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96 Dodge Van 3500 Automatic Transmission Failure

12-04-2010, 03:08 PM
:icon16:I was driving my van to my brothers place with books and halfway there a small buzzing started as I was decelerating from 50 mph to make a turn. The buzzing was present when I pressed on the gas pedal, but not when coasting. As I was was driving uphill to my brothers' place, the van started to lose power as though it was entering neutrel. I barely made it to my destination. I checked the ATF fluid level, motor off and there was fluid. I let the van sit awhile and restarted. The van engaged into drive and drove the van 100 feet to a parking area. I called AAMCO, free towing. Do not drive the van as more damage may occur. AAMCO said the filter clogged up from damaged transmission, but may run a few block and die. I am sure this is not a do-it at home repair on an automatic transmission?:evillol:

The automatic transmission fluid level was checked with the vehicle in neutrel, vehicle idling hot and with emergency brake on. The fluid level was 0.25 inches above the okay level. The white paper towel had purple ATF fluid and a gray stain. Later the vehicle was put in reverse and the buzzing noise started again. The engine was shut off until the oil ATF oil pan comes off.

The pan was dropped 1/2/2011. The pan had black sludge at the bottom including the magnet. The filter was clogged with black sludge. The transmission fluid in the pan was red. Buzzing noise is gone, but the snow has to be cleared from around the vehicle for a test drive.

12-04-2010, 06:33 PM
I checked the ATF fluid level, motor off and there was fluid.

The tranny fluid is supposed to be checked when it's hot and the engine is running.

12-04-2010, 07:14 PM
I am not sure what your question is. Are you asking what you should do?

As posted above, check the fluid with the engine running, in park. Pull out the stick, wipe it off, put it back in all the way, then pull it out and have a look.

Checking with the trans warm will give the best reading, but even if its cold, you will get a reasonably accurate level. Add fluid until the level is correct.

A trans that is low on fluid will give erratic performance as you describe.

If the level is good, but the problems persist, you can drop the pan, clean it out and change the filter, then add new fluid. There is a good chance this will fix your problem and is worth trying because its much cheaper than the transmission rebuild alternative.

12-04-2010, 09:39 PM
Will check the fluid when hot and running on Monday.

12-04-2010, 09:46 PM
I will check the level with engine running. Local Dodge facility closed so filters and Dexron ATF+3 will be hard to come by. There is ATF+3 sold at Walmart. The color of the fluid is purple. The van is parked safely for a month.

12-08-2010, 07:56 PM
there is no such fluid as dexron atf+3. the only chrysler fluid available is atf+4.

symptoms of a clogged filter is, while driving the transmission starts slipping. shut off the vehicle and wait, then restart, it will drive ok for a little bit then start acting up.

question is why is the filter clogged? debris in the pan which would come off parts in the trans (clutches, torque converter, bearings, gears, etc.)

12-09-2010, 01:42 AM
ATF fluid level was checked properly(parked in neutrel, idling hot). Fluid 0.25 inches higher then upper end of "okay" mark. Paper towel stained purple with ATF and a grayish soot. Vehicle put in reverse and buzzing noise returns. Engine is shut off. Will drop pan later for inspection, filter replacement and ATF fluid replacement.

01-14-2013, 03:12 AM
The automatic transmission filter was changed along with the fluid. The vehicle was driven about 15 miles. Vehicle runs, but do not risk driving the van around. Here are some pictures on the automatic transmission when the filter and fluid was changed. Does it look like it need a rebuild? There is black sludge in the pan. Small metal pieces.

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