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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Finally, after at a total of 560,000 over both my PMs, we've finally had a tranny failure. Sorta. Here's the story, file it away in your brains for future use:

About 3 weeks ago I was cruising normally, lightly loaded at 600lbs. Wham - the transmission put itself into limp mode, which means 2nd gear only and a max speed of around 30mph. No reason why, no warning signs, no other symptoms. Jiggled various wires, prayed to various gods. The code read P0750 - shift solenoid A. No other codes. It was late so I slept on the PA turnpike.

Next morning started it up and it was fine. Shifted fine, but the code was persistent. Hmmm. Decided to try to make it the 90 miles home rather than pay for a tow. Made it 17 miles and it went back into limp. In a move that I don't recommend, I drove the remaining 63 miles home IN SECOND GEAR and ON THE HIGHWAY! Took it right to the transmission shop.

He futzed with it a while, and got it to fail again, but he wasn't inclined to make a definitive diagnosis. I didn't say I took it to a GOOD transmission guy. But while he was working on it, I did quite a bit of research on our 62TE trans. For me, transmissions and carburetors are like magical boxes filled with unicorns - I don't really know how they work.

For the most part, our transmissions are made of 4 basic parts. The torque converter. The fluid system (pump, fluid, and filter). The valve body/shift solenoids. And the 4th part is basically everything else (the gears, the bands, the unicorns). That's basically it.

Trans guy determined that the pump and fluid system were fine. Since it would shift fine when it was cold, I decided that the "everything else" was in working order. The torque converter was fine. So the remaining part is the valve body/solenoids, and technically the computer as well. In our vans, there is no transmission control module, it's all done within the main ECU. Trans guy did a good inspect of the wiring to the computer and declared it good.

This leaves the valve body and solenoids. In the 62TE, there is a thing called the solenoid pack which is bolted to the valve body. The solenoids are electric actuators that allow fluid to flow in various ways to the valve body, and the valve body does the actual shifting. In ours, there are 7 discreet solenoids but you don't service them, you simply replace the whole pack.

The job itself wasn't too bad. Unlike an old school tranny where the valve body lives above the pan, the 62TE has a separate pan as the fluid sump, and a large front cover which covers the valve body/solenoid package. You can see yours if you look straight down the radiator on the driver's side - that big round connector is plugged right into the solenoid pack under the large cover. Very easy to get to. All you need is ramps or jack stands and it's all right there. You remove the cover, remove 18 torx bolts, and the valve body comes right out. Separate the valve body and solenoid pack on the bench, bolt in the new one, and reassemble. No gasket needed, as these use RTV from the factory. The job took me the better part of a day, but a faster wrench could do it in a few hours.

The upshot: the solenoid pack is a whopping $150 for a rebuild with a lifetime warranty. Factory units brand spanking are around $250. Why so cheap? This is something I considered when choosing the PM over other vans. That trans has been in production in it's current form since 2007. It's in every minivan, and a ton of other Mopars with old V6 and with the Pentastar. I did what I normally do - I made a chart with 2014 PM, 2014 Grand Caravan, 2014 Journey, 2012 Town and Country, and 2012 Journey. Look up the PNs for solenoid packs and valve bodies and diffs and complete transmission assemblies. PN 5078709AB is the solenoid pack and it's identical for all of 'em. A part this high production means cheap prices.

Shook it down on a 750 mile run yesterday, and the trans shifts fine and the code is gone. I've now got a trans leak, but that's related to my sloppy RTV work and easily fixed. I also learned a lot about checking the fluid - it's easy and there's nothing really different about the 62TE than the Torqueflite that came in my Valiant.

More research revealed that the solenoid pack is a fairly common failure item, and it's failure is in large part what gave the 62TE a bad reputation, particularly in the early build years. But despite what we were all so worried about, having a minivan drivetrain in a big work van, the transmissions have proven robust. If the pack fails again in another 280k, well...I've got a lifetime supply of replacement packs!!

By the way, there's a magnet in the bottom of the pan. 280k of heavy haul miles reveals a mere smear of particles stuck to the magnet - almost nothing. Very happy with that. Overall, it's a safe bet that $150 will fix most of your transmission failure fears - it's what does the work and that's why it wore out.

NOTE: because I'm looking at million mile ownership, I went ahead and learned some other things. LQK asks squat for transmission assemblies (junkyard pullouts). Like $600. But for Promaster they get $1500. Why? Turns out that a complete factory trans does carry a unique PN, while all the other vehicles I mentioned all got the same assembly. I looked up the diff assembly, and it too is unique to PM. What's it mean? I betcha the PM gets a different gear set, or maybe a few different internal parts, which is why it carries a unique PN for the assembly. I also bet that you could bolt one in from a minivan no sweat. But I can't prove that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Here's the best video on the web that pretty much shows the whole thing:

 

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My tranny only made it 94,000 miles. Was rebuilt at the dealer under warranty, now at 102,000 it's got issues again. Feels like a miss sometimes but I'm pretty sure it's the tranny because if I shift it manually it goes away with the next gear. Usually seems to happen in 5th and 6th.
 

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Hey Kip,

Did you find a solution to checking the trans fluid? I know there are a few uTube's on it but none that are particularly impressive. What about changing your fluid - I'm assuming you have changed it and probably yourself.

Thanks for sharing all this good info with us.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Obrian - my overall knowledge of transmissions isn't super deep, but my general knowledge is. I have heard that transmission problems are often misdiagnosed. What you might feel as a miss could in fact be a miss, torque converter shudder, throttle position sensor misreads, etc. I will also add that despite what you think, dealer mechanics know nothing special that independants don't, and in fact dealerships collect bad mechanics and newbies.

I don't have the details, but I'd like to know exactly how it was determined that you had a bad trans. More info, please.
Caveat: if you have the diesel, then much of my knowledge goes out the window, except that it's a regular old manual trans that the compter shifts for you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Keep on vannin: turns out that there are far less fancy unicorns than I thought. The tamper plug on the dipstick tube is just a plastic cap. There is also a metal "cup" kinda thing at the terminus of the tube, designed to catch a dipstick and this provide the reference point - in other words the dipstick doesnt bottom out in the pan, it bottoms out in a catcher.

I made my own foolproof tool by using a regular old engine oil dipstick, putting it in the tube with the pan off so I could SEE it bottomed in the catcher, then marking it's insertion depth. The result is that a 15 7/8" dipstick is what you would make if you wanted a real dipstick. Doesn't actually matter because you only care about how much fluid is in the pan.

You can get a reader and read ECU trans temp, look that up on the chart, and read the level to the millimeter. OR you can just know that when its up to temp in neutral it should be 2", just like every trans made since Ike was president. I took my engine oil dipstick and painted it with liquid paper so I can see red trans fluid against it. On one side of the dipstick, I scraped off the liquid paper at the 2" mark. Rocket science!

Not that it matters. Once you have the pan off, you look at the sump and get the sense that this thing could be 2qts overfilled and it wouldn't make a lick of difference.

As far as a service, the filter is $17. Removing the filter requires a Torx bit, I forget the size but it's nothing special. The filter seats into a metal o-ring/bushing kinda thing that you pry out the old one with a screw driver, and drift the new one in with a hammer. It comes with the filter, and if you missed it and reused the old one the world wouldn't end. Pan bolts are 8mm and there's about 15. No gasket, so use the grey RTV. The fluid is a full synthetic ATF+4 that meets Chrysler spec MS9602. $8 per qt, and you'll need about 6 qts. Put 4 qts in, warm her up, check it a few times. Simple. No different than how it was done in 1960.
 

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This OP was for the gasser, correct?
And.. where did you get the rebuilt packs with that warranty?
Good info and thanks for all your research and posting the findings.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Got the pack at O'reilley's, but its the same price at Autozone. The warranty comes from Dorman, who actually rebuilds it. Oddly, summit Racing has it for $108, but didnt have it in stock - 2 weeks.
 

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6 quarts? I drained 12 quarts out of mine when I changed it and put 12 quarts back in...I didn't have a dipstick. I did it first thing in the morning when the van was cold and the fluid cold so I could just measure and replace what came out.
 

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.....cut.....

NOTE: because I'm looking at million mile ownership, I went ahead and learned some other things. LQK asks squat for transmission assemblies (junkyard pullouts). Like $600. But for Promaster they get $1500. Why? Turns out that a complete factory trans does carry a unique PN, while all the other vehicles I mentioned all got the same assembly. I looked up the diff assembly, and it too is unique to PM. What's it mean? I betcha the PM gets a different gear set, or maybe a few different internal parts, which is why it carries a unique PN for the assembly. I also bet that you could bolt one in from a minivan no sweat. But I can't prove that.
When ProMaster first came out I recall reading about how the transmission was beefed up for PM use. If I recall correctly they mentioned lower gearing as well as a heavier casting to handle extra vehicle weight.

I'd also check to make sure that PM doesn't use larger front axles that may not fit car transmissions. Don't know but expect axles could be heavier-duty also.
 

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Obrian - my overall knowledge of transmissions isn't super deep, but my general knowledge is. I have heard that transmission problems are often misdiagnosed. What you might feel as a miss could in fact be a miss, torque converter shudder, throttle position sensor misreads, etc. I will also add that despite what you think, dealer mechanics know nothing special that independants don't, and in fact dealerships collect bad mechanics and newbies.

I don't have the details, but I'd like to know exactly how it was determined that you had a bad trans. More info, please.
Caveat: if you have the diesel, then much of my knowledge goes out the window, except that it's a regular old manual trans that the compter shifts for you.
Believe me I know dealer techs are nothing special ( I work in the auto industry), but because my tranny broke under warrantie the stealership is where it went. I would always use a good inde shop if I was paying.
And yes the transmission did break the first time, I saw it apart and looked at the cracked parts. I'm not a automatic transmission expert but it seems the pump broke sending parts into the selinoids just causing lots of issues. My current problem of the missing or not shifting properly should be diagnosed next week, I took the van in Monday but didn't get anything accomplished.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Obrien - I don't want to plant the seeds of constant worry in your head, but if the pump failed the first time, it could explain why the trans is acting up now. If substantial amounts of metal or debris happens, it's going to work that crud into every place the fluid touches. The torque converter, the rad cooler, and the differential since our diffs are lubed by tranny fluid. Mr Flat Rate at the dealership determines that the pump failed, assigns his worst tech to doing a field "rebuild" of the trans which means replacing the pump and running some clean fluid into it, leaving most of the compromised parts untouched.

Then again, I could be wrong. Let's see what they say. Ask to see the magnet in the pan - it should be clean enough to eat off of if they did the rebuild right.
 

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Reserecting an old thread here, but since I'm having transmission issues again I wanted to know if your solenoid pack failure caused any slipping? Or did it just not shift correctly? I wouldn't think it would cause slipping but I also don't want to pull my transmission to replace the tourqe converter, which is what I think is bad in my tranny. I've already changed the fluid and the van was great for a few days but last night going up an incline at about 50 mph I got bad slippage.
 

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I don’t know what the heck is up. Today all is good again, I added a quart of fluid just because. The transmission shop sells a remanufactured tranny with the converter etc installed $3,500 Instalation takes only a day drop if in the morning pick it up at 5. With a three year 500,000 mile waranty. Even pays for towing with nationwide coverage for repairs. The parts and warranty are from a large transmission rebuilder based out of TX. I’m thinking about that route. I’m just Leary if these kinds of warranty’s. Anybody have experience with something like that?
 

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Help! My 2015 2500 159 Wheel Base gasser wouldn’t shift manually and stayed in “D” . It won’t shift automatically, either! I have 82500 miles on it. WTF? The engine light is on. Please advise!
Thanks
 

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Unfortunately my transmission starting slipping two weeks ago today while driving home from Paul to NH. I was driving up a long incline when, all of a sudden, out the blue, the engine started racing and shifted into N on its own. I was able to pull off the road fortunately and looked around. I didn’t see any sign of transmission fluid leakage so I assumed it was probably the electronic shift pack people has been reporting problems with. I shut it off and restarted it and manually shifted it up to 5th gear and was able to drive normally to a friends house I was heading for to spend the night. I had no problem getting there and no slippage whatsoever keeping it in locked in 5th. I assumed it was just an electrical problem. The next morning I checked the fluid (still no sign of leakage) and it was down a bit so I put a quart in and started to head home (200 miles away). I didn’t get far before the slipping started again and this time I could see fluid dripping out of the bottom of the bell housing. I ended up getting towed to a Ram dealer (first time in memory I’ve ever been towed).about 40 miles away as the closet one (a mile or two away) couldn’t fit a Promaster in their bay. I called around hoping to get a reasonable tow home at first but got prices between $700 - $900! My insurance at least paid the $150 for the tow to the dealer. At first they said all I needed was a new seal, then a pump then after actually taking the transmission out they said a new "improved" pump and pump installation kit that cost alomost $400 extra over the cost of the new pump and a torque converter. As I was 200 miles from home I had no choice other than leave it with them and have my wife come and rescue me.

Actually the dealer was very good about it and kept me informed about the progress and expense and I have no complaints about them at all (yet). All in all the ordeal cost me $3706, inc NYS sales tax and 9 days without my van plus two 200 mile round trips from NY to NH. The transmission rebuild came with a 2 year unlimited mileage warranty and hopefully I’ll never need to use it.

I called Chrysler customer care during this ordeal to document the event. Unfortunately for me i have 108k miles on it so it’s 8k miles out of warranty. I told the Chrysler rep who contacted me I expected some sort of "good will" help with the cost. At first he seemed to suggest something might be possible and contacted the dealer who did the job. After contacting the dealer he told me there was nothing he could do as they told him there was metal and dirt in the transmission! I asked him what he though happened when the pump gave way and said the only dirt in a sealed transmission could only come from the pump and seal but I could tell he had no idea what I was even talking about and keep saying his hand were tied. I suggested he contact the service manager again and he agreed to this Tuesday but he said don’t expect much (and I don’t). I also suggest to him the fact that FCA has come up with a new (improved?) pump and an almost $400 installation kit to use the new pump) sorta points to a bad design to begin with and suggested they should at minimum cover the pump installation kit. During my whole conversation I had the feeling I was dealing with a low level, totally inexperienced, front line defense person who I knew immediately would be of absolutely no help to me. At least he left the door open to perhaps being able to do something after further consultation with the dealers service manager on Tuesday. If not, I fully plan to keep pushing this ahead until I find some satisfaction as there is no way a transmission should totally fail after 4 years a 108k miles of non-commercial use and mostly highway driving.

At least I now have my van back and after about 250 miles it seems fine again. I have to strss this happend totally out of the blue with no warning at all and no check engine light. Hopefully Chrysler will step up and do their part but I’m not very confident they will. In the mean time my best advice unfortunately is "Be prepared to replace your transmission every 100k miles if you plan on owning a Promaster".!

I’ve been in contact with kip, also, who seems to be the most knowledgeable person here on the forum when it comes to engine/transmissions, at least and he discovered a call back on certain 2015 & ‘16 Promasters for this very pump/transmission problem. Of, course mine is a ‘14 and doesn’t fall into the call back range .

More to come next week!
 
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