2018 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

Chrysler claims that the Pacifica is “the minivan reinvented.” Still, there are some issues they couldn’t get away from. The 2018 Chrysler Pacifica is riddled with reliability issues. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the van’s main problem areas are the electrical systems, engine and powertrain. From a failing cruise control system, trouble getting Park to engage and difficulty with the engine stop/start feature, families find themselves in precarious safety situations while on the road.

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Problems with the Engine

The engine is responsible for creating the power to the van. It also plays a significant role in fuel economy and performance. When an owner starts their van, they expect it to run seamlessly from Point A to Point B, but that isn’t always the case with the 2018 Chrysler Pacifica.

One owner on Edmunds stated, “There appears to be some problem with the engine stop/start. Getting engine stop/start not active due to battery charging.Having to drive longer distances before battery charges. (note the ESS battery is separate from the normal car battery). Dealer replaced the battery after much difficulty obtaining one (seems Chrysler has a significant back order on the batteries). Problem still exists.”

Chrysler is aware of the problem and even recalled almost 200,000 minivans as a result. The trouble stems from a sealer used on a wire harness that reduces the connection in the battery ground joint. Not only does it create a loss of power, but other drivers notice an intermittent loss of power steering as well. No parts are needed to make the repair; consumers just need to give up some time to take it to the dealership.

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

I HAVE EXPERIENCED MY 2018 CHRYSLER PACIFICA STALLING AT VARYING SPEEDS, INCLUDING WHILE IDLING, MAKING TURNS AND TRAVELING UNDER 40 MILES PER HOUR ON MUNICIPAL ROADS. WHEN IT DOES STALL OUT, THE DASH DISPLAYS “ELECTRONIC STABILITY CONTROL. REQUIRES RESTART.” I HAVE ALMOST BEEN IN MULTIPLE ACCIDENTS DUE TO THIS ISSUE. I HAVE BROUGHT IT UP WITH THE DEALERSHIP AND THEY HAVE SAID CHRYSLER DOES NOT HAVE A FIX FOR IT.

VEHICLE STOPPED OPERATING WHILE DRIVING. CHECK ENGINE LIGHT. CHRYSLER STATES THIS 2018 CHRYSLER PACIFICA E-HYBRID NEEDS A NEW TRANSMISSION. IT WAS PURCHASED NEW. WE PUT ~4K MILES ON THE VAN PRIOR TO THIS INCIDENT.

THE CAR STALLS WHILE DRIVING. THIS CONTINUES TO OCCUR AFTER THE NHTSA RECALL 18V-332 HAS BEEN COMPLETED. THE DEALER CANNOT REPRODUCE THE PROBLEM.

AS I WAS DRIVING ON A HIGHWAY AT ABOUT 40 MPH WITH TWO LITTLE CHILDREN IN THE CAR, MY CHRYSLER PACIFICA SUDDENLY STALLED AND THE ENGINE DIED. TWO ERROR MESSAGES CAME UP: ONE A PICTURE OF A BATTERY AND ONE A PICTURE OF A TURTLE. THE CAR DIED IN THE MIDDLE OF THE HIGHWAY AND IT WAS EXTREMELY DANGEROUS, ESPECIALLY IN RAINY CONDITIONS. I HAD TO WAIT FOR A TOW TRUCK IN RAIN AND IN DANGEROUS CONDITIONS TO GET IT TOWED TO THE DEALERSHIP. THE ENGINE WOULD NOT ENGAGE EVEN AFTER BEING JUMP STARTED.

Problems with the Electrical System

Today’s vehicles rely heavily on electrical systems, whether it is for the infotainment centers or the advanced components used for driver-assist technologies. When these electrical systems start to malfunction, drivers can experience a myriad of trouble.

Complaints with the NHTSA include electrical trouble within the fuel system, engine, electronic stability control and the side sliding doors. Many of the electrical issues lead to fear for the driver. Between warning lights illuminating on the dashboard and non-functioning systems, some Pacifica drivers feel that this minivan is broken more than functional.

One driver on Edmunds wrote, “I have had this car since late August and have had electrical problems with it from the first week. The electronics system went dead twice while I drove the car on a long distance trip. A few days later, the side door failed to open and close electronically, and the car issued an engine malfunction message on the radio screen. The Adaptive Cruise Control/Forward Cruise Control has also failed several times. Brought the car back to the dealer over 20 times to repair these problems. These are safety problems and should have been repaired immediately.”

Chrysler is aware of the cruise control problem and recalled many vehicles as a result. The trouble stems from a short circuit in the vehicle’s wiring that prevents drivers from shutting off the cruise control. As drivers attempt to manually turn off the system or depress the brake pedal, cruise control remains engaged and allows the vehicles to continue traveling at current speeds.

To remedy the problem, Chrysler performs a software flash on the engine or powertrain control module. With this fix, owners will no longer need to shift their vans into neutral to disengage a stuck on cruise control.

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

ON NUMEROUS OCCASIONS THE NAVIGATION SCREEN WOULD GO BLACK OR FREEZE UP. ON MULTIPLE OCCASIONS THE UCONNECT THEATER WOULD NOT WORK. EVERYTIME WE TOOK IT TO THE DEALERSHIP SAID IT WAS FINE AND DIDN’T INVESTIGATE THE ISSUE. RECENTLY, WE WENT TO THE STORE MADE SEVERAL STOPS AT DIFFERENT STORES ON OUR LAST STOP THE VAN WOULD NOT RECOGNIZE THE KEYS. WE COULDN’T LOCK OR UNLOCK THE VAN. I HAD TO PULL OUT THE EMERGENCY KEY TO GET INTO THE VAN. ONCE INSIDE THE VAN DIDN’T RECOGNIZE THE KEYS. I ENDED UP HAVING TO GOOGLE THE ISSUE FOR A WORK AROUND TO GET HOME. THE ENTIRE RIDE THERE WAS A DISPLAY STATING THAT THE KEY WAS NOT IN THE VEHICLE. WE MADE ON MORE STOP AND AN LEFT THE VAN RUNNING. TEN MINUTES LATER IT RECOGNIZED THE KEY AND A UCONNECT STARTING WORKING AGAIN. THE VAN IS A 2018 AND LESS THAN A YEAR OLD. THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE FOR A NEW VEHICLE.

STOP AND START SYSTEM FAILS WITH AN ERROR SAYING THAT THE FEATURE IS UNAVAILABLE BECAUSE THE BATTERY IS BEING CHARGED. THE BATTERY IS NOT FULLY CHARGED EVER.

THE CAR WAS BOUGHT BRAND NEW IN OCTOBER OF 2018. TOWARDS THE END OF DECEMBER, THE CAR STOPPED WORKING. LUCKILY, WE WERE AT HOME WHEN THIS HAPPENED, BUT BASICALLY, THE CAR WOULD NOT START DESPITE VARIOUS ATTEMPTS. WE BROUGHT IT INTO THE DEALERSHIP AND IT HAS SINCE BEEN “WORKED ON” FOR THE PAST MONTH, BUT STILL TO GET A DIAGNOSIS…..

GOING DOWN A HIGHWAY AT 70 MPH THE SERVICE ELECTRONIC THROTTLE WARNING LIGHT CAME ON AND VEHICLE LOST ALL POWER. SYSTEM CAME BACK ABOUT 10 SECONDS LATER. THE SECOND TIME, ABOUT 5 HOURS LATER THE VEHICLE SPONTANEOUSLY SHUT OFF WHILE DRIVING ON THE HIGHWAY. I COASTED TO AN EXIT PULLED OFF THE HIGHWAY INTO A PARKING LOT AND SHUT OFF ENGINE. I WAS ABLE TO RESTART ENGINE AT THAT TIME AND BROUGHT IT TO THE DEALER WHERE THEY FOUND NOTHING WRONG, THEY WERE UNABLE TO REPLICATE THE PROBLEM AFTER 4 DAYS. ADDITIONALLY THE STOP START WARNING LIGHT CONTINUES TO COME ON. MILAGE OF THE VEHICLE IS 3900 MILES AND IS 3 MONTHS OLD

Problems with the Transmission

When it comes to driving down the road, most car owners want a smooth and comfortable experience. That isn’t what many people find with the 2018 Chrysler Pacifica. Instead, there have been numerous complaints regarding the awkward shifting, rolling backward while in Drive and also moving while in Park.

One owner on Edmunds stated, “My 2018 Pacifica has been repeatedly taken to 2 dealerships for days, weeks, once they had it a month! At 1st dealership employee duplicated it rolling backward while in drive (more than once) on a test drive. Chrysler said they’d buy it back, didn’t happen. 2nd dealership did not duplicate it but did fix other issues such as back up camera coming on and dial gear shift jumping into R while driving on the highway, brakes, and radio with grounding the battery.”

Chrysler did issue a recall back in 2018 regarding trouble with the powertrain. The axle shaft might disengage, which causes the loss of Drive. If the axle shaft disengages from the CV joint, the vehicle losses the ability to drive and many also move while in Park. Either of these concerns should be taken seriously as they can both increase the chance of causing a crash.

To repair the problem, Chrysler must replace either the left or right half shaft assembly. Unfortunately, situations like these cause many families to trade in their minivan for a different model. After all, no parent wants to face safety concerns like these while trying to transport their children.

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

MY WIFE AND I JUST PURCHASED THE PACIFICA AND DECIDED TO TAKE A ROAD TRIP FROM ARIZONA TO OREGON. WHILE TRAVELING THROUGH THE HILLS AND MOUNTAINS THE TRANSMISSION WOULD NOT SHIFT PROPERLY TO MAINTAIN HIGHWAY SPEEDS! THERE WAS A LOT OF LAG TIME FROM THE DRIVERS INPUT BETWEEN THE TRANSMISSION AND ENGINE TO RESPOND. ALSO THE CRUISE CONTROL WOULD ENGAGE SUDDENLY AND SPEED UP. TOOK TO THE DEALERSHIP AND THE TECH SAID THE VEHICLE SOFTWARE WAS ENGINEERED THAT WAY AND HE COULDN’T DO ANYTHING FOR US.

THE CAR RANDOMLY SHIFTS TO WHAT SOUNDS LIKE NEUTRAL AND HAS THE RPMS SKYROCKET WHILE DRIVING AROUND 10-15 MPH. AFTER 2-5 SECONDS OF LOSS OF MOMENTUM THE TRANSMISSION ENGAGES AND JERKS THE CAR FORWARD LIKE IT WAS REAR ENDED. THIS HAPPENS 3-4 TIMES A DAY. THE DEALER STATES “NOTHING IS WRONG, WE CANT REPLICATE THE PROBLEM”. THIS CAR IS NOT SAFE TO DRIVE, BUT ITS OUR FAMILY VEHICLE AND IS NEEDED ON A DAILY BASIS

2018 TOURING L PLUS TOWED. WAS DRIVING ALONG AND STARTED LOSING ALL POWER, SYSTEMS STARTED TO SHUT DOWN, VAN WAS LIMITED IN SPEED AND FUNCTION. BY THE END ALL WARNING SYSTEMS HAD FAILED, POWER STEERING WAS GONE, ABS WAS GONE, AFTER THE BATTERY HIT 8.9 VOLTS WE LOST CONTROL OF THE TRANSMISSION, THE “D” ON THE DISPLAY STARTED FLASHING AND THE VAN SHUT OFF 15 SECONDS LATER. ONCE THE VAN WAS OFF I WAS UNABLE TO PUT IT IN PARK OR APPLY THE PARKING BRAKE DUE TO THE LOSS OF POWER.

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3 COMMENTS
  • Diane G

    The battery keeps dying, cant start engine, looses power, screen turns off, doesnt recognize key, start stop feature stop working at 36k miles. Right after warranty expired. My vehicle has now been disabled for 4 days. Called uconnect road side service, they jump started the vehicle. Took the battery, starter and alternator to be tested. All came back at 100% the vehicle is at 39000 miles. Chrysler wont help me.

  • Gary D

    I have a 2018 Pacifica that now has a 2nd ESS issue. First one was quickly fixed by the dealership but now after having the vehicle for about 1 1/2 years the ESS failed again and both batteries are also completely dead.

  • Mark S

    Our 2018 Chrysler Pacifica, which we bought new at the end of September 2018, was inoperable or in service for a total of 79 days between October and March. The issue with the greatest recurrence, with six tries to repair, was the car occasionally refusing to start, often while we were away from home. Surrounding this issue were several visits to fix other electrical issues.

    The van has not failed to start since early April, but we have since encountered incidents of the passenger-side sliding door refusing to open automatically. The interactive screen (radio, backup camera, etc.) will occasionally crash and take a couple of minutes to restart, leaving a black window in the meantime. Occasionally the engine seems to take longer to start than normal, leaving us feeling anxious. We still don’t trust that some other major electrical issue has yet to be found.

    Throughout these visits to the workshop, we spoke with various Chrysler resolution agents whom we thought would help us return the car once we gave the mechanics a fair number of attempts to fix the car’s issues. I have documented every interaction with their representatives, stating that their goal was to aid us in returning the car — though this was not guaranteed — and guiding us away from pursuing the Lemon Law when we were well within our rights to do so. In early April, we closed our communications with the representatives when they confirmed that they were in fact not interested in aiding us with a buy-back, but simply were working toward writing us a paycheck for every day that the car was inoperable.

    We want to eliminate any risk of further electrical incidents while we are within the warranty period by having the car returned so that we can move on to a car that we can trust more.

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