Caravan transmission service?

MCC

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I recently bought a 2000 Grand Caravan 3.3l with the 4 speed auto. It has 112,000 on it. I asked the dealer who is a Chrysler dealer about changing the fluid and filter. His advice to me was that a lot of times, the new fluid's detergent properties would loosen up varnish and cause more problems than prevent. He recommends leaving it alone. I myself would like to change it and the filter, but I do respect this guys opinion based on his reputation and my own dealings with him.

What do you guys think?

Thanks,
Dan
 

jasonn20

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If the trans is healthy then I would service it and put lubegard additive in it.
 

MCC

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You guys aren't worried about varnish coming off and plugging stuff up? What is the Lubeguard additive? I always heard to just use the correct Mopar fluid.

Thanks,
Dan
 

Transman

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There are several factors that need to be considered BEFORE you service a high mileage trans. Remember, this is a service. It won't fix anything. It's like waiting for an engine with a rod knock before you change the oil for the first time. It won't fix bad spark plugs. How is it working now? What condition is the fluid in? Burnt odor? Dark color? Any codes? If possible, can you get it scanned to see the CVI numbers?
If ALL this passes then drop the pan and look inside, catching the original fluid in a clean container. Is there excessive material inside the pan? If so, change the filter and install the original fluid back into this trans. If there is normal material inside and no worries about the existing condition THEN service this trans using ATF +4 fluid. Keep in mind that this is still a crap shoot, although you have made the odds better by making ALL the checks before you service it.
It's obvious that the Dealer, in this case, has YOUR best interests at heart. A less reputable shop would recommend a flush and hope for a trans failure so they can make their money off of you.

Servicing a "High Mileage" trans, especially if there is a problem developing is by it's very nature, destructive to your transmission. Transmission fluid NEVER wears out, it is always fluid. The components that do wear out are the additives. The anti-foaming agents, friction modifiers, detergents, etc. When you service a transmission, those additives are restored and start doing their job. They start cleaning! This is the destructive part as they can clean the very components that are making it work so well. I have seen a service performed on a trans with a problem (at the customer's insistence), that when completed, the vehicle had to be pushed from the lift because it didn't move on it's own anymore. This is an extreme example but ALWAYS a possibility.
The rule of thumb is: Servicing is a great and good thing on a regular basis from day one of your vehicle's life understanding that it IS ONLY maintenance (the only thing that can be fixed on a service is "Low Fluid" because you fill the trans when you are done. Hope this gives you a better understanding of how servicing works, Transman
 

crunch

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Did you check the mantiance history?

It may have had regular service.
No flush or fancy stuff.
A pan drop and filter change is the way to go.
And use the Mopar fluid.
 

MCC

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I noticed that I will get some sort of reverse shudder or slipping when I am backing up a hill. It doesn't seem to happen when it is first started, but only after having been driven for a while. It only happens for a second or two and will go away if you keep going faster. It doesn't happen in forward and I think the tranny drives great other than this potential issue. The dealer scanned the trans for me and these are the numbers, range and then what mine reads:

LR 35-83 54
OD 48-150 108
UD 24-70 51
2-4 20-77 52

He said everything checks out ok on the scan. He doesn't think it is trans issue, but maybe motor mounts or cv joints. He was just taking a guess.

The fluid doesn't seem like it is in real bad shape, it is still a shade of pink. Definitely darker than new stuff, though. It doesn't smell burned from what I can tell.

I guess being a maintenance guy, I would like to service the trans. But maybe in this case it is best to leave it be?
 

crunch

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Old fluid and filter will cause a lot more problems that new fluid and filter.

People that service filter and fluid have a lot less transmission problems.

Good Luck.
 

jasonn20

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I agree with Transman you can drop the pan keeping the old and if the sump exam is not good then put it back with a new filter. I only service them if they are healthly not when they are having problems. Your reverse problem maybe the reverse clutches and if you change the fluid then you will more than likely lose reverse all together. I think i would leave it alone.
 

Transman

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You "MAY" wish to consider an updated solenoid pack (Dealer or Part-Rite). I certainly would consider a "flash". Both should be done if overhaul is required anyway AND no harm will be done. I would do the pan drop, just to see.
At some point, this trans WILL need an overhaul. Time & miles WILL see to that. This is a reality BUT we are only trying to buy you time without speeding the process. It will fail in it's own time if left alone. It will fail quicker with a service at this level. That's why all the cautions from the experienced guys on Bat. The trans in my truck has well over 180k, serviced annually, the fluid still is as red as the day I bought the truck and although it's getting tired, there is NO excessive material in the pan and I would have NO second thoughts about driving it to Florida if I wished. Post back, Transman
 
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