2003 Chrysler T&C transmission slow to engage



I purchased a used 2003 Chrysler T&C Lxi with 25K miles in July 2006, from its original owner. It has the 3.8L V6 with automatic transmission, and a factory tow package. Shortly after purchase, I noticed that, occasionally, upon the first startup of the day, the transmission would not immediately engage upon shifting into drive or reverse. I had the problem checked at a dealer, who could not replicate it, but suggested a transmission flush and refill, which I had done. The problem has persisted now for two years and 25K miles. It occurs occasionally, after parking overnight either garaged or outside, in either cold or hot weather. Some things I have observed:

- it tends to happen in spurts: a few days in a row, then goes away for awhile.

- if I tap the accelerator up to about 2000 rpm, it will engage - every time.

- if I let it idle, it can take up to 3 minutes to engage.

- it has never happened more than once per day, and then only after sitting overnight.

- the transmission has exhibited no other problems.

Bob in Pittsburgh and Myrtle Beach


It might be drain back of the torque converter. You might try shifting to Neutral, foot on the brake, for ten seconds before going to Reverse or Drive. See if that helps any.

Maybe ‘transman618’ will pipe in and both of us will get the scoop.


i would take it to a transmission shop asap.

you may be damaging it (maybe beyond help) by continuing to drive it. get it checked out by pros to make sure a hundred dollar transmission fluid change is all you need. if you ignore it you may need a couple thousand dollar rebuild.

unfortunately the service writer at the dealership is NOT a pro. the evidence of that is that he suggested you get a trans flush.

by any chance did the previous owner actually tow anything?