2006 Dodge Ram • 96,000 miles

(Sorry for the lengthy post, just trying to provide as much applicable background & info as possible)

I just bought a 2006 4x4 MegaCab, Cummins w/48RE trans. It has a 4” lift & 33” tires. It has 95,000 miles on it and I know the previous owner who bought it with 8,000 miles. He ran the Bully Dog for the options, but ran it on a stock tune. When I got it, it was shifting erratically, but he hadn’t adjusted for tire size, so I tried that first. I had owned it for 6 days before this story began.

Here’s the story I was on the freeway (65-67mph), changed lanes & hit an uneven section of the road, it was a filled crack, maybe a 1-2” lip, the truck started shaking violently. I thought I was losing a wheel. When I started to slow down, it quit. About 10 miles later it did it again, on another small bump in the road. It was shaking so bad that the cars behind me started backing off. I pulled over and eyeballed everything & it all looked good. About 10 miles later I arrived at my house, I parked it for about an hour & when I came back out there a small puddle of tranny fluid underneath, coming from the front of the bell housing. I thought maybe the front seal. Prior to this, it had never leaked a drop on my drive way.

I took it to the tranny shop and they looked at it and told me the shacking probably had nothing to do with the leak, just a crappy coincidence. They check the fluid and it was aerating and crawling up the dipstick about 3”. We figured that because of the aeration, it was causing the fluid level to get so high that it was coming out of the vent. We hoped for a bad or loose, tranny filter or seal. The following 3 days it leaked sporadically, one day not at all, one time a lot, and one night just a little.

Three days later, we serviced it and everything looked good, the fluid smelled and looked burnt, but there was absolutely no debris in the pan or on top of the filter, just a little bit of slime on the magnet. We replaced the governor & sensor, and put on a new filter. Now the shifting issue seems to have been corrected, likely from the governor, but the fluid is still aerating and seeping out of the vent. Or I have a bad seal and an aeration problem.

The aeration problem is a big one, because it is burning up my fluid and I know that it is causing internal damage. The tranny shop wants to rebuild the whole thing, but I can’t afford that, I just spent all my damn money on buying the truck. Not to mention, if they rebuild it, beef it up and put heavy duty TC and Shift Packs, etc. Like they want to, who’s to say that the aeration problem goes away? I’d love to beef up my tranny, but right now I just need to fix the problem and keep it going until I can afford to get it built.

Does anyone have any ideas or suggestion for this aerating problem? I can’t find anything online other than “It’s over filled” when in fact we sucked some fluid out so it was at the bottom of the hash marks, let the truck idle in N and over a 5 min span we continued to check the fluid and it crept up over 2” past the top of the hash marks. Throughout this whole ordeal, the trans usually runs about 125-150 degrees, the most it has ever got was 165 and that only happened once.

** On a side note - My father in-law figures that the shaking is a "death wobble" from bad track bar bushings. Parked with the truck off, wiggling the steering wheel I get about 1/16th" of movement on the driver’s side. I think they are all correct and it has nothing to do with the tranny problem, but DAMN what a weird coincidence. ***

Thanks in advance!
December 9, 2011.

I have to agree. The shaking you felt was most likely a steering component issue. Does the truck have a stabilizer shock on it?

As far as the trans, was the correct type of fluid used?

Yes it does have a stabilizer shock on it. I am taking it in to Les Schwab, who did the lift, and they are going to check out the steering & suspension tomorrow morning.

I asked if it was ATF4 that he was using, and he said it was Versa-somthing (I think) from Chrylser.

Dec 9, 2011.
Chances are it is something that is universal. I have been thinking about this problem. The only other time I ever experienced a similar problem was about 6 years ago on an older truck. If I recall, it was a 02 ram. The problem with that truck was the trans cooler was partially plugged causing a foaming of the fluid, poor shifting, and leaking. It's just a thought, but you may want to try to flush out the cooler and lines.

I will take it in Monday and keep you posted. Thanks!

Dec 10, 2011.
Let me know what you find.

I went back to the tranny shop this afternoon and on the way it slipped bad in second, that's the first time I have felt it slip.
Anyway they took the filter apart and found little shaving of silver non-magnetic material (aluminum maybe).
The black chunks were pieces of plastic from breaking it open.

See the pictures

The filter looked newer based on holding it to light and it looked clean and clear, no black clutch material build up.
They still want to rebuild the tranny, but they are hurting for business, I've only seen one truck in the shop in three weeks.
I REALLY don't think they'd screw me, they treated me well on my last truck and people I have sent to them.

I asked them if I should have them flush it to get all the bad fluid out, they said no & that I should just save my money for the rebuild.

On the way home, the truck struggled to get to 35mph, at about a quarter throttle, the rpms climbed to 2300 just to get it realtively slowly from 25 to 40. I could mash the pedal and get there quick, but I have no urge to floor it evverywhere I go. Yesterday this wasnt a problem.

I don't know what to do.

Maybe I'll tell them to just flush it and then dump a bunch of Lucas Trans in it and drive it easy until I can afford to rebuild it.

I have the BullyDog set to stock "No Power Added" setting, but my mileage is suffering bad. If I have it set to Tow/Economy, would that be too dangerous for the tranny?
I drive real easy, but even on Tow/Economy, if my foot twitches while pulling out of a parking lot, it really takes off.

Dec 10, 2011.
I really think you should check the trans cooler. As far as the pan, what you see is normal wear. As far as flush, I feel it will be a waste of money. Also, driving it in economy won't hurt anything any more than other setting

Wouldnt the flush be what is needed to clear the cooler?

Dec 10, 2011.
I don't think it will. They plug and the only pressure that is used with the flush is from the trans. It is the same pressure the lines always see not more.

Ok, so ask them specifically about flushing the cooler and not the whole system? What you are saying makes total sense, I will them.

And I was reading your response to the Tow/Economy setting again, and just to clarify, you think they are all equally as dangerous even though there is 100hp and 150ft lbs of torque difference between Tow & Extreme?

Dec 10, 2011.