Dodge Caravan 2002 6 Cyl. transmission problem

I have a 2002 Dodge Caravan, and at around 30 MPH, it hits hard on the downshift from 4th to 3rd gear (automatic)…only down, not up, and besides that it works great. This started a couple of weeks ago…

Any ideas?

How many miles on the car? Have you checked the ATF level. Read your manual to see if you have to check the level in Park or Neutral. Also check the color of the fluid and see if it smells burnt. When it down shifts is it because you slow down or push the gas pedal or just a shift for no good reason.

When you feel it hit when you stop does it upshift properly from 1st gear when you accelerate from the stop??


Yes, it upshifts properly from the stop. I only feel the hit coming down from 4th into 3rd gear at about 29 mph. Fluid level is good. mileage is 109000. Should I flush it? I disconnected the battery…the only code I got was that the battery had been disconnected…speed sensors? I don’t know…

Can you read the ‘clutch volumes’ with your code reader? If you cannot or haven’t a clue what you are seeing, run this van by a transmission technician who can scan the computer for operation parameters.

Off the top of my head, going from 4th to 3rd involves the 2-4 clutch releasing and the underdrive clutch coming back on. When shifting into ‘drive’ the underdrive and 1st/reverse clutch would both be engaging so a problem in underdrive clutch fill might not be noticed. I sort of remember that disconnecting the battery does not erase the ‘clutch volume’ numbers so trying to reboot the transmission control module may not have worked.

Hope this helps. Keep us abreast of the progress on this problem.

The reason why I asked you about whether it upshifts properly after the downshift clunk is that the 604, when it goes into limp mode, it will do the exact thing you are describing but it will stay in 2nd gear when starting off from a stop. If you are not going into limp mode, the most common problem causing this is the solenoid pack. Its probably going to have to be replaced but before replacing this item a thorough inspection of both harness connectors must be done. Chryslers do this all the time, the pins inside the connectors wear and cause poor connections.

Let me know what you find out.


Hey Transman,

My 1996 Dodge Caravan with 160K miles is doing this problem, but often it stays in 2nd when I stop and just stays there after I’m rolling again. If I put it in neutral than back in drive sometimes I can get it to upshift, but then it usually downshifts back again. At full stop, if I turn off the engine and then restart it and put the van in drive, it will start off normally in first gear. Any suggestions (besides running it off a cliff?!). Thanks.



 You need to put a scanner on the computer and see what codes are set.  It sounds as though you are going into limp mode.  If you go to one of your local auto parts stores, they will usually scan the computer for free .  Post back with us on the codes and we can go from there.


I have a 2002 Dodge Caravan just started doing the same thing shifts fine up but as I slow down I get a clunk aprox 30mph. Any luck solving this one??

Have the computer scanned for codes first. Post back with the codes and we can go from there.


I had my wife take the van to Auto zone. She said they told her they could not scan without a check engine light. Is this safe to say there are no codes??
Symptoms match Angryturtle 119,000 miles fluid level looks ok.

Issue with 02 Dodge Caravan down shift clunk at 27mph. Worked fine upshifting
Solution was a new solenoid pack fluid leaky also.
Garage charged $200 for the solenoid pack. $100 labor.

Thanks for the reply, Transman. I went to a tranny shop a couple weeks ago, they plugged in their reader and it said it was the transmission speed control (solenoid?). They didn’t give me the code, but said it would be about $400 to repair. Seems high to me, but obviously I don’t know about transmissions!


Bill, Dont pay them $400 to change speed sensors. This is something you can do for yourself. Input and output speed sensors are located on the side of the transmission, just behind the radiator. A 1" wrench will remove and install them. The sensors (from a dealer) will run you less than $60. Half hour later, you are on the road. Another important thing, even if one speed sensor is reading bad, replace them both. Reason is that they both work together to help the computer shift the transmission.

Here is what they look like:

They look alike but you cant mess up because if you notice the threads are different. One is coarse and the other fine threads. Let me know if you need any more help with this.


Wow! I think I’ll go to Auto Zone and get the actual problem code just to confirm it with you so we’re on the right page. But your info is more along the lines of what I figured this repair would be.

Thanks so much!

I don’t think that Auto Zone can scan the TCM (Transmission Control Module). They probably only have an engine computer scanner. Of course, you can ask them.
Another tactic is to pay the transmission shop to do the scan, and brings those codes here.

Ok, I’ll get the codes and post 'em here.


Recently had my transmission fixed.(solenoid pack)Shortly after the Amber ABS light comes on. Any chance anything here is related??

I am having the same downshift problem as the others have stated. Mine started after I changed the AT filter.It wasn’t doing this before the filter change. Fluid level seems to be correct. Any thoughts. Could it be the speed sensors? or something else? It’s a 2003 3.8L with 105,000 miles
Thanks for your help

I have this problem too my codes are 734,732,841,846,871. I was told I needed a new transmission. Of course I do not want to do this. What else can I do?