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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Coming back from the range the other day, truck made a big clunk and seemed to slow down for a second. I pulled it over and took a look around, but nothing seemed amiss. Ran fine after that, shifted fine, everything seemed ok. Got to a hill, it downshifted with the cruise on, and big clunk again, almost like a mild neutral drop between 4th and 3rd. Drove it another hour or so after that with no issues. Fluid is red and not stinky.

There's also a buzzing noise when I drop it into gear, like a solenoid is cycling somewhere, just for a second, and then it clears up. Could they be related?

My mom's 04 had some sort of solenoid pack failure a few years ago, but I never got the jist of what was going on.

This is my first auto trans in many years, so I'm fuzzy on how they work these days. Last one I dug into was an E4OD in a Ford truck, and that was pushing a decade ago.
 

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the buzzing is normal. Make sure fluid is full, 180F trans temp should be at the top of the HOT. Also the end likes to pop off the transducer and cause low line. Also Is this a 4WD
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
the buzzing is normal. Make sure fluid is full, 180F trans temp should be at the top of the HOT. Also the end likes to pop off the transducer and cause low line. Also Is this a 4WD
2WD, fluid level is good, transducer? You mean the continuum transfunctioner?
 

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Rear passenger side of the transmission. It sends pressure reading back to the PCM when the end pops off it sends the wrong reading back. BTW have you checked for transmission codes you will probably have to take it to a shop unless you have a good scanner.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Would a trans code throw a CEL? I'll climb under there this weekend or something and see if anything looks amiss or missing.
 

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not always, you have to remove the sensor to see if its damaged. End doesn't completely pop off just cracks and look crooked.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
not always, you have to remove the sensor to see if its damaged. End doesn't completely pop off just cracks and look crooked.
I got under there just now, on the passenger side of the trans, I've got 2 flare fittings, probably the trans cooler lines, a super-duty exhaust hanger that attaches the cat to the crossmember, and something is plugged into the body of the trans behind a heat shield, right next to the cat mount. Is that the sensor I'm looking for?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Very good, I'll check it out. Should I expect more than a dribble of fluid? Should all be in the pan, yeah?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Bump, anyone have any ideas here? The truck is becoming undrivable, it's doing this damn downshift thing about every 15 minutes on the highway, speed doesn't matter, 45 to 80, BAM! and I'm in third.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I really need to take my other car apart, and I'll have to drive the Dakota for a bit while that happens, but this trans problem concerns me greatly, anyone have any ideas what would tell the trans to downshift, but to make it happen so violently? Normal down and upshifts are smooth and good.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I recently took the rear drums off and cleaned, lubed, and adjusted everything in there, so they should be good. I'll check the fronts next time I drive it and see if anything is amiss. I had a caliper refuse to release once on the interstate, not locked up, but dragging enough to create smoke from the pad. I don't have any of those symptoms with the Dakota. Other than the awful downshifts, it accelerates, shifts, coasts, and stops just fine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Drove the truck all over the place last weekend, and it didn't do it once. The Subaru is down for suspension work, so I'll be in the Dakota this weekend as well, see what happens. This is really weird.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Update on this. Had the transmission scanned, and found that it's losing power from the TCU for a split second. For some reason, Dodge engineers thought the answer to this oddity would be to have the transmission downshift violently, regardless of gear, and hold that gear for about 3 seconds while the trans and TCU re-establish communications. I replaced the TCU for about 10 bucks, as the old one had water damage, someone had removed the rubber plug from it. The problem cleared up, then returned, but very sporadically. The second thing I have to check is the connection at the trans itself, I guess it can fill with trans fluid and interrupt electrical current. Winter now, haven't done it, see what happens when it warms up.
 

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Assuming you have the 45 RFE? I had a similar problem that turned out to be a bad wire. It sounds like your transmission is going into limp mode, when this happend to me, I could not get any P-codes. Look for pin 56 on the TCM connector, it is fused B + and should have battery voltage 12V. Mine only measured 9.5 V due to a bad wire and that was not enough to power up the tcm. If I recal correctly its spliced behind the ABS module.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Thanks for that info. Weather is improving, so maybe I can get under it shortly and check both the big connector at the trans and that pin. I'll update if I find anything.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Update on this, 2.5 years later. Got in the Dakota today after many days of hard rain (Colorado is usually pretty dry, but we're having a good spring) and fired her up. Had a CEL. This truck has never thrown one, but I do have a bad gas cap, so I wrote it off as an evap leak until I could scan. But wait, I also had every gear indicator showing active on the dash. I was in P, R, D, 2 and 1 at the same time. Cleared up after about 5 minutes.

First 50 miles of the day, all is well, CEL clears after 3 key cycles, definitely a loose gas cap I think. Sitting in a drive through in drive, foot on the brake, I feel the trans shift into neutral and back into drive 3 times on it's own. A couple times trying to get on the highway, it just drops out of drive and won't accelerate. Weird.

On the 50 mile drive home, it's banging into third non-stop, 50 times at least, so I putt along in the right lane and get it back to the house.

Scan reveals a P1698, TCM not communicating with the PCM. My ear also reveals that a relay under the hood is buzzing like a locust that's on fire. After some digging around, I find Trans Relay 31 losing it's mind and I yank it. It's the same as the headlight relay, so I swap them, clear the code with my scanner and we'll see what happens. Hopefully after all these years of this issue it's just a bad relay.

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