2003 Dodge Ram Diesel Shift When Cold Issue

Joined
Sep 26, 2002
Messages
4,871
Location
Central Arkansastan
2003, one ton, Cummins 24 Valve. 122K. Is my Fathers, who passed in 2017. My mother refuses to sell it, so it sits, as she doesn't know how to drive it. I come up, once a month, and take it out for a bit. It gets about a 1000 Miles per year on it. So far, maintenance wise, it always gets work done in Clinton, Mo. Dodge dealer, where he bought it. In the last two years it has gotten oil changed, coolant changed, tranny fluid changed. I tried to get them to change the 20 year old brake fluid but they looked at me like I was on drugs. Anyhoo, the issue I have, well, more of an oddity, is when I get up there, I disconnect the battery tender, start the truck (it is garaged) and shift to reverse, it takes a good 30 seconds to one minute to finally start moving. Doesn't matter how long its allowed to warm before shifting. It slowly engages, then shifts normally as though nothing is wrong. Has no other shift issues, and fluid level is on the mark. Anyone know of a reason why it does this? Truck runs great otherwise. Just an oddity as to why it does this.
 
Joined
Oct 3, 2010
Messages
2,108
Location
RI
Possible converter drainback/ pump issue or stuck valve. Even for converter drain back that is a long time to not engage. If you just touch the throttle when it won’t move does it drop in?

Could also have reverse band Servo issue.
 
Joined
Feb 1, 2008
Messages
59
Location
WI
Sounds like drain back. Try putting it in neutral to let the transmission fluid circulate. If I recall correctly the fluid doesn't circulate much while in park. That's what I do with my '03.
 
Joined
Oct 9, 2004
Messages
11,800
Location
Cincinnati, OH, USA
2003, one ton, Cummins 24 Valve. 122K. Is my Fathers, who passed in 2017. My mother refuses to sell it, so it sits, as she doesn't know how to drive it. I come up, once a month, and take it out for a bit. It gets about a 1000 Miles per year on it. So far, maintenance wise, it always gets work done in Clinton, Mo. Dodge dealer, where he bought it. In the last two years it has gotten oil changed, coolant changed, tranny fluid changed. I tried to get them to change the 20 year old brake fluid but they looked at me like I was on drugs. Anyhoo, the issue I have, well, more of an oddity, is when I get up there, I disconnect the battery tender, start the truck (it is garaged) and shift to reverse, it takes a good 30 seconds to one minute to finally start moving. Doesn't matter how long its allowed to warm before shifting. It slowly engages, then shifts normally as though nothing is wrong. Has no other shift issues, and fluid level is on the mark. Anyone know of a reason why it does this? Truck runs great otherwise. Just an oddity as to why it does this.
My '06 did the exact same thing, even with under 40K on the odo when I bought it! Dodge auto trannys DO NOT circulate the fluid in P, it has to be in some other gear, and the converter drains back to the pan. My solution was to start it in N(eutral), let it run, put it in gear, off she went. Also, Mopar automatics always has to have the fluid checked in N, hot, & idling to get the correct level. The 2 Cummins Rams I had also had issues moving PS fluid when really cold as well, the 30 second idle helps with that issue too.
 
Joined
Oct 23, 2005
Messages
7,851
Location
North America
Seen the same on many vehicles over the years; the longer you let an automatic sit, the longer it's gonna take for that fluid to circulate back and get everywhere.

I know it's important to both of you; but if your mom ever decides to let it go and you don't want to keep it either, please send me a private message.
 

JHZR2

Staff member
Joined
Dec 14, 2002
Messages
47,400
Location
New Jersey
Is it a 47 or 48RE? When I was shopping for a gen 2 Ram Cummins, @clinebarger filled me in in some info related to these transmissions, and subsequent reading indicates that some of these behaviors are normal.

The valve body doesn’t allow pumping in park. So if there is drain back, or just not a lot of pressure, not much will happen.

My 47RE is perfect shifting-wise, but when it gets around freezing, it just won’t pump enough to get moving. If I sit it in neutral (which does pump) for 30s, It will creep along very slow. As soon as I give some throttle, it goes creeping along perfectly like one would expect of an AT in drive.

If you idle it in neutral for a while, does the issue go away? After you give it throttle the first time, does the issue go away?

When you say the fluid level is on the mark, is that hot or cold, in park or neutral? Check your OM.

Here is the FSM for my 96:

16F69174-2D93-430E-B9E7-A23033CFE9C4.png


What was the history of fluid changes before? Were the bands ever adjusted?

Start with fluid and go from there. I suspect it shows full when cold, but is low when hot and checked the right way.
 
Last edited:

Propflux01

Thread starter
Joined
Sep 26, 2002
Messages
4,871
Location
Central Arkansastan
Honestly, not sure which Tranny, 47 or 48. I haven’t tried the neutral start, as I didn’t know it didn’t pump in park. Checking was fine in N, and warm to hot. As far as I know, I’ve done the only fluid change at the dealership, but my father was good about maintenance, and he used it to tow a travel trailer, so I’m pretty sure he serviced the tranny.
Kuato: I’ll keep that in mind. It has been very well taken care of, and I’d find it hard to sell it to one who would abuse it.
 
Joined
Mar 5, 2015
Messages
2,526
Location
Juno Beach FL
Don't know why it did it, but a buddy's Ram truck, mid 90's took its sweet time to engage after shifting. He traded it in after a few years, neither he or the dealer could figure out why.
 

JHZR2

Staff member
Joined
Dec 14, 2002
Messages
47,400
Location
New Jersey
Don't know why it did it, but a buddy's Ram truck, mid 90's took its sweet time to engage after shifting. He traded it in after a few years, neither he or the dealer could figure out why.

Mid 90s and far into the future all do it. It’s the design, which as noted, doesn’t pump in park, and can drain back to the pan when sitting.

My 96 does it, but the slightest throttle in D gets it pumped up and running normal.
 

Propflux01

Thread starter
Joined
Sep 26, 2002
Messages
4,871
Location
Central Arkansastan
OK, just an update. I went up there and drove it this weekend. I got in it, started it from cold in Neutral, and then shifted to reverse. Instant shift. Not like the issue when shifted from park. So from now on, I'll start and shift rom neutral.
 
Top