a604 Limp, Rebuilt, Sensors replaced, solenoid replaced still Limps!

Hello,
Hello,
I picked up a Dodge stratus (95) with 75,000 miles. I put about 5-6k on it. Then one day (a very warm day) on the way home from work (40
mile commute) as i was nearing the house it shifted into what I thought may be limp mode at about 45-50mph. The car nose dived and started compression breaking after what felt like an inital total loss of power. I took it the las mile home and tried it after it cooled down, it went into limp after it warmed back up. So I took it to the dealership. They told me the Input and output speed sensors were bad and needed replacing as well as the Throttle Position Sensor. Not having the $500+ they wanted to do it I took the car home and replaced the input and outpust speed sensors myself.
I drove the car and all seemed fine, so I took it to work the following day. On the way to work I was on the freeway and it was doing fine about 65mph. Then it dropped into limp. I was able to get the car the remainder of the way to work in limp. At lunch time the car did fine, no problems. However after work it would not go into 2nd gear so an expensive tow home.
I then called a local chain tranny shop, they said they could rebuild the trans for about $1800, I had the car towed over and the problems began. By thursday they said the car was ready. I asked if they test drove it and they stated yes. I paid for the repair and left with the car, and made it about 3 blocks before it went into limp. I took it back.
To make a long story short; They rebuilt the thranny for $1800 It still goes into limp when it reaches a hot operating temp. They say the dropping into limp has again fried the 2nd gear clutches. The have also replaced the shit solenoid and both input and output speed sensors as I had. They remain convinced of it being wiring, I'm not sure because it seems heat related. The TCM sometime over the life of the car has been replaced with a remanuf moapr unit.
After a brief wiat for their diagnostic computer he hooked it up, had some problems getting any readings and finally got code 54 out of it. Well they had just put new speed sensors in it and so had I before them!!!!
So he left the diag computer hooked up and took it for a ride. He cam back 15 mins later, pulled in and hollered for his partner to come take a ride. He "had never seen anything act like this before".
They took it out after resetting the codes and about 35 mins later came back. He said it was the damnedst thing, that what was happening wasnt exactly limp mode. But more like a flat out stall and then a drop into limp mode. Which pretty much describes it. To me it feels like your crusing along at say 65, then all of the sudden the car nose dives, has no power, and after about 1-3 seconds the RPMs kick way up as the transmission catches its downshift. So to me its like coast starting a car on a hill get coasting at a good speed and pop the clutch.
They say the abuse it got test driving has fried the new clutches they just put in it so it will need another rebuild(under warranty). But they have no idea what the problem could be. They have now replaced the solenoid pack and that didnt help. The TCM on the car is not the factory one but a mopar reconditioned unit so I know that the previous car owner had replaced that at least once too. They are currently convinced that wiring is an issue and are trying to find the problem now that they have a schematic. I've suggested they replace the TCM and despite the fact I am willing to pay for the part they dont want me to have to pay for that if it isnt the problem. I'm at a loss, my wife wants me to dispute the charge with my credit card company and try to get the car back and take it elsewhere but in light of the problems I'm not sure anyone else would have any better luck. Are there any suggestions you have? Some insight?
Help!
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Richard Ahlquist wrote:

Does your Stratus have the V6? There was a post on this newsgroop a few weeks back about a hard-to-troubleshoot stalling problem on an early JA car with a V6. Turned out to be a wiring problem that cause additional problems. I would suggest searching the NG. I will try to find it too.
-KM
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I found it. Search for this:
"1995 Cirrus 2.5L stall condition"
It is a lot of reading, but it would not hurt to check.
-KM
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On 23 May 2006 10:13:14 -0700, " snipped-for-privacy@sisna.com"

Thanks, I read through the thread and its not very reassuring and I dont see a final resoloution either.
I have gotten one other tip that it could be the Zener Diode on the AC Clutch going bad and allowing a spike to return through the harness causing all the shift solenoids to actuate/activate at once. I passed that information on to the transmission shop this morning. No word from them yet on any progress.
My next car will be a 74 Dodge Dart, it was my first car and there wasnt anything on it short of the rearend that I couldnt tackle in a weekend.
Or maybe another 69 300 with aftermarket fuel injection installed on its 440 again, 20MPG on that beast wasnt bad..
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On Mon, 22 May 2006 10:45:46 -0400, Richard Ahlquist

Well so much for that. I got tired of waiting for results so I called the transmission shops corporate office and complained about 9 days with no end in sight. They contacted the shop and within an hour they called my house and told my wife that my car was ready. Flabergasted I called them and asked if they fixed the limp mode problem. The guy said "Your transmission is fixed." I said yea but will it go into limp? he said "Your transmission is fixed, if you have a problem with a sensor or a control thats not my area. I fix tranmissions. I dont have diagnostic equipment for other parts of cars"
So tomorrow I get to go pickup my car with its twice rebuilt tranmission and still existing limp mode problem that the shop refuses to fix or accept resposibility for. So I have paid $1800+ for a repair that wont last if the transmission screws up again and I am willing to bet thats how they will weasel out of their warranty.
So now I am really looking for any last ditch ideas....
Thanks...
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Richard Ahlquist wrote:

Hi...
You have my sympathy...
Just one thought fwiw from an old retired electrical guy, if it should be at all helpful?
How about using another car (trade with your wife, or child, or...) for your highway speed trip to work - and let whichever of the above use yours for in city slower trips while you work out what's really going wrong.
That way if it does decide to shift to a lower gear (or all gears) you'll (they'll) have a much better chance of not cooking the clutches because of the lower speed.
Take care.
Ken
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wrote:

Thank you Ken its good advice but unfortunately I am lucky enough to own a house in the boonies. I live in a rural area where I have .5 mile to the left and right of my drive way thats 35mph after that its 45+ and to get to any town its all highway driving. My wife has a Accord I have been using while mine was in the shop so I stranded her at home with our 4yr old for the last 2 weeks.
I plan as soon as I recover from this nightmare on buying a 60's or 70's car for a spare. Mileage may not be as good but getting from point a to point b will suffice.
Take it easy!
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Richard Ahlquist wrote:

As a last resort, take the car to the dealer and have the software revision code on the TCM checked. Make sure the revision code is the latest possible for this car. The dealer can flash the EEPROM as needed. This is relatively inexpensive, from below $70 to $130 if they charge for getting the revision number first. It's a long shot and it's just a start. A bug or a bad byte in the EEPROM can do things that can damage the car. The reman TCM that was put in might not have the latest code. You would think this would be checked but it requires hooking the TCM up to a reader which takes time and effort.
In my vehicle with the A604, the electronically controlled clutch upshifted too slowly with the original code. So the torque converter started to self-destruct, exhibiting a shudder around 37 to 45 mph. I had ATF +3 put in after a simple drain and a new filter and a reprogramming of the computer and all is well with the tranny. I stayed away from ATF +4 on purpose since it might be too "slippery" for the A604.
I'm not a mechanic and don't know much about this stuff but just throwing out a wild suggestion for you.
Reman. Part No. Vehicle Application - Software ID Year Body Type
Engine R4686606AA 04686606 95 AJ,AS,A1,A3,A4,ES 3.0, 3.3 & 3.8L R5269726AA 05269726 95 FJ 2.0 & 2.5L R4797708AA 04797708 95 LH 3.3 & 3.5L R4686478AA 04686606 93-94 A,C,J,P,S,Y 3.0, 3.3 & 3.8L R4759066AA 04797708 93-94 LH 3.3 & 3.5L R4761848AA 04796123 92 A,C,G,J,S,Y 3.0L R4761849AA 04796124 92 C,S,Y 3.3L & 3.8L R4761847AA 04796122 90-91 C,S,Y 3.3 & 3.8L R4761846AA 04796121 89-91 A,C,G,J,S,Y 3.0L
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On 23 May 2006 21:20:22 -0700, " snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com"

Thanks! So in order to do the version check and re-flash does the TCM have to be removed from the vehicle, or can it be rather? If my car goes into limp tomorrow this may be my best resoloution for having the TCM checked.
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nobody wrote:

On my minivan, I assumed, perhaps wrongly, that only a special cable needed to be used, an expensive cable for pre-1996 vehicles. So that leaves out a lot of independents who might not wish to bother with this expense. The TCM sits plainly in site so I thought, aha, just unplug it and plug in the harness for the EEPROM reader and writer. It did not appear to me that the TCM had been unscrewed and taken out but I did not see what took place at the dealership. Not sure if the details are in the FSM. There is also a very inexpensive shop manual for this transmission, available directly from DC online or by phone, maybe most dealers' parts departments still can get it, for less than $20. A superbook for this tranny. I don't have it but just throwing out ideas for you. Also check, if not already, the TSB's on your car and tranny. A literature review, if you will. What I mentioned above with software revision numbers is directly from a TSB on this tranny.
1989-1998 41 TE/AE TRANSAXLE SUPERBOOK $17.00 http://www.techauthority.daimlerchrysler.com/ 800-890-4038 8am-8pm
With some luck, the reprogramming might sort out the TCM if it were the TCM.
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wrote:

Most independents just buy "remanufactured" TCM's which are, as you probably can guess, nothing more than existing TCM's that have been cleaned up a bit and reflashed.

They are not. You need scan tools that are prohibitively expensive (even used) for the DIYer.
But in any case, his TCM is probably flashed already and if not, there's plenty of flashed ones in the wrecking yards. What's the part number on the side of it?
Ted
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wrote:

The transmission sensor or control is -not- an "other part of the car" neither is the TCM, those are part of the transmission.

If it fails again then dispute the charge through your credit card company and I will bet that you will win. Where did you take it? AAMCO? I never heard of a "transmission shop's corporate office" unless it was a national chain like AAMCO, and there's a reason that place is called SCAMCO by a lot of people.
When you made the call to the corporate office, I am sure what happened was a telephone call from the corporate office to the local transmission shop that went something like this:
corporate office: "Hey Joe, we got a call from this Richard Ahlquist saying you've been fooling with his car for 9 days what gives?"
trans shop: "Yeah, it's really a tough one we think it's bad wiring and are trying to trace it out"
corporate office: "how much warranty time have you put into this so far"
trans shop: "about 5 hours over the last couple weeks"
corporate office: "Joe, give the car back to the customer"
trans shop: "but it's not fixed it will just break down again and the customer will bring it back"
corporate office: "tell them it's not a problem in the transmission and not covered under warranty"
trans shop: "then they are just going to dispute it and we will lose $1800"
corporate office: "Joe, we have had this discussion before. Your cost to rebuild that transmission is about $300 in parts, and about $500 in labor. If they dispute the charge we lose $800, not $1800. And in the 5 hours you have spent trying to fix this, you could have rebuilt another customers car and made $1000. We lose less money by just accepting the $1800 chargeback and moving on then by you spending the time to try to fix it under warranty. Once they get a successful chargeback then they cannot make any further warranty claims and it will be someone else's problem"

Quit using lowball car repair places and find a good local independent transmission repair shop that has great ratings at the Better Business Bureau, and take it there. It will cost more than $1800 to rebuild - but it will get done properly. Your wife is right.
And additionally, it probably IS the input and output speed sensors, or the connections to them. You, and SCRAMCO, both went out and bought cheapie speed sensors, didn't you, you didn't go get them from the dealer, right? And, did you replace the TPS sensor? Probably not, you were told that sensor was bad but you didn't mention replacing it.
Well, why do you think that these sensors cost a lot more money at the dealer? Plenty of people have had the experience of buying cheap low-grade replacement sensors for this transmission and had the same experience as you, that has been talked about on this forum before.
Ted
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Ted Mittelstaedt wrote:

You make good points, Ted, which is usual for you.
But why not a remanufactured transmission? The most expensive would be from DC and run now what, $1800? Labor would be additional. But that would come with a warranty for 3/36 would it not, including labor if the dealer put it in? There are cheaper reman or rebuilt trannies from jobbers which shops use and run about $1600? I don't know much about them.
I recall a friend who had Cottman try to repair by rebuilding her tranny for $3000. At that time, a reman tranny from Chrysler was $1200, so with labor, what, $1800? She was not aware that in this case the dealer was far cheaper and probably far more competent. But in her case, the problem was not fully resolved until the TCM was updated. In any case, as a good mechanic told me, he would not rebuild his own. He would just get one from Chrysler and put it in. Too many parts, seals, and what not. But he was not a tranny guy but someone who specialized in European vehicles.
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On 24 May 2006 02:50:24 -0700, " snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com"

Actually I wound up at this shop because of a nasty shock from the dealer. I called them prior to getting the loan to fix the car, and asked "How much would you charge me to put a new transmission in this car?" Their reply, ballpark about $2200. So I got a loan for $2500.
After I got my loan and called the dealer for the final pricing it was revealed the 2200 didnt inlclude labor. Final estimate was around $2780. I was kinda pissed at the jerking around.
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Richard Ahlquist wrote:

You don't have another dealer near you? I have two dealers near me. The one who got an outstanding signal at cartalk.com where they rate some shops and dealers and mechanics, did turn out to be outstanding. At least until they saw me as a chronic problem who would not dump money on the desk. I wish I could fellows.
The other dealer was hit or miss. When I drove to them with a serious problem, they could not be bothered. Get an appointment. At other times, another service writer, would actually come out to the vehicle in the lot for a quick look and free advice. So very uneven. I am not surprised you got two quotes and messed around. That happens when you have a good cop bad cop routine in the dealership. It's a pain to get everything in writing, especially in the boonies where a word should be good enough. In your case, a mechanic friend could have ordered the tranny from the dealer at presumably reduced cost. I might have told the dealer that to get the price down to the original estimate or you'll purchase the tranny with the good customer 10% discount. In any case, that is bad enough to warrant a complaint. That's like a bait and switch fraud routine; it's along the same lines or just plain incompetence or greed or all three.
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Hi there, I have a 96 Sebring convertible 2.5l with an A604 trans. I
seems to have the exact same problem. I did a little on the roa diagnosis and found that at exactly 67mph the engine would drop down t idle as if the cruise control was shutting it down. The car function completely normally from 0 to 67. Even if I speed up and coast to speed above 67 the engine returns to idle. As soon as the speed drop below 65 the engine returns to normal. People telling you that th transmission is fine may be on the right track. Because no matter wha I put my transmission through everything remains normal provided th speed is kept under 67mph. Note the fact that if you keep the gas peda floored when the engine kicks off at 67 the car abruptly springs back t life at the exact time the speed drops under 65. This is not recommende due to the fact that you may hurt a perfectly good transmission. I hav a pretty good repair manual and it expressly implies not to intermi computers with transmissions from different years, though specifics ar not mentioned. I have since parked the car and stripped it of all th important parts for use on a 98 that I picked up. I understand th frustration, I also live in a rural area and drive 35 miles to wor each way. For what it is worth you are not alone. At least you kno the problem has happened to someone else and is not a totally isolate incident. One good benefit was that on more than one occasion th problem saved me from getting caught in a speed trap...
-- Jetwrench77 ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Jetwrench777's Profile: http://www.autostalk.com/m2 View this thread: http://www.autostalk.com/t35387
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On Wed, 24 May 2006 01:51:54 -0700, "Ted Mittelstaedt"

Preaching to the choir here! I agree.

No its not AAMCO, its a smaller chain I will name after I get my car back this morning.

Thanks Ted. I'll keep this in mind, the sesnors I bought were Standard Automotive I believe, no they didnt come from the dealer. As for the TPS, no it hasnt been replaced, nor has the computer kicked another error code for it. Besides if the TPS was truly bad would there not likely be other throttle related symptoms?
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Richard, FWIW, there is a shop in my locality that completely rebuilds the A604 for $1495 + Tax. That is a rebuild of the trans. Sensors and other parts would be extra. And those prices are in Canadian Dollars.
But they are a reputable shop! When I took my GC to them, they did NOT assume that it needed a rebuild, and as much as refused to do anything until they had performed a "proper and complete diagnosis". Their reasoning was that it could be many things, and they wanted to fix it right the first time. Which they did - it was a solenoid pack. All my wiring checked out OK.
So Teds advice is correct. You need a local independant shop. Such shops live and die on reputation. They cannot aford to screw up and get a bad name. Check the BBB. Check with local automotive places. Often people "know" about the good, the bad, and the ugly of such shops. Ask around. If you get a farily consistant answers, and a good BBB rating, then that is your best bet.
And as for your existing shop, I would dispute the charge - period. Start the process immediately. It takes time to get the paperwork, and for the process to complete. In the mean time, drive it close to home in your speare time to try and reproduce the problem. When you do (I am fairly certain) then drive it home in limp mode at lower speed. It should not damage the transmission. When mine went into limp mode my wife actually drove it for a few days before I drove it and noticed the limp mode! I then drove it over an hour away (at low speed on the highway! ;) to the excellent shop that fixed it properly. NO DAMAGE.
GO kick some butt! I hate scaming auto shops! And, of course, once you get the car back please DO publish the name of the shop for all to see. Avoidence of such shops is a GOOD thing.
hth
On Wed, 24 May 2006 06:52:11 -0400, Richard Ahlquist

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It depends why it went into limp mode. If it's a sensor failure then it will not hurt the transmission. I had one of mine drop into 2nd gear while going 55Mph downhill on the freeway. The TCM had an input speed sensor code failure and I replaced the sensor that evening with one from NAPA.

Yes, definitely. As long as you stick exactly to the facts you cannot be sued for libel.
Ted
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wrote:

A bad TPS is easy to see with an analog ohmmeter, just connected the ohmmeter to the TPS, move it slowly through the range of travel. The ohmmeter needle should track the movement exactly, if the needle jumps around particularly if it jumps when going back and forth over the same spot, the TPS is bad.
What retailer did the sensors come from? Unfortunately these days you can't really blindly trust the brands, since many brand name companies manufacturer different levels of quality depending on the retailer that orders them.
Ted
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