Replace transmission in 97 Grand Voyager?



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Thread: Replace transmission in 97 Grand Voyager?

  1. #1
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    Replace transmission in 97 Grand Voyager?

    Hi,

    I found this site while searching for info online and thought maybe some of the posters here might have some thoughts on my situation. I apologize if I am posting in the wrong place.

    We have a 97 Grand Voyager SE. We bought it used about 4 years ago, and it has been a really good vehicle. It has 191,000 on it with very little repairs. It started making a grinding noise recently, and we found out today that the transmission is going bad. It will cost $2600 to replace it. My gut feeling it to go ahead and repair it, but I don't want to pour money into the van if the engine is not going to last. I asked the mechanic what he thought, and he said that in his opinion, the 3.3 engine in my van is the best Chrysler has ever made. He thought the odds were in my favor that if we replaced the transmission, the engine would still last quite a while.

    However, I thought I would see if I could get some other opinions. As is, I don't think we would get much for the van as a trade in, and my gut feeling is that replacing the transmission will be cheaper than buying a new used vehicle. I'm not horribly mechanically inclined so I don't know much about engines. Anyone have any experience with this van? Any thoughts on whether it would be wise to spend that much on it?

    Thanks in advance!

    Maryalene

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  3. #2
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    Not to question your conclusion, but are you sure the transmission is gone? There are many shops and even dealers that will recommend a tranny rebuild when it may not be necessary. You want to post your symptom, error codes, etc.
    Yes, the 3.3 is a pretty durable engine but 191,000 miles is a lot. You should get it and the rest of the van checked out to decide if it worth putting in a new tranny.
    2007 Town & Country Touring, Special Spring Edition, 3.8

    Past:
    2000 Town & Country LX, 3.3
    1992 Voyager, 3.0

  4. #3
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    one other thing to consider, a rebuilt tranny for your van goes for 400-600 at most "chain" tranny shops. the rest is all installation. with basic tools even someone who didnt know what they were doing and took thier time could get it swapped out in a weekend. I understnad that you may not even want to attempt this job, but even if the tranny was $1000, thats still $1600 for labor. Not bad for a 4 hour (real time, not book time) job. its time to shop around. even a new factory tranny is only about $2000.

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    191k is pretty high... the 2600 will make a nice down payment on a new van.. or 'new to you'.. van...
    2006 DTS performance
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    2001 SSEi Bonneville
    2001 RAM Conversion Van
    1997 Magna
    www.femint.com

  6. #5
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    I just went though a similar thought process, albeit with only 109,000 on my van at the time. I opted for the $2,600 factory reman (that you are considering) over any number of lesser expensive options. Assuming that you are going to fix your van as opposed to junking it and starting over, you are where I was six weeks ago.

    At the time (before I found this site) I did some research and came up with the following items in favor of the factory unit (some of which may be Bull, others not, however, in total they made a powerful argument):

    - ATF+3 transmission fluid (the kind that both of our vans were designed and built for) is apparently being (or already has been) phased out by the Chrysler dealerships (although you can still find it in the aftermarket)
    - ATF+4, which is supposed to be backward compatible with ATF+3, is not supposed to be used in "pre-2000" vans per two different TSBs
    - Every non-factory option was simply a "rebuild" and not a "remanufacture" and as such still required ATF+3.
    - The factory unit is remanufactured to the latest build specifications of that generation of transmission, which happens to be from model year 2000, and as such needs to be fed ATF+4, which is in healthy supply at Chrysler dealerships
    - The factory unit also comes with a 3-year or 36,000 mile warranty (much longer than any others that I was able to find), and since I'm one of those weird folks that equates time with money, I felt that if I was going to have to deal with this, I could only afford to do it once

    Anyway, that's my $0.02. ;-)
    Sold: 1998 DGC Sport 3.8 (Final odo: 178,000 miles)
    Sold: 1998 Chrysler T&C LXi 3.8 (Final odo: 190,000 miles)
    Sold: 2003 DGC ES 3.8 (Final odo: 172,000 miles)
    1998 Audi A4 Quattro (5-Speed manual)
    2001 Honda Accord EX V6 (4-Speed automatic)
    2009 Mazda3 i Touring (5-Speed manual)
    2012 VW GTI (6-Speed manual)

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    Thank you all for your quick responses!

    Last week, the van started making a grinding noise from the front when accelerating. It only happens ocassionally and usually when I'm accelerating quickly such as entering the highway. On Saturday, when our family was out and about, it started making the noise on a regular basis. My husband's first thought when he heard it was that it was the transmission, but he thought it could also be a CV joint (?).

    Right now, the van is at the dealer who gave us the $2600 quote. I called another mechanic in town who did my husband's truck transmission when it went out and he quoted me $1650 out the door. I know the dealer's transmission comes with a 3 year/36,000 mile warranty. I didn't ask the other mechanic about a warranty, but my husband's transmission had a 3 year/36,000 mile warranty on it.

    I originally took the van in last Friday, and they couldn't hear the grinding noise but they told me that my power steering fluid was leaking like a sieve and the pump and serpentine belt needed to be replaced. So I had them do that, and it was a little over $400. So part of me feels like I just put a bunch of money into the car, and I might as well do the transmission too.

    We also owe a little bit on the van. It's scheduled to be paid off at the end of the year. We have really been trying to get out of debt so my hope had been to squeeze a few more years out of the van to save up a decent amount toward our next vehicle. I really hate to have to take out a new loan, but then again, I don't want to put money into a sinking ship.

    I don't know if it makes a difference, but my mileage is about 80% highway miles. I have a long commute - 110 miles roundtrip three days a week - which why the van's mileage is so high.

    Thanks again for your comments and thoughts. I truly appreciate them!

    Maryalene

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    Quote Originally Posted by shipo
    - ATF+3 transmission fluid (the kind that both of our vans were designed and built for) is apparently being (or already has been) phased out by the Chrysler dealerships (although you can still find it in the aftermarket)
    - ATF+4, which is supposed to be backward compatible with ATF+3, is not supposed to be used in "pre-2000" vans per two different TSBs
    Service Bulletin 21-010-06, dated April 14, 2006, states that ATF+4 is recommended for 1996-2000 vans, in addition to others:,

    "MODELS:
    1989 - 1995 (AA) Spirit/Acclaim/Lebaron Sedan
    1989 - 2003 (AB) Ram Van/Wagon
    1989 - 1993 (AC) Dynasty/New Yorker/New Yorker Salon
    1989 - 1993 (AD) Ram Truck
    1989 - 1994 (AG) Daytona
    1989 (AH) Lancer/Lebaron GTS
    1989 - 1995 (AJ) Lebaron Coupe/Lebaron Convertible
    1989 - 1990 (AK) Aries/Reliant
    1989 - 1990 (AL) Horizon/Omni
    1989 (AM) Diplomat/Gran Fury/New Yorker fifth Avenue
    1989 - 2004 (AN) Dakota
    1989 - 1994 (AP) Shadow/Sundance
    1990 - 1991 (AQ) Maserati
    1990 - 1993 (AY) Imperial/New Yorker Fifth Avenue
    1994 - 2003 (BR/BE) Ram Truck
    2004 - 2007 (CS) Pacifica
    1998 - 2003 (DN) Durango
    2002 - 2007 (DR/DH/D1) Ram Truck
    2007 (DC) Ram 3500 Cab Chassis
    1995 - 2000 (FJ) Sebring/Avenger/Talon
    1996 - 2000 (GS) Chrysler Voyager (International Market)
    2004 - 2007 (HB) Durango
    1995 - 2000 (JA) Cirrus/Stratus/Breeze
    2007 (JK) Wrangler
    2001- 2006 (JR) Sebring Sedan & Convertible/Stratus Sedan
    2007 (JS) Avenger/Sebring
    1996 - 2000 (JX) Sebring Convertible
    2002 - 2007 (KJ) Liberty
    1993 - 2004 (LH) Concorde/Intrepid/Vision/LHS/New Yorker
    /300M
    2005 - 2007 (LX/LE) 300/Magnum/Charger
    1996 - 2000 (NS) Town & Country/Caravan/Voyager
    1995 - 2005 (PL) Neon
    2002 - 2003 (PG) PT Cruiser (International Markets)
    2001 - 2007 (PT) PT Cruiser
    1997 - 2002 (PR) Prowler
    2001 - 2007 (RG) Chrysler Voyager (International Markets)
    2001 - 2007 (RS) Town & Country/Caravan/Voyager
    1997 - 2006 (TJ) Wrangler
    2001 - 2004 (WG) Grand Cherokee (International Markets)
    Vehicles equipped with Gas engines
    1999 - 2004 (WJ) Grand Cherokee
    2005 - 2007 (WK/WH) Grand Cherokee
    2006 - 2007 (XK/XH) Commander
    1989 - 1995 (YJ) Wrangler
    1996 - 1998 (ZG) Grand Cherokee (International Markets)
    1994 - 1998 (ZJ) Grand Cherokee/Grand Wagoneer

    NOTE: This Service Bulletin DOES NOT apply to AW-4 transmissions, Sprinter transmissions, Crossfire transmissions, MK/PM vehicles equipped with Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) and WG vehicles equipped with a diesel engine (sales code ENF) and a W5J400 or NAG1 transmission (sales code DGJ).

    ATF+4® - (Type 9602) is being used as factory fill for Chrysler Group automatic transmissions. ATF+4® is recommended for all vehicles equipped with Chrysler Group automatic transmissions EXCEPT FOR THOSE NOTED ABOVE."

    It goes on to say that "In general terms, If ATF+, ATF+2 or ATF+3 was the recommended fluid, it is now recommended to use ATF+4."
    Michael
    Centreville, VA
    Currently driving:
    2005 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT, 99K mi.
    Former owner of:
    1988 Dodge Caravan SE, 2.5L I4 (1988-1995, 99K mi); 1995 Plymouth Grand Voyager SE "Rallye", 3.3L (1995-2004, 169K mi); 2003 Grand Caravan Sport, 3.8L, (2004-2008, 106K mi), 2008 Nissan Quest, (2008-2010, 25K mi)

    Other vehicles:
    2008 Lexus RX400h (Dark Gray), 65K mi; 2005 Hyundai Elantra GT (Blue), 65K mi

  9. #8
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    BTW Maryalene, I agree a second opinion is in order. The 3.3 is a very solid engine, but 191,000 is a lot of miles, even if they are mostly highway. Good luck.
    Michael
    Centreville, VA
    Currently driving:
    2005 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT, 99K mi.
    Former owner of:
    1988 Dodge Caravan SE, 2.5L I4 (1988-1995, 99K mi); 1995 Plymouth Grand Voyager SE "Rallye", 3.3L (1995-2004, 169K mi); 2003 Grand Caravan Sport, 3.8L, (2004-2008, 106K mi), 2008 Nissan Quest, (2008-2010, 25K mi)

    Other vehicles:
    2008 Lexus RX400h (Dark Gray), 65K mi; 2005 Hyundai Elantra GT (Blue), 65K mi

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    $2600 sounds on the high side. Re. another post as a tech for MANY years and having done a trans swap on my own this is NOT a job for the faint of heart or unskilled. It is WELL worth 500 or more to install it. I will NEVER attempt a FWD trans on my back again! It is too dangerous and way too time consuming. Even with 2 good people on it as I had. Most home jacks and stands cannot get the vehicle high enough (safely) and without a top dollar trans jack there is no way!
    Get a second opinion. INternally these units are VERY simple beasts and easily rebuilt cheaply by HONEST shops. I have a couple good shops here that will rebuild one at $1400 out the door and do a very good job.
    Re 191000 on the engine. Its' a gamble yeah but one worth taking with a reasonably well cared for 3.3. These engines regularly are seen well over 300,000 with no real issues.
    Good luck. Really IMO the biggest thing I worry about with these is rust especially strut towers.

  11. #10
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    Ok, so we have decided that we'll replace the transmission instead of replacing the van. However, we're going to get a second opinion before doing any work. Thank you all - your comments really helped!

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