For those who have a Chrysler 545RFE and loss of drive (won't go into gear) and a P0944 code..

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Nov 1, 2015
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Long Island NY
Just has this problem on my 2007 Grand Cherokee 5.7 with the Chrysler 545RFE. Current mileage is 120,000. Was shifting fine, then one day I go out to do some errands and it won't go into any gear. No warning, no slip, no fluid leaks, etc. Then a code popped up P0944 lost of pump prime. Did some reading and learned it could be clogged trans filters, a defective spin on filter (there are 2 in this trans, a flat normal filter and a spin on that is for the cooler circuit). Sucked out as much fluid as I could with my vacuum pump (no drain plug) then dropped the pan and got a total of 8-9 qts. Looked in pan, it is quite clean, magnet has hardly anything on it. Filters looked ok, main filter not split, then I go to remove the spin on thinking it will be tight, but it isn't. Didn't even need a filter wrench to get it off which in my 50 years of doing oil changes is not typical. Installed main filter seal in the housing, installed both filters (the spec for that spin on is about 10 ft lbs) cleaned pan and re-applied RTV. Installed pan and let cure overnight, used Chysler ATF RTV, filters and ATF+4. Filled it up and ran it through the ranges and it's acting fine again. I saw 2 you tube vids where this spin filter got so loose it actually came off and was laying in the bottom of the pan. So if you get this symptom, no drive in any gear, and a P0944 code, try replacing the filters first, you might just get lucky.....
a few tips if you have one:
the pan bolts are 8mm be careful with them, I used a 1/4" drive socket with a built in u joint to get the bolts that are next to the cat converter and the exhaust pipe that snakes around the pan, on this job a 3/8" socket and extensions would be too big
Clean everything up well including the threads on the bolts, I also blew the bolt holes in the pan out with compressed air and made sure the bolts would thread back in before bolting up the pan.
You just don't want to break any of those little 8mm bolts or cross thread them going back in...
 

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Great information. I completely forgot that the 545RFE has two filters, it's been a long time since I service one of those units.
 
Nice! The Allys -- 6 speeds at least -- like to just let the filter drop out and fall into the pan. You can buy filter locks or aftermarket pans that have the appropriate spacing to support the filter from underneath
 
I saw 2 you tube videos where the same thing happened, one on a Ram with a Cummins and the other on a Liberty Diesel. Spin on was lying in the pan. I got it good and snug but you have to be careful because the threaded part of the filter is plastic.
 
The spin-on is inside the pan? Crazy. Best one I’ve personally had is on Subaru 4EATs, spin-on mounted high up on the outside of the case, protected from debris.

Good info 👍🏻
Saturns with the spin on filters were also good for A/T services, I drove one for about 20 years. The factory actually installed a magnet beween the filter and its housing to catch break in debris.
 
Not uncommon for the regular filter (non spin on) to be only held up by the screw. Many techs will put the seal on the neck of the filter instead of seating it in the trans properly.
 
Thanks for the post. I read similar years back when doing the filters on my 545RE equipped 2011 1500. I was surprised that the spin on was as right as it was.... until I found the **** threaded insert is plastic. Thankfully never had an issue.
 
I saw 2 you tube videos where the same thing happened, one on a Ram with a Cummins and the other on a Liberty Diesel. Spin on was lying in the pan. I got it good and snug but you have to be careful because the threaded part of the filter is plastic.

We did the "upgrade" to the metal threaded piece on my buddy's '07.5 CTD. Readily available from aftermarket diesel shops. I'm not sure if there are potential drawbacks but I generally despise plastic threads (Duramax fuel filter bleed valves I'm looking at you!!!)
 
Not uncommon for the regular filter (non spin on) to be only held up by the screw. Many techs will put the seal on the neck of the filter instead of seating it in the trans properly.
The instructions that come with the OEM filter tell you to install it into the trans case flush; there was also a TSB on this that I saw years ago.
 
The instructions that come with the OEM filter tell you to install it into the trans case flush; there was also a TSB on this that I saw years ago.
Doesn’t mean your lower level service tech who would get a trans service job will do it right. They see the filter come down with the seal on the filter, they put it back up with the seal on the new filter and think all will be well.
 
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