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96 Caravan 3 spd auto trans slipping

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New User

Jul 24, 2005, 1:59 AM

Post #1 of 5 (4942 views)
96 Caravan 3 spd auto trans slipping Sign In

2.4 liter with 3 speed automatic 147,000 miles
This Caravan had a trans replaced with a rebuilt one while still under warranty, about 60,000 mi ago. Last week, the left drive shaft (drive axle?) broke while sitting at a stoplight. I had it towed to the nearest Aamco. They not only replaced the drive shaft but also informed me that they replaced BOTH hubs and bearings - for an extra $500. I gave them $900 and picked the car up Friday. Saturday, after driving about 100 miles, the trans started slipping, not wanting to shift into 3rd while on the expressway, and finally barely able to move forward at all. At one point, a few miles before it finally refused to go anymore, smoke was coming out of the transmission fluid filler tube. It went a little farther after cooling down that time. Oddly, it seems to drive OK in reverse, albeit mostly with that awful engine "shudder" I've read so much about.

The interesting thing is that the guy at Aamco ominously told me that "they heard some noises coming from the transmission" before I picked the car up, "maybe from the torque converter". For another $375 they'd diagnose it for me, but it would cost to up to $1275 more to fix it. I picked it up anyway, because I hadn't had a hint of transmission problems since the original one was replaced (it stopped going in reverse).

So I've been reading lots of comments, mostly bad, about this trans on the web. One thing that bothers me is the issue of the transmissions sensitivity to the wrong fluid or any additive. Now when I checked the transmission fluid after the car started having problems yesterday, the level seemed quite high. I know I haven't added any fluid recently. Could Aamco have put in the wrong fluid, causing my trans to stop working? Might it be possible to restore function by draining the fluid and putting in the required MoPar fluid?

(This post was edited by SavOak on Jul 25, 2005, 10:52 PM)


Jul 25, 2005, 4:02 PM

Post #2 of 5 (4927 views)
Re: 96 Caravan 3 spd auto trans slipping Sign In

I'm not a tranmission expert, but I know the car makers determine the limits for a reason. You may want to lower the level of the fluid to the right level, or have the service center that overfilled it do it... (In case they caused the trans to slip by over filling it) I know with one of my old cars the trans slipped and I found out the the transmission gear 3rd is also most of the times your reverse gear as well...

Have you noticed any slipping while in reverse?

Anyone else have some ideas for this?

New User

Jul 25, 2005, 11:01 PM

Post #3 of 5 (4921 views)
Re: 96 Caravan 3 spd auto trans slipping Sign In

It's slipping so badly I had it towed in to a different shop, although if I could have gotten away with driving there in reverse it seemed that the car would have made it. I didn't notice any slipping in reverse, but I didn't actually drive it very far in reverse - just a few feet on different occasions. It was parked on a slight incline and would roll backward whenever I put it into drive (or 1 or 2), until I got the revs up high enough for it to creep forward. Seemed like it had to go above about 3000 RPM for that to happen, but it's just a guess, as the car doesn't have a tach.

The first thing I asked the mechanic there to do was to change the trans fluid. I'll report back if that does anything...

New User

Aug 30, 2005, 10:03 PM

Post #4 of 5 (4716 views)
Re: 96 Caravan 3 spd auto trans slipping Sign In

Just a quick note to follow up:

Changing the trans fluid didn't do anything. I'm VERY suspicious that the time it spent at Aamco getting a drive axle replaced was enough time for the transmission to start having "problems". They gave me back the hubs they replaced. I took them to my regular mechanic who showed me that there wasn't ANY problem with either of them. When I confronted Aamco with this fact, the manager claimed he made an "honest" mistake by giving me the wrong hubs, and that my original hubs were no good. Yeah, right. He had no answer to my question of why they would have perfectly good used hubs for a 96 Caravan laying around, except to say that a customer probably requested that they be changed! Sure, everybody goes into a trans shop to have their perfectly good hubs and bearings replaced for absolutely NO REASON! What BS!

So if you go to Aamco. caveat emptor. I'll be filing a BBB complaint shortly...

Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Tom Greenleaf profile image

Aug 31, 2005, 10:55 AM

Post #5 of 5 (4709 views)
Re: 96 Caravan 3 spd auto trans slipping Sign In

Sorry to read this horror story. You may need a trans overhaul but try something first. Disconnect your neg battery cable for a minute - connect again and see if things are normal again.

I don't have a problem with shops replacing parts -(if marginal or bad) even costly ones but you seem to have a legit gripe here. Pay by credit card if you can as you hold all the cards then and stop payment or at least arbitrate it. You may lose but it gives you some power for correct action. Good luck,

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