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I am trying to find out the best course of action with my current status and history with my Pacifica. I purchased it new and have taken it into the dealer a few times for transmission hard shifting. The engine warning light will come on and then go off again. The dealer has replaced the PCM and updated the software. About a week ago I was going up a slight hill and the warning lights came on as the van stalled and seized. I started sliding down the dirt road and into a ditch. When I looked out the window I had dumped all of what smelled and looked like red transmission fluid all over the ground before I slid into the ditch. A park Ranger, a sheriff and the tow truck operator all agreed it looked like transmission fluid. I was unable to change gears so I had to turn the engine off and back on the get the van into park and to engage the emergency brake. The van had to be pulled out of the ditch and towed. It is now at the dealership. Do to this accident caused by the transmission my family and I feel unsafe in this vehicle. We are waiting on Chrysler to contact us after it is fully inspected. Does anyone have any advice on how to proceed? I am concerned that we paid a lot of money for something that could potentially cause my family harm.
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Is it still under warranty? If so it seems you'll get a replacement for the obviously faulty transmission, they'll repair the other damage, and hopefully things will work fine after that.

I'm confused about how you ended up in the ditch like that, though. Was it icy?

Am I interpreting the picture correctly that the transmission broke in the foreground left where the trail starts and then you slid backwards in the picture while the transmission peed itself along the way? You didn't happen to take a look under it and see if there were any obvious holes in the transmission by any chance?
 

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I think it happened differently. Here’s my guess.

The car stalled climbing an icy hill. He stood on the brakes and the car slid down the hill with locked wheels. Without steering control it slid off into the ditch. When the passenger side went into the ditch something underneath the car was damaged, releasing the reddish fluid. The transmission fluid is pale green but the engine coolant is red, so I believe what you are seeing is damage to the radiator.
 

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What confuses me is the tire track marks in front of the left front wheel. It looks like an effort was made to back out. That's hard to do if the transmission shifter wasn't working. Uphill? Downhill?
 

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I think it happened differently. Here’s my guess.

The car stalled climbing an icy hill. He stood on the brakes and the car slid down the hill with locked wheels. Without steering control it slid off into the ditch. When the passenger side went into the ditch something underneath the car was damaged, releasing the reddish fluid. The transmission fluid is pale green but the engine coolant is red, so I believe what you are seeing is damage to the radiator.
I wondered about that, I can't tell which way is up the hill. I assumed that since the vehicle is facing left, that's where they were going. But if that's the case, the fluid should have flowed downhill to the right, not toward the camera.

If uphill is actually to the right, then it seems hard to explain how they get the vehicle facing downhill in the ditch.
 

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I am trying to find out the best course of action with my current status and history with my Pacifica. I purchased it new and have taken it into the dealer a few times for transmission hard shifting. The engine warning light will come on and then go off again. The dealer has replaced the PCM and updated the software. About a week ago I was going up a slight hill and the warning lights came on as the van stalled and seized. I started sliding down the dirt road and into a ditch. When I looked out the window I had dumped all of what smelled and looked like red transmission fluid all over the ground before I slid into the ditch. A park Ranger, a sheriff and the tow truck operator all agreed it looked like transmission fluid. I was unable to change gears so I had to turn the engine off and back on the get the van into park and to engage the emergency brake. The van had to be pulled out of the ditch and towed. It is now at the dealership. Do to this accident caused by the transmission my family and I feel unsafe in this vehicle. We are waiting on Chrysler to contact us after it is fully inspected. Does anyone have any advice on how to proceed? I am concerned that we paid a lot of money for something that could potentially cause my family harm. View attachment 43031 View attachment 43031 View attachment 43031
So sorry to read about the problem you had. Hope everyone is ok.

Welcome to the forum.
You can message @ChryslerCares by clicking on the letters and sending them a private message to see if they can assist you in working with the dealer.

I'm not a mechanic, so I don't understand why you consider a hard shift the same as a stall. My van has had some "hard shifts" in the 51,000 miles I've owned it, but never a stall. I also didn't have engine warning lights related to the transmission hard shifts. What were the codes after the engine warning lights?

I hope your van can be fixed and that you will post the results so that we can learn from your experience.

If you put your van info in the signature line of the account settings it will show up at the bottom of your posts. The build date is on the edge of the driver's door.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Is it still under warranty? If so it seems you'll get a replacement for the obviously faulty transmission, they'll repair the other damage, and hopefully things will work fine after that.

I'm confused about how you ended up in the ditch like that, though. Was it icy?

Am I interpreting the picture correctly that the transmission broke in the foreground left where the trail starts and then you slid backwards in the picture while the transmission peed itself along the way? You didn't happen to take a look under it and see if there were any obvious holes in the transmission by any chance?
You are correct in how it happened and I slid further because of the ice. I didn’t look under because I had my 3 year old with me and she was my main concern.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I wondered about that, I can't tell which way is up the hill. I assumed that since the vehicle is facing left, that's where they were going. But if that's the case, the fluid should have flowed downhill to the right, not toward the camera.

If uphill is actually to the right, then it seems hard to explain how they get the vehicle facing downhill in the ditch.
I think it happened differently. Here’s my guess.

The car stalled climbing an icy hill. He stood on the brakes and the car slid down the hill with locked wheels. Without steering control it slid off into the ditch. When the passenger side went into the ditch something underneath the car was damaged, releasing the reddish fluid. The transmission fluid is pale green but the engine coolant is red, so I believe what you are seeing is damage to the radiator.
For one, I am a she not a “he” and two, I was going uphill slowly when it happened. It did not stall, I did not slam on my brakes because I am not stupid and that would have made the skid worse. It must have been a higher power that miraculously made the fluid go up hill.... ??‍♀??‍♀?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
What confuses me is the tire track marks in front of the left front wheel. It looks like an effort was made to back out. That's hard to do if the transmission shifter wasn't working. Uphill? Downhill?
It was still in drive. I had to turn the van off and back on for it to go in park. It wouldn’t even let me put on the ebreak until after I restarted it.
 

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I wondered about that, I can't tell which way is up the hill. I assumed that since the vehicle is facing left, that's where they were going. But if that's the case, the fluid should have flowed downhill to the right, not toward the camera.

If uphill is actually to the right, then it seems hard to explain how they get the vehicle facing downhill in the ditch.
Uphill is to the left. My car seized, dumped the fluid and then I slid down hill with the fluid still coming out.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
So sorry to read about the problem you had. Hope everyone is ok.

Welcome to the forum.
You can message @ChryslerCares by clicking on the letters and sending them a private message to see if they can assist you in working with the dealer.

I'm not a mechanic, so I don't understand why you consider a hard shift the same as a stall. My van has had some "hard shifts" in the 51,000 miles I've owned it, but never a stall. I also didn't have engine warning lights related to the transmission hard shifts. What were the codes after the engine warning lights?

I hope your van can be fixed and that you will post the results so that we can learn from your experience.

If you put your van info in the signature line of the account settings it will show up at the bottom of your posts. The build date is on the edge of the driver's door.
What I mean is our van hard shifts all the time mostly between 1st & 2nd gears so we are very familiar with how it feels. It felt like the tranny was hard shifting and while in between gears the van seized and stalled. The codes the mechanic read were sensor errors between 1st and 2nd gears. I’m not sure all of the sensors that came on because I was trying to maneuver the wheel but one was a parking sensor light. It was a P! With some lines I think and it was orange.
I will update any news we find out. Hopefully I will receive some good advice here. Thanks.
 

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For one, I am a she not a “he” and two, I was going uphill slowly when it happened. It did not stall, I did not slam on my brakes because I am not stupid and that would have made the skid worse. It must have been a higher power that miraculously made the fluid go up hill.... ??‍♀??‍♀?
Thank you for following up. My apologies for mistaking, well, everything. Diagnosing this across the internet is a rather fraught activity. In the photo it looks more uphill to the right, around the bend.

Can you elaborate on “seized?” That’s not a word we generally see used so not exactly sure what you mean to convey here. Up above you said the car stalled, but here you say not. I interpreted that as the engine stalled, but perhaps you meant forward progress stalled?

I hope you get it fixed to your satisfaction. Please do let us know the result.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thank you for following up. My apologies for mistaking, well, everything. Diagnosing this across the internet is a rather fraught activity. In the photo it looks more uphill to the right, around the bend.

Can you elaborate on “seized?” That’s not a word we generally see used so not exactly sure what you mean to convey here. Up above you said the car stalled, but here you say not. I interpreted that as the engine stalled, but perhaps you meant forward progress stalled?

I hope you get it fixed to your satisfaction. Please do let us know the result.
Yes, Forward progress stopped is what I meant ?? The engine was still on but even with my foot on the accelerator the car would not accelerate.
 

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Wow, I'd have gotten the entire print out of all the fault codes prior to any repair work because having something on paper is worth its weight in gold. Trust me. I just won a dispute with goodyear tire because the tires I purchased sucked and their technicians weren't any better. I keep paper trails with EVERYTHING. Allot of companies are moving their customer service lines to chat and I actually prefer it because theres a little option to have the transcript emailed so everything is documented and if the option isnt there I just "print" it digitally and save it as a Pdf. Wish you the best on getting it resolved to your satisfaction and will be following the thread for updates.
 
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I'd be surprised if you have a problem, this is such an obvious case of powertrain failure that it would be hard to imagine anyone would argue.

Come to think of it, the manual says the car has a "black box" recording of the last moments that can be used to diagnose failures. That would however require being able to stop the recording in a moment like this so it doesn't get overwritten. Does anyone have details on how this system works?
 

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I'd be surprised if you have a problem, this is such an obvious case of powertrain failure that it would be hard to imagine anyone would argue.

Come to think of it, the manual says the car has a "black box" recording of the last moments that can be used to diagnose failures. That would however require being able to stop the recording in a moment like this so it doesn't get overwritten. Does anyone have details on how this system works?
If you're referring to the Event Data Recorder (EDR) mentioned in the owner's manual, that is stated to only be used for "certain crash or near crash-like situations" meaning that it probably needs to see an accelerometer reading that seemingly shows an impact or an airbag deployment indication. I'm not sure that would record information useful for normal diagnostics. The dealership may not have the proper equipment to read this information, either.
 

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Yes, Forward progress stopped is what I meant ?? The engine was still on but even with my foot on the accelerator the car would not accelerate.
Was that perhaps the traction control system kicking in? It applies the brakes and/or reduces engine power to prevent wheel spin. The road was apparently quite slick given the car slid down the slight incline. I’ve had cars grind to a halt on glare ice because there wasn’t enough traction to move, and the electronics Would not permit any wheel spin.

FYI the transmission fluid in your car is described as pale green in color. The engine coolant is pink-red. The fluid spill sure looks more like engine coolant than trans fluid.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
UPDATE: We went to the dealership today and we have no idea what the fluid is and where it came from. One theory is it is a buildup of water from rain and snow mixed with the red salt they use on the roads but all the fluids are full so we are at a loss. The inevitable cause of the crash looks like the power-train control module. The recall for the module was performed in Dec 2018 and the transmission control module was updated July 2019. They are going to replace the CPU and drive it to make sure the transmission is reacting accordingly. One of the managers told us there is a possibility we will have to continue to update or replace the modules for the life of the vehicle. The problem with that is as soon as we are out of warranty we are responsible for the cost which the mechanic said was substantial. This was not disclosed to us when we purchased the van and at the rate we are going it will need to be done frequently.
 

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I'd be surprised if you have a problem, this is such an obvious case of powertrain failure that it would be hard to imagine anyone would argue.

Come to think of it, the manual says the car has a "black box" recording of the last moments that can be used to diagnose failures. That would however require being able to stop the recording in a moment like this so it doesn't get overwritten. Does anyone have details on how this system works?

UPDATE: We went to the dealership today and we have no idea what the fluid is and where it came from. One theory is it is a buildup of water from rain and snow mixed with the red salt they use on the roads but all the fluids are full so we are at a loss. The inevitable cause of the crash looks like the power-train control module. The recall for the module was performed in Dec 2018 and the transmission control module was updated July 2019. They are going to replace the CPU and drive it to make sure the transmission is reacting accordingly. One of the managers told us there is a possibility we will have to continue to update or replace the modules for the life of the vehicle. The problem with that is as soon as we are out of warranty we are responsible for the cost which the mechanic said was substantial. This was not disclosed to us when we purchased the van and at the rate we are going it will need to be done frequently.
Hmmm that sounds fishy, he basically told you that it's a lemon. I'd go to your state bar website and find a lemon law lawyer because you shouldn't have to update the same faulty parts for the life of the vehicle, that is not normal maintenance.
 

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Well, nobody saw that coming.

You should not have to regularly replace the electronics modules, they are not a consumable item. Just like any other part they do occasionally fail, and sometimes you are the unlucky one. But it should last the life of the vehicle. Software - yeah, occasionally updates will come out. If warranty will pay for it, great. Otherwise theres no need unless the update solves a problem you are experiencing. If it’s safety related it’ll be a recall and the update will be no charge.

If you would post photos or scans of your paperwork, the peanut gallery will be happy to take a look and render an opinion. But please don’t show any personal information.

Is there any accident history on this car? Sometimes accidents can leave intermittent problems that are very difficult to chase down.

How about the battery? Like all other electronic laden cars, thePacifica starts having strange problems when the battery gets old and tired. Even if it reliably starts the car, you can experience various kinds 9f electronic faults.
 
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