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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone,

I also posted this in minivan forum, so please excuse the duplication if you follow both forums!

I'm having a transmission problem with our 2005 Chrysler Town & Country, 3.8, 4 speed auto, 135,000 miles, transmission has been well maintained. At 10 mph, the vehicle will sometimes shudder or jerk, sometimes once, sometimes several times. Tachometer shows about 1400 RPM. This is not the one – two upshift. That will typically occur at about 15 mph. This occurs intermittently, but generally is becoming more frequent.

I'm reasonably sure this is related to the transmission, because if I keep the shifter in low, this will not happen. It will happen in drive, and I think it's a little more likely to have multiple shudders when in overdrive.

There are no powertrain codes. I pulled the transmission pan, no unusual debris or filings, I put in new filter in. I also changed the solenoid pack, it seemed like that the solenoid pack helped for about a week, but that may have been wishful thinking.

I talked to the service writer at the dealer, who was not particularly helpful, and suggested that I would end up with a transmission rebuild.

Any thoughts?

Thanks.

Gene
 

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Welcome to Allpar. A scan of the TCM portion of the PCM/TCM module might yield some more diagnostic information. A more advanced scan tool like the DRB III (or equivalent) may be needed.
CVI (clutch volume index) values for the clutch elements may be helpful to know, particularly the LR (low reverse) and UD (underdrive) clutch elements which are applied for 1st gear. The clutch fill time ranges are a measure of wear or internal leakage and are an adaptable memory for smooth clutch application.
If you can't get the same 'slip/shudder/bump' sensation in reverse, then the LR clutch may not be the problem and a closer look at the UD clutch may be warranted.
The TCM can also store Event Data which aren't really fault codes and can be read with the scan tool. These are recorded when an anomaly occurs in the transaxle that the TCM can detect and can display sensor values, input and outputs at the time of the occurrence.
ATF+4 is the only fluid that should be used in the 41TE. Clutch wear and damage will occur with any Dexron/Mercon and also some additives.
There are pressure taps along the front of the transaxle case for a pressure gauge if you need to observe line, LR or UD clutch pressure during the clutch 'slip' or 'bump' event. A shudder is usually a slipping clutch and this must be fixed ASAP because clutches don't last very long when this happens.
There was a TCM software upgrade on TSB #21-018-07A that addressed 1-2 and 2-3 shift harshness: https://cda.extra.chrysler.com/sqwrp/files/7283921-018-07.pdf
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Hi Imperial,

Thanks so much for your thoughtful reply.

Last fall, the transaxle was removed from the vehicle, due to a broken output shaft, from the transmission to the differential. It just sheared off clean. The repair was done at an AAMCO transmission place in York, Pennsylvania. They just replaced the broken shaft, they did not do any other rebuilding. I did not think to ask what type of fluid they used.

It sounds like you are suggesting that, if Dexron with additive was used, (which I suspect may have been the case), that clutch wear has occurred.

I don't know of any local independent transmission shops that are very good. I suspect that any diagnostics would have to be done at the dealer.

But it sounds like your guess is that this is actually a clutch problem, and a transmission rebuild would be necessary?

Thanks so much!

Gene
 

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A little more diagnosis might confirm that an internal issue requiring a rebuild is the final answer here.
I think that all external/in-car service possibilities have been exhausted.
Dexron is a 41TE clutch killer. The clutch and seal material and fluid formulation changes in late 1995 made ATF+4 necessary. It was printed on the dipstick and in the owners manual/service literature, but many folks did not get the message in time.
If the condition of the vehicle warrants an expensive service like a transaxle rebuild and it is deemed that that is indeed the fix, then have the module software updated and ATF cooler flushed at the same service.
I don't know if there is any recourse with AAMCO. Their warranty should be 12/12. It's been less than a year, but has it been less than 12,000 miles ago? See if there is a parts column on the work order copy and if it mentions what ATF was charged out.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Hi again Imperial,

Once more, thanks for your thoughtful response.

I doubt that there's any real possibility of AAMCO doing much with this. We were out of town, and while accelerating on a narrow on ramp to Interstate 83, we heard a loud clunk, the engine raced, and the car rapidly slowed. The vehicle went on a flatbed to the AAMCO, all of my communications with them were by phone at a distance of about 150 miles.they wanted to sell a total transmission rebuild. At that time the transmission had been flawless, so I asked them just to fix what was wrong. It had been fairly clear that the problem was in the differential, Park was not holding the vehicle, so the initial thought was a rebuilt differential. However, when they pulled it apart, it was just a sheared output shaft. So that was all that was replaced.

Initially, the vehicle seemed great. The shifting actually was smoother than it had been before, which I'm now guessing means that a different transmission fluid was used.

The receipt just describes "differential service", it indicates that transmission fluid and filter were replaced, but does not indicate what type.

So at this point I have a nine year old vehicle, run fairly hard with minor body damage, with numerous little quirks like power locks not working, as well as some rust on the rear quarter panels. Our kids are now all college-age, so the seating of the minivan is much less important. I'm wondering whether it's worth putting any money into the van, or just saying that our minivan era is over!

My general tendency is to hold on to vehicles too long, looking back at it the last year tends to be very expensive.


A larger issue seems to be the importance of ATF +4. I have always believed that Chrysler specifies this for a reason. However, it seems that many of the independent shops, including those who should know better, feel that Dexron is interchangeable. Even a retired Chrysler tech that I know believes that "it's all basically the same".

However, it sounds like, in my case, use of Dexron may have done the transmission in. Even if I had a dealer flush to put ATF +4 back in, the damage has already been done.

Again, thanks for your thoughts.

Gene
 

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If your vehicle needs have changed away from needing the minivan space and this one is starting to nickel and dime you, then this might be the time to consider trading it. At 9 years and 135K miles, I seriously doubt that the dealer want to put it in the used car lot and will probably wholesale it. They may give you a 'token' trade-in amount for it towards a new car.
I will tell you that when me or the wife need to move something large or go on a long trip, we miss our old minivan. They just seem to do everything well.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
ImperialCrown said:
They just seem to do everything well.
Absolutely! This has been our experience:

89 Plymouth GV bought used, 3.0 Went through head gaskets twice, put in factory rebuilt transmission at around 150,000 miles. Sold that shortly after to a friend, the rebuilt transmission pooped out about 20,000 miles later.

97 Plymouth GV 3.0 3 speed auto bought new, went through head gaskets once, transmission went bad at 115,000, had it rebuilt, we kept it until about 150,000 miles, the next owner ran it for about 50,000 more miles.

00 Dodge GC AWD 3.8 bought new, needed new flex plate at about 90,000 miles,then wrecked by my son at about 115,000 miles.

05 Chrysler T+C bought new, some minor electrical problems, needed water pump at 50,000 miles, basically I thought this was the best of the bunch until the transmission output shaft broke at about 122,000 miles.

I agree with you, when you have people or objects to move, you can't beat a minivan. But I just see this one becoming a money pit.

For us, part of the problem is my wife's driving style. I try to drive gently,but she is constantly up and down on the gas pedal, and frequently gas to brake to gas to brake. (We also go through lots of brakes.) I think her driving style,combined with the weight of the minivans, is very hard on the transmissions.

Gene
 

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The same 41TE seemed to fare better durability-wise in lighter vehicles like the PT and Sebring/Stratus and behind the lower-torque 2.4L engines. It was probably about at its torque-handling limit behind a strong V6 and in a 4000+ lb vehicle.
My wife also misses the chair-height seating and ease of stepping in and out of the minivan with her bad back. She needs help getting in and out of low-slung cars.
I will not comment on what I think her driving style for now. Thank You. :lol:
 
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