Ram 1500 transmission problems and shifting gear issues in RAM trucks are common, especially in older models.
The common causes are low levels of transmission fluid, dirt or contamination, a faulty gear clutch, a defective sensor, and low battery voltage.
Keep reading this guide to learn how to diagnose and fix these issues before your truck stalls or fails.
- 1 What Causes Ram 1500 Transmission Problems?
- 2 How To Fix Ram 1500 Transmission Problems
- 3 FAQ
- 4 Conclusion
What Causes Ram 1500 Transmission Problems?
The causes of RAM 1500 transmission problems are dirty or inadequate transmission fluid, a broken transmission sensor, premature clutch failure, a dirty filter, and broken electric wires.
Low battery voltage and a faulty alternator also cause shifting issues. Heavy towing and forceful acceleration strain the transmission, causing it to malfunction.
– Contaminated or Low Transmission Fluid
All vehicle models develop a transmission problem when the transmission fluid is low or dirty. Your Dodge RAM truck will develop delays or difficulties shifting if the fluid is too low. The transmission issues may also start if the fluid is sufficient but contaminated with dirt, oil, or debris.
The transmission fluid requires regular flushing and topping to prevent shifting issues. You can flush the fluid at home or ask a mechanic to do it on your regular service appointment. Checking and maintaining the fluid at the right level is possible if your truck model comes with a dipstick.
– Faulty Transmission Sensor
A loose transmission sensor will cause problems shifting from one gear to another. Your RAM 150O is stuck in one or two gears and has problems shifting to all gears. Tightening the transmission sensor may resolve the issue when other parts are working properly.
Drive the truck to a qualified mechanic if you notice that the sensor is damaged. Tightening a damaged sensor will not solve the problem, but replacing it will.
– Clogged Transmission Filter
As you replace old or dirty transmission fluid, check the transmission filter. Dirt builds up on the filter after driving the Dodge RAM for hundreds of miles.
A dirty filter will cause a problem with transmission if you fail to clean it up. If it is rusty or too old, consider replacing it and keep the new filter clean.
– Broken Transmission Relay or Wire
The transmission wire or relay is the other part of the gear-shifting system that may cause problems. A faulty transmission wire will cause any RAM model to skip gears. The truck will keep shifting up and down despite your efforts to keep the transmission in the right gear. Driving in such conditions is risky, especially when driving on busy roads or rough terrains as you can cause an accident or roll away easily.
Check for a bad electrical relay or a loose wire immediately after you notice your vehicle cannot maintain a gear. Use a voltmeter to confirm that the transmission terminals are receiving enough voltage.
If the voltage level is normal, inspect the car for damaged, rusty, or loose electric wires. It is safer to allow a mechanic to handle the electric system than to try and test the system alone.
– Low Battery Voltage
Your Dodge RAM may have transmission issues if the system if battery voltage is low. The transmission terminals need enough power to support the gear shifts. You may have perfect transmission wires and relays, but the low voltage will frustrate your driving experience. Low battery voltage keeps the truck stuck in limp mode.
Ensure you charge the battery fully before touching any electrical parts supporting the gear-shifting mechanism. Check the alternator as well after charging the battery. A defective alternator also leads to shifting issues.
– Gear Clutch Failure
A faulty gear clutch causes problems in shifting gears. An old clutch may create a loose linkage in the gear system and even damage the gearbox. If your truck has a weak or worn-out clutch, you will experience grinding or slipping gears when you engage the clutch.
The problem is worse for a manual transmission car because it depends on your efforts to shift gears. In case of premature clutch failure, your car cannot shift to the second, third, and reverse gears.
How To Fix Ram 1500 Transmission Problems
To solve RAM 1500 transmission problems, eliminate any issues related to the transmission fluid. Make sure that your Dodge RAM has enough clean fluid. Check for defaults in other internal parts, even if filling the fluid tank solves the shifting problem.
– Check the Transmission Fluid Level
Here is the process of checking the transmission level fluid in a Dodge RAM pickup:
- Park the pickup on a flat surface with parking brakes on.
- Start the engine and move the shifter to all gears while pressing the brake pedal. Put the shifter back in the parking position but keep the engine running.
- Open the hood and support it with a strong rod. Locate the dipstick and remove it.
- Wipe the dipstick with a clean cloth, reinsert it, and then remove it to determine the level of the transmission fluid.
- If the level is below the recommended minimum, add more fluid to a level between the minimum and maximum levels.
If your RAM model lacks a dipstick, check the manual for instructions or drive to the nearest garage for a checkup.
Flushing the transmission fluid is essential even in the absence of shifting problems. RAM manufacturers may not specify the mileage at which you should change the transmission fluid. However, it is recommended that you change the transmission filter, pan, and fluid every 50,000 miles.
– Check for Leaks
If the transmission cooler lines are leaking, your truck may develop shifting issues soon after refilling the transmission fluid. Pay attention to any fluid beneath the car after parking it for about 20 minutes.
Fix the transmission cooler lines to prevent the transmission from losing all the fluid. Look for an experienced Dodge mechanic to avoid messing with other functional parts.
– Repair and Replace Broken Parts
If sealing leaks and refilling the transmission tank does not solve the shifting issues, your RAM mechanic must inspect all internal components for defects. Shifting problems are common in most RAM 1500 models.
Hence, it is best to make transmission inspection a part of your regular service to avoid sudden shifting failures. Instruct your mechanic to replace worn-out parts in time with high-quality.
– Avoid Heavy Towing and Harsh Acceleration
Excessive strain and heavy loads put unnecessary force on the transmission. Your truck transmission will wear out prematurely because of regular heavy towing.
In addition, avoid unnecessary forceful acceleration to prolong the transmission’s lifespan. Harsh accelerations strain all the internal components that support smooth gear shifting.
1. Which RAM 1500 Models To Avoid Buying Due to Transmission Problems?
The RAM 1500 models to avoid buying due to transmission problems include the 2013, 2014, and 2016 RAM model years. The truck models have the most reported issues. The 2014 model has the highest number of complaints, while the 2016 model ranks as the worst fourth-generation RAM 1500 model.
If you are looking for RAM 1500 models without transmission problems, avoid the 2012, 2014, and 2015 RAM 1500 models. RAM recorded the worst transmission issues in those. However, the 2013 and 2016 models have other issues and complaints from car owners.
The top RAM 1500 complaints and problems are transmission difficulties, braking issues, steering problems, sensor failure leading to stalling, and multiple coolant leaks. Drivers also complain about engine failure, lifter failure, leaks in the rear window, poor start and acceleration, engine noise, and Totally Integrated Power Module (TIPM) problems.
The problems differ with the RAM 1500 that you purchase. For instance, the 2014 RAM 1500 recorded the highest number of complaints for transmission since Dodge RAM became the RAM 1500. Modern models have fewer problems and complaints than Dodge models.
2. Which Is The Best RAM Truck To Buy With Good Transmission?
The best RAM truck to buy with good transmission is the 2023 RAM 1500. Newer RAM 1500 models have fewer problems with transmission than older models. You can also buy the RAM 3500, RAM 2500, and RAM 1500 classic, which come highly recommended.
If you are buying a second-hand model, avoid the 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 RAM 1500 models. Go for modern RAM trucks, even if the cost is higher.
You found all the possible causes of Ram 1500 transmission issues and the best solutions. You also know what to expect from your mechanic when seeking professional help, so let us revisit the main lessons in this article:
- RAM 1500 trucks develop shifting problems when the transmission fluid is low or contaminated. Changing the fluid after 50,000 miles is advisable.
- A RAM 1500 truck cannot shift gears correctly with low battery voltage, a broken transmission sensor, a faulty alternator, a defective gear clutch, and a clogged transmission filter.
- Regular harsh accelerations and overloading can strain the transmission, causing shifting problems.
- Unchecked leaks reduce the amount of transmission fluid.
- Transmission replacement and refilling the transmission fluid eliminates the shifting issues.
You can fix your RAM 1500 transmission issue with the tips outlined in this article. However, it is best to involve a specialist mechanic that understands the common shifting problems with RAM truck models.
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