CarTalk.com Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

2010 Grand Caravan Cold Weather Problems

I am trying to figure out why my 2010 Dodge Grand Caravan 3.3L only demonstrates this problem when its cold outside (50 degrees F or less). The colder it gets, the more pronounce the problem becomes. During cold days and almost always right after starting the car and attempting to drive off, the car appears as though its stuck in neutral and does not budge even though its in drive. I will shift back into park and then into drive and then the problem goes away. Other times the problems always occurs like clock works on cold days while I come to stop at the end of a decline. The car revs up and appears as though its stuck in neutral and does not budge even though its in drive, I then shift the car to park, turn off the ignition, turn it back on, shift to drive then it works fine. This problem never occur in the summer months. Anyone else with this problem. I am sure someone else is having this or have had this problem before, Please advise!!

My first thought would be the transmission fluid is low. Has it been checked?

4 Likes

Yes that was one of the first things I did…I also changed the fluid last summer. Thanks for the comment

The problem might be with the transmission range switch.

https://www.rockauto.com/en/moreinfo.php?pk=6086586&cc=1445010&jsn=436&jsn=436

This switch tells the computer what gear you’ve selected, and the computer operates solenoids at the transmission to engage that gear.

Maybe the cold is effecting the contacts within the switch.

Tester

Have not gone down that path. I will have to find it, inspect it and/or replace it once the temp warms up a bit. Thanks for the advice!!

Did you mean below +50 degrees F or - 50 degrees F?
">" actually means “greater than”, but I assume you mean less than…?
There’s a huge difference in how your engine might be affected. And your transmission too.

Definitely makes sense to check for any stored transmission diagnostic codes, eliminate the range switch, and do a proper transmission service, which usually means to drop the pan, clean it, replace the filter, and refill with new fluid. If the fluid service helps but doesn’t fix it 100%, drive for a week then try it again. I should say when my Ford truck started with that same symptom at the 120 K mark, and the obvious stuff didn’t work, it was in the shop for a transmission rebuild within a week. I’m guessing that’s your actual problem, the clutches inside the automatic transmission have worn to their limit and starting to slip. How many miles do you have on the clock? It’s the original transmission, right?

Meant < 50 degrees F. Corrected that typo. Thanks for catching that…

Dis you use ATF+4 when you changed the fluid?

There’s 158K miles on the van with the original transmission. There’s probably compounding issues with the transmission, however I dont understand why the problem completely goes away during the summer months.The recent below 0 degree weather took its toll on my patience, I took the van to the auto shop today, I hope the transmission is functional, however busted transmissions and Dodge caravans are synonymous. I will update the community once/if they figure it out. Thanks for your advice!

Not sure what was used in the shop, but it was a fluid exchange

Inside the transmission there’s a sort of computer but instead of using wires and electricity and transistors it uses tubes and passages filled with pressurized transmission fluid, and special purpose hydraulically activated valves to shift to create the forces required to shift to the next gear. When the fluid is cold it is thicker and all those parts are more resistant to moving freely. Also the metal parts — gear sets, bands, clutch packs, and drums – are shrunk a little when it is cold, and that dimensional change may affect the ability of the clutches and bands to hold fast without slipping. I think this symptom is pretty commonly first noticed when it gets colder. That’s when I first noticed it happening on my truck.

I failed to realized the dual functionality and dynamics of ATF, which explain why the problem gets progressively worse the colder it gets outside. Thank you for that bit of education and clarity. So far I have a leak in the transmission and was out 2.5 quarts. After performing another fluid exchange, I was told Bertha, the grand caravan, is running fine.

Good for you. Glad you are back on the road with reliable shifting.