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Chrysler Minivan Transmission Problems



  • occupant1occupant1 Posts: 412
    I just rented a 2011 Town & Country with 22900 miles on it and we just put 1700 miles on it in a week going from Texas to St Louis and back. Due to our local Hertz location's limited hours, I have it for the weekend, and it goes back Monday. It has several issues.

    1) It idles rough for a few minutes and I think this is its way of warming up quicker. It certainly gets up to operating temperature in good time. This may be on purpose.
    2) It does lurch in reverse, it does so cold or warm, and it is MUCH more pronounced when backing up an incline. I don't like this and I hope its a software issue with the transmission. Feels like a manual transmission clutch pedal is being feathered in and out rapidly.
    3) It shifts hard going from reverse to drive or drive to reverse, and I'm particular to make sure the vehicle is stopped when I reverse and want to change to forward. I even tried shifting to neutral first, then drive, does the same thing. Doesn't do it so bad going from drive to reverse if I stop for a couple seconds in neutral.
    4) 1-2 shift is VERY harsh, like jamming a manual gearshift without trying to rev match. Wife keeps looking behind us to see if we got bumped by a tailgater. Yes, it's THAT bad. It feels like the WOT shift but happens that hard no matter the throttle application
    5) Cruising on the highway with a full load is absolutely impossible without lots of shifting.

    This is highway driving with a full load. Me and my wife as 245 and 205lb adults, 110 and 160lb for the 2 older kids, 30, 40, 45lb for the little kids, then figure 230lb electronics and luggage, total load 1055lbs plus varying amounts of fuel. You can set the cruise to 60, 65, 70, 75, 80, 67, 59, 73, or whatever. It will downshift from 6th to 5th on Every Single Hill no matter what grade level. We took I-44 the whole way from Wichita Falls to St. Louis and it could not hold a steady speed. I am used to pushrod engines and 4-speed automatics in my family vehicles. Pontiac Trans Sport, Olds Silhouette, Chevy Astro, Ford Aerostar, Dodge Durango, Chevy Suburban, GMC Suburban, and now this minivan. This is the only one that couldn't decide what gear to be in. I tried it with Economy on or off. I tried running cruise with the AutoStick in 5 for one stretch and it STILL shifted up to 6th and back down to 5th on every hill. CRAZY! I will admit even with all the transmission problems, fuel mileage on 75mph Oklahoma roads was 23.10 up 23.67 back, 70mph Missouri roads was 23.43 up and 24.06 back. Half a tank of city driving in STL gave 18.75mpg. This is hand calculated. The trip computer was optimistic (add .5 to 1.5mpg in all cases, city being the worst offender).

    I'm told there is a recall for programming on these vans for these transmission issues and the rough idle when cold. Rental car companies aren't quick to take vehicles in for recalls. At $60-$100 a day for rental charges I'm not surprised, but this would have been a much more solid experience if that had been done. I'll be bringing that point up when I return the van Monday.

    The van was perfect other than the abnormal drivetrain issues. Climate controls were easy to use. The touchscreen stereo with Sirius radio and DVD player was perfect to keep the kids occupied. The $5 DVD bin at Wal-Mart scored us some Land Before Time sequels, Casper, and we dropped $15 on Cars 2. That kept everyone happy. There was PLENTY of space behind the 3rd row for two clothes baskets, two duffel bags, two shaving kits, two LARGE American Tourister hardsides and one medium off-brand hard sided case. All the coats and jackets and extra shoes and two laptop bags filled in the nooks and crannies and I had great vision out the back. The center console up front combined with the dash-mounted pullout gave us six cupholders up front as well as trays and cubbies for books, lighters, cigarettes, chargers, and phones. I particularly liked the small cubbies in the front doors to keep change/bills for tolls and parking garage/hotel room key cards handy. The large door pockets held notebooks and DVD cases just fine. I never used the conversation mirror because with the drivers seat all the way up and back I could only see half the kids. If I didn't want to be so tall it would have been more useful but I did use it for sunglasses storage until I left my sunglasses on a Phillips 66 gas pump in Lebanon MO on the way home. Power sliding doors and powered tailgate were very handy. Never tried the remote start, weather was too mild to care to use it. I like how the blinkers go 3 blinks if you only swipe the turn signal lever. The cross traffic and blind spot detection systems come in very nice for a giant van like this especially with the DVD screen down. The backup camera let me use every inch of tight downtown parking garage spaces when I chose to reverse into them. Also was nice parking parallel in downtown OKC on the way home.

    This stock 3.6/6-speed powertrain just can't handle 7 people and luggage for Interstate driving with cruise on. 5th is 1.00:1 and 6th is 0.69:1 and that overdrive is too deep. 0.75:1 would eliminate this problem. I'd say change the final drive ratio but first is too short. The 62TE transmission has great close ratios from 2 to 5 but first is too short and 6th is too tall. They need to split 6th or something. If they can split 4th for upshifting vs WOT, why not 6th? Horsepower is great to brag about but as you can read here, it is pretty useless in the real world if the torque peak is too high. The 3.6L has 260lbs at 4400rpm. The old 4.0L has 259lbs at 4100rpm. I bet the 4.0L has WAY more torque at 1500-2000rpm than the 3.6L. And that's where the meat and potatoes are when driving on the highway. That's why my wife's 2000 model Durango with the 230hp 318 feels so strong. It has 300lbs of torque at merely 3200rpm. The 4.7L V8 had similar specs and 90% of its torque was available from 1600 to 6400rpm. The Pentastar designers should have paid more attention to Chrysler's past engines!
  • This is a warning post. I had a my tranny "go" while driving down the road ( bang and high revs). All I had was first and reverse on a 99 voyager with a 3 litre. After some thinking about this I thought to check the relays and found the "ATX" relay bad and upon replacing the truck is fine. I can't begin to guess how may folks replaced their tranny only to need a $10.00 replacment relay. So beware folks. These vans really are a POS.
  • drager1drager1 Posts: 1
    my brother is handicapped and owns a converted 1994 grand voyager. his trans is acting up and can't afford to purchase a new one. someone in our church gave him a trans to have put in but it is out of a 1996. i have heard that a sensor can be changed or swapped to get the 1996 trans to work in a 1994. can anyone tell me what sensor that would be or how to get it to work. thanks in advance
  • oliversolivers Posts: 4
    A brief update 5k miles later although I haven't found the solution yet.
    I still have the symptoms of vibration between 45 and 50mph when accelerating or under load. It is worse when taking a gentle left corner (freeway off-ramp) at speed than when turning a similar right corner.

    Since the last posting, I have changed the transmission control solenoid and checked that the engine is centered relative to the driveshafts.

    It was about 5mm different from side to side. I could push the driveshaft in about 22mm on the rhs and 27mm on the lhs. I have moved the engine about 3mm towards the lhs by undoing the right and front mounts but could not see any means to adjust the rear and left sides. The vibration did seem to reduce slightly.

    Remaining ideas are:
    - wheel bearings
    - strut mounts
    - differential pinion bearings -- anyone know if can I check for wobble by removing the rear cover with the transmission in the vehicle??
    - put in another rh driveaxle despite have changed these once already - is this the most likely one??
  • jojo629cjojo629c Posts: 1
    My 2005 T&C has 150,000 miles. I parallel parked it on a hill facing downhill between to cars. I had no problems backing into the space. About 2 hours later, I attempted to back up (uohill) a little to pull out of the parking space and the vehicle would not go in reverse. It would slip forward each tile I got off the brakes. I did put the vehicle in drive and it was able to drive froward. After the car in front of my van moved, I was able to pull out of the parking space. Once on a level part of the street I stopped the van and attempted to drive in reverse. The van did not move in reverse. I can drive the van in any forward gear, but not in reverse. No previous symptoms were noted in the past 10K miles. The Tranny fluid was at the full mark, was red and did not smell burnt. What could be the problem?
  • Sounds like torque converter lock-up problem. Did you replace the sensor on top of the transmission case near the shifter levers? If not, when you do, make sure you leave the paper spacer on the end of the new sensor when you install it. That is the calibration spacer.
  • Sounds like a solenoid valve in the electronic control on the front of the tranny, or a problem with the band/gear adjustments. Either way, when you do get it fixed, make sure that you have an ADDITIONAL transmission cooler on the vehicle. If you do not already have one(standard equipment with the towing package), make sure to buy one & install it! All the chrysler mini's are prone to tranny failure due to overheating of the fluid which causes the plastic solenoid valve bodies to stick or fail.
  • hlphlp Posts: 2
    Just want to point out that assessments of rental vehicles are not reliable due to abusive drivers. Some people change gears before coming to a complete stop and many other abusive practices like trying to off road over curbs and fields.

    We had a 2003 which is still going strong with over 120,000 mi on it and only thing replaced was brakes and a $200 part at the front of the trannie....
  • oliversolivers Posts: 4
    Problem solved.

    I was all prepared to get the transmission rebuilt when the mechanic insisted that it was the front right drive axle and that 're-manufactured was rarely good enough'.

    I let him do his stuff and so far so good. No wonder Mopar got out of re-manufactured drive axles for this vehicle!

    So two thumbs up for 'Auburn Drivetrain' in Auburn, WA who did the right thing for the customer and did the cheaper job for me!
  • My van has been running a bit rough, when I'm driving on highway it runs great when i let my foot off the gas and come to a stop it pulls back, and when i give it gas it rough at first then stops. When I drive in reverse it goes but I have to really give gas. It was running like this about a month ago not a rough as now, when i went to the mechanic he said it was the fuel injectors they were clogged he put in some cleaner with the gas and it ran great. I have NO warning lights coming on. I think it could be the gas filters are clogged. My husband says it the transmission. Could this be a sensor? I Can't afford to put in a new transmission. Help any suggestions.
  • im experiencing the same code p0740 and p0700 id tried to changed the transmission oil and filter did also the solenoid pack but still the codes are ever interested on how did you fix your van i have a 00 dodge grand caravan se 107k miles. like your i don't notice any problems i stil drive my van but im afraid that one of these days it would just stall on me. my mechanics said replaced or rebuild trans. went to aamco offcourse said rebuilt right away, m regular mechanic says just drive it and until the trans die out dont replace it yet i have to kids 4 and 6 this is the only car we have dont want to be hostage with the situation any suggestions wil be so much appreciated...heres my email [email protected] again thanks
  • Hi tonymacc,

    most probably this thread is too stale for you to run intto this, but let me try.

    I have also 2001 T&C AWD... and I wondered -- in your case, all wheels were properly rotated/the same diameter, weren't they?

    Asking because in my case I started getting those codes shortly after swapping only 2 (front) tires with new ones, while keeping older ones (3 seasons on them iirc, snow tires) in the back. I think (since there might have been a slight of it after some work done by shop which involved taking off the power transfer unit) that since then I started to feel "unease" expressed in vibration especially when driving > 40mph.
    Difference in grove depth was ~3mm (10mm new, 7mm old ones), which makes it to ~18mm (almost 2cm) difference in circumference.

    I reset codes already twice and CEL seems to stay off until I hit a road with mph >50mph.
    So I am considering now as a first measure to buy 2 more new tires so I have all exactly the same. Cons of this (besides wasting money) is that I am not sure why should it matter since if I read it correctly, bi-directional overrunning clutch in the rear differential should not even engage for my case, since due to bigger wheels upfront I have lower rotation speed there than in the back. So, theoretically, it should not put more stress on the system due to differing tires... but could I be wrong?

    did you resolve your problem?
  • FWIW - if anyone with AWD runs into the same problem.

    Replaced my two older (rear) tires with new ones to match 100% the front ones. It has been almost a week I think -- codes are gone, ride is much smoother, haven't experience any electric problems (before it could have speedometer start to hirratically jump, end up below 0 point needing recalibration of front pannel. In both cases that was followed with inability to start the car some time within 24h)
  • I knew I would ruin it celebrating this early... yesterday while going on a highway with speeds > 70 CEL came back on... so it was not fully it -- need to change ATF sooner now than later as a next tentative remedy
  • maximaronmaximaron Posts: 8
    edited January 2013
    ...trying to get one more kid out of the house, driving our 150K mile veteran war horse. Noticed trans fluid leak recently, thought it was cooler line. Now, trans will not shift out of first when first started/run. If you shut off the van and re-start after about 5 minutes, tranny shifts fine! Fluid level OK. Any ideas? Temps have been low here in Chicago lately, any connection?
    She has been a good vehicle...just have to make it last a few months longer!
  • KCRamKCRam Mt. Arlington NJPosts: 3,516
    Check your pan gasket. It may have contracted/cracked in the cold which would cause not only the leak, but allow intake of air which could lead to the shifting issues.

    kcram - Pickups/Wagons/Vans+Minivans Host
  • Did you ever find out what was wrong , mines is 2004 and my husband seems to think its the tranny as well. But sme thing no warning lights or anything and one you get it running its no problem, we are thinking of taking it to the dealer to get fix , just was curious at what was your problem and if it was resolved .
  • My apologies if this problem was addressed in earlier posts. My 2011 T&C shifts roughly under various conditions, especially when cold. In Eco, it "bangs" or "thumps" and pauses between first and second gear; in non-Eco mode, it "chatters" between second and third gear. It also bangs or thumps when the transmission downshifts when slowing down for a stop light or traffic. Also, when accelerating into highway traffic, the engine sometimes continues to race when I reach highway speed, even after I take my foot off the accelerator.
    The problem was not evident when I test drove the car or when it was new, and with less than 22,000 miles on the car, I don't feel I should be experiencing such problems. I've taken the van in twice for warranty service and both times they kept the car for over a week and told me they reprogrammed the computer to "spec". The problem was the same as I drove away from the dealership, however, the service adviser told me the transmission adapts to my driving style so I should wait a few weeks before judging the repairs.
    Any suggestions as to what the problem might be? Any recalls I might have missed? Or, any ideas on how to clear up this problem? I feel like I am getting the run-around from the dealership, so should I contact Customer Service at Chrysler headquarters? I'd welcome any advice.
    -- Bill from Wayne, NJ
    P.S. I recently attended a get-together of some friends and found I parked next to another 2011 T&C, same color but the Touring Model with lether seats. My friend says he has the same problems with his van.
    The service advisor was correct in his statement. The transmission in your vehicle is adaptive learning, which means it will adapt to learn your driving habits and address accordingly, this should take up to 500 miles not more than 800. If it's still doing the same thing after that, take it back and have them recheck it.
  • Take it back to the dealer and ask them to do the software update to the transmission controller. This will fix most if not all of your problem.

    There is a 'Customer Satisfaction' notice and update sent out to dealers about the transmission.

    In Econo mode, it's actually skipping gears, going from first to third to fifth, to keep RPMs down and mileage up. It does shift a bit rougher than the normal mode and it takes some getting used to, but it does provide about 2-3 MPG better mileage.

    The update from the dealer is supposed to cure some of the rough shifting.
  • mkonruffmkonruff Posts: 1
    While on her way home from work my wife's 2002 Chrysler town & country stopped shifting. First, it is really hard to pull out of park, when it does come out, reverse doesn't work. When you select drive, it :sick: will move foreward until it shifts out of first gear, at which point it goes to neutral and the van coasts to a stop. If you shut it off and start it again it will do the same thing. Please help me, any advice on this issue would be greatly appreciated.
  • reonreon Posts: 19
    Guessing it's a motor mount problem.
  • ancnehlsancnehls Posts: 2
  • ancnehlsancnehls Posts: 2
    We have a 2006 Grand Caravan SXT with the 3.8 liter engine and just under 160,000 miles. When accelerating to highway speed the transmission does not want to shift until the RPM's get really high, if then. Sometimes you have to lift your foot off the accelerator to get it to shift. Also, when the cruise control is on the engine races to climb moderate hills and the van still loses speed. Any suggestions would be helpful. I saw one post from a while back suggesting speed sensors. Any thoughts?
  • mcfarmanmcfarman Posts: 1
    I'm new to the world of forums so please forgive me if I get this wrong. A year ago my daughter reported a non shifting issue while driving at highway speeds as it appeared to be stuck in a lower gear and RPM's were quite high. I read about the sticking solenoid possibility (I think that's what it was called) and decided to try the fluid and filter change as an easy fix. This was accomplished and I had no further issues (although I hopefully used the correct fluid after reading a few of these posts!)

    My current issue, which started a few weeks ago, happens mainly at take off when the engine/transmission hesitates with slight throttle, making it difficult to take off smoothly, and at low speeds when cruising at steady speed the vehicle will surge forward and back like the transmission can't decide whether or not coast or apply power. It's like a rubber band stretching back and forth. The problem goes away with steady acceleration, and at highway speeds, since there seems to be more of a constant load being applied.

    I've had my share of niggling issues with the van, most of which I've been able to deal with with the help of the internet. For what it's worth my previous 1997 Caravan was less problematic and went 180,000 with only basic maintenance (never touched the transmission!) so I'm hopeful this one will keep going another 90,000 (93,000 and counting..).

  • I wrote this here (my bad), now I write that here:[email protected]@#MSG33

    Sep 03, 2013 (7:32 am)
    My 2009 Town & Country seems that the tranny is slipping, you go on the gas pedal and no power and only the RPM go faster. Id good like to check the tranny oil, but....
    With an scanner you can find some codes about tranny?
    Are there any other thing to do?

    Sep 03, 2013 (3:31 pm)
    One of my first questions was if an scanner can read transmission codes? and in that way know if it is slipping or has any other issue?

    Sep 04, 2013 (6:18 am)
    So I dont know what to do: the fact its that the van sometimes works as normal and sometimes the tranny seems to slip, so IDK; thats the reason Im asking here the possibilities that are producing the issue.

    I read a little of this thread and I think that a solenoid could be the culprit, could it be?

    Thanks in advance.
  • It could definitely be 1 or more solenoids are either sticking or have failed. You can get transmission codes from most newer vehicles if the scanner & vehicle are set up to give those. You can go to most autoparts stores like autozone or pepboys & they will read the codes out for you.
  • Trans works fine until you slow to a stop, it then bangs into 1st gear. Just changed fluid and filter. It still does it! Any suggestions!
  • You can try running seafoam tranny treatment in it for a week, then do a second drain and fill & filter replacement. Only use Chrysler 4 tranny fluid. One of the plastic solenoids is more then likely gummed up or failing.
  • Having the same issues with my 2008. My transmission "jumps" all the time when at a low speed. The dealership can never find a problem and blamed my driving habits.
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