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Chrysler Minivan Transmission Problems



  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    Okay, I know this is going to be sacrilegious to some.

    I would bet that you have used an aftermarket synthetic ATF. If that is correct what you have is a Dexron-Mercon equivalent in semi-synthetic base. This is not the same thing as the recommended ATF+4. ATF+4 is also a semi-synthetic but contains an exclusive pour-point depressant and friction modifier package that is not available from anyone else but Chrysler.

    I'm not saying that something else couldn't be wrong, but your transmission acts fine in warm temperatures but acts up when cold. This indicates the possibility of a partially clogged filter or incorrect transmission fluid.

    ATF+4 has a pour-point 55 degrees F lower than Dexron-Mercon. Most of the synthetic Dexron-Mercon ATFs will only take you down about 10 degrees.

    Best regards,
  • texasmomtexasmom Posts: 114
    I have a 2000 Town and Country Ltd. with 130,000 miles and took it to two places that buy your used car outright. One offered $5900 and the other somewhere in the five thousand range--I'd have to go look up the exact number. I would have just sold it to the $5900 place but I haven't bought a new vehicle yet and didn't want to rent one. It is as loaded as you could get them in 2000 and the inside is immaculate, but the outside has the typical bumper scuffs and bumps, the usual "I didn't wash it often enough" bug juice stains on the front, and the nicks and dings of countless parking lots. I used to try not to park it next to a big SUV or truck with heavy doors, but I stopped caring about that after a year or so, and it looks it.
    So what I'm trying to say is, yours is worth more than $2K unless its really messed up. By the way, at 130K my transmission is working fine, knock on wood. Just needs its front rotors straightened out or replaced, but they knew that at the car lots.
    By the way, one trade in dealer offered $3000 for it sight unseen. Suggested I try to sell it myself or take it to a used lot.
  • Thanks, I'll try changing the filter and replacing the trans fluid and see what happens.

  • I had a 1997 with the same problem and had it rebuilt around 80K miles. Then learned that the problem is in the trans filter that resides in the pan. It becomes clogged and once you leave it warm up enough it the oil thins out enough to get through the filter. Suggest that you take it to a Dodge dealership and have the transmission fluid changed. Don't take it to one of the quick oil change places because all they do is suck the oil out and replace it. To have it done right requires that they drop the pan and replace the filter. Good rule of thumb is that this service costs about $130. If your spending less then they're not doing right service.

    Good Luck.
  • Not sure about other areas, but in Tennessee a proper transmission oil and filter change on Caravan is about $80 at a dealership shop. This includes dropping the pan and changing the filter.
    This should be performed every 30,000 miles. Our transmission lasted to 140k miles doing this and included pulling a popup camper for some long distances.

    In case someone cares... the full rebuild by a local (honest and reputable) shop was about $1200 and included new "rebuild" kit, solenoid pack, orbital gear, torque converter and some other items that I cannot remember right now. They noted that the Chrysler transmissions and many others are very easy to rebuild nowadays and that the cost usually isn't very high if performed honestly. Our van was a 96 Caravan and the rebuild was performed in July 04. It was wrecked and totaled one month later. :( We are now looking at vans again.
  • lee9lee9 Posts: 5
    Thanks for the reply. My van is not a T&C, but I'll work on selling it myself. I am in Upstate NY so the rust issue may be a problem.
  • pluto5pluto5 Posts: 618
    IMO it's not worth doing a trans flush. My GC gets a new trans before the fluid wears out. Now on its third trans with 64K miles.
  • The transmission went on my 2001 T&C. The van has 71K miles. Used as a primary family car transporting 3 young kids. No towing or hauling. Serviced at dealer regularly. Last service was 3500 miles ago. Now thet want $3300 to rebuild or $3800 for new transmission. Plus another $1200 for spark plugs, heater hose etc. IUs it normal for everything to "blow" at once even though it was recently and regularly serviced. Any chance of Chrysler picking up all or part of transmission cost. How do I go about this? We don't have an extended warranty.
  • badgerfanbadgerfan Posts: 1,565
    For that amount of money, you should shop around. For transmission replacement, you should be able to just call several shops and get pricing for a rebuilt transmission. It may also be something simple on your transmission, not requiring a total rebuild.

    Spark plugs are good for 100K miles. Check your manual. We have original plugs in our 1996 Caravan at 78K miles and it is running fine. My experience is your hoses are still probably still OK too.

    Sounds to me like your dealer has a boat payment due, and he wants you to pay for it.
  • Thanks. There is something clearly wrong with car since it is not moving. Had to have it towed to dealer. I called a few transmission places and the prices were comparable although of course they can't commit w/o looking at car. I can't tow it place to place. Also forgot to mention in previous post that it is AWD if that makes a difference. I contacted Chrysler customer servoice and they contacted deler but of course service manager out till Friday and Chrysler closed on Th/Fr so they can't connect until 11/29. Chrysler re did say that if we need car to have it repaired, pay for it and then possibly have Chrysler reimburse all or part. Is that reasonable? Likely?
  • I bought a 2000 Chryler Grand Voyager SE in March, 2004 from a private party. The van was running well all these days except this winter when it started giving problems. I noticed a big sound from the bottom when I backed up the van in a cold morning. I warmed up for a few minutes and then it was OK. I started warming up the van for atleast 5 minutes before I take in the day and that kept the van running for about 2 weeks. Yesterday, Check engine light came on and I see more problems. Took it to firestone and they said there's leak in transmission and it may have to be rebuilt. I need to take it to a transmission shop to get it done.
    Could you please let me know
    1. How much it's going to cost for this transmission replacement approximately ?
    2. I read in this forum that Chrysler, Detroit can be contacted for reimbursement, etc. Is it possible.
    Thanks for all the reply and suggestions.
  • agusagus Posts: 6
    I bought a brand new Dodge Grand Caravan in year 2000. Two years after that when the car had only 16k miles, there was a squeaking noise came out from the left front wheel. Dealer told me that transmission was bad and need replacement. They told me that the new transmission they put on is a brand new one. I did not pay anything because was still under warranty. A few months after that, another Dodge dealer told me that there is no such new transmission unit for replacement, it is always a rebuilt one. I tried to contact the Chrysler 800 number but I got no satisfying answer at all.

    Anyone knows about transmission replacement?



  • 97xpresso97xpresso Posts: 249
    It was a rebuilt one with the same warranty (3/36) as if it were new. Since you did not pay for this rebuilt replacement, your warranty on this one ends or ended when your original was up. There is nothing wrong with a rebuilt unit, if it was done by Chrysler, in some cases more up dated than if it were "new".
  • pluto5pluto5 Posts: 618
    My first rebuild,under warranty, only lasted about 20K miles. Now on the second which I was charged $600 for. I drive it as little as possible, mainly as a station car so it will last a few years. Anyone who buys the current series of 4 speed transaxle should definitely get a 7 yr warranty and bank the money for a replacement after that if they are going to keep the vehicle over 10 years as I did.
  • I am new to this site, and i certainly haven't read all the messages. Pardon be if this information is already covered, but I thought I'd offer it in the spirit of helpfulness. Visit for helpful details on diagnosis and fixes.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    I have a dead battery on my wagon and a busted CV Boot on my van, and my brother isn't having any better luck with cars either this month. He has a 2000 Caravan and it quit shifting in the recent cold weather, and he also noticed a transmission fluid leak. The upshot was a transmission rebuild at 110,000 miles.


    He said he sunk tons of dough at the transmission shop (not the dealer), but I forgot to ask him what a ton of dough is worth these days.


    His wife is a bit of an enthusiastic driver around town and they pull a pop-up camper with it now and then.


    Steve, Host
  • I have a 96 T&C LXI the trans was rebuilt almost 2 yrs ago and I am having a problem with the down shift into first gear at about 5 mph it slams into gear. I have just had a flush done but still the same problem. It doesnot have anyother problem. Is there something that I should look at first??
  • marine2marine2 Posts: 1,155
    I'm not sure but I think some one said the tranny is controled by a computer and if you had to disconnect the battery, the tranny would have to reprogram it's self to shift smoothly. If true, you might disconnect the battery, make sure the posts and cables are clean and put them back on and then take it out and drive it and see if it doesn't shift better. Hope you used the right tranny fluid in it. Also go to this web site. it has some good hints on fixing Chrysler products, including trannys.
  • Where did you get it flushed, and what did they use (fluid type)? Like previous poster said, the site mentioned has a great deal of information about Chrysler transmissions.
  • Had it flushed at the dealer ship. Also I did the reprogramming as it was stated. Still have the same problem. Like I siad it is only on the down shift. I am getting taxes back soon and I am trying to see what could the possible problem be before I take it to a shop so I know if they are ripping me off. I am from MI does any one know a good shop near the detroit area?
  • Glad you had it done at the dealer, I've read too many horror stories about quick oil change places. What did the dealer say after flush and re-flash did not solve problem? I would also check out this page:
  • checked out the page but no help dealer is saying they need to rebuild it and wont know a cost until they get into it and see what is wrong. I had it rebuilt before at a trans place but I think they ripped me off it cost 1700.00 and has ony lasted 2 years. I figure this time I will go through the dealer.
  • I have a 2003 Chrysler Town & Country with 31,000 miles and 22 months in service. At first the dealer tried to tell me that failure to shift into reverse and rough shifting during acceleration was normal for Chrysler T&C. Two tranmission rebuilds later, one at 7500 miles and the other at 31,000 miles, and I am still have no confidence that there won't be more rebuilds in the future. This transmission continues to tear itself up. No rough driving, no towing, just my wife driving in town mostly. Chrysler's response is that I don't need to worry the warranty is for 7 years/70K, but I didn't pay $38,000 to have a vehicle that needs a transmission rebuilt every year. I am initiating a claim against Chrysler through an attorney. You may want to consider getting your vehicle into the repair shop until they find the problem. You need to pursue the repair before you can have a case. I suspect Chrysler still has a design problem with these tranmissions.
  • You got surprise coming. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but I used to think the same as you do. Chrysler has not fixed their transmission problems, that is why the warranty is 7years/70K. I know, my 2003 T&C with 31,000 miles and 22 months service has had the transmission rebuilt two times. Take a look at the numerous problems with new Chrysler mini-vans, you will find a lot of transmission problems.
  • hansiennahansienna Posts: 2,312
    You got a lemon. Most owners of recent DC minivans are NOT having transmission problems.

         BTW, the darlings of CR (Odyssey and Sienna) are now having transmission problems. Just go read in the problems forums for Odyssey and Sienna here in the Town Hall.
  • I also smell a lemon. Instead of repeatedly rebuiling that lemon transmission you should insist that they install a "new" one. It won't be new, but it has to be better than the one you have now, and will carry the same warranty.
  • I have a '90 Plymouth Grand Caravan 177k mi approx that suffered a tranny problem while driving up a slight incline at freeway speed. No bang or anything, just disconnected engine from wheels. It's left with first gear only (no reverse either).Tranny makes grinding noises while moving. Is this fixable with parts, or is the unit toast? It's been a great van, but it is 15 yrs old and my wife doesn't want to fix it if it's big bucks...


  • dougd7dougd7 Posts: 71
    3 speed or 4 speed?
  • I have a 96 T&C LXI(3.8L ) the trans was replaced almost 30 mos and 38 k miles ago after it broke a shaft on the inside at 101k miles. Dealer did not want to open it up just replace with new reman form Chrysler. Now the reman just broke a shaft for the 3rd gear (bad weld). Called Chrysler and they went

    in for have of the repairs $700 total. Now I have a van with 140K two trans repaired for a grand price of $2900 in 38k miles. We were going to look at the new PACIFICA but who can keep putting in money for junk like this. HELLO LEXUS they might not be any better but they will stand behind it.

    Now to make our government start working for us and not the car company s. If they build junk make them recall it and not suck up to the big 3 any more.
  • I think it's a 4 speed. There's no O/D control switch anywhere, but the dashboard indicator lists "OD", "D", and "L". PS Thanks - help is really appreciated...
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