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Installing trailer hitch for rear impact safety. Was to Chrysler dealer last December. Was told I did not fall into criteria. Received notification in mail that I did fit into criteria CSN N47. Tried to call hotline, no answer. Confused. I have to drive this recalled vehicle every day. This is a total farce to make this vehicle safe.

This is a next to final version of the letter I sent to Royal Gate Dodge (I have the final version saved at home:

Re: Transmission History
The Grand Caravan was purchased new around February 20th, 1994 at Koller Dodge in Naperville, IL. First transmission went out around April 20, 1997. Mileage was 38,730. Two months and 2,000 miles past 36/36 warranty. At first Koller Dodge in Naperville said that we were past the warranty period and there was not much they could do other than charge the full rate.

I then spoke to my brother who had worked as an assistant service manager at another Chrysler dealer in the northern suburbs of Chicago. He explained that the Caravan transmission has a notorious rate of failure, and that we should work to get the repairs paid for under warranty. He suggested we go through the dealer or the regional rep, that they have the authority to get the repairs made under warranty.

After a number of calls we were offered half labor with our paying for the full re-manufactured parts. We went around and around and finally Koller agreed to complete the work under warranty.

May of 1998 the Caravan evaporator coil went out. We went to Koller and were a little shocked at the price to repair the A/C system. Also told that there was no warranty allowance. Took the car over to an independent. They did the work for about $300 or $400 less than Koller, about $840. At the time the rep at the independent said we should complain to Chrysler about the coil as the failure rate was chronic, and they had been compensating people for the work.

"Every spring the Chrysler vans line up for coil repair," he said. I put in some calls but did not get anywhere.

Around October 20th, 1999, 28 months after our first re-man was put in the second trans went out. After the bad experience getting the first transmission fixed, and concerned about the money pouring into the van, I had started going to independent service stations in addition to going to Koller for service. The timing on this outage could not have been much worse. We were in the process of relocating to St. Louis and I was looking at a pile of moving bills plus trying to get the down payment on the mortgage together. I was also out of town on business.

We called Koller, they said the one-year warranty was long over and there was nothing they could do on a re-build. We went to an independent as the $800 to $1,000 in savings meant a whole lot at the time, and we were in no position to argue the warranty question with Koller as the movers were due the next week. (We got soaked by the independent anyway.)

Now eight months after that re-build I have to put in my fourth transmission (one new plus three re-builds) in 6 and a half years. You have quoted something close to $2,500 including taxes on a car with a trade-in value of $4800. I did some checking on the internet. I could provide thousands of similar stories to mine, of multiple transmissions in a short period of time. The net indicated there were "hidden warranties" or "goodwill warranties" available to those who are tenacious enough to fight for them. One web site noted that, "if pressed Chrysler will replace the AC evaporator for free for up to seven years."

No one I spoke to hinted at that when it went out after four years. I have visions of needing a new coil Spring 2001.

When I went to get the third transmission I was very concerned about the money going into the car, and I had no idea about the "goodwill warranties" available. I am not very combative by nature, and I felt like I got beat up every time I called a Chrysler representative on a major component failure.

My wife is the primary driver of the car, and every time the transmission goes out she is the driver. I always am out of town on business and she is a wreck. SHe is very concerned about the family's safety in the van given its history. I feel like enough is enough at this point. I spoke to my brother and he said he remembered stocking 10 or 15 transmissions in the shop. He said none of the other car dealers he worked at stocked any. Obviously you do not stock 15 $1,000 transmissions if they are not going to turn over quickly. He said the technicians do so many transmissions, essentially full time for some, that they can get one installed in about 2 -3 hours.

Another point that upsets me is that the re-builds are now coming with a three-year warranty instead of the one-year warranty I got at the first failure after 38 months. If a three-year was offered on my second transmission, the issue of me going to an independent to save money and hassle never would have happened, as it failed just 28 months after the first. Even excluding the independent's transmission work, it has only been 39 months between the first rebuilt transmission Koller installed to today.

Why has Chrysler extended the re-build warranty from one year to three years? Class action lawsuits, bad press, bad word of mouth?

You make some great functional vehicles. The kids love the PT Cruiser and it would make a nice replacement for my 1990 VW (original trans & air at 125,000 by the way). But I get nervous thinking about the transmission problems I have had on the van, and in my last company car, a Dodge Dynasty. Overall I like doing business with Dodge, but I do not understand why I need to spend $2,500 on my fourth transmission after 6 1/2 years. The car has about 90,000 in 6 1/2 years. No transmission has made it past 38,000. I do not consider that even middle age on a transmission.

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