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

Transmission issue in my '02 Dodge Caravan

Hi … a couple of weeks ago, when it was about -15 here, my car started acting strange. In the morning after I started it I tried to shift into drive and it wouldn’t engage. The same happened in reverse. I would shift into drive (or reverse) and it would not shift. I would put it in park then shift back to drive and after a couple of times it worked. Once I am up and running it seems to be fine, it shifts up as it is suppose to when I am increasing speeds and it does not slip out of drive. I thought at first it was the cold, but has continued to happen - usually just in the mornings - even now that the weather has warmed up (!) to 20. The fluid seems fine according to the dip stick and the color of the fluid is pink and has a sweet smell, no burning smell. Could this be a first sign of bigger issues or something that can be taken care of with a fluid change or flush?

The problem might be that the transmission control solenoid is being effected by the temperature. Common problem on your vintage of Chrysler vehicle.

Tester

How many miles since the last trans fluid and filter change?

First, get the car up to operating temp., you need to drive it at least 7 miles.

Then with the car running in park, check the transmission dipstick, it should be up to the hot full mark.

If it is low, add ATF+4 trans. fluid.

What transmission do you have? Some 92s had the old 3 speed Torqueflight, some had the newer 4 speed electronic transmission. The older 3 speed had bands that could be adjusted.

If it wasn’t low on fluid you probably need to find a good independent transmission shop. The national transmission shops generate more complaints than any other business in my opinion.