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

Chrysler Sebring Transmission Issue

Hello to All,
I have a 2001 Chrysler (Mitsubishi) Sebring Lxi Coupe with 3.0 liter V6 engine and (in)famous Chrysler A-604 4-speed automatic transmission. Mileage is approx. 115,000. Several days ago, I was on the highway doing 60 mph when the car suddenly, and without making any noise, lost power, as if the engine had quit. When I gave it more gas, the rpm on the tach shot up quickly to 3500, but the car was still losing speed. The Check Engine Light never come on. Long story short, I pulled over to side of road, and got the car flat-bedded home. The engine starts and run normally, but car will not move in any forward gears (drive, first or second) nor in reverse. The OBD II module is not throwing any codes that are related to a transmission problem. The transmission fluid is not discolored and does not smell or look “burnt”. The fluid level is at the full mark on the dip stick. Up to this point, the transmission has performed and shifted flawlessly. I have serviced the transmission regularly every 30,000 miles since buying the car with 60,000 miles on it. I have been reading that this transmission was one of the first to be designed with electronically activated shifting, and has been installed in many models of Chrysler cars, vans, and pickups starting in 1989. Can anyone suggest a way to check whether this may be an electrical/electronic problem first before getting a tow to a transmission shop for diagnosis of an internal mechanical failure requiring overhaul or a new trans? Thank you for your insights.

Since you do not have Reverse and ability to drive forward in manual Second i.e. ‘limp home’ mode, the next step would be to do a line pressure check. One thing you might check is the 20 amp fuse that powers the transmission solenoids and Transmission Control Module. If the fuse is continous and there is line pressure it would probably be best to get it towed to an independent transmission repair shop for diagnosis unless you have a scanner capable to reading transmission DTCs.

You need a scan tool to ‘see’ if the solenoids are functioning correctly. We just did a similar test on a Ford Windstar that did exactly what your car did. The solenoids are reacting correctly, but there is no fluid pressure to act on. No fluid pressure means no go.

Hello to researcher and BustedKnuckles,

Thanks to both of you for your responses. I just checked all the 20 amp fuses in both the engine compartment and the under-dash fuse/relay blocks, and all three are O.K. For doing the pressure
test, a couple of questions: 1. Can the trans fluid pressure be accurately checked at the feed line connection to the trans fluid cooler at the bottom of the radiator? If not, where is the right place to check it? 2. What should the normal pressure or pressure range be for this type of car? Thanks again.

There should be ports with plugs on the side of the transmission case where a technician can attach a pressure gauge to read fluid pressures from the pump and to various circuits. You need a manual and a high-pressure gauge to do this. Line pressures can be between 200 and 400 psi, depending on mode.

You could check for pump volume flow by disconnecting a cooler line and see if there is flow coming out. There does not appear to be a tap to measure line pressure. Reference mentions to use a MB991502 scan tool to cycle the solenoids and read the element pressures.

By the way, when you shift to forward or reverse do you hear the solenoids clicking? That is one indication that the TCM is operating the solenoids and either there is no pressure, the valve body needs cleaning, or the underdrive clutch is not operating. Any of these would require dropping the pan and doing further checks.

When you final get this fixed, please post back with the outcome. This is a unusual and curious failure.