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Transmission, Chrysler: Town and Country, 2003, 134K

I’ve been have been having a problem with my car. It initially started at Christmas when I went up to MI for a visit. It would have problems shifting into gear after reversing. At first I just thought it was because it wasn’t used to the really cold weather as we live in AL.
When I returned it still did it, I would try the other gears available on the auto transmission and it still seemed to have a problem shifting from 1 to 2. It would slow down and you could rev the engine and it still would not shift. All of a sudden it would kick and shift and you could drive. This only happened the first time you drove it that day. It would also kick very slightly when you went below 30mph. It doesn’t do that anymore.
I went for another visit up north and while I was there it started kicking whenever I was over 60mph. When i got back to AL I took it into the dealership as the check engine light came on. It now kicks all the time regardless of speed, though does it less at lower speeds, but if there is exertion on the engine like a hill, it kicks, kicks, kicks. When it kicks the rpm goes down and up.
The dealer said that the things that needed to be changed are:

  • front assembly trans pump
  • crank sensor
  • gasket
  • oil pan
    for a grand total of $1800

I’ve tried taking it to a transmission place to have just the pump changed for less and all they wanted to do was give me a whole new transmission. This car is on it’s third transmission as far as I know and a new/rebuilt one was just put in 2 years ago.
After talking with my father (who was a engineer) he told me a way to check if the crank sensor a problem was to have the car in neutral and rev the engine. He said that it would still do the same problems if it was the crank sensor. I did this and it did not kick at all.
Is there any real way of knowing if it is really the pump that is causing all these problems or if it really needs a new transmission or something else.

Please describe “transmission place.” Was it one of the national chains, or a local independent?

The national chains will always try to sell you a new transmission, or charge you a fortune to rebuild yours.

Why can’t the dealer replace the pump only? You don’t have to allow them to do things you don’t want.

If the crank sensor is bad it should be replaced. The crank sensor can be tested to verify its condition. You don’t have to guess about this.

Three transmissions in only 134K miles? That’s not very good.

You didn’t say, but have you checked the level of the transmission fluid?

The transmission place was Mr. Transmission. Couldn’t find any small transmission place that was ever open.
I was finally able to find a small, non chain transmission shop. He was able to give me a quote on just the pump, which was $700 as opposed to $1000 at the dealership.
He didn’t think it was the pump as the diagnostic was showing the crank shaft sensor only. Right now they are just doing that and he will check to see if there is a leak in the pump.
I know it is terrible that it has already gone through at least three. The current one is only 2 years old. Fluid has been checked.
Thanks for your input