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Discussion Starter #1
2006 1500 4x4 5.7 545RFE
Symptoms: Shifts from 1 to 2 normally then when it goes to shift to 3rd it neutrals. Will eventually set a P0733 code if you rev the motor. No other codes were set. This is not clutch slip, it is total freewheel neutral. Reverse is normal and you can't get to 4th or 5th because 3rd just lets go and you coast. This happened on a normal drive last week. Previously for about the past 2 years it has displayed an intermitted 2-3 shift problem, like it would neutral for just a second then grab. But it would never set a code and it was very intermittent until now.

Repair attempts: Checked speed sensors for open, nothing both ohm'd the same, flickered with a magnet, swaped front and back just to be sure, nothing. Swapped line pressure sensor with known good one from another trans, nothing. Replaced entire valve body and solenoid pack with new. Nothing. Did not note any abnormalities about old valve body. Nothing abnormal in the pan or visible in the filters. Fluid was a little dark but ok. Fluid had been in for about 30,000mi. No metal at all in the pan and normal amount of "hair" on the magnet just a light coating.

Just want to check around before I tear into it.
 

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Hi, Brian, and thanks for joining the RamforumZ. I encourage you to stop by the Newbie Checkin section and introduce yourself so other members and give you a proper how-do-ya-do.

Check around, use the search function and wait for another member to chime in with some valuable info.
 

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Was this a sudden failure? Worked great one day and then suddenly it had absolutely nothing in 3rd gear? If so, could be a blown accumulator cover (on the side of the valve body). Did you happen to look at the valve body when you had the pan off? A blown accum cover is pretty obvious.

If you do have the blown cover, there is a repair kit 05174633AB that runs about $14. Otherwise, try disconnecting the main electrical harness on the trans (driver's side) and then see what you get in Drive. Should be 3rd gear only, so it should feel sluggish when taking off from a stop. If you get 1st gear only (launches normally in Drive), then that confirms your OD clutch has no capacity. Next step would be to drop the valve body and air check the OD clutch passage to see if the clutch piston seals are leaking. Could also be a broken weld on the OD clutch hub, or a bad solenoid module. If you get this far, let me know and I can give you further guidance...
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks TransEngineer for the reply, I was hoping you'd see this and respond. I saw all the other responses you have to other issues and that's what made me join this forum. Thanks for all your help.

The accum cover was not the issue, I have a whole new valve body and solenoid pack in the trans. The old valve body did not have any signs of anything bad. The accum cover screws were all still tight. There were no parts in the pan or on the magnet. Normal stuff (I've serviced trannys many times, I'm used to seeing normal). When this happened it wasn't what I would call "all of the sudden". I've been having intermittent 2-3 shift issues for the past couple years about every 2 - 3 mos maybe more frequent recently. It would shift to 3rd then seem to let go then grab. Not a slip, it would neutral for just a split second then grab. I've also noticed every once in a while from a standing start it would seem it was in 2nd and if you gassed it enough it would go to 1st. Now last week it went to shift to 3rd and didn't hit 3rd, it just neutral'd and stayed there. Slow down and it would shift back down to 2nd and 1st like normal and you can take back off and same thing 2-3 shift it just neutrals. Again not a slip, this is complete freewheel neutral, engine just revs and no engine braking. It has not come out of it this time whereas before it was just a brief second, like a skip, the engine would rev a bit and then it would grab third (kinda hard but it would grab and then go on normal). Again this was very intermittent until last week. Now it won't get 3rd at all.

Ok now for your other suggestion. I unhooked the main wiring connector (btw you have to do this after you start the engine as it won't start with this plug already out). Reverse - normal. Taking off it was definitely not in 1st. But I wouldn't say it was 3rd either. Seemed like 2nd. But definitely not 1st. Plugged itback in, cleared the CIL and codes and back to the same 2-3 shift - freewheel. NOTE: On the last test run just after I plugged it back in and cleared codes, I took off and it was in 2nd gear, pressed on the gas and it jumped back in 1st.

On the air test, I didn't know to do this when I had the valve body out to replace it so I didn't. I'm not convinced this is an internal problem, just seems way too goofy and intermittent before.

Question: I was going thru the service manual on the 545. I noted that it says the OD piston actuates the OD clutches (3rd gear direct) It also notes that the OD piston actuates the Reverse Clutches which are stacked right in front of the OD clutches, to actually go backwards other clutches are engaged in the back of the trans. Now if the OD piston/clutch had a problem wouldn't I loose reverse as well?
 

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OK, dumb question I forgot to ask: Does it have a P0733 Gear Ratio Error in 3rd fault? I presume it does, but should have asked.

Hmmmm... so full (forced) limp-in (with connector unplugged) apparently gives you 3rd gear. Here is why: There are two solenoids (UD and MS) that are "normally applied," that is, they supply pressurized fluid to the clutch when they are turned OFF electrically. UD solenoid feeds the UD clutch (duh). Pressure from the MS solenoid is routed through the manual valve, and it feeds the OD clutch when the shift lever is in Drive. It feeds the LR clutch when the shifter is in Reverse. And it feeds the 2C clutch when the shifter is in "2" or "1". So when you disconnect the harness, you remove all 12V power from the solenoids. Therefore, you get pressure from only the UD and MS solenoids when you are in full limp-in. In Drive, turning on the UD and OD clutches (OD via the MS solenoid) gives you 3rd gear. So you normally get 3rd gear when in full limp-in. Now if the OD clutch is bad, then it would also not work when in limp-in. If OD is slipping, then you effectively have UD only. But if you turn on UD (without the OD clutch working), the overrunning clutch (a mechanical one-way clutch at the back of the geartrain) will lock, and THAT will give you 1st gear. So with connector disconnected, and shift lever in Drive, you should get either 3rd gear (proving OD clutch can actually hold OK) or 1st gear (proving the OD clutch itself is bad).

Just as an aside, in full limp-in with shifter in Reverse, MS feeds the LR clutch, and the Reverse clutch is fed directly from the manual valve (no solenoid involved), so you get Reverse as usual. The UD solenoid is not fed with any pressure when manual valve is in Reverse (or Park, or Neutral), so even though the UD solenoid is always "on" in limp-in, the UD clutch doesn't get applied in Reverse.

Now notice this: With shifter in "2" or "1", the MS solenoid applies the 2C clutch (not the OD clutch). So you do get 2nd gear when in full limp-in, but only if the shift lever is in "2" or "1" (not in Drive). So, did you have the shifter in Drive (not 2 or 1)?

If the shifter was indeed in Drive, then you should have either 1st or 3rd. Is it possible your shift cable is misadjusted, and you are really in between Drive and 2 (when in D at the column)? Try this: Disconnect both the electrical harness and also the shifter cable (at the lever on the trans). Then manually shift the lever on the trans and see what you get. Obviously, you will need a helper who keeps the brakes FIRMLY applied, and I would suggest keeping the parking brake on and the wheels chocked until you are OUT from underneath the truck!

See if you now get 3rd gear when in Drive (and 2nd gear when in 2 or 1). For reference, Park is the position with the lever all the way REARWARD. There should be six (6) detent positions (PRND21).

To answer your other question, the OD/Reverse piston has a common INNER seal, but there are separate OUTER seals for the OD side and the Reverse side. So a blown outer (OD) seal would affect the OD clutch only. But if you get 3rd gear in limp-in, then that proves that the OD clutch really does hold OK (when you "force feed" it via the MS solenoid).

So let me know what you find, and we'll go from there...
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Again thanks a bunch TransEgngineer.

Here's what I learned today:

The shift cable is adjusted properly.

Did another main plug out test today: Reverse = Normal. With the gear selector in either 1 or 2 the trans is in 2nd gear and will not shift to any other gear no matter what, you can move between 1 and 2, come to a stop, stomp on it etc. locked in 2nd. If you move the selector up to D it will lock into 1st gear with no engine braking (makes it hard to tell you're in first but if you come to a stop in D, it's in first and stays there no matter what, does not try to shift out.). Yesterday I must have mistakenly had it in 2 rather than D
 

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Reading back thru your post TransEngineer I think we have found the issue. It is the OD clutch or piston. I would assume since I never had any flare at any time just either an applied OD clutch or a not applied OD clutch the problem must be with the piston itself. I also assume that the check ball for the drain back on the reverse side is in the valve body and would be ruled out by the new valve body. So the problem most likely must be the o-ring on the piston or a snap ring came loose.
 

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Reading back thru your post TransEngineer I think we have found the issue. It is the OD clutch or piston. I would assume since I never had any flare at any time just either an applied OD clutch or a not applied OD clutch the problem must be with the piston itself. I also assume that the check ball for the drain back on the reverse side is in the valve body and would be ruled out by the new valve body. So the problem most likely must be the o-ring on the piston or a snap ring came loose.
Yes, if it acts like it's in 1st gear (in Drive, with connector unplugged) then that proves the OD clutch has no capacity. The output from the MS solenoid must be OK (since Reverse works OK, and MS feeds the LR clutch in Reverse, and also since you get 2nd gear in "2" and "1", which again proves MS is sending pressure [to the 2C clutch in that case]). So the problem is apparently the clutch itself (either a pressure leak, or a mechanical failure).

Next check: Drop the valve body and air check the OD clutch passage to check for a leak. Along the front of the trans, where the valve body mates up against the case, you will see a row of staggered holes. The innermost hole (closest to centerline of trans) is a threaded screw hole. The NEXT hole (slightly forward of the screw hole) is the OD clutch apply port. The hole after that is the UD clutch port. And the next one is the Reverse clutch port. Blow shop air (about 30 psi) into each of these ports. You should hear a dull thud as the clutch pistons move, and you may be able to see the OD/Reverse piston (which is the outer drum in the front area of the trans) move. It should move forward when you apply air into the OD port, and rearward when you feed Reverse. There are bleed orifices on each clutch, and there will be some slight leakage at the cast iron seal rings that are internal to the clutches, so a small amount of air leakage is normal. But if you hear a major HISSSSS on OD (which is different from UD or Reverse), then you have a bad seal on OD somewhere. If OD has no leak, then you likely have a failed hard part (likely the OD hub and shaft assembly). Either way, you need to pull the trans and tear into it to fix.

Let me know if you need any other info.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks a bunch TransEngineer. I whish the tech info described the operation as well as you have. You know your stuff on these for sure. Again thanks and have a great day. Now comes the hard work. :)
 

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Are you doing the work yourself? If you are going to pull the trans and tear into it yourself, let me know before you start tearing down the trans, so I can give you some tips.
 

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Normally I would do it myself but in this case I have so many other things to take care of and this being the most difficult I'm going to farm this one out. I'm having a well known local transmission shop do it, the owner is a friend of mine, he took over the business from his dad 25yrs ago. I passed on your posts to him, he has been busy and not had time to pour over the tech info to help me diagnose so your help is much appreciated. The bad part is he can't start on it until next Monday. So in the far chance that I can get to it before then I may remove the trans and take it in to him. However he can prob do it in about half the time it would take me. He's a pro. Best left to him and I can concentrate on what I do best. I still have equipment to put up for winter. I'm so far behind and I've had the worst head cold ever the past 10 days. And most importantly I have to finish prepping my sleds for riding. Yes it's almost the 10th of December and I don't have my sleds prepped yet if that tells you about my fall. This tranny is just one on the list. At one point I could count what I had that worked easier than the other. I'm on the upside now tho. Again than you sir.
 

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How did this work out? What ended up being the issue?

Normally I would do it myself but in this case I have so many other things to take care of and this being the most difficult I'm going to farm this one out. I'm having a well known local transmission shop do it, the owner is a friend of mine, he took over the business from his dad 25yrs ago. I passed on your posts to him, he has been busy and not had time to pour over the tech info to help me diagnose so your help is much appreciated. The bad part is he can't start on it until next Monday. So in the far chance that I can get to it before then I may remove the trans and take it in to him. However he can prob do it in about half the time it would take me. He's a pro. Best left to him and I can concentrate on what I do best. I still have equipment to put up for winter. I'm so far behind and I've had the worst head cold ever the past 10 days. And most importantly I have to finish prepping my sleds for riding. Yes it's almost the 10th of December and I don't have my sleds prepped yet if that tells you about my fall. This tranny is just one on the list. At one point I could count what I had that worked easier than the other. I'm on the upside now tho. Again than you sir.
 

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no 3-4 shift

Hi,
I know this is an old thread, but I've searched and found a lot of great info from regarding the RFE. One particular thing I have a question about is doing the air pressure check for the overdrive drum. I have done this and the drum moves forward, and then back when applying pressure to the reverse side. I read where there is some air seepage that is normal. Im curious if I should see alot of movement with 30 psi like hitting a solid stop, or just like an inch or so. Its not solid like hitting a stop, just moves an inch or so. I do have some air seepage, but it doesn't seem to be a ton, and the hole pressures up to the point it spits when i release the seal of my nozzle.

Im having the "no shift to 3-4 issue." The accumulator plate is not broke or bent. After the air pressure test, I'm leaning toward the solenoid pack, but don't want to spend $200 for it if thats not it. Ive looked for a procedure to test the solenoid, but only can find "general" testing of solenoids. Is there a good way to test it?
Thank you in advance for your help.



BTW.. I have a 01 Durango, 4.7L, 45RFE
 

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Hi,
I know this is an old thread, but I've searched and found a lot of great info from regarding the RFE. One particular thing I have a question about is doing the air pressure check for the overdrive drum. I have done this and the drum moves forward, and then back when applying pressure to the reverse side. I read where there is some air seepage that is normal. Im curious if I should see alot of movement with 30 psi like hitting a solid stop, or just like an inch or so. Its not solid like hitting a stop, just moves an inch or so. I do have some air seepage, but it doesn't seem to be a ton, and the hole pressures up to the point it spits when i release the seal of my nozzle.

Im having the "no shift to 3-4 issue." The accumulator plate is not broke or bent. After the air pressure test, I'm leaning toward the solenoid pack, but don't want to spend $200 for it if thats not it. Ive looked for a procedure to test the solenoid, but only can find "general" testing of solenoids. Is there a good way to test it?
Thank you in advance for your help.

BTW.. I have a 01 Durango, 4.7L, 45RFE
So what's going on with yours? Shifts 1-2-3 OK but then never shifts to 4th? Or tries to shift 3-4 but just revs or shudders (and then drops back into 3rd)? Do you have a check engine light? Any fault codes?
 

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Shifts 1-2 then when it tries to go to 3rd, it freerevs like neutral. Have to shift out of D to 2nd. Expected to see the accumulator plate screws broke and the plate bent when I pulled the pan but nope. Pulled codes P0734, P0733, P1781, and P1784.
 

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Shifts 1-2 then when it tries to go to 3rd, it freerevs like neutral. Have to shift out of D to 2nd. Expected to see the accumulator plate screws broke and the plate bent when I pulled the pan but nope. Pulled codes P0734, P0733, P1781, and P1784.
Sounds like a fried OD clutch then. Does the fluid smell burned? What happens if you pull the transmission relay (hopefully you'll find one in the black box near the battery that has fuses and relays) and put it in Drive? Do you get 1st gear, or 3rd gear? That is, does it feel like it launches normally from a stop, or is it sluggish on a launch?

And manual "2" and "1" (when the relay is in place) give you 2nd and 1st gear, respectively?
 

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Well, I have The valve body off right now, so can't try that. The fluid looked great and no burnt smell at all. nothing at all in the pan or on the magnet. Thats why i tried applying air to the OD clutch apply port to see if it moved.
 

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Well, I have The valve body off right now, so can't try that. The fluid looked great and no burnt smell at all. nothing at all in the pan or on the magnet. Thats why i tried applying air to the OD clutch apply port to see if it moved.
Yeah, the OD/Rev piston (the large drum you see in the front of the trans) should move forward when you apply air to OD. It should only move about 1/10 of an inch. It should come back to center when the pressure is released (and move rearward when pressure is applied to the Reverse clutch port).

Sounds like you don't have an OD piston seal leak, so that's good. And clean fluid means hopefully the clutch is OK.

If you have the VB out, split it open and inspect the entire passage leading back from the OD clutch apply port. A bad solenoid is a possibility, but could also be a cut check ball, or a cracked OD accumulator piston (or blown accum piston seal). So I would pull the accum cover off and check the OD accum piston (the front one) and its seals.
 
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