Wife shares transmission horror story

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as bad a reputation as this trans has earned, I really think people don't give it enough credit. First check the fluid level. it may just be low. make sure you follow the book on *how* to check the level. also find out--- if she puts in gear, then waits 10 seconds, does it act normally? (TC may be draining down while car sits off). It's a neon trans that somehow was given service to minivans, and it's in a impressively tiny package. it never misses a shift either until something goes wrong. the programing between trans and engine is spot-on, as in it's consistent, predictable, it's very nice to drive. but it does have some weaknesses. the solenoid packs "vibrate" to modulate shifts and can wear down internally. the computer program is fairly intolerant of the wrong fluid. you can't tell by how it drives... as it automatically compensates... but the wrong fluid = high clutch wear. it gets HOT in the minivans, especially in the summer, even on the interstate. if you drive the vehicle hard enough that it doesn't stay in lockup, temps will walk right past 200F. It helps Nothing that the fluid life is considered 100k or "lifetime." I think standard 60, 30 30 30.... intervals would be a huge benefit for this unit. I picked out the van in my sig at 90k miles on it. the fluid that dumped out seemed original. trans shifted fine, drove fine. but the whole vehicle was neglected. hoses, t-stat, alternator, shot suspension, leaks everywhere.... and here's where my trans developed problems.... AFTER I changed 90% of the fluid. 3 months later the solenoid packs went south and I believe the over/under-drive piston/seal has been scored or damaged. replacing the pack resolved the issue almost all the way... I still get some nuisance behavior from it but it's working ok for the most part. theory I have is the old fluid had been in too long, and the new fluid freed up minor deposits that decided to get caught in the above mentioned parts. Not really the transmission's fault. anyway--- my beef with it is that it should never have been called a lifetime maintenance unit. and it should never have seen service in a minivan without upgrades. In a sebring I think it'd be well-suited. you're just down to the "maintenance interval" issue. I'd get a pan drop and filter change without hesitation at your mileage. Make sure the shop uses ATF+4 and not something else with a modifier to make it act like ATF+4. The only substitute I'd consider would be amsoil. A genuine mopar filter would also be recommended.... I've installed mopar and non-mopar and there's a difference. sorry - 10% info and 90% rant. people flame this unit--- but I've worked on several and YES acknowledge that for all the reasons above they are failure prone--- but having owned a couple I've developed a bit of respect for them also. it's a nice little unit--- just not really set up appropriately by chryco. and until it bombs out, there ARE things the handyman can service too!
 
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Originally Posted By: GreeCguy
Was surprised to see it was the first tranny designed to run on "fuzzy logic." No wonder my wife loves this car so much.
crackmeup Agree with taking it for a drive to see for yourself. Check fluid levels.. etc. A fluid swap is definatly in order too. Good luck
 
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My wife impressed me yesterday. We went out to eat with a friend of hers and her friend was telling us how she has to get wiperblades for her car on the way home, and that she had topped off her washer fluid, but that she needs to get some coolant for it (dodge caliber), that it was low. Before I could even get it out, my wife tells her that thats not good, that she must have a leak somewhere, that its not normal to use, or loose coolant. She left me speechless for a second:)
 
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Try idleing the car for a minute before putting it into gear especially on a cold start. I am thinking that the transmission has low oil pressure on startups. Then report back. Sometimes, besides the fluid and filter change, a transmission just needs transmission oil pressure higher at idle.
 
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My van acts somewhat similar when cold.. probably low trans fluid pressure issue. It's the only time it ever acts funky. Going to get the filter and fluid changed before I hit the road this September for good measure. I'll use the same shop i did in 2008 for a 2003 Taurus with 150k miles. I made it clear not to power flush and they didn't, pointing out that actually costs more than a gravity drain change. They used whatever bulk trans fluid they use and the car is still driving good. They are the top rated transmission shop around here I think and are always busy.
 
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