along the interstate in the mountains, while trying to pass another car, loud clunk, light comes on, tranny goes into limp mode. Try climbing I-70 in Colorado in second gear sometime. We again limp to a safe spot, pay to have the piece of sh** towed and wait to hear on the warranty. Well, Chrysler says "there is no way that new transmission should have failed, you have to bring it to a dealer this time for repair". Fine. After being blown off and put off by the dealership for a week, as in "our mechanic has to analyze the codes to determine what's wrong", we finally get a call telling us......Wait for it.....the transmission has failed, but only to about a 50% extent this time, not 80% or more like last time, so instead of replacing the transmission, they strip it down and replace approximately 50 or more parts and components, declare it fixed, and send us on our way. The warranty did cover the repairs, so that was good, but we were out another tow bill, and left stranded by this craptacular car for a second time. Less than one month later, at exactly the same number of miles on this transmission, 517, while driving home from work, the warning light comes on again, and the car makes noises, and once again goes into "limp mode". Good news this time-it wasn't after dark, and we were able to limp to the dealership. Bad news.....the dealership's "transmission expert", and I use the term quite loosely, is out of town on vacation for a week, no doubt recovering from all the fantastic repairs he has done of late, but as soon as he is back, our car will be his TOP priority! So glad I read the stuff on this site, and learned about such things as speed sensors and torque converter problems, parking relay, throttle position sensor, gear ratio problems and the flashing light problems that I too have experienced. Will give me something more to discuss with the mechanic/dealership, but I fear that will mean that I will be given a bill for some other flukey thing in wiring or electronics that I will have to pay for, and that is what is killing the transmissions. Question? Since I am a taxpayer, and as such a part owner of this crap company-Chrysler since their bailout-can't I just give myself a new car out of inventory until I find one I like? Seriously, 3 failed transmissions in 3 months, all on a car with under 98,000 miles-and easy old lady miles, except when doing the occasional mountain trip.
    HATE THIS CAR!!!!!
  • snshne22snshne22 Posts: 2
    I feel your pain.....i just purchased a one owner (lie) less then a month ago .....under the influence of my fiance ....should have done toldthe car fax ....(liars) let me start this way i am a mechanic by trade except since i shattered my back i can't now.....i knew i knew never to buy a dodge or a Chrysler ....but i broke down and did to avoid an argument .....well i should have stood my ground...because i have had this POS LESS then a month and the trans they said was just replaced 20000 miles ago number one never was ....lie number two i am the third owner ......needless to say small claims court or Judge Judy is gonna love this one ...thank god my BFF works at a trans shop and his brother is top tech advisor and is only going to charge me for parts. But thats not the point ....i am a single mother of 4 i spent my income tax on a car that i was promised was reliable and still under warranty from a PRIVATE owner .....HA never again .....but i will tell you this it will be fixed ....and sold and this chick that i bought it from is going down .....yea she tried telling me after it broke down when it felt like i ran over two dead bodies that it was just a battery cable .....yea ok .....well when she told me that i can only speak to her lawyer anymore is when she drew the line .....i am after my money and BLOOD
  • snshne22snshne22 Posts: 2
    Let me add .....i have a 1998 Chevy Cavalier ....that has 270000 miles on it that won't die !! I will NEVER EVER OWN anything but GM again ....when its fixed ....its gone baby gone
  • Sorry to hear that mess , as my 300M Special is making me wonder why I didn't stick with Chrysler all these many years. GM makes a great car , but their repairs can be a total moneypit. It seems that the correct cars to buy are the luxury models. All Buicks are still doing well , whereas Pontiac is gone. Also , if I remember correctly over the years , many owners of old cars have : the luxury models.

    As far as any transmission goes , it's best to deal with the dealer who knows their cars best. Things like , inadequate or non-OEM transmission filters can raise both the temperature and pressures inside the transmission to the point where , as you experienced , the exact same thing occurs repeatedly. The transmission fluid must be OEM as well , and cannot be added to , mixed or otherwise adversely lubricated. The engine block coolant is exactly the same because of the use of more aluminum in these parts. They require good quality / correct lubrication. Aluminum is not strong , it is lightweight and more functionally durable if treated with the correct lubrication fulltime , so you can't grossly miss the service intervals to change the transmission or coolant fluids. Race engines are exactly like this if used on the street , or for whatever other reasons. They will work better , but only if you take proper care of them.

    I know that some service centers provide disgusting and inadequate service , GM being one of the best , whereas FORD is just absolutely unbelievably stupid. FORD broke my ignition switch at the dealership because they had no idea that my pickup had a slider lock that needed to be in the release position to turn the key. Their own vehicle , with claims of outrageous sales numbers , and they couldn't figure out how to turn the key into the run position to push the vehicle while it was getting an oilpan replacement. I guess they decided to move my truck while the engine was apart. And they gave it back to me with a broken lock/cylinder after the repair. To top that off , the starter motor was not properly installed , it got stuck in the on position where I had to get out while the engine and starter were turning together and pull the battery cable off with a wrench. Is that stupid or what? GM repairs will rack up alot of costs , but at least things will work or work out. Ford , takes your money and it doesn't run , work or remain in any kind of "same" condition.

    You mentioned that your miles were granny miles or whatever , and GM sure fits the bill on that kind of owner operation. Stand on it to the floor everywhere you go , well , expect the worst from just about any maker. Then there's the owner who NEVER changes anything , just drives the car until it stops type of user , and angrily enters the service bay.

    Sellers of cars , dealerships included , can sell you something that has been abused and NOT consider those details in terms of value. When I bought my 300M , I considered buying from someone who , at least claimed they never had any problems with the vehicle. And , no mechanic is going to put his time into a vehicle he knows has been abused. So... when you get to a mechanic , he has no choice but to put your vehicle through a thorough recap , where anything missed up to that point , cannot be corrected. This is also why some mechanics do lousy work , as they know the vehicle is a goner already. So.. they give you half of what you pay them on the spot in terms of service.

    It pays to put some money into maintainence , and NOT do the disgruntled owner thing when it comes time to do repairs. In other words : the old guys who drove right , and hit the service bay at 9am frequently , laughed all the way to the bank in the end. In fact , some of them bought the next car , and the next car , and the next car with the difference it made. What these lies all amount to : are lies designed to save enough money to pay for gas at par. Thanks to the compact car , lots of people are thinking that way. Sell the car once you know it's had enough of YOU , is NOT a good practice.

    My M doesn't take wooden nickles , although it might take a sip of good wine when it gets the chance. Goodbye FORD , have a nice day GM , GET LOST compact canary - and see you at the finish line Chrysler , with bells on.
  • pitmanoeuvrepitmanoeuvre Posts: 68
    edited March 2012
    As an added note to my most recent post , I have to say that it's NOT a good idea to try to participate in forums that collect alot of foolish owners who constantly try to play up their knowledge about a particular car or vehicle type on a daily basis. #1 , they have nothing else to do , and #2 , they are NOT the type of car crazy person who can work on ANY vehicle and make it sing. They are : picky , overly opinionated , and downright unable to communicate , especially when they are wrong , or worse : shown up.

    In fact , they are the only people I find that can spend all of their time with a service manual in their hand , and still mess up every single vehicle or owner who comes their way. Especially where they have extensive experience , it is not a surprise to see them running a vehicle where the stabilizers are absent or have been removed for convienience. Right away , they are OUT OF MY MIND. NOBODY , and I mean nobody could do or show that they have NO BRAINS that much - but they do. Why would I trust their winey attitude towards particulars? In other words , if they aren't getting their way , your car will suffer the consequences. And buying something they worked on , you might do just as good at the scrap yard.

    Example : did you know that the part number on your bulbs is : 1157. WOW. Good thing you knew that cuzz I might have thought they were 1156 or some other number. Geez thanks alot , now I can consider myself DOT informed. NO stupid , work the car , not the number. And I suppose I have to explain WHY I would work the car and NOT the numbers? Don't you think anybody realizes YOU WORK THE NUMBERS?

    If you rely upon the numbers used when you buy a car , chances are : the number you will be left with from these winners is : (0) at the end of the day. Good thing they don't stock your fridge.
  • ronm7ronm7 Posts: 1
    Last summer (when it was hot and we were running the A/C then stopped briefly at Starbucks), we had a similar situation with our 01 Chrysler 300M but thank goodness we were much closer to home and had the car towed. After replacing the fuse, TCM relay, the TCM itself (three times), the 2/4 shift pack, the car ran fine for a month then went into limp mode again with the trouble code of P1788. We had the car towed to a transmission shop and the tech checked the wiring harness that goes from the transmission to the TCM for continuity and found a problem. We found a used wiring harness from a wrecking yard and when the tech pulled the harness out, the plastic coating on the wires were completely melted together and some wires were shorting out. The car still went into limp mode and after diagnosis from the dealer the recommendation was to rebuild the valve body. We found a shop where the tech had worked at the dealership and had experience with this problem. He rebuilt our car's valve body with an upgraded rebuild kit and the actual valve body itself had some kind of hairline crack or another flaw, so he rebuilt another used valve body and the car now works great with better shifting and no problems. Since the wiring harness is clipped to the transmission and the engine, we were told it is common for the harness to melt and cause problems as the catalytic converters run right below the transmission and it gets blazing hot in that area especially in the summer.
  • It's a good idea to have your alternator output checked at idle whenever you are going to rely upon fault codes , to see if the output is normal instead of maximum full time. Maximum full time suggests either a bad battery or voltage regulator/alternator , or just plain old shorting wiring within the harness etc.

    That test can save you alot of time and money replacing parts.
  • Just came across your post - did you ever figure out the problem as my 300m has a similar issue.
  • yes, but can't remember all the details now. My husband says it was a "switch" - something electrical - it wasn't very expensive to fix, but that's all I remember now. Now I'm trying to sell it - 2000 300m with 90K miles.
  • i too had the same problem with my 300m 2003. I took it to an independent repair shop and found that my solenoid switch was sticking. And get this, Chrysler knows all about this. Service bulletin 21-008-04 REV.A tells which ones are bad. Date range between 3001 and 0603 (to read this the first 3 characters are the day of the year, the 4th is the year, ie.3001 is the 300th day of 2001) I called Chrysler about this and got the runaround. Because I took it to an ind service center, they wouldn't consider paying for the part even though they knew the part was bad.
  • Hi Everyone -This morning my 2004 300M (110k miles) started fine, but when I shifted into reverse to back out of the garage...nothing. The shift knob moved freely and correctly to R...but no shift or movement by the car. I thought that was odd...so I went from R to D to P and still no shifty. Tried this about twice more and let it sit in R for 20+ seconds and still nada. So then I shut off the car, immediately re started it, and voila ! everything is fine and drove fine at interstate speeds.

    FYI-Trans has not had a filter or fluid change ever as far as I can tell. I will get that scheduled unless the symptom above is going to end up with the word catastrophic in it.
  • when slowing down to make a turn, I get a klunk and the transmission will not shift out of 1st gear. This is a 2002 chrysler 300m with 86000 carefully driven miles.
  • My Chrysler 300 M (2003) has developed transmission issue that doesn't appear to be duplicated in this particular forum or anywhere else that I can find. The problem is somewhat intermittent and only occurs when the temperature outside is above 55 to 60°. When the temperature is above this temperature the transmission will occasionally slip into limp in mode after a prolonged drive and you decelerate to a stop. It appears to be related to sustained driving in fourth gear and the transmission being unable to downshift. Proceeding the limp in mode the transmission will have an audible clunk sound. Oddly, turning the car off and turning it back on clears the limp in mode and the car is able to be driven again.

    The dealership replaced the solenoid pack and the valve body a year and a half ago and the problem seemed to be gone for "of course the length of the warranty work" one year. But started acting up just before the winter season. I persevered assuming that I only had a few months of driving before the transmission gave out completely. But then the winter months set in and the transmission performed flawlessly for the 3 to 4 months of extreme cold.

    I dropped the pan a day ago and there was no extreme issues to report. The fluids fine, no debris in the pan beyond the normal. I did discover however that one of the screws in the valve body had been stripped assumedly by the dealer when the valve body was replaced. I'm very suspicious that this may be the cause of the problem. But I'm hoping that maybe somebody has had a similar issue and can shed some light on this for me.

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