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Transmission Problems

I have a 2003 Chrysler Town & Country Limited Van with 93,500 miles that was purchased from an auction in October 2009 by an small dealer. I drove the Van in December 2009 to from Fairfax, VA to Sarasota (1,000 miles each way) and around for 5 months before returning. I noticed that the transmission sort of hesitated while shifting into some of the gears. On return it started jerking into the lower gears when coming to a stop and then again upon going. I took it back to the dealer I purchased it from for a transmission adjustment. I was told that the transmission is wearing out…a problem with this kind of vehicle. I was also told not to worry that this was a gradual thing that it would not go all at once and that it would not leave me stranded. Also I was told that I could probably get 4 or 5 more trips to Florida out of it. The prices quoted to replace were $2,500 for a rebuilt transmission and $3,500 for a new one. This makes me nervous as I travel with a fully packed Van, with two small dogs and all by myself. I do not want to be stranded along I-95 especially at night.

Have you changed the transmission fluid (and filter if equipped with one)? That’s the first step, and could slow down the development of future problems. Don’t have it flushed, but instead drop the pan, clean it out, install it with a new gasket and filter, and refill with the correct manufacturer-recommended fluid (not generic).

I agree with SDWH. If you haven’t had the transmission serviced this would be a good time to do it. Replacement of the fluid is about all there is to service, but it’s essential that it be done periodically. The owner’s manual, if you have one, will tell you how often this should be done.

I’m guessing you have no information on the van’s service history before you bought it. This may be the first time the transmission has ever been serviced.

I would not take the dealer’s word that this is a gradual thing and you won’t be stranded. If the transmission decides to stop working, you WILL be stranded. I’d be uncomfortable taking long trips in this vehicle.

I suggest taking the vehicle to an INDEPENDENT automatic transmission specialist for evaluation. I’m not talking about a national chain like Cottman or AAMCO. Avoid them like the plague. Find an independent in your area and let them check the transmission.

This can be done without removing it. If anyone tells you they have to remove the transmission to check it, RUN AWAY.

If I were in your shoes I’d start budgeting for a new transmission, or a new vehicle.

A fluid change is a cheap thing to try, but generally you don’t do fluid changes to solve a problem, you do them to prevent a problem.