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Old 11-27-2011, 06:27 PM   #1
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1999 Dodge Ram - What Gear?

I have a 1999 Dodge 2500 Ram Quad-Cab, 4X4, 5.9L Cummins, 4 speed auto transmission. The transmission is in overdrive automatically unless I press the "unlock" button at the end of the shift selector handle.

I just returned from my first trip towing my new (used) fifth wheel trailer. Owners manual says to lock out overdrive when "towing a trailer" or "hauling heavy loads", both of which qualify to lock out the overdrive. Dealer where I purchased the trailer also said to lock out the overdrive.

However, with the overdrive locked out and traveling at 55 mph, the tachometer registers 2200 rpm, which seems excessive to me for any sustained period of time. Just the slightest increase in speed and obviously the rpm's go up. The engine doesn't sound good at this rpm.

If I shift into overdrive at 55 mph the rpm's reduce to 1500, which now seems slightly low, but sounds much better. Now I am in a quandry because I believe that if something doesn't sound good it probably isn't good but both the owner's manual and one person, the dealer who sold me the trailer, say to tow with the overdive locked out.

Any help will be appreciated.
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Old 11-27-2011, 08:10 PM   #2
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Here's what I know about Rams from that era: the automatic transmissions were awful, especially when installed behind the Cummins. They just couldn't deal with all the torque that the CTD puts out, and they didn't fix the issues until 2003 or so. If you bought a Ram from that era for towing anything substantial, you were better off with a 5 speed. Now, with that being said, if I had an auto from that era, I'd leave the OD off. It's much easier to kill your transmission than it is to kill your 5.9 engine. Start shopping before it's too late.
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Old 11-27-2011, 09:58 PM   #3
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Aren't you supposed to click the OD off when your tranny is jumping around looking for gears?
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Old 11-27-2011, 10:00 PM   #4
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My buddy has an 02 dually with a cummins and he pulls a really heavy race trailer. I asked him how often one should change tranny fluid and he says he does it everytime his truck chucks a tranny. He's changed it 4 or 5 times in 130xxx miles.
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Old 11-27-2011, 10:51 PM   #5
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I have a '98 Cummins 12 valve and an auto. The truck will de-fuel at 2200 RPM unless you have the 3000 RPM govenor spring kit installed. As stated, in the early years, the transmissions were the weak links for Dodge.
I purchased my truck used, pulled the pan to change tranny oil and filter and found part of the retaining spring for the overdrive in the bottom. I was told if the rest of the retaining spring let go it would have exploded the overdrive. The rebuild cost me over six thousand, but the rebuilder guarantees it for 650 hp. My truck will never see that kind of horsepower, but I never have to worry about the transmission.
If you want more information join Dieselram.com at no cost and tell them J_R_R sent you. You can ask all the questions you want.
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Old 11-28-2011, 10:22 AM   #6
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Thanks to all for the info. J_R_R, I will check in with dieselram.com.
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Old 11-30-2011, 08:20 PM   #7
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Another good Dodge Ram site is Dieseltruckresources.com. They have a fairly good forum for the Dodge trucks.

I have a 2000 Ram with the Cummins and tow a 5th wheel trailer that weighs in a little over 10,000 pounds. When I am pulling a hill and drop below about 55, I will kick out the over drive. A side note though, I have the Edge comp box and have had my trans rebuilt to handle the extra power. If you listen to your engine, it will tell you when to drop out of overdrive. Also, it really helps if you have gauges and can watch your exhaust gas temps and boost. These will also help you know when to shift out of overdrive.

Good luck with your truck and new to you RV!

Jim
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