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Chrysler Minivan Transmission Problems



  • hersbirdhersbird Posts: 323
    Another little slam on the Honda vans; they are on the 400th post of the seventh topic of Honda Odyssey problems. That's like 3400 posts on a van that has only sold a little over 100,000 units, and are not even 2 years old. How do you like them odds?
  • hersbirdhersbird Posts: 323
    Why would an Odyssey owner be cruising the Caravan boards? Welcome to Troll Hall my friends. My point is the Caravan suffers no greater increased rate of transmission failures then any other comparable minivan out there. People always assume Honda is the most reliable so if I could show them the grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence the Honda makes for the best comparison. I'm sure if Chrysler was only making 150,000 vans a year they would be in even higher demand then the 150,000 Honda's made.

    Sorry, I don't feel much better, I just sometimes forget how touchy the Honda crowd has gotten now that they have real life reliability numbers to deal with not "expected reliability"
  • drew_drew_ Posts: 3,382
    It is true that the Chrysler's transmission problems have decreased dramatically over the last couple of years. However, I was speaking to someone who handles the warranty claims for Chryslers dealerships, and even he did say that the tranmission problem/failure rate used to be 15% several years ago. It's down to about 1% nowadays. Also mentioned was the fact that if you're not in the affected group, then your van's transmission is fine. However, if you're in the affected group, you could experience mild to severe problems. Fortunately, my '94 Grand Voyager LE AWD seems to be in the unaffected group. It has 92K kms and is still running on its first transmission.

    Keep it civil guys! No name calling or personal attacks, please. Thanks,

    Vans, SUVs, and Aftermarket and Accessories message boards
  • hersbirdhersbird Posts: 323
    So many of the "helpful" responses here are from the list of usual suspects that frequently troll all of the Chrysler forums. Check out chrydodjeep1's response above, Mr. Azz clearly doesn't know what he's talking about and is just trying to stir things up. Talking about Chrysler transmissions with no problems on a Chrysler transmission problem board seems to be right on topic. Maybe I could help people acheive the same kind of reliability in their vans as I have in mine. I guess people don't want that, they just want to vent. For those of you who may really be looking for good advice check out
    Try and keep the transmission together the fist time, once you have it torn apart and rebuilt you are looking for more frequent problems. Think about it, who is going to be able to assemble transmissions the best? The techs at the factory doing many a day in a clean enviroment with only transmissions, or the guy down at the dealer who has to tear it out spread it out on the bench, throw a couple of new parts in it and put it all back together? The fluid thing posted (and quickly blown off) above is the key here. If your not going to service the transmission correctly then don't do it at all, you will be better off.
  • royallenroyallen Posts: 227
    hers bird: While I agree with you that timely service with the correct fluid is quite important I would not discount the owners reports of 1. failures in spite of doing this and 2. failures in less mileage than 15K- especially on '89-'93 models. This leads to these conclusions 1. there were design problems that were slowly corrected over a period of 4 or 5 years(maybe more) and 2. that overheating is an equally important problem, especially on the "Grand" versions that get bigger loads, trailers, etc. So I recommend an auxiliary cooler if you drive under conditions that elevates the engine coolant above the mid point on the temp gage which involves higher loads, summer temps with AC, long up hill grades and trailers. In addition one needs to avoid 1. shifting into drive while rolling backward 2. excessive wheel spin on ice and 3. excessive shifting in and out of OD in city driving by turning it off.
  • h20guyh20guy Posts: 64
    my sister in law purchased new an early 90s caravan and only just recently had any problems at all. It was not tranny related and cost only $500.00 to repair, also they love this van and I have ridden in it several times and find it quite comfortable. It seems some people think only one van fits all, while I feel there are lots of vans to fit all of us. We own an oddy which works for us and someone else owns their choice which works for them. Hum freedom of choice what a concept.
  • scannerscanner Posts: 295
    Just read all 60+ messages. Considering all the complaining going on, you would think someone would have mentioned the correct type transmission fluid to use by now.

    If you think taking your van to a Chrysler dealer guarantees you will get the correct fluid, then think again. Better ask the mechanic that's doing the fluid change what type fluid is being used, and make sure to get the fluid type used printed on your receipt.

    Check out the links below, especially the first one. You would think a so called Chrysler master mechanic would at least know how to spell Dexron.


  • hersbirdhersbird Posts: 323
    I think by being subtle you are going to confuse people with that first link. Scanner is trying to show an incompetent mechanic not the correct type of fluid. DO NOT USE DEXRON, I know you know this scanner I just don't want anybody to be confused. This is exactly what happened to my dad's transmission. A jiffy lube put in Dexron and about 1000 miles later it was having all kinds of problems. I found the allpar site and figured out what happened. We changed the fluid and filter in the driveway to Mopar and it has been perfect again ever since. Realize even if you take your van to a Chrysler dealership, make certain you get Mopar fluid, they may be a multi-brand dealer and have other types a not-so-savy tech may put in not thinking.
  • enetheneth Posts: 285
    One might also be led to believe that the use of the wrong fluid is the major (or only) cause of failure in these units, in which case one would most empahtically be dead wrong. Some of us have had repeated failures even with proper fluid, maintenance, etc. - as have thousands upon thousands of consumers who got stuck by this underengineered marvel of an electronic transaxle.

    By all means, baby it - change the fluid and filter properly, and on time - and you may see 60,000 miles before needing major repairs on one.
  • I am about to purchase a Limited Edition 1994 Town and Country with 73,000 miles on it for $5,000. I took it in to a transmition place and they said that they were concerned because it already had a new transition put in and it also had been rebuilt once. It also has a small leak that can be fixed, otherwise the condition of the transmition is good. What do you think? Should I be concerned?
  • royallenroyallen Posts: 227
    Cheri: Do you wonder why you can buy so much vehicle, 7 passenger, V-6 well equipped for $5000? Based on a few hundred postings on Edmunds and ratings in car guides the answer seems to be less than average reliability. Is this a fair, too little or too much discount? It depends on how honest, how good and how ecomonical your mechanic is and how inconvenient down time might be.
    Would a 1/4 risk of spending $1500 in transmission repair in 60 or 70K miles (and down time) spoil the deal? Would a brand X risk of 1/7 be worth $3000-$5000 more money? Is brand X truely that much better? I know it is hard to judge. Check out the Edmunds reliability ratings for the choices you might consider. Also check on those you have personal experience with. When I bought my '95 Caravan used, it had 48K and cost $4000 less than the next best option(in my opinion). Since I have three cars in the family of 3, down time is inconvenient but manageable. I serviced the vehicle, installed a transmission cooler, towed my boat and am still happy after 2 years and 19000 miles with minimal problems. I would be sure all accessories are working properly and expect to spend .10 a mile on maintenance and repair, maybe more if you have someone else do every job.
  • I'd like to share my transmission woes with other Town & Country mini-van owners. I feel this is a little like attending an AA meeting. 'Hello, my name is Jeff. I bought a Chrysler mini-van.' I will not purchase a Chrysler product again.

    Our 1996 Town & Country is losing it's second transmission. The vehicle has 39,600 miles on it. This transmission has 17,800 miles on it. Chrysler has offered to pay for half the cost to rebuild or replace the transmission under a goodwill' program. I don't think that's good enough.

    I'd like to get rid of this van, but outside of the engine and the air-conditioner, most of the mechanical parts and some of the electrical are only two years old. I've tried talking to Chrysler, but I didn't get anywhere. So, I want to take our Chrysler dealership to small claims court to get them to pay all of the cost. I'm not sure what my chances are of winning in small claims. The transmission, although brand new, came out of warranty when the van reached 36,000 miles. And, Chrysler is offering to pay half.

    What do you think? Has anyone else tried taking Chrysler to small claims court? I've read some of the other web sites suggesting this, but has anyone out there actually tried this and won?
  • gpm5gpm5 Posts: 785
    Do these problems apply to the 2000 and 2001 T&C models. I have not seen transmission problems posted for these. For Ford Windstars the problem appears to be continuing.
  • I don't know. I wish I could find out how many transmissons Chrysler is replacing per year on models produced in the last five years. I can tell you that we are still waiting for our transmission to be replaced. The dealership did not have any on hand, although they had two on order. The first time the transmission went out (in 1998) it took four weeks to get a new one. We've only been waiting one week, so far, this time. I don't know if I can draw any conclusions from the wait. I can tell you that a co-worker of mine bought a new 2000 Town & Country LXi a year ago, and had the exact same thing happen to his transmission three weeks ago that happened to mine in 1998. The locking pin fell into the transmission while the van was moving and tore it up inside.

    Chrsyler builds a very pretty and very comfortable van. I just don't think quality is part of the package, and it's not just the transmission I am talking about. I expect some things to wear out with time, but I have never had a vehicle with so many problems, especially one that just sits in the garage most of the time. This van only has 39,600 miles on it! The only reason we've kept it is we keep thinking that there can't be anything else go wrong. It's all been replaced once. That's not 100% accurate, but it sure feels that way.

    If you're going to be seduced by the Chrysler's good looks and sumptuous interior, I think you've got to protect yourself and buy an extended warranty.

    As for us, it's too late. We'll pay our half for the re-manufactured transmission, and gamble that nothing else major will break on it. I'll try to get some additional money from Chrysler through small claims court. And, I think I'll start parking the van in our driveway. Too many things have broken on it just sitting in the garage.
  • What a combination! You never know when either one will leave you stranded...My 96 GV went through two trans (@52k, and 88k, no help from the factory), and alot of brake problems (especially the rear). This early 96 vehicle also must have had 5 or 6 recalls that I can recall. One last word from me, and it will probably irritate some in this Town Hall--If your car no longer inspires your confidence to drive it, get rid of it!
  • steine13steine13 Posts: 2,585
    ...where all the bikers hang out. You climb on a table and yell "Harley's suck!" You get beat up. That's clearly wrong, but what did you think was going to happen?
    You buy this Chrysler minivan with an overdrive transmission. It craps out after 60k miles. DC doesn't stand behind their product. That's clearly wrong, but it isn't exactly a surprise either...
    They've been putting crappy transmissions in the vans for over a decade now. Why do you folks keep buying these things? And if people keep buying them, why should DC change anything?
  • hersbirdhersbird Posts: 323
    If you go to that same bar and yell, "Honda's Suck!" all you'll get is free beer.
  • marc36marc36 Posts: 8
    Back to the initial question. My 1995 Caravan's transmission went bad on me about two years ago at about 45k miles. Symptoms were: only during cold starts in the morning, I'd start the car and put it in reverse to back out of my driveway; pushing accelerator produced no movement, just a high revving of engine; after about 10 seconds of this, car would lurch into motion with a very loud THUMP!; then it was generally OK until the next cold start (a long sit or the next morning). Since this was awhile ago, I can't remember the precise figures but the local Dodge dealer agreed to split the repair cost 1/2 with me. I think I ended up paying about $600 or so. This was only after persisting and saying "I was aware of many many such problems, had many details from the internet, and would bring in examples if necessary". They balked a little, maybe to see how persistant i'd be but basically cut the 1/2 deal with me within two phone calls, not too bad. I could have argued more, but needed to get the repair done to get car working and move on in life. Good luck to all with similar problem.
  • dmarksondmarkson Posts: 2
    My 93 GC had it's transmission go last fall. I had 69750 miles, just under the 7/70K warranty. It was replaced at no cost. The symptoms were exactly the same as "marc36"'s. When it was cold it took about 10 seconds before it would go into reverse. Other than that the van has been pretty good. In 73K miles I went through two sets of brakes, two sets of tires, shocks, battery, A/C o-ring, belt adjuster gizmo, and of course, the transmission. I had all the recommended service done, was not hard on the transmission, did no towing. I drove a 2001 T&C and it was pretty nice, but the engine/transmission sound identical to my 93, I know they are the same. That one fact made me decide to never buy another one. I know it must be cheaper for them to replace transmissions rather than redesign it like they should, but they apparently did not take into account people that were fed up with it. Based on a small survery at work, everyone I talked to that has/had a Chrysler 3.3L/4 speed van has had transmission problems. That is a miserable record. I think that the transmission problem keeps resale values down too. My new Odyssey will be in next week. Then I'll see just how much I'll get for the GC. I'm sure that it will be substantially more than the Honda dealer was going to give me :)
  • hersbirdhersbird Posts: 323
    if your new odyssey goes 8 years and 69750 miles without a transmission problem it will be the new ody record. Of course the record you got with your Dodge has been broken by hundreds of thousands of owners, far more Chrysler minivans have gone 100,000 and beyond on the original transmission, not 1 Odyssey has. You actually may wish for worse luck with the ody because it will have to fail much quicker to still be covered by the factory warranty like your Dodge was. Just a thought.
  • enetheneth Posts: 285
    Of course, _was_ is the operative word. Transmission replacement costs were eating Chrysler alive - which is why the warranty _is_ now 3 years/36,000 miles, just like the Honda.

    If you want a longer transmission warranty, you need a Toyota or a Mazda.
  • dmarksondmarkson Posts: 2
    Of course there are more Chrysler transmissions over 100K than Honda because there are far more Chrysler vehicles made. My neighbor just bought a new GC so we'll be comparing stories over the next few years. They had a ton of trouble with their last GC, but they had a requirement that they have 3 seats available in the 2nd position and the Honda can't do that. I like the GC, our choice was down to the GC and the Ody. If the GC has such an improved tranny, they should be giving the 7/70 warranty and proving everyone wrong. That might have made a difference to me. The GC seats, looks and stereo are superior to the Odyssey IMHO. I haven't decided whether to go with an extended warranty on the Honda. I have not had one on the last 4 cars and it would have been a waste in all cases. However, if my '93 didn't have the 7/70 then I would have wished for the extended warranty!
  • greg116greg116 Posts: 116
    Our 1990 Dodge Caravan SE 3.0L 4-speed auto had the transmission problem, right before the warranty ran out. We took it to a repair shop... not sure of the name, think it was a tire place or something... in downtown Victoria, BC. They said they saw what was wrong and could repair it, and they did. The odo just recently rolled over to 170,000KM (can anyone do the conversion to miles for me???) and the tranny's never had a problem since. Engine's in good shape too. In fact, aside from normal wear and tear, it's been pretty nice. It's only left my mother stranded once with a dead fuel pump, but other than that its been great.
  • belgameesbelgamees Posts: 3
    I live in Europe (Belgium) and own a 96 dodge gran caravan se. At 70000miles transmission went bad. It wouldn't take al the gears anymore or stay constant in 3rd until you turn of the engine.
    Chrysler garage says they never heard of problems like that wanting to charge me 2700$ to fix the thing. I went to an automatic specialist (there aren't much around) That guy tells me it cost 1600$ to repair. He even states that the chrysler garage brings the transmission to him to rebuilt. Torqueconverter is blown. He shows me the new piece and tells me he immediately takes it to a welder to have the piece welded like it should. He also put 100% synthetic oil in it and I did not have one problem with it yet (110000miles). He even tells me that over 50% of his work is for chrysler transmissions, he even wished me good luck because I'll need it with that transmission. But besides that I've had and still have windshield wipers starting to wipe when they feel like it, the car vibrates when i brake, except when i brake very hard, then it doesn't do it. (changed brakes and disc several times without result) The belt tensioner just broke of one day. aircontioner went bad, now I'm having problems with the starter, sometimes i have to start it 3 or 4 times before it engages,I had to take off the car alarm because it would immobilise the car while I was driving, now recently the car hasn't a stable iddle (even just stalls now and then) I even had a fire in the cockpit, couldn't see anymore of the white smoke, turned of the car, it stopped smoking, but never found where it came from, never had it again.

    But besides that I can live with it.

    very disappointed dodge driver
  • enetheneth Posts: 285
    70,000 miles is excellent service from a Chrysler 42TE transaxle - that's probably above the mileage at which most drivers start to have troubles. Supposedly, another design fix was put in place halfway through the 2000 model year that was to fix the problems, once and for all (of course, that doesn't necessarily explain the 11.5 model years that went by before that).
  • belgameesbelgamees Posts: 3
    The transmission blew at 70000, but it started not wanting to shift or just staying in one gear until I turn of the engine at 35000 miles. It had changed the oil and oil filter numerous times because the computer kept saying the oil was dirty
    It anoyed me for almost 2 years before it finally gave up on me.
    This was probably the best thing that could happen to it.
  • twgvantwgvan Posts: 1
    I've been told that Chrysler has addressed the transmission problems in the past year or so and that the failure rate is dramatically less than it was. Does anyone know if this is true? We are thinking about getting a new van to replace our 97 Voyager (the transmission just failed) and if that problem really has been addressed, we would consider buying another Chrysler van. But if it hasn't been fixed, I think we're headed in another direction - probably toward Honda. Thanks for any advice.
  • hersbirdhersbird Posts: 323
    I was under the impression they did make some changes in the 98 MY, I think they even changed the letter designation for it (maybe that's all they changed!) My question would be is have they fixed the Honda transmission yet? Oh well at least it fails sooner so it would still be under warranty.
  • h20guyh20guy Posts: 64
    43% 1999 Honda accord transmission failure rate. Was there a recall? Where did you get your info. ? Please don't delete your post. Not trolling just asking.
  • enetheneth Posts: 285
    Personal acquaintances and collegues, I'd guess, with a sample size of about five.

    According to Consumer Reports, which collects statistical data from a larger sample pool (say, 50-100,000 times larger), the 1999 Accord rates much better than average in transmission reliability, meaning a failure rate of 2.0% or less.

    The Caravan, et. al., were rated as better than average for 1999 transmission reliability, one notch lower than the Accord, with a failure rate of 2.0-5.0%.
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