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I bought my 2012 Town & Country in November 2019 and the mileage is currently 126,000

In December 2019 I had a recall service done at the dealer and was given a free multi-point inspection

Dealer said that the transmission fluid is discolored and smells burnt.

As far as I can tell from the service records the previous owner gave me the transmission has never been serviced.

Dealer recommends transmission filter, fluid & gasket replacement.

Dealer cost to do this is roughly $700.

Local transmission shop would do it for far less BUT recommends I do NOTHING and hope that the transmision continues to serve me well.

The reason given was that simply draining out 5+ quarts of transmission fluid that is discolored and smells burnt and putting in 5+ quarts of new fluid would likely result in transmission failure within the next 3 to 4 months (3,000 to 4,000 miles)

What should I do in this situation?
 

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I truly need to hear people's input on this. I dont understand why a transmission shop would recommend not to changed the fluid and do the service. I'm at 128k miles and would do well to do my fluid soon.

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I truly need to hear people's input on this. I dont understand why a transmission shop would recommend not to changed the fluid and do the service. I'm at 128k miles and would do well to do my fluid soon.

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The local transmision shop said something like this "Modern ATF consists of a base oil plus an additive package containing a wide variety of chemical compounds intended to provide the required properties of a particular ATF specification"

Basically the NEW chemical compounds, some of which are detergents in the NEW fluid would tend to destroy any parts in the transmission that had weakened due to exposure to worn out transmission fluid.
 

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The Dealership is upselling you TERRIBLY. The Service Manager likely is working on commission.

A couple of things to show the Upseller alias "Shyster":
- from a Chrysler Service Bulletin on ATF+4:
Mopar ATF+4® has exceptional durability. However, the red dye used in ATF+4® is not
permanent; as the fluid ages it may become darker or appear brown in color. ATF+4® also
has a unique odor that may change with age. With ATF+4® fluid, color and odor are no
longer indicators of fluid condition
and do not necessarily support a fluid change.
Actually ATF+4 smells like crap.

- Chrysler doesn't recommend flushes except for coolant. At $700.00 the Dealership could do two flushes, what a scandalous ripoff. That was no standard pan drop and fluid/filter change ($100 - $150) they were quoting you.
Chrysler warning on fluid flushes

Consult your Owner Manual as to transmission service, keeping in mind that severe service for a transmission (basically towing heavy) is not the same as severe service for an engine (dust, idling, start/stops, short trips,etc.)

Testing Service Centres: Is Your Car Dealership Ripping You Off?
 
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I bought my 2012 Town & Country in November 2019 and the mileage is currently 126,000

In December 2019 I had a recall service done at the dealer and was given a free multi-point inspection

Dealer said that the transmission fluid is discolored and smells burnt.

Dealer recommends transmission filter, fluid & gasket replacement.

Dealer cost to do this is roughly $700.

Local transmission shop would do it for far less BUT recommends I do NOTHING and hope that the transmision continues to serve me well.

The reason given was that simply draining out 5+ quarts of transmission fluid that is discolored and smells burnt and putting in 5+ quarts of new fluid would likely result in transmission failure within the next 3 to 4 months (3,000 to 4,000 miles)

What should I do in this situation?

Welcome.

Run as far as you can, away from that dealer.

Chrysler already stated that color or smell on ATF+4 should not be used to judge condition of this fluid.

Yes, it is time for a ATF change, but go somewhere else.

Make sure they use ATF+4 fluid, nothing else.

Good luck.
 

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Just my thoughts:
A coworker told me his uncle owns a trans shop and told him the best advice is to leave your transmission fluid alone. LOL That was the first I heard of that (my dad and I change fluids on everything we own like crazy).
Then at 170,000 my 2014 silverado needed a transmission rebuild (that was just this past October... 2 months after a complete engine removal and rebuild... that's another story). But anyways on my way out the door I asked MY trans guy what I should do moving forward (like when should I change the trans fluid on the trans he just rebuilt)... his answer was never. Don't touch it. He said most of his work is from old transmissions where people change the fluid and/or filter and disaster strikes. He didn't say anything about chemical compounds or synthetics etc.
I feel like there are two schools of thought on axle fluid (front and rear differentials) and transmissions alike. SOME people consider them CLOSED SYSTEMS and never need the fluid changed. Leave well-enough alone. I feel like those fluids change over time due to heat (the same way as engine oil only to a MUCH lesser degree).
I feel like your trans is in need of new fluid... HOWEVER I would advise you to get a second opinion and hopefully an actual transmission guy chimes in on this thread. Irresponsible speculation: Whatever did that to your current trans fluid (whatever the problem is in your trans) the new trans fluid will only delay the disaster waiting in your transmission. Start saving $150 a month for the new trans.
I baby my things and sometimes it just doesn't matter a darn bit. Tired of killing myself taking such good care of my truck only to have it backfire regardless (sorry... I'm ranting now). That's why I joined this forum to learn about used minivans; spend $5000 cash and not be heartbroken when something goes wrong.
I'll be watching this thread as I thought I've heard bad things about Dodge/Chrysler minivan transmissions.
 

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Be sure the filter gets replaced along with the fluid.
Hank
 
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The transmission shop was making a recommendation based on the transmission being bad, i.e. no sense throwing $700.00, or whatever, at it.

Yes, the ATF+4 transmission fluid consists of a synthetic base oil, with an additive package in it. The additive package contains a portion called friction modifiers. The main reason for replacing transmission fluid is to replenish those friction modifiers. Transmissions are not exposed to outside air (dust, etc), nor combustion byproducts, and run very clean.
The previous Generation 4 (2001 -2007) did not require any transmission fluid changes except for severe service. Chrysler has changed that for the 6 speed, don't know why, to 120,000 miles (192,000 km).

Be careful of shops though. They may use Amsoil or a "one size fits all brand" instead of ATF+4. There is a difference, so the no brainer is to use ATF+4, even if you have to supply it yourself.
 

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Just my thoughts:
A coworker told me his uncle owns a trans shop and told him the best advice is to leave your transmission fluid alone. LOL That was the first I heard of that (my dad and I change fluids on everything we own like crazy).
Then at 170,000 my 2014 silverado needed a transmission rebuild (that was just this past October... 2 months after a complete engine removal and rebuild... that's another story). But anyways on my way out the door I asked MY trans guy what I should do moving forward (like when should I change the trans fluid on the trans he just rebuilt)... his answer was never. Don't touch it. He said most of his work is from old transmissions where people change the fluid and/or filter and disaster strikes. He didn't say anything about chemical compounds or synthetics etc.
Think this guy is kind of crazy, he's new anyways, he don't know what he is talking about. ?

Welcome to the forum anyways!
 

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I worked at dealerships most of my life and have heard both sides. I watched a tech beg the customer not to get his transmission serviced and customer insisted only to replace transmission immediately afterwards and we got a bad rap from him. I look at it this way if you bought a used transmission from a yard would you service it first? Oh after the bad rap I talked to customer who stated that his transmission wasn't shifting properly before service and was told to do the service first go figure. Anyway I will service mine through the tube as I only seen restricted filters on transmission with problems.
 

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I worked at dealerships most of my life and have heard both sides. I watched a tech beg the customer not to get his transmission serviced and customer insisted only to replace transmission immediately afterwards and we got a bad rap from him. I look at it this way if you bought a used transmission from a yard would you service it first? Oh after the bad rap I talked to customer who stated that his transmission wasn't shifting properly before service and was told to do the service first go figure. Anyway I will service mine through the tube as I only seen restricted filters on transmission with problems.
Good advice. We fabricated a vacuum system with glass canning jars and an old pump and a long tube to pull fluid out through the trans dipstick tube. The jars are a great way to measure exactly how much you remove so you replace the same amount with new.
 

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Good advice. We fabricated a vacuum system with glass canning jars and an old pump and a long tube ....
I was kidding, I never change ATF om any of my vehicles, I drive a lot of miles, often pulling a trailer.

To me, you change ATF and eventually you have a transmission failure. I never had a problem with any transmission.
 

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When is an ATF+4 not an ATF+4? Non-Licensed Brands | Chrysler ATF+4® Licensing Program

The following automatic transmission fluids (ATFs) are not licensed by FCA US LLC (formerly known as Chrysler Group LLC). Therefore, they are NOT approved and NOT recommended for vehicles where ATF+4® is specified.

The list below may not show all non-licensed brands. To report unlicensed use of FCA's licensed ATF+4 trademark, please submit the form on the Contact Us page.
FCA ATF+4® Licensing Program

Non-Licensed Brand Names
PRINT LIST
Brand Name
Advantage Global Full Synthetic ATF
AGIP Dexron IIIH
AllTrans Full Synthetic ATF
Amsoil OE Multi-Vehicle Synthetic ATF
Amsoil Signature Series Multi-Vehicle Synthetic
ATF Automatic Transmission Fluid ATF+4
BG Full Synthetic ATF
BG Universal Synthetic ATF
Blu Synthetic ATF Technician Series MV-FS
Boss Lubricants Multi-Vehicle Synthetic Blend
Brand Name
CAM2 ATF 4 Synthetic Blend
CAM2 Full Synthetic Multi-Vehicle ATF
Carlube ATF-U ATF
Dauer Mercon V
Delta Universal Fully Synthetic
eni Rotra ATF Multi
Fuchs Titan ATF 4400
Gulf Multi-Vehicle ATF
Kendall VersaTrans ATF
Kroon-Oil SP Matic 2052
Kroon-Oil SP Matic 2082
Lube1 Universal PSF
Lucas Oil Multi-Vehicle ATF
Mannol ATF Multi-Vehicle
MFA Oil Multi-Vehicle Synthetic Blend ATF
Midland Oil M3 Plus Automatic
Midland Oil Omnimatic Automatic
Millers Oil Millermatic ATF + 4
Motul Multi ATF
MVATF Plus
Peak Full Synthetic Multi-Vehicle Dexron VI/Mercon LV ATF
Penrite ATF SIN
Penrite Multi Vehicle ATF FS
Penrite Multi Vehicle ATF MHP
Puratech Multi-Vehicle Syn-Blend ATF
Puratech PureSYN HD ATF
Puratech PureSYN Universal ATF
Q8 Unitrans JK
Quantum TS Global Synthetic Transmission Fluid
Red Line C+ ATF
Royal Multi-Trans Plus ATF
Royal Purple Max ATF
Schaeffer All Trans Supreme ATF
Service Pro Premium Global Full Synthetic Multi-Vehicle ATF
Service Pro Premium Multi Vehicle Synthetic Blend ATF
Smitty's SuperS ATF+4
Smitty's SuperS Multi-Vehicle Synthetic Blend ATF
Smitty's SuperSyn Premium Universal ATF
Superpro rxl1 ATF+3
Swepco 714 Hydraulic Transmission Fluid
SynLube Lube-4-Life
Synthetic Global ATF
Teboil Fluid S
Wynn's Synthetic Multi-Vehicle
Xado ATF II/IV/V
Yacco ATF X Synthetic
 

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My other vehicle right now is a 2016 Acura MDX. Their policy is quite different. They have the fluids in the differentials, transmission and transfer case replaced quite frequently... more frequently than I ever have. Time will tell, but I’m follow their advice. I have 136,000 kms on it right now and haven’t had any issues.

I’ve had a couple of Ford Windstars in my day. Both of them had to have transmission jobs done. I never replaced fluids in either.

My 2008 Chevy Colorado that I had lost its transmission around 285,000 kms and so I replaced it with a low milage one. I had serviced that transmission at regular intervals. Hard to complain too much when it makes it that far.

My 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee that I had, and my 2008 T&C which I towed a lot with, I used Wynns products that my local mechanic recommended. They even backed their products up with an extended warranty and so I flushed and replaced fluids as per their recommendation. Never had any transmission problems with either vehicle. The Jeep had 250,000 kms on it when I sold it and the T&C had 210,000.

My current 2014 T&C only has 136,000 kms on it right now and is under a Lubrico extended warranty until 216,000 kms. I service it at regular intervals. Time will tell.

Moral of the story? Who knows. Lol.

I have never been one who thinks that regular replacement of fluids is a bad thing, as long as it’s fluids that meet manufacturers specifications. But perhaps there is some logic to the idea that if you have a high mileage transmission that has never serviced it, it might be better to leave it alone.


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The more I think about I'm remembering my 1997 Z71.. I did the diff fluid and the transmission on it. Shortly there after my rear end blew up, which I blamed the 33" mud terrains and it only being a factory 10bolt. Then after that the trans blew up. The "sun gear" splines piece broke from the housing. Soooo... With that in mind I'll never replace my diff or trans fluid again.

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This is interesting, below. I plan to use my MightyVac to pull out the transmission fluid on m 2014 T&C with 43,500 miles on it. I'll keep everything at the same temperature, and put in new exactly how much came out. I'll check it with the oil dipstick, just inserting it until it contacts the pan bottom. I'll worry about the filter at 100,000 miles or so. Oh, this guy recommends something similar for power steering fluid (multiple times, running it in between, to change out the PS fluid once in a while):

 

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Get one of these from Walmart or Harbor Freight, or online, and suck up the fluid through the dipstick hole.

Then replace the same amount you took out.

Easy change. I got 5 quarts out this way.

 

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Get one of these from Walmart or Harbor Freight, or online, and suck up the fluid through the dipstick hole.

Then replace the same amount you took out.

Easy change. I got 5 quarts out this way.

That's what Jeepman had been using all those years, which is fine. Maybe Jeepman can confirm amount removed with that thing.

But, with that money you can buy a transmission pan with a drain plug. Then, next time you just remove the plug and let it drain along with some sediments accumulated at the bottom of the pan (that thing doesn't reach the bottom).

I don't use either, but the options are there.

 

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Get one of these from Walmart or Harbor Freight, or online, and suck up the fluid through the dipstick hole.

Then replace the same amount you took out.

Easy change. I got 5 quarts out this way.

I have done that at times. Works fine, used a $5.00 squeeze bulb siphon pump. I was getting out 3.5 - 4.0 liters per drain on the 41TE transmission.

I have a better, but unused so far, pump now. Looks like this: 1.6 Litre Gas/Oil Extractor | Princess Auto Same idea as yours. $16.99 Canadian regular price.

Do that fluid replacement 3 or 4 times with intervals of driving in between, and you have a complete fluid replacement essentially.
 

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I change all my cars trans fluid regularly, every 60k miles usually. I'm actually on my 2nd filter and 3rd batch of fluid at 106k in my van. Did fluid and filter at 67k and 94k, ended up changing the fluid by itself last weekend when I did my flex plate. Wasn't intending on replacing the fluid a 3rd time, but I went and completely resealed the trans case and lost about 6 quarts in the process. Never had any issues. Shifting times improved, but weren't too slow before changes.

Only time I would advise someone to not change their fluid is if they have major slippage. That's when you run into issues. A transmission with no issues will not be negatively affected by a proper fluid and filter change.
 
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