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Discussion Starter #1
So I've been wanting to do a transmission filter/fluid change in my 03 T&C 3.8L because the tranny seemed a little hesitation in shifting. So I did it last night and snapped some pics and I figured I'd share; I know this is a pretty simple DIY, but there were a few points that might be useful for people wanting to dive in themselves. Here's a parts/price list:

-Filter/gasket set ($9.99 Autozone)
-5 quarts AFT +4 ($25 Coastal, also Autozone)
-10mm socket
-Fluid collection pan
-Hammer
-Flat screwdriver
-Scraper/putty knife
-Rags (bunches)

So anyway, the total cost here is $35 and takes 1.5 hours (I still consider myself an amateur so you may get it done sooner). A lot better than the dealership cost of $150ish, so for anyone who wants to save $115, here goes:

I had just changed my oil so I had the van already jacked up, but I honestly don't think you'll need to do this. There seems to be plenty of room to work with the van on the ground, but I suppose that depends on what sort of pan you'll be using to collect the fluid. Remember that you'll want to warm the transmission up by driving around for 10 minutes or so.

Remove the 14 (??) 10mm bolts. Notice the bulky wiring harness pack right next to the pan. It just pulls out of a hole on the edge of the pan (might take some wiggling etc).

I took all of the bolts out right away because I could not get the pan loose with some of them still in, but it's probably a much better idea to remove half the bolts and only loosen the other half.



Getting the pan off was a little tricky. I used a very small sharp flat screwdriver and wedged it between the tranny and the pan in several locations. Tap the screwdriver in with your hammer and try to be patient...this took me several minutes.

Once you get a couple places worked loose from the tranny, carefully wedge the pan away and the fluid will start pouring out. Hopefully you remembered to put your catch pan down or you'll be lying in a rather large puddle of red stuff that smells like fermented urine. Nice.



Let it drain for a good long while, then take the remaining bolts out and remove the pan. Ew, mine was pretty mucky, but not a huge amount of metal which is good.



Ok, now pop the filter off, it takes a pretty good jerk to get it off.

Now its time to clean the pan and get the old gasket off the pan rim. I used a putty knife, but you need to be careful not to gouge the rim...it didn't give me too much grief. NOTE: You'll need to do the same for the tranny side of the seal, though mine didn't have much gasket residue on it at all.



ANNNNND clean out out the gunky stuff including the magnet to collect shavings...presto cleano! Again, this pic doesn't show the magnet in the pan, BUT DON'T FORGET TO PUT IT IN after you clean it off.




Install the new filter. BE SURE TO PUT THE O-RING ON THE FILTER INLET. This required a surprising bit of muscle to seat in place; you'll hear a distinctive click when it's seated correctly.




Ok, grease the rim of the pan with some tranny fluid and place the gasket over the rim. Then put several bolts through the gasket to hold it in place (you may actually want to put them ALL through the gasket). The gasket is fairly tight and will hold the bolts in place when you hold the pan up to the tranny.

Tighten the baby down! I put all the bolts in till they were snug, then tightened them by half turns in an alternating pattern (like tightening a tire rim) about 4-5 times. The gasket was squeezing out on the sides of the pan slightly but not a whole lot. This part will be much easier if you have a torque wrench and just torque them to spec (somewhere around 120 INCH pounds, verification?), Unfortunately I don't have one...

So there you have it! Voila!



My fill took about 4.5 quarts of ATF+4. Put three quarts in, start the van, put the 4th quart in, then drive it and check the fluid level to determine exactly how much you need. Monitor the pan for leaks after your next few trips...as for me, no leaks, and it seems to shift a little smoother as well.

Should be good for another 30k miles...

Cheers!
 

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Nice writeup and pics!
 

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Nice work and thanks for the pics. Gotta stress using a torque wrench on the pan bolts. Over torqueing will trash the gasket, create leaks, and possibly worp the pan. If you want a short cut, pump the fluid out the dipstick.
 

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Great job illustrating the process! I still wish the manufacturers would install a drain plug on the transmission pan to alleviate the mess of the initial drain.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Nice work and thanks for the pics. Gotta stress using a torque wrench on the pan bolts. Over torqueing will trash the gasket, create leaks, and possibly worp the pan. If you want a short cut, pump the fluid out the dipstick.
I'm with you. I want to get a fluid extractor before I do the next one for sure...but that doesn't help with the filter change...

Torque wrench definitely preferable...I'm getting one from Harbor Freight next paycheck hopefully. $15 lifetime warranty, can't beat it.
 

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Great job illustrating the process! I still wish the manufacturers would install a drain plug on the transmission pan to alleviate the mess of the initial drain.
Absolutely! I thought about drilling and tapping one in mine, but I was scaredy cat...:) Have to get a fluid extractor before I do it again.
 

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Thanks for the nice write up.

I quit doing mine, as I had to keep paying Chrysler for a $90.00 relearn for the transmission after each fluid and filter change. I bet it has been three years since I last did it, though I am very tempted to do it now.
 

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Very informative, thanks.

So I've been wanting to do a transmission filter/fluid change in my 03 T&C 3.8L because the tranny seemed a little hesitation in shifting. So I did it last night and snapped some pics and I figured I'd share; I know this is a pretty simple DIY, but there were a few points that might be useful for people wanting to dive in themselves. Here's a parts/price list:

-Filter/gasket set ($9.99 Autozone)
-5 quarts AFT +4 ($25 Coastal, also Autozone)
-10mm socket
-Fluid collection pan
-Hammer
-Flat screwdriver
-Scraper/putty knife
-Rags (bunches)

So anyway, the total cost here is $35 and takes 1.5 hours (I still consider myself an amateur so you may get it done sooner). A lot better than the dealership cost of $150ish Cheers!

Very informative post. I gives my an insight what the task looks like, as I haven't done it yet. Thanks.


Bulldog Van
 

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Thanks for the nice write up.

I quit doing mine, as I had to keep paying Chrysler for a $90.00 relearn for the transmission after each fluid and filter change. I bet it has been three years since I last did it, though I am very tempted to do it now.
A quick learn is required after a fluid change?
 

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Absolutely! I thought about drilling and tapping one in mine, but I was scaredy cat...:) Have to get a fluid extractor before I do it again.
Nice job. You make it look easy. Great pictures.
- Is there room enough toward the rear of the pan to put in a hole and oil drain plug? Perhaps I should get a pan from a junk yard and experment with putting in an insert. Here's a kit, looks easy enough:
http://www.etoolcart.com/browseproducts/Transmission-Pan-Drain-Plug-Kit-T-3020.HTML
- Torque is 165 inch lbs for the bolts. Bringing up the torque in increments and with a even distribution pattern, is important.
- Torque wrench: You will probably need two, one for low torques (inch lbs. / low ft. lbs., transmission pan bolts for example) and one for high torques (ft. lbs., lug nuts for example).
- Haynes say to loosen all bolts, remove the rear bolts, and tap the corner of the pan with a mallet. Will that work, to loosen the pan and drop it a bit, in your opinion.
- Maybe plastic scrapers instead of metal, would they work?
- Was the hammer used for the purpose of persuasion on the scrapers, or something else? :thumb:
- "Quick learn" is optional, the transmission is smart and will learn itself within 70 restarts. Mine did and so have many others. Shops that change your fluid will do it for free though.

Thanks again for sharing your experience, and in pictures as well. Hope all goes well.
 

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I've never done a quick learn and never had any problems from not doing it.
Hank
 

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I called my local 5 star yesterday and they told me 10 dollars for the filter and dodge does NOT make a gasket for the pan. He said that they use gasket maker junk and that is what dodge says to use. He said he would sell me that for 5 dollars. So is it ok to get the filter from auto zone and does autozone make a gasket for the pan.
 

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- "Quick learn" is optional, the transmission is smart and will learn itself within 70 restarts. Mine did and so have many others. Shops that change your fluid will do it for free though.
I thought the quick learn had more to do with adjusting to slight mechanical differences due to manufacturing tolerances and solenoid actuation response times. I didn't think it had anything to do with the fluid, as long as it was changed within its design lifespan.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Nice job. You make it look easy. Great pictures.
- Is there room enough toward the rear of the pan to put in a hole and oil drain plug? Perhaps I should get a pan from a junk yard and experment with putting in an insert. Here's a kit, looks easy enough:
http://www.etoolcart.com/browseproducts/Transmission-Pan-Drain-Plug-Kit-T-3020.HTML
Great eye on finding this...I'm actually VERY tempted now. As far as room goes, I believe the pan is about twoish inches tall, so a 13mm bolt (same size as the oil pan drain, not sure what the one in your link is) would fit no problem.


- Torque is 165 inch lbs for the bolts. Bringing up the torque in increments and with a even distribution pattern, is important.
- Torque wrench: You will probably need two, one for low torques (inch lbs. / low ft. lbs., transmission pan bolts for example) and one for high torques (ft. lbs., lug nuts for example).
Very good advice, thank you, and will do!


- Haynes say to loosen all bolts, remove the rear bolts, and tap the corner of the pan with a mallet. Will that work, to loosen the pan and drop it a bit, in your opinion.
- Was the hammer used for the purpose of persuasion on the scrapers, or something else? :thumb:
Eh, the mallet might work, but my pan was REALLY good and sealed. The mallet would be a good addition, but I doubt it would completely knock it loose unless you got some major power behind it. My hammer was to tap the screwdriver into the seal and pry the pan loose...

- Maybe plastic scrapers instead of metal, would they work?
A good quality sharp one would undoubtedly work. I would prefer to have a 3.5" razor blade scraper myself, but you gotta make do. Plastic would eliminate the possibility of gouging stuff that shouldn't be.

- "Quick learn" is optional, the transmission is smart and will learn itself within 70 restarts. Mine did and so have many others. Shops that change your fluid will do it for free though.
Ok, I'll admit my naivete...why is any "learning" necessary? It's good that the tranny will do it on its own, but 70 restarts in my wife's van like two months! ;)


Thanks again for sharing your experience, and in pictures as well. Hope all goes well.
And thanks for your kind words! I stand to LEARN a lot more from the members of this forum than teach...but thanks anyway!
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I called my local 5 star yesterday and they told me 10 dollars for the filter and dodge does NOT make a gasket for the pan. He said that they use gasket maker junk and that is what dodge says to use. He said he would sell me that for 5 dollars. So is it ok to get the filter from auto zone and does autozone make a gasket for the pan.
Ditto to 2002CaravanSE.

From what I learned about gasket dressing, I would NOT use it to create/dress this transmission pan gasket. There's a slight possibility of the dressing getting into the fluid and while your filter would catch it, I wouldn't want any more foreign stuff in there that doesn't have to be.

That said, I do believe the factory seal was gasket dressing and not a rubber gasket...hm don't know then.

At any rate, the Autozone set for $10 comes with a rubber gasket, filter, and filter o-ring.

Just so you know, this is a simple job, I'd go for it if I were you! ;):thumb:
 

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Dear Tranny guys,
I have had many of these same transmissions and I would like to pass on a couple of suggestions that may help some of you who are asking some great questions.
1. Drain plug: You can go to AutoZone, etc. and in the Help! section you will find a transmission drain plug that requires only that you drill a 1/2" hole in the pan. I would put it in the back side, so it does not get hit, not on the bottom. It works with the principle of a Wellnut (these are also great little things to know about, at Lowe's in the screw section.) You insert the part into hole and tighten, the neoprene shell has a nut in it that tightens and seals all around. A center screw comes out and drains. Alternatively, you can buy a fluid hand pump and go down through the fill tube and pump it out pretty quick. (5 bucks on sale this month).
2. Another way: Go to Napa and buy the NEOPRENE gasket for this transmission. You can drop it and retighten it 100 times. Also, buy two other things that will make this job a snap, a 10 mm long socket and a cat litter box, square. It is perfect for draining the fluid, it is square and catches everything. Once you get the original RTV gunk off the pan and transmission, don't put anything back on but the neoprene gasket, it needs no gasket cement or anything. The nice thing about this gasket is that is designed to hold the bolts also. Just start them all through the pan and it will hold them while you get them all started.
3. Torque. I have done this job so many times I can't tell you and never used a torque wrench, but with the rubber gasket, you don't really need to since you don't do it real tight. If it needs tightening later (a slight leak) you can tighten it a little more. The way I always did it is to tighten the all just to the pan in the criss-cross pattern described. After this, (I have a stubby 3/8" for this) I hold the head of the socket wrench in my palm (not using the torque arm of the wrench) and tighten it about a 1/4 to half turn, till you start feeling some resistance in a criss cross pattern again. Then go around in reverse with a snugger just to make sure you did not miss one. As I mentioned, if it leaks a little somewhere, you can always tighten it a little bit. Just don't over torque, it is a finesse job. The pressure is about like you would use to open a door in the house with the head of the wrench in your palm. The key is the neoprene gasket. It is so good, you'll never go back. They are going to ask you how many holes the pan has (count the bolts, mine has one more hole than bolts (I think they hang it from this hole when they paint it).
3. Removing the old gasket. The best thing to use is a slightly used semi flexible putty knife and some mineral spirits or naptha.
4. If you strip a bolt, don't panic. Measure the depth of the hole with a nail. Compare with the length of the bolt. You can go to Lowe's and get a 1/4 or 1/2 inch longer bolt of the proper thread (take yours they have a device to tell you the thread pitch, it is metric) just make sure it is not longer than the hole depth. There is more thread up above the part that is stripped.
5. On changing the oil. If you buy a case of transmission fluid, if you change the oil 3 times (a case) with a hundred miles or two between changes, you will replace all but one quart of the oil in the transmission. (1/2 of 8 is 4, 1/2 of 4 is 2, 1/2 of 2 is one, you get about half out each time. Cheaper and safer than a flush.
6. To make the smallest mess: remove all but the corner 4 bolts. Loosen the 2 at the lowest point now and the oil will start to flow, when it stops, lower all four about a half inch and slosh the oil out the low point into the pan, move it up and down. When you remove the bolts, there is very little oil left in the pan. With a low cat litter box, you don't get a drop on the ground.
7. On the Napa kit, the O ring was not the right one. Save your old one just in case. But this is a part I would just buy at Chrysler. You will get the right one and be sure before you leave it has the o ring in it.
8 and final. The death of these transmissions for me has been burnt out fluid and clogged coolers. BAck flush the oil cooler in the radiator with clean fluid with air pressure till clean. Better yet, bypass it altogether with the copper tube after market one, 3/8" tubes visible thru the fins. It will not clog and let contaminants get to the pan and filter.
Happy camping
Terry
 

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I thought the quick learn had more to do with adjusting to slight mechanical differences due to manufacturing tolerances and solenoid actuation response times. I didn't think it had anything to do with the fluid, as long as it was changed within its design lifespan.
"Quick learn" is to put settings back to defaults, to stop the abrupt downshifting (3rd to 2nd I believe) after a fluid change. Sometimes the transmission needs to adjust to the new fluid. Mine adjusted on its own.

Here's some info on the subject:
http://www.notnormalmotorsports.com/files/TSB_20DT-2008-10-02_20Erratic_20Shifting.pdf
 

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"Quick learn" is to put settings back to defaults, to stop the abrupt downshifting (3rd to 2nd I believe) after a fluid change. Sometimes the transmission needs to adjust to the new fluid. Mine adjusted on its own.

Here's some info on the subject:
http://www.notnormalmotorsports.com/files/TSB_20DT-2008-10-02_20Erratic_20Shifting.pdf
Good link. Thanks.

Well, so much for the idea that ATF+4 doesn't degrade for 100K miles. It apparently does, just not enough to damage anything, otherwise the TCM would not need to be reflashed/quick learned.

Another thought is that perhaps the difference is accentuated if switching between different brands of ATF+4. I was reading somewhere that there are actually different blends that meet the ATF+4 specification, possibly resulting in different effects to the transmission.
 

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When I did this last year my transmission did not act any different before/after the fluid change. I think the transmission learn is only in the case of your fluid change making a noticeable difference in the fluid itself (because the transmission must be able to tell something is different). So, if you do this regularly there should be no transmission learn.
 
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