Transmission cooler leak - does it really require $1000 repair?
Hi all - I've posted on only a couple of threads before but have gotten really great advice on repairs that I was able to do myself. Thanks again for all that advice.
Here's a new problem. My 2005 T&C with 81,000 miles has been running fine but for the past several weeks, the transmission won't shift from reverse into drive when first started in the morning. The shift lever does not appear to have a linkage problem - it goes into reverse just fine; but when I back out of my 30-foot driveway and shift into drive, the transmission seems to slip into neutral. A reliable way to overcome this seems to be to rev the accelerator gently a few times, and the transmission will shift when the revs get high enough - at least that's the way it seems to me. It's happened only about 7 times in the past 4 weeks, but I've been concerned. I'm not sure, but there may also be a little rough shifting at speeds of about 30 to 35 or 40 mph. There has been no check engine light. There has been no obvious stain of transmission leakage on our driveway (although we do have a gravel driveway and it's hard to tell). The fluid has been a little low in the transmission, but not a huge amount low.
We are leaving on a driving vacation in just a matter of days, so I had no choice but to take the van to the dealer for repairs, even though I'm not excited about that prospect. After looking at it for several hours, they called and said the problem was caused by a leak in the transmission cooler, and that because of the way the cooler is intermingled with the AC, there was "contamination of the AC coolant" as well. They said there was no apparent damage to the transmission itself, but that it was serious and needed to be dealt with soon or it would start causing damage. The dealer said they were going to have to take off the front end of the van, remove the radiator to get to the cooler, and disconnect the AC as well. They will need to replace the transmission cooler, flush and refill the transmission, flush and refill the AC, and then reassemble the radiator and front end of the van. Total cost - $1080.00.
As I said, we're scheduled to leave in just a few days on vacation, so we had to say OK to the repair. But it sounds fishy to me. Does anyone have advice on what might be going on here? Does this sound reasonable? Was there an alternate if we'd had more time to investigate it or get a second opinion? Obviously, it won't help us, but maybe someone else is having this same problem and the answer might save them the amount of money we're having to pay.
Thanks in advance for your advice!
2005 Town and Country Limited, 3.8 Engine, no towing package; 81,500 miles; CD changer, fold-down DVD screen; replaced original battery in 2009 with Sears Die-Hard Platinum battery since original kept running down when doors were left open even for 10 minutes (new battery solved this). Bought minivan used Dec. 2007 with 40,000 miles on it. Replaced sway bar bushings fall 2008; repaired cracked wiring in driver's side power sliding door spring 2009; replaced rear window wiper motor summer 2009.