Also posted to: alt.autos.dodge
My 1997 Grand Caravan ES (3.8L V6 41TE/a604 trans 139,000 miles, gently
driven) was developing a transmission problem (double thump when
shifting into OD, even when just letting off the gas and then resuming
gas), so I took it to my local dealer for a fluid change and control
module diagnosis. It was quiet and drivable otherwise.
The receipt from the dealer shows they found "worn out/burned trans
fluid" even though every required service in the manual has been done
and it came back with a two failure codes (P1798 and P1799, which
the service writer said were wear and damage indicators in the
In the final diagnosis of the service writer - it needs a rebuild or
Since the symptoms themselves seemed minor to me at the time, and not
thinking I was in desperate need of emergency repairs, I wanted to take
my time with the decision. So I drove it home and parked it for a week
to go on an out-of-state trip.
When I needed the Caravan the next weekend to tow my lightweight
one-bike motorcycle trailer on a short road trip, I went out on the
morning of the trip to the driveway to turn it around and hitch up the
trailer. As soon as it was running and I started moving, it made a bunch
of new noises - what sounded like quiet CV joint clicks at first, which
quickly turned into a nasty gnashing, clanking and rpm-matching clicks
as I rolled into the street in Drive. After about 10 yards it had
settled into a rhythmic clicking that was sort of like a much softer
version of shifting into Park while moving. As soon as I could get the
thing turned around, I got it back into my driveway.
So, now that it's not drivable at all - anyone have any recommendations
when it comes to which repair path to take?
Unless someone knows about some simple repair short of a complete
transmission overhaul - I'd certainly like to save some money if
possible ($4000 worst case scenario - new transmission and control
unit), and come away with the best high-mileage solution. I have no
desire or need to sell anytime soon, and feel fairly confident the rest
of the Caravan will get me to twice the current mileage before I tire of
My choices as I see them:
A. Keep the original transmission and have the problems repaired at
whatever the usual dealer rates are and have only the usual 90 day
dealer warranty on the repairs.
B. Replace the transmission with a remanufactured transmission (from
Dodge) and get the factory 3 year warranty on the unit.
C. Replace the transmission myself with a low mileage used/junkyard
procured unit with no warranty.
D. To change or not to change the transmission control unit.
E. If I can save some money somewhere, do some mileage-based maintenance
while the transmission is out (preemptive CV joint replacement,
front-end suspension and steering bushings and joints, shocks). None of
the parts mentioned are worn out completely, but feel worn enough that I
wouldn't mind the freshening-up).
F. Some 'hidden warranty' will cover the repairs and I won't have to pay
a cent for the repairs <grin>.
Anyone with some experience have a moment to help guide me?