2021 Chrysler Pacifica Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Electrical system, engine and powertrain issues are among the top issues received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

While the minivan segment has been reduced due to the incoming SUV lineups, the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica still seems to have a following. Maybe it’s because of the manufacturer’s claim that the van is
“easy on the eyes,” or simply because people don’t know how defective this model actually is. After all, customers continue to complain about the electrical system, engine and powertrain.

Click on other model year to view more problems: 2019    2020     2022

Most Common Problems

The most common problems owners of the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica are complaining about relate to the electrical system, powertrain, engine, and fuel/propulsion system.

Electrical problems in the 2021 Pacifica are rife and varied. Problems relate to the functionality of cruise control, the touchscreen computer system, the battery and its charging system, power in electric mode, and just about everything else that needs electricity to work.

Engine, powertrain, and fuel/propulsion system issues are also varied and there are numerous complaints that report transmission problems. Many complaints filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) state that multiple components appear to be responsible for problems.

For example, a complaint filed under Powertrain, Engine, and Fuel/Propulsion System states that the vehicle malfunctioned at 1,000, 1,500, and 16,000 miles. This owner found that the minivan would turn on, but the steering column would lock and the vehicle wouldn’t go into gear. Drive and Reverse would put the car in neutral, but the driver would eventually get into gear after several hard resets. The complaint states the “dealer is replacing (the) hybrid battery.”

Another complaint filed under Powertrain, Engine, and Fuel/Propulsion System states that while driving on the interstate at 70-75 mph, the owner lost all forward drive. The error message on the car said “service charging system and would not recover.” The minivan was towed to a dealer who troubleshot, and replaced the transmission.

Owners commonly report that they get transmission errors when their Pacificas suddenly shut down while they are driving. Others say dealers tell them it is an issue they know about, although some tell owners that it is a problem with the computer system.

2021 Chrysler Pacifica Complaint Summary

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Electrical System
105
Engine
102
Power Train
85
Fuel/propulsion System
52
Unknown Or Other
26
Vehicle Speed Control
16
Hybrid Propulsion System
10
Service Brakes
6
Back Over Prevention: Warnings
4
Steering
4

Electrical System Problems

Today’s cars must be equipped with well-functioning electrical systems to run all of the sophisticated equipment inside. However, the Pacifica falls short of most standards.

One Edmunds review states, “Bought this in February. Never bought a brand new car before. Thought having a warranty was nice. Never thought I’d need it right away. Cruise control and adaptive cruise control went out before 2k miles. The touchscreen computer system has randomly rebooted mid-drive, while using the gps. This requires pulling over, turning the vehicle off, opening and closing the driver door before turning it back on, and then waiting for everything to boot up before touching anything. Also, the rear tail gate won’t close occasionally, so it has to be done manually. Took it back to the dealership today and they told me it’s being worked as a “Star Case” and they won’t have a fix for any of this until Q3 ‘21. Not gonna lie… I immediately wanted a refund when he said that.”

Chrysler isn’t trying to hide the fact that this minivan is riddled with issues. There are currently more than 35 manufacturer communications discussing electrical system problems, such as Service Bulletin #S2008000010 Rev. In this document, it becomes clear that Apple CarPlay doesn’t work right in these minivans, with lockup issues, freezing and pairing complaints. Maybe the company figures families should go back to the time when having a discussion with one another is what occurred in the car.

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Problems with the Engine

Driving an entire family around requires lots of power from a reliable engine. Sadly, the Chrysler Pacifica doesn’t seem to offer this level of dependability.

One NHTSA complaint reads, “After 2 weeks and less than 150 miles, the engine misfired during a short drive to the grocery store. The dealer states that a bearing in a lifter seized.”

There are many other engine-related issues with the Pacifica. Service Bulletin #S1809000007 Rev. goes on further to discuss oil leaks and excessive consumption. Plus, there are potential class action lawsuits being investigated because of a knocking sound, ticking noise, loss of power and rough-running engines. At this point, it would be difficult to feel confident loading an entire family into this minivan.

Powertrain Problems

It appears the powertrain is creating just as many problems as the engine, leading to an annoying combination of issues.

A final NHTSA review says, “When attempting to start the van it will periodically not engage. The gear selector will blink when you select a gear, but it will not respond to throttle. The vehicle will roll, however. This becomes a greater problem as you need to remove your foot from the brake to cycle the van back to off. All of these issues are compounded by the fact it is a PHEV and there is no engine noise to help you notice it has not started. Chrysler has said they are aware of the issue, but they have given no information other than a fix is supposed to come sometime in Q2 of 2021.”

Chrysler has its hands full with all of the problems waiting to be worked out, which is probably why it’s taking longer to get anything fixed. Even Service Bulletin #18-051-21 talks further about how some vehicles need to be reprogrammed with the latest software to get the PCM working properly. The van might be “easy on the eyes,” but it might raise blood pressure considerably.

Problems with the Transmission

As mentioned above, 2021 Chrysler Pacifica owners file transmission issues under multiple categories. These include the Fuel/Propulsion System, Powertrain, Engine, and Electrical System.

Many owners state that their vehicles lose power while driving. Some say their minivans go into complete lockdown. When this happens, various error messages often display including:

  • Service hybrid electric system
  • Service charging system
  • Service shifter
  • Stop safely shut off vehicle to engage Park
  • Shift the car to Park

Other problems owners report are that when the minivan shuts down, the rotary gear selector is non-responsive and the transmission selector gear lights go out.

Complaints

Even though scenarios are not identical, dealerships often diagnose transmission issues. Explanations from dealers also differ. For example:

An owner who reports losing power when driving at about 75 mph and gets the message “shift car to Park,” quotes the dealer as saying: “Drive motor A is failing in the transmission and is causing it to overheat, which causes it to shut down. A quick restart and the van is going again.”

Another owner who has experienced loss of power issues twice says he gets the “service charging message.” His complaint highlights that the issue “is highly dangerous.”

“The dealer checked our car after the first incident, saying it needed a repair to the transmission. They said they checked with Chrysler engineers who said it was a known issue, but were confident the issue would not occur again for at least another 1,000 miles. They assured us we could drive it the 4 hours home with no problem. However, the same problem occurred about 3.5 hours (~240 miles) into the trip.”

An owner whose vehicle went into full lockdown said it was terrifying because his wife and two children were stranded in a vehicle that wouldn’t move. The “vehicle remained running with all systems on,” but the driver was “completely unable to engage Drive, shut (the) vehicle down, or even power it off.” It was towed to the dealer who quoted codes stating “hybrid error and transmission errors.”

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.

Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 30 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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1 COMMENT
  • Richard V

    2021 Pacifica limited 12000 miles and the back-up camera gives a black. This is sometimes working when I tap the camera in the back and other times does not work at all. Then the next day it works. am I under a warranty with 12000 miles and 4/10/2021 ?

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