Extend The Life Of The A604 Automatic Transmission In Your Chrysler PT Cruiser

Posted by on Thursday, November 28th, 2013

The A604 is a four-speed automatic transmission made by Chrysler. It was first put into production in 1989 and remained in production through the end of the 2010 model year. That is a very long lifespan for a modern automatic transmission, especially considering the way technology advances so quickly. Chrysler used this transmission in a wide variety of vehicles, including the Dodge Neon, the Avenger and Spirit, the Chrysler Imperial and New York Fifth Avenue, and the Plymouth Duster and Voyager, among others.

The Chrysler PT Cruiser came equipped with the A604 automatic transmisison

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The most historic significant use of the A604 automatic transmission was in the Chrysler PT Cruiser. When first introduced in 2001, it was an automatic hit. Its retro look and design propelled it to record sales. The last PT Cruiser was produced in 2010. There are still hundreds of thousands of them on the road, and most of them are equipped with the A604 transmission (with the manual transmission being a distant second choice).

The A604 was not without controversy. There are many documented problems associated with this transmission. In addition, it is considered a weak design. Let’s take a look at what you can do to extend the life of the A604 automatic transmission in your PT Cruiser.

This is the A604 automatic transmission


My first recommendation would be to install an aftermarket shift kit. A shift kit will benefit the A604 transmission in a number of ways.  First, the kit will include components and modifications designed to increase the internal line pressure. This will provide more clamping force on the bands and clutches, aiding in preventing them from slipping. Second, the kit will help reduce the time it takes for the bands and clutches to fully apply. This will reduce both excessive wear and heat. Third, the kit will give you more manual control of the transmissions, allowing you to hold the transmission in a gear longer, as well as allowing you to downshift into a lower gear at higher highway speeds.

Following the installation of the shift kit, I would recommend following up with the addition of a high quality transmission cooler. It is a well-known fact that heat is the number one killer of all modern transmissions, regardless of make or model. Ideally the temperature in your A604 should not exceed 200 degrees. For every 20 degrees you go beyond this limit, you risk shorting the lifespan of the transmission by a factor of two.

Investing in a shift improver kit for your A604 transmission is a good idea


Finally, be sure to perform timely scheduled maintenance on your A604 transmission. The fluid and filter should be changed every 20,000 miles. Although this might sound excessive compared to the factory recommendations, it will help keep your transmission running in tiptop shape. Spend the few extra dollars to upgrade from the organic oil based transmission fluid to an approved synthetic transmission fluid. It’s a very worthy investment and will help extend the life of your transmission.

Sooner or later, due to high mileage or abuse, you will be faced with a decision to replace the A604 in your 2001 – 2010 Chrysler PT Cruiser. I highly recommend doing so with a re-manufactured transmission over one that was simply rebuilt. A re-manufactured transmission comes with a much better warranty; three years compared to an average 90 days for a rebuilt transmission. In the rare event that you need to contact the company that re-manufactures transmissions, they are just a quick phone call or email away!

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