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Chrysler Town and Country, Dodge Caravan, Plymouth Voyager, Chrysler Grand Voyager, Dodge Grand Caravan, Transmission, Van
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#468 of 2067 Misc thoughts
Apr 24, 2004 (2:05 pm)
I've been tracking the DC mini-van transmission issues (the Dextron fiasco and otherwise) for a number of years now, and one thing I've noticed is that, unless I'm missing something, the problems seem to be more concentrated with the mini-vans equipped with the smaller engines. To the best of my knowledge, I only remember one or maybe two reports of 3.8 liter vans having a problem.
With that in mind, and after a combined seven years and 100,000 miles on our two 3.8 vans (our 1998 has 82K and our 2003 has 20K), and having driven a number of rental DC vans with lesser motors, a couple of possible explanations have occurred to me.
1) Could it be that the transmission has a problem with frequent excursions into the higher RPM range? I ask this because whenever I drive/ride in a van with the 3.3 or the 3.0, I am always surprised at how hard the engines have to be pushed to achieve decent acceleration compared to the 3.8.
2) Could it be that the transmissions mated to the 3.8 mill are in some way beefier than those in the other vans?
3) Could it be a combination of the two?
Do any of you have any in site that might either validate or invalidate one or both of my suppositions?
An interesting side note; in our current neighborhood, there are three Odyssey vans and our two Grand Caravans. Within that population of five vans there have been two transmission failures, none of them ours. I guess any manufacturer can have a problem with their automatic gearboxes. Even still, it seem that the Oddy owners look sort of askance at our "unreliable" Dodges, even though the only unscheduled failure for said Dodges was a battery on our 1998 after 50K miles. Go figure.
#469 of 2067 Re: transmission questions
Apr 24, 2004 (4:55 pm)
Shipo, I do believe that the automatic that Chrysler mates to the 3.8 is a different transmission. My AT knowledge is mostly associated with Chrysler RWD versions, but Chrysler uses the same basic power transmission architecture on all of its automatics. The only one that has varied significantly enough to mention is the RWD 545RFE used on Jeeps and Dodge trucks.
When it comes to mini-vans my belief is that they are used by their owners closer to or beyond the designed service limits yet maintained like cars, which translates to not enough maintenance. Dexron in Chrysler mini-vans is a far more common than most people realize. I've seen many more Chrysler FWD automatics go to 150,000 miles and more without ANY problems or failures. But the large portion of them were maintained correctly.
Change the filter and AT fluid on a scheduled basis and I think you'll find that the failure rate (ie: rebuild rate) will be less that on a Toyota or Honda.
#470 of 2067 transmission fails to shift
Apr 25, 2004 (2:32 pm)
I too have a Town and Country that fails to shift. My problem is temperature related. If I start the van in cold weather it stays in first gear. But if I drive a short distance, then turn the engine off and on again, it is fine. Until the van is cold again and it fails to shift again. It sounds like a computer reset problem to me, but I am trying to find someone who may know something about it. Now that the weather has warmed up, the problem is not evident. I guess it waits for cold weather. Hope that a simple repair can correct the problem.
#471 of 2067 Dustyk....
Apr 25, 2004 (5:29 pm)
Your thoughts please... I'll insert a liability disclaimer for you here (wink). What intervals would you recommend for changing the fluid and filter on my 2000 3.2/Autostick equipped Intrepid ES? As you may recall from my post--I had the fluid and filter changed at roughly 40K...I'm now at 84,000. My driving is rather bi-modal. Short trips around the area and long road trips monthly..
#472 of 2067 Jason.....................
Apr 26, 2004 (3:02 pm)
Well, the filter and fluid changes on Chrysler-built FWD cars use to be 35-70K, depending on schedule "A" or "B." If you follow the severe service schedule, 35 or 40K should be fine.
I think your 2000 was designed around ATF+3, which is still available and about $1 cheaper a quart than ATF+4. I would use the ATF+4 if it were my car.
#473 of 2067 DustyK....
Apr 27, 2004 (7:48 am)
Thanks for the info. Apparently you missed my maintenance story from a while back. All second generation Intrepids are designed around ATF+4 fluid. After reminding two service managers(Strauss Auto)and mentioning that they could get ATF+4 from the local Dodge dealer--they filled me up with ATF+3. Had I not noticed it on the service receipt when picking up my car I would have driven off with it. I got the Dodge Service Manager on the phone, told him what happened, handed the phone to the other service manager. They promptly PUSHED her back in--drained the tranny, FLUSHED the tranny, then filled it with ATF+4. Damn stuff sure is expensive!
#474 of 2067 "You think?"
Apr 27, 2004 (12:41 pm)
In post #469 dustyk writes:
"Change the filter and AT fluid on a scheduled basis and I think you'll find that the failure rate (ie: rebuild rate) will be less that on a Toyota or Honda."
You really believe this dustyk?. IMO, hell would freeze over if that's the case.
#475 of 2067 Impact01
Apr 27, 2004 (1:03 pm)
Given Honda's on going problem with their transmissions, it seems that Hell hath frozen over already.
Regarding the Toyota, I'd be much more worried about engine sludge (Toyota's current bug-a-boo) than a transmission failure.
#476 of 2067 Re: You think?
Apr 27, 2004 (2:50 pm)
Yep. Honda transmissions are punky on everything they make. Despite having the transmission rebuilt once and apart two more times on our Avalon, those are generally okay. But the Sienna's transmissions are fairly popular at transmission repair places.