The engine light is on and only shifts into second. After disconnecting the battery for a few hours, the van runs fine for a day and then it happens again.
This sounds like “limp home” mode. You can have the computer scanned at a parts store to see what codes are stored. It may help pinpoint the problem.
This isn’t going to go away by itself. Eventually you, or a mechanic, will have to diagnose and repair the problem.
The Check Engine Light is telling you something, but you are trying to ignore it, apparently.
The vehicle’s OBD system has detected a problem, and it appears that it is causing the transmission to default to “limp home” mode.
You need to have the OBD system scanned for trouble codes, which can be done, gratis, by places like Auto Zone, Advance Auto, O’Reilly, Napa, etc. Then, you can come back to this thread and post the code(s) for more guidance.
However, if the problem lies in the transmission–as I think it does–it is possible that only a special scanner will be able to pull those codes. If you go to an independent trans shop, they can scan for transmission-related trouble codes.
Just be prepared for bad news, as Chrysler’s automatic transmissions have a history of problems, especially as the miles mount up on the odometer. Do not continue to do what you are doing, because every day that you drive the vehicle like this, you are probably increasing the ultimate repair costs.
And, if you want to hold down the cost of your repairs, DO NOT go to AAMCO, Lee Myles, Cottman, Mr. Transmission, or any other chain operation. Seek an independent trans shop that has been in business for at least 3 years.
Post back here with the trouble codes and we’ll go from there. What year is this Caravan??