A-604 Gearbox

A-604 CUT
The A-604 4-speed automatic gearbox

Problems with the A-604 gearbox are reported in Germany very often. Dave told me, that the problems I had, were not typical for Spirit/Acclaims sold and used in the USA - but reported for A-604 used on Minivans. He said it were probably an effect of the extra-load on a Van in comparison to a limousine. I could agree with that and must assume, that the number of total gearbox-breakdowns and malfunctions here in Germany mainly depend on different driving-conditions and / or bad maintenance and / or bad workshops which are overstressed with the care and handling of that gearbox.
Like I told on the present car page I now have the third gearbox in my car. The first was killed by a malfunction in the output-shaft sensor (or its wiring respectively) when it shifts back into second gear at about 100 miles per hour. The second gearbox was suffering on an incapability to stay in fourth gear - and the mechanic was unable to find the failing component so that it has to be replaced. Chrysler in Germany claimed to have found out that most of this sort of problem come from micro-particles held back in the transmission fluid and not been filtered out in the gearbox oilfilter. These particles come from excessive wear of the clutches inside the gearbox caused by german driving conditions (driving very fast over longer periods of time).

Workaround: Chrysler Germany offered a special filter, which should be mounted in the backcoming oil-line from the radiator to the gearbox. This filter should get the micro-particles which contamine the valves and holes of the gearbox. The standard filter inside the gearbox is claimed not to be fine enough to catch these particles. Anyway: at this time there is no TSB for this available from Chrysler - and the additional filter has been withdrawn in the meantime, but it was a good idea.

My experience: Haven't tried, but had planned to use that filter, too - before it was withdrawn. Instead I change transmission fluid regularly every 30.000 km along with the standard filter, use only MOPAR ATF+ 7176 on it - and my gearbox has done fine for the last 100.000 kilometers.

Experiences have shown, that many people damage their gearboxes with using the wrong transmission fluid. Never use other fluid than MOPAR ATF+ Type 7176 (PN 4467721). Never try running the A-604 on Shell DEXRON or equivalent - it is not compatible with DEXRON. You should not even use some DEXRON to add ATF in case nothing else is available. It is highly recommended to have a bottle of ATF+ in the trunk for an emergency. If you got -by what reason- even small quantities of DEXRON or other ATF filled in the A-604 you must have the ATF and gearbox oilfilter replaced as soon as possible. Or else your A-604 suddenly belongs to the list of "endangered species" and will die out soon.
MOPAR ATF+ 7176 is especially developed for Chrysler automatic gearboxes of that kind and the gearbox computer is adjusted to the frictions of the internal clutches while using this particular ATF. See also: Chrysler FAQ Part 1 in the Link Page.

Unlike to this Chrysler Germany says it were okay to use Shell DEXRON-2 and -3 on every Chrysler automatic transmission, which is correct for the later gearboxes of the Stratus and Vision - but not for the A-604 used from '89 to '92.
Now - I have no specification of DEXRON-2 against normal DEXRON and can't figure out if there's a difference between the two ATFs.


Note: There should be an alternative fluid from Quaker State, which meets the specifications of MOPAR AFT+ Type 7176 - but I think it is not widely available in Europe.

It seems as if Chrysler had changed the gearbox a little for european conditions. At least my workshop told me, but I couldn't verify that up to now. From outer view the gearboxes all look the same - no visible difference. They have changed the gearbox-computer when I got the first new box. I guess it has a different programming ... but I can't verify that, too. If there is anyone outside, who is able to tell me how to build an interface for a normal computer into the Chrysler Onboard-Diagnostic system and how to get the engine- and gearbox-codes with it, I might be able to give details about the computer, the firmware and the actual programming. The workshop didn't want to lend me their equipment ...!

It is obvious, that cars running in Europe and Germany have different computers for engine and gearbox: Chrysler Microfilms read about fourty different computers used in specified countries with different part-numbers. I was unable to lend or steal these films ... would have been an interesting lecture for long, boring nights to read them under a microscope.

Reports: None at this time


Last Update 30. January 1997
© 1997 by Peter H. Wendt