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Discussion Starter #1
A year ago I bashed the treansmission oil pan onto a rock sticking out of a dirt road in a remote area of Mexico. I was on my way home and the sun was in my eyes. I drove the 400' to the driveway and called a local mobile mechanic. He removed the pan, welded the crack and then presented me with a quandary.

Fill the trans with regular ATF, drive 200 miles get synthetic fluid, and then change it, or let the car sit and somehow hope to get fluid (4 mile walk to the nearest parts store--and no guarantee they could even order it)

So I clenched my teeth, and drove the '95 spirit and purchased 8 quarts of MoPar/Mitsubishi approved fluid, and then had it changed. I drove the car for around 10 miles and then had a second change performed, but not the filter.

Since then, the car has been driven 12,000 miles.

But I am still worried. Should I expect an early demise for this low-mileage transmission (75,000 miles)?

Or should I get more synthetic fluid and have it changed yet again?

I am still in Mexico, there are few cars woth automatic transmission and fewer still parts houses that even know about synthetic fluid.
 

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ATF+4 is a synthetic ATF. The Mitsubishi Diamond SP III synthetic is way over-priced for what it is.
Just monitor your transaxle shift and drive 'feel' and continue driving it. If something happens, it happens. I can't give you any prognosis on your transaxle's life. Is it acting differently now than before?
 

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I think you are worrying unnecessarily. If you have already done a couple of changes, you've probably done more than enough.

I may be missing part of the story here. Is this the 95 Spirit that you are referring to? Back then, synthetic transmission fluid was not a requirement and was really just beginning to come into use. Synthetic is a better fluid for severe use but certainly not a guarantee that you won't ever have a tranny failure.

For me personally, I try to do a fluid and filter change on my trannies at about 40,000 miles. I only started using synthetic (i.e. ATF+4) in the past 3-4 years, because that is what the stores now sell.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
As far as "noticing" transmission quirks, I probably have a runaway imagination. Jeez, and here I thought the synthetic fluid was a "must" for the '95 Spirit with 3.0 engine. It came from the factory with regular fluid?


EDIT: I need some advice. Below is a factory service bulletin but I guess the stuff I added is the "4" and I have no idea what the car came with. Was it OK to add the synthetic?

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

NUMBER: 21-006-01

GROUP: Transmission

DATE: Jun. 29, 2001

THIS BULLETIN SUPERSEDES TECHNICAL SERVICE BULLETIN 21-16-99, DATED OCTOBER 22, 1999, WHICH SHOULD BE REMOVED FROM YOUR FILES AND NOTED IN THE 1999 TECHNICAL SERVICE BULLETIN MANUAL (PUBLICATION NO. 81-699-00004). THIS IS A COMPLETE REVISION AND NO ASTERISKS HAVE BEEN ADDED TO HIGHLIGHT REVISIONS.
SUBJECT:
Automatic Transmission Fluid Usage ATF+4 (Type 9602)

MODELS:

1989 - 1995 (AA) Spirit/Acclaim/Lebaron Sedan

1989 - 2002 (AB) Ram Van/Wagon

1989 - 1993 (AC) Dynasty/New Yorker/New Yorker Salon

1989 - 1993 (AD) Ram Truck

1989 - 1994 (AG) Daytona

1989 (AH) Lancer/Lebaron GTS

1989 - 1995 (AJ) Lebaron Coupe/Lebaron Convertible

1989 - 1990 (AK) Aries/Reliant

1989 - 1990 (AL) Horizon/Omni

1989 (AM) Diplomat/Gran Fury/New Yorker Fifth Avenue

1989 - 2002 (AN) Dakota

1989 - 1994 (AP) Shadow/Sundance

1990 - 1991 (AQ) Maserati

1990 - 1993 (AY) Imperial/New Yorker Fifth Avenue

1994 - 2002 (BR/BE) Ram Truck

1998 - 2002 (DN) Durango

2002 (DR) Ram Truck

1995 - 2000 (FJ) Sebring/Avenger/Talon

2000 (GS) Chrysler Voyager (International Market)

1995 - 2000 (JA) Cirrus/Stratus/Breeze

2001 - 2002 (JR) Sebring Sedan & Convertible/Stratus Sedan

1996 - 2000 (JX) Sebring Convertible

2002 (KJ) Liberty

1993 - 2002 (LH) Concorde/Intrepid/Vision/LHS/New
Yorker/300M

1989 - 1992 (MJ) Commanche

2000 (NS) Town & Country/Caravan/Voyager

1995 - 2002 (PL) Neon

2002 (PG) PT Cruiser (International Markets)

2001 - 2002 (PT) PT Cruiser

1997 - 2002 (PR) Prowler

2001 - 2002 (RG) Chrysler Voyager (International Markets)

2001 - 2002 (RS) Town & Country/Caravan/Voyager

1997 - 2002 (TJ) Wrangler

2001 - 2002 (WG) Grand Cherokee (International Markets)

1999 - 2002 (WJ) Grand Cherokee

1989 - 1995 (YJ) Wrangler

1996 - 1998 (ZG) Grand Cherokee (International Markets)

1993 - 1998 (ZJ) Grand Cherokee/Grand Wagoneer

NOTE :THIS BULLETIN APPLIES TO ALL VEHICLES EQUIPPED WITH CHRYSLER AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSIONS EXCEPT 1999 AND EARLIER MINIVANS.

DISCUSSION:

A new transmission fluid (ATF+4(R) - Type 9602) has been developed and is being used as factory fill for all vehicles with Chrysler automatic transmissions. Until now, vehicles originally filled with ATF+2 or ATF+3 were to be serviced with ATF+3. Effective immediately, it is recommended that all vehicles with Chrysler automatic transmissions except for 1999 and earlier minivans be serviced with ATF+4(R). ATF+3 should continue to be used for 1999 and earlier minivans because of the potential for torque converter shudder during break in. For all other applications the ATF+4(R) fluid offers significant benefits as outlined below.
NOTE :ATF+4(R) MUST ALWAYS BE USED IN VEHICLES THAT WERE ORIGINALLY FILLED WITH ATF+4(R).

NOTE :SERVICE INTERVALS DO NOT CHANGE. THE SERVICE INTERVAL CURRENTLY IN EFFECT FOR A GIVEN VEHICLE SHOULD CONTINUE TO BE FOLLOWED.

NOTE :ATF+4(R) IS COMPATIBLE WITH ATF+3 AND CAN BE USED TO TOP OFF VEHICLES THAT CURRENTLY HAVE ATF+2 OR ATF+3. DO NOT USE ATF+2 OR ATF+3 TO TOP OFF VEHICLES THAT HAVE ATF+4(R) FLUID.

BENEFITS
^ Better anti-wear properties

^ Improved rust/corrosion prevention

^ Controls oxidation

^ Eliminates deposits

^ Controls friction

^ Retains anti-foaming properties

^ Superior properties for low temperature operation

FLUID COLOR

Mopar ATF+4(R) is a World Class Fluid having exceptional durability. However, the red dye used in ATF+4°R is not permanent; as the fluid ages it may become darker or appear brown in color. ATF+4(R) also has a unique odor that may change with age. With ATF+4(R) fluid, color and odor are no longer indicators of fluid condition and do not support a fluid change.
 

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The Torqueflite doesn't really care all that much what you put in it. The A604 four-speed was originally filled with ATF+3, which has been superceded by ATF+4. Both fluids, as far as I know, are synthetics. Because of the way the 604 shifts, it requires a special fluid. Although wear would have been accelerated while non ATF+4 was in it, even if it was accelerated by a factor of 4 or 5, it's pretty inconsequential.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
With the transmission losing (almost) 4 quarts from the leak, then having it made-up with 4 quarts of MerCon, then draining the pan twice and refilling with ATF+4, the fluid has been restored to high enough purity to no longer be a concern? Thanks. I am 600+ miles distant from the nearest transmission shop.
 

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You should be okay. If it hasn't had any odd behavior in the 12K miles since the change, you are probably okay.

Just to recap - the A604/41TE (4 speed transmission) that was used with the 3.0L engine for the Spirit/Acclaims requires ATF+4. For the 3 speed mated to the 2.5L 4 cylinder engine, ATF+4 is recommended, but Dexron/Mercon is acceptable. Not trying to confuse anyone. I'd still recommend using the ATF+4 for the 3 speed, though Dexron/Mercon can be used with no real detriment.

To further confuse matters, Chrysler had an optional 3 speed for the 3.0L as well for some years so one can't assume if you have the 3.0 it automatically has the 4 speed. In future posts, please be sure to clarify year, make, model, engine and transmission.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
The transmission is marked on the steering column L,2,D,N,R,P. It shifts three speeds, then around 43 mph, it feels like it goes into an even higher gear followed almost instantly by a mild bump (the torque converter locking up?). Is this a three speed with overdrive and locking torque converter? The car did not come with an owner's manual. Thank you.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Is there some sort of web site I can check the VIN number and see for sure? Living in Mexico means living in a world with few automatic transmissions. They don't even list parts for the 3.0 engine down here. The 43 @ mph shift point has two distinct phases separated by a half second (maybe less). The engine speed definetly drops then something else happens -- hard to describe. The car seems to act more like it has a manual transmission. Engine and driveline coupled solidly feel. The oil pan is not a rectangle if that is a help.
 

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The VIN will not ID the transmission type. A dealer can run the VIN and tell you, however.
http://www.charlietranny.com/A604.htm
http://www.charlietranny.com/A404.htm
Compare these pictures, especially the black solenoid box by the dipstick on the A604. The one labeled A404 would be the A670 if installed in your car. It should be an easy ID visually.
For cars with an overdrive (the A604) there is usually a circle or box around the D.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
The shift quandrant "D" does not have a circle around it.

The starter motor gets in the way of a good side view, but the dipstick tube entry has some sort of an electric switch or sensor between it and the transmission main body and then there is another switch, horizontal further to the right facing to the passenger side (the electrical plug is on the driver side). I do not see any kind of black box near the dipstick tube entry like what the A640 image shows. The A670 image doesn't much look like it, either.
 

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That sounds like the 3-speed.

Another difference, on trannies of that era, the 4-speed has a dipstick tube, whereas the 3-speed has a dipstick with a long handle that just goes into a hole on the transmission.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I'm going to try to wrap this up with a couple of questions. Apparently I have the 3-speed transmission, and it does not demand ATF-4. But does it at a minimum demand the use of ATF3? I need to get some oil down here and wouldn't it be wonderful if regular ATF would work just fine. If ATF3 at a minimum is required then I'm stuck with getting ATF4 down from the states.

And to everyone: THANK YOU! I learned something and when I am driving and see no human beings in hours and hours I can relax a bit more. A breakdown where I travel can be a serious challenge.
 

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ATF+4 supercedes ATF+3 and is recommended as a viable replacement. I highly doubt you can find ATF+3 - it's not available in my area at all unless a shop just happens to have some leftover stock (highly unlkely).

One additional thought - the 3 speeds are hydraulic and are not as sensitive to Dexron as the 4 speed electronically controlled transmissions are. So in a pinch it would not hurt to use Dexron/Mercon if ATF+3 or +4 is not available.
 

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That's a 3-speed. The "two-stage " TC lockup behavior is normal. My '95 Spirit's A413 does that. The lockup TC is a little more sensitive to fluids than a regular TorqueFlite (the A413 and A670 are based of of the A904 RWD transmission which itself is a derivative of the legendary A727), but it isn't nearly as finicky as the 4-speeds (these are known as the A604 or "Ultradrive" and Chrysler had a royal time getting people to use the correct fluid, during which time the transmission got a horrible reputation. Using anything but ATF +4 in an Ultradrive will kill it).
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Thank you everyone. If you could see what I see on the way to the store, a mountain range sixty miles distant and not even a barbed wire fence between me and it (and no cars), maybe you could understand my bit of paranoia. BTW I seemed to have resolved a hot weather heat-up issue by simply replacing the radiator cap. Can it be my imagination that if the radiator loses but a quart or two it really taxes the ability of the tiny cooling system to cool enough?
 

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Can it be my imagination that if the radiator loses but a quart or two it really taxes the ability of the tiny cooling system to cool enough?
Yeah, that could be enough to make a difference in the heat transfer - not enough coolant doesn't allow proper heat transfer.
 
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