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Transmission shudder

I recently picked up a 2003 chrysler town and country from a local GM dealer in central MN. After filling out the paperwork etc I was on my way home and the transmission made a loud CLUNK. I thought I must be imagining things. At the next intersection as I accelerated from the light “CLUNK”. I called the dealer right away and thankfully they stood behind the van. The dealer had me bring it to the transmission shop covering all expenses. They fixed it, or so they said. We had it for a few days and had similar problems. Back to the transmission shop. They then completely went through the transmission. We got it back and again had issues… this time it was a slight shudder in the transmission as you slowly accelerated. I brought it back again. They replaced the torque convertor. I’ve only had it back for a few days and it still has an occasional slight shudder under slow acceleration… it usually happens around 30mph. Any thoughts on what is going on?

I’m glad the dealer is “standing behind” your van. I would take the van to an independent transmission shop and get a second opinion on your transmission though. I believe the transmissions in these vans are fairly weak so I would want to know what the exact problem is at this moment.

Could it be that the TCC is not releasing at lower speed as it should?
@missileman, do you think the trannys are still weak on later models? I have an '09 with 4-speed tranny.

No EllyEllis…I think they improved the transmissions on later models. The worst model year in memory was the 2001 and 2002 model Chrysler vans. It takes time to get out of a bad design.

You might also clean or replace the speed sensor or sensors on this van. Some cars have several that serve various purposes. These are required for the anti-lock brakes to work, the speedometer, the odometer, among other things. These also play a role in when the transmission shifts. I have a friend who was having to manually shift his automatic transmission and thought he was facing an expensive repair bill which turned out to be a $35 speed sensor. All vehicles are different so I don’t know how this van handles this these sensors can be located in the rear differential (not likely on this van), the transmission, or on the wheels. Again, there may be several sensors for the same purpose because of the ABS and such. You might have a speed sensor on the transmission that senses the speed of the front wheels and two on each of the rear wheels.

You might want to bring this up with the dealer as it is a cheap part and very easy to replace.

Yeah, I forgot this was a Chrysler product so cheap and easy might not be the case with this one. It may be one of those $20 parts that takes 8 hours to get at where it would be a 10-20 minute job on a Ford or Chevy. I am not a Chrysler fan overall and the 9 hour thermostat replacement I had to do on one really soured me even more. That job is something that usually takes less time than filling the gas tank, not a full day’s worth of work!

The shift solenoid packs on these are known to go bad frequently. Not an internal part and easy to change, part itself should be ~$100. Have someone look into it.

All of the shift solenoids (apparently there’s more than one?) were replaced the first time it went to the shop as they (the fellas at the transmission shop) were fairly certain this was this issue. It did not solve the problem completely. The second time in the entire transmission was removed and gone through (supposedly completely rebuilt, including new clutch packs and stuff I know nothing about). All of this work, by the way, is being performed by a small local transmission shop thats been around and in business for 20-30 years. My mechanic refers all of his transmission business to this shop and has complete confidence in him. My mechanic also runs a small shop and is very reputable, has been in business for nearly 30 years… so in short, I don’t feel anyones taking advantage of me. I haven’t, and won’t (according to my mechanic) recieve any bill as the transmission has a 6mo warranty and they’ll fix it if it isn’t right. The third time in, because of the slight shudder under low acceleration, they replaced the torque convertor. Haven’t had it for more than a week and it still does the same thing. I stopped in and talked with my mechanic to let him know. It will be going back to the transmission shop again. Frustrating!

Oh ya, forgot to mention that I think the speed sensors were replaced as well.

The first thing to do is to make sure the transmission shop used genuine ATF +4 fluid in the transmission after the repair and not some generic ATF with an “additive package” These transmissions are extremely sensitive to the right fluid being used and the wrong fluid is the most common cause of this shudder.

Chrysler did have some problems with the first generation of this transmission, but the design was improved and should be as reliable as any these days. I have an old car with a first gen. transmission of this type. It was rebuilt once at 120K, had a minor problem shortly thereafter (mostly due to the rebuild not being done right), and since then the car has another 150K on the rebuilt transmission. ANY 10+ year old car is a candidate for transmission problems, especially if the transmission has not been serviced as it should.

Have they flow tested the cooler?? When these converters come apart they deposit trash in the cooler causing the flow to be restricted and the transmission to overheat. They get so hot they actually start to melt down. Are there any codes??


hi i am going to tell you having the same exact van and having replaced everything in the front including torque converter tie rods rack and struts i found out wht was causeing the shudder no where is anyone saying what causes this i am going to ar you ready ? the control arms have rubber bushings well the bushing carry all the weight of steering and suspention . The front lowere control arms that holds the spindle that the struts bolted to okay you will not know ther loose you wiill need to take the weight off the control arm and unbolt the strut take a jack handle and pry thecontrol arm at the bushings OKAY SEE HW SPONGY ANF WALLERD THE BACK FRONT CONTROL ARM IS ? uh huh twenty five dollars buys thos e 2 control arms that parently nobody is aware is causeing all of this shuddering confusion take it from me who am i ? just buddiboy

5 year old thread. The person may not even have vehicle now. I know this is not English class but seriously your post is hard to read.

I just bought one of these and while I haven’t had it looked at to verify this it makes sense and I think you probably saved my butt from a small fortune in unnecessary repair costs.
Dude THANK YOU for posting this! Slowly claps