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Chrysler Minivan Transmission Problems



  • hansiennahansienna Posts: 2,312
    Go read in Odyssey problems forums to read about much newer Odysseys that have had more transmission repairs than your '96 T&C LXi lemon.
  • dougd7dougd7 Posts: 71
    Sounds like a mechanical problem. If it were just an electrical or computer (TCM) problem you would still have 2nd and reverse. And it's probably not first but 2nd that is working. If you can have it taken to a dealer and have them check the error codes on the TCM (transmission control module) and get the CVI's (clutch volume indexes). If the CVI's are out of spec it's more than likely time for a remanufactured unit to be installed. I know that's not what you want to hear but 177K miles is a lot of miles for a A604 ultradrive unit.
  • Thanks - I will fight the urge to tear it apart and fix it. With a value of about $1000, it looks like a bad deal to sink $$$ into it. Think I'll look for another one, of a more recent vintage... Are any years to be avoided (more than others)?


    Thanks Again for taking the time to share your valuable experience!
  • dougd7dougd7 Posts: 71
    From what I have gleaned from the 'net and other sources, model year 2001+ are your best bets. 1996 is one year to avoid - they seem to have lots of problems in addition to the tranny.


    Chrysler upgraded the tranny fluid in 2000 to ATF+4 which is a semisynthetic. From what I have read and heard the incidents of outright tranny failures has gone down tremoundously. I have a 2000 Chrysler T&C Ltd AWD that we purchased 2 years ago with 78k miles - no problems so far. I just replaced the tires it had when we purchased it. Planning on having the tranny serviced real soon and R&R the spark plugs also. It has 118K miles now so it's kind of overdue. Although it is running fine. Probably will replace the belts, and have the coolant replaced as well as the hoses.


    Good luck in your search. Are you thinking of new or slightly used?
  • Hello, I'm actually writing for my sis who's comp is down at this time. She just bought a 1992 dodge caravan (automatic). She says that SOMETIMES the vehicle will not shift from 2nd to 3rd, and also sometimes it will only go into reverse as well. She says that it doesnt happen all the time, but when it does, if they turn the vehicle off and on 3 times it (resets) itself and works properly again until the next time. I have never heard of anything like this before but she says that a few garages have told her that its either the "brain" OR the "tranny" and theres no way to tell until it actually goes. Does this van have an electronic tranny? Could the brain effect the tranny in this manner, or in anyway for that matter?
    If anyone has any idea of what the problem could be, please write me back and let me know. i would like to help her out as she spent all the money they had on this vehicle and now are afraid to take it anywhere, and I would also like to learn myself what could cause such behavior.
    Thanks much in advance!
  • dougd7dougd7 Posts: 71
    You'll need to take it to a dealer and have them scan the TCM (transmission control module, ie, "brain" of the transmission) for error codes and CVI's (Clutch Volume Indices - tells how much wear the clutches have). Depending on the error codes found and the CVI's they can tell you whether or not she may need a rebuild or not.

    Just as an fyi, the tcm will default to 2nd gear(limp mode) when it has a hard error. Under these conditions you will only have 2nd and reverse. If either one of those fail then indications are you will need a rebuild or install a remanufactured unit. If you have to go that route a Mopar remanufactured unit is best as it comes with a 3/36 warranty.

  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Dude, the transmission in a Chevy Trailblazer has virtually nothing in common with the transmission in a Caravan. There is no such a thing as a "one size fits all" with regard to the fluids that go in modern automatic transmissions.

    FWIW, I just took a look at that web site, and to me at least, that stuff smells like Extract of Snake. Buyer beware, I doubt seriously that Chrysler would honor any kind of a warranty if they found this stuff in a transmission.

    Best Regards,

    You don't perchance work for/own the outfit responsible for this stuff. If so, you are in serious violation of the Membership Agreement here at the Town Hall.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,572
    It's gone :-)

    Steve, Host
  • okay, don't laugh, but i have a 1996 plymouth voyager, which is a piece of junk, and it needs some transmission fluid. the problem, of course, is that i don't know where to put it. please tell me where to look. i have the fluid, and i need to get it in quickly, while i still HAVE a tranny!
  • badgerfanbadgerfan Posts: 1,565
    First, have you checked it with the engine running, warmed up fully,on level ground and in park?

    If you've found the dipstick, you've found the filler hole as well. Use a funnel into the dipstick tube.

    There are a lot of warnings about being careful to not overfill it, so beware. I myself always have had some trouble checking the level as it never seems to be all that stable when the engine is running--churns the fluid enough to make it hard to determine how full it is. My 96 Caravan transmission is still going good at 81K miles, knock on wood!
  • 97xpresso97xpresso Posts: 249
    You state you "have some fluid". I sure hope it's the correct fluid, ATF+3 for your application. Do NOT use anything else!
  • ohyreohyre Posts: 1
    Hello, My name is Ottis. I have a 2002 voyager had all the same problems your van has. I took it to the dealer and found out it was a pump inside the transmission. they replaced the pump and the problems went away.
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    Autually, ATF+4 has replaced ATF+3. ATF+4 is only available from Chrysler.

    Best regards,
  • vleespetvleespet Posts: 3
    I have a 2000 chrysler voyager with 73 k miles.
    Yesterday I noticed a hard downshift from 2nd to first gear...around 5 miles per hour everytime I had to come to a stop.

    further on i drove about 45-50 miles an hour and i heared a noise if a motorcycle was passing me but it was my engine's rpm's going like crazy,like it maybe slipped in neutral?

    I stopped the car immediately and put it in park and turned the cruisecontrol off.I put it back in drive and drove home no problems.

    Anybody an idea or do I just need a rebuild tranny?
  • chuckgchuckg Posts: 69
    Have you had the transmission fluid and filter changed lately? I'd get this done first.

    I believe you're best bet is to get this done at a dealer. You need to use the correct fluid in this vehicle. I think it's ATF+4 for your car. You use the wrong fluid and your problems will really begin to multiply.
  • vleespetvleespet Posts: 3
    I remember I had a transmission flush right after I bought the car in april 2003.
    Back then i did not know about the importance of the right fluid like ATF+3 or ATF+4....But if they used the wrong fluid(i think i did it at a quick lube place)wouldn't it gave me problems earlier??

  • chuckgchuckg Posts: 69
    I don't know what the quick lube places use for a transmission fluid change. I've read that they put certain additives into their standard fluid depending on the vehicle.....I can't confirm this though. As for noticing the problem now and not earlier, it would just be speculation.

    Here are the most common transmission problems (for Chryslers) from the Allpar site. Forum rules will not let me post a link:

    # Incorrect transmission fluid (cost: $40-60) - most common problem!
    # Solenoid pack (cost: about $60-$150 plus labor. May just be clogged.)
    # Computer needs retraining (cost: time)
    # Computer firmware needs upgrade (cost: Chrysler dealer should do this for free; may be up to $200)
    # Incorrect filter used
    # Loose electrical connection (cost: time)
    # Leaking seals (cost: rebuilding)
    # Torque converter problems - see the bump shift section

    If it were me, and I wasn't positive what type of fluid I had in my transmission, I'd get it changed. If the transmission started to shift normally after the change, in six months I'd change it again, just to make sure that the old fluid is being replaced.

    You want to stay away from a rebuild if you possibly can. This would be my first step.
  • bogenbogen Posts: 1
    Has anyone heard of a pin coming loose in the tranny of a 98 caravan. The pin holding the spider gears came out causing the tranny to fail. I heard it is from spinning the tires. Is this true?
  • 97xpresso97xpresso Posts: 249
    Yes it's true, neon owners who race their cars have the pin welded in place
  • masterpaul1masterpaul1 Posts: 421
    From what I understand, only DamilerChrysler sales the type of transmission fluid for their vechicles. Make sure to get a Trans. flush and not just a fluid and filter change. (A trans. flush takes out all 12 or so qts. out the trans. A fluid and filter change only takes out 2 qts. and the filter is changed). I have heard of people on this board that had the incorrect fluid put in their DC trans. and 10K later had serious problems.
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    Yes. It usually causes a launch of internal parts through the transaxle housing. Not all '98s will suffer from this. A manufacturing tolerance and inadequate assembly method caused this. I believe it affected approximately 160,000 '98 models.

    I've heard that trying to dislodge the vehicle from mud or snow by rocking where spinning just one wheel usually occurs is the cause.

  • My 2000 Chrysler Voyager 4 cyl. just started this out of the blue. As I drove 35-40 mph and started to brake at traffic lights, the engine started bucking/shaking, pulled over and started again to light-than ok. As long as I went slow like 20-25 & stopped at lights-it was ok-als0, drives ok at 40-50, until I tried to slow down to brake at lights. (Uncle mentioned overdrive selenoid-4th gear)? Hot engine light came on chiming for 4 mins.-than off-only 1x. Also, mileage is stuck at 99, 003 a few months ago. Can dealership tell when this has stopped clocking miles and/or computer know original if I take it in? Any answers or suggestions, please help. Just sitting in friend's garage until I decide what to do? Thanks! :confuse: :(
  • Could this be the Transmission Control Selnoid not kicking out? :confuse:
  • reynold1reynold1 Posts: 1
    I am on my second transmission (3.3 L ) and car has 190,000 miles. My question is on a re-built tranny, does the solenoid assembly also get replaced or do they replace only if it appears defective. .

    I had a re-built tranny job and now the solenoid assembly is leaking, Any advice on this repair.

  • ckmnacckmnac Posts: 12
    I just bought a 1998 Dodge Grand Caravan with 113,000 miles on it. The transmission was replaced at 103,000 miles. It runs and sounds fine but just before you come to a complete stop (at 5-6 mph) it makes a clunking noise and kind of jerks forward. You can sometimes aviod the problem by slowing way down before a stop and sort of coasting forward. Could this be a transmission problem?

    I swore I would never own another Dodge after my 1996 Caravan disaster. The transmission on that one went out at 89,000 miles and I never had any warnings. One day it just wouldn't go into reverse. I thought that this one might be better since the transmission has already been replaced.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    As I approach a stop in my 1998 GC Sport, I can feel my transmission down shifting, which generates a surge with each shift. I have always assumed that since more torque is allowed to be transmitted through to the wheels with each gear change that this is normal. My transmission has done this since new so at 87K miles, I'm not too worried about it.

    FWIW, I don't really know how other transmissions feel when approaching a stop since our two Caravans are the only automatic transmission equipped cars either my wife or I have ever owned. Said another way, maybe what I think is normal is really a problem and I just have no frame of reference to realize that fact.

    Best Regards,
  • 8bobcat88bobcat8 Posts: 3
    I have a 2002 T&C AWD with 60K miles. It has been a great vehicle except for the clunky 2-1 coasting downshift and the classic engine lifter valley corner oil leak. I documented the oil leak but refused a warrantee repair because I didn't want the repair possibly screwed up etc. It really doesn't use oil.

    Anyway, a question for the forum experts please. In reading this transmission forum, it is somewhat apparent that a DIY transmission oil change might not be prudent. I have the repair manual and it really doesn’t mention this loss of prime and control unit reset issue.

    Since I do as much of my own service as possible I had thought this oil change would be a piece of cake. What exactly are these issues and what specifically will this loss of prime do if you just drive it “carefully (?)” and let the transmission “adapt”? Also, is the DC reset routine built entirely into the tool or do they also get new flash via their intranet hook-up. Does anyone sell a reset tool?

    Waiting to get down and dirty with transmission oil,
  • ckmnacckmnac Posts: 12
    Well, it's headed to the shop Monday morning and they are going to take it for a drive. It needs new tires anyway so I might as well have them check the problem while they're at it. If they say it isn't hurting anything and is just going to be annoying I probably won't have anything done. The van only had one owner before me and they have the papers for just about everything that was done to it so I think it was pretty well taken care of. I'm hoping to get at least 200,000 miles out of it.
  • ckmnacckmnac Posts: 12
    This may have been mentioned before (since it's pretty common in these vans) but I don't have time to read through everything. They said it's some sort of controller that either needs replaced or reset but the part is $150. It's not causing any harm so I'm gonig to wait and take it at a later time to see if it needs the part or just reset.
  • 8bobcat88bobcat8 Posts: 3
    Is there no one that can talk to this issue?

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