2012 Ram 1500 5.7 (transmission troubleshooting assistance)

Brent Perry

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Hello, apologize in advance for the long read, wanted to provide as much detail as possible, hoping to get some professional or experienced feedback.

I recently purchased a 2012 Dodge Ram 1500 ST, 2 door, 4x4, 5.7 with 107000 miles (VIN 3C6JD7AT0CG163152). Vehicle has several issues that need to be addressed, one of them being an apparent automatic transmission problem. I am listing all vehicle issues, in effort to rule out or confirm any possible cross related transmission trouble. Here are my findings:

  • First up, not a single leak or visible history of leaks (all systems).
  • When engine was started I noticed what seems to be a rod knock, knock sound is most prominent in the engine oil pan area (or even possibly between the engine and trans). Knocking sound remained at a steady tune from cold to normal operating temperature. Inspected engine oil level/color/smell, checked ok. Checked exhaust manifold and heat shield bolts, all are tight and present. I have not yet checked for spark plug tightness (heard that could cause a knocking sound as well, but the sound just doesn’t appear to be coming from the top). I am however confident this is not a valve train tick, I am familiar with that sound. Open to any feedback.
  • With engine running the vehicle is placed into reverse, transmission responds normally. When vehicle is placed into neutral, transmission responds normally. When vehicle is placed into drive, a 3-5 second delay is noticed (delayed engagement).
  • Upon inspection of trans fluid level at normal operating temperature (and transmission cycled through gears and placed into neutral), I found it to be overfilled by almost 2 quarts (no foaming was observed). I removed trans fluid until it met the correct level (between the upper two dots as noted on dipstick).
  • Performed road test; at operating temperature the vehicle was placed into drive (delayed engagement observed). Vehicle driven with easy to moderate throttle applied, while transmission cycled through shift pattern smoothly, quietly, and appears to function normal (0-60mph, stop and go traffic). I then reduced speed to a steady 40mph and then applied heavy throttle to get the transmission to downshift, a hard transmission engagement was observed (enough to throw you into the seat), however transmission acted normally after engaged. I repeated this three times, transmission responded the same way each time, along with a “traction control” light flashing a few times at each test (traction control light turned off by itself in each event, directly after hard engagement).
  • From a stop, applied heavy throttle and felt what seemed to be a slip for a few seconds, but then transmission responded normally after engagement.
  • Transmission makes no unusual sounds (no whines, grinds, whistles), no vibrations or unusual feel observed (other than what’s already been stated at application of heavy throttle). Fluid looks fairly clean, with a very light burnt smell (I have experienced worse).
 

Wild one

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Hello, apologize in advance for the long read, wanted to provide as much detail as possible, hoping to get some professional or experienced feedback.

I recently purchased a 2012 Dodge Ram 1500 ST, 2 door, 4x4, 5.7 with 107000 miles (VIN 3C6JD7AT0CG163152). Vehicle has several issues that need to be addressed, one of them being an apparent automatic transmission problem. I am listing all vehicle issues, in effort to rule out or confirm any possible cross related transmission trouble. Here are my findings:

  • First up, not a single leak or visible history of leaks (all systems).
  • When engine was started I noticed what seems to be a rod knock, knock sound is most prominent in the engine oil pan area (or even possibly between the engine and trans). Knocking sound remained at a steady tune from cold to normal operating temperature. Inspected engine oil level/color/smell, checked ok. Checked exhaust manifold and heat shield bolts, all are tight and present. I have not yet checked for spark plug tightness (heard that could cause a knocking sound as well, but the sound just doesn’t appear to be coming from the top). I am however confident this is not a valve train tick, I am familiar with that sound. Open to any feedback.
  • With engine running the vehicle is placed into reverse, transmission responds normally. When vehicle is placed into neutral, transmission responds normally. When vehicle is placed into drive, a 3-5 second delay is noticed (delayed engagement).
  • Upon inspection of trans fluid level at normal operating temperature (and transmission cycled through gears and placed into neutral), I found it to be overfilled by almost 2 quarts (no foaming was observed). I removed trans fluid until it met the correct level (between the upper two dots as noted on dipstick).
  • Performed road test; at operating temperature the vehicle was placed into drive (delayed engagement observed). Vehicle driven with easy to moderate throttle applied, while transmission cycled through shift pattern smoothly, quietly, and appears to function normal (0-60mph, stop and go traffic). I then reduced speed to a steady 40mph and then applied heavy throttle to get the transmission to downshift, a hard transmission engagement was observed (enough to throw you into the seat), however transmission acted normally after engaged. I repeated this three times, transmission responded the same way each time, along with a “traction control” light flashing a few times at each test (traction control light turned off by itself in each event, directly after hard engagement).
  • From a stop, applied heavy throttle and felt what seemed to be a slip for a few seconds, but then transmission responded normally after engagement.
  • Transmission makes no unusual sounds (no whines, grinds, whistles), no vibrations or unusual feel observed (other than what’s already been stated at application of heavy throttle). Fluid looks fairly clean, with a very light burnt smell (I have experienced worse).
You're going to blow the transmission up,by doing rolling downshifts.They won't take that very often,before you'll be replacing the transmission,and don't do any wide open pulls in high gear.Drive it to it's weaknesses,and the transmissions are pretty decent.The knock might be from the bottem end of the engine,especially if the noise is focused in the oilpan area.If you don't have a mechanics stethascope,use a piece of fuel line hose,hold one end to your ear,and hold the other end to the oilpan,and run it down the length of the oilpan listening for where the noise is orginating from.
 

Burla

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2010 Hemi Reg Cab 4x4
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Hemi
Number one issue with the 6 speeds is the valve body. Question, when you are in tow haul tow haul mode does it still do all of this. My move would be new valve body and solenoid while it is open.

What worries me more is rod knock, and you are sure from bottom of the engine? Bottom end stuff tends to be rare with hemi's. Do you tow a lot or heavy sometimes? Just brain storming, if it is possible the two are related, my guess would be thrust bearing? Rick, any chance?
 

Wild one

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Number one issue with the 6 speeds is the valve body. Question, when you are in tow haul tow haul mode does it still do all of this. My move would be new valve body and solenoid while it is open.

What worries me more is rod knock, and you are sure from bottom of the engine? Bottom end stuff tends to be rare with hemi's. Do you tow a lot or heavy sometimes? Just brain storming, if it is possible the two are related, my guess would be thrust bearing? Rick, any chance?
My other thought was either a loose or bad torque convertor Mike,but until he isolates the noise a bit better,all we can do is guess. That's usually why i try to not comment on too many of these style threads,as all we're doing is guessing,lol
 

TheEnder

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4.7L V8
Hello, apologize in advance for the long read, wanted to provide as much detail as possible, hoping to get some professional or experienced feedback.

I recently purchased a 2012 Dodge Ram 1500 ST, 2 door, 4x4, 5.7 with 107000 miles (VIN 3C6JD7AT0CG163152). Vehicle has several issues that need to be addressed, one of them being an apparent automatic transmission problem. I am listing all vehicle issues, in effort to rule out or confirm any possible cross related transmission trouble. Here are my findings:

  • First up, not a single leak or visible history of leaks (all systems).
  • When engine was started I noticed what seems to be a rod knock, knock sound is most prominent in the engine oil pan area (or even possibly between the engine and trans). Knocking sound remained at a steady tune from cold to normal operating temperature. Inspected engine oil level/color/smell, checked ok. Checked exhaust manifold and heat shield bolts, all are tight and present. I have not yet checked for spark plug tightness (heard that could cause a knocking sound as well, but the sound just doesn’t appear to be coming from the top). I am however confident this is not a valve train tick, I am familiar with that sound. Open to any feedback.
  • With engine running the vehicle is placed into reverse, transmission responds normally. When vehicle is placed into neutral, transmission responds normally. When vehicle is placed into drive, a 3-5 second delay is noticed (delayed engagement).
  • Upon inspection of trans fluid level at normal operating temperature (and transmission cycled through gears and placed into neutral), I found it to be overfilled by almost 2 quarts (no foaming was observed). I removed trans fluid until it met the correct level (between the upper two dots as noted on dipstick).
  • Performed road test; at operating temperature the vehicle was placed into drive (delayed engagement observed). Vehicle driven with easy to moderate throttle applied, while transmission cycled through shift pattern smoothly, quietly, and appears to function normal (0-60mph, stop and go traffic). I then reduced speed to a steady 40mph and then applied heavy throttle to get the transmission to downshift, a hard transmission engagement was observed (enough to throw you into the seat), however transmission acted normally after engaged. I repeated this three times, transmission responded the same way each time, along with a “traction control” light flashing a few times at each test (traction control light turned off by itself in each event, directly after hard engagement).
  • From a stop, applied heavy throttle and felt what seemed to be a slip for a few seconds, but then transmission responded normally after engagement.
  • Transmission makes no unusual sounds (no whines, grinds, whistles), no vibrations or unusual feel observed (other than what’s already been stated at application of heavy throttle). Fluid looks fairly clean, with a very light burnt smell (I have experienced worse).
I would suggest doing a relearn on the transmission after doing a transmission fluid change with ATF+4. If you’re willing to spend around 20 or so ish dollars (i forgot what the price of a license is, it’s been a while) you can hook up a cheap scan tool (BAFX OBDII scan tool on Amazon, get the wifi one if using a iPhone) and use OBD Jscan (avail on both iPhone and iOS) and view the CVIs of the transmission which will tell you the health of the trans.

Be careful with flooring it from cruising gear, OD in these transmissions are notoriously weak as Chrysler only used single-sided clutch disks in them and the valve bodies are also known for warping due to heat and leaking all their line pressure therefor burning up all your clutches. I have a CVI chart range (for a healthy trans) and it is as follows:

L/R: 45 to 134
2C: 25 to 85
2C Alternate: 25 to 85
OD: 30 to 100
4C: 30 to 85
4C Alternate: 30 to 85
UD: 30 to 100

In order to do a relearn you need AlfaOBD which is only available on Androids. It’s 50$ but gives you access to a vast amount of vehicle options and data streams and diagnostic tools. Good luck and be sure to let us know what happens.
 

TheEnder

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Also, delayed engagement is normal after a cold start as the torque converter leaks back into the pan if a non-mopar filter kit is used. It still does it with the Mopar kit in my experience but just not as bad. Once you fill up the converter you shouldn’t have the delayed engagement issue after though.
 

Jeepwalker

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2012 Reg Cab, 4x4
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5.7 Hemi
Tranny:
I would suggest the #1 item that fails on the RFE's are the solenoids. More than the valve body ...but maybe its too close to call, lol. They're not difficult to change, you can buy solenoid kits on Amazon. If you change the fluid, that's the time to do it. You could actuate the solenoids and do a 'test' with them via a scanner (now is probably a good time to get a decent scanner or get yourself set up with Alfa-OBD ...a chrysler-based software pkg which is a great bang for the buck).

I have a V8 Grand Cherokee and the tranny (similar trans) was acting 'funny' for quite a while. I took it to the dealer (it was cold winter outside and I was slammed with work). I could have replaced the solenoids myself, but dealer re-affirmed they believed it to be a failing solenoid, replaced it ($350 back then). It took a few days for the tranny to re-learn itself but then it was back to normal and has been that way for, 7-8 years now?? (my daughter drives it now). Do a google search on RFE slow engagement. The nice thing about these transmissions is so much is known about them, so much info out there. They're pretty strong n reliable. My Ram is about the same setup as yours: 171k mi.

Engine:
Yeah it sounds like it could be a rod knock or piston slap. Another possibility is a cracked or warped exhaust manifold (let's not rule that out just yet). But it sounds like you know a rod knock when you hear it. Like the other guys said, attempt to isolate which piston the knock is coming from using one of their methods ...or even a wood stick to the side of the block (against your ear) ...if you can position a stick that way (not sure it's possible). Move from one cyl to the next till you zero in on where it is. Once you isolate it, you might unplug the coil that operates that cylinder ....just to see if the noise goes away (since there wouldn't be any combustion in that cylinder). I would then check the oil pressure. Attach the gauge and check while dead-cold some AM ...and watch the pressure needle as the truck warms up. Maybe after 10 minutes, take it for a drive up/down the road and come back ...see what the lowest it goes is at idle.

I guess if it were me, if you have ANY inclination to pull and check the spark plugs, that's the time to perform a compression test (engine warm obviously). Make sure you've removed one plug from each cylinder (not both) before doing it. I mean ...have all 8 removed before starting (sorry, I've seen guys do it wrong). Give each cylinder 4 'puffs' (or 5 ...but keep them the same). Write down the compression results of each cylinder. The reason to do this is to assess the general health of the engine ...and once you've removed the spark plugs it doesn't take long to do.

Exhaust Manifolds:
They all warp on these Hemi's. Be absolutely you don't yank the engine until you take a real good look at them. They can make deceiving noises (yes, usually a 'tick'). One reason it might go away when warm is if a warped manifold heats up and by a freak of nature happens to seal better (this can happen on some vehicles). Remove your truck's inner fender liner or at least the flap on the side of the piston noise, remove the tire so you have better access ....and see if you can probe around the exhaust manifold area to rule out it isn't cracked or warped...spoofing you into thinking the noise is bottom end. I think it's safe to say ALL hemi exhaust manifolds WILL WARP ...that's how common of a problem it is. There is every reason to believe your manifolds are warped unless they've been fixed by a previous owner (you might have the dealer run a repair history). And bear in mind, if the dealer 'replaced them' with new ...they warped again. Probably even broke off a manifold mounting bolt (check them). The trick is to re-do already heat-warped manifolds; belt-sanding or machined (they won't re-warp after that).

If, after all that, if it were my truck, and it seems like it's rod bearings, I would evaluate the oil pressure, compression and make a decision. You could either A) pop the oil pan and have a look at the piston rod bearing in question. Maybe replace it with a new one hopefully on the truck, then slap it back together. If the noise is gone, you found and rectified the problem and can plan on your next engine move, or drive it till she fails (could go another 50k miles!??). B) Yank the engine and look inside. If there's not much ridge, install new bearings ...or hone and re-ring the block ...get the heads redone ...new cam/lifters, etc. Whatever build you want to do. The lifters are a weakness so you'd want to address them. C) Buy a new engine, D) Drive it till she fails (and deal with the fall-out at that time).

Other than the things you mentioned, it sounds like a decent pickup
 
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Brent Perry

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I never got notice on these replies. Thank you all! Here is a follow up;
- Four of the exhaust manifold bolts were found to be cracked and all bolts were replaced (loud tick continued). Checked flex plate, not cracked and tight. Compression test and oil pressure checks good. Decided to pull the motor and dive deeper.
- Cam and lifters show wear/marring, but not to the extent that I have seen on other posts, nor to the extent that I would consider to make that loud of a tick. I found the cam measured .030 max end play before removal (supposed to be .001-.003), but all bearings and surfaces check good (I don't understand the reason for such large endplay). One of the cam lobes (the worst being shown) is slightly grooved. A few of the rollers show marring, but all rotate and appear to have no unusual play. Valve springs look good, valve seats look good, push roods not bent. I am replacing the cam and lifters (MOPAR OEM), but my main concern is that after reassembly the tick will still be present (again this is not an injector tick, this can be heard 20 yards away). What am I missing, other than hands on or visual experience?
- On further inspection Crank: Zero rod bearing issues, no movement, no signs of rod knock. I did find something interesting... I believe this tab (circled in red) on the #3 main, to be the thrust bearing. I can wiggle it up/down (head to pan) about 1/32nd of an inch, moves freely enough to make a slight tick sound. It has no fwd/aft movement. Wanted to know if i have correctly identified this part, and should it be moving/moveable?
- Still need to dig into trans, one thing at a time.
 

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