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'95 Dodge Intrepid Transmission Problems

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4 replies to this topic

#1 Kellizaber (converted)

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Posted May 4, 2009 at 02:19 pm

1995 Dodge Intrepid. 3.3L Engine. 42LE Transmission.

For the past year or so my Intrepid has gone from okay to bad to worse with shifting. It started with cruise control randomly switching itself on and the car not wanting to accelerate. That problem disappeared so I'm not sure if it's related but within a few weeks every so often (very rarely) I'd be going highway speeds, hit heavy traffic, let off the gas, and the car would suddenly jump backwards (downshift maybe?) and get stuck. Accelerating was difficult, you could tell the car was struggling. The RPM would be above 3 going just 40mph. That problem has gotten much worse. Some days I'll start the car and it will drive fine wherever I'm going, no matter what speed. On the drive back home I'll hit 35mph and the car will do it's jump, I assume it's downshifting, and the RPM will jump.

I say jump because that's the action the car seems to take, either backwards or forwards. Usually backwards.

Some days I'll start the car and it will immediately be struggling, going only 30mph with an RPM read of 3 or 3.5. Usually it's when I'm coming to a stop or slowing down slightly that the car will downshift and get stuck. The only way I've found to fix the problem is turning the car off and back on. I wish I could say it was under certain circumstances that the car acts this way but it seems to be completely random. The car can be fine, I can drive side streets at 20-30 mph, hit a highway, go 50-60 mph, and it will suddenly jump. Sometimes it will jump within a minute of starting the car for the first time that day, either after pulling out of the driveway or stopping at a stop sign just down the block, doing about 30mph, and somewhere within the two mile drive to work the car will actually jump forward and fix itself and drive normally.

Now I'm in the process of trying to determine whether the transmission needs a rebuild or a simple maintenance will solve the problem. (I know, I know, I let this problem get way out of hand and probably now have quite the mess to clean up.) I want to drop the codes on the transmission and I'm not sure what tool to buy. I've been looking for a DRB Scan Tool but those are a little out of my price range. Will an OBDII Scan Tool work? Is there a certain scan tool that you guys recommend? Is one scan tool better than the other?

I appreciate any suggestions, ideas, information, just anything. I'm a beginner with cars so I'm trying to build up my knowledge. Thanks!

#2 valiant67


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Posted May 4, 2009 at 02:36 pm

There are several scan tools that can access the transmission module. I use a SnapOn MT2500 but even it wasn't cheap. It must have the cartridges and cables to fit your car. I paid several hundred for mine a few years back. It would be more economical to pay the going rate for a dealer or trans. shop to pull the codes and CVIs for you, probably $75-100. 1995 is too early for OBDII, that's generally 1996 and up and I don't believe the Intrepid was one of the models that adopted it before 1996.

#3 chuzz

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Posted May 4, 2009 at 02:50 pm

I know this sounds like a stupid question, but have you ever changed the fluid and filter in the transmission?? If not, you need to change it with Mopar ATF+4 fluid only. You may also want to check the solenoid pack and make sure it's not loose or the electrical connector to it's not all corroded up. Valiant67 has given you the best advice though. If you can get it to a REPUTABLE shop and get it checked, that's your best bet.

#4 Kellizaber (converted)

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Posted May 4, 2009 at 04:36 pm

There are several scan tools that can access the transmission module. I use a SnapOn MT2500 but even...

Thanks for the info on the tools. I'll probably be going to a shop then for that. There's one around here that said they'd pull the codes for free so I just need to find the time to leave the car for a few hours. The only problem is that they're not that reputable. They do transmissions pretty cheap but at the same time they're not well known and so I'm not that comfortable leaving my car there.

I know this sounds like a stupid question, but have you ever changed the fluid and filter in the transmission?? If not...

That's not a stupid question at all! I've never changed the fluid or the filter, but I just inherited the car from my mom so I don't know if it's even ever been changed. The fluid level is okay. I'm about to do a maintenance on the transmission in a few minutes here and also check to see if the speed sensors are working properly. I'll keep you updated. I know your mission in life is to make sure my car is running in great condition! Just kidding, but thanks for the suggestions.

#5 Kellizaber (converted)

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Posted May 4, 2009 at 10:45 pm

We pulled the cruise control fuses and replaced them before taking the car for a test drive and that's all we ended up doing.

The results were stunningly excellent. Pulling out of the driveway, which has quite the upward slope at the very end, the car needed to be restarted in order to regulate the shifting. After that the car drove completely fine for the next hour. We tried stopping suddenly, playing with the cruise control settings, slowly taking off from stops, taking off at racing speeds from stops, just about everything and then combinations of different things. Everything worked. We took notes of what speeds the shifts took place and they were pretty close to the same each time, the only differences coming from what speed we took off at. That was with my dad driving. We then switched to me driving to see if the car was more used to my driving style or if I was doing something wrong. The car worked perfectly. The only thing my dad mentioned was that while the car downshifted when I was stopping if I went to accelerate to go again I was accelerating too quickly, the car was still trying to downshift. Bad habit fixed. We never did get to the maintenance part of the night.

After that however I ran to the store and when pulling out of the parking lot to head home I stopped at the corner, which is an upward slope, the car did it's hard stop. As I slow to a stop the tachometer drops suddenly to about .5 or lower and I have to sit and wait for the car to jump forward (shift up maybe?) and after I get the car going again it goes into the whole mode where going 35mph gets the engine at 4rpm and I have to restart the car.


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