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Used Cars for sale - Used Trucks for sale [3141034295] Buy Used Cars

Transaxle clunks when downshifting

- Dodge-Caravan

Forum Post
07/08/08 23:34

Transaxle clunks when downshifting

I have a 2002 Dodge Caravan with 94, 000 miles. My van developed a small leak on the pan gasket which went unnoticed for several days but the van continued to drive normally until I caught the low fluid level during a dipstick check. As a precaution I changed the auto transaxle fluid and filter. The fluid which I drained did not smell or appear burned and the magnet showed minimal metallic residue consistent of a transaxle of this age and mileage. I replaced the fluid with Valvoline ATF+4 instead of Mopar ATF+4 as Valvoline claims their product meets Chrysler specifications. After driving my van I now observe a rather noticeable clunk when the transaxle downshifts to low gear anywhere below 30 miles/hour. Is there an issue with Valvoline ATF+4 fluid which I am not aware of or is my transaxle showing signs of damage from the low fluid level?
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This post has a total of 24 replies. Your feedback, comments, opinions and questions are welcome and encouraged.

This forum post has messages dated from 07/08/08 through 04/14/11, please be sure to read all the messages. If you feel it is old or outdated, please follow up with a question or comment and someone may be able to update it, or reply with newer information if you have it.

01/18/09 13:07

did you ever get an answer? If so can you let me know... [email protected]
02/10/09 18:39


I have heard a rumor that I dont really believe but I will share. Someone told me that I should leave my minivan alone and not change the fluid and the filter in the transaxle because the small metal shavings now flowing through my fluid actually assist the worn gears on the transaxle grab. Many forums you will read, people change their fluid and immediately notice a difference in their tranny. Good luck, hope that this is not the case, just thought I would share.

One other thought would be that the solenoid pack filters are plugged and this might cause hard shifting. These solenoid packs are also notorious for leaking and that sometimes when you think your pan gasket is the issue, its really the solenoid pack.


03/31/09 17:35

I am experiencing this exact problem. I have a 2002 Grand Caravan and had the transaxle fluid changed at 110, 000 "for good measure". Woe is me.

I have isolated the hard shifting or "clunk" to the overdrive gear. It doesn't do it if you drive it in 3rd. Optionally, if I "kick it into passing gear", I get the same clunk. 30 MPH is just when the overdrive drops out at normal driving loads.

Have you ever gotten an answer or learned what this is all about?

04/02/09 00:46

when changing tha soleniod pack on dodge caravan, is ther any special treatment you must do for as ant adjustment
04/19/09 19:58

1997 Dodge Caravan specs say Chrysler brand ATF +2 or ATF +2, 7176

Can the ATF +3 or the ATF +4 substitute?

10/13/09 21:55
ed mclellan

changed my fluid and filter with quaker state atf+4 .and now i have a clunk when it downshifts.2003 caravan.
12/09/09 00:21

My fiance has a 2002 Dodge Grand Caravan which is doing the same thing above. Downshifting at times causes a hard jerk that you shouldn't have in an automatic transmission. It also seems to slip between gears on acceleration at times. Along with sometimes hesitating between shifts at lower speed acceleration. She took it to the dealer (Don Davis Dodge Arlington) today to have them look at it since she was at 98172 and the warranty is out @ 100, 000 miles. They claim they couldn't get it to reproduce the problem. Said their tech spent 3 hours on it. Hell it was dropped off with 1/2 a tank of gas. They put 8 miles on it and the fuel light was on with it right at the E line. Jack ass's. Not only could they not see what the problem was. I left got 2 minutes down the road. Did a hard acceleration on it up to 45 let my foot off the gas and let it coast a few hundred feet and jerk that nice down that you all are describing as a clunk.

Pretty sad her warranty is almost out. She is a quadrapalegic and that is her only form of transportation other then her power wheelchair.

Then they tryed to charge her a $100 checkout fee. When she didn't even sign anything. The service advisor forged her name on the paperwork. She had transmission problems with it about a year and a half ago and the overdrive clutch was replaced, yet they can't duplicate the problem now.

12/27/09 17:02

Did the same thing yesterday now my van does the same thing. I checked the manual and it says to change the trans flid every 48k under Severe driving conditions. So I was thinking I would be good for another 90k, now it slams everytime it pops out of overdrive.

Has anyone found a solution?

01/02/10 21:46

After Changing the Fluid ..or any electronic device on your DODGE transmission sometimes A Transmission Relearn program needs to be performed ... take it to a local transmission shop.. Takes 5 min.. should cost $30-$40 ..

This WILL take care of Hard Shifts if the transmission is OK

01/08/10 10:12

The tranny fluid and filter (OEM part and fluid) was changed about 6 months ago. Yesterday, I was driving to work and notice the clunk when downshifting (around 40km/h 30 mi/h. Now the question: will the "relearn" procedure correct the problem or is it something more serious.

Any comments will be greatly appreciated. Thank you

01/21/10 07:20

WOW--wonderful Chrysler transmisssions!! I have the same clunk in the 2002 Caravan I am driving. Was hoping to find an answer here. Changed the tranny a year ago--small leak and filled it, but now it clunks on the downshift very noticeably. What does the relearn program do for this? Thanks

01/27/10 12:16

My 2002 Caravan (just passed 100, 000 miles) started doing the same thing (clunk on downshift) last Saturday. It hasn't been serviced for a couple of months, though, and no MIL lights are on.
02/02/10 14:15

Mine is doing it too. Last time this happened I had a bad solenoid. Dodge replaced it and the problem went away. That was 2 years ago. Now it's doing it again.

2002 Dodge Grand Caravan

03/18/10 11:21

03/26/10 12:55

my 01 dakota has recently had the same problem
05/05/10 20:44

I have a 2003 Dodge Grand Caravan (50, 000 miles)that just began "jerking" (downshifting?) whenever I am slowing down and applying the brakes. I had one transmission repair shop check it and was told it might be "O" rings...of, course they would have to pull the transmission to repair it; $550 labor plus parts?

Can anyone tell me how "o" rings affect downshifting?. Thanks

10/17/10 10:43
tom sherman

My 2008 dodge gr. caravan sxt makes a clunk when put into gear.

Any suggestions?


11/09/10 18:13
Fred Jacobson

Own a 2002 D.G.C. and was advised that recent shifting issues; such as a clunk or shudder/slip at 12-15 m.p.h. may in fact be the solenoid pack kit. About 150-200 depending on where purchased.
11/19/10 22:01
Stacey H

My Dodge grand caravan starting having smoke come out of the hood this morning as my wife pulled into school. I came and checked it out and saw a small puddle of oil under the van. took it to the shop and had them replace filter, gasket, and fluid. directly after leaving the place, my wife notice a noticeable "kachunk" type stutter in the downshift at about 28-30 miles per hour, slowing down. I tried looking to see what I could see, and saw nothing. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
12/12/10 10:55

2003 caravan, 3.3L, about 50k miles.

4 years ago I changed tranny oil and filter. Had same problem for next 3 months, i.e. rough downshift at 29-30 mph.

In order to reset the computer I left the battery disconnected overnight for 10 hours. The problem was still there driving the van for about the next 4 days when it suddenly went away. The tranny downshifted smoothly and has been normal for the last 4 years.

The only thing I can suggest is that the battery needs to be disconnected for a long time in order for the computer to reset and then start relearning.

01/31/11 21:54

After Changing the Fluid ..or any electronic device on your DODGE transmission sometimes A Transmission Relearn program needs to be performed ... take it to a local transmission shop.. Takes 5 min.. should cost $30-$40 .. do u know what they do for that money they take the 2 battery post off touch them together and reconnect the battery. i just changed a tranny that was blown in a 2002 caravan put in new tranny new fliud n filter the damn thing clunked on the downshift was so mad i called the place i got the tranny ready to rip them a new hole but before i did they told me how to do the reset n it worked

02/28/11 14:36

Have the same problem. My transmission klunks when I slow down into lowest gear. Only if I go over 55km. I tried disconnecting the battery to get rid of the CEL but after a week it came back on and didn't solve the klunk. Took it in today and they said it was my underdrive/overdrive clutch, it's worn and needs to be replaced. Of course they have to take it apart to do that and now it will cost me $1200 - $1600 canadian. Ruined my day.
03/31/11 22:03

Our town and country is doing the same thing. We had a caravan previously that did the same thing. I didnt know if it was normal or a problem. We only had the town and country for a few days and it didnt clunk and have the jerk. We just changed the fluid and now its doing it. Did anyone go and get the relearn process done, and if so did it help? Also, is it bad for the vehicle to relearn itself overtime? Thanks
04/14/11 00:14

I was having the same problem with my 2002 caravan. I took it to a transmission expert and the solenoid pack had been leaking so it was replaced and the fluid was changed. But I was told the the actual clunking sound was because the computer had reset itself when the fluid level dropped with the leak and it had to be reprogrammed. This was done and I haven't had a problem since.
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    dodge caravan 'Transaxle clunks when downshifting'