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Chrysler Minivan Transmission Problems



  • Own a 95 Caravan 3.0 3 speed 78,000. Trans went out, and I had it fixed at a reputible non DC shop b/c I could not wait without a vechicle to have chrysler fix it and fight them to pay for it. Now I am seeking some reimbursement from them. I have been hung up on after calling and politely talking to their 800 customer service #! Does anyone have a Local DC office phone # or DC zone office phone # that worked for them? (I don't care if it was your local dealer, I will call them). Or give me exact details on how to get the $ from DC. Feel free to e-mail me at I really appreciate it.
  • enetheneth Posts: 285
    You may not have much success with seeking compensation for your
    3-speed - that unit has a pretty good reputation for reliability (it's been around since 1977 with the original Omni/Horizon). It's the 4-speed automatic that DaimlerChrysler has had (and continues to have) trouble with.

    See below for some references that may help.
  • I signed up for the 3 year/36000 mile warranty which was the biggest mistake of my life with the 1993 Voyager. At 78,000 miles the transmission was completely destroyed and had to be replaced at the Chrysler dealer at $1700 cost to me. I complained to Chrysler without success. I filled out the papers and sent them to different places without success. On the phone for hours without answer sometimes or on hold. I was on hold eight (8) hours one day and the phone just hung up after 6 pm. I though, well I am unlucky.
    But I knew I was in for trouble at 118,000 miles when the torque converter started that vibration like a tire was out of balance. A torque converter replacement and transmission was again needed. I called Chrysler again and what made me mad was the customer relations person said, "I have no reports of any transmission problems from even one consumer with that model van." I told him he was a liar as I had reported a failure a year ago that I had reported many, many times. Also, there were three Dodge and Plymouth vans with 3.0L engines sitting at the local transmission shop where my van made number four. This and the following two replacements cost $1200-$1600 each about every 40,000 miles. You pay $18,700 for a van, and then put $7,000 in transmissions in it, what a laugh (the manufacturer is having at us, we all are paying $100 per month to them for transmission repair only).
    I had a Chevrolet product that the dealer and the manufacturer refused to fix under warranty. When I pulled into the traffic lane and the engine died at 11,500 miles for the hundredth time, I went to Chrysler (1979).
    I do not think America can make an automobile any more and the industry officials refuse to admit a mistake, like a rear end that explodes, wiring that catches on fire, torque converter that sends shrapnel into the transmission upon failure(no filtration to separate them)...
    I purchased a new Honda Civic and had no major cost until it had well over 210,000 miles. I purchased a Datsun pickup at the same time as the Chevrolet auto and had only brake lines needed until well over 240,000 miles. I presently own a Honda Accord with over 178,000 miles on it and plan to keep it until it rusts into a heap.
    Guess what Chrysler, you are responsible for me purchasing another new Honda when this one fails.
    Guess what Chrysler, you will be responsible for me purchasing a new Toyota pickup in a about three months.
    Guess what Chrysler, you are responsible for me purchasing a foreign auto whenever I need to replace my present model.
    Steve Roby
  • Bill I have had four failures and every time but the first (which was a bang and crash) the vibration started before the failures. Have a reputable transmission shop pull the two electric wires going to the torque converter. If the vibration stops, you will have to replace the transmission before you can sell the vehicle. Believe me I know how to test it by now. Oh I forgot to mention I drove 61,000 miles in a year with the 1993 van, it was only 1 1/2 years old with the first failure at 78,000 miles... And I had the dealer change transmission filters and fluid every time the schedule said it should be changed... Oil every 3000 miles is the only exception.
    I am very diligent with scheduled maintenance. I went through the strut, tire, drum, rotor, bearing, axle thing. Just unplug the two torque converter wires for one test drive. Let the shop do it. When the vibrations stops, the crying can begin again and again and again.... Steve Roby
  • Own a '94 Grand SE. Changed transmission fluid within warranty period but transmission went out shortly after expiration of warranty. No help from dealer or Chrysler. A friend's son worked for a Chrysler dealership as a mechanic at the time and advised that the repair lots were backed up with bum transmissions, many of which went out after changing the fluid. Dealer wanted around $2K to repair but when we told them we were sending a wrecker to pick up the van and take it somewhere else they agreed to rebuild for $1,200, a much more reasonable price, though we should not have had to pay anything. Probably an opportunity for a class action if enough people could band together.
    We will not be in the market for another Chrysler product!
  • I have a 96 Dodge Grand Caravan EL with 80k on it. For the past 20+ thousand miles have had both the transmission fail to engage (forward and reverse)and finally fail to shift out of 2nd gear. I shut the engine off and it began shifting normally again. After calls to the dealership and the old "unable to duplicate" excuse it finally stalled and we got an error code. The dealership changed the transmission control module ($500) and serviced the transmission. Seems to be o. to date. Have had numerous electrical problems including wipers that go 1x on their own, front blower that fails to come on for 10 minutes or, get this doesn't shut off when the key is removed! Also at the moment am battling intermittent starting (starter changed and battery good)problems at any time and temperature. Again unable to trace as it is intermittent. Thinking ignition switch but not sure. Anybody else with similar problems or ideas? May dump the car to get reliable transportation and before anything else comes up!
  • enetheneth Posts: 285
    If nothing else is wrong, it may make sense. Future useability is unpredictable - you could spend the money, have the transaxle replaced, and then have someone hit and total the van, so it's a gamble either way.

    If you were to sell the van, it would have to be fixed, anyway - or trade it at a loss.
  • markf3markf3 Posts: 1
    Wanted to add mine and ask if anyone had gotten anywhere with a post warranty claim. I've got 42000 (warranty ended at 36k) on a 98 and at a stop light, the van refused to move again. Then jolted foward after moving shift lever into and out of different gears. Drove to shop, mechanic pulled apart and there was metal in pan and filter. Suggested bearing defect and had to replace and rebuild much of the tranny for $2k plus. I have digital images of bad components and would like to send them to Chrysler if anyone has an email address of a service person who will actually do something with it.
  • mwaddomwaddo Posts: 30
    Wanted to ask if anyone had any insight into the reliability of the 1996 transmissions. My DC (3.3L 4-Sp) has 90,000 miles. My Dodge Status needed a new cranny at 62,000 (I got rid of it), and I was wondering if at 90K miles, I have made it past where many people have problems, or if I still run a risk. From reading the posts, it seems as though many people have problems at <60K, than again in the real high numbers (>150K), but not as many in between. Thanks in advance for any insight.
  • royallenroyallen Posts: 227
    mwaddo: I'd hoped some wise person would answer your question. The best long term surveys I know by Consumer Reports generally show steady increase in problem rates as these vans age. Thus it seems to me a bit of a crap shoot after one factors in preventive maintenance which for this transmission needs to be done correctly and often. Beyond that, you might consider Hoofer's advice of transmission fluid analysis by a company like Schaeffer, about $47 for a set of 6. 800-325-9962 to order.
  • I bought a 1994 Plymouth Voyager new--had dealer do 15,000, 30,000, 45,000, & 60,000 maintenance.
    At 53,000 transmission clunked when going from park to reverse. Dealer replaced engine mounts.
    At 60,000--same thing. Dealer replaced trans.mount and right engine mount. Less than 100 miles later, same problem--dealer reconditioned trans. under warranty (7/70,0000). At 77,641--same problem--dealer replaced transmission for $250 (after quoting price of $2100) after I "reminded) them of information regarding failure of transmissions that I got from this web page.
    I could easily have paid them entire amount without that information. Service manager "remembered" the $250 deductible after he called the district manager. Suggestion--challenge service manager before paying the full amount quoted for transmission repairs.
  • Wish now I had listened to my conscience on this van versus my then pregnant hormones!

    At 23,583 miles the 1st transmission went out. Now, 3 years later, the 2nd transmssion went out at just 53,733. Know what DC said...TOO BAD! Said I was "too far" out of warranty (it expired Sept. 2000). Looking at 2 possibilities. First is small claims. Second is the possibile CA Lemon Law which was just revised down to 2 repairs for certain safety problems. Hoping I qualify so I can get rid of this thing. Saw an article on DC Lemon Laundering here at the same time I purchased this van. Fingers crossed.
  • mrqfmrqf Posts: 1
    Since beginning vehicle ownership in the late '50s, we have never before had transmission problems, even with a 1990 Grand Voyager SE whose 4-speed was reputedly problematic (though we totaled it at 60,000 miles). From what I've seen on this website and others, our present 3.0L 3-speed is far from a dependable workhorse, but also an inherently weak transmission, for which the manufacturer ought to bear responsibility. It now has almost 84,000 miles on it, and the AT fluid and filter were last changed (by the dealer) at 76,000 miles. It's almost as if this last fluid change has something to do with the problem, but you'd think they'd know to put in the correct type. We don't drive the van hard and have never towed with it. For several years, starting when it was 6 mos. old at at 19,000 miles, we had a persistent stalling problem (esp. when decelerating), about which the dealer professed bafflement, stating it was surely a rarity. I don't think so, from a posting on another discussion here. They first tried a new fuel pump, with no improvement, then a new computer module, with no change. Finally, a young mechanic friend suggested cleaning the throttle body and idle control. We reported that to the dealer and it was done&#151;presto, end of problem for several years, when it needed doing again. However, we wonder whether the repeated stalling (at various speeds, some quite high) and restarting might be one reason the transmission now seems to be failing. We also had a clunking noise with starting and stopping that we took to an independent mechanic last May, and he replaced the front motor mount, with an end to the clunking thereby. A couple of months ago it started sometimes delaying going into gear from park or neutral, then whammed in violently. It hasn't done that recently, but seems to be upshifting at higher-than-usual speeds and staying in 2nd way too long especially. Sometimes it seems to get to the 40s before going into 3rd, whereas formerly it went into overdrive at about 43. We also think it might be slipping in 2nd gear, in its present lower range. The fluid level is OK. Is the AT likely to go out on us at any minute (it's our only vehicle)? Or do we have a little leeway to figure out how to go about dealing with the situation and how to get DC to accept some responsibility for it? We don't need to do any/much highway driving for a little while, at least, unless it's to get it to an independent transmission shop 45 miles away that, in terms of quality, may be a better bet than the dealer's shop. We can't afford big bucks for this (also need new roof, to replace buried oil tank, etc.), and don't think we should have to spring for such anyway. What a contrast to our 1978 B-200 big window van, with its 8 cyl. 318 engine, which went 170,000+ miles with no AT problems (nor engine problems), before we sold it (body rusting out, cooling system problems, despite regular maintenance). Might the Center for Auto Safety be of any help with this sort of thing? NHTSA? Ultimately, transmission failure can be a safety problem. Any place else to try contacting?
  • First transmission after long rides at highway speed shifts into 3rd then later into 2nd. Second transmission now does same thing. Problem goes away next day so no diagnostic codes show up. Anyone have similar problems? Anyone have any ideas of how to fix it.
  • tboltetbolte Posts: 1
    I just had a transmission failure on our '96 Grand Voyager. It failed on the freeway and wouldn't go out of 2nd gear. Towed it to a local reputable repair place and they said the cranny needed about $1500 worth of work. This was on a Friday. Over the weekend I looked on the interned and was shocked by what I found. I didn't know about I know 68,000 is way too soon for a cranny to fail but I didn't realize about the history of DC cranny failures. The repair place suggested that I contact the dealer which I did. I notified them about what I had learned about the history of failures and "secret warranties" and that I expected them to share in the cost of the repair. They agreed to pay half and so I had the car towed there and everything ended up costing me $800.

    I'm somewhat happy that they shared the cost of repairs but still disappointed with the performance of DC products. We have had some other problems with this car but overall OK. I'm not happy at all with seeing how many folks have gone thou several transmissions. I'd like to support American cars but I've had 3 Honda and a Toyota and they lasted forever with very few repairs (rust out was their death). We bought the Grand Voyager because the Honda and Toyota vans at the time weren't large enough for what we wanted. I think next time we're going back to Honda. This is a democracy and if we continue to support mediocrity that's what we'll get.
  • DC has made improvements to their 4 speed FWD trans - (and the problems were/are numerous). (This is from friends at DC & at tranny shops)
    Bottom line: there are still problems - most of which can be avoided by CHANGING THE FLUID every 12K - and make sure you use Chrysler spec fluid!
  • I have a 1993 Ply mouth Grand Voyager, AT with overdrive, with 106,000 miles on it now. We have crept for the past 20,000 miles, praying that it wouldn't go out. We bought it at 86,000 miles from a local couple who told us that they were the second owners on it - that was a lie! We found out later from DC that we were not the third owner's on this van, but the fourth (we didn't know about at the time, but I wish we had). The first thing I noticed was a "shimmy" when shifting from 2nd to 3rd gear. Then, I would put it in gear and it wouldn't go into gear immediately, then the "thump" when it engaged. That's when I knew it was getting worse. We had it serviced and were told of the infamous history of the A604 transmission. It was the opinion of several reputable transmission shops and dealerships that DC should have had a recall on these, but the only thing that they would have a recall on is a safety risk/liability to them. They should have! No one I know who has one of these vans has gone without problems. Yes, we tried to get help from DC, but they essentially told us that we were stupid for even asking. The 10/100,000 mile warranty that was originally purchased by the original owner was never transferred so they wouldn't honor it - I doubt if they would honor it even if it was transferred. Currently, the van is out of commission and I am debating with a transmission shop about the work. This is strictly my opinion, but DON' BUY PLY MOUTH/CHRYSLER/DODGE VANS!!! As nice as look, they are poorly engineered and DC won't back their product. We'll never own another.....
  • Changing transmission fluid frequently didn't help me for either my 90 or 95 Plymouth Van. Current Van has 8,000 miles on rebuilt transmission and it is failing.
  • bucmanbucman Posts: 1
    I purchased a 99 grand se voyager one year ago. I've got this irritating whistle from the accelerator or something when the van hits 50 and 70 mph. It goes away if you let off the gas. Does anyone else have this problem, the dealer told me it is a problem with "ALL" voyagers with a 3.3 engine.
  • I also had a problem first thing in the morning with 1998 Grand Voyaguer with 83,000km. Put it in gear and won't move. Takes a minute before it will go. Dealer said it is caused by fluid leak and that the transmission needs servicing and lines need to be replaced for about $300. Doesn't seem right for such a new van that's had all scheduled maintaince.
  • Yes I have the same whistle on my 1998 but doesn't seem worse for wear.
  • royallenroyallen Posts: 227
    bucman: Any dealer's service rep ignorant enough to say "ALL bla bla bla do this" deserves to be encouraged to repeat it two or three times with comments " Are you sure of that " etc. Then ask for a demonstration on a couple of vehicles on the lot. Then you'll have evidence as to the truth of the idea that you should just live with it.
  • Help, please! I traded in my lemon of a 1997 Plymouth Grand Voyager and left the owner's manual in the car. I need the manual, because I'm suing DC in Small Claims for reimbursement of the $2000 I had to spend fixing the transmission. Copies are okay! I'll gladly reimburse cost of copying or postage.

    For those who're interested, here's my tale of woe-- bought a 97 GV brand new from Star Chrysler in Glendale (a 5 Star dealer, HA!). From the outset we had problems-- squealing brakes that wore out prematurely, a hiccup in the idle that the dealer could never fix (and which turned out to be a bad spark plug, which we found out when we took it in for it's required 60k tune-up. By the way, dealers want $500 to tune these cars!). Little things, like rear ac which didn't work (dealer eventually fixed), rear sliding door locks that jammed or didn't work (dealer fixed once). Finally, at 71k the transmission went out. Called DC 800 number and they said no good will fix. Spoke w/sales mgr. at Star and he promised to talk to the Zone Mgr. 4 weeks later, after we sent him a letter informing him that he needed to fix this or we'd sue, still no answer. Finally got him on the phone (he'd stopped returning wife's calls, but he talked to me) he said he'd turned it over to his service mgr and he assumed everything had been handled. Transferred me to the service mgr. who told me that I could have it towed in at my expense, but that he couldn't do anything and that DC wouldn't do anything. I said-- Let me get this straight, I can have my car towed there, and pay for it, so you can NOT do any work on it? Yes. Well, how about if I just see you in court? Fine, but you never gave us a chance to fix the problem! But you just told me you weren't going to fix it! Yes, that's true.

    Again, this is a "5 Star" dealership! So we had it fixed by a reliable local tranny shop and are suing them and DC. Traded the lemon in for a Hyundai Santa Fe (5 yr. bumper to bumper and 10 yr. powertrain warranties, low price AND the whole family fits into it) and am VERY HAPPY. I advise anyone who asks-- DON'T BUY CHRYSLER PRODUCTS! They made these cars with shoddy transmissions, they know there's a problem, and they REFUSE to stand behind them when the going gets rough.
  • The way I am solving the transmission problem is to never buy another Chrysler product again... ever.

    It is very clear to me that the design of the transmission in these vans is sorely amiss. I would blame the engineers, but I don't know what kind of parameters they were given from management. It seems that Chrysler is not capable of building reliable transmissions, since the later models also suffer(I have a 92' and people with 96's are complaining here). Does Chrysler not notice all the repairs? Or do they not care?

    The story: I have a 92' Voyager with 129,000 on it. The first transmission left it at 55,000. The dealer was very nice about it and repaired the vehicle under warranty. They even let me have a free loaner car while they affected repairs.

    The second transmission was at 122,000. Again, the dealer was nice enough to give me a free loaner while I paid $1500 to rebuild the transmission. The rebuilt lasted 30 days until something else went out on it. The dealer gave me another free rental car and repaired my van at their expense.

    Let me state I am hardly a Ricky Racer. I drive the van as if it is an egg shell due to my understanding of the transmission issues. I drive 6 miles on surface streets to work and this van simply can't handle it. I am middle aged and have spent more money maintaining this vehicle than all other vehicles in my life. In fact I gave an 85' Toyota to my mother and I would rather have that back than drive this van any more. (That car has over 250,000 miles on it. The only thing that went wrong was a fan belt and the fuel pump. It still has the original motor and transmission.)

    Then there is the brakes. The van simply eats brakes. Add to that the idler pulley from hell, that whines without interruption at idle. I have replaced it twice only to be greeted by the squeel soon after I get over the $160 replacement cost. If you own this van, you know of what I speak.

    Finally, there is a bad clear coat on the paint job. The result is one ugly paint flaking, whining, transmission dropping mess (sad, but true). My van is a wreck and it is not due to neglect or mistreatment. I am just counting the days until I go out and buy a new non-Chrysler vehicle to replace it with. It won't be long... I was just checking out a new Toyota Highlander this weekend.

    Never again. I am taking my business elsewhere.
  • ms10ms10 Posts: 1
    I have a chrysler town&country,my second minivan after returning a 91 Voyager from the father drives a 92 voyager, his second one.My dads friend has a 94 voyager as well. all had or have some what of a trans problem.diffrent noises or types of problems-have occured. all problems are related to the trans.
  • Yea, Owners and Wanna Be owners of Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Plymouth vehicles.
    What a Wonderful Feeling to Own a vehicle that will have Transmission
    failure , Head Gasket Failure and to many more problems to list . Not like U
    can keep your fingers crossed or go in the closet and say it won't happen to
    my wonderful Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Plymouth vehicle :O))))))))

    Keep wishing and Hoping cause Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Plymouth has your
    money and they are investing it in other money making ventures instead of
    investing it to repair your problem which they Manufactured for U. While U
    have to make $300.00 + payments per month and come up with another $2000.00
    to $3000.00 in repairs Yea, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Plymouth such a
    wonderful Product...

    Oh I almost forgot the Priceless Wonder of owning a Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep,
    Plymouth Yea, this is Great Your Family and Loved Ones they may get Caught
    in a Fuel Tank Fire due to a faulty Fuel Filler Grounding Strap or maybe
    just Pop out the Back Door of your wonderful Family Mini Van. Chrysler,
    Dodge, Jeep, Plymouth Oh Yea Definitely get life insurance for all your
    Loves ones riding in your New And Wonderful Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Plymouth

    So yes Go out and tell all your friends How Wonderful a vehicle Chrysler,
    Dodge, Jeep, Plymouth really is Oh yea and here is the Sad part of this
    whole Story.
    U know Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Plymouth dealers they won't give U anything
    for a Trade in they already know what U just found out that they are the
    Worst Vehicles ever Engineered But hey what's Losing a few Thousands of
    Dollars on repairs or at Trade In Time? U own a Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep,
    Plymouth vehicle and are proud and honored to give Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep,
    Plymouth more of your easy earned money to pay for there mistakes :O))))))))

    Even Better what could be better then Losing your Loved Ones Yea, That's Why
    Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Plymouth they are Wonderful and Priceless :O(
    Enjoy the ride who knows when U may find yourself on the side of the road or
    Worse in a Hospital Hoping and Praying your Loved Ones will recover :O(
  • mliongmliong Posts: 231
    A close family friend of ours is in the market for a minivan and is looking at the 2001 models. Does anyone know if they re-designed the tranny for this model year?

  • enetheneth Posts: 285
    No, they didn't.
  • royallenroyallen Posts: 227
    At risk of arousing the ...uh, dissatisfied, my wife has been quite pleased with our 2 years of ownership of a '95 Caravan 3.3L, 4 speed. We have driven it from 48K to 66K with few problems- a battery replacement, new front brake pads (lifetime warranty-$30 and an hours work), plugs(not an easy job), and other preventive care. I have been to the dealer one time for an ignition/air bag safety recall. I put a transmission cooler on for $30 and 1 1/2 hours work. I have towed a 1700# boat+trailer about 2000 miles. Last month I sent in a transmission fluid sample for analysis and it was normal for wear metals and elevated for silicone (dirty) so I changed it as recommended. For the do-it-yourselfers, I found a 6' plastic tube, 7/16"OD-5/16"ID easily inserted down the filler tube 25" and siphoned 3 3/4 quart. In another 15K I'll have my mechanic drop the pan and change the filter as well. I will save about $35 a year less the $6.50 for oil analysis and I know it got the right fluid.
  • hersbirdhersbird Posts: 323
    Well I don't know of ANYBODY, personally, who have ever had to replace the transmission in their Chrysler minivan. I have owned 4, two 89 Grand voyagers, a 93 Caravan sport all with 3.0 and 4 speed autos and now a 2000 3.8 AWD. My brother owns a 96 Grand Voyager CDN model with the 3.8. My brother in law has had two, a 89 and a 90 Grand Caravan. And my father is on his third a 94 Grand Caravan with a 3.3 and 4 speed auto. All of these vans have had the 4 speed auto and have a combined total of almost 1 million miles without ever a transmission failure. One of my dad's vans, and my brother in law's both started developing a slipping transmission but both were cured with a fluid and filter change and have over 10,000 miles on each of them with no further problems. It has been said here before that ALL of these vans have transmission problems, this is a complete lie. Like I was never alone with that woman, or it depends on what the definition of what is, is. The fact is there are millions of these things on the road so sure some will fail, but at no higher rate then any other similar car. They are heavy, FWD, high powered, and often asked to carry heavy loads all while riding like a luxury car. Now that Honda has put something in the same league as the Chrysler we see an even greater rate of transmission failures at even lower mileages, I guess it's better because their failures are occurring under warranty. I bet when all these vans are pushing 100K miles and 75% of them are still on the road (the side of it that is) Honda will be beating down the 3rd owners door offering free repairs and loaner cars while they do it.

    I'm not saying all these vans have been flawless but that 10 vans that I am very familiar with have had no transmission problems. Also worth noting is that in those million miles the vans have never stranded any of my family. I would whole heartedly recommend the Chrysler line of minivans to anyone. Ever since the start they have easily been the best.
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