Question about 1996 Chrysler Town & Country

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I have 3.8L the tranny down shifts hard when appling the brakes to stop or slow down. at times it also takes a while for te tranny to engage into reverse.

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Check your ATF fluid level. Your MAP lets your TCM know when to shift which in turn tells your solenoid pack to get the fluids flowing in the proper channels. This shifts it down, etc. ...or something very similar to this chain of events. When your fluid level is low, there isn't enough to go through all the channels and you can get air in there- which compresses. This situation causes it to behave just as you described. The jargon aside, you are the proud owner of a very temperamental transmission. Congratulations you lucky guy!
The best thing you can do for your tranny is to keep the fluid clean and full. I would recommend dropping the oil pan of the transmission and then replacing the 4 quarts or so that came out with ATF-4. Do this yourself and it will be better in the long-run. Most shops will put the wrong type of fluid in your transmission and shorten the life of it as well as give you a rough tranny in the meantime.
If you have not performed any transmission service to this vehicle before, I would get a new transmission filter and pan gasket. Also get about 8 quarts of ATF-4 while you are at the parts store. These should all be in stock. You may only use 4 quarts now, but you will want to have some on hand for the next partial change.
This is just as easy as changing your oil- just make sure that nothing has dirt or old gasket material on it when you put it back together. Also, use a new funnel or one that is already designated for ATF when pouring in the new fluids.
If your old fluid is really dark red and burnt smelling, you will need to do the other 4 quarts in 1000 miles.
Make sure you use ATF-4. Your tranny originally came with ATF-3, but Chrysler dicontinued it. ATF-4 is fully synthetic and will work better. Be prepared to pay $4.50-5.50 per quart. The folks at the part store may try and sell you Dexron-III or some other additive nonsense, but don't go for it. Stick to ATF-4 and you won't have issues. The other stuff is thicker and gums up your temperamental tranny. It is not equivalent.
Good luck

PS I am not a mechanic, but I have the same vehicle, have rebuilt my own A604 and also diagnosed and repaired the electrical side of it recently.

Posted on Jul 24, 2009

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  • Chrysler Master
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Do yourself a favor & take it to reputable transmission shop , or reputable dealer & at least have it diagnosed properly & get estimate. You don't have to agree to having it fixed, only diagnosed. Then get back to us, or if it sounds reasonable (price & repair wise) then have it done. Todays transmissions are too temperamental & expensive to postpone repairs. When was last fluid & filter change done?

Posted on Jul 24, 2009

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