Transmission, Electrical and Engine issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners
When they launched the 2019 Chrysler Pacifica, FCA, now Stellantis, boasted that it was the “best new family car.” But we can’t agree with them. After all, family cars aren’t supposed to leave you stranded on the side of the road and they surely shouldn’t create dangerous situations. Yet, that’s exactly what many users face when they get behind the wheel of this minivan. Complaints range from a jerky powertrain and faulty electronics to failed engines.
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Problems with the Engine
The engine is the brain of a car. It creates the power you need and keeps everything running smoothly. If you can’t rely on the engine, what can you count on? Sadly, many Pacifica owners can’t trust the engine in their minivan, despite paying premium prices for the “best.”
One person wrote this on Edmunds. “More than 6 times the minivan was not started (so I needed to leave the minivan with 7 small kids and take a car service and wait in the cold) so I called Chrysler. They told me I need to call Chrysler Care Service and they (told) me I need to wait 3-4 weeks for an appointment. So I did not make an appointment because I told them take back your broken minivan but they did not want to help me. 1 day the minivan stopped completely dead on the street so I called Chrysler Roadside Assistance and they took it for service. I needed to wait more than a week without a car, they did not give me a rental or money for a rental. They called me from there (saying) that my grille is broken. It was not broken when I had the minivan, they broke it. I picked up the minivan and (a) new problem. This was a safety problem, the minivan stopped more than 4 times in the middle of the road and highway.”
Can you even imagine the terror of driving with small children in this minivan when situations like this occur? How nerve-racking this must have been for the owner. It turns out there was a recall affecting almost 200,000 vehicles because of engine stalling problems. The cause was a loose battery ground connection that provided intermittent loss of power steering assist and stalling trouble. Technicians needed to repair the connection to resolve the situation. Until then, families everywhere sat in the middle of intersections once again. Maybe it’s part of Chrysler’s advertising campaign to stick their cars in front of everyone to see. It’s possible that if people see it enough, they might want one.
More recent complaints logged with the NHTSA about Engine Problems
Several recent complaints tell how dealers are not able to replicate engine problems. Others state that failures continue to recur after supposedly being repaired.
The following are extracts of 3 complaints logged with the NHTSA in April 2022.
Engine Failures Dealers Cannot Replicate
“While driving 70MPH on the freeway the power to the engine failed. The dash showed a power error, telling me to plug the vehicle in. After coasting to the shoulder, the power to the car would not turn off, nor would the engine turn back on. I sat on the shoulder of the I-15 Freeway in Rancho Bernardo, CA for 45 minutes until a tow truck could come and tow the car to the dealership where it was purchased.”
According to the complaint, the service technician kept the car for about a week trying to replicate the problem, detect the issue, or learn anything about it. He could not determine the cause or the solution. “My family was placed in serious danger by being forced to sit in the car on the small shoulder (of) a major interstate freeway without any power to the engine.”
“Power to (the) engine was lost while driving 75 miles per hour down the freeway in the HOV Express lane. There was no shoulder to pull over onto safely. This is the second time this has occurred.” Again, the dealer was unable to recreate or diagnose the problem.
Recurring Engine Failures
The third complaint states that upon starting the minivan, brake, electronic stability control (ESC), lane keep assist, air bags, and seat belt warning lights lit up. The “rear parking assist not available” message was also displayed.
The dealer tightened the battery terminal, but the failure reoccurred. So, the dealer replaced the occupant restraint control (ORC), transmission control, body control, antilock braking system (ABS), and wiring front end modules. On the way back to the owner’s home to deliver the vehicle, the check engine warning light illuminated again. The vehicle wasn’t repaired.
Because the vehicle experienced low voltage failure as well, a second dealer tried recharging the battery. Not only did the failure recur, but the turn signals stopped working. A third dealer updated “unknown” software. Again, the failure recurred.
The next failure was when driving with the adaptive cruise control activated. The minivan decelerated significantly and abruptly and the check engine warning light came on. The driver pushed the accelerator pedal down but the vehicle failed to respond. The driver then tried the brake pedal and veered to the side of the road, where the vehicle stalled and failed to restart. It did restart after several attempts but kept stalling while driving home.
The vehicle was not repaired, but the owner notified the dealer and the manufacturer. They opened a case for the vehicle, which had a failure mileage of about 31,800.
2019 Chrysler Pacifica Complaint Summary
|Complaint Category||Number of Complaints|
|Unknown Or Other|
|Vehicle Speed Control|
Problems with the Electrical System
If the transmission is running good, then you have to be on the lookout for bad wiring instead. The electrical system runs everything from the moment you put your key in the ignition until the time you turn it off. When something malfunctions, you can lose the ability to drive your minivan, or worse yet, face a fire.
Read what this user on the NHTSA website reported. “Smoke and foul rotten egg smell coming from driver rear quarter panel where battery sits. Fire department came out and removed paneling and battery was found to be extremely overheated. Vehicle was plugged in charging when this occurred in our garage. I immediately unplugged it and called 911.”
Sadly, this is a problem facing many of the newer plug-in cars. The companies want to make them safe, but they haven’t proven themselves yet. Still, even with a gasoline-powered engine, you can face dangerous electric problems. Just look at the recall of voltage regulators for this minivan. It turns out that more than 12,000 units were equipped with faulty regulators that could fail and cause the engine to stall. To remedy the problem, Chrysler needed to replace the PCM. Until then, cars were stalling in the middle of the streets for no reason. I guess that’s better than starting on fire in your garage, as long as no one else hit you.
More recent complaints logged with the NHTSA about Electrical System Problems
Fire continues to be a threat to 2019 Chrysler Pacifica owners, as do malfunctions that make these minivans undriveable. These are recent examples of each.
A 2021 Pacifica Hybrid owner from Texas logged a complaint in June 2022. According to the NHTSA report, “while idling at a stop light, the Service Charging System message displayed and the vehicle independently shifted to park(P) and became undrivable. The vehicle was towed to the local dealer. The cause of the failure was not yet determined.”
The vehicle had been serviced previously for a similar failure and the electric coolant heater was replaced. However, the failure reoccurred. The manufacturer was notified of the failure, which occured when there was 37,000 miles on the clock.
A complaint logged in November 2021 describes another fire incident where children were in the car. A mother and 4 children were traveling in the left-hand lane when another car crashed into them. The driver applied the brakes, but they didn’t stop the minivan. When the vehicle hit the curb the air bags deployed.
“I smelt smoke and told my 4 young children in the back seat we needed to get out now. Two of my children were in 5 pt harness car seats in the third row. We were able to run to a safe area before it went up in flames less than a few mins later. There were no witnesses and no one around. My children and I could of been seriously injured or worse. No warning lights were active. No signs of failure until I tried pressing the brakes. The vehicle was inspected by the fire department that arrived on scene when it was fully engulfed in flames at that point.”
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Problems with the Transmission
The powertrain in a vehicle must have a seamless operation for the ride to remain comfortable. If there’s one faulty part, every drive becomes cumbersome and a family’s worst nightmare, no matter how much entertainment technology is located in the cabin. Owners of the 2019 Pacifica find that the transmission is anything but smooth-shifting.
One user on Edmunds wrote, “Hate the very jerky 9-speed transmission at slower speeds. The shifting of the lower gears creates a very jerky ride around town. My radio was already replaced within a week of purchasing. The vehicle has been into the service dept for the transmission five times until I finally took the service foreman for a ride and he stated this is how the 9-speed transmission functions. He also stated Chrysler will hopefully come out with a flash update to smooth out the slower speed shifting.”
Chrysler has remained very quiet regarding transmission complaints. As the foreman above suggested, they want people to believe that it’s simply the way a nine-speed transmission should feel. Yet, he thinks there will be a flash update. Why would there be an update if there’s nothing wrong? It’s very suspicious. On another note, the automaker issued Service Bulletin #TS-WI-0421 which instructs dealers to offer customers with an improved pinion bracket at no cost to improve the ride. They will discuss a part as small as a bracket, but not the transmission. The typical elephant in the middle of the room philosophy, if you ask us. It’s almost like an illusion – look over here, not there.
More recent complaints logged with the NHTSA about Transmission Problems
Consumers continue to complain about transmission malfunctions. For example, an owner from Georgia reported in May 2022 that the minvan’s “transmission or other powertrain components have failed several times. While driving my vehicle has a hard time shifting gears. When It does find a gear it Jerks hard forward. That happens most days. Last week it completely disengaged in the middle of an intersection and would not find a gear for about 20 seconds I could not accelerate at all. I was scared and almost got hit from incoming traffic.
“I have repeatedly reported the problem to the dealership I bought it from and our local chrysler dealership. They have told us that without a malfunction code from our van they don’t know what to fix or what the problem is. The technician that drove our van said the transmission slipped while he was driving, but that it only happened once while they had it. I am scared to drive this van with my children.”
A complaint from a Pacifica owner from California describes a scenario that has happened twice. “The van is in reverse. My foot is on the brake. I am getting ready to reverse the van to get out of a parking space. Suddenly, the van lurches forward when I take my foot off the brake. The lurch is not soft of mild, it is shocking and frightening. In one case, we hit the car parked ahead of us. In both cases, had a person been in front of the car, he or she would have been surely injured.”
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