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Discussion Starter #1
Think it might be time to send the ol' 1990 Plymouth Grand Voyager to that celestial junk yard....which I hate to to, because it's still in REALLY nice shape....you may remember me asking about that weird intermittent noise a couple months back...well, wife was driving it, she stopped at the end of the driveway to get the mail, and when she tried to pull in, it wouldn't go...lost D and R........I went out there a little later, still no D, but had 1 & 2......next day, I wnet out & had to move it to get something in the garge, D worked but still no reverse.....so, I rolled it down the driveway & checked the fluid.....looked a little low, so I threw in some more fluid (YES I used the +4 stuff).....didn't help. no reverse, so I pulled it up into the driveway & just as I hit the brkaes, it started bucking & shuddering like a stick shift car when you lug it too far down in 2nd......shut it off, restarted, same thing......Something tells me this ain't gonna be a quick & easy fix here......I hate to get rid of it, but does it really make sense to throw yet another tranny (this thing had 6 dealer replacements when it was new) and another 2 or 3 grand at it.....the flip side here is the vehicle replacement cost....what could replace it for the price of the tranny job.....NOT looking to spend a lot, if I go 50 miles a week its a lot, but need a "stuff" hauler......any thoughts?
 

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For $3K you can find a decent 8 to 10 year old Dodge Caravan.
 

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You should be able to get at least $500 in salvage (maybe more since the engine is good). You can apply that towards a new vehicle if that is the route you are going to take. Otherwise, you are probably looking at around $1800+ for a tranny repair. You know the condition of the rest of the vehicle better than any of us. Any rust would be the thing that would cause me to throw in the towel.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Not sure if after this I'm willing to go with another one....I STILL hear people griping about tranny failures.....this would be tranny #7 in under 120K.....Shame of it is, I still think Chrysler offers the best minivan package, although the most recent one leaves me flat cold....


That's kinda the rationale I'm using...It does everything I need it to, is rust free, outside od a droopy headliner, the interior is mint....first step is trying to find a tranny place here that'll actually give me an honest answer.....when they do the tranny, does that usually include the differential? Not really familiar with FWD....If you go back & re-visit my post about the weird intermittent noise, some people were saying probably a diff output bearing noise....i
 

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The safest way you can go is to have a Mopar remanufactured unit installed. Those are tested on a dyno and run through most of the simulations of an operating vehicle. You'll pay a bit more for that piece of mind.

Obviously if this is an electronic tranny, the electronics need to be tested, codes and CVI checked to do a proper diagnoses. If a remanufactured tranny is put in, you should make sure the cooler is replaced and all electronics updated. You maybe looking at as much as $2500 if it is the 4 speed. Your model year falls in a bad time for Chrysler trannies.

The newer vehicles (i.e. 10 years or even a few years older) have trannies that are vastly improved, but you still have to figure that there will probably be one replacement along the way (usually after 125K miles), but not always.

My 96 G Voyager 3 speed tranny bit the dust at around 140,000 and I went with a Mopar reman unit. I've put almost 80K on it and it is doing fine. A few hundred extra for piece of mind was worth it in my case (I did the labor so my bottom line was about $1300).

A lot of my co-workers are saying that used vehicles have really gone up in price in the last year or so. I don't know if that is just a geographical thing or is across the Country. You have a tough decision making process there.
 

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If it's rust free and nice and you know the engine is solid (maintained), you might go for a rebuilt tranny that has a long warranty. Or one of those Chrysler rebuilt ones like someone else mentioned, if it has a long warranty too.

For the $2,500, you'd kinda be hard pressed to find a decent low mileage minivan. Plus, heck, it could also blow up a week after you get it. Another option is to spend the $2,500 on a nice, solid RWD pickup truck or full size van to use as your hauler since you don't drive it too much. A nice Ram RWD full size cargo van with the 3.9 liter V6 or 5.2 V8 would be cool -- your basic plumber's or carpenter's model. And it has a beefy truck tranny -- not a little prissy hard to work on FWD transaxle. It can pull 3 times what the Voyager can, so if you ever had to tow something, you'd have a vehicle to do it.

 

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Discussion Starter #8
Yeah, actually I have been thinking of looking at some of the Dodge based conversion vans or a first generation Dakota....I really like the older Dakotas because the interiors are really nice & car-like....
 

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MoldyOldy said:
Yeah, actually I have been thinking of looking at some of the Dodge based conversion vans or a first generation Dakota....I really like the older Dakotas because the interiors are really nice & car-like....
Yeah the Dakotas are great. You can get a 4, 6, or 8 cyl. engine in them.

Here's a nice '99 Ram Cargo van with only 88k miles and no rust. $1,500. Probably could get it for less. These basic white cargo vans are cheap -- a commodity item. Looks a tad beat up though with a few battle scars -- but still a useful vehicle. New tires, battery, starter, water pump. Heck, the tires alone are worth $300.

http://hartford.craigslist.org/cto/3726545518.html
 

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I have 207k miles on my 98 T&C and no tranny issues ever. Maybe i am a lucky one? Still shifts good. Ill run it till it goes. Am original owner. Thought id chime in on being one not having a bad chrysler minivan transmission. Good luck in what you decide.
 

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blackstratus said:
I have 207k miles on my 98 T&C and no tranny issues ever. Maybe i am a lucky one? Still shifts good. Ill run it till it goes. Am original owner. Thought id chime in on being one not having a bad chrysler minivan transmission. Good luck in what you decide.
271,500 miles on my PT Cruiser with original engine and 4 speed. Transmission still going strong. No repairs only maintenance (fluid and filter).
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I think you guys must be the lucky ones! The last Chrysler product I owned that was dead reliable was my '85 LeBaron 2 door......would love to lay my hands on a nice, mint K-Car type thing again....I had an '86 Diplomat that I could NEVER get to run 100%, my Shadow convertible was pretty good, outside of the fact the paint peeled off in sheets, even though it was always garaged.....I dunno, I must be the black death of MOPARdom....one of my friend bought a hunk of crap Neon as a winter beater, just to get one season out of it, and he ended up driving it for almost 8 years and 300,000 miles....gee....wonder what would be involved in throwing a stick into the minivan....the computers are probably so intergrated now, it would be near impossible....
 

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Yeah, you probably have a 3.3 or a 3.8 in your van and there is no manual tranny available that will mount up to the bell housing.
 

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MoldyOldy said:
I think you guys must be the lucky ones! The last Chrysler product I owned that was dead reliable was my '85 LeBaron 2 door......would love to lay my hands on a nice, mint K-Car type thing again....I had an '86 Diplomat that I could NEVER get to run 100%, my Shadow convertible was pretty good, outside of the fact the paint peeled off in sheets, even though it was always garaged.....I dunno, I must be the black death of MOPARdom....one of my friend bought a hunk of crap Neon as a winter beater, just to get one season out of it, and he ended up driving it for almost 8 years and 300,000 miles....gee....wonder what would be involved in throwing a stick into the minivan....the computers are probably so intergrated now, it would be near impossible....
TRhe only transmission failure I've had was the 4 speed in my 1990 Dodge Spirit. It failed at 126,000 miles. I had it fixed, and totaled the car at 157,000. I drove a Stratus (with the 4 speed) to 220,000 miles with no issues, and now my PT which is now over 271,500. I'm not saying that to brag or anything, but to illustrate that maybe something else is going on here. You've put an awful lot of aggravation into the transmissions in your van. Did the same mechanic do the replacing? Was the entire system flushed (cooler, lines, etc.)? Just trying to think this through. If an issue could be identified, you may have more confidence in just replacing the transmission.
 

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I replaced one transmission, in a 1991 Grand Voyager behind a 3.3 at around 120k miles. All the other A604s I owned, including some like the 1990 Imperial and 1994 LeBaron that were purchased dirt cheap because the previous owners were told they needed a new transmission, did not require replacement. It helped that I had a scanner (SnapOn MT2500) so I could know what was up with them. I've had 6 vehicles with the A604 and never replaced a solenoid pack in any of them. It was always something else like fluid, seals or a sensor issue.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Figured before I did anything, I'd have it towed over to the tranny shop out here, which has a pretty good rep, for a second opinion....Well, it IS the tranny, apparently the pinion gears or something went....my wife thinks I'm crazy for having it fixed, but like I said earlier, it's more an issue of replacement cost rather than what's the car actually worth...My take: What kind of minivan would you actually get for 1800.....and has a 2 year / 24,000 mile warranty......and I can throw it on my new credit card and not pay any interest on it for a year.....and rack up some Amtrak points to put toward a free trip to Fla.......Just hope I'm doing the right thing, but I know what would happen....I'd probably never really enjoy the "new" car because I'd keep second guessing myself......Thanks for your input, will keep you posted.......
 

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The devil that you know may be better...
 

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I stopped worrying about market value for my cars when I put money in, I ask myself instead, "Will I find something better for the same money?" and the answer is almost invariably "no."

The question is not market value, it's reasonable replacement value, given that nearly any used car you buy will have its own problems, sometimes disguised.
 

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Smart decision. It will have a 2 year warranty on the tranny, so that 2 years (at least) you get out of the van will only cost $75 a month. $1,800/24. A payment on a new minivan would be $400 a month.

I know a lady who was given a pristine '04 Mercury Grand Marquis by her grandparents. It only had 80k miles (nothing for a 4.6 V8) and it ran beautifully and looked new. Something relatively minor went wrong with it, so she ended up letting the shop buy it off of her for $500 or something. Insane. I think the fuel pump went out, and it was going to be like $700 to have it replaced.

Um, better to pay $700 and have an awesome car rather than trying to take that $700 savings added to the $500 the shop gave her for the car and then trying to find a decent $1,200 used car. Ain't gonna happen! She ended up buying a rattle trap late 90's Explorer with 170k miles that was a constant money pit in repairs and fuel costs.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
That same sort of thing happened to one of my friends....his neighbor died and the car sat outside for a couple years, and finally the son asked him if he wanted it, because it was an eyesore & a mess, and he was gonna send it to the yard...It was an '89 Chrysler Landau that was the same color as my minivan was originally, a nice medium blue/grey metallic...Well, like my minivan & just about any othe Chrysler product of that era, the paint was peeling off in sheets....So, we went in together on buying the paints & supplies, spent a week & just gave them fairly decent quickie/cheapie paint jobs in my garage and laid a nice flat dark blue on them....His Landau had just a tick over 30k on it when he got it, and it's one of the best most trouble free cars he ever owned...i swear it rides better than my dad's Mercedes E-350.......go figure.....:)
 
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