What Problems Plague The Chrysler 42LRE Transmission?

Posted by on Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

The 42RLE is a 4 speed automatic transmission produced by the Chrysler Corporations. It originally started out as the 42LE, which was a trans-axle for front wheel drive vehicles. The conversion to fit a rear wheel drive vehicle was done with a case modification along with removing all the axle and drive components from the transmission. The 42 RLC comes from a family of transmissions, including (in this order) the 41TE, 41AE, 40 TE, and the 42LE. Each version of the transmission was supposedly an improvement from the previous version.

The inners of a 42LRE transmission


The 42RLE was first introduced in the in the 2003 Jeep Liberty and Wrangler and is still in production today. The transmission is equipped with a 2.84:1 first gear ratio and a final overdrive ratio of 0.69:1.

All of the transmissions that were produced in this family had many problem, so many that after getting large amounts of negative feedback from the US Center for Auto Safety and Consumer Reports Magazine, Chrysler decided to waive the $100 deductible in the warranty. They even went as far as buying back any car in which the transmission could not be fixed. A nice gesture on Chrysler’s behalf, but the damage was done and the reputation of the transmission tarnished.

Here are some problems to keep your eyes open for the next time one of your customer bringing is a car with this transmission for repairs:

Poor Shifting Quality. The cause of this problem can be a low fluid level, a valve or solenoid stuck in the valve body, a pump starting to fail or a computer related malfunction.

42LRE transmission


The transmission is stuck in second gear. What is happening here is that the transmission has most likely gone in to a “limp home” mode. This is a safety feature that Chrysler built into the transmission to allow you to take your car in for service without destroy the transmission completely. Sounds like a great idea but in reality it caused nothing but problems and resulted in many transmissions being pulled and replaced when they really didn’t need to be. The problem can usually be traced back to a defective sensor. Be sure to run tests on all the transmission sensors before making the decision to replace the transmission.

The transmission randomly downshifts without engaging properly (sort of like a manual transmission acts when you push in the clutch). The problem can usually be traced back to a defect upper or lower speed sensor. Refer to the Chrysler shop manual for proper test procedures.

The transmission starts to experience harsh 1-2 shifts.  Most times a fluid and filter change will solve this problem. Be sure to use the correct transmission fluid recommended by Chrysler to prevent further damage to the transmission. It is also recommended that a power flush service be done to remove old fluid and debris from the cooler, cooler lines and the torque converter.

42RLE Fluid Temp Chart


The transmission is overheating. Although a common problem with many automatic transmissions, the 42RLE seems to have more than its fair share of this problem. Recommend to your customer that they get an aftermarket transmission cooler installed.

The 42LRE is one big headache of a transmission. The internet is littered with stories about this transmission failing and leaving customer stranded. Make sure to insist to your customer the need for timely transmission services that include a fluid and filter change. When possible also suggest the install of a performance shift kit, such as the one made by Transgo.

In the event your customer’s transmission totally fails, steer clear from a simple rebuilt transmission and talk them into a re-manufactured transmission instead. Many re-manufactured transmissions include upgrades that the factory should have made in the first place. These upgrades will help the transmission survive longer and you’ll have a lifetime happy customer.  A re-manufactured transmission will also include a much better warranty; three years compared to an average 90 days for a rebuilt transmission.  And remember, the companies that re-manufacture transmissions are very to easy contact. They are just a quick phone call or email away from helping you out.

One Response to “What Problems Plague The Chrysler 42LRE Transmission?”

  1. Maybe if only the wheels spun that way thats the world for ya..

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