Worst Case Scenario is Buying a Transmission When You Don’t Need One

Tri-City Transmission Customer Success Story:
Customer initial phone call was inquiring for a price of a transmission for his 2004 Dodge Ram 4wd Pickup with a 5.9l diesel engine.  Customer was adamant about getting a price on a transmission.  We told we would be happy to give him one once we had a chance to take a look at it.  He said, “Come on Dave hit me between the eyes, I just want a worst case price”.  My response was this:

“Worst case price is buying a new transmission when you don’t need one”.  Here is how the story ends:

Customer Concern / Symptoms:
20 to 30 mph when accelerating the engine just races and the tires aren’t seaming to keep up with the engine.  It happens every time I drive it but once you get going, everything seems to work just fine.
Test Data & Diagnosis:
No diagnostic trouble codes (DTC’s), transmission fluid full & in a relatively fair condition.  Vehicle does not shift into 2nd gear, shifting 1, 3, 4, skipping second gear.  Vehicle computer data shows a request for second gear, yet it never tries to apply the gear.  Suspect broken band or band strut has worked its way out.

Recommendation & Resolution:
Remove valve body to access band strut, install new band strut, re-install valve body, service transmission with new fluid & filter.

Tri-City Transmission Comments for this Repair:
This band strut has been coming loose in this transmission for years.  The transmission model is referred to as a 48RE or A618.  Sometimes people refer to them as a 47RE or A518 which is an earlier version of the transmission.  In the factory manual it calls for adjustment during a routine transmission service.  Unfortunately most shops that are not in the transmission business miss this step or adjust it improperly. 

This customer left our shop for slightly more than just a simple transmission service, thousands less than what he was originally calling for.  At 85,786 miles His transmission had plenty of life left in it.  With service maybe 60 or 70k miles left of usable life.  Although the exception and not the rule, we have one customer with 350,000 miles on this same model transmission behind the diesel.

Our industry is programmed to think that transmissions only last 100k miles.  This is partly because 1 in 3 transmissions are rebuilt or replaced unnecessarily.  We have found that 2/3rd of the time at our shop, the relationship with the customer generally follows this path.  Customers need to beware that if you call a shop for a price on a transmission, some will be happy to sell you one, whether you need it or not.  Especially if it falls into the incorrect expectation that transmission only last 100k miles. 

This family of transmission:  A500, A518, A618 also referred to as 42RE, 46RE, 47RE and 48RE.  They all are built of a very similar platform and share in many of the similar idiosyncrasies.  They are found in Dodge Dakota trucks, Dodge Ram trucks, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Dodge Durango, and a few others.