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Dodge Dakota Transmission Problems

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Comments

  • ndcndc Posts: 5
    Dusty,

    After checking all the wiring and replacing the TPS Im still having the problem. So today I took it into a respectable dealership to have it looked at. They checked it out with a DBR and informed me that I needed a rebulid ($4300). I have a hard time beleiving this and thought maybe you could either assure me that I need a rebuild or give me more ideas to the problem.

    I have some results from the DBR test I thought this could be helpful info. Not completely sure what all of it means. But this is why they said I need a rebuild.

    CVI: LR=93 2C=56 OD=55 UD=48 4C=0 (THIS 4C IS WHY THEY SAID I NEED A REBUILD THEY THOUGHT THAT SOMETHING WAS BROKE OFF IN THE TRAN.)

    Also, since the last time I posted a message I've learned that the transmission is fine after it warms up.

    Thank You,
    Nate
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,931
    How many miles on this transmission and have you ever performed a transmission maintenance?

    I would first replace the transmission filters, both the Primary Transmission Filter and the Cooler Return filter. The Cooler Return Filter looks like a very small spin-on engine oil filter. Chrysler became extremely sensitive to debris management with the RFE transmission series. It incorporates an exceptionally fine filter media that traps debris down to 6 micron. Unfortunately, this is a high efficiency filter with a relatively low capacity and it can clog easily if there is a lot of debris in the fluid.

    Also, if its ever been replaced, there were some Cooler Return Filters that were bad for a while.

    If this does not solve the problem, try disconnecting the battery for two minutes and go through a relearn. If that doesn't work, have a Dodge technician put a DRB3 diagnostic tool on it. You may have lost the shift algorithm or need a flash update.

    Regards,
    Dusty
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,931
    Yeah, I don't think 4C should be zero, but that could be caused by something else.

    I'm sorry I'm getting this on Sunday. Let me get back to you.

    Regards,
    Dusty
  • rx2manrx2man Posts: 14
    I have spoken with a few mechanics and they all agree the Dodge 45RFE is a solid transmission. But if you goto some of the shops they will say you need a tranny straight up. From what I have read, the TPS can be a issue, also computers become corrupted and need to be reflashed, about $100. The other issue is the transmission input and output sensors and there are 2 filters that need to be replaced when doing the trans service. There's a flat one and a spin on inside. I have done changed everything but the two input/output sensors. Each time the trany has improved but still issues, hoping the last 2 sensors do it. Will replace this week
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,931
    It's unfortunately true, a lot of shops will automatically turn you into a rebuild. But just like for doctors, one should get a second opinion. RFEs just don't have that many problems, and they break even less. My Dodge transmission tech. has never had to take one down. Any problems have been repaired without transmission removal.

    There was a loose accumulator plate problem on some early versions, which would cause the plate to eventually bend, I've heard of a couple of marginal sensors, and yes, the Cooler Return Filter can get clogged very quickly on these trannies. But all these problems can be resolved on the vehicle.

    Regards,
    Dusty
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,931
    Nate,

    Based on your numbers there is something definitely wrong. The Low Reverse clutch pressure is too high, the 2C clutch and Overdrive clutch pressures seem within range. I consulted with a Dodge tranny tech and he thinks the Underdrive clutch pressure is too low.

    The 4C clutch pressure doesn't make any sense since you say that after being warmed up it drives okay. Basically at zero it's telling you that the 4C clutch requires absolutely no pressure to apply which doesn't make sense if it drives. This could be an erroneous reading I suppose.

    The rebuilding quote seems unreasonably high. Heck, you could probably buy a brand new complete transmission across the parts counter for nearly that price. Unless this transmission's been abused, I would suspect that most of the hard components are still good (panetaries, shafts, etc.). You might need clutches or maybe a valve body, but that would be just speculation. You really don't know until you pull it apart.

    You know, it might pay to get a second opinion.

    Regards,
    Dusty
  • ndcndc Posts: 5
    Dusty,

    Thanks for all the info. I think the first thing I'll do is get a second opinion.

    I might try changing a few sensors just to make myself feel better about a rebuild. I guess it just doesn't seem right that its fine after it warms up.

    I'll be sure to keep you updated to the problem.

    Thanks again,
    Nate
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,931
    Nate,

    The 545RFE has been out better than eight years and in that time I've heard of one major failure, and that was a broken sun gear on a 2000 Cherokee. I asked my Dodge guy the other day and another transmission tech. yesterday if they've seen any 545RFEs apart. I figured that after eight years you'd start seeing a few. Neither have had an opportunity to do a rebuild, in fact both said they've never removed one from a vehicle. Anything that's gone wrong was correctable either with a reflash or pulling the pan.

    I've heard of two sensor failures on a 545RFE, both on the net. As mentioned before, there was a bent accumulator plate issue, but that was assembly related and fixed a long time ago. The guys I've talked to seem to think most problems are fluid related as each said the most they taken apart were valve bodies.

    I did think about your symptom and the goofy no pressure on the 4C clutch. I don't know if this is possible with this design, but maybe the 4C clutch is hung up. I can't think of another reason to get a zero pressure reading other than the reading is false, or you have a bad computer. I'd be tempted to erase the PCM and reflash the computer just to see what the effect would be..

    By all means, let us know what the end result is.

    Best regards,
    Dusty
  • jvinzantjvinzant Posts: 3
    I have a 1988 dakota 4x4 with a 3.9L and the auto overdrive transmission. The truck has 74,000 original miles on it. I purchased it off of an elderly gentleman that could not drive no longer. I have gave it a complete tune up, changed the trans fluid (ATF+4), and replaced the coolant temperature sensor.

    On to the problem. When the temperature is less than 40 degrees outside the truck will not shift into overdrive or use lockup from what I can tell. I have a 15 mile commute so there is plenty of time to get the truck fully warmed up. The trans shifts perfectly otherwise. You can feel all of the gears engaging and lockup when the temperature is warmer.

    I have read through all 56 pages looking for a similar problem but have found none. Hopefully somebody here can head me in the right direction to cure this problem. Thanks.
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,931
    By design the transmission will not shift into overdrive or go into converter lock-up until the transmission fluid temperature reaches a certain temperature on newer Mopars, usually at 80 degrees F. Your '88 probably has a A518 transmission and I'm not sure it had this design feature, but I don't believe it did. If it did, there is a fluid temperature sensor inside the transmission.

    Have you tried replacing the Throttle Position Sensor? Have you checked the Throttle Valve Cable adjustment?

    Regards,
    Dusty
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,931
    Well, I'm pretty sure that 1988 was the first year of the four-speed automatic in the Dakota. Whether this was a A518 or an A999 I'm not sure.

    I consulted some experts this morning and there was some discussion about this problem. The electronic governor was not adopted until the following year (1989), however a Dodge transmission tech. believes that lock-up was prevented by temperature on the four-speed RWD transmissions before the advent of the electronic governor.

    Look for a sensor in one of the transmission lines (it should be the return line). This would be mounted directly to the steel tubing and use two wires. I'm not certain about this, but my memory is probably the weakest of the two consulting technicians. (It's definitely the oldest!!!) I don't recall a sensor like this used in a Dodge application.

    If there is no temperature sensor in one of the transmission lines going to the radiator, collectively we are drawing a blank on this one. None of us can ever remember a condition like the one you are describing.

    I think lock-up was controller directly by the PCM in those days, which means it operated the lock-up solenoid. There is a temperature circuit in the older PCMs used for some emission related operations. Maybe that is where the problem. From a pure hydraulic standpoint, I don't have much to offer as far as suggestions except what I've already mentioned.

    Good luck,
    Dusty
  • 02flhtc02flhtc Posts: 3
    hey dusty tried the filters and relearn nothing changed dealer said underdrive ???
    so i've replaced trans with a used one and all works great except really hard 2/3 shift feels like someone hit you from behind any ideas ?
    thanks mike
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,931
    There are a number of things that could cause this problem. If the 2-3 shift seems to get better the more you drive, it may just need to build a shift schedule by learning. This can be done more quickly performing the TCM Quick Learn procedure with a DRB3 Scan Tool. This would also give you an opportunity to scan for codes. I'd also recommend getting the TCM reflashed with the latest updates.

    Make sure the gearshift cable is adjusted poroperly.

    There could be a problem with either the Input Speed or Output Speed Sensors. As far as that goes, the old Throttle Position Sensor may cause this as well.

    Regards,
    Dusty
  • Hello all!

    I have a 99 Dakota with a 3.9L Auto, 143K miles with original engine and transmission. The truck has had regular maintenance its entire life, no major problems so far. I had the transmission rebuilt a year ago at 130K. The engine runs great, and transmission runs great...

    ... except lately I don't have much of an Overdrive. When I say this, the truck shifts fine (normal) between 1st and 3rd, but is VERY reluctant to shift into overdrive. The only way I can get it to shift into 4th is to maintain about 40-45MPH and hold the gas as lightly as possible. But even then, as soon as I push the pedal to accelerate, it instantly drops back into 3rd. I was somewhat nervous about pushing speeds more than 50MPH, but can try if needed.

    It started doing this progressively more and more starting about 2 months ago, and has gotten to the point of which it won't hold in OD at all anymore. It doesn't seem to be temperature related, it does the same cold or hot. I didn't get any error code until 2 weeks ago. I took it to Autozone and he said it was (surprise) a shift error between 3rd and 4th.

    What would be the first thing to do to try to fix this? I am comfortable pulling the pan if needed. Any help would be GREATLY appreciated. Thanks!

    -Derrick
  • jvinzantjvinzant Posts: 3
    I checked up and down for a sensor strapped to the trans lines. I could not see anything. It also don't help that the previous owner replaced the old rusted lines. There are short sections of remaining line left but no sensors. I have looked for tucked wires hoping maybe the sensor was removed and stuffed somwhere, no luck.

    We did have upper 50's lower 60's here last Friday and the overdrive was working at least 50% of the time. I at least know the overdrive works but sure would like to know how to keep it working. I have a Clymer manual for the truck but it does not have specific wiring diagrams. It does show a temp sensor in the layout of the harness but no details about it. I called the local Dodge dealer and he stated the sensor in need is a discontinued part.

    The local boneyard has nothing of that vintage either. I am hoping that somebody has a wiring diagram that shows the color of the wire/wires for the sensor. I also did the key on, key off code check and came up with a 15, speed sensor. That is an $80 part at the parts store that might not be the total fix of the problem. I sure would like to know more about the temp sensor if possible first. Thanks for the info.
  • jvinzantjvinzant Posts: 3
    Just to add the truck was manufactured on 5/88. Would it be possible that the truck has the 1989 version of the electronic governer? And if it does will it need the in line temp sensor? Thanks,
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,931
    Hi Derrick,

    The following items can cause or contribute to this problem:

    *Engine not coming to operating temperature (bad thermostat)

    *Throttle Valve cable misadjusted, sticking, or binding (A common problem on older, high mileage transmissions)

    *Defective Throttle Position Sensor (common source for a whole bunch of problems)

    *Defective Reear Wheel Speed Sensor

    *Weak, defective, or intermittent Overdrive Solenoid

    *Dirty or worn valve body. Sticking O/D Check Valve, clogged Overdrive Clutch Bleed Orifice.

    *Low hydraulic pressure (leaky seals, defective Governor Pressure Sensor or Governor Pressure Solenoid)

    *Worn Overdrive Clutches

    Did your rebuilder gave you an itemized list of parts they replaced? Did he replace any clutches? Unfortunately, at 130K miles I probably would've replaced the valve body assembly unless everything looked very, very good. These are often found to have worn or scratched valve bores once they get over 100,000 miles.

    Regards,
    Dusty
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,931
    Try the speed sensor. The PCM does depend on this signal for engine and transmission control functions.

    Dusty
  • Sorry it has taken me so long to post, I've been very busy with work.

    I believe that the engine temp is normal, the thermostat was replaced about the time the tranny was rebuilt. It warms up to about 190 and doesn't move from there, regardless of load.

    Not sure about the throttle valve cable, TPS or solenoid, will try those next if needed.

    I replaced the speed sensor (it was the one on the under side of the tranny, two wires, about $18) and disconnected the battery for about 5 min. I test drove it and took it up to 75mph, and everything seemed to be in good working order. The shift happened when it was supposed to, but had almost an intermitent stage. As soon as it shifted out of 3rd, it dropped slightly in RPM, but didn't seem like it was totally in OD (torque converter?). After I let off of the gas, it dropped in RPM again and was definately in 4th. I don't remember it doing this before this whole problem, but maybe it was supposed to?

    By the way, I called the transmission tech. He pulled up my bill and said he remembered working on my truck (gave an accurate description, so I believed him). He said he did a standard rebuild, replaced the clutches, and disassembled the valve body. He didn't see any scratches/grooves in the walls and said he cleaned it all very well.

    So the dirty valve body, sticking valve, and low pressure are unknown at this point.

    Dusty, thank you very much for all of your help. I try my best to fix something myself and it can be VERY difficult to find someone to answer [what seem to be] simple questions. Your help is much appreciated.

    Derrick
  • rresarresa Posts: 4
    Dusty,

    Just following up with the issues that I experienced with my transmission. After replacing the TPS and getting the trans fluid flushed, the erratic shifting issues are no longer an issue and the fuel economy has improved dramatically.

    Thanks for the tip on replacing the TPS as it took car of not only the tranmission shifting issues, but corrected the erratic idle issues as well. It was $29.99 at Autozone with a 2 year warranty and takes on minutes to replace.

    Regards,

    Rich R.
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