2003 Chrysler Town and Country was it an oil pan gasket lea

  • 2 POSTS

Transmission problem
2003 Chrysler Town and Country 6 cyl Front Wheel Drive Automatic 60,181 miles

Please forgive me! I am an admitted car ignoramus! (Not difficult for a woman! Lol) However, my gut instinct can foretell when things are not going to go right.
I own a 2003 T & C Limited ( has 1.5 months left for his 7th birthday and now 60 K miles). 20+ days ago, I found quite a bit of drops of 'red-ish' color oil on the floor of my garage almost directly under where the front seats are positioned. I took it to my local town mechanic who had done my brakes a year back, he was kind to inspect the car and told me it looked like the "oil pan gasket would need a replacement'" being that my car had only 59.5k miles, he asked, if I perhaps had an extended warranty (I do! 7/70kmiles! ) And so he said it probably would be cover under that, and then added it was best to take it to the dealer, so to make use of the warranty (saving me quite a bit of $ he said, obviously mechanics like him be hard to find this days! ) So to the Dealer about an hour away, I went the next day. They of course told me this years prophecies and the next too!
and said the car needed a full inspection and a $635 - 60miles tune up!. I said "my car needs an oil pan gasket replaced and is cover under the warranty with $0 deductible and car rental if you need to keep it longer than a day, which you probably would " ( I had called Chrysler for verification prior to that) they took the car inspected and came back with the same diagnose, told me they needed to order the part and I was to bring the car back, that was 15 days before they called me with the part in store, I dropped off the car the night before the repair day, as my original guy (town mechanic) had said it was best to do it when the car is cold, as the seal needs to set and needed 4hrs or so before driving to seal it well. The next (yesterday) morning 2 hrs after the dealer opened, I was called and told the car was ready. Later in the day, I went to the cashier and had to pay $132 ($?) For what they said was:

"the Fuel Induction/throttle body service /perform fuel injection service labor $94.38 + cleaner fuel $ 35.57+ taxes $ 132.88
Plus the repair need of a Trans solonoid leak, remove cooler lines and input sensor, remove solonoid assy. And replace, refit sensor and cooler hoses, refill w/ATF4 - 1QT. Quick learn TCM, road test and final exam".

Is that above.(In mechanics language?) The same as replacing the gasket in an oil pan?

( when I refused the $600+ tune up dealer then tried to sell me a complete flush and oil change with the repair, but when I said: Doesn't the oil still needs to be changed for the covered oil pan guaranteed repair? -He said yes, but only up to 5 QT and you will need 13 QT for a total oil change. I said well if I must! (I just watched your teaching of oil change video. Now, I know they for sure are trying hard to rip me off!) Regardless, in this invoice it only talk about 1QT added so where are the other 3 or 12 needed, as they said.

so what is a solonoid leak?
and how do I check, that what they say they did, was in fact done?
or that what I need to have repair still not done?
I had asked that parts be kept for me but they did not give me any. Should had they be any left after any of this things, they said they did?

I hate to have to drive back and forth 2 hrs to have my 'original guy verify the work" and honestly, I feel he has done enough with me taking his time and he not getting to do the work nor one cent ! ( Because he refused to accept even a tip for what he did last time!)

Please help as I need to take the next step the warranty expires at 70/7 years which is MARCH 30/2010! An the car still is 60,185 miles.

Thank you ~ BB
might not be up you alley but who overseas the honesty of the car dealers other than the master manufacturer ( which are just as well, the same as this crooks!)

Do you
have the same problem?
Thursday, February 25th, 2010 AT 3:26 AM

1 Reply

  • 29,775 POSTS

First of all, please don't label ALL dealers and manufacturers as crooks. I was fortunate to work for a very reputable dealership, but a lot of stuff got lost in translation between the expert, (mechanic), the service advisor, (customer liaison), and the customer, (not an expert). Quite often customers looked me up to thank me for fixing their car, and I didn't even recognize their description of what they thought was done. You could think deception was involved, but in reality, many service advisors don't know much more about cars than their customers. They just try to remember what they were told by the mechanic and repeat it to you in a way they think is understandable.

It certainly does sound like they did more stuff than you agreed to. I can only speak to the laws in Wisconsin which are very clear and easy to follow. Here, you would sign the repair order specifying what will be done and what it will cost. Any additional needed work or parts found later must be approved by you. You can not be forced to pay more than you agreed to unless you gave prior approval. Prior approval over the phone is acceptable.

That said, it is somewhat common to have a leak at the solenoid pack. Not much fluid will run out when it is removed so one quart would be plenty to fill the transmission back up. The leaking fluid will run down the slanted oil pan of the transmission and can make it appear the pan is leaking. This is where cleaning the area (which takes time and dollars), is an important part of diagnosis. This repair could cost less than resealing the pan so no additional approval would be needed from you. Who wouldn't enjoy receiving a lower bill than expected?

Your regular mechanic can't be faulted for diagnosing a leaking pan, if indeed he was incorrect, because he didn't clean the area first, a leaking pan is also fairly common, and not a big deal, and a leak from the solenoid pack will look like the pan is leaking.

As a side note, warranty usually pays for very specific procedures and the set time they will pay rarely covers the time it actually takes. Finding the car in the parking lot, test driving it if necessary to verify the problem, cleaning the engine before and after service, final test driving the vehicle, and writing the detailed description of service performed aren't included. It was not uncommon to work on a car for two hours and get reimbursed for only one hour. Not many people care to work half of their day for free. That's one reason they search for other work that can partially make up the difference. There's nothing wrong with looking for things your car needs, but it must be legitimate, and you should have the choice to decline their recommendations.

After digesting your entire story, I get the feeling you were taken advantage of, even though they likely did the work that was stated. To charge you for something that was not done or for parts that weren't installed is a really big deal, and will get business owners in really big trouble. They aren't going to risk that. However, before I would accuse anyone of anything, I'd want to hear their side of the story. As a former instructor in a community college, I was often approached by other people who wanted me to verify they were ripped off. I had the luxury of knowing most of the local business owners and saw them often. It was really surprising to hear the other side of specific stories. There are many different scenarios that could often be resolved easily if the service advisor took the time to explain more clearly the work that was needed and why, but many customers are in too big of a hurry to listen, and many employees have gone through the same explanations so many times, they start to condense it down and leave out important information.

It's possible the 60,000 mile inspection is required by the manufacturer to maintain your drivetrain warranty. That I don't know, but it should have been explained. It's possible the needed repairs were not covered under the warranty. When two of my Chryslers had the 7 year / 70,000 mile powertrain warranty, it only covered internal parts, which result in much larger bills than yours. Again, you should have been informed of any work you were going to have to pay for. On some models, it's necessary to remove the hoses you mentioned to get to the solenoid pack. That should have been part of the estimate if it was known in advance.

As a point of interest, don't pin all your hopes on warranties, especially extended warranties. Warranties are intended to give you a sense of security. Cars today are unnecessarily WAY over-complicated with dozens of computers. Complicated, expensive cars have complicated, expensive diagnostics and repairs. That is already figured into the cost of extended warranties. These are actually insurance plans. To purchase one guarantees you will spend over a thousand dollars. To not purchase one means you MIGHT have to spend that much for out-of-pocket repairs. Aftermarket policies are much worse. I can't tell you how many times I overheard, "what you need isn't covered". Also, due to the difficulty in getting reimbursed for the bill, many shops won't honor them. They expect you to pay the bill up front, (can't blame them), then let you fight with the warranty company for reimbursement. The aftermarket companies wouldn't be selling these policies if they weren't making a lot more money than they were shelling out for repairs. (I have heard some good experiences, but they aren't the norm).

I know I didn't give you specific answers, just generalizations. Believe it or not, there is a different domestic manufacturer that has much worse business practices, and the treatment you descibed is the norm at their dealerships. We're lucky in my area that all but one of the dozen new car dealers is very reputable. That one ripoff artist sells lots of cars, and his customers actually praise their grossly over-priced repair bills. Goes to show what effective sales people can accomplish.

My last comment has to do with bringing your complaint to the attention of the business owner or service manager. If your side of the story is exactly correct, (I'm not saying it isn't), I would have a really hard time justifying the actions of the department. Managers are trained in sorting out both sides of the story, and are able to offer resolutions not permissable by other employees. At my dealership, the service advisors acted more as a customer advocate. Of course they wanted you to spend as much money as possible, but they also kept tabs on the mechanics to insure you got your money's worth and were treated fairly. My owner / boss was trained by Chrysler, and one of the things he kept pounding into us was, "it takes more word-of-mouth advertising and dollars to get one new customer than it takes to keep ten current customers happy". Most of our business was from repeat customers and referals. If the business owner knows you're unhappy, it's in his long-term best interest to handle your complaint. It is also possible he is not aware of the actions of his employee. You can be sure the owner doesn't want his employees making his customers angry.


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Thursday, February 25th, 2010 AT 5:37 AM

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