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I find my pmc a great “sometimes” cargo van it will take a sheet of plywood or 8’ lumber with the back doors open but its not pretty. Driving it empty as a commuter/shopping vehicle “ think groceries and decorator items the wife picks up it can’t be beat”. However , even my 32” riding lawnmower requires moves that” circ de sole “ would be proud of.

I want a vehicle that can take 8’ sheet goods and lumber with the doors closed. Can haul a load of garbage to the dump to make the base charge of $30 seem reasonable. And finally I won’t miss the “go kart like” driving position of my pmc.

Mike
 

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In my opinion, I wouldn't be concerned with going from a Chrysler to another Chrysler. Meaning, I don't think you are increasing your odds for issues.
I think the hit you will take is in fuel economy by going to the larger van.
But it sounds like the advantages you will gain will far outweigh the mild hit to mpg.
 

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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
As a follow up- the Promaster adjuster guy did finally call me but hasn't been able to do anything to hurry up the repair.

As to those trying to decide if they would want a Promaster vs any other brand, I would just say that I have been satisfied with how my Promaster works when it has worked, and that my transmission problem may not be endemic of the brand as a whole. At this point I am more disappointed with FCA's supply chain than anything else.

Up to the transmission incident the issues I have had with the van have been small enough to put up with (leaking headlights, heated mirrors that didn't, cracked instrument cluster) and I get that sometimes you get a bad part or poorly assembled component. The Ducato is a well proven platform and the Americanized version has maintained many of it's most positive attributes- my largest complaints with the van from an operational point have been in its fuel thirst and mismatched engine performance to its mass. If only Ram had allowed us to have the diesel and manual that one can get overseas.... I got to drive one of those and it was stupendous.
 

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‘20 159 HT window van NH Seacoast
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i must agree with you somewhat, however the gas Transit gets less MPG than the Promaster. As for transmissions - I’ve had mine rebuilt and then replaced with a new factory unit all within a year by Ram. Still, I don’t see the transmissions as being any worse or better than any other manufacturer. Of all the Promaster owners on this forum I would venture to say that perhaps 10 to 15 have actually had any real problem. I don’t see it as any reason to not buy one and in fact, I just ordered a new 2020!
 

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Any differences in the 2020,
As far as standard features?
I was reading up on it the other day but wasn't sure if any of it was different from the 2019.
 

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i must agree with you somewhat, however the gas Transit gets less MPG than the Promaster. As for transmissions - I’ve had mine rebuilt and then replaced with a new factory unit all within a year by Ram. Still, I don’t see the transmissions as being any worse or better than any other manufacturer. Of all the Promaster owners on this forum I would venture to say that perhaps 10 to 15 have actually had any real problem. I don’t see it as any reason to not buy one and in fact, I just ordered a new 2020!
I don’t have to own one to disagree. In fact, it’s what has kept me driving my old Econoline more than anything else when I wanted the extra size of an extended PM, like a Winnebago Travato.

The transmission was never designed originally for a vehicle that heavy, or where the engine had to work that much harder on a regular basis. Gear spacing is also poor compared to modern transmissions, and maximum torque rating is lower than it should be for a van that size. And it can’t tow what it should even though engine has the power.

Does it work, of course. It just means “to me” there is less safety factor built in, so if driven hard on a heavy van there must be a higher “probability” of failures. Do I have a number? No. I doubt that an actual number would be published anyway.

It’s just the nature of it being front wheel drive. While there are newer 6+ gear FWD transmissions with much better gear spacing, none I’m aware of are designed with torque ratings like I’d expect in a pickup with 9,350-pound GVWR. That’s what I’d like to see. Mercedes, Ford, and VW now have FWD vans, but I’m not sure what their maximum GVWR are.

The PM is a great van, but it’s a shame FCA can’t come up with an improved modern transmission. To be clear, I’m not saying the PM is bad or shouldn’t be purchased. I may buy one anyway because other choices are worse. However, for me, the PM transmissions are the weak link by far.
 

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‘20 159 HT window van NH Seacoast
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Any differences in the 2020,
As far as standard features?
I was reading up on it the other day but wasn't sure if any of it was different from the 2019.
I have no idea but probably not? that had nothing to do with my decision to order a new one.
 

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I know people tow with their vans, but as far as I'm concerned, the point of a van is that the cargo goes inside. It's not intended to tow. Therefore, the low tow rating is appropriate.
It's somewhere around 5k lbs, which is the same towing capacity of all the mid size SUVs with 3.5/3.6 V6s.
I think anyone who loads their van with cargo and then tries towing it's max weight is begging for transmission problems.
Even the older vans with a frame, rwd and a V8 weren't intended for towing, even though they "can", bit the same engine in a pickup and the towing capacity increases significantly.
My point is, there's no point in complaining about a low towing cap for a van. If you need to tow more than a few 1000 lbs on a regular basis, you should have a pickup.
Now, if these vans have consistent tranny failures just from running cargo inside the van, under the payload cap, then I will agree that the tranny is wrong for the application.
 

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I've owned a 1980 Dodge straight 6.
I towed an 86 Camaro from Houston to Buffalo on a light weight car hauler and the transmission blew up in Ohio.
Had a GMC Safari with the 4.3. rwd.
Never even considered towing with that.
Had a 92 Econoline 350 passenger van. It had a hitch but I never towed with it because it had trouble getting out of it's own way. And ended up junking it because of tranny problems.
Had a 2005 Econoline 150 in perfect condition. Traded it in with 36k mi.
It had the 4.6 V8. Also a passenger van. It had trouble making it up anything above a 5% grade,....with no cargo or trailer. Taking the seats out and taking a load of firewood to the cabin almost killed it.
We have a 2008 Econoline 250 at work. It has a hitch and we tow a really small landscape trailer on occasion to move items that are too tall to put in the van. But nothing taxing at all. It's had transmission work twice with only 50k mi on the clock.
The other work van is a 2011 Econoline 150 passenger van with the small V8 and it also has trouble getting out of its own way. You can feel it just having 2 guys and a bunch of tools in it......with the heavy seats out! I wouldn't consider towing anything with it.
Point is, even the older vans with V8s and rwd, had crap transmissions and were not good for towing.
When I think about getting a van, the last thing I'm thinking about is towing. I'm thinking about cargo.
If I do have to tow with it in occasion, it's gonna be limited to 80% of max tow cap and likely not loaded to the gills with cargo in the van.
 

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Run away, run away fast, these transmission are terrible :)

I change my trans oil around 20,000. Have a drain plug in the pan. I change the filter around 80,000. Recently had a torque converter take a crap. With the miles I decided not to just replace the converter but have the trans done as well. Here is the what the trans shop found. By the way this guy is excellent. The 500,000 mile transmission staring a 2014 3500 ext with 594,000 total miles.
 

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Well, my E-350 with V10 is rated to tow close to 10,000 pounds, and with a GCWR high enough that it doesn’t require van to be nearly empty in order to pull a heavy trailer.

The PM has a GCWR of only 11,500 pounds, which means a heavy RV van can’t tow much over 2,000 pounds. And I’d worry more about frontal area of a large camping trailer. If we purchased a Travato and wanted to travel with family, which requires towing a trailer, I’d worry about the drivetrain.

Occasionally I use my E-350 to pull a rented RV trailer when I need more space. And when trailer is set up as a base camp, we can still travel around in the van. A pickup can’t do that for us. To me having a camping van that can also pull a camping trailer provides great flexibility. A GCWR close to 15,000 pounds would be great.
 

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Most vans don't have a V10.
Biggest I had was the E350 with the 351 V8.
If you want the shape and body of the PM,/ducato, it's going to have to be fwd and small engine. So you are limited to a cargo van or a camper and no towing.
You want a beast with a lot of motor and towing capability, it will have to be a bigger engine bay and likely rwd.
The transit it a better candidate for towing with the turbo v6 and rwd.
The PM will never be a tow vehicle.
 

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And GCWR of "only" 11,500 lbs?
It's a little V6 with a tiny fwd tranny.
That's pretty good for what it is.
I'm actually surprised and impressed that they turn these into really heavy camper conversions with no mods to the drivetrain and don't have major failures frequently.
These things were meant to be mail and package delivery trucks.
 

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By the way, when I said there is a lack of heavy duty transmissions for FWD, I meant in transverse engine configuration. There are some mid-engine transaxles like the one used on new Chevy Corvette that could handle a lot more power and torque. This would require a van redesign to place engine longitudinally ahead of front axle. It’s been done before, and also improves engine access in my opinion.

FWD itself isn’t the limitation. With right engine and transmission a FWD van can have higher GCWR. The diesel PM for example was 12,500 pounds, and old GMC motorhomes often tow Jeeps or other toads weighing close to 4,000 pounds.

I recall reading a while back that ZF was working on a new longitudinal FWD transmission. Don’t recall details but think they mentioned it was based on 8-speed automatic used on RAM pickups, Jeeps, and cars. The idea was to make it easier for manufacturers to offer RWD, FWD, and AWD on same van platform. And it was to have hybrid capability built into transmission. Even in Europe buyers are starting to purchase automatic transmissions, so Fiat will likely have to offer one on next Ducato anyway. Whatever Fiat come up with won’t help me, but eventually it may make it to North America.
 

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And GCWR of "only" 11,500 lbs?
It's a little V6 with a tiny fwd tranny.
That's pretty good for what it is.
I'm actually surprised and impressed that they turn these into really heavy camper conversions with no mods to the drivetrain and don't have major failures frequently.
These things were meant to be mail and package delivery trucks.
On that we agree.
 

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I personally don't want to see them change the promaster setup to accommodate a different drivetrain. I want it to stay exactly like it is and use it within it's limits. Perhaps build quality is debatable, but the platform works for what it was intended for. Or at least how people typically want to use it.
If they wanna make an entirely new model with a different body design and drivetrain that can handle more weight and towing, for the people that need it, that's fine with me.
again, I point to the Transit. It has most of what you are describing. A different body design to accommodate a bigger engine bay, rwd transmission, rwd axle, etc, affording them to design a drivetrain that can produce more torque and the ability to tow more efficiently. You can even get one with rear dual wheels. But it is also higher off the ground, taller and more expensive. And not as fuel efficient as the PM.
there's a tool for every job.
if I'm understanding you correctly, you are saying you want them to take a paring knife and make it bigger, stronger and sharper so you can carve a turkey with it,...... but without changing the size, shape or price.
I'm saying leave the paring knife alone and go buy a carving knife if you need to carve a turkey.
i just took my meds, but hopefully you get my point.
and it is entirely possible that I'm not reading you correctly.
 
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