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Chrysler Minivan Transmission Problems



  • If your trans fluid looks and smells good, and the stuff in the pan is very fine (VS chunks), all may be well. It is sure a lot of work to bust open the pan (not to mention the mess and gaskets) since there isn't a drain plug, VS having a machine set up between the transmission and cooler lines. They claim to get it all out while it is running. Whatever. I would rather DIY my engine oil, too, but I can't get my car into the garage, and the driveway is about 8 degrees. Somehow the Jiffy Lube 20 minute service looks better all the time. 'Don't have to recycle the oil, either. I still have to rotate the tires. I have winter tires mounted on rims and get that done at Goodyear along with an alignment, and try to keep up with all the other maintenance on a DIY basis, including the K&N filter cleaning and recommended inspections of the CV boots, etc. Convienence more than anything.
  • mrnimmomrnimmo Posts: 271
    I've never really been sold on the "suck em dry" tranny machines, but the convenience is certainly there.
  • bfly0714bfly0714 Posts: 1
    I have a 1995 Caravan 4-speed with 120k miles on it. Recently I have noticed a problem, usually when the car has not been driven for a couple of days. Once the car is started, the shifter is put in reverse or drive and nothing happens. It seems that turning the car completly off and on a couple of times makes this problem go away.
    What I was wondering is this a sign of more problems to come, or does this sound like maybe some type of small part or linkage problem that would not be outrageously expensive to repair. The van has been great, and is in great shape. I am thinking about trying to sell it, but I don't want to sell it to someone and have the trans. die on them . I also do not want to have to replace the transmission to sell it, I would not be able to cover the cost of the transmission. I want to take it to have it looked at, but I have heard horror stories about people needing 10 dollar parts, and being told that they need a complete rebuild.
  • vchengvcheng Posts: 1,284
    ...Clutch Volume Indices (CVIs) which will tell you the amount of life left in the clutch packs. That'll give you an idea of what to expect.

    Sounds like the clutch packs are on their way out, but if the CVIs are good, then you may want to look for something else.

    A good idea would be to have a fluid level check, and drain and refill with Type 7176 (ATF+3) fluid.

    What is the maintenance history on the transmission, and your style of driving?

    120k miles is darn good overall I think.
  • xpatxpat Posts: 2
    I am in the processing of deciding which new Minivan to purchase and have been following the discussions regarding transmission problems and comparisons to the Odyssey and Sienna. I had a new 95 Grand Voyager that I shipped over here when I moved here but recently sold due to the beginning of the nagging repairs and potential tranny problem. Basically, I enjoyed the van when I was single and also now with 2 kids. I took the risk of shipping it here since the guarantee was invalidated outside of North America. One option that I see as a way to avoid the tranny problem is to buy a 2.5 CRD (Diesel)Manual 5 speed transmission model. These are not offered in the states and are quite popular over here since diesel is cheaper than normal gas. Unfortunately, there are no real alternatives to the Voyager as both Honda and Toyota do not offer their large minivans in Europe. A Honda dealer will import one but the price gets up over $45K! It is funny how different cultures consider which things are important. VW sells a lot of minivans without sliding doors which to me is one of the main reasons for a minivan. The Germans also consider the magic seat to be a safety risk as opposed to the fixed seat. Go figure. I would like to get the Sienna but it looks like I am "doomed" to the Chrysler as the headache of importing a Toyota or Honda and getting it inspected is not worth the aggravation. If anyone has had any experience with the Diesel Grand Voyager or shipping a Honda or Toyota to Germany, please contact me. Thanks
  • elf6elf6 Posts: 10
    After 6 months and 5K miles driving my 02 T&C LXI with 3.8L engine developed a transmission problem. Several times the transmission shifted into reverse very slowly when started cold but other times shifted normally. Then it developed a hard downshift at 30 mph. No check engine light was seen and the oil level was good and smelled good. Dealer checked it out and said there was a TSB on the 02's only to replace the front oil pump which is bolted on the front of the transmission. Two hours later the transmission was fixed and at 7.5K miles continues to shift smoothly. 01 and 03 vans do not appear to have this problem so they must have had a bad batch of pumps. Other than this problem my van has been flawless. Two previous vans I have owned, a 95 Voyager LE with 98K miles and a 98 T&C LX with 57K miles, have not had any transmission problems. I guess I can no longer say my van has been flawless. That's what I get for bragging.
  • smulveysmulvey Posts: 139
    I had two transmission in my chyrsler front drive vehicle and your very fortunate your dealer got you going with so little trouble.

    Tips to the wise: based on my experience with my car and my neighbors Caravan , change the tranny fluid every 20K miles. this will reduce the amount of metal particles building up in it.

    If you end up needing a repair some day, a good repair man will flush the transmission cooler lines for up to an hour to get the broken fragments out of it before he sends you on the road with the repaired transmission.

    I learned this " the hard way"

    Good Luck.
  • I have a 2003 Caravan SXT with about 4000 miles on it. It has been to the shop twice already. First was a bad Trans pump, apparently there was a defect in the production of these pumps. Second time the driver side power window motor went out. My question is about the gas mileage. It gets about 17-20 miles to the gallon. It has a 6cyl with 4 speed auto. Is this normal? The dealer says everything checks out fine.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    It's probably doing fine. Most people find that their mpg increases as the engine breaks in and keeps increasing for at least the first 10,000 miles.

    Hope the other stuff gets worked out.

    Steve, Host
  • crkeehncrkeehn Posts: 513
    You haven't stated what kind of driving you do. That was the kind of mileage that I used to see in My Windstar during the summer when I used the A/C. If you are in a hot climate and are running the air conditioning you can probably figure on a 1-2 gallon drop in mileage. BTW, that mileage was on a suburban commute. The commute fell somewhere between City and "mixed" driving.

    If you are doing city driving or a lot of short runs, then you are probably getting excellent mileage. If you are driving more a "mixed" commute, then you may be at the low end of the range but certainly within accepted mileage. If that were all highway driving then the figure is a bit low.
  • uga91uga91 Metro AtlantaPosts: 1,065
    I have a 2003 Chrysler Voyager LX with the 3.3l V6 and 4 speed transmission with about 3800 miles on it now. When was your van made? My transmission shifts smoothly and flawlessly, but if there was a bad batch of pumps, I would like to know when yours was made in relation to mine. As far as your mileage goes, what kind of driving do you do to get 17-20 mpg? If that is city driving, you are doing very well. Here in the stop and go driving of Atlanta with the A/C blasting and the engine idling, I can get as low as 14-15 to as high as 16-18 mpg. Now, if I mix in some highway driving or find myself not having to idle very much or run the A/C as much, then the figure goes up, of course.
  • icnjillicnjill Posts: 2
    Here's my question. I'm considering buying a 2000 T&C Limited ... 41,000 miles... one owner... excellent condition overall.
    Roughly $15,000 OBO.

    However, in the last month, after their 40,000 service, the first potential indication of transmission malfunction occurred. The car engine light turned on and it was difficult for the car to shift from 3 to 4th. The car did not slip into neutral... just very slow shifting.

    Dealer serviced it and replaced the input speed sensor. The diagnostics revealed the following

    "5 codes stored. Fault immediately after shift P1790, speed sensor error P0715, gear ratio error in 4th P0734, gear ratio error in 1st P0731, gear ratio error in 3rd P0733."

    The owner had it serviced at regular intervals but was not aware of the transmission issues. Assumed that the transmission fluid was replaced on routine service but was unaware if this had been done. Given the history of transmission failures, particularly in situations where the fluid has not been replaced, this could be a potential risk.

    Would YOU buy it?
    Would this be more of a computer error or the onset of a transmission failure??

    I've a bad pelvic injury and am desperate for a smooth suspension and cushy seats. Would rather not buy a new Sienna though it drove wonderfully. Odyssey seats were too uncomfortable for me. I need the cargo space. Loved the Chrysler Pacifica but, again, pricey.

    Any other suggestions for the error above and car choice.

  • vchengvcheng Posts: 1,284
    ....will generate error codes for improper gear ratios for all gears except the second gear. Once corrected, the transmission should work fine, provided it has been serviced regularly with the correct type of fluid.

    The speed sensors are a known issue at around 40-50k miles, and perhaps not a big deal. Why don't you consider a third party mechanical evaluation such as AAA?
  • my van limited has 19000 miles and i just got 17.6 mpg on a 1000 mile trip to north carolina, when going through gradual hills the van feels like itis missing and struggles, no engine light comes on, so the dealar says there is no problem
    the sticker says 21-28 on the hwy ive never gotten over 17 since ive had it, any one else have this problem
  • vchengvcheng Posts: 1,284
    ...approach 22-24 mpg easily. Something is amiss. The reasons can be varied: Bad gas, clogged injectors, dirty air filter, fouled plugs, igntion module and/or cable problems, in short, it should be checked out thoroughly.
  • royallenroyallen Posts: 227
    I agree with vcheng. Get an opinion from a knowledgeable independent mechanic who has access to TSBs for your van. The diagnosis expense will not be covered by warranty but how else are you going to get it addressed. If this were a new problem on an older van, I'd bet on electrical more likely than fuel. Your case seems to be a problem when new so one bad part is as likely as another. Roy
  • lxpatellxpatel Posts: 34
    I have 96 T&C, currently has 140k and still original transmission, i have had the transmission service done by dealer every 15k, with type 7176 mopar trany oil, where they tell me that they also adjust the bands.

    now since it has so many miles, i am cosidering just plain dextron III ($$$) or equivalent oil for the transmission, the dealer tells me the if i dont use mopar fluid the shifting quality may change.

    Is this bunch of bull or do i really need to use type 7176 and have the bands adjusted, what the hell are they?
  • badgerfanbadgerfan Posts: 1,565
    I am answering this from memory, but I believe my manual on our '96 Caravan 3.3L engine with 4 speed specifically states something about Dexron fluids producing rougher/poorer shifting and should only be used in an emergency if the proper fluid is not available. If I were you, I wouldn't mess with success and keep using the Chrysler recommended transmission fluid. I'm not so sure you really have to do it every 15K, though, that sounds conservative, unless you tow a lot which could put a lot of extra strain (heat) into the transmission. My 96 has 68K on it and has never been changed, but we do not tow either, and it does not have a towing package.
  • crkeehncrkeehn Posts: 513
    the Chrysler 4 speed transmission is designed around and requires the Chrysler ATF, either Type 3+ or 4+. I believe that type 4+ is suggested for use in almost all transmissions now. The use of Dextron with it's different coefficient of friction, would lead to premature failure of the internal clutches. The Allpar site has a good discussion of the Chrysler 4 speed transmission.
  • lxpatellxpatel Posts: 34
    It is 4 speed transmission,

    The reason why i do the trany service at 15k because i live in San Francisco and do a lot of city driving, but never tow. i think the tow package is only a cooler in transmission and wiring harness (never used), according to service rep.

    I did got the type 7176 oil, but this time the i had it done at firestone, where they dont have machines that completely change 100% of the oil, but the mechanic assures me that the drain and flush will get the most sediments.

    Thank you
  • butchnhbutchnh Posts: 4
    We have a 1998 Drand Caravan with over 125,000 miles. We have had the transmision serviced according to the owners manual. our only issue was related to a leakey transmision line caused by physical damage(we live on a rough road) that allowed the fluid to leak out. Once the leak was repaired no further problems. I understand the transmision problems are real but the people that tend to post on a forum like this are the ones experiencing problems. Does anyone have any hard statistics to reflect what the overall reliability is?
  • hansiennahansienna Posts: 2,312
    Only one DC minivan has had transmission failure of the many owned by people I know. That was a 1996 T&C LXi used to tow a large trailer all the time and the transmission failed at 180,000 miles.
         Meanwhile, 3 sisters in a family I know had purchased Ford Taurus. The 1990 Taurus transmission failed at just over 100,000 miles, the 1993 Taurus transmission failed at 115,000 miles and most recently the 1994 Ford Taurus transmission failed at 58,600 miles.
         A 1997 Ford Escort was purchased to replace the 1990 Taurus, a Camry LE replaced the 1993 Ford Taurus, and now a 2003 Camry LE replaced the 1994 Ford Taurus.
         The 1997 Ford Escort was given to the daughter of the owner of the 1990 Ford Taurus when she got a new Odyssey EX. The manual transmission of the 1997 Ford Escort broke (along with many other problems with the 1997 Ford Escort) so the daughter got rid of the 1997 Ford Escort and got a used 2000 Chrysler Grand Voyager which she loves.
         I think DC minivan transmissions are now reliable and hope my son's 2002 Grand Caravan Sport will have no problems. He got the GC Sport even after knowing of my experience with the 1970 Dodge van. Should I give him the benefit of the doubt since he was only 2 years old when I got the 1970 Dodge van and 8 years old when it was traded on a 1976 Volkswagen Bus?
  • I have a 1999 T&C LXi with only 36K on it now out of warranty, and now the transmission is acting up. It has a history under warranty of at least two visits to the dealer for transmission problems and fluid leaks. Now, the dealer replaced a solenoid unit, and the valve body, and thinks it is fixed, but I am not so sure. Has cost me $830 so far. The dealer thinks I am just having some bad luck...Any advice?
  • pluto5pluto5 Posts: 618
    Try calling DC customer service and ask them to cover it. If they say no, try again another day cause they may have met their quota for goodwill repairs. The dealer will typically not help because they make more money if they do the repair for you than for DC.
  • meola5meola5 Posts: 1
    #1 of 2 2003 Grand Caravan transmission problems by meola5 Sep 26, 2003 (4:35 pm)
    My Grand Caravan has 6,ooo miles on it and its been to the dealer 2X for transmission work. At 5000 miles the trans pump went, causing it to jump down into gear at 40 miles per hour. Now the car shudders when upshifting from first gear at around 10 miles an hour. The dealer said the second trans problem was a failed injector port on cylinder #3. On my way home from the dealer I felt the same problem at 10 miles an hour. Ths is my 3rd GC. Had a 96 with no problems. My 2000 had the transaxle blow at 16,000 miles, but that was a lease, so who cares. This one I bought. Big mistake.
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    Please excuse me if this information is redundant.

    There are general rules that apply to Chrysler-built automatic transmissions:

    *DO NOT use Dexron, Mercon, ATF+ "booster" additives for Dexron/Mercon, or any "universal" type of ATF under any circumstances, regardless of the year.

    * Whether FWD or RWD (truck), any transmission originally equiped with ATF+4 must continue to use ATF+4 (Chrysler 9602), pn 05013457AA. Only ATF+4 should be used to add or flush in these transmisions.

    *ATF+4 can be used to top-off vehicles originally equiped with ATF+3. ATF+3 should NEVER be used to top-off vehicles originally equiped with ATF+4.

    EXCEPTION - Jeep AW & AX transmissions (4.0 6-cyl engine), and 1999 and older mini-vans with 3-speed or 4-speed automatics, should continue to use ATF+3.

    REFERENCE: Chrysler service bulletin #21-006-01

  • Anyone have a clue of the maximum cost I should pay to have the transmission replaced by a new one, including parts and labor???
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    When you say "new," does that mean a factory supplied brand new unit, not rebuilt or reconditioned, I'd say it would be over $3000. I don't think you'd find one for a '98 anyways.

    Some transmissions are rebuilt by vendors who supply general service repair places as a stock item. These are usually more expensive.

    I would suggest an independent rebuilder. Often times when only the defective components are replaced the cost is much lower. But that all depends on what has failed.

    On Chrysler mini-vans the price around here is anywhere from a few hundred dollars to $1500 - $1800 for more extensive repairs.

  • Will be picking up my T&C LXi after a full week at the dealer for a bad torque converter and some other transmission repair. We have had the car for slightly over 2 years, with 28k miles so it was done under warranty. I think I read in this forum that all Chryslers purchased after July 2001 are covered under a 7y/70k limited powertrain warranty, is this true? We love the luxury and comfortable ride of this vehicle but are concerned about getting stuck again in the future both for the cost of the repair and having the van out of service for an extended time. Anyone know about this limited power train warranty?
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