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Discussion Starter #1
The transmission has a major leak and the dealer recommended replacing it with a new one at $2500. Is it possible to upgrade to a new transmission with 5 or 6 gears instead of the standard 4?

Or maybe a manual transmission? Without bankrupting myself?
 

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Virginia Gentleman
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Where's the leak? And how bad? Is the case cracked? Otherwise the only places for potential leaks are the transmission lines, transmission cooler, around the pan and the selenoid gasket. Is the transmisison fine otherwise? Need more details. Is the transmission slipping? Any TCM fault codes?

I think you're stuck staying with the 4 speed auto (41TE). I know there was a 5 speed manual,but I believe it was only available with the 2.0L 4 cylinder engine. My son had a 98 Avenger with the 2.0L/5 speed manual.

Is the recommended replacement a MoPar Reman? They usually have a 3 year/100K mile warranty. If you do replace the transmission, I strongly recommend replacing the transmission cooler and associated lines. They can clog up with debris over time. Flushing doesn't always work.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
One dealer told me it's a leaking transmission pump ($1500 replacement). Then I got a second opinion from another dealer who poured a quart of trans oil which ran straight out the bottom of the car, and I was told it needs both a pump and torque converter. He said "just replace the whole trans with a new one". The dealer also warned me the fluid could catch fire (it sprayed onto the muffler).

It runs okay except for the fluid being low.
Oh well. I guess I'll drive til it dies and then junk it.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Any other ideas, suggestions, whatever? It kinda sucks that the transmission died do early (just over 140,000). My Dodge Shadow went 360,000 miles without any transmission problem. Maybe because it was a simpler 3 gear auto instead of the 4 gear?
 

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DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS!
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I'm not liking how this was demonstrated. I would think that the pump is high enough up from the sump that pouring fluid into the transmission should not cause it to spill out from the pump, that it would have to be overfilled to pour out of the pump.

If it is actually pouring out the pump, there are three basic possibilities that I can see. First, bad front seal. That's the seal between the torque converter and the pump. Second, bad pump gasket. That's the ring-shaped gasket between the pump and the housing. Third, cracked pump.

There are other penetrations through the transmission case that can leak. Bad pan gasket. Bad or loose fitting for one of the cooling lines. Gaskets where the wiring connector penetrates. Differential area. There are probably more possibilities.
 

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This could be the dreaded differential pin-through-the-case failure. In that case sometimes a used or reman transaxle is the best way to go. The technician won't know that for sure until the trans comes out.
Does the condition of the rest of the car warrant a large repair investment?
 

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Vaguely badass...
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A lot of shops seem to quote really high numbers on A604/4*TE transaxle replacements - and honestly I think it's because most just don't want to deal with it.

I'll suggest checking with the crew over at ASEC - http://www.aseclub.net - to get more opinions - those guys know those cars inside and out.

Best a salvage yard will give you is $300 for the car as it sits. If replacing the transaxle can be done for $2500 and you get at least two more years of use out of it, is it worth it? Can you replace the entire car for $2500? Have other shops been given a chance to quote on the work?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Final question:
Is there a thicker trans oil I can use that might not leak as much? For example on my old Plymouth I switched to 20w-50 in order to stop a leaking engine seal. Any possibility of doing that with the Dodge transmission?

The V6 avenger guzzles a LOT of gas, $7000 worth over the next 50,000 milles. Eventually I will upgrade to one of those 50mpg cars (a Chevy Cruze, or Civic, or VW TDI). I'll just keep topping-off the trans oil until the thing starts grinding and then junk it (or ebay it).
 

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theaveng said:
It guzzles a LOT of gas,  $7000 worth over the ext 50,000 milles.
By my calculation, that's 25-26 mpg, which, if mostly city driving, is typical and not bad for this car. I wouldn't call it a lot. It should probably get about 30 mpg highway.
 

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DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS!
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I've used "Trans-X" additive on a Torqueflite, but I've never tried it on an Ultradrive. I do not know if it'll help you or not.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
The old EPA test rated it 27mpg highway (which is my average too). . But I don't want to get into a debate about how $7000 over 50,000 miles is a lot of gas money, and other cars exist that would cut that expense in half. I want to focus on the Avenger: What about that thicker transmission oil? Is that an option?
 

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Vaguely badass...
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If you are looking to kill the transmission, then yes - put thicker/wrong fluid in it.

If it's leaking, then get the leaks fixed. If you feel it's more advantageous to take the anticipated $1200+ for a transaxle repair and apply it to a new(er) vehicle, then go that route.

That A604/4*TE transaxle is engineered to use ATF+3/ATF+4 only. It's all I've used in my '98 Stratus that just crossed 187000 miles.
 

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Virginia Gentleman
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theaveng said:
The old EPA test rated it 27mpg highway (which is my average too). . But I don't want to get into a debate about how $7000 over 50,000 miles is a lot of gas money, and other cars exist that would cut that expense in half. I want to focus on the Avenger: What about that thicker transmission oil? Is that an option?
You could try Lucas, but that's generally only good if the seals have become hard and are indeed the source of the leaks. Even then it's a temporary fix.

Along the lines of Strat's post you basically have the following options:

1) do nothing
2) try Lucas and drive it until it drops
3) Fix/replace the transmission
4) purchase another vehicle

Ultimately, you are the judge on whether it's worth fixing. I'll admit $2500 on a reman transmission is a good chunk of change to spend, but one thing to consider - Can you purchase a decent used vehicle for that price that will last 2-3 years? My bet is you can't. Back when my son was in the market for a car (2-3 years ago), we couldn't find many good used cars under $2,000 (USD). Those that were listed cheaper than that were basically junk. The break point for a good used car was about $3K. He got lucky though - a coworker sold him a '97 Mercury Tracer LS for $1,000. To date we've only spent ~$800 on it - new tires, alternator, brakes and lower ball joints. And with many vehicles destroyed by "Sandy", used cars have actually risen in value - at least for the moment.

Side note - I received a letter from my dealer practically begging me to trade in my truck for a new vehicle since their used lot is depleted and they don't trust any vehicles coming through the auction houses. At least that's what they claim.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I guess you mean "Lucas Transmission Fix". Also don't understand how the cleaner called "Trans-X" is supposed to stop the leak? That doesn't sound like anything that would plug a hole in a bad pump or seal? Maybe I'm confused.
If you are looking to kill the transmission, then yes - put thicker/wrong fluid in it.
Yes that is my longterm goal, since I figure the transmission is already shot, with my dealer telling me I need a new trans pump and new torque converter "plus maybe other hidden problems". He said it would cost me $2000 at least. So I've decided to just drive the transmission as long as it holds out. I should be able to get another 50,000 out of it.

BTW I already have other cars. If this Avenger dies it would be disappointing but not that bad. I still have my Volkswagen TDI to get me to work.
 

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Virginia Gentleman
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Vaguely badass...
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Which is what most trans fluid additives do - stops leaks at the seals.

If you have a hole in a pump or a line or in the pan, Trans-X or Lucas Trans Fix won't do a darn thing to stop that leak.
 

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Many of these products have an additive in them that swell hardened seals. That's how they stop leaks.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Guess I shouldn't have used that RedLine synthetic ATF+4 about 70,000 miles ago (yes the bottle says it is specifically for Chrysler cars). ----- BTW what weight is ATF+4 oil? [It appears to be SAE 80W.]
 

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Vaguely badass...
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The Redline product isn't a licensed ATF+4 product. While it may meet the specs (as their marketing claims it does), it's not on the official list of licensed ATF+4 brands - which is why they cannot call it "ATF+4" and call it "C+ ATF" instead.

I have seen the number "75W90" associated with ATF+4, but that was nothing official.
 
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