Grand Caravan trans fluid replacement

Just bought the 7176 fluid for a 1996 grand caravan es as well as the filter and gasket. Q: Where is the drain bolt...if any. I have done
tranny fluid changes on many cars, but all have had a drain bolt. Do I just start taking off the pan, and let the fluid run all over??? thanks, as I want to keep up with the preventative maintenance.
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Back in the factory...still on the drawing board. :-(

Really? Could you provide a sample list of these vehicles?

You can certainly do that. You can find drain pans large enough to catch most of the fluid. Loosen the forward-most three or four bolts, and remove the rearmost and side ones. You'll need a large rubber mallet to break the pan free, since a special RTV compound makes the seal between pan and transmission. After you've beaten on the side of the pan for awhile, it will gradually start to break free, dripping as you go. Once the seal lets go completely, the rest will come out rather suddenly. I recommend you wear safety goggles, since the resulting splash usually will be headed in your general direction. Put lots of newspaper down underneath the front of the van before you get started, since you *will* make a mess.
Personally, I use a drill-motor-driven pump and some tubing to suck most of the fluid out through the dipstick hole. Then I drop the pan, and the quantity of remaining fluid is fairly small and easily controlled. You can get the pump from Sears or Pep Boys, with the tubing and necessary fittings you're talking about a $25 investment.
Incidently, you don't want to use a rubberized cork gasket on the pan. The proper seal is a special type of RTV as mentioned above; the correct sealer is available from your dealer. Alternatively, a special, reusable steel gasket is also available from the dealership for ~$30 US. It can be reused up to three times, and it has the added advantage of easy removal and cleanup on subsequent changes.
--Geoff
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Thanks for the detailed instructions. I take it that Chrysler forgot to drill the hole for the trans drain plug when designing. Some cars I have performed tranny services, whereby they all have drain plugs: my infiniti i30, previous acura legend and accord, mustangs.
What I'll do now is return the store bought fram filter and gasket(cork material), and get the metal gasket from the stealer, I mean dealer. I was also thinking about pulling the cooler line and draining about 4-5 quarts, then pulling the pan off. However, your method of looseing front bolts and allowing to drain seems quite good. thanks again.
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On Tue, 1 Jun 2004, caravan wrote:

Chrysler stopped providing trans pan drain plugs after the 1963 model year, and stopped providing torque converter drain plugs after the 1977 model year.

Good. Fram = danger.

Good. It's far too easy to contaminate the trans fluid with the RTV method.

Wouldn't help, the pan's the lowest point in the system.
-Stern
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Do yourself a BIG favor and buy everything frm the dealer. You will have the proper quality parts. I lost a trans due to a cheap chinese non oem filter. VERY costly mistake. Never again. Larry

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jdoe wrote:

Even then, ya gotta be careful. I saw warnings on this ng a couple of years ago to be sure that the dealer sells you the right tranny filter - that there are a couple of different filters that are very similar, but that won't work on a given application. Sure enough, I ordered my filter thru a Chrysler dealer, and when I put it on, it looked almost identical to the original filter, even fit up fairly well *EXCEPT* I happened to notice that the plastic nipple that connects the filter to the transmission plumbing was significantly shorter and was about 3/8" shy of reaching the transmission port. Had I not been warned here and been paying attention, I could have easily put it all back together. I don't know if the consequences would have simply been that the tranny would not have worked until the right filter was put in or if it would have done some damage. At the very least it would have been a huge inconvenience to drop the pan (and loose fluid in the process) to remedy the problem.
Anyway, I went to my local auto parts store and got the right filter.
Moral of the story: Getting the filter from the dealer is not foolproof either - they can sell you the right part that will fit right up but that will not work.
Bill Putney (to reply by e-mail, replace the last letter of the alphabet in my address with "x")
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Bill Putney wrote:

Oops - meant to say "...they can sell you the wrong part that will fit right up but that will not work".
I guess that shows that "two rights don't make a wrong". 8^)
Bill Putney (to reply by e-mail, replace the last letter of the alphabet in my address with "x")
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Generally, new car dealers suck your wallet dry when it comes to parts prices. You can purchase quality aftermarket parts without using cheap/low quality made in China junk.
To respond via e-mail, simply take the, "REMOVEXX" out of my return e-mail address.
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Well that replacement trans due to a cheap AutoZone part sure sucked my wallet dry! It's your money your car. Do what you want. Larry

the
filter.
made
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I agree Larry. Discount auto parts stores generally don't have very good parts.
To respond via e-mail, simply take the, "REMOVEXX" out of my return e-mail address.
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good
Hate to deflate you guys from a good roll but this is highly individualistic to the part and to the region.
For example about a month ago I replaced a leaking fuel pump in my GM wagon. The new aftermarket pump at the first place I looked at (autozone) had one of the output nipples cocked at about a 4 degree difference from the OEM pump. Not wishing to bend the steel lines that went to the pump I went to no less than THREE other parts places ranging in reputation/quality. Every one of them had the same damn pump in stock, same manufacturer, same 4 degree difference. And that was the only version of this pump they carried. The only difference was the price was wildly all over the map. Since the estimated street value of this car was under $1K I finally ended up grumbling and buying the pump and bending the steel line that was affected enough to get it to mate up.
I have come to the conclusion that repair parts are always somewhat of a crapshoot, even if you get them from the dealer. In the case of the trans filter for your van, I have a 95 T&C myself and I know that particular filter you speak of well. Every parts store in this city that I've looked for this filter from, no matter what manufacturer of filter is on the box, be it Fram, Purolator or whatever, has the exact same filter inside, and the manufacturer stamped on the filter is the same, and it's NOT any of the manufacturers on the outside of the box. Quite obviously all of them buy this filter from the same OEM and put it in their own box. I didn't compare it against the Mopar filter so I will allow that there's most likely a difference between the Mopar filter and the other filters. But as for comparison in the aftermarket, a great many of these parts out there seem to have the same origination point, and are the same between the good quality auto parts stores and the discount auto parts stores.
In my opinion, the difference between the discount auto parts places and the high end auto parts places is that the discounters are staffed by minimum wage high school kids that have no understanding of what the hell they are selling, while the better auto parts places seem to have a much higher percentage of parts guys who are either career parts guys, or retired mechanics, or otherwise have brains in their heads. Unfortunately the parts themselves seem to be selected by purchasing agents stuffed away in an office in Kansas City who have never touched a car engine, and who's only interest is in how cheap they can get it.
Ted
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Ted Mittelstaedt wrote:

In general, there's a lot of truth in what you say, but I'll add a couple of comments: (1) In certain commodity areas, it appears that NAPA (and possible certain others too) does do a better job at screening suppliers and design and quality of product. Two case in point (a) NAPA seems to pick better suppliers of rebuilt half shafts (this comment based on several years of reading personal experiences on several automotive forums, and (b) Alternators: I went thru three alternators for a Cadillac I used to own from a well-known auto parts chain. The alternators were clearly inferior to the casual observer, and the plastic fan would disentigrate leaving the pulley free to rotate on the shaft after just 2 to 4 months, and the chain was clearly not doing anything to resolve the problem with the supplier over the year that I spent replacing their product several times. After I finally demanded a refund, the alternator I got at NAPA was a little more expensive, but was clearly made to a high standard (and both were of the best they had to offer - lifetime warranty). It never gave a moment's problem until I sold the car two years later. So how's that for anecdotal "proof"? 8^) (2) It has been urban rumor (I don't call it myth or legend, because this rumor hapens to have some truth to it) not to buy critical electrical parts from the chain stores. After working as an engineering manager for an OEM supplier of 60% of a certain critical electrical commodity to the U.S. auto market, I can tell you that it is common for production fallout to be sold off for aftermarket. These were not just cosmetic defects parts - these were performance and function defects (or lets just say their tolerances were just a little wider than what got shipped for new cars). Here's the kicker: Usually the first people our sales people got on the blower with when we had a batch of out of spec. but otherwise marginal parts were the car mfgrs. for distribution into their dealer replacement parts supply chain.
As a consumer, it appears that the same "me too" philosophy prevails in so-called OEM body parts. Suppliers of "OEM" fenders are not the same ones that go on the cars at the factory, and the fit standards are clearly no better, in some cases, inferior to, "non-OEM" parts. The "keep your car all XXX by using OEM parts" has lost all meaning for me.
Bill Putney (to reply by e-mail, replace the last letter of the alphabet in my address with "x")
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Ted Mittelstaedt wrote:

You have good eyes if you can see a 4 degree difference visually... :-) Are you sure it wasn't 4.16 degrees? :-)
Matt
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Matt Whiting wrote:

Oh, I don't know. If you work with angles a lot and/or have a good orthogonal edge as a reference, you could tell.
Here's what 4 looks like:
http://images6.fotki.com/v78/photos/4/42816/143201/4degrees-vi.jpg
Bill Putney (to reply by e-mail, replace the last letter of the alphabet in my address with "x")
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Bill Putney wrote:

Yes, I agree it is easy if you have a reference line nearby for comparison.
Matt
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On 21 Jun 2004 06:20:48 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@aol.comREMOVEXX (SnThetcOil) wrote:

You would be very surprised how often the dealer parts are no more expensive, and in fact even significantly LESS expensive than aftermarket parts. I usually call NAPA and the dealer first. If I don't like the prices I'm given I'll try AutoSense or one of the other jobbers.
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caravan wrote:

I'm not sure what cars you've had with transmission drain plugs, but Chrysler has had them more recently than GM or Ford. Anyway, you take the pan off and let it run out. Just use an old "dish pan" or something big enough to catch the oil.
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Thanks to all for your invaluable tips. Yeah, it does make sense that draining the tranny cooler line will do no good, since the residual fluid will just remain at the bottom of the pan.
Others may refer to my 2nd follow up post on cars I have performed tranny services on. I was shocked to find no drain plug on the van, as many other cars have this "feature."
One last Q before I begin the service: What is the recommended procedure for removing the RTV gasket that is baked on there. Need tips for removing it from both pan and trans. THANKS.
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Use elbow grease, and plenty of it. :-)
On the pan, which is stamped steel, you can use a regular putty knife with no worry of harm. If you're lucky, most of the sealer will be stuck to the pan.
On the transmission, which has an aluminum case, you're asking for trouble using anything other than a plastic or wood scraper. There are some gasket/sealer removal products on the market in aerosol form; you might want to read the can carefully to make sure they're compatible with the intended use and give one a try. Either way, it's a PITA, which is a big reason why the steel replacement gasket route is preferred--after you get that RTV crap cleaned off the first time, you won't have to do it again. It pays for the $30 investment in the steel gasket in your time.
Incidently, you're going to need a part number for the gasket when you go to the dealership; they have a tendency to play dumb and pretend they've never heard of such a thing. The TSB is cut and pasted below.
--Geoff
A/T Pan Gasket - Reusable Design/Installation
NUMBER: 21-05-99 Rev. A
GROUP: Transmission
DATE: Sep. 03, 1999
THIS BULLETIN SUPERSEDES TECHNICAL SERVICE BULLETIN 21-05-99 DATED MARCH 5, 1999 WHICH SHOULD BE REMOVED FROM YOUR FILES. ALL REVISIONS ARE HIGHLIGHTED WITH **ASTERISKS** AND INCLUDE ADDITIONAL PARTS AND MODEL COVERAGE.
SUBJECT: Reusable Automatic Transmission Oil Pan Gasket
OVERVIEW: This bulletin announces availability and installation of a reusable automatic transmission oil pan gasket.
MODELS: 1989 - 1995 (AA) Spirit/Acclaim/LeBaron Sedan 1989 - 1993 (AC) Dynasty/New Yorker/New Yorker Salon **1989** - 1993 (AG) Daytona **1989** - 1995 (AJ) LeBaron Coupe/LeBaron Convertible **1989** - 1994 (AP) Shadow/Shadow Convertible/Sundance 1990 - 1991 (AQ) Chrysler Maserati TC 1989 - 1995 (AS) Town & Country/Caravan/Voyager 1990 - 1993 (AY) Imperial/New Yorker Fifth Avenue 1993 - 1995 (ES) Chrysler Voyager (European Market) 1995 - **2000** (FJ) Sebring/Avenger/Talon 1996 - **2000** (GS) Chrysler Voyager (European Market) 1995 - **2000** (JA) Cirrus/Stratus/Breeze 1996 - **2000** (JX) Sebring Convertible **1993 - 2000 (LH) Concorde/Intrepid/New Yorker/LHS/Vision/300M** 1996 - **2000** (NS) Town & Country/Caravan/Voyager **1995 - 2000 (PL) Neon** **1997 - 2000 (PR) Prowler**
DISCUSSION:
A reusable silicone gasket has been developed to replace the RTV method of sealing the automatic transmission oil pan. Due to more frequent Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF) change intervals and the possibility of the fluid foaming if it comes in contact with uncured RTV it is recommended that this gasket be used in all applications.
NOTE: THIS GASKET CAN BE REUSED UP TO THREE (3) TIMES.
PARTS REQUIRED:
**1 05011113AA Gasket, Transmission Oil Pan, 31TH** **1 05011114AA Gasket, Transmission Oil Pan, 42LE** 1 05011115AA Gasket, Transmission Oil Pan, 41TE/AE
POLICY: INFORMATION ONLY
POLICY: Information Only
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I removed the RTV with a razor blade scraper (it comes off very easy) and then "polished" the surfaces with a small wire brush attachment that fits on my battery powered drill. I then cleaned out the bottom of the pan/magnets (I used brake parts cleaner) and then re-sealed using the new(er) metal and silicone gasket obtained from the dealer. I re-torqued to the recommended FSM settings (these seemed a bit low to me - I don't have the FSM handy, but IIRC around 40-45 foot pounds and I was concerned it would leak, but I had no problems at all). Everything sealed up very nicely and I can supposedly remove the metal/silicone gasket and do this all over again 2-3 more times. (I change the filter and fluid every 30K miles).
By the way, I used ATF+4 which is now recommended as a replacement for the cheaper 7176 (ATF+3) fluid and also got the MOPAR filter from the dealer as well. Since I was doing two vehicles, I bought the filters, gaskets, and 3 gallons of ATF+4 over the web from Galeana Chrysler Jeep Kia in Galeana, SC. They gave a nice web discount and made ordering from them worthwhile. If interested, their web site is at: http://www.galeanasc.com/ I've used them now for a couple years when I can plan the work in advance (like with these fluid changes).
By the way, on your comment on the lack of a drain plug on Chrysler transmissions, this makes it a little more messy since you have about 5-6 quarts of fluid in the pan. I was able to loosen the pan bolts and separate the RTV and then lower the back side to drain as much as I could before dropping the pan completely. BTW, I find it kind of ironic that my Mitsubishi 3000GT which uses a Chrysler-made 4 speed transmission provides a drain plug in both the trans pan and the transaxle as well!
Good luck.
Bob

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