ZF 9 speed transmission horrors....how widespread? - 2017+ Chrysler Pacifica Minivan Forums
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post #1 of 66 (permalink) Old 04-02-2019, 11:50 AM Thread Starter
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ZF 9 speed transmission horrors....how widespread?

Our TnC's 2nd less than a year old TIPM is failing, so we are looking to get out from under my kept-mint 2011 van.

Saw a 2017 Pacifica with the FULL moon roof and LOVED it plus the AC seats...7k miles. Makes one wonder why the owner of this Pacifica dumped it with such low mileage.

Minimal research on the '17s however ...... and the ZF 9 speed transmission debacle immediately surfaces. Who wants to step into that Viper's pit of Chrysler's corrupt/deceitful response to consumers, "THERE'S NOTHING WRONG WITH THE TRANSMISSION"?

Nevertheless, that full moon roof keeps calling and I am foolishly unable to not hear it.

Questions:

1. So...........is the crummy ZF 9 speed transmission problem widespread, affecting lots/most owners, or it is it a moderately rare experience so horrible that reading about it over and over makes it seem almost universal? The one person I know with a Pacifica loves the car...but has the transmission problems.

2. Are there happy '17 Pacifica owners riding around with correctly functioning vehicles?

3. Can it be said that a definitive fix has been accomplished in the'17, '18', or '19 ZF 9 speeds (pre or post 948TE model)?

Thanks so much for your thoughts and opinions.
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post #2 of 66 (permalink) Old 04-02-2019, 12:45 PM
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Keep in mind the ZF9 transmission is not a FCA product. It was designed by another company and is used in other vehicles including the Honda Odyssey. The issues I'm familiar with are primarily software based. The transmission design means it behaves differently and vehicle manufacturer's have been challenged in getting the right feel when shifting. FCA has done software updates for the Pacifica's transmission that have resolved most issues but some owners still have unsatisfactory performance. I have not experienced any transmission issues with my 2017.


Here is a link that describes the ZF9 operation

https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/20...-on-the-leash/
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post #3 of 66 (permalink) Old 04-02-2019, 04:24 PM
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Originally Posted by shawnee View Post
Keep in mind the ZF9 transmission is not a FCA product. It was designed by another company and is used in other vehicles including the Honda Odyssey. The issues I'm familiar with are primarily software based. The transmission design means it behaves differently and vehicle manufacturer's have been challenged in getting the right feel when shifting. FCA has done software updates for the Pacifica's transmission that have resolved most issues but some owners still have unsatisfactory performance. I have not experienced any transmission issues with my 2017.


Here is a link that describes the ZF9 operation

https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/20...-on-the-leash/
That's quite an article. The bottom line as stated: "... For me, understanding why the transmission is doing what it is doing is key to my like or dislike of a car’s road manners. Once I understood what the Cherokee’s automatic was up to, I was able to focus on the rest of the car. What about you? Are you willing to “sacrifice” shift quality at the altar of fuel economy?"
As for me: Seems to work pretty good. Good fuel economy for a big, heavy vehicle and is pretty smooth. For the number of Pacificas that are on the road now, I can't say I'm alarmed by the number of posts saying they needed to have the transmission replaced. Will that radically change in the future...?
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post #4 of 66 (permalink) Old 04-02-2019, 04:46 PM
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I can post more of my thoughts later, but in a nutshell I think the overwhelming majority of issues were electronic, and have been resolved with recent software updates. No issues whatsoever with my '17's transmission.

There's a difference between not liking how it shifts and the component not working right. I think mine shifts great.
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post #5 of 66 (permalink) Old 04-03-2019, 07:51 AM
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My 17 is fine. The transmission functions well to the point that I don’t think about it.

Ironically, my Pacifica replaced a 2011 TnC as well. The differences between the two are significant. There is only one single thing I prefer in the TnC over the Pacifica...tailgate seating. Everything else is hugely in the Pacificas favor.
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post #6 of 66 (permalink) Old 04-03-2019, 08:25 AM
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I get the impression that newer production cars are less problematic than the earlier ones. I just don’t see as many complaints about shift quality in 2018 and 2019 models as 2017. Perhaps this is because problems start with some miles, or perhaps some running changes to newer units have improved things.

My 2018 is 11 months old with 15k miles. No complaints on my part. About the worst I’ve experienced is a noticeable shift when accelerating to 50ish mph and quickly rolling out of the throttle. Not the most graceful, but not a problem either. I generally drive the van very conservatively - it’s not a sports car, you know - and shifts are imperceptible. It does shift a lot, always trying to be in the most efficient gear. But this is true of all these newer transmissions.

I’d like to see video/audio of peoples complaints to get a feeling for how bad is bad, but have never seen even one posted.
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post #7 of 66 (permalink) Old 04-03-2019, 09:34 AM
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I have a late build 2017, admittedly with low miles (around 4,500). I have not experienced any rough shifting or the big jolts that been reported by others. The shifts are smooth and imperceptible for the most part and downshifts as appropriate. I find this transaxle much better than the six speed in my old 2012 Town and Country. I do miss the “Electronic Range Selector” on the 2012.
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post #8 of 66 (permalink) Old 04-03-2019, 09:59 AM
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I do miss the “Electronic Range Selector” on the 2012.
Ditto here.

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post #9 of 66 (permalink) Old 04-03-2019, 11:10 AM
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I have an earlier built '17 that I purchased in Aug of '16. I did experience some sporadic jerky shifting and the dealer ended up replacing the transmission under warranty. Since then it's been flawless. I used to think the original transmission was smooth (when it didn't jerk) but with the new one it's way improved.

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post #10 of 66 (permalink) Old 04-03-2019, 02:34 PM
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Its a great transmission! No issues at all!
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