2019 Chrysler Pacifica Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Transmission, Electrical and Engine issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

By Brian Jones | Updated on

By Brian Jones | Updated on

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.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2019 Chrysler Pacifica Engine Problems:

FIRST DAY WE PURCHASED THE VEHICLE, THE ENGINE LIGHT WENT ON AND THE HYBRID BATTERY NEEDED TO BE REPLACED. TWO WEEKS LATER THE VEHICLE KEPT STALLING, AND EVENTUALLY CAME TO A COMPLETE STOP. FOUR WEEKS OF PURCHASE, OUR CAR BEGANS STALLING AGAIN AND OUR ENGINE LIGHT IS BACK ON. TECH SAYS “THE CAR FIXED ITSELF”. THE ENGINE LIGHT IS BACK ON AGAIN.

ON INTERSTATE HIGHWAY LEFT LANE AT 65MPH, CHECK ENGINE LIGHT COMES ON, RED PLUG-IN LIGHT COMES ON, AND CAR SLOWS TO A STOP IN LANE. CAR DOES NOT TURN BACK ON AFTER SEVERAL ATTEMPTS. AFTER FIVE MINUTES, CAR STARTS AGAIN. CHECK ENGINE LIGHT REMAINS ON. STALLING RECALL NOT FOUND FOR THIS VIN, BUT (IT) IS IN MANUFACTURE DATE RANGE OF RECALL.

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.

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.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2019 Chrysler Pacifica Electrical System Problems

TL* THE CONTACT OWNS A 2019 CHRYSLER PACIFICA. THE CONTACT STATED THAT SHE LOCKED THE KEY FOB INSIDE THE VEHICLE WITH HER CHILDREN INSIDE. THE CONTACT STATED THAT THE VEHICLE HAD A FEATURE THAT ALLOWED HER TO ENTER THE VEHICLE BY PRESSING A BUTTON ON THE SLIDING DOORS WHEN THE KEY FOB WAS INSIDE; HOWEVER, THE BUTTON FAILED TO OPERATE. THE CONTACT’S DAUGHTER ATTEMPTED TO UNLOCK THE DOOR ON THE DRIVER’S SIDE; HOWEVER, THE UNLOCK BUTTON ALSO FAILED TO OPERATE. THE CONTACT NOTIFIED THE FIRE DEPARTMENT AND THEY WERE ABLE TO SAFELY REMOVE THE CHILDREN FROM THE VEHICLE. THERE WERE NO WARNING INDICATORS ILLUMINATED OR INJURIES. THE VEHICLE WAS NOT DIAGNOSED OR REPAIRED. THE MANUFACTURER AND DEALER WERE NOT NOTIFIED OF THE FAILURE. THE FAILURE MILEAGE WAS UNKNOWN.

MY WIFE WAS DRIVING HOME AND THE CAR WAS SHUDDERING AND INTERMITTENTLY ACCELERATING. SHE GOT BACK TO THE HOUSE AND SMELT A BURNT RUBBER SMELL. WHEN IN MY DRIVEWAY THE VEHICLE HAD A HARD TIME TURNING OVER AND THE ENGINE WOULD KNOCK AND SHUT OFF WHILE STILL IN PARK. IT HAD TO BE TOWED TO THE DEALERSHIP FOR FURTHER EVALUATION

THIS VAN WAS PURCHASED BY A DEALER WITH APPROXIMATELY 23,000 MILES. IT WAS SOLD TO A RETAIL CUSTOMER AND THE FOLLOWING DAY IT CAUGHT ON FIRE IN THE CUSTOMERS GARAGE. WE HAD IT TOWED TO A CHRYSLER DEALERSHIP AND CHRYSLER SAID THEY WOULD NOT ACCEPT ANY RESPONSIBILITY FOR FIRE, EVEN THOUGH THE VEHICLE IS CLEARLY UNDER BUMPER TO BUMPER WARRANTY. AFTER LEAVING IT THERE WHILE TRYING TO GET CHRYSLER TO FIX IT WE FINALLY SENT A TOW TRUCK TO PICK IT UP. THE TOW TRUCK DRIVER GOT IN THE VEHICLE TO PUT IT IN NEUTRAL AND IT CAUGHT ON FIRE AGAIN. THE ENTIRE FRONT END OF THE VEHICLE IS BURNER/MELTED AND CHRYSLER REFUSES TO LOOK AT IT OR REPAIR IT UNDER WARRANTY.

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.”

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.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Transmission Problems

THE VEHICLE JERKS (HESITATES) WHILE ACCELERATING FROM A START TO ABOUT 37 MPH. SUSPECT GEARS 1-4. HAVE BEEN TO DEALERSHIP 7 TIMES SINCE I PURCHASED THE NEW VEHICLE. HAVE HAD VALVE BODY REPLACED, ADAPTATIONS RESET, EVEN THE RADIO WAS REPLACED ALREADY. VEHICLE NOW HAS 1000 MILES ON IT AND STILL HAS ISSUES. THE DEALERSHIP SERVICE HAS TRIED EVERYTHING THEY CAN ASIDE FROM REPLACING THE TRANSMISSION. THE ZF 9 TRANSMISSION IS THE PROBLEM AND CHRYSLER (FCA) HAS REFUSED TO FIX THE PROBLEM AS THEY CONTINUE TO GET MANY MANY COMPLAINTS.

VEHICLE HESITATES FROM GEARS 1-4 JERKING THROUGH EACH GEAR. HAVE HAD VALVE BODY REPLACED NOT FIXED. HAVE BEEN TO DEALER 7 TIMES AND WAS TOLD THIS IS THE WAY IT IS. PURCHASED THE VEHICLE NEW AND WAS REPORTED IMMEDIATELY NO OFFER OF MONEY BACK.

COULD NOT START CHRYSLER PACIFICA FOR ONE HOUR FRIDAY MORNING. FINALLY STARTING, THE ENGINE SHUT DOWN WHILE MOVING AT LOW SPEED APPROACHING A LIGHT (AT TIME THOUGHT IT WAS THE GAS SAVING FEATURE) AND WAS VERY DIFFICULT TO START. DROVE IT TO DEALER MONDAY, AFTER A VERY DIFFICULT START FOR A FIX YESTERDAY. DEALER COULD NOT DUPLICATE PROBLEM SO I DROVE HOME, PARKED, AND TODAY IT WOULD NOT START. I HAD TO HAVE IT TOWED BACK TO DEALER. CONCERNED ENGINE COULD SHUT DOWN AT SPEED LOCKING CONTROLS. AS CAUSE IS UNKNOWN, I BELIEVE THIS IS A SAFETY ISSUE FOR CHRYSLER AND A HEADS-UP TO THE NHTSA. THE PROBLEM BEGAN WITH ABOUT 150 MILES ON THE ODOMETER AND THE VAN NOW HAS ABOUT 475 MILES.

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.”

Your Lemon Law Legal Rights

Think you have a lemon? Sit back and let the experts work out your lemon case at no cost to you. The law makes Chrysler pay legal fees. You may be able to get your lemon out of your life. Every year, auto manufacturers buy back, replace or pay cash settlements to thousands of ‘lemon’ owners like you.

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Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 20 years working as an ASE Certified Master Tech and Parts Specialist at multiple dealerships. Brian has become an authority in the industry, traveling across the country to consult for car dealerships and contributing his expertise as a writer for several major automotive publications. In his spare time, Brian enjoys working on pickup trucks, muscle cars, Jeeps and anything related to motorsports.

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2 COMMENTS
  • CJ

    To day is about the 10th time I have had to jump start my new Chrysler Pacifica hybrid van. Again I had to get my van jump started to day in the frigid cold. I then drove the car out of town about 170 miles. The following day I again had to have the van jump started in the morning. There was a squealing noise coming from the engine compartment. This van is highly unreliable and I am obliged to drive my old car on a daily basis for reliability. On the day I was to pick up my new van from the dealer the sales man called and said the van was ready and detailed. When I arrived at the dealer the van had no power not even the interior lights were working. I had not even accepted the van at this point. The van was then taken to the service department for warranty work which took a week. When I purchased the van it had 26 miles on the odometer. When I eventually took delivery after the warranty repair was done there was 71 miles on the odometer. This van was essentially a used vehicle when the dealer gave me delivery of the van. The van had been driven by the dealer personnel for their private use without my permission. This van is a lemon

  • Shannon F

    Im not sure if my van would be considered a lemon or not but its been in the shop multiple times already for the same engine stalling issue and other defects. It is a 2019. How do I know if we have a lemon case ?

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