Dodge truck transmissions can be very expensive to repair in an auto shop. Luckily, with considerable elbow grease and some mechanical knowledge, you can fix your truck's automatic transmission yourself. This repair requires the removal of the transmission from the truck before beginning work.
Do not attempt any transmission repairs without a service manual. Replacement manuals cost between $75 and $120 depending on the year and make of your Dodge, but they contain extremely important information you will need for any DIY mechanical work. You also will need lubricant, several rags, an adjustable torque wrench, a drain pan, 18 quarts of transmission fluid and a basic tool kit with a hammer, punch and other such tools. Before purchasing replacement parts, diagnose the problem and buy only the parts you need.
Diagnosing the Problem
Read through your truck's service manual and isolate the problem. Test the current transmission fluid by placing four or five drops of it on a paper towel. After five minutes, the blots should be pink to red if the fluid is still in good condition. If the rings create a bullseye figure or if they are brown or black in color, you will need to replace the fluid. Another telltale sign of old fluid is its odor; if it smells burnt, it will need to be replaced.
Listen for buzzing, ticking or moaning sounds when starting the truck from cold. You can also try shifting gears while on the road to feel for slips. If you notice either a sound or a slip, write down the gears between which the slip happened. Even at low mileages, many Dodge owners have experienced difficulties with slipping when reversing from cold.
Repairing the Transmission
After removing the transmission, start by adjusting the Dodge's transmission bands. The front band controls the second gear cluster, and the rear band---located above the transmission pan---handles third gear as well as reverse. If the front band is slow to release, the transmission binds and wears itself down. If it releases too quickly, the truck engine will over-speed and feel like a gear slip. Tighten the front and rear bands with the adjustable torque wrench to the specifications in your service manual. Lubricate as needed.
Once the bands are adjusted, change the transmission filter and gasket and clean the drain pan. Use only the exact parts for your model described in the service manual. Next, check the shift rod, levers, grommets and torque shaft, and replace any worn parts. Lubricate the rod and swivel, and remove the linkage lash located in the steering column while applying three to five pounds of upward pressure. Adjust the linkage as needed. Continue inspecting, adjusting and replacing the additional parts, including the throttle position sensor, throttle valve cable, overdrive unit, pressure plug and propeller shafts. Finally, after reinstalling the transmission in the chassis of the truck, you can fill the ATF fill port with automatic transmission fluid +4, the required type of fluid for all Dodge and Chrysler vehicles.
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