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1998 Dodge Caravan - Trans

I was driving down the road and I lost all the gears except 1st gear and now that’s all it has. No reverse. If I put it in drive it will go until it shifts out of 1st then nothing. I have to stop and shut it off. restart it and put it right in 1st and it will go but I have to stay in 1st. Would that be an electric shifting problem or is the tranny shot?

As they say in Court… Asked, and answered.

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Your Caravan is like some yogurt I found in the back of the refrigerator this morning… Past it’s expiration date.


When was the last time you changed the transmission fluid? If it has been a long time, you might try that. First check the fluid level and smell the trans fluid. If it smells burned, the fluid is gone. Changing the trans fluid might help, but there’s 22 years on that transmission, and failure isn’t surprising.

There were problems with that vintage in the transmissions. the trannys generally lasted 60 to 70 thousand miles then had to be rebuilt. they didn’t correct this defect until 2001. I would say you did pretty well.

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Which engine and transmission does your Caravan have? And don’t say “6 cylinder” and “automatic”–be more specific. If your Caravan is equipped with a 4-cylinder engine, then it has a 3-speed non-computer controlled transmission. If it’s equipped with the V-6 3.0L then it could have the 3-speed non-computer controlled transmission, or the 4-speed. If it’s equipped with the 3.3L or 3.8L engines, then it’s a 4-speed.

If this is a 3-speed model, then it’s probably in need of a major rebuild. If this is a 4-speed model, it might just be the solenoid pack. In that case, I’d have this diagnosed by a professional shop, or if you are capable of DIY, just let down the transmission pan, replace the solenoid pack, and change the fluid and filter. And of course, in either transmission, use nothing but licensed ATF+4.

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