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Caliber Chrysler (JATCO) CVT transaxle service.

Discussion in 'Compacts: Renegade, Patriot, Compass, Caliber' started by ImperialCrown, Sep 20, 2015.

  1. ImperialCrown

    Level III Supporter

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    The CVT is a continuously-variable ratio gearbox made by JATCO for Chrysler. They were used in the Caliber/Compass (PM) and the Patriot (MK).
    http://www.allpar.com/mopar/transmissions/CVT.html
    The supply contract between the two companies does not allow dealerships to rebuild these units. Basically the old one comes out and a new one goes in if there is a failure.
    Remans are probably not in the cards as there are not enough of these units failing out there to make a reman service worth their while.
    A fluid and filter service is not in the scheduled maintenance listed in the owners/service manuals. It is one of those 'filled for life' units. Granted it is a synthetic oil (use CVTF+4 only) and should have no problem being a lifetime fill under normal driving conditions, but for harsh-duty and environments or plain peace-of-mind, you can service the transaxle yourself if you desire.
    It has 2 filters, one flat filter in the sump when the pan comes off and another cylindrical one up behind the oil-to-water cooler that is bolted to the drivers side of the case. It is the aluminum can with 4 hoses to it. The hoses can stay on while you change the filter inside the housing.
    There is a replaceable pan gasket (Mopar# 5189838AA) and 2 magnets in the pan.
    There is no dipstick, but you can use a flexible length of old speedometer cable (or equivalent) to shove down the tube to measure the level before beginning and again after the service. Listen for the 'clunk' at the pan bottom and go no further. The level for mine on level ground while sitting overnight was about 2 1/2" (6.3 cm). The fill for mine on level ground and sitting overnight was about 6 quarts (5.7 litres).
    After completing the service, put the shift lever through the ranges with the engine running and your foot on the brake. Then put it in Park, shut off the engine, recheck for leaks and proper level.
    The parts that you will need is fluid: CVTF+4 (Mopar# 5191184AA) or any fluid that meets Chrysler's MS-12106. Mopar or Valvoline makes CVT fluid that meets this spec. The fluid is dyed green, it is not your conventional red ATF. Castrol also had a CVT fluid, it covered Hondas specs, but did not mention MS-12106. Expect about $10 a quart.
    I retorqued the valve body bolts while the pan was off and to let it drip awhile. They are 70 inch/pounds (8 nm). I got about an 1/8 turn tighter on all of them.
    Mopar and many others have the pan filter (Mopar # 5191890AA). The 'generic' part # is FK-409. It may even come with the pan gasket.
    Mopar does not service the cooler filter, but I was able to buy that aftermarket. The 'generic' cooler filter # is FK-403. The cooler filter is shown in the factory service manual, but not the Mopar parts catalog.
    Chrysler has released upgraded software for engine/transaxle controllers over the years. Making sure that you are at the latest and greatest software release, will ensure best performance, shift quality and longevity. A TSB (18-031-07) is shown here. It is not a recall, but may be covered under an 8/80 extended emissions warranty if it affects the PCM portion of the controller:
    http://www.wkjeeps.com/misc/Caliber/TSB/Caliber_1803107.pdf
    There is also a TSB 21-010-11 for some newer CVTs. Ask your dealer if any apply to your vehicle.
     
  2. chuzz

    chuzz Well-Known Member

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    Good info for the people that have the Mopars with the CVT. I had it in the 08 Caliber that got killed, and once I got used to it, I liked it. I had no issues with mine at all.
     
    ImperialCrown likes this.
  3. ImperialCrown

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    I also had to get used the the CVT 'feel'. It shifts in a gradual 'slide' in ratios where we had always grown up in shifts that are done in 'steps'.
    For the uninitiated, the transaxle feels eerily like it is 'slipping'.
    After getting used to it, I went back to a 4-speed automatic for awhile and it felt like there were gears that were missing that should have been between the gears. :D
     
  4. ka9yhd

    ka9yhd Active Member

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    If I remember correctly, they had to program in steps because of the un-nerving feeling people had because the engine would come up and stay at or near a certain rpm instead of revving up and dropping down with gears.
     
  5. Rick Anderson

    Rick Anderson Well-Known Member

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    Someone explained to me, they mostly did the reprogramming to vary rpm up and down a bit as it shifted because of exhaust drone, that it was extremely annoying at heavy throttle while accelerating quickly. I'm sure some folks not bothering to learn how it works were assuming something was wrong with it, so that might be partly why they changed it.

    I've also heard the big disadvantage with this trans was the kick down to do a passing maneuver. That with a conventional automatic, it would instantly downshift 2 ratios and give you a quick in the pants with acceleration. But the CVT takes more than a moment to adjust through its infinite range of ratios down to the desired one. So with the CVT, no kick in the pants acceleration for a passing maneuver, more of a smooth gradual acceleration up to speed.
     

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