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Another Failed 41te Transmission?


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15 replies to this topic

#1 Ed B

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Posted January 19, 2005 at 03:34 pm

1999 Grand Caravan ES with a 3.8L engine and I think it has a 41TE transmission. Bought this lease vehicle 6/2003 and have put 14000 miles on it (currently 66,000).

I need some advice and help to understand what is wrong inside my transmission. I drove a family member about 100 miles to an airport yesterday. We stopped to get lunch and I was surprised that it seemed as if I hit the curb with the bumper as we came to a stop, so I put the van in reverse an backed up a few inches and thought no more of it.

After lunch, I tried to back out of the parking space and the van didn't want to move - the torque converter was loading the engine but there was no movement of the vehicle. I shifted to park and back to reverse and tried it again and gave it more throttle this time. The van moved and lurched a bit then stopped. I pushed the throttle and it moved again as if it were moving over 2 or 3 inch high ridges (but there was no vertical lift of the vehicle, just some mild lurching). I still needed to back farther out and this time there was a noise as I accelerated harder to get it to move. The noise sounded similar to gear teeth grinding when shifting an old straight shift transmission except the noise was not nearly so strong and seemed somewhat tinny, but I got the distinct notion of two parts that instead of meshing were clashing or riding over one another. I would press the accelerator and the noise would happen whereupon I would release the accelerator and it would stop (all with no motion of the van) but eventually it moved. When I began driving forward I noticed it required a little more throttle than usual so I stopped and visually checked for oil leaks, fluid level, and etc. I used a paper napkin to wipe the dipstick and found a small amount of dark grey to black residue. The level was good and the fluid was clean with the typical reddish color and did not smell burned. So I decided to try to drive the van. It seemed to operate well this time, had no sluggishness, was shifting properly, and wasn't making any noise - so I continued on my way to the airport without further incident.

When I tried to back out to leave the airport parking deck, almost the same thing happened. The van did the lurching again and made the same noise as I accelerated to get it to move. Finally the van moved back and I was able to exit the parking garage and proceed home.

All went well for about 35 miles. It was on cruise control and all at once the engine rpm went up but the van slowed, so I tapped the brake to disengage cruise control and eased to the shoulder of the Interstate. There was a very slight amount of noise that came from the transmission during this process, so I was not surprised to discover it was in "limp" mode. Now the only thing that worked was forward in limp mode (reverse was out). I was able to drive about 1 mile to an exit where I called a towing service to have it hauled the remaining 65 miles home where it now sits in my front yard. Up until we were within 100 yards of shutting off the van to have it hauled, there were never any warnings of any kind (other than the obvious mechanical difficulties which I could see, hear, and feel), only then did the "service engine soon" warning lamp light up.

I searched the forum last night to find and read a large number of messages about this transmission. There appears to have been a design flaw in the planetary gear assemblies since these seem to be a frequent point of failure.

One of the messages I read has a link to a parts schematic at http://www.aceomatic...ration.asp?t=55 which shows the parts layout. I notice that the front planetary (#3521) has a thin plate which splines into the 2/4 clutch hub (#4001) and is held in place by snap ring/s. Is this one of the weak points? Item numbers 3561, 4003, & 3525 complete the path through this section. I suspect #3525 and #4003 may be the trouble with mine.

From what I have read so far, it seems futile to have codes read (I think there is obvious internal damage already) so I am leaning toward having my dealer install a remanufactured unit. I will appreciate any insight and advice you may have to offer.

Thanks in advance, Ed B

#2 valiant67

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Posted January 19, 2005 at 03:38 pm

You are probably right about internal damage. 2nd gear (the limp home gear) and reverse are purely hydrualic. No electronics are needed there so a problem in reverse probably is an internal problem..

#3 Joro Corona

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Posted January 19, 2005 at 05:12 pm

Ouch, sounds like its time for a reman. I wouldn't even wanna try rebuilding that one.

#4 A. Murphy

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Posted January 19, 2005 at 05:18 pm

I'd be inclined to think you have a slipping clutch pack.
Otherwise a failed AT oil pump
However given you got home, but no reverse, I'd be inclined to think a clutch pack.

if you have a code reader, you may be able to obtain some AT faults.

How often has the ATF been changed in 66Kmls?.

#5 shottovy

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Posted January 19, 2005 at 10:57 pm

I would suggest a Chrysler reman to get the 3 yr/ 36,000 mile warranty. If you would have the codes read, one would probably be gear ratio error and others indicating internal failure. The van is still new enough and low enough on miles to easily justify a Chrysler reman.

#6 Ed B

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Posted January 20, 2005 at 01:32 am

I'd be inclined to think you have a slipping clutch pack.
Otherwise a failed AT oil pump
However given you got home, but no reverse, I'd be inclined to think a clutch pack.

if you have a code reader, you may be able to obtain some AT faults.

How often has the ATF been changed in 66Kmls?.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Thanks for your reply. I have a few questions about your comments, but first the matter about when the ATF was changed.

I haven't changed the fluid. When I bought it at 52K miles, I was told the unit was maintained under a service contract and was up to date, but I really do not know. According to "Schedude A" in the owners manual, I should have changed the ATF at 60K so I'm 6K past due on that. :(

If I had a code reader I would have already read the codes, my question is whether it is worthwhile to pay a dealer ~$85 to read them.

If a clutch pack is slipping, wouldn't there have been some indication of slippage during some time of operation? When it wouldn't go backward, the engine was loaded and the torque converter was in a "stall" situation, that is power was going in but there was no rotation at the TC output. :blink: It may be that the internal splines of the friction disks were stripping. This appears more logical to me than that the friction disks were (or had been) slipping. This possibly could explain the noise I heard while trying to move in reverse under acceleration, at least I think the sound was more likely the splines giving way than slippage of the friction disks. Do you know if the friction disk splines ever let go or strip?

A failed AT pump would unload at least one clutch pack wouldn't it? According to the parts diagram at the link I posted, there is only one pump in this transmission. If this is correct and it went out - there would be no forward or reverse because there would be no pressure to engage either clutch pack. Right? There was never any indication of slippage or free-wheeling in the power train while power from the engine was being applied in either forward or reverse!

I don't mean to be argumentative. I'm just trying to diagnose the problem to make an educated decision, and I do appreciate all input.

The transmission acted as if there were something inside that prevented some part of the drive train from turning. I'm even thinking of the possibility that the differential spider gear shaft may have come part way out - is that likely or even possible on this unit? (I think I read one post last night saying it happened, but I may have misunderstood.)

I know that speculation is plentiful and often worth very little, so I may be taking up bandwidth unnecessarily. I think I'll drop the pan tomorrow and also pull the differential cover to have a look inside. That should provide something more definite. I have asked three dealers for estimates and I've been quoted $600 labor and from $1885 to $3200 for the remanufactured transmission. I questioned the wide variation (at one parts dept) and was told that it depends on exactly which transmission I need. :rolleyes: I am beginning think a remanufactured unit is probably my best option, but I want to be certain that I don't get the $3200 unit unless it is absolutely necessary.

While trying to find out exactly which transmission I have, a Chrysler Customer Service person told me that, according to the vin, I have the Heavy Duty Towing package which I did not know before. (There is no hitch on the van so I didn't even suspect that.)

Thanks to all who have replied! I'll post back to this thread when I know something for certain so you'll know what I find out.

Ed B

#7 A. Murphy

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Posted January 20, 2005 at 02:08 am

Thanks for your reply. I have a few questions about your comments, but first the matter about when the ATF was changed.

I haven't changed the fluid. .... so I'm 6K past due on that.  :(

If I had a code reader I would have already read the codes, my question is whether it is worthwhile to pay a dealer ~$85 to read them.

If a clutch pack is slipping, wouldn't there have been some indication of slippage during some time of operation? When it wouldn't go backward, the engine was loaded and the torque converter was in a "stall" situation, that is power was going in but there was no rotation at the TC output.  :blink:  ..... Do you know if the friction disk splines ever let go or strip?

A failed AT pump would unload at least one clutch pack wouldn't it? ...... There was never any indication of slippage or free-wheeling in the power train while power from the engine was being applied in either forward or reverse!

.....
The transmission acted as if there were something inside that prevented some part of the drive train from turning. I'm even thinking of the possibility that the differential spider gear shaft may have come part way out - is that likely or even possible on this unit? (I think I read one post last night saying it happened, but I may have misunderstood.)

... I have asked three dealers for estimates and I've been quoted $600 labor and from $1885 to $3200 for the remanufactured transmission. .....

While trying to find out exactly which transmission I have, a Chrysler Customer Service person told me that, according to the vin, I have the Heavy Duty Towing package which I did not know before.  .....


Ed B

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


6K would not do much damage, it's the 60K before it I am more concerned about. ie the ATF may never have been changed.

AutoZone does it for free and a simple codereader is $99.

Slipping and ratcheting/grinding are easy to tell apart. Still my clutches failed very fast. ie in about 30 miles. Sounds like a high pitched shile/slippage, not grating/grinding like a bearing, stripped gears or CV joint.
I'll assume you are correct and I also dismissed my own idea that the pump had failed, as you appeared to be ok once over the hump.

The clutch pack could come apart with enough torque, the sun-gears could also fail and lock.

Other items that have been reported on older AT's. Stripped transfer gears on the end of the AT and loose Diff cross pins. However, if the transfer gears were stripped.... you'd go nowhere and while it may grind and grate, .... it would probably not lock...unless a broken tooth got lodged between some others.

The loose diff pin usually comes through the casing and even if it fell out without coming through the casing, you'd be going nowhere again.

So if you heard grinding and grating and the AT in a loaded but locked state, it probably was some gears jammed.


The HD is additional coolers, no change in the AT as far as we can tell.

I got mine replaced for $2500, that included a new wireharness connector and flex plate. and they replaced a gasket in it recently FOC under the 3yr/36K warranty.

#8 Ed B

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Posted January 20, 2005 at 02:57 am

6K would not do much damage, it's the 60K before it I am more concerned about. ie the ATF may never have been changed.

Slipping and ratcheting/grinding are easy to tell apart.  .......

The clutch pack could come apart with enough torque, the sun-gears could also fail and lock.

Other items ......  Stripped transfer gears on the end of the AT and loose Diff cross pins. However, if the transfer gears were stripped.... you'd go nowhere and while it may grind and grate, .... it would probably not lock...unless a broken tooth got lodged between some others.

The loose diff pin usually comes through the casing and even if it fell out without coming through the casing, you'd be going nowhere again.

So if you heard grinding and grating and the AT in a loaded but locked state, it probably was some gears jammed.
The HD is additional coolers, no change in the AT as far as we can tell.

I got mine replaced for $2500, that included a new wireharness connector and flex plate. .....

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Yes, I know the 6K doesn't matter much but I don't really know about the other.

Ratcheting!! That's more descriptive than anything I had used. I'm familiar with clutch pack slippage on older transmissions and the noise was nowhere like that.

The sun gears are definitely suspect in my mind, something between the teeth would lock them, and I think one of them is locked or is intermittently locking.

I agree about the transfer gears and the differential, either one would prevent power transfer to the wheels.

I lean toward some gears being jammed, and probably one of the sun gears.

If I can use the $1800 unit plus the $600 labor, I'll come out nearly at what you paid. I hope that will be the case, at least it will be far better than $3800 that one guy quoted me.

The Customer Service guy said the hitch, extra cooler, and some difference in the computer software were the basic ingredients in the towing package. I asked him if any of the transmission parts were more hefty than standard and he said they were not, so I think you are correct about that.

Thanks again, I'm about to try and get some shut-eye but I'll post here to let you all know what I eventually find out and do.

Ed B

#9 karlStolz

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Posted January 20, 2005 at 01:58 pm

You're ready for a rebuild, no doubt about that. I had similar failure with my 98GV at 143,000 miles. My auto instructor rebuilt it with me and we found a bearing at the differential gears had failed and started the chain of reaction in other gear failures.

Get a DC reman or have a DC tranny tech rebuild it on the side if he has a side business.

Good luck.

#10 Ed B

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Posted January 20, 2005 at 05:43 pm

I tried to move the van forward this morning and, after lurching twice, the transmission completely quit. It freewheels in each direction - I can hear the clutch packs lock and unlock each time I shift it from forward to reverse but that is about all. The van will not roll in neutral so there is something which has it locked.

I have virtually eliminated the possibility of differential gear problems. With the wheels off the ground, spinning the left wheel causes the opposite rotation of the right one. I probably will not pull the differential cover so I will not rule out the possibility of the spider gear shaft slipping part way out. But there are no signs of damage to the case in this area, and no holes elsewhere.

I pulled the transmission pan and now I know there is internal damage, but I don't know exactly what the damage is yet. The pan magnet was covered with small metal "filings" which have a volume of at least 1 tablespoon. There was also about 1 tablespoon full of broken tempered steel in the pan. :( I took out the largest five pieces. Four appear to have been gear teeth. The largest is about 7/16" long with a triangular cross section of about 1/8". These pieces appear to be the remains of teeth from a helical gear but are so short that I can't tell if they were internal or external. The fifth piece is a broken needle bearing about 3/32" diameter and 7/16" long.

The fluid is nearly normal color and does not smell burned. So whatever it is, it seems to be mechanical and not hydraulic.

Unless someone or something convinces me otherwise, I am going to put the pan back on and then have a remanufactured unit put in. I still don't know for sure what the cost will be and will have to negotiate that with the installer before the work begins.

To KarlStoltz: you said "Get a DC reman or have a DC tranny tech rebuild it"
I searched for DC tech and DC remanufactured transmission and found nothing, so I don't know how to find one. :blink: Tell me a little more about who/what they are and I'll check them out.

Thanks for the input from each of you, I appreciate it all.

Ed B

#11 gene - neonexpres

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Posted January 20, 2005 at 06:13 pm

DC = Daimler Chrysler, ie remanufatured trans from the dealer...or a dealer certified trans tech.

the one from the dealer gives you a 3 year/36,000 mile warranty. I think most tranny shops usually only give you 12/12000 warranty and usually use dexron+additive instead of ATF+3/ATF+4 tranny fluid.

#12 A. Murphy

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Posted January 20, 2005 at 08:00 pm

........
usually use dexron+additive instead of ATF+3/ATF+4 tranny fluid.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


If it's aamco, you'll get this bit {dexron+additive instead of ATF+3/ATF+4 tranny fluid } and little else.


see;
http://www.txchange.com/main.htm

I have had no dealings with them, so have no insight into their quality.

However, if you decide on a OEM re-man, get it fitted at the dealer, where they have all the upgrades soft/hardware you will need. Last thing you want is a new AT fighting with old software.

here is another resource; link

Edited by A. Murphy, January 20, 2005 at 11:23 pm.


#13 Ed B

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Posted January 20, 2005 at 08:00 pm

Well I'm feeling almost as dumb as a stump not to have recognized that one! :D

I agree totally and will be dealing with my local Dodge dealer. They have assured me they will use the proper fluid and have indicated that the new one may require +4 fluid depending upon the unit shipped.

Based on the most recent conversation with them, the total cost to me will be near $2900 max with the possibility of being $350 less (depends on the exact transmission I have now).

I believe this is the best option I have. I probably could get it rebuilt for less at a local shop, but I doubt I'd ever be comfortable with the choice and I wouldn't have the 3/36 warranty.

I have one more question that I may as well ask here. I've read one or more posts that recommend bypassing the oil cooler in the radiator after a transmission failure. The rationale is that the tank is honeycomb like and can't be cleaned well by flushing. I'd like to hear some comments pro or con about this. (I do have an external cooler already.)

Thanks,

Ed B

#14 int_53185

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Posted January 20, 2005 at 08:51 pm

It sounds like a bearing failed...leading to gear failure...I know the wholesale cost of a chrysler reman is 1200 dollars...thats 30% off list....plus you have to install it...

#15 valiant67

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Posted January 21, 2005 at 05:59 am

I have one more question that I may as well ask here. I've read one or more posts that recommend bypassing the oil cooler in the radiator after a transmission failure. The rationale is that the tank is honeycomb like and can't be cleaned well by flushing. I'd like to hear some comments pro or con about this. (I do have an external cooler already.)

Thanks,

Ed B

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


It's possible it may flush out and then again it may not. When I had my 91 Grand Voyager, a new radiator was only $100 so I put one in as soon as it came back from the tranny replacement. I'd bet your radiator costs more and is harder to change from looking at my 99 T&C.

#16 gene - neonexpres

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Posted January 21, 2005 at 08:44 am

I would have them install an auxilary cooler and bypass the radiator altogether (unless you get a new radiator) - but still get an aux cooler. Your new tranny will thank you.


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