Chrysler A604 41TE Transaxle

Messages
105
Location
Mill Creek, WA
Hi all My dad's old commuter, a '95 Chrysler Cirrus LXi recently had its transmission puke (150k miles.) Reverse it toast but it runs like a champ going forward. He gave me the car to do what I want with it and I'm taking the opportunity to learn more about automatics by attempting a rebuild. I'm an avid DIY-er, and specialize in keeping old Jaguars alive- I've just never done an automatic transmission. Before I ramble some more, my question is, can a malfunctioning solenoid pack "murder" a transmission? In this case, the there is a low-reverse solenoid. Can it get stuck and kill reverse? Some background. When the transmission acted up, dad said he was pulling out into traffic somewhat briskly when he heard alot of grinding and the car stopped accelerating. He pulled off to the side, shut the car down and did the usual under-hood checks. He got back in the car, started it up, put it in gear and everything seemed fine- so he drove it home with no issues. When he got home, he backed it into the driveway but after that, reverse was gone. So, now the transmission is out of the car and all the end-play and thrust clearances on the dif and shafts are within spec (on the high-side, but within spec.) Now I have the tranny all apart (there isn't much to 'em!) and clearly the reverse clutches are toasted with no friction material left and the steels are black, warped and full of heat cracks. The clutch drum is also dinged up and needs replacement. The fluid was always changed every 30k (I did the work) but it's pretty black now and full of clutch particals (not surprising) So, with the hard parts in good shape I'm thinking I'll just do a soft-parts rebuild and get a new torque converter. Since this is purely educational, if things don't go well, I'll just get a used transmission. So, does anyone have any other suggestions? Maybe someone with some experience in these things? Is there something I *should* change since its all apart anyway (besides EVERYTHING since these tranaxles are supposedly such notorious garbage :)) I'm concerned that I'll do this work and something external might murder the transmission again (like a malfunctioning solendoid pack)- but then my fears may be unfounded. Thanks for any suggestions... Kev
 
Messages
59
Location
Dover, DE
Kev, Those transmissions are designed that even if there is a complete solenoild pack failure, you still have reverse and second gear. In other words if you disconnected the solenoid pack you would still have a functional 2nd and reverse. I do not know a whole lot about them, but there is an old mopar tech(s/n cheef) that posts in the trans forum on batauto.com and he is awesome. You could also possibly pick up some info on allpar.com. I am sure you know that you have to use ONLY mopar spec'd fluid in them also.
 
Messages
379
Location
Mi
Weld the ends of the spider gear pin.The pin is known for spitting out and will ruin the case.The 3 speed and 4 speed auto transaxles are known for this.
 
Messages
102
Location
Jacksonville, Fl
I just finished a rebuild of one of these in my son's Eclipse. I'd take a close look at the bushings. Since I don't like doing this stuff twice I went for a new snap ring kit in addition to the banner rebuild kit. Some of the snap rings are selective fit. I made some "special tools" out of 4" PVC pipe, wood blocks and threaded rod to compress springs. I made a spanner wrench for the transfer gears out of 1x6 oak and some bolts to hold it to the gear (hole saw for the nut opening). I can't remember where they are specifically but some of the pistons have bleed holes covered by screen, make sure they are clean. The solenoid pack has filter screens you can see from the bottom, clean those also. I sprung for a Transgo shift kit, but it's not required. Check the oil pump clearances. I got my parts from Mako Dist. over the net and recommend them. Good luck with it.
 
Messages
502
Location
Canada
Make sure you tear it down completely. The low/reverse piston is at the bottom of the case and those seals commonly fail. You have to remove the side cover and transfer gear to get the output shaft and planetary assy out. The L/R piston is under that. Make sure you new seal kit uses "D" ring seals instead of lip seals for the L/R and 2/4 pistons.
 

Merkurwwu

Thread starter
Messages
105
Location
Mill Creek, WA
Thanks for the suggestions. I'll make sure I get to all the springs and pistons. And thanks Tom for the suggestions on the PVC pipe and tools! I never would have thought of that and was considering buying the tools. That'll save me a couple hundred bucks there. I'm still doing research, and I bought a rebuild manual for it, but I'm trying to figure out *why* reverse failed. There is some catastrophic damage to the reverse clutches and with as clean as the inside of the tranny was, it seems like it was murdered and didn't just fail from use. We'll see. I'll pass along any interesting info.
 

Merkurwwu

Thread starter
Messages
105
Location
Mill Creek, WA
Bringing this back for an update. I managed to do the transmission rebuild and it was not terribly difficult- just alot of parts and lots of fluid everywhere. Tonight I got the car together enough to go for a road test and after the controller finished "learning" that it had new clutch packs (I'd done the learn procedure on the jack stands and had thought I'd taught it correctly but apparently not) it shifted supurbly. Thanks for the suggestions on the tools. The PVC pipe was a GREAT idea for a press ram. Those *&#^% transfer gears were a PAIN! I don't know how many pins I bent and wood I split getting those loose! I had about a week long delay because I didn't understand what the controller was doing with the low-reverse clutch. When I put the trans in neutral the wheels would pulsate in reverse. I thought there was something wrong with the electronic controls because when I disconnected the controller, there would be no pulsation in reverse. Apparently the controller engages the low-reverse clutch in park, reverse, neutral and low. Who knew? I thought I had a PRNDL switch problem. However, after I installed the brakes and tires, there wasn't enough torque to turn the wheels in reverse anymore (though they'd turn by hand) so I'm assuming it just needs to break in a little and I'll be in good shape (I checked the clutch pack clearances numerous times and they were all fine.) So now I'm hoping to put 1000 or so miles on the car to make sure it stays together and sell it. I have to do a timing belt and valve seals real quick and then I'll let 'er go. Thanks again!
 
Messages
2,040
Location
Jupiter, Fl
Those trannies are hit or miss. We bought two identical Grand Voyager LE's with A604's and 3.0 V6 in '89 (I think it was '89?). One had the first transmission failure at 189K which was a hard part failure, after a hard part rebuild it ran another 100K before the van was scrapped. The other identical van had all kinds of transmission problems that were all caused by electrical gremlins. Dealership replaced ECM, solenoid packs, wiring harness - problems persisted for the life of the van. The end result was that something electrical was causing the tranny to slip and cook. I was the primary driver of both vans in a work environment, they got treated equally and maintained similarly. If I had bought only one or the other my thoughts of that transmission would be vastly different. As it is I think it was a marvel of engineering for it's time, and if you got a good one they can be very reliable. I don't know over time how many of those transmissions problems were caused by internal failures vs control system failures.
 
Messages
39,806
Location
Pottstown, PA
 Quote:
As it is I think it was a marvel of engineering for it's time,
Except for alleged "velvety smooth shifts" ..no one has yet to give me one good reason why any contemporary trans carries such complexity over it's substantially more durable and reliable predecessors.
 
Messages
502
Location
Canada
A very neat and compact design (no bands, all clutches) but it certainly had its share of problems early on. CBR, as for your experience those were very early models and there have been many improvements since those days. Back in my dealership days they (Chrysler)recommended not rebuilding units older than 91 due to all the change up parts. Gary, doesn't one of you Jeeps have an automatic based on this design.
 
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Messages
39,806
Location
Pottstown, PA
My 02 SE has the last 904 offering in the line up, I believe. The 30RH and 32RH were massaged 904 TF's from the later 60's, iirc. The difference between a 30rh and a 32rh is one more disc in a clutch pack ..and some minor fluid valving differences. Naturally they have lock up converters. I'm so glad that I got this trans. A novice can rebuild it in an afternoon and there's nothing much to go wrong with it. It's handled higher torque V8's hammering it for years without issues. The Cherokees got the Asin AW4 ...which is a good stout trans ..but is probably too long for the short wheelbase Wrangler.
 

Merkurwwu

Thread starter
Messages
105
Location
Mill Creek, WA
 Originally Posted By: Gary Allan
Except for alleged "velvety smooth shifts" ..no one has yet to give me one good reason why any contemporary trans carries such complexity over it's substantially more durable and reliable predecessors.
Granted I've never rebuilt another automatic, but as far as complexity goes, I don't know how this thing could have gotten much simpler. Plus, when this trans came out in the late 80's, wasn't it right about the time that FOUR SPEED automatic transaxles weren't super common? If that's the case, I think it was a really good solution to a complex problem- even if it wasn't perfect out of the gate. I'll take the Trans-Go people's opinion (the ones who made the shift kit I installed) that for it's size, it's a GREAT transmission that only needs a small amount of attention to last a long time. This weekend I put about 50 miles on the car running it around doing errands that didn't take me too far from home. Down shifts are still a little clunky at times- like when it down shifts from second to first when you're not quite stopped and you get back on the gas- but they're getting better as the controller "learns." Upshifts are buttery smooth now. I drove it to work this morning (17 miles from home) and will run it 10 miles or so at lunch to get it emissions tested. Things look good so far.
 
Messages
502
Location
Canada
Sorry Gary, I thought you had a newer JEEP in you fleet like an 04/05. Yes the 904/727 is a pretty good design if filled with quality components. The Aisin AW4 is one of the best 4sp autos I've ever seen, provided it isn't over powered. Perfect match for the 4.0L. I've only seen 3 come apart in over 15 years. 2 had nothing wrong internally. Apparently they didn't stand up too well behind v8's in the Toyota's
 
Messages
39,806
Location
Pottstown, PA
Well, the issues revolve around "why did it need that" ..and it's a long list. For example, while overdrives had been used on mid 60's GM 3 speeds (in the Cadillac) and required no particular attention, the Chrysler overdrive required cc measuring and "learning computers" to function properly. They ended up being a Terminator. Special fluids were created to meet the needs ..when only 2 fluids had served the entire rolling fleet for decades. It's hard to figure where the gains were. It certainly wasn't in terms of reliability. The best defense is not to be there to begin with. There are more MOPARS in the junkyard due to needing $2500-$4000 trans overhauls than there ever were for other reasons. ..but I'm that way. I see no reason for many things that occur in the light of no gain. You can see that with the special fluids that newer manual transmission use. Just what "new" is there to helical gears, ball bearings, and brass synchronizors? Kestas turned me on to the real reason. It's not like the R&D dept of any given component is going to send a memo up to the front office asking to be laid off since there was nothing else to be done. To justify their job, they pull rabbits out of a hat in "advancement".
 
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