Questions and Answers
Dodge Caravan Transmission Flush
Q. Hi, I recently had a transmission fluid exchange performed, on my Dodge Caravan. I've had my pan dropped on other previous services. Only last few were fluid exchange. All services 20,000 to 25,000 miles. I do mostly highway driving (reason for high mileage). Since then, My car makes a high pitched "whining" sound, when accelerating and driving. And is slipping in and out of gears (approximately 40 mph).
Never had this problem before. I suspect something went wrong during the fluid exchange:
- I saw Lube Tech had reversed connections on machine. I read on the web (Tech Tips), that if this happened, there is a possibility of internal filter and O-ring may have been dislodged, causing lack of required pressures to properly shift. One transmission shop said this was not possible. What do you think?
- Read much about not using Mercon fluid in Chrysler transmissions. Should be using ATF+3 or AP 7176. Could improper fluid cause my symptoms? With these machines being connected to different vehicles, how can you be sure they are not mixing, or using the wrong type of fluid? Is there an acceptable "Universal" fluid, used on all transmissions?
- Is there a way to tell if the wrong fluid was used?
- What kind of damage can result, from using incorrect fluid (Mercon, instead of ATF Plus 3 Type 7176)?
- Adding an additive to oil, on older transmissions, is this recommended? It would seem to be good for newer, tighter transmissions, not for older ones. I would think additive would increase slippage, on older vehicles. Lube technician added Smart Blend "Black" (see above web page noted above). Life Automotive makes Smart Blend.
- 1996 Dodge Caravan lE
- 3.0 liter MPI V-6
- 4 speed automatic transmission
- Mileage 138,000
- Electronic Fuel Injection
- ABS brakes
- P/S - A/C - Cruise control
- Rack and pinion steering
Please respond. Lube service facility is denying any wrong doing.
Appreciate your help
A. Any kind of flush, be it engine or transmission, on a high milage vehicle can cause more harm than good. In fact the instruction books that come with these machines specifically instruct NOT to use them on any high milage vehicle.
I'm involved in a case now involving just such an occurrence. A flush was done on a high milage vehicle and consequently destroyed the engine.
1. A transmission flush is a reverse flush, but I suppose under certain conditions, it may be possible to blow the transmission filter off. In this case there would be inadequate fluid pickup and cause operational problems.
2. I have found that the Chrysler ATF+3 7176 is the best fluid to use in Chrysler transmissions. I have seen other fluids cause problems that this ATF Plus 3 Type 7176 corrects. In your case the Mopar ATF Plus 3 Type 7176 may fix the problem.
4. I can't be 100% sure of this, but I don't believe there is any long term damage done.
5. Additives, at best, are a band aid. If you have to put an additive in to fix a problem, then the only way to fix the problem permanently is to repair the cause of that problem. And it has been my experience that most additives are not worth the can they are put in. I wouldn't add any additives at all. 99% of the time they contain the same chemicals that are already in the ATF.
The best thing to do is to drop the pan, replace the transmission filter and replace what fluid fell out.