Automatic Transmission Repair – Saving money by going DIY

Dodge Diesel 47RE and 48RE transmission repair

BOTH FIXED!!!  $750 saved for each truck!!!

1999 Dodge Diesel 47RE – stuck in first
2003 Dodge Diesel 48RE – stutter shifts from 1st to 2nd gear

Automatic transmission repairs can be very expensive if performed by a transmission shop of dealer.  Here is how a friend and I saved at least $750 each by doing the work ourselves.  $750 per vehicle saved is very conservative, I think it would be closer to $1000 per vehicle at most retail shops and dealers.

47RE solenoid kit

48RE solenoid kit

My 2003 dodge diesel had been stutter shifting between 1st and 2nd gear for at least a year.  The stutter shifting was not all the time, usually at light throttle and if I just let off the throttle and got back on quickly, it would shift fine.  It occasionally shifted a little rough in other gears also, but that was a lot less frequent than the stutter shift.  I did some research on what caused these issues and the majority of the solutions were centered around a solenoid kit.  While doing this research I learned about many other transmission issues that folks tend to have in these dodge diesel trucks and when a friend of mine mentioned he was having issues with his 1999 dodge diesel automatic transmission, I had a pretty good idea what would fix it.  His truck was “stuck” in first gear.  The issue began with late shifts out of 1st and would get better as the transmission fluid heated up.  This issue got progressively worse until it would not shift out of first at all even with a warm transmission.  The apparent repair for his transmission was the same solenoid kit for his year model truck.

Automatic transmissions have a lot of electronics in them these days, so if you have an automatic transmission that is not working correctly, it might be as simple as replacing a sensor, solenoid or other electronic device that is relatively inexpensive and usually pretty easy to get to.  If you do a little digging on the internet, you will likely find someone posting the solution to the same issue.  There are a lot of these trucks still on the road and lots of folks that do their own repairs.  This means lots of good information on the internet about different issues and solutions.  Sometimes it takes a bit of digging, but the solution is usually out there.  For the issues we were having with our trucks, there were tons of posts, most saying service the transmission and replace the parts in the solenoid kit(s).

Transmission Parts

Once you have diagnosed the issue and what the fix is, look for a video on how to perform the repair.  The guy that posted this video has good parts kits and informative videos on how to install the kits.  CascadeTransParts, thanks a lot for the products you offer the videos that you post!  Much appreciated!  We bought our kits from Cascade due to the level of information and quality parts he provides.  It is a good value.

Fluid, you will need 6-8 quarts depending on your transmission and a very big pan to catch it in or a way to direct the fluid into your pan without making a huge mess.  Just verify the proper amount  for your transmission and have it on hand before you start the job.  Me any my buddy both used Castrol Transmax ATF+4  which is a full synthetic.  Lots of posts suggested this fluid indicating they had good success with it and it is less expensive than OEM brand fluid. The Castrol is certainly not the least expensive ATF+4 out there, but it definitely appears to be a good value, especially from Amazon.  Might be a good idea to have a couple of extra quarts on hand just in case.

Dodge Diesel stuck in first gear

We tackled the 1999 truck first since it was “stuck” in first.  It was a little intimidating at first, but the hardest part was removing the pan and catching all the fluid.  I know, why was this intimidating, not sure, just had not done this before on these trucks and had a little apprehension.  Watch a few videos, print out the instructions, get any special tools, shop rags, parts and fluid needed for the job and go for it.  It is not a difficult job.  I would recommend getting a second person to assist.  It can certainly be done by yourself, but a second person makes it easier.  The electrical connections can be a little tough to get off, just go easy and don’t break the connector.  It took us about 3-4 hours to do the job start to finish, test drive and all.  It shifted from 1st to second and all other gears just like it should.  Success!

We did the work to my truck a couple weekends later.  The only problem I encountered was one of the electrical connectors was very difficult to disconnect.  I actually broke a little tab off one of the connectors.  Luckily, it did not affect the connector’s ability to clip onto the new part.  Just be careful when removing these connectors.  We got the parts installed, filled with fluid and it was good to go.  No more stutter shifting!  All shifts seem to be better, not sure why, but I am not complaining.  I was contemplating adjusting the bands on my truck, but decided not to once we got into it.  I wanted to make sure the solenoid kit solved the problem and not the band adjustment.  I think I will change fluid and filter again in 10,000 miles and probably adjust the bands then.  If I do, I will post an update.

In summary, neither of these transmission repairs were difficult.  A little research, preparation and help from a friend made both jobs go well.  I spent about $185 for parts and fluid, that beats $1000+ at a transmission shop any day.

48RE Band Adjustment Instructions

48RE band adjustment instruction link 1

48RE band adjustment instruction link 2

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