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Chrysler Minivan Transmission Problems



  • masterpaul1masterpaul1 Posts: 421
    I guess it really depends on how you look at it. Not everybody buys a vechicle just because it has a long warranty. I believe that if people have the confidence in that car maker, they will still buy the vechicle and will make a choice of getting an extended warranty. I'm sure Daimlerchrysler will still give you the option to buy an extended warranty. So all is not lost. You'll just have to pay a little more for peace of mind if you keep your vechicle over three years. :shades:
  • hansiennahansienna Posts: 2,312
    I would have NOT purchased my used 2002 T&C if DaimlerChrysler without the 7 year 100,000 mile powertrain warranty. I had too many expensive repairs on my 1970 Dodge van in the 6 years I owned it to even consider another Chrysler product from 1976 (when I dumped it for an even worse Volkswagen bus that also was purchased new) until last summer.
    What to buy? :confuse:
    I had planned on getting a new Honda Odyssey but now my friend tells me his 2002 Honda Accord purchased new is now leaking transmission fluid with less than 50,000 miles on it. I have read of more Odyssey transmission problems in the Town Hall than DC transmissions on vehicles built within the last few years.
    If DC drops the 7 year 70,000 mile powertrain warranty, they will lose many customers.
  • 97xpresso97xpresso Posts: 249
    Of course, you will always be able to purchase an extended warranty, what's your point? I do believe that Chyslers quality has improved, and if that is the case, the warranty cost to DCX will be minimal. How much are they already saving with all the de-contenting? I mean if they were never there, you would not miss them, but great features that were already in place, just disappear, without the chance to get them even as options. How many repeat customers felt cheated when they purchased a new vehicle, and the features they had on their OLD vehicles were missing? My brother has just decided to purchase a mini van. He looked at and priced the Honda, Toyota and Dodge GCV SXT. He decided on the Dodge, half because of price, and half because of the 7/70,000. I recommended the Dodge, solely based on the 7/70000 warranty.
  • masterpaul1masterpaul1 Posts: 421
    My point was, a few people on this board said that they would not make a future purchase of a Daimlerchrysler minivan because of the change in the 7/70,000 warranty. I just made the statement about buying the extended warranty because nobody else on this board made reference to that. As far as the features go, I agree with you on that. But, when compared to the competition, Daimlerchrysler wins hands down when it comes to variety and getting the most features for the money when compared to other makes. I think they might even be passing both the Ody. and Sienna in the reliability area too. :shades:
  • hansiennahansienna Posts: 2,312
    I agree with masterpaul1 that DC minivans have the most features that my wife and I want....but sadly, many of the nice features that are on my 2002 T&C LX have been removed from the more expensive 2005 Touring and Limited T&C minivans.
    It took Honda many years to finally offer separately controlled temperature for the driver and front passenger on the Odyssey and Toyota only offers it on the Siennas that have an MSRP of $31,000 and above.
  • ClairesClaires Chicago areaPosts: 1,221
    The discussion is starting to derail away from Minivan Transmission Problems. If you'd like to talk about warranties and/or their impact on buying trends, please take it to the Smart Shopper or the Minivan Shopping discussion.


    Need help getting around? - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

  • 97xpresso97xpresso Posts: 249
    The topic has drifted away fom transmission problems, but the 7/70,000 warranty was the reason many leery customers purchased DCX 41TE minivans, despite the horror stories on this and other discussion boards about the reliability of these transmissions. I apologize and will stop now.
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    It's funny. I've talked to four Honda Ody owners in the last three months with failed transmissions -- two out of warranty, I might add -- and they don't seem to think much about it. In fact, they each think the Honda is the most reliable.

  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,603
    The number of Odysseys that have transmission problems is miniscule compared to the Chryslers. You must talk to a lot of people if you talked to four people in three months who had trouble.

    Still, last summer, I took a 1992 Caravan on trade with 258,000 miles. Original engine and transmission. Go figure!
  • mediumfrymediumfry Posts: 239
    Hello folks. This is my first post on this forum and I must admit I haven't read the previous posts. I do have a question though.

    I just bought a '96 Chrysler T&C with a 3.8 motor and the 4 speed automatic...T41E? A604? something like that. 125K miles on it and no tranny work since the previous owner bought it at 60K mi. Anyway it goes up through the gears fine including overdrive. But since I got it, it has been shifting down roughly, particularly when decelerating to a stop at around will lurch forward as it does its last downshift. Today I took it on a road trip of a couple hundred miles and found that it basically has downshift problems at any speed, as noticed when cruising at 60MPH with cruise control on. As we went up and down hills (even subtle ones), I felt little pushes and pulls occasionally. I had a '93 Voyager that did not do this.

    So now my question: I have heard that sometimes one can have the tranny control computer re-programmed or change the fluid or change a solenoid pack or perhaps some other cheaper things instead of having the whole thing replaced. I have already changed the fluid and made sure I used ATF+3 but the problem isn't the shuddering at overdrive anyway. Perhaps those with experience could let me know if some of the cheaper fixes work on this downshift issue or if I should just schedule to get this dad bloomin transmission changed out.

    Thanks for your help,

  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    You say that it's minuscule, but I don't think so9. Maybe less, but most certainly not minuscule. And actually the four people are people I know. How many people do you talk to?

    Besides, there are far more Chrysler mini-van versions on the road compared to Odysseys. But I would bet the failure rate on both the Honda and the Chrysler are closer to each other than most Honda lovers would want to admit.

  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    Do you occasionally feel a shudder when the transmission is going through the gears?

    It sounds like you are experiencing the "bump-shift" symptom. For most years in the '94-98 vintage the problem half the time is PCM reprogramming. A Chrysler/Dodge dealer should be able to resolve that. A clogged or partially clogged filter, dirty or oxidized ATF, or incorrect fluid level will cause your symptoms. Shift solenoid packs were notorious for developing problems, either from dirt or the plungers becoming magnetized over time, but they usually cause upshift problems. Shift packs are changed easily without tear-down. You could have a dirty valve body, which can also be removed and serviced without overhaul, or the gear shift and/or throttle cables may be out of adjustment. A loose front band will cause irratic and harsh downshifts.

    You could try retraining the PCM shift schedule yourself, there is a procedure for it. But on a transmission with that many miles a retrain may actually get you into more problems with that old fluid. Unless fairly new, a driver-induced PCM retrain should not be attempted on old fluid.

    More serious items are a sticking clutch or a governor, or a front pump seal or rear input shaft seal leaking. The torque converter could be mechanically locked-up, or a PCM fault could be enabling the TCC circuit, which essentially locks the torque converter up. With torque converter lock-up (all the time), the problem is accompanied by a very harsh initial engagement into any drive gear. These items require transmission disassembly.

    A dealer can run a simple test with the DRB3 tool that can detect where the problem is. It might be worth the $100 or whatever a dealer charges nowadays to take a health check.

    Oh, last but not least, DO NOT use Dexron-Mercon ATF with or without a additive, in a Chrysler-built automatic transmission.

    Good luck,
  • mediumfrymediumfry Posts: 239
    Wow, thanks Dustyk.

    I actually do seem to feel some shudder while accelerating, but I never attributed the vibration to the transmission because it happens during acceleration in a given gear (particularly first and second I think) but not during shifting. I was going to look into a CV joint or something because it's more reminiscent of the symptoms of an old rear-wheel-drive car I had with a failing U-joint on the drive shaft. Does this information help understand what it might be?

    The van got a new PCM and a new TCM together in 2000 or 2001. So, supposedly it has a more up-to-date program than what came originally in '96. I am going to check the paperwork to see if this was done at a Chrysler dealer or a local shop. Perhaps something was not done correctly...

    I did change the fluid (ATF+3) and filter right after I bought the van, and I looked up the re-train procedure and followed it. Incidentally the magnet in the pan had nothing but very fine particles in it, like a light coating of mud, but nothing that looked serious to me. I've replaced fluid on 'good' trannies that have the same stuff on the magnet in the pan. Anyway, at first I thought the fluid change might have helped a little (because I could not confirm what was in it before) but now I don't think the new fluid helped.

    I will study your note carefully, research your notes in my shop manuals, and probably go get a diagnostic done. The problem here is finding someone I can trust to do the diagnostic, because it seems like EVERYONE gets told they need a replacement transmission instead of a cheaper fix. Of course, I'm trying to avoid the $1500-$2200 option if possible.

    Thanks again,

  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,603
    That is a bet you would lose. Just ask any independant transmission shop.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Not judging by my neighborhood. Two Grand Caravans, four Hondas, so far, zero transmission replacements on the Dodges, six transmission replacements (two our of warranty) on the Hondas.

    Then again, one of the "two transmission replacement" Hondas was just traded in on a new Honda with the new (5-Speed?) transmission, it will be interesting to see how long the new transmission lasts before it fails.

    Best Regards,
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    It so happens that I have talked to "independent" transmission repair shops. I have a transmission tech in the family. Since I pass two every day I can see what's sitting on the lot. In terms of actual quantity I have seen more Chrysler mini-vans at these shops, although not to the degree nowadays that I once observed. But I see Hondas there also, and based on the ratio of Honda-to-Chrysler mini-van sales, it appears that the rate they're in for service is about same. So it's a bet I'd take in confidence.

    It is probably a sacreligious opinion to have to a Honda salesperson, but it does not mean that it's not based on facts.

  • hansiennahansienna Posts: 2,312
    Better yet, count the number of Honda Odyssey transmission problems reported here in the Town Hall and then count the number of DaimlerChrysler transmission problems.
    Since there are so many more DC minivans sold than the Odyssey, there should be fewer Ody transmission problems but that is not the indication here in the Town Hall.
    The Odyssey is well known for having transmission problems as reported by owners here in the Town Hall. :blush:
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    ...and The Odyssey hasn't had to bear the unfortunate problem of people having used or had installed the wrong transmission fluid! That alone probably is the reason for more than half of past Chrysler automatic transmission failures.

    Best regards,
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    There could be a problem with the torque converter clutch, but by symptom alone it's hard to tell. You wrote that there was a PCM replacement some time back, but the PCM is not really the factor here. In my earlier mail note I stated "PCM," when I really meant TCM, or Transmission Control Module. Maybe my confusion in terms misled you. The reflash program would reside in the TCM.

    Chrysler automatics are designed to operate with a specific quality to the transmission fluid. The entire ATF+ series contains friction modifiers that aid in controlling clutch operation. Over time the fluid will dissipate the important additives and affect clutch performance. Chrysler transmissions are designed to compensate for this as they are being driven by constantly updating the TCM shift program. A system for monitoring clutch slippage is used to control clutch actuation pressures to ensure that clutches do not slip excessively. Obviously if they do it increases the wearing of the clutch facings.

    Slippage of the torque converter clutch is almost always the source of shudder (this is not a unique problem to the Chrysler FWD automatic series, by the way). A slipping torque converter clutch is almost always caused by operation with expended ATF, either dirty, oxidized, or dissipated, over a period of time. Like most things, there's a practical limit to how much the transmission can compensate for expended fluid.

    Of course, problems with the torque converter itself can cause shudder. Usually, if the shudder is not present after 42 mph the problem is related to the torque converter clutch. This means that the condition of the fluid could be playing a major role. Another problem that I've heard of is getting the wrong transmission filter installed. This generally occurs when the transmission has been serviced by somebody other than a Chrysler/Dodge dealer.

    As far as trusting the shift program flash of the TCM, I would agree that it would be a normal assumption to think it has the most recent flash. However, if I understand the parts process correctly, it is also possible that a dealer had the correct TCM in stock that was built before the reflash became available. This would mean that a technician would need to reflash immediately after installation of the "new" part. If the tech. was up to date with his service bulletins then I think it can be assumed it was done. If the TCM was an aftermarket, I'd be very leery that it was current.

    My recommendation is to have it checked by a Chrysler certified technician. If the news is real bad (overhaul needed), you could continue to drive it until it gets worse or fails completely.

    Keep us posted.

    Best regards,
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,603
    Well, since we don't have empiracle evidence neither of our opinions are based on facts it would seem.

    I just know where I would place my bet.
  • hansiennahansienna Posts: 2,312
    My money placed my bet on a used 2002 T&C LX instead of buying an Odyssey. I feel DaimlerChrysler minivan transmissions are now more reliable than those of the Odyssey based on reading in the Town Hall for some time even though I have driven a 2001 Odyssey EX many times and think it has the most comfortable seats of any current vehicle (better than the later Odysseys too).
    However, after riding in and driving another son's 2002 GC Sport, the very nice separately controlled temperature for driver and front passenger was of more value to me than the Magic Seat of the Odyssey.
    DC minivan transmission problems are a thing of the past while the Odyssey is still plagued by unreliable transmissions. In addition to Odyssey transmission problems, the Honda Accord also has problems. My friend is mad at Honda because his 2002 Accord has a transmission fluid leak at 50,000 miles. :sick:
  • masterpaul1masterpaul1 Posts: 421
    Well, we placed our bet on a used 2001 DGC EX back in Sep. 2003 that had only 37K. We only paid $16,000 for it. (Without title, taxes, and some extra stuff we bought with it). We now have 60K and our van still runs good. We had a regular trans. flush at about 50K and the only none maintenance issue was both front power window regulator motors went right after purchase. We did purchase the Maximumcare Extended Warranty for peace of mind, since the original warranty had expired at time of purchase and we bought new/used. I read a lot about the trans. issues along with other issues here in Town Hall along with some good things said too. I read Motor Trend, CR, JD Power and some other resources. Despite what they all said, which wasn't that good, I still decided on a Daimlerchrysler purchase and haven't regrated it not one bit. :surprise:
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,603
    You know, people read these forums and some believe every word as gospel.

    Odysseys are not "still plagued" with unreliable transmissions! The new Odysseys have a much different transmission! They never were "plagued" in the first place! Yes, a small percentage had problems and those are the onew we read about and the ones you like to talk about. Honda stepped up to the plate, did the right thing, and extended the warranties on these.

    As a PREVENTATIVE measure, they even took the massive step of recalling the cars that ***might*** develope a problem and installed oil jets to take care of it!

    Maybe DC has, in fact, solved their problems. I hope this is the case. There was a time when Chrysler built the very best automatic transmission ever.

    The Torqueflights were almost indestructable. I would have to think they could do this again.
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    ..except, you are obviously suspicious of failing Honda transmission reports, but not so with Chryslers?! That's a curious one-way skepticism.

    Your correct, nobody here has presented empirical evidence, but you're the only Honda sales person in here lobbing a grenade theory that only affects Chryslers. It just so happens that a few people believe that Chrysler's transmission "problems" have been over stated, too.

    As I said wrote earlier, I'd bet that the failure RATES are close to the same.
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    This isn't the place to continue your comments about the Odyssey transmission - you've made it clear how you feel and it is not on topic here. If you want to continue, please find a more appropriate discussion - thanks.
  • texas71texas71 Posts: 2
    I have a 1996 T&C. The transmission is not shifting past 2nd gear. When I noticed the problem, I changed the fluid and filter. I did not use the recommended type of fluid. If I changed the fluid and filter agin and used the correct fluid, would this help? Also the van will not start now. I drove it, home from work, the next morning it would not start. It turned over but sounded as if it had no fuel. I added fuel, but it still would not start. I noticed that the engine oil level was a little bit below the add mark, would the "Auto shutdown" have anything to do with this? Can someone help me, Please!
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    There are a number of immediate things that could cause your symptoms.

    If you have first gear and reverse, it could be a pressure governor problem, either a faulty governor itself or electrical circuit problem. Another problem area could be in the valve body of the transmission, either a sticking or binding 1-2 shift control valve, or a failed 1-2 shift solenoid. On a high mileage and/or unmaintained transmission, you could also have a badly worn front band or damaged servo.

    If the transmission is stuck in first gear (no reverse), there could be a gearshift linkage problem.

    In any event, the addition of the incorrect ATF will necessitate the complete evacuation of the transmission fluid from the unit and a complete refill. Use only ATF+4.

  • bob_g_wbob_g_w Posts: 2
    I have a TC 96, which has been developing Trans problems for over a year. It has 81k. I have had it to the dealer and they flush the system & changed a component to ‘fix’ the shifting problem. It seemed to have worked short term. Now I have 2 probs. The first, the car jumped into Neutral while driving. (Just falls in, not when accelerating). Second is that it has issues going into 3rd gear.
    The questions to the forum are this: A). Do I take it to a dealer and tried and have it fixed? –or- Take it to an AAMOC trans place for fixing? B). Is it better to get a rebuilt trans or fix the broken parts on the current trans?
    C). What is the relative cost to expect to pay for installing a rebuild trans?
    Thanks in advance. - Bob
  • 97xpresso97xpresso Posts: 249
    I would not go to Aamco. They probably don't even know what ATF+3 or ATF+4 is. If you get a remanufactured unit fom the dealer, it comes with a 3/36,000 warranty. It will cost plenty though ~ $2000 - $2500. You might not need a new trans, but from all the posts I've read, that's what you can expect to hear before they even tear it down.
  • marine2marine2 Posts: 1,155
    There are a lot of things where I'll take my car or van to a private garage or specialty shop, to get fixed or fluid changed. But the transmission is not one of them. With all the problems Chrysler has had with transmissions and the fact that much of those problems were because of wrong fluid or filter, why would anyone take their van to anyplace besides Chrysler to change it?

    Some of these tranny shops will tell you, (maybe not even tell you) that fluid like Dextron, is compatable with Chrysler fluid, and put it in. It is not. For a few bucks more, don't mess with it, take it to Chrysler/Dodge and have it done. Then you'll know it's the right fluid and filter. What's the old saying? Pay me now, or pay me later.You don't want what you would have to pay later trying to save a few bucks.
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