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Chrysler Minivan Transmission Problems



  • vchengvcheng Posts: 1,284
    ....its trans oil change, but I am afraid I do not know about the newer 2002 models.
  • badgerfanbadgerfan Posts: 1,565
    It has to be changed infrequently enough such that I let someone else do the transmission fluid/filter change. I too like to do most routine maintenance myself.

    Next time I will go to the dealer, though as the chain transmission place I had it done last was a bit less than impressive. I think they caused more problems than they solved. This was on a 96 Caravan W/3.3 V-6, by the way.

    I had a small shaft seal leak which I knew about beforehand, which they fixed when they did the fluid/filter change, but soon after I developed another leak. I took it back to them thinking it was related to their error, and they claimed it was a leak in the solenoid gasket, supposedly unrelated to their transmission fluid change. So I paid them to replace this gasket

    Later on I still had a leak, and this time I looked into it myself and found that the hose clamps at two of the four ends of the transmission cooler hose lines had not been tightened up enough,. probably left loose by them. The third one had been overtightened and stripped so the clamp would not pull tight. I replaced one and tightened them all on my own and now all seems well.

    If I had it to do over, I would have gone to the dealer for the service, and hopefully their better(??) trained mechanics would have not screwed up. I think I may have paid for a solenoid gasket replacement that was not the problem, but I have no proof.
  • denise5denise5 Posts: 9
    I have a 2002 dodge grand caravan and it had to be towed to the car dealership because it was losing power and making a whistle sound when I stepped on the gas. They told me they had to take the transmission apart and see what the problem is. They said the torche converter was broken off the engine, it needed a front pump and overhaul kit. Cost $1900. I have had this car 3 1/2 years. This is not right. I contacted the Dodge Corp. and am working with them. I told them I should not have to pay for this because this has been a problem that has been going on for 15 years with these transmissions. I would like to know if there is anyone else out there that has had this problem. I have 52,000 miles on the van, we do all the maintenance that needs to be done on it regularly.
  • denise5denise5 Posts: 9
    See my message above.
  • on our '93 Grand Voyager since we bought her. She had 98k miles on her and a shudder moving from 3rd to 4th, around 35-45 miles per hour. Five years later she has 281k miles, same shudder, maybe a little worse, and one she picked up along the way that happens around 70 mph under certain circumstances. I think it's when the torque converter tries to go into lockup mode and the RPMs aren't high enough. To the best of my knowledge, this has the original Chrysler 3.3l engine, original tranny, and even the original timing belt! We tried to get a tranny flush a while ago but they wouldn't do it. Said on a tranny with that high mileage, new fluid would be too strong for it and would blow the seals. So for the last (almost) 200,000 miles, all we do is have the tranny fluid topped off every few oil changes. The moral of the story is that if you have an older one of these, you may be better living with some idiosyncrasies than pouring megabux down your local repair shop.
  • my 1995 T&C LXI transmission only works in second (45 mph/3500 rpm) and reverse.
    a couple of times in cold weather the transmission would shift out a gear when first starting in the morning, but it would go "normal" right the way.
    yesterday it slipped going down the highway exit.
    since then i only can get second gear and reverse.
    any ideas on how to diagnose the problem.
    the van did not have any transmission work or fluid change in the last 60,000. it has now 165.000.
    thanks for the help
  • chuckgchuckg Posts: 69
    Sounds like your transmission is in "limp mode." Have you checked the fluid level when the engine/transmission are warm and the vehicle is running?

    If it were me, the first thing I would do is get a transmission fluid flush and a new filter. Make sure they use the correct fluid for your transmission. I believe you need ATF+3 for that year vehicle (check your owner's manual). Using the wrong fluid type will really screw things up.

    I'd start there and hope for the best.
  • ohvanohvan Posts: 26
    I have a 2003 T&C ex. Yesterday while having the brakes inspected and pads changed at a local "auto center - TUFFY", I was told that the 30,000 mile recommended maintenance included changing the transmission fluid, I asked if the fluid used is the correct type for the Chrysler van and the tech said yes . . they added some type of added to make the formulation correct.

    After looking at my manual and reading some of the post on this site, I'm not sure I did the right thing. The recommended maintenance suggests inspecting the fluid but not changing it at 30,000 miles. Should the fluid be changed at 30,000 miles?

    Also, if I don't know that the newly installed fluid is ATF +4, should I change it again, or??

    Any informed advice would be appreciated.
    Additionally, we hear a hum or whining sound coming from our van while driving at low speeds, particularly when cold. It's unclear where the sound is coming from. Any thoughts on the source and significance?
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    I think that the general consensus is that if you even remotely suspect that you've got the wrong stuff in your transmission, get it out of there like right now. To the best of my knowledge, there is no such a thing as an additive to normal tranny fluid that makes ATF +4, and as such, I'd demand my money back for that portion of the job.

    Best Regards,
  • just4fun2just4fun2 Posts: 461
    Get that fluid out of there now!!!! Use only Chrysler AFT+4 and nothing else! Take it to your Chrysler dealer and tell them what happened so they can flush your transmission completely.
  • bymbym Posts: 2
    Hi this is my first time posting here. I have a dodge caravan with a basic 3 -speed automatic transaxle, but the transaxle is junk. I also have a dodge caravan for parts, it has a good automatic transaxle, but it is overdrive. Can I put an overdrive transaxle in a minivan that has a non-overdrive transaxle in it. I don't care if the overdrive doesn't work, as long as its drivable.
  • ohvanohvan Posts: 26
    Today I discussed the ATF +4 with the Tuffy representative. He said that ATF +4 was installed. He said that you can purchase at any Autozone, not just from Chrysler. Is there a difference between the off-the-shelf ATF +4 and the Chrysler product?

    Should I still pursue replacing the new "Tuffy installed ATF +4" fluid with a product produced by the OEM?
  • just4fun2just4fun2 Posts: 461
    I have has this discussion before with friends that like to go to the Quick Lube places and the following is what I was told from the Quick Lube place near me. The mgr. said that they have a "bulk" 500 gallon transmission oil container in the ground that holds Dextron II and they just add a different package to this transmission fluid to make it compatible with Chrysler/Honda or whatever they need to put it in.

    If they used AFT+4, ask to see the bottle! If they can't produce the container marked AFT+4, run and get it to your dealer for the correct fluid type. I haven't any idea if the AFT+4 from Autozone is the same as from Chrysler.

    If you don't mind me asking, how much did you pay for this transmission service? Was it a flush or a drain and fill? How many Qt's of transmission fluid did they use?
  • masterpaul1masterpaul1 Posts: 421
    Just4fun2 is correct. I have read here in these boards that only Daimlerchrysler has the ATF +4. I have read about how these quick lub places changed the trans. fluid and all was well for about 10K and the trans. needed to be replaced. If I were you, I would go to a Daimlerchrysler dealer and explain what happened and what was told to you by Tuffy (bring the Tuffy receipt too). Have them to do a completed flush of the trans. which should cost about $150.00. (It's better to be safe then sorry.) See if your local dealer can give you some kind of letter that would support you in proving that the Tuffy placed did not use the correct Trans. fluid to get a full refund. God bless you. :shades:
  • ohvanohvan Posts: 26
    The costs were: transmission flush and fill labor: $53.00; transmission fluid (18 units @ $3.22/unit): $57.96 and ATF conditioner and converter: : $14.99.

    Total cost was about $116.00. I have a sick feeling in my stomach now . . I probably just wasted $116, right? This is on top of a front brake job that cost $76 for pads, $69 to install, $20 to machine rotors, $10 for parts cleaner, $7.60 for contact point cleaning abrasive, $8.99 for small parts,$39.99 for hardware, $59.99 for brake fluid bleed and flush, and $4.00 for brake fluid. A whopping $292. Any thoughts or helpful advice?
  • just4fun2just4fun2 Posts: 461
    Ok, let's take this one step at a time. Get the transmission flushed and the correct fluid/filter put in. Go to your Chrysler dealer for that. The fact that the Quick lube place added an "ATF Conditioner" tells me that something isn't right with this.

    Some of the parts/services for your brake job is out of line also, but that's another story. Contact the the CEO of the quick lube place explain your position and ask for your money back for the transmission service. If your out $116.00 for the transmission service it will be cheaper in the long run than a $3000.00 transmission replacement bill later.

    Good Luck.
  • vullinvullin Posts: 1
    On a '98 Dodge Caravan Sport Automatic with a 3.3 Liter Engine, sometimes when starting out, it stays in first gear and does not shift into second gear even when I wind it out a bit. I have to pull over, shut off the engine and start it back up again, and then it works and shifts fine. Except that sometimes - when it is shifting like it should do, the engine speeds up, or winds out a little, or freewheels, when shifting from 1st gear to 2nd gear for just a fraction of a if the 2nd gear clutch sometimes does not engage soon enough when the 1st gear clutch disengages. Also, just to let you know, the check engine light stays on and is on continuously...even when it is shifting fine. I would appreciate input from resolutions of similar problems and from those knowledgeable in these matters. The largest concern is the thing not shifting at all, as first mentioned. Thank you.
  • I am looking for any input on the transmission in my 99 voyager (68000
    miles) with a 2.4L Inline 4, 3 speed engine. The gears started acting
    up, i took it in for a radiator and transmission flush. They pulled
    the trans dipstick and it was a milky pink color. Opened the
    radiator-same milky pink color. they said that moisture was getting
    in somewhere-no leaks found. They said it looked like radiator was
    cracked. Took it it to get fixed-new radiator (was cracked) and both
    coolant and trans flushed 2x. A few days later trans started acting
    up. opened hood, pulled trans dipstick out, back to cloudy color.
    Opened the plastic coolant container-very dirty. opened actual
    radiator-was green and clean but noticed dots of red trans fluid
    floating. Neighbor had me turn on van and run and he told me that it
    coolant wasn't turning like is should. Any help or in put-the radiator
    and flushes where done by a mechanic friend of a friend and dont want
    to go back to them but dont want to get taken for a ride either.
    I should mention that the trans was slipping periodically while in (3yr/36000)warranty and dealership charged me for the checkup when they checked it and found nothing wrong)
  • masterpaul1masterpaul1 Posts: 421
    First, did you check the fluids before you left the mechanic to see if the service you paid for was done? If not, they might not have changed anything. Does the engine run hot? You say that you have a 99 Voyager and that when you looked in the radiator the coolant was green (antifreeze coolant). I'm not sure about this, but you might want to check your owners manual to see if the coolant system uses DEX (Coolant antifreeze) which is kinda of orange color or regular (antifreeze) which is green and used in older vechicles. :shades:
  • just4fun2just4fun2 Posts: 461
    When they replaced the old cracked radiator, did they put in a "new" radiator (out of the box) that would have a new transmission cooler installed or did they recore your old radiator and re-use your old transmission cooler? If the transmission cooler was recycled back inside the rebuilt radiator, I would bet that the transmission cooler is leaking transmission fluid into the radiator fluid.

    You will have to find out what repair they did to correct the old cracked radiator and go from there.

    Good Luck!
  • shawndsmshawndsm Posts: 1
    94 T&C 119K miles: Battery OK- All dash board lites on and OK - engine won't start. :sick:

    Is it the starter? Or is it something else? What kinda bucks to repair/replace if it's the starter? Is the starter something a novice with oil changing experience can replace? Or should this not be tried at home?

    Really trying to keep this on the cheap.
    As always, any assistance or comment is greatly appreciated.
  • badgerfanbadgerfan Posts: 1,565
    Just because the dashboard lights go on, doesn't mean your battery is OK.

    If you want to diagnose the battery on the cheap, which is the way I try to do things first also, I would pull the battery, take it to a parts place (assuming you have use of another vehicle) that can test it. If it is bad, buy a new battery and install it yourself.

    If the battery tests OK and the engine does not turn over at all, it probably is the starter.

    Starters are usually not very hard to replace yourself, just take a look at it's location and judge for yourself if you want to tackle it. Usually just a couple of bolts and a couple of electrical connectors.

    You can usually buy a remanufactured starter at discount type auto parts places fairly cheaply with a credit for bringing back the old starter.
  • mmclmmcl Posts: 3
    These transaxles need all the help they can get. Consider this: this is the same transaxle (transmission) that started life behind a little 50HP simca or volkswagon engine back in the 70's in the L car series (Omni/horizon) and has been continually pushed through upward power revisions, first in the K car and then the first chrysler (american) fwd van, the voyager, which was based on the K car chassis.
    The power output, and the weight being pushed around, now, by 180 HP and upwards is just too much, no matter how they try and strengthen the parts. The transmission (Transaxle) now already contains an amazing collection of add-on brackets, locking devices and other patch-ups for whatever part failed last, and the list goes on.
    I too had a catastrophic failure of the differential on a 97 short,that I look after carefully. Every transmission shop in town knows about this weakness,and some go so far as to predict that every Chrysler, Dodge, Plymouth
    van out there will similarly fail. As for the fluid, why would you take a chance. Up here (Kingston, Ontario) the dealer trans fluid costs the same or less than it does
    at any jobber, and you know you are getting the latest revision. I hate to side with Chrysler on anything, but the fluid does get revised. The same goes for the filter, get the right one, change the fluid a 40 000Km or 24 000 miles and you have done all you can do. I like to also flush the cooler, but that's just me being picky. I hope this helps. I'm sorry to say your transmission is bound to fail, but the proper fluid and filter might buy you a little time.
  • badgerfanbadgerfan Posts: 1,565
    Equating the transaxle used in recent generations of Dodge/Chrysler MInivans with those of the original Dodge Omni/Plymouth Horizon is ridiculous.

    Don't post about things you know little about.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Ummm, not to be too much of a contrarian, but...

    I'll bet that there isn't a single design structure, component, sub-assembly or overall dimension that is common between the old VW tranny of the original OmniRizon and the 4-Speed AutoBox on either of my two 3.8 liter GCs (one from 1998 and the other from 2003). Wait, wait! I may have spoken too soon, I think that the knurled cap to the speedometer cable might be the same. ;-)

    Best Regards,
  • masterpaul1masterpaul1 Posts: 421
    From what I have read here in Town Hall, a lot of the trans. failures from model years in the 1990's was due to wrong trans. fluid being used and heat from the engine/trans. not being able to escape because things were so tight under the hood. Also, I believe that you will have a higher trans. problem with any vechicle of the size of a minivan that not only carries passengers, but cargo and a trailer as well. Our van weighs 4260 lbs. w/o passengers. The GVW (Gross Vechicle Weight) is 5600 lbs. w/passengers and cargo. (We can only carry around an additional 1340 lbs. of passengers and cargo). We can only tow up to 1800 lbs w/o the tow package. Not to mention that our front axle should only have the combined weight of driver and front passenger of 300 lbs. and the rear axle is rated at 1100 lbs. I believe that todays Daimlerchrysler transmissions are better then the years prior to 2001 redesign and just as good as the competition and are very reliable. Even though some might not want to admit there wrongs/abuse of their vechicle. I do believe that you have a lot of people using their vans like trucks, caring all the weight around and even driving them like cars. Let me be clear, I'm not saying that is the case for everyone. As I have said before, time will tell and our van is now, as of this month, 4 yrs old. A trans. flush was done at around 34K and around 54K. No problems with the trans. whats so ever. :)
  • mmclmmcl Posts: 3
    Funny, I' ve worked on these things for 30 years, really worked on them, rebuilds, repairs, modifications, the works. Chrysler keep trying to strengthen parts but the defining and limiting factor is the size & shape of the trans case.
    If you don't want to get dirty looking underneath, crank the wheel hard left on any front-driver and look inside the left wheel well toward the transfer/idler case cover. Its a specific and unique shape, not used on any other trans. Its the same on the chrysler vans as it is on the neon as it was on the k/p/d cars as it was on the L Cars and their variants and as far back into the 80's as my service manuals go. Ask a trans shop, the outside dimensions of the case define how much and how big the stuff you can put inside, and that hasn't changed. Mistake I Think not, ,just a good memory based on a lot of hard work.
    Sure, the old first/reverse and intermediate bands are gone, and the electronically actuated clutches have given this transmission a (potentially) new lease on life, but
    every transmission shop has a pile of grenaded differentials with welded pinions, broken cases, shattered ring gears and frozen bearings to attest to the fact that you simply cannot continue to overload an already undersized design. My statement stands, the first engine in the L car was basically a Simca from Chrysler's European stable, a quick, and possibly more confident way for Chrysler to get into front wheel drive in North America in the gas shortage of the 70's. Chrysler subequently used a Volkswagon engine, and when they developed their own OHC engine it had to fit the existing transmission.
    And that seems to be the point in time where that transmission case became a constant in design. Chrysler do have a different fwd transmission design, which I believe is used in some of the high-end front drivers(Cars), but to the best of my knowledge has not been incorporated in the cab forward van, because its design uses a north-south engine arrangement, with the transaxle behind it.It took them 15 years to get their electronic trans controls half-way reliable, maybe they should just buy the raw product from Honda or Toyota and rebadge it, but come to think of it one of the first-year Dodge or Plymouth fwd minivans was a Mitsubishi, (Dodge I think), but I never worked on one.
    Chrysler's engineers are asleep on this one, or more likely have been assigned
    to future designs. In case you think I am ragging on unnecessarily about Chrysler, there isn't a dealer in Ontario (Canada) that can get replacement diffferentials, for these trans, the factory is back ordered about 600 units.And that's just the diff.I had to go to the aftermarket for parts.There seem to be a few other issues also with these units.
  • mmclmmcl Posts: 3
    Hi Shipo: Actually you might want to look closer (See Note 720) and you might be surprised, see if there is a neon econobox nearby and check inside the left fenders of both. Anyway I hope your 98 is better than my 97. It ran really well, no towing, no heavy loads, carefully, no make that METICULOUSLY maintained and wham-diff blew a hole in trans case, could have caused full power to one wheel, or complete drivetrain lock-up on a freeway. Fortunately I get worried about oil leaks and caught it in time to save most of the trans and with me taking it out and putting it back (Don't try this at home!) it only cost me about 1000bucks Can (about 400U.S.)
    Anyway all that cab forward stuff is nice, but with the trans out I found out that cab-forward means more parts forward-as in out where the salt is. My P.S. pump and pully were rotted away, p/s fluid was putrid from being overworked, water pump was shot, all at 100 000Km (60 000Miles) Sincerely wish you better luck with your GC's, would hope that your newer GC has a different style transmission.
    Want to hear a giggle (Just between me and You) Speedometers, or whatever that round thing that indicates speed is called nowadays have been electonically controlled for years, something about picking up signals from the VSS reluctor wheel. Anyway not to be picky, but the last car I had with a speedometer cable was a 76 Gremlin and it attached with a nylon clip, not a threaded ring.
    Anyway here's to us both for continuing to support Chrysler, I do get the lemons, a 73 Dart built during a labor strike, a couple of K cars - enough said - Best Regards
    and sorry for going on & on, I just like cars I Guess.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Hmmm, oddly enough, we traded my wife's Neon in on our 1998 GC. I've performed basic maintenance on both cars, and saw little if any resemblance between the two transaxles (other than the fact that they were both transverse layouts that is). Our 1998 has 90K miles on it, with minimal maintenance (as in seeing the inside of the dealership service bays at 30K, 60K and soon for the 90K service and that's it). If either the 30K or 60K service included a transmission flush, then the fluid has been flushed, if not, then I'm still running on the factory fill. This time around however, I will probably insist on a complete flush for the 90K service.

    A thought that might explain the lack of similarity between the transaxle on our old Neon and either of our GC's; does the transmission on the 3.8 differ from the unit on the lesser engined vans? I was always under the impression that all of the four speed units were pretty much the same regardless of which V6 engine was providing the urge. That said, both of our vans have not been lightly used or babied in any way, and both have been virtually bullet proof.

    Will the transaxle eventually go? Most likely. If either of them fail somewhere north of 100K, will I mind? Not in the least.

    Then again, I guess I don't get the lemons. Had a 1970 Challenger, a 1985 Turbo Daytona, a 1989 LeBaron GTC (with the inter-cooled turbo mill), a 1995 Neon Sport, a 1998 GC Sport 3.8 and the 2003 GC ES 3.8. Through them all, I don't think I paid anything out of pocket other than normal maintenance. The 1989 LeBaron, given its limited production nature did have two failures out of warranty, both the NipponDenso Alternator and the Fuel Pump (Mitsubishi?) self destructed, however, in both cases, Chrysler fixed them for free. Go figure.

    Best Regards,
  • peardogpeardog Posts: 4
    Well, I suppose I will tell my sob story regarding my Plymouth Grand Voyager SE (2000).
    The beastie, with a paltry 66,000 miles on it, decided that it no longer needed it's transmission this weekend. My wife was driveing in town and she heard a Bang..which she though was something like a blown tire. Well she parked a local store to get something..and upon returning saw a puddle of fluid forming under the engine area. She drove the 1-2 mile trip home.
    The Tranny fluid was Pouring out from underneath the engine when the car ran (parked in garage) . I threw 2 quarts of fluid into it prior to driving it ot my local tranny service place.
    They claimed something inside came loose and cracked the casing..Not sure of the terms casue when they stated best case scenario was $600 and worst was like $2200. I checked with Dodge in hopes that I was lucky enough to get a 7/70K warranty. Apparently they don't do that.. as standard.
    Is it me..or should we be sick of american companies not backing thier producst for the long haul. I mean Hyundai and Kia can back thier trannys for 100K or 10 years..but the big three cannot!!?
    I got screwed by chevy under the 3 yr /36K deal with the AC compressor dieing at around Dodge with the Crappy Trannys.. Time to go foreign I think. At least the base warranty will last the lenght of the LOAN!!!
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