Dodge Ram Transmission Problems [5 Common Issues]

Is your Dodge Ram shifting into gear without you pressing the brake pedal? Or are you unable to shift into ‘park’? These are indicators of a transmission problem.

This article covers the common problems with Dodge Ram transmission and how to go about the issues.

Dodge Ram 500

Dodge Ram Transmission Problems

1. Shifting into Gear without Pressing the Brake Pedal

A sure sign that your Dodge Ram transmission has problems is when your vehicle shifts into gear without stepping your foot on the brake pedal.

This problem was so prevalent that the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration had to issue a wide-sweeping recall for more than half a million Dodge Ram vehicles across several model years.

Shifting into gear without touching the brake pedal occurs because the brake transmission interlock pin is defective. Your mechanic can confirm this by testing this device.

Your mechanic should attempt popping your Dodge Ram into gear without pressing the brake while the engine remains off. If the brake transmission interlock pin is in good condition, the solenoid that moves this pin will make a clicking noise.

However, if the mechanic can shift the gear without touching the brake, or the solenoid that moves the pin makes no audible click, the brake transmission interlock pin module is faulty and should be replaced immediately.

Replacing the brake transmission interlock pin will require opening up the steering column to access panels within the truck cab. A physical pin and wiring model will be replaced.

The 2015 to 2017 Dodge Ram models will require the running of a software update to ensure that the engine computer checks the pin correctly—to see whether it is in the correct position before permitting the transmission to change gears.

2. A Wrong Smell

The transmission of a Dodge Ram is a closed system. So, you can quickly tell something is wrong with your transmission if you perceive a sweet smell when you walk up to your vehicle.

You may also notice signs of a transmission fluid leak, where that sweet smell may have originated. Check beneath your Dodge Ram for a brown, red, or pink puddle.

Transmission fluids are usually pink, but as it ages, the color darkens. So, if transmission fluid has pooled beneath your Dodge Ram, check the reservoir immediately to ensure it doesn’t require a quick top off.

But if there is insufficient transmission fluid in that reservoir, do not drive your Dodge Ram until you top it off.

Driving your vehicle with insufficient transmission fluid can wreak additional havoc on your transmission, costing you a lot more to repair.

3. Vehicle Rolls Away While in Park Mode

If your Dodge Ram is supposed to be parked but starts rolling out of park spaces, something is wrong with the transmission.

However, this problem is expected to stop when the transmission interlock pin module has been replaced. This means your Dodge Ram will no longer be hopping out of Park mode on its own.

4. Knocking Sounds

When driving your Dodge Ram, there shouldn’t be any unnecessary sounds from any part of the vehicle. However, something is wrong with your transmission when you hear knocking sounds, especially when accelerating, decelerating, or changing gears.

At times, the engine mount could be responsible for the knocking sounds you hear when driving your Dodge Ram.

But if you only perceive these knocking sounds in the 3 situations highlighted in the previous paragraph, your Dodge Ram’s transmission mount may be broken or loose.

Therefore, drive your Dodge Ram to the nearest repair center so your mechanic can check it out.

5. Unable to Shift Gear into Park

Another sign of transmission trouble is when you suddenly find it difficult to shift the gear into drive, despite engaging the brake pedal.

The 2018 Dodge Ram was even recalled due to the wrong installation of the transmission park lock rod from the factory.

The park lock transmission is ingeniously shaped such that it doesn’t always move. This makes it possible to shift gears.

If you experience this transmission problem, you will need to replace the park lock rod.

Can You Drive a Dodge Ram with a Bad Transmission?

Driving your Dodge Ram with a bad transmission is risky. Whatever damage the transmission may have had will worsen as other components within the gear system start taking bad hits if you keep driving your Dodge Ram in that condition.

Soon enough, your Dodge Ram’s transmission will pack up, and your vehicle will become immobile.

You will spend a lot more money to fix the damaged transmission or may even replace it altogether, which takes even more money. In other words, do not drive your Dodge Ram with a bad transmission.

How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Dodge Ram Transmission?

The average cost of replacing a bad Dodge Ram transmission can be up to $3,500, depending on the vehicle. Labor costs, taxes, and fees, as well as the cost of related repairs, have not been factored in.

The cost of transmission services such as a fluid change or fluid flush is pocket-friendly at $150.

Tips to Make Your Dodge Ram’s Transmission Last Longer

Follow these tips to make your Dodge Ram’s transmission last longer:

  • Check the transmission fluid level occasionally and top it up if it is below the recommended level. Ensure you use the recommended transmission fluid for your Dodge Ram.
  • Always stop your Dodge Ram completely before shifting gears.
  • Allow your vehicle to warm up before shifting gears. This is crucial, especially in winter when the frigid weather thickens the oils, making them harder to travel through the transmission and engine.
  • Keep your foot off the brake while driving to avoid putting undue stress and pressure on the transmission and engine.
  • Check the pressure of your tires since worn-out tires or tires with low pressure have more resistance. Unfortunately, this adds more stress than necessary to your Dodge Ram’s transmission.

You may also like to read about Ford Focus and Toyota Venza transmission problems.


This brief guide highlights the common Dodge Ram transmission problems and the steps to take to fix them before they get worse.

Ensure that you follow the tips outlined above in order to enhance the lifespan of your vehicle’s transmission.