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Chrysler Minivan Transmission Problems



  • royallenroyallen Posts: 227
    There is a long history of vehicles of various makes being subject to sudden acceleration. First I would be making a report to, then I would be working up the chain of command at Chrysler since you need to talk to someone concerned about fleet safety. The dealer response of tamstertime is particularly inadequate. The idea they can not address a problem not showing as a check engine light is retarded. Most items monitored by the computer contribute to emission control. Many problems drivers care about will never be found by the computer, such as a failed water pump or a broken belt or a flat tire.
    Try a google search on "unintended acceleration" and see what ideas/information you find. Roy
  • Thanks for your response Roy. Interestingly enough, my husband told me today he had an instance where the van wouldn't respond when shifted into drive, but idled as if in neutral. He had to shift back to park and drive again before being able to proceed. This morning, while in drive, the van shook and ran very rough. Obviously, we do have transmission issues and guess what - that check engine light didn't come on this time either! So much for investing in a reliable new vehicle! I'm going to look into some of your follow-up suggestions. Thanks - Tammy
  • I recently had my 97 plymouth grand voyager v6 3.3L transmission rebuilt and the guy put in dexron. From what I have read here it is a death sentence for my new tranny. The guy gave me the run around and said the dexron was fine and wouldnt put in the atf3 that is recommended. I am planning on doing it myself but have never done it on this van. On my volvo 240 you just pull off the return transmission line, attach a rubber hose and flush out the fluid 2 quarts at a time and then add the same amount of new fluid until you've run about 12 quarts of fluid through. Does anyone know how to do this with my van and could you explain the procedure. Any help would be greatly appreciated. By the way I am really tired of inept and irresposible mechanics who cut corners and just dont do the right thing. It's maddening. Thanks Phil
  • I own a '97 Sport Caravan, short wheelbase. I bought it new, had the dealer change the trans fluid and filter at recommended intervals. Currently have 142K miles with no problems. I hear few success stories out there about these transmissions. I called a local trans repair shop and they said these transmissions should go 180K with proper care. Hope I haven't jinxed myself by writing this.
  • I also have a '97 Sport (short) which has 140K on the original trans. No problems yet, except a shutter in 4th gear at lower speeds, around 30-45. Other than that,it's been a great car. I'm thinking about taking it on a 2K mile round trip next month. Good idea?
  • royallenroyallen Posts: 227
    My '95 has a filler tube that allows insertion of a 5/16 inside diameter, 7/16 OD plastic tube. With about a 5.5' length it will reach from the bottom of the tranny pan to a dish pan on the ground. If the dipstick shows full it will siphon a little over 3.5 qt. Roy
  • royallenroyallen Posts: 227
    Not going into gear sounds like low transmission fluid. Running rough has many possibilities, though most are not common in the first year. If your dealer is not successful this time I wonder if you have an alternate dealer to try. Also you might want to look for a source for TSBs (Technical Service Bulletins) which manufacturers publish to help dealers identify and fix common owner issues. Try a google search for "Alldata" or "Technical Service Bulletins". Roy
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Last week I was forced to buy some very cheap fuel ($1.93 vs. a more typical $2.03-$2.09 around here) for our 1998 GC 3.8 from a Brand X gas station. Why "forced"? Well, the "Distance To Empty" display had long since hit zero and this was the only fueling station in sight. :-/

    Over the last 5 months and nearly 14,000 miles I've filled almost exclusively at ExxonMobil (which around here is more than half of all of the stations) with a few stray tanks of either Shell or Sunoco, and through all of those miles it has been the rare tank indeed that didn't hit between 21.5 and 22.5 mpg. Anyway, after this fill (and associated reset of the trip computer) I noticed that my "Avg MPG" display was hovering in the high 17s and low 18s and that my transmission was very rough when it upshifted. Initially I didn't associate the poor mileage to the cheap gas, and it wasn't until last night that I started wondering if the transmission issue was somehow related as well.

    Under typical circumstances (i.e. name brand fuel in the tank), my van would normally execute silky smooth upshifts during my daily commute on some rather hilly roads. Last night however, when I would approach those same hills at my normal speed of about 45, it felt as if I had to give the van more pedal to maintain speed up the incline, and when the upshift came, it was very abrupt and harsh, so harsh I found myself worrying about the health of my tranny (which is nearing 102K miles I might add).

    Thinking about it logically, if the transmission computer is monitoring the throttle position as one of its indicators that an upshift is necessary, then I would assume that with this cheap fuel the throttle position where the change-up would be called for would occur effectively at a lower level of power output (but at a similar throttle setting) than when compared to the normal fuel that I run. If the transmission is expecting to effect said gear change while dealing with a certain amount of torque, and said torque is well south of the mark, then the lock-up after the gear change should indeed feel harsh.

    Hmmm, thinking about what I just wrote, it would seem rather counter intuitive that a lower power (than what the designers expected) gear change would be at all damaging to the transmission. That being said, the harshness was significant and couldn't possibly mean anything good for the continued health of my tranny.

    The good news is that last night as I neared zero once again on the DTE display (and only a total of 18.5 on the Avg MPG display), I found myself right by a Shell station. Wouldn't you know it, I'm now 100 miles into this new tank and my Avg MPG display is sitting on 22.4 and the transmission is once again shifting smooth as silk.

    With all of that in mind the following questions are clamoring for an answer:
    1) Is there a correlation between cheap fuel and a high incidence of transmission failures?
    2) Does all of this even make sense?
    3) What can be done/added to Regular gasoline that would cause such a drop in power and mileage? Ethanol?

    Anything else that I'm missing?

    Best Regards,
  • badgerfanbadgerfan Posts: 1,565
    More than likely you just got a one time bad batch of gas that made the engine run poorly, and also made it feel like the transmission was shifting rougher as well.

    I really doubt anyone could make a case for poor gas causing transmission failures.

    Almost all the gas in our state is 10% ethanol, and I nearly always buy the cheapest I can find (though the brand names seem to match penny for penny with the offbrand/independent stations around here anyways lately), with no noticeably affect on driveability, on our 1996 Caravan.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Other than the rough up shifts, I didn't notice any other drivability issues per-se. That said, the transmission did seem to perform more gear changes on the whole than it is now doing with the Shell that is currently in the tank.

    Just curious, since I've never (knowingly) fueled with a fuel blended with Ethanol and as such have no experience with this fuel type, what kind of mileage are you getting and which engine does your van have?

    Best Regards,
  • badgerfanbadgerfan Posts: 1,565
    The Caravan is my wife's primary vehicle, so I don't drive it a lot and I haven't checked the mileage for a long time, though we do have the data as we record gallons and mileage whenever we fill up. I will do this sometime when I get spare time to check it. It is the 3.3 V-6, of which the engine and transmission are still working fine at 85K miles with no issues. We only changed transmission fluid once at about 75K miles, mostly out of guilt. Maybe we are just lucky, but this "unreliable" transmission has served us well so far, knock on wood.

    I believe the 10% ethanol blend has a bit less energy per gallon than other formulations. I can't really buy non-ethanol gas in our area, as the MBTE additive that serves some of the same "oxygenation" function for emission reduction has got a bad name for polluting groundwater, etc. We also get different formulations for winter and summer, and the formulation is different for SE Wisconsin than the rest of the state, and we buy both on a lot of occasions. Too many variables to track mileage vs additive package!
  • Check engine light on and occasionally the brake indicator light flickers. Dealer scanned OBD2 code P0755. Dealer changed the solenoid pack and transmission still stuck in 2nd after driving about 7km. Dealer put old solenoid pack back on and recommended total transmission rebuild. Engine will occasionally stall when starting forward with transmission stuck in 2nd. Any ideas?
  • After driving on the interstate about 80 miles, our van suddenly and without warning stopped when we eventually slowed to a stoplight. When it stopped our first thought was that we had been bumped from behind by another car. Realizing that didn't happen, we looked up to see if we had bumped the truck in front of us (didn't). We didn't realize the engine had stalled as the truck engines around us we so loud we couldn't hear that the engine stalled. The van stopped with a 'bump'. It restarted with no problem until we put it in drive, 'bump' stall again. We put it in neutral with the engine running again and were able to push it out of traffic. Actually felt like the transmission fell out onto the ground. It didn't. Luckily the only garage in Greenbrier was directly in front of us. Their mechanic came out after about 10 minutes (while the van was off). The van started right up and when put into drive worked fine. We shrugged it off to a weird thing, and drove it about another mile into the Greenbrier. We were there for a few hours, left and drove the 80 miles on interstate back. Again no problem till we got to the first stoplight at home and it happened again. Obviously a problem when the engine is warm. The next morning we took it to our mechanic (thankful to have gotten home) and he put it on the computer diagnosis and it detected no problem. So they did a complete tuneup and added some transmission additive to try to seal a leak there. We drove it home that evening, no problem. Actually did run a little better. Drove it again around town enough to get the engine warm and it did it again. Took it back, they disconnected a 'useless' sensor. Picked it up, no problem. Drove it yesterday again enough to warm it up and you guessed it... our mechanic put it on a new diagnostic computer and again no problem. He said it could only be the transmission and he doesn't do transmission rebuilds. He did change the fluids, used a 'transmission kit' and filter in the transmission last January. After doing some research to educate ourselves today, we called and asked what additive he used and he said every transmission shop in town uses it, didn't really give us a name of the product. Knowing today that Chrysler transmissions are problem children, we don't want to keep spending money on repairs that don't repair. We're already up to $600. Should we get the transmission fluid and filters replaced with the genuine Mopar stuff just in case 'universal' fluid and filters are the problem or should we take it to a dealership or aamco. The van is a '96 town and country, garage kept with only 86k miles on it. We were hoping to at least get 120k before major problems.
  • jhartjhart Posts: 10
    My 96 GC had some tranny problems last year after 120000 miles. I had a mechanic who has a hole in the wall shop rebuild it for me. He is very honest and does good work. The only problem with him is he doesn't have the program to retrain the transmission. His OBD does not have the 'chip' that Chrysler now recommends. He says the new program is $1200 from Chrysler. He is moving his shop so he can't afford it right now. My transmission for some reason will not shift down properly but I just ignore it. It pulls fine. He put the upgrade in it and a new valve body but it is still the same. If you have a small leak the differential gears may be failing and pieces of metal get into a 'weep' hole causing a drip. My tranny did just that after he rebuilt it. Could the differential be locking up on yours? Also my mechanic says the torque converter can cause a stall. Remember to always use Chrysler fluid in your tranny. Also, if you get stuck in snow and rock and spin your wheels it can break the differential and you won't hear it or feel it until the tranny starts leaking. I really like this old van. It gets 25-26 mpg on the highway. Good luck!
  • jhartjhart Posts: 10
    My tranny did that once. Yours is stuck in fail safe or drive it home mode. There is a sensor right below the exhaust manifold near the tranny that has probably failed. It is a speed sensor. Cheap and easy to install. Turn your ignition key on and off three times and then on. Watch the engine light flash and count the sequences. It will tell you if you have a code. I check mine monthly on my 96 GC.
  • azgambler46azgambler46 Las Vegas NVPosts: 2
    I have a 2000 Caravan V6 with 65K on it. Bought it new. It is full of ATF. The color is good as is the smell. I was entering the freeway in normal traffic and normal acceleration. The van suddenly stopped accelerating and slowed to a stop. After checking the usual things I tried to get it to move again. It would move only a few feet fwd and then stop. I tried rev and it moved a little better but not right. In park or neutral it makes no noise. In drive I can hear what sounds like stripped shaft splines. It doesn't make the same kind of noise bad clutches make. Spinning up and then engaging when the servo has enough pressure to lock them up. It is a metal to metal whirring sound. The parking pawl engages and holds fast.
    After getting it up in the air, I pinned the sound down to the diff. Here is my question. Can I remove the drive axles with out getting into the diff. As I am doing this on my back I would like to make this as EZ as possible on myself.
    Also has anyone had this problem before. And if so what was your fix.
    I have some 20 yrs experience as a heavy line mechanic in Ford stores, but very little about FWD's. Thanks in adavance for your help and time, John :sick:
  • jhart1jhart1 Posts: 16
    Last winter I got stuck in frozen ice/snow and after some creative over revving and tire spinning I got free. Shortly after that I developed a leak. My tranny guy could'nt figure out where it was leaking so he called around and found out I had probably tore up the differential. He had to remove the tranny to get to it although I am not sure if that is necessary. Sure enough the shaft that holds the spider gears was enbedded into the ring gear. The metal shavings got into the drain hole and the differential ran over causing the leak. It never made a sound or any noise that I remember. You can exchange the gear cluster for a rebuilt one. I think it is under $200.
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    This problem sounds familiar to our 1996 Sebring Convertible...All I know is we immediately traded in that one year old car, and the trade-in value got us a Civic...kinda sad to go from a big convertible to a Civic, but the Civic didn't leave us stranded, so it's all about priorities I guess.
  • Wow, does this sound familiar. Started in Aug '05 for us. Randomly dies - sometimes stops while moving slowly, sometimes at traffic lights. Immediate restart - nothing; dead like there is no power (but lights, radio work). Wait 30-60 seconds, starts up like nothing is wrong. Had it into the shop 5x. Many computer checks, tuneups and the like. $1000 later, new computer, all engine sensors replaced, still doing it. We've given up fixing it and simply wait it out when it happens and restart.

    Today (12/23), my son called to tell me the engine is racing. Tranny has always been a bit sloppy with sudden lurches and clunks. Sounds like automatic tranny belt is slipping. We'll see - of course it is on Christmas weekend.

    Merry Christmas one and all.
  • My T&C which I bought certified used from a dealer has 56000 miles and has a 8/80000 miles power train warranty.
    Since yesterday i am seeing that the engine light is ON.
    Van has no problem in running. Also recently I have observed that while driving on Hwy the gear shift from 'D' to 'N' few times in couple of months. so what should i do now. Is this could be a sign of tranny going bad or may be bad fuel. I hope my warranty should covers it if something happens to my tranny. I went to the dealer and they were giving me an appointment for next week. Someone says I can go to Autozone to get the code free for engine light is that true.

    Help please.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Regarding the engine light, the only times either of our GCs (or either of my BMWs for that matter) have displayed that light was when the gas cap wasn't properly tightened after fueling. Check your gas cap, if it is cocked and/or not tight (cap clicks when turned after it is tight enough), it will take as much as another tank of fuel before the light will go out by itself.

    In our case, once we moved out of New Jersey (where it was illegal to pump your own gas), our engine light problems went away.

    Best Regards,
  • I thought of that and already check the cap for tightness.
    Still need to drive more to finish the fuel in the tank.
  • We have a 01 DGC EX and needed a new gas cap at around 50K. (The seal was bad). We bought ours used too. I did not notice the gear selector switching back and forth from D to N during the week our check engine light was on. :)
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    A weird observation about the transmission on our 1998 3.8 GC...

    The company that is now my main client has recently moved their offices to a building that has its parking lot right at the entrance ramp to the freeway that I travel to and from home. Given the close proximity of the ramp to where I park, I'm usually up to 70 and on Cruise Control within a minute and a half of engine start, which is obviously long before the innards of my engine and transmission have warmed up to operating temperature. With this in mind, I make very sure that I never exceed 3,000 rpms during my climb up the ramp and up to speed, and as such I'm not at all worried about damaging anything.

    What is weird is that once the CC is engaged, the engine settles in at around 2,600 rpms at about 71 mph, and stays there for maybe four or five miles before the torque converter apparently locks up and drops the rpms down to its more normal 2,200 revs.

    Given that this is the first Automatic transmission equipped vehicle I've commuted with since 1975, I find this behavior strange. Do y'all suppose the transmission control unit is programmed to prevent lock-up until everything is warmed up or could the initial failure to lock-up simply have to do with the wider open throttle position that always comes with a cold engine at any given load?

    Do any of y'all have any thoughts on this?

    Best Regards,
  • vchengvcheng Posts: 1,284
    "Do y'all suppose the transmission control unit is programmed to prevent lock-up until everything is warmed up ?"

  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Cool! Thanks. ;-)

    Best Regards,
  • ronq1ronq1 Posts: 1
    I have changed my trans in the van that got good deal on .the trans seems to work all right BUT it won't shift into a higher gear or a lower gear .the trans goes RD3L good just won't up shift.
  • nedlynedly Posts: 1
    i heard that they fixed that differential pin problem but do you know what year they put the fix on? i seen on a show they put a bracket over the pin to cover it. i have a yr. 2000 caravan. thanks, terry.
  • Have you replaced the $14 hall effect sensor in the distributor. 92 failed like that.
  • Yesterday I was going on the hwy around 55 and I heard a big bang, I know right their i lost my 4th gear. I took a exit, stop at light and then pull into a parking lot. After that I cannot put my van in to any gear, so the transmission did went bad. Towed the van to the dealer. Lets see what he will told me on Monday. I do have 8/80000 extended power train warranty. I hope I dont have to pay anything from my pocket. So the engine light was telling me something right about the transmission.
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