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Hi, I have a 1999 Dodge Stratus (Chrysler in my country) with some transmission problems. The rest of car is in excellent conditions, almost new. I must say I am not a mechanic and I live in Uruguay - South America, there are very few of these cars in my country, less than 50?

Many times the transmission stop working, it get in neutral, at least as a driver it feels like neutral mode. Sometimes I can drive the car a few blocks, sometimes I start the car and the transmission doesn't work. no movement.

Other symptoms:
  • a couple of times a week the odometer and the rpms gets off line for 5 minutes or so, the car runs fine during the dash blackout.
  • Every time I put it in drive (and the transmission doesn't fail) I hear a tick-tick-tick-tick... and the transmission engages. The ticking is near the solenoid body.
  • When the transmission fails it gets like in neutral mode, not in second clutch or limp mode, I'm not sure what limp mode is.
  • Most of the time the transmission engages hard after fail.
The work that I've done
  • changed the fluid and the filter. It got better for a couple of days then the problem made it unusable
  • disassembly the valve body, clean it and re-assembly, same with solenoid body. Every seems to be fine, the valves in the solenoid body were almost new. I can tell this because I have another body with worn out seals, etc. Again the problem persists.
  • Took down the transmission and made a master rebuild. I've never disassembled a transmission before but I was very careful with the process. The master rebuild didn't had the bushings so, no bushings changed, some of them were... so so. The old clutches where almost new, I compared them with the new ones. I believe the car has only 100K miles or less, I know it's PCM changed, the odometer marks 123.000km, nearly 80.000 miles. No mud on the transmission, very little worn other than the bushings.
  • Tested the car.... THE SAME PROBLEM.
I don't have a proper scanner, mine only reads the PCM codes, it doesn't detect the TCM. Buying one is very expensive for me, like 3000 US dollars. I've searching for a cheap-used scanner with no luck.

Please, anyone has any ideas?

Super Moderator
32,250 Posts
Are you using ATF+4 fluid, certified to be Chrysler-approved? Is the fluid level correct?
Did you replace the solenoid pack?

7,076 Posts
Not surprised at the lack of wear. The only 604 I've rebuilt had 160K on it when the converter clutch failed. I rebuilt it while it was out and found NO measurable wear on any of the clutch discs or steels.

Now for your problem. You will have to find a way to get it scanned. That's not that easy even in the U.S. as only dealers normally have the tool and they like to charge for it.

2,156 Posts

As mentioned, using ATF+4 is critical in these transmissions.

Incorrect fluid can result in a neutral mode and or harsh engagement.

I know as I've experimented with other fluids, what could go wrong??

Everything!! Replacing with ATF+4 made them normal again.

I installed a drain plug on the pan to allow changing all the fluid.

Limp mode uses second gear only, to allow limping home.

Solenoid ticking is normal, pressure is applied with each click.

It's engineered to prevent harsh engagement.

My Sebring developed harsh shifting so I replaced the solenoid.

No improvement so the dealer reflashed the TCM for $100.00

Worked fine ever after, curious if you could send your TCM to a dealer?

Let us know if in fact you used straight ATF+4 or the earlier ATF+3

Maybe a dealer mechanic will post on mailing your TCM for reflash.

Or with better ideas!


Super Moderator
21,620 Posts
Welcome to Allpar. 2nd gear is the default 'limp-in' gear that you would have if the electronics failed or if the TCM detected an error where an element could be damaged if applied.
Having no motion at all means that there is low or no line pressure. Either a massive internal fluid leak or the pump losing prime?
The TCM fault codes may be useful, but from your symptoms, it sounds like the transaxle has to come out and apart again (unless it is something external like the solenoid pack?).
Something is not sealing. Lip seals need to face the pressure in order to seal.
Solenoid packs are generally not rebuildable or serviced other than replacement.
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