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Chrysler Repair/Cirrus Transmission: no power output after fluid change


QUESTION: 1998 Chrysler Cirrus LXi Transmission, Mileage 171,000

While completing suspension repairs I decided to change the transmission filter.Not sure, but this might be the first filter and fluid change. However there were no transmission problems prior to filter change. Filter pan and magnet were relatively "clean."

Problem: cannot get the vehicle to move in any gear! In Neutral can't even "roll" the car. No error codes displayed, tach works, all else seems normal.

Any thoughts on what is going on and where to start a diagnosis.

ANSWER: Hi Gary,
It may be that there is air/foamed oil trapped in the transmission such that the internal pressures are way low. Did you happen to measure the amount that you drained out? Then were you able to replace exactly that amount? What is the level of fluid showing on the dipstick? When cold the level should be 3 mm below the full line, and when warmed fully it should show full.
Did you use ATF +3 or +4? How much did you add to refill it?
What method are using to check the fault codes?
You may want to just let the engine idle until the trans fluid gets totally warmed up to 180 degrees and then try shifting through all the lever positions again. Absent a fault code probably the next step would be to measure the fluid pressures using a gauge and accessing through the test ports on the trans. I can give you the specs on what the readings should be.
PS Thanks for the rating.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: - I was careful to measure the drained amount and replaced with an equivalent amount. However the cold level looks pretty high. Also I did notice what looks like "foaming" after the engine has run to near nprmal operating temp.

- Fluid used was Castrol Transmax High Mileage.

- I didn't check the fault codes because there is no "Check Engine" displayed. Could there still be codes?

I'm really stuck, what next?

ANSWER: Hi Gary,
Is the Castrol shown to be compatible with ATF +3 and/or +4? If not then probably you would want to have a powerflush performed which drives out all 10 quarts of fluid, because a drain out procedure only removes about 4-5 quarts and so you would have now a 50-50 mixture of old and new fluids. I am not sure if you can rent a powerflush tool, if not then the car would need to be towed to a transmission shop which has that tool.
If the Castrol is compatible then about the only other thing I could suggest is to run it in neutral longer to see if you can get the foam/air to dissipate from the fluid.
A transmission fault will not typically cause the check engine light the light in a '98 vehicle. But that doesn't mean there is no trans fault code ptesent. A plug-in code reader probably would be needed to determine the number of a trans fault code.
So those are the options I can see.
If you would be so kind as to do another rating of my answer but this time also give a 'yes' answer to the question about a nomination of me to be 'volunteer of the month' I would be very pleased.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: The Castrol product is listed as compatible with ATF+3. Checked this before adding.

Started the vehicle just a few minutes ago and the transmission seemed to "want" to engage. With engine revved was able to move forward and backward  six or so inches before stopping.

What about a siphon type flush to remove the fluid if I can't arrange the power flush.

Also, is the inability to "roll" the vehicle while in Neutral a hint of the problem?

Don't have a code checker but might need to invest in one.

Hi Gary,
The siphon approach may not result in the collection of all the fluid from the torque converter, oil cooler and lines thereto. It requires pressure to drive out those 5 quarts. I think only a power flush will remove all the fluid, but if the Castrol is compatible that may not be necessary. It sounds as if the foam/air may be dissipating so I would continue to let it run for a while in Park or Neutral. Keep an eye on the dipstick as well.
I would believe the car should roll in neutral with the engine off. However, with the engine running there may well be a "start/safety" function that comes into play and in the present condition that may be how the hydraulics are 'thinking' is the situation. I am not sure as I don't have that transmission to experiment with, nor does the manual define the term "start safety" which is shown on the table of which clutches are used in asch lever position. In neutral it is shown that the "low/reverse" clutch is indeed engaged.
Please let me know of progress. If you would take a moment to rate and nominate me I would be appreciative.

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Roland Finston


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