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Dodge Ram: Problems & Solutions

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  • I have a 04 QUAD 4.7L 5spd auto. I heard this engine was made by Mercedes. Does anyone no anything about that? Also I had a 5spd TRANS option of over 1000.00. How old is this trans and are old problems suppose to be fixed it? This is the trans you have to have with the hemi but I have with 4.7l..Thanks for any info...
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    First, who ever told you this is someone to completely avoid in the future for credible information.

    The 287 CI engine (4.7) was designed by Chrysler engineers and is currently manufactured at Chrysler foundries in the U.S. and Mexico. It was not a Mercedes design and is not manufactured anywhere else in the world.

    The transmission you are referring to is the 545RFE. It is a pure Chrysler design, is fully electronic, fully adaptive, and has six distinct forward speeds. This transmission was first used in '99 on the Jeep Grand Cherokee behind the 4.7 engine. It has since migrated to Dodge trucks where it has proven to be an extremely solid and robust design. It has no known inherent design defects. Since it's introduction there have been only two component quality problems, both transducers, and had affected a very small population of 2002 versions. There has been one shift program update (PCM) on Dakota and one on RAM. These corrections resolved a quirky cruise control/shift quality issue, nothing debilitating. There have been only a hand full of reports of catastrophic failures within a short period of time after vehicle delivery, indicating an assembly problem. Problem and especially failures since are extremely low. I have talked to three transmission rebuilders who stated they have never had one apart!!

    In short the 545RFE is probably one of the best and most reliable transmissions currently available in an American designed light-duty pick-up truck.

    Regards,
    Dusty
  • roper2roper2 Posts: 61
    What auto. transmission do I have in the 02 4.7 sb reg. cab? I'm not sure. Thanks
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    Roper,

    If you have the 4.7 engine in any Chrysler or Dodge vehicle, the automatic transmission is the 545RFE.

    Regards,
    Dusty
  • roper2roper2 Posts: 61
    Thanks Dusty.
  • Roper2, Have you had any problems and how many miles do you have? Dusty, The 5spd trans was an option on my 04 1500. Are you saying if you have the 4.7l you will have the 545RFE trans. If so I wonder why they don't make it standard..Thanks for the info..
  • bmaigebmaige Posts: 140
    I finally took the plunge and I'm going to buy a new Dodge 3500 with the high ouput diesel tomorrow so I need some answers in a hurry. The best deal I got is about 400 miles from home, so I need to know how best to drive the truck from there back over that distance. Most of it will be on interstate with 70 mile per hour speed limits posted, but seldom observed. Is there anything I need to know about driving a new Cummins diesel over that distance to keep from doing it any harm, such as low speeds, changing speeds, etc?

    I would appreciate any help anyone can provide. We'll leave in the morning fairly early to get started.

    Thanks in advance for all the help.
  • loncrayloncray Posts: 301
    When I picked up my Ram CTD almost two years ago, I immediately drove it 300 miles to my wife's family's house. If you can tow something, do it - just don't drive above 55 for the first 500 miles or so - your manual will tell you. If you're not towing anything, drive it like you stole it. The engine loves to be worked - so work it!
  • sebring95sebring95 Posts: 3,231
    Just vary your speeds and keep them reasonable. I wouldn't drive it like you stole it, though. I personally witnessed a new Cummins go up in flames a few years ago. Guy passed me, had to be over 100mph with a dealer tag flapping on the back. Wasn't too far down the road he was pulled over and smoke was rolling out from the hood. I stopped and wasted a fire extinguisher along with a couple truckers. He was a lot jockey, moving the truck for a dealer trade in another state. Truck had about 150 miles on it. Seals don't take kindly to extreme temps that early in life. Oil doesn't take kindly to glowing exhaust manifolds. Gives literal meaning to the term "oil burner".
  • akanglakangl Posts: 3,592
    Bet his job went up in flames right along with the truck. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when he was trying to explain that one.
  • sebring95sebring95 Posts: 3,231
    He didn't come acrossed as the sharpest crayon in the box. I doubt anyone told his employer, they probably believed it was a fluke. Of course with a little math they probably could have figured it out. Dodge probably picked up the tab.

    You just wonder how many of these "new" vehicles have been run to death the first few hours. I had a vehicle brought in from another dealer once, but I paid extra for flat-bed service. Last thing i want is a new vehicle with 300 miles on it driven by Earnhardt wannabees.
  • akanglakangl Posts: 3,592
    My Titan had 313 miles on it, that kinda bugged me, but the $600 brush guard they threw in made up for it. No harm done to the Titan. They said it was a demo, but who knows.
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    The standard transmission behind a 4.7 would be a 5-speed manual.

    If you have a 4.7 engine in any Dodge truck, the only automatic transmission available for it is the 545RFE.

    Bests,
    Dusty
  • akanglakangl Posts: 3,592
    We got the 99 Ram 3500 V10 (20k miles) back from the dealer yesterday, all seems well including the tranny.

    They replaced the oil pump (was down to 10 psi) and oil press sending unit, plus the TPS, and (I guess they weren't thinking) they replaced both cats (I never said anything about the cats when I dropped it off) and the muffler. The truck was out of its emissions warranty by 5 months (5/50k for over 9900 GVWR trucks), they assumed it was still in so did the work, no charge to us. Needless to say the truck is 100% better, guess the other cat (one we didn't replace) was coming apart too.
  • KCRamKCRam Mt. Arlington NJPosts: 3,516
    Like the others said, vary your speeds. In fact, if there's a local (state or US) highway that parallels the interstate, take that instead. It will give your new truck much better variance of speeds and temperatures. Use all the gears as much as possible - hitting the highway and leaving the trans in OD does nothing for it, manual or automatic. Make sure you keep the operating temperature up, diesels will cool themselves off in a hurry as they produce neglible waste heat from combustion when they idle. My 96 Cummins has never been above 190 degrees, even in dead-of-summer stop-and-go traffic to the beach.

    The Cummins engine by itself is ready to punch the clock and get to work... think some guy taking delivery of a brand new Peterbilt babies it home from the dealer for a few hundred miles, or does he hook up a trailer and get busy? It's the rest of the Ram that you're really breaking in... drivetrain especially.

    kcram
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  • jcasperjcasper Posts: 37
    I have a 04 cummins with 5500 miles on it. I understand that diesels smoke either fuel or oil smoke. I was curious if they all puff blue smoke at a cold startup for about the first 20-30 seconds.
  • bmaigebmaige Posts: 140
    I was considering the engine more than anything, but I don't want to mess up the tranny, four wheel drive, or rear end, either.

    Thanks to all for the input. Got to start moving to get ready to get on the road. It is getting light so I need to check fence and cows before we get away.

    Thanks again to all!

    Bob
  • sebring95sebring95 Posts: 3,231
    I was curious if they all puff blue smoke at a cold startup for about the first 20-30 seconds.

    That's fairly normal with the crappy diesel that's generally available. I get zero smoke on start-up if running a premium diesel, but that's hard to find. As new fuel requirements go into effect in '06 we should start seeing more and more premium diesel. Should be no smoke beyond that initial puff though, even when pulling hard.
  • Was towing a van on a car trailer up a hill doing 60 with od off without any problems one day. When all of a sudden a big plumm of smoke followed by a fine spray of oil behind me. When I finally made it through traffic over to the edge (4 lane hwy each way)and stopped, the trainie was dry. I had blown off one of the hard lines that runs under the pan up to a quick release clip by the turbo. After getting the quick clip back on and the trans filled(a mile hike both ways, which no one stopped to ask if i needed help, not even the HWY patrol. what's up with that?) I got back under way.

    Ever sence, the trans hesitates every once in a while between gear shifts at 30mph. I need to get in for a flush asap but, does anyone have any other suggestions?
  • roper2roper2 Posts: 61
    I have 62k with no problems.I have done the maint.at 30k@60k on trans.rearend sparkplugs.I run all syn.in the trans.rearend 75/140 @ engine valvoline 5/30.Also had dealer flush cooling system and refill @50k.Really like the truck and might trade in 06 if they put a diesel in the 1500. If they do not I might drive this one for a long time.I put around 30k a year on it so they are not new very long.Oh yea looked in glove box and it said 4speed trans. 3.55 rear axle.2002 4.7
  • KCRamKCRam Mt. Arlington NJPosts: 3,516
    You likely saved yourself a rebuild/replacement by shutting down as quickly as you did...

    BUT...

    do have the torque converter checked when you go for service. Since you were not in OD, the TC was locked when the line blew, so it may have unlocked to a dry state and caused some problems (thus your rough shift).

    kcram
    Host
    Smart Shopper and Wagons Message Boards


    kcram
    Host
    Smart Shopper and Wagons Message Boards
  • jcasperjcasper Posts: 37
    Thank you for your response. You have answered some questions for me in the past. I was just wondering what do you do that causes you to drive so many miles and what exactly are you towing that weighs 15,000 lbs.
       At a cold startup I get the puff of blue smoke for a half-minute or so, And then on a hard accelaration I will get the stream of black smoke. I think the cause of that is what you called "babying the motor syndrome". I drive 30 miles each way to work but all on open highway always empty. The truck vary rarely gets over 2000 RPM. I have noticed that if I pull on to the road and plant my foot in 3rd gear, then 4th, 5th, and 6th, with each gear the smoke seems to be less. I am assuming that it is blowing out all the garbage that gets built up in there.
       A friend of mine with a 92 dodge cummins has about 240k on it right now was telling me that when he comes down out of the hills from hunting camp, he is pretty much idling down the rough stuff in 4-lo and 1st gear with his trailer. that trip takes him close to an hour, when he gets to the highway he said every time he gets into the throttle for about ten miles he gets quite a bit of smoke.
       We do live in Oregon which I have always been told we get the worst fuel out of the whole U.S. There are evidently not a lot of restrictions or standards for are gas and diesel.
       What is the reason they are switching to this premium diesel. Is it mainly environmental reasons. Do you think it will cause any problems with these motors? I have heard that these injection pumps on the new motors aren't as good as the late 90's ones. Will this premium diesel give enough lubrication to these components?

    Thank you for all your input, you seem very knowledgable with these trucks, what is your background.

    Joe
  • bmaigebmaige Posts: 140
    Well, I bought the truck yesterday and got it safely home. Just wanted to thank everyone for the quick response on how it should be driven home over the distance it had to be driven. The trip required longer than usual, as I took my time.

    I was reading the owners manual on engine breakin while we were waiting for our insurance company discount coupon to be FAX'd to the dealer and it indicated, as someone else had, that you can tow with it immediately, and that actually breaks the engine in faster. Just keep it under 50 when towing for the first 500 miles.

    I noticed, to my surprise, that the standard radio in the 3500 ST has great sound. And the new diesel is so quiet you can actually hear it while driving without having the volume at a level that would drown out a 747 taking off.

    I just thought about it sitting here writing this post. In the excitement of the purchase I did a walk around and checked to be sure I had the spare tire, the receiver for the trailer tow package, the folding tow mirrors, and all that, but didn't ask if the tow package comes with the ball mount that goes into the receiver. Anybody know offhand?

    Thanks for all the help on this purchase, folks.

    Bob
  • sebring95sebring95 Posts: 3,231
    My daughters are into horses, we've got quite an operation going, lol. They show all over the country, sometimes even into Canada. The trainers tend to buy/sell horses and move them about alot also. We have two Dodge diesels that each see about 35k miles per year towing. The 15,000# trailer is a 40' 3-horse with living quarters. Weighs about 12,000# dry and honestly is probably well over 15,000# at times (3 1,000-1,500# horses plus gear...do the math). I don't do much work in it anymore and it actually almost pays for itself these days. The early days was another story, jeesh. Here's a pic of the big trailer hooked to the little truck. image

    That truck can't pull it very well, too much weight on the axle of a 3/4 ton as you can see it's squatting pretty good. The dually squats about 6", levels the truck out almost perfectly. I'll have to get some pics of the '03 hooked up sometime.

    From what I understand, babying the motors causing deposits to build-up quickly in the intakes so then when you really get on the go-pedal all that gunk gets blown out the exhaust. I drive a VW Jetta TDI most of the time and it can do the same thing. I've got performance mods on it so it will smoke more easily.

    The new fuel is required by whomever (EPA, or something) and is taking us from 300ppm sulphur down to 15ppm. It's all emissions related, particularly because sulphur is holding-back high-tech emissions equipment on the diesels. I try to run BP Diesel Supreme which is 30ppm sulphur and higher cetane. I'm not aware of any lubrication issues with the new fuel. California has had low-sulphur diesel required for quite some time. My TDI seems to have the most positive results running the premium fuel (BP Supreme). It's substantially quieter, more powerful, basically never smokes or smells even on cold start-up, and doesn't seem to effect mpg. The fuel itself also has a very light odor, nothing like normal diesel and it's clear as water. I'll be interested to see if every ones diesel is this good in 2006 or if BP is doing something special beyond just getting the sulphur content down.
  • iowabigguyiowabigguy Posts: 552
    When you refilled your drained transmission what did you refill it with? If not the Dodge recommended transmission fluid that could be the cause. Rick
  • I know you all have probably answered this question a gazillion times and it does indeed seem like there is a difference in opinion on this topic, but I thought I'd ask anyway. I'm buying a 2002 Dodge Ram 1500, regular cab, 2WD, short bed, 5.9 and automatic. How reliable are these things? I trust the engine, if only b/c it's been around so long & can be easily and cheaply fixed, but the transmission makes me hesitate. I know Chrysler trannies aren't the best and I know that even that ol' reliable engine might give me troubles. Do I need to buy an extended warranty for this beast or am I okay risking it without one? It's got 40,000 miles on it now and it's a 2002.
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    Vroom,

    I've written quite a bit about Dodge truck transmission in this forum, enough to write a discertation. So as not to bore the rest, the Dodge "RE" series transmissions are robust, strong, and durable...with qualification.

    The current RE series is a direct decendant of the famous A-904/A727 that was noted for there extreme tolerance for neglect and abuse. The basic archetechure remains the same today but with a number of refinements.

    The A904 was a smaller version of the A727. These were unique among American manufacturers with three planetary gear sets. The larger version was always used in Dodge trucks regardless of engine. In the 1980s Dodge upgraded the three-speed a/904/A727 to overdrive. These became the A500/A518 transmissions. This is when problems started.

    One must understand that when a vehicle is in overdrive the lower engine RPM drops the transmission's pump pressure. The lubrication of the A500/A518 overdrive unit was adequate for "normal" operation, but was often exceeded during low temperature operation especially when used under loads or during snow-plowing operations.

    Chrysler addressed this issue in a number of ways. New versions now prevent the overdrive unit from engaging until the engine comes up to temperature. They also increased the kick-down sensitivity so that acceleration under load kick into a lower gear sooner. Cheysler added a anti-drain back valve to prevent fluid syphoning from the torque converter after shutdown. This later introduce another problem...valves becoming clogged when the fluid became dirty.

    When Chrysler adopted electronic shift controls they changed the transmission nomenclature to "RE" for "rear wheel drive, electronic, or "RH" for rear wheel drive, hydraulic. The "RH" series was used mostly on earlier Dakota 3.9 engines and are as bulletproof as any transmission gets.

    Electronic controls brought a new wave of issues, mostly shift solenoid problems. On older valve bodies the solenoids would become sticky with the dissapation of the ATF. A later solenoid design had problems with the solenoid plungers becoming magnetized over time. This caused erratic or failed shift action. To make matters worse, the electrical connectors used in older years failed to keep out moisture and dirt.

    Then there's the ATF itself. Chrysler has specified it's own fluid since the 1970s, but allowed the use of Dexron. What most people are unaware of is that the A904/A727s were "fill-for-life" transmissions except after the addition of Dexron, after which the fluid must be changed every 30K.

    As Chrysler added design changes the ATF's ability to withstand the stresses of a much wider temperature operation became acute. In the 1980s Chrysler indtroduced ATF+ which was an advanced fluid similar to Dexron, but contained friction modifiers and various chemical to keep the fluid from premature oxidation. After ATF+ came ATF+2, ATF+3, and now ATF+4. This last version is a semi-synthetic blend that has an extended full temperature operating range. It is extremely stable.

    Unfortunately and combination of minor maladies, improper vehicle operation, lack of prescribed maintenance, and the use of the incorrect ATF has caused a population of Dodge truck transmissions to have problems or go belly up.

    The basic mechanicals of the current "RE" series are erxtremely durable. Bulletproof, actually. Many design changes have been incorporated to protect the transmission from inadvertent operation. Enough to say that if you maintain this transmission to specification, I believe you'd have a problem with a Ford or GM first.

    The new 545RFE transmission used on the 4.7 and Hemi equipped RAMs in significantly different and has not had and issues so far. Your truck with the 5.9 has problably got the 46RE. It utilizes an overdrive lock-out which should be used when towing heavy loads. In 2002 transmissions shifts were strictly temperature dependent. Coupled with a change to a larger capacity pump issues of overdrive lubrication starvation are practically non-existent today. The valve bodies were completely redesigned in '98. Issues with shift solenoids are now very low and the electrical connections now have high environmental integrity. The anti-drain back valve can still be a problem if the fluid gets dirty. Chrysler has added electronic circuitry to sense flow.

    Best regards,
    Dusty
  • emaleemale Posts: 1,380
    dusty,

    interesting read...and even though you make a good case for how strong the RE series trannies are or should be if meticulous maintenances is adhered to...i'd still like to see chrysler ditch em for something that has less parasitic loss and at least five forward speeds.

    the talk on other forums is that a 6 speed automatic is coming for the dodge trucks in '06. i'm presuming it will be based off the 5-45RFE which itself has a MUCH better rep than the RE series.
  • Just had a friend with the same problem (had #7 cyl misfire code), after doing all the same "fixes" that you did, he found that he had a #7 cyilnder valve spring broken, the engine only had 48K on it. Has anybody else had this problem, I looked at all the TSB's and found none related to this problem.
    Thanks for any help
    jim
  • Okay,hears the deal, I have a 2001,2500,Cummins, that for the last 2 years gets a mystery leak of water that covers the passenger side floor carpet. Been to the dealership numerous times to have it checked out, they say that the a/c drain is plugged and blow it out.Just had it checked, again, and they say that it is not plugged, and they don't know why my carpet on that side stays wet all the time.They are at a loss as to what is causing all the water to pool there. Any ideas? Before my truck starts growing enough mold to start a mushroom farm.
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