Dodge Ram 1500 Transmission Problems & Overview

For many decades, the fullsize Dodge truck struggled to compete against its rivals from GM and Ford. To bolster lagging sales, a ‘big rig’ bodystyle was adopted in the mid-90’s, and the Dodge Ram finally took off.
The fourth generation (2009-present) Dodge Ram 1500 offer a range of powerful and efficient Hemi & non-Hemi engines that have 4, 5 or 6-speed automatic transmissions.

Do you have a problem with your 1500?
Let’s look at some of the most common transmission problems, and see what you can do to get your truck back on the road.

Recalls & Known Problems

2004 Ram 1500 – Loose Fasteners on Transfer Case (03V503000)

Most likely due to a glitch on the assembly line, the attaching fasteners on some Dodge 4×4 trucks may not have been tightened properly, which could cause leaks between the transmission and the four-wheel drive transfer case.

We know a good transmission shop in your area.

If this problem occurs, the propeller shaft could separate and damage critical fuel system components. This can lead to a fuel leak, and in the presence of an ignition source, an underbody fire. The loss of transmission fluid can also result in transmission/transfer case damage, an inoperable 4wd system, and a big red spot in your driveway.

Dodge dealers were given the correct torque specs to use when tightening the transfer case to the transmission fasteners. A recall for this problem was issued in December 2003. Owners can contact Fiat-Chrysler at 1-800-992-1997, or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at 1-888-327-4236 (refer to recall ’03V503000′)

2014 Ram 1500 – Improperly Machined Transmission Case/Rollaway (14V161000)

On 125 copies of the 2014 Ram 1500 4×4, built between January 24, 2014 and February 5, 2014, a manufacturing defect could cause the transmission to not fully engage Park, which can result in a rollaway situation.

According to the recall, a handful of 8-speed automatic transfer cases weren’t properly machined, which prevented the Park prawl from fully engaging. In some situations, the truck can slip out of Park and cause serious injury or property damage.

The official recall was issued in May 2014, and dealers were instructed to replace the entire transmission. Owners can contact Fiat-Chrysler at 1-800-853-1403 (refer to recall ‘p13′), or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at 1-888-327-4236 (refer to recall ’14V161000’)

Ram 1500 Technical Service Bulletins (TSB)

TSB 247853
A small number of 2008 Dodge Ram trucks were fitted with a defective shift cable that could loosen itself, preventing the driver from manually selecting low gears with the shift lever.

TSB 224763
The 2007 1500 came from the factory with transmission control software that could lead to harsh or erratic shifting. This TSB addressed the issue with a software patch that dealers could use to reprogram the TIPM (Totally Integrated Power Module).

TSB 138954
The PCM (Powertrain Control Module) on the 2003 model contained software errors that prevented it from detecting problems with the governor pressure sensor. To fix the problem, dealers were issued a software update for the PCM.

What Transmission Does a Ram 1500 Have?

YearEngineTrans TypeDrive
1990-1992V6 3.0L / V6 3.9L42RE4 SPD Auto 2/4WD
1993-2004V8 5.2L / 5.7L / 5.9L / 8.0LNV45005-SPD Manual 2/4WD
2003-2011V8 4.7L / V8 5.7L545RFE4 SPD Auto 2/4WD
1987-2003V6 3.9L / 4.7L / 5.2LNV35005-SPD Manual 2/4WD
2007-2012V6 3.7L42RLE4 SPD Auto 2/4WD
1995-2005V8 5.9LNV56006-SPD Manual 2/4WD
1995-2006V8 5.2L / V8 5.7L / V8 5.9L46RE4 SPD Auto 2/4WD
2005-2012V8 5.2L / 5.7L / 5.9L / 8.0LG565-SPD Manual 2/4WD
1995-2006V8 5.2L / V8 5.7L / V8 5.9L46RH4 SPD Auto 2/4WD

The RFE is an automatic transmission family from Chrysler. The name refers to its Rear wheel drive design and Four Wheel Drive Electronic control system.

  • 45RFE – 2002 Model (3.7L and 4.7)
  • 545RFE – 2003–2011 Model (3.7L, 4.7L, 5.7L Hemi)
  • 65RFE – 2012 Model (4.7L, 5.7L)

How to Diagnose & Fix

  1. Check the OBD Codes
  2. Check the fluid level
  3. Test fluid pressure
  4. Drop the pan
  5. Repair, replace or rebuild

What to Read Next

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12 thoughts on “Dodge Ram 1500 Transmission Problems & Overview

  1. Great site, have a 2006 Dodge Ram 1500. Got a code 702. Truck runs good and shifts normally but notice the RPMs will drop to 200 while going 70 mph in overdrive. Do I need a new transmission. Local shop told me to trade the truck in.

  2. I have a 1996 Dodge Ram 2500 4×4 5.9 Cummings. It has the 47RH tranny in it. The problem is when the truck is cold meaning the tranny fluid it shifts normal, you can’t tell there is anything wrong. Then when the truck warms up it has a hard time shifting. When it is in a gear there is no slip i can burn tires but it only slips when it is trying to shift. Would a shift kit cure this problem? Or is the tranny due for an overhaul. It has 150000 on it.

  3. Hi. I have a 2002 Dodge Ram 1500 4×4 4.7 litre. The truck has 234,457 kilometers on it. The transmission slipped today when I went around a corner to start going up a hill. It also has felt like it has trouble shifting in the last two days of driving it. I have never had the transmission oil changed in it. I am the only driver so I know when it is not running right. Any ideas?

  4. I have a 1996 Dodge Ram 1500 318 4×4. The transmission slips but not bad and also my 4HI won’t engage but my 4Lo will but makes a grinding noise when I do. Just wanna see what you think this will all cost ? Thanks

  5. My 2011 Ram 1500 5.7 Hemi automatic 4×4 has a problem shifting into reverse from a forward gear. Shifting from park works every time. Also on slow acceleration it sometimes feels like it’s in “limp mode”, running on 6 instead of 8 cylinders. Increasing fuel pedal pressure straightens it out.
    Thoughts on either problem?

    • Hi Beverly, if the location of the dipstick isn’t clear, you probably have the 8 speed transmission which doesn’t have a dipstick. According to Ram’s owner’s manual, “the fluid level is preset at the factory and does not require adjustment under normal operating conditions. Routine fluid level checks are not required, therefore the transmission has no dipstick. Your authorized dealer can check your transmission fluid level using special service tools.”

      You can read more here (search “no dipstick”):

      Hope this helps!

  6. I have a 1998 dodge 4×4 5.9L some times when I put it in drive and take off its not in 1st gear it takes off in 2nd gear it only does it sometimes iv checked the fluid and the little check valve on the cooling line any ideas of what’s going on with it??

  7. I have an 04 dodge ram. When I put it into gear doesn’t matter if it Reverse, Drive, or neutral nothing happens. Put it back into park and it sounds like grinding gears. Any ideas.

  8. My 2011 Ram 1500 lost it’s reverse and miraculously got it back. A week later, i was sitting at a red light after driving for approximately 40 miles and it would not shift out of first when i accelerated. I pulled over and turned it off to see if that would reset anything and nothing happened. I shifted into reverse and no reverse. Truck only has 58k miles on it and came out of warranty only 4 months ago. Dealer is telling me the transmission needs to be rebuilt and torque converter replaced at a cost of $7k. A few years back, i had it in at the dealer because i would hear a grinding noise at around 1500 – 2000 RPM’s and 30-50 mph. Dealer said they could not recreate it. After searching the internet, i find that more people have experienced the grinding noise. Wonder if that had anything to do with the transmission failure. This truck has never been off road, nor towed anything. Simply a local and highway queen in NJ. Can anyone share similar experience?

  9. Hi!
    I have a 1996 Dodge Ram 1500 5.2 manual, it shows that the transmission can be either a NV4500 or a NV3500 how can I find out which on i t is I have? Id like to flush out my transmission but want to be sure I get the proper lube and quantity but from what i have read these two type differ a bit in what is needed?
    Thank you
    -April F

  10. 2010 Ram 1500 Hemi 2 or 4×4
    My truck seem to be dragging itself forward when I have it on the 4×4 position. There is no noise, no grinding, nothing other that it does not feel like it is running freely.
    I have very low KLM on the truck approx 67,000klm to 70,000klm.
    Also if I have it on 4×4 position and I cramp my front wheels completely to the right or to the left to turn the truck it seem like it would stall… is it normal.
    It is my first 4×4 truck I am pretty green in trucks

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