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Hey folks, just finished a tranny filter & fluid change this weekend on my 01 GC 3.3. When I dropped the pan I found an awful suprise of a magnet covered in tons of shavings and metal bits.

A bit of history on the van: Just bought it real cheap a month ago, knew it needed work but took the chance anyway. One of the issues was a high pitched noise for about 10 seconds at startup when cold. after suspecting a P/S system or starter problem I pinpointed it to be tranny related and decided to do a fliud/filter change.

After cleaning out the magnet (I saved the bits and cleaned them up for forensic ident!), I put everything back, filled the fluid up, checked the level at idle etc etc. and took the van for a test drive to find that everything shifted fine with no abmormal noise or behaviour. So I parked the van overnight to get cold. The next morning, I started it and presto! the noise is no longer there.

What really has me worried:cry:, are those bits of metal the magnet caught. As you can see from the pics there are a lot of pieces that look important. There looks like what seems to be 4 gear teeth in the front row - not sure if these could be transfer gear or diff, and in the second row 3 different lengths of needle bearings. The rest is assorted pieces- not sure what they could be.
magnet suprise 3.jpg magnet suprise1.jpg magnet suprise2.jpg

The crazy thing is the van shifts very smoothy with no apparent problems, but now I'm paranoid when I hear any little noise that seems out of place. So I guess my question is: Does anyone from experience with the internals of these trannys recognize these pieces? Are my trannys days numbered and should I start to plan for a failure sooner than later? I've read other posts about Gen 4's having metal filings and noises etc that still go for a long time but I've personally never come across a situation with this much metal on the magnet. Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Cheers, Dialpat11
 

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Well, the rounded pieces have to be parts of a snap ring, not good. The round cylinders are likely parts of a roller bearing, whether it be thrust or a sprag.

If I were you, I would be getting quotes on a trans rebuild soon. As of now, you are not stuck with any one shop you tow it to, so you can shop around and plan for it in advance. Depending on how much you rely on the vehicle, you may want to overhaul it before it blows just so you don't get stranded somewhere. I have a feeling that something with the front pump is causing the noise and damage.
 

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That thing is going to grenade real soon.

Looks like a couple of gear teeth, a disintegrated bearing, and a couple of seals along with some other various unrecognizable metal bits.
 

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Wow that's ugly, especially the probable snap rings. The rest of the debrie may be as a result of the snap ring breaking. Take advantage of the borrowed time and find a shop you're happy with. Breaking down in the middle of nowhere is bad enough. Breaking down in heavy freeway traffic could be tragic.
 

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I'm wondering if somebody put a replacement transmission in there and didn't bother to clean out the cooler and cooler lines after the previous transmission self destructed. There is a Magnefine inline filter that can be installed in the return cooler line (5/16" size, I believe. Return line is the one closest to the engine) which is magnetic as well as having filter media. That filter often comes with a remanufactured transmission for that purpose. I would put that in and drop the transmission pan again to see what is going on.
Since it's still working fine, it doesn't appear those pieces are from the transmission inards or it would have self destructed by now, don't you think? Wishful thinking anyway. :thumb:
 

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A post a while back that I thought was amusing said something like this: As long as you cant read part #'s on the metal scraps, don't worry about it. If it's real quiet now and shifts correctly, you should have time to plan for it's demise. I would think the noise would return or go into limp mode before it "grenades".
 

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Having had the transmission go out three times in 207K miles on our 2001 T&C Ltd.. my experience was no trouble until it blew.. first the check engine light comes on.. then within a few short miles all of a sudden it just starts to shudder and then you just coast to a stop...as the transmission just goes dead and you can rev the engine all you want and nothing happens. First time was at 70K, then that replacement blew 2 months later, then the next one at 118K... now at 207K and still going strong.
 

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remartin, who was rebuilding your trans? Sounds like they either missed faulty parts the first times around, or got lucky the 3rd time around as they really didn't know what was wrong? A good builder is normally capable of building a better product than OEM and rarely sees thm come back, except for race car use trannys.
 

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Hi amigo,

This is very similar to my story which happened to me about six months ago.

I bought a 2001 Grand Caravan ES 3.8 in Feb of 2010 for cheap, and in Sept, it started doing a weird noise and it would only go or shift to second gear and not get the 3rd or 4th gears at all, and the Check Engine Light came on!
Took it to the auto parts store to get a free CEL check up and all the technician told me was an issue with the transmission solenoid pack. After that took it to the mechanic to get an oil and fitler change, and bought the solenoid pack too for about $150.00 from the autoparts store.
And the mechanic told me the bad news; that there were metal shavings, similar to yours in the pictures, and a piece of fried clutch from the pan of the transmission magnets, and sensors since these also are some sort of magnets. I was really concerned about this but the mechanic told me to test drive the vehicle and I did. I felt the ride smooth enough but I asked the mechanic after the test drive if this piece of mechanism would last me any longer. He stated that probably not!
In December it broke down and replaced the tranny for a used one from advanced autoparts with a one year warranty.
Now when doing a replacement make sure the people who install them do a transmission relearn so all the mechanisms work properly since these are controled from the computer-electronically.

Now, I am probably thinking of trading this van for a GM(Pontiac Montana, Chevy Venture, Oldsmobile Silhouette) since these are bullet proof from the transmission if properly serviced unde maintenance. But I'll see how the minivan behaves after this swap of transmission

Hope I did not put you down about this issue but this happened to me too.

Thanks,
Rudy
 

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Now, I am probably thinking of trading this van for a GM(Pontiac Montana, Chevy Venture, Oldsmobile Silhouette) since these are bullet proof from the transmission if properly serviced unde maintenance. But I'll see how the minivan behaves after this swap of transmission

Thanks,
Rudy
The transmission in the Dodge vans are also mostly bulletproof if you keep the service up on them.

One thing to watch for in the GM vans. If it has the 3.4 and around 100K, see if the intake gasket has been replaced. If it has not, it is either blown or is about to blow. Every 3.4 (in vans and cars) I have ever been around has done this somewhere around 100K.
 

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remartin, who was rebuilding your trans? Sounds like they either missed faulty parts the first times around, or got lucky the 3rd time around as they really didn't know what was wrong? A good builder is normally capable of building a better product than OEM and rarely sees thm come back, except for race car use trannys.
first time it went out while we were visiting family in PA... so was towed to Earlington Transmission (www.earlingtontrans.com). after it failed 60 days later it was rebuilt under warranty in Chattanooga, TN where we live by Advanced Transmission (no longer in business, now a body shop), third time done by East Ridge Transmission in Chattanooga, TN (http://ertransmission.com). guess they got it right since it's been going strong for almost 90K now.

believe me, my wife is NOT a race car driver!!... and lots of highway miles in that 207K... we live in TN and all our family is in PA (1500 mile round trips multiple times a year) wife drove kids to private school for number of years in that van.. about 30 miles round trip 2-4 times a day...
 

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Very true on GM vans/cars with 3.4.

My 03 Impala has had replacements on the head gaskets and has cost me a total to replace about $1200. 700 the first and 500 the second time.

But the transmission is very good with 150,000 miles and had done a service on tranny at 80,000miles.

It's definitely due for a tranny service soon!!!
 

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(Pontiac Montana, Chevy Venture, Oldsmobile Silhouette) since these are bullet proof from the transmission if properly serviced unde maintenance. But I'll see how the minivan behaves after this swap of transmission
From the crash tests I've seen of those van's, I'd stay away. :lol: They're, um, deadly.

The transmission in the Dodge vans are also mostly bulletproof if you keep the service up on them.

One thing to watch for in the GM vans. If it has the 3.4 and around 100K, see if the intake gasket has been replaced. If it has not, it is either blown or is about to blow. Every 3.4 (in vans and cars) I have ever been around has done this somewhere around 100K.
You're correct. The Dexcool eats through the lower intake manifold gaskets on the 3100 and 3400 SFI V6's. Happened to my oldsmobile at 60k.
 

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I'll take a Chrysler van with a potentially bad trans waiting to happen over a GM or any other van anyday. They are the best. I know I knock mine a lot, but if it was in a mild climate with no road salt and wasn't rusty, it would be in amazing shape. Many 1-3rd gen vans running around the southern states in pristine shape.
 

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True,

I have seen lately the crash tests on these vans. They seem very fragile and in the case of a front crash it is nearly a fatal issue.

Very true.

I guess I would miss my Dodge if I sold it...

One more thing, there's a little issue going on the speedometer, and the rest of the gauges sometimes go nuts. They suddenly jump up and down for no reason. What could this be?
 

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The transmission in the Dodge vans are also mostly bulletproof if you keep the service up on them.

One thing to watch for in the GM vans. If it has the 3.4 and around 100K, see if the intake gasket has been replaced. If it has not, it is either blown or is about to blow. Every 3.4 (in vans and cars) I have ever been around has done this somewhere around 100K.
Forgive my ignorance since this has confused me from day one with these vans... the information is different depending on the source (dealer, mechanic, friend, quiklube-gwad no, etc...) ... knowing flushes aren't the best route to go, and that a simple pan drop wt filter change is sufficient, what interval would you consider on ATF+4 under severe conditions (regular day to day driving, 6 months sub zero winter temperatures, 6 months above zero celcuis). Cheers :)
 

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I would do 50k miles as severe service in a 4th gen. 30k miles in a 3rd gen. I do 15k miles in my 3rd gen because I'm running a $175 used transmission that I'm trying to keep going as long as possible. For "normal" service in a 4th gen, the 100k mile factory recommendation is fine.
 

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True,

I have seen lately the crash tests on these vans. They seem very fragile and in the case of a front crash it is nearly a fatal issue.

Very true.

I guess I would miss my Dodge if I sold it...

One more thing, there's a little issue going on the speedometer, and the rest of the gauges sometimes go nuts. They suddenly jump up and down for no reason. What could this be?
Bad battery or bad battery connection = haunted vehicle syndrome. How old is your battery?
All current to your electronics is via the battery so it has to be in good shape.
 

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Forgive my ignorance since this has confused me from day one with these vans... the information is different depending on the source (dealer, mechanic, friend, quiklube-gwad no, etc...) ... knowing flushes aren't the best route to go, and that a simple pan drop wt filter change is sufficient, what interval would you consider on ATF+4 under severe conditions (regular day to day driving, 6 months sub zero winter temperatures, 6 months above zero celcuis). Cheers :)
60,000 to 100,000 kms using ATF+4 for severe conditions. If trailer towing, say 60,000 kms. I change mine around 100,000 kms as it's an easy number to remember. What does your Owner Manual say?
 

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Forgive my ignorance since this has confused me from day one with these vans... the information is different depending on the source (dealer, mechanic, friend, quiklube-gwad no, etc...) ... knowing flushes aren't the best route to go, and that a simple pan drop wt filter change is sufficient, what interval would you consider on ATF+4 under severe conditions (regular day to day driving, 6 months sub zero winter temperatures, 6 months above zero celcuis). Cheers :)
If you go to a dealer (or transmission shop) and they use a transmission fluid exchange machine, not a power flush machine (or God forbid a backflush machine) then a so called 'flush' is fine, but still have the filter changed. Just a pan drop and fill, with a 4th generation, in your extreme weather, I'd stick to around 75,000km (50,000km if you tow). That is a little earlier than recommended, but transmission fluid and filters are cheap, transmissions are anything but cheap. :beerchug:
 
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