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Hi,

I have a 2004 Chrysler Caravan. Just the same as a Dodge Caravan, just they used Chrysler in export markets. Anyway... I have the 3.3 engine and its a base model.

If I drive aggressively the transmission shifts just fine... but if I am just stop and go drivign, accelerate past 25mph and release the gas pedal (just the normal thing to do once reaching the speed of traffic) the transmission makes a very harsh 2-3 shift.

Is this a known problem? I bought the van about 4 months now and for its age its very well maintained. One thing I do fear though is somebody adding non ATF+4 fluid to the transmission... could it be it?

thanks.
 

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The 41TE transmissions in the 4th gens are actually very reliable. Like any vehicle, others have a tendency to improperly check the transmission fluid level. When too much fluid is present, it creates too much hydraulic pressure. This can create delayed and harsh shifting. Having either too much or too little transmission fluid can easily damage a transmission.

However, the sensors on the transmission are more likely to cause issues if the fluid level is proper. I've had the range sensor corrode and throw the transmission in to neutral while I was slowing down. It also made the shifter display light all gears up. It could also be related to a wiring issue. All of the wiring harnesses are squeezed in tightly just under the battery tray area. The front exhaust manifold is fairly close to some of the wiring and has created melted wiring issues before to engine sensors/injectors.

The PCM is under the drivers side plastic fender insert - this controls transmission functions on 04-07 models. This is not a good location. Pull the inner fender out and you'll get a good look at the transmission sensors. Take a peek at each connector by pulling them out one by one. Check for corrosion in each end/sensor.

Markfothebeast (www.youtube.com/markfothebeast)
 

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There's a specific procedure outlined in the manual for checking the fluid. It's not the same as checking engine oil.

Markfothebeast
(youtube.com/markfothebeast)
 

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The 41TE transmissions in the 4th gens are actually very reliable. Like any vehicle, others have a tendency to improperly check the transmission fluid level. When too much fluid is present, it creates too much hydraulic pressure. This can create delayed and harsh shifting. Having either too much or too little transmission fluid can easily damage a transmission.
First time I heard this, usually people talks about ATF foaming if overfilled. Foaming would cause lower pressure, not higher. I doubt ATF will cause foaming if overfilled, as a matter of fact, I doubt overfilling 4 Gen. transmissions will cause a problem.

Just make sure your ATF level is at full mark with engine running and you should be fine.
 

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First time I heard this, usually people talks about ATF foaming if overfilled. Foaming would cause lower pressure, not higher. I doubt ATF will cause foaming if overfilled, as a matter of fact, I doubt overfilling 4 Gen. transmissions will cause a problem.

Just make sure your ATF level is at full mark with engine running and you should be fine.
All mechanical hydraulic trannies operate on the same concept. Not including CVT. The fluid serves 3 purposes: hydraulic pressure, cooling, and lubrication. Too much pressure blows seals and too little burns out clutch plates. I learned both ways. Had a compression fitting leak fluid out, didn't pay attention, 3-4 clutch burnt up. Also added too much fluid to a TH350 and it blew the seals. I had the 41TE out of the van once and I had overfilled it by a quart or so. Not good. It can cause damage quickly. The shifts were delayed. Drained it to proper level and it's been fine since.

Markfothebeast
(youtube.com/markfothebeast)
 

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You might just try driving it differently so you give it some throttle during the shift, THEN let off after. I've had to do this with a number of different manufacturer's transmissions.
 

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All mechanical hydraulic trannies operate on the same concept. Not including CVT. The fluid serves 3 purposes: hydraulic pressure, cooling, and lubrication. Too much pressure blows seals and too little burns out clutch plates. I learned both ways. Had a compression fitting leak fluid out, didn't pay attention, 3-4 clutch burnt up. Also added too much fluid to a TH350 and it blew the seals. I had the 41TE out of the van once and I had overfilled it by a quart or so. Not good. It can cause damage quickly. The shifts were delayed. Drained it to proper level and it's been fine since.

Markfothebeast
(youtube.com/markfothebeast)
Still, first time I heard that. Well, second time now. :)

I have experience tearing up automatic transmissions, still can see why overfill will cause too much pressure. T.C. or O.P. cannot see ATF level, it can sense a low level (starvation), but not overfill.

But well, we should believe you. I just haven't heard it from anyone else.
 

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Our 4th gen had some rough shifting that I cured by draining the pan and putting in a fresh filter and fluid. The fluid didn't look terrible, but there was sufficient gunk in the pan to make me think that the filter was getting a bit clogged. I was prepared to swap out the solenoid pack, which is externally mounted and not particularly difficult to replace, but I found it unnecessary after the filter/fluid swap. That was between 100 and 130 thousand miles, if I remember right.
 

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You might just try driving it differently so you give it some throttle during the shift, THEN let off after. I've had to do this with a number of different manufacturer's transmissions.
I agree, most AT don't shift well under low/no-load conditions.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Update: I had checked the fluid level several times by checking just after starting... I would start the car, put it in R, then D, then P, then checked the fluid and found it ok.

Yesterday I drove the van for a couple of miles, then stopped and checked the fluid level with the engine still running... Almost no oil on the dipstick. It took almost a quart to get to the middle between the markings!

I test drove today and added a bit more after rechecking. Its not perfect, I can still get a harsh shift if I try, but normal driving is greatly improved....

I will replace fluid and filter in a couple of weeks and report again, but it was low. Very.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
And its back. After some highway miles the problem came back just the same. Next step, drain and refill + filter....
 
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