Ram 1500 Not Shifting Properly – What Could Be Wrong?

The Ram 1500 is a great truck to have because of its impressive power and smooth ride. However, just like any truck, at some point, there will be problems that arise. After all, a truck is only as good as it drives, so what do you do if your Ram 1500 isn't shifting properly? What could be wrong? Below, we have listed the possible reasons you have transmission issues with your Ram's 8-speed transmission.

One of the most common reasons for bad shifting in a Ram 1500 is a bad transmission sensor. If the transmission sensor isn't getting signals from other parts of the car, you will have issues shifting, such as changing gears and using cruise control. Other issues that could cause these problems are dirty transmission fluid, a clogged transmission filter, or faulty transmission relay or wiring.

It's best during your 3-month or 5,000-mile oil change service to have the transmission fluids checked. Doing so will help with any possible transmission issues. The mechanic might also be able to catch other ways to help improve the performance of your truck. Nonetheless, keep reading as we dive deeper into troubleshooting why your Ram 1500 isn't shifting properly.

A gorgeous Dodge ram 1500 parked on the side of the road,Ram 1500 Not Shifting Properly - What Could Be Wrong?

Ram 1500 Not Shifting Properly - What Could Be Wrong?

There are several reasons why your Ram 1500 isn't shifting properly. Below we have outlined the most common culprits to transmission issues.

Dodge RAM 1500 on rocky mountains

Bad Transmission Sensor

This is the most common cause of a truck not shifting smoothly.  A bad or loose transmission sensor can interfere with other components and eventually lead to your Ram 1500 truck experiencing hard shifting in every gear.

Before checking the transmission sensor, the first thing you want to do if you think this might be the problem is to check out the transmission fluid and transmission filter for any debris or clogging. If these are good, you can move on to checking each sensor individually for a loose hold or damage in any of them.

Going through and physically inspecting what needs to be inspected will help narrow down your current problem that could lead you to fix your Ram 1500 truck shifting issues.  Aside from a bad transmission sensor being the culprit, it could be that your truck has a loose wire in the system or a faulty transmission relay.  

Two other things need to be assessed: your fluid and your PCM (Powertrain Control Module), which is located on top of the battery and can be accessed by removing its cover.  If you think this could be the problem, you may want to consult with someone who has more knowledge in this area, as tuning PCMs can cause problems if not done properly.

Faulty Transmission Relay or Wire

If your transmission sensor seems fine and your fluid is clean, then your truck could have a faulty transmission relay or wire. In addition, the truck will show signs of hard shifting by not wanting to stay in one gear. In this case, the transmission should not be slipping gears or having a hard time staying in a certain gear when you want it to, but rather it will go from first gear directly into third and then back down again with no issue whatsoever.

This type of occurrence is potentially caused by either an electrical relay or a wire that has come loose. To test this, check if you have any voltage coming from the terminals on the transmission and then inspect the wires for any damage or interference with other parts of your Ram 1500's interior. Most mechanics will identify faulty transmission relays and wires by using an oscilloscope; a device made to find electrical faults.  

To help further troubleshoot this transmission issue, try bypassing the relay by unplugging it and seeing if the problem follows with it or not. If you are still experiencing problems after doing so, you may actually have a bad PCM, which controls all of your relays and wires in the first place.

Another way to tell if the relay or wire is causing your truck not to shift smoothly is to start by unplugging one at a time and then driving your truck. If you notice that it shifts smoother after doing so, pat yourself on the back as you have just found the source of your problems.

How do you reset the transmission on a Ram 1500? 


RAM 1500 Rebel stopped next to lake in a sunset, Can You Regen A Truck While Driving?

A TCM (Transmission Control Module) relearn is a procedure carried out by an authorized service center with the appropriate tools and software.

To execute this, there are certain conditions Dodge Ram 1500 owners should make a note of; specifically, they need to have brakes applied before executing the tranny's relearn, perform it on 500 RPMs or higher engine speeds which will require them to maintain throttle angles below three-degrees as well as keep their shift lever in the park until prompted to overdrive (thereby not switching gears).

Once all these requirements are met, your transmission has successfully been reset when you switch back into drive mode.

How long do Ram 1500 transmissions last?

Most transmissions may last for quite a long time on average, but it all depends on how often you use your truck, driving conditions, and how well and frequently you will have it maintained. The 150,000-200,000 mile marks are usually around when most trucks end up having their transmissions replaced or repaired.

What years did Dodge Ram have transmission problems?

There are a few years that built in the transmission issues into their design. Rams produced between 1998-2001 and during 2007 and 2011 mainly have problems with the transmissions slipping between gears or not wanting to shift smoothly.

So if you happen to own a Dodge Ram truck manufactured from 1998-2007, then chances are you should pay close attention to your transmission.

If you notice any of these signs, be sure to inspect your transmission fluid as well as wires and relays before assuming this is something more serious. Most transmission issues can be easily repaired or even prevented with regular maintenance and lubrication of the area.

If you have any concerns or would like to know more about your Ram 1500's transmission, feel free to contact a mechanic who will be able to run through various diagnostic tests on your truck's specific issue.

A huge white Ram 1500 parked near a building with its lights turned on, How Much Weight Can A Ram 1500 Hold In Its Bed?


What problems do Ram trucks have, and what years?

Over the years, there have been several complaints about the Ram trucks. Below are the most common consumer complaints.

TIPM Complaints

Chrysler vehicles are notorious for their complaints about the central power distribution center, TIPM. The module interfaces with all of a vehicle's systems, and when it fails, there is no telling what will happen to other components in your car.

RAM truck owners of 2015-2019 vehicles have had many problems, including horns going off randomly, stalling out on the highway or not starting at all due to fuel pump issues and faulty coolant fans, as well as locks that don't work because buttons have gone haywire from bad signal transmissions through this dreaded component!

Engine Problems

In 2016, Ram Trucks experienced a wide variety of engine malfunctions. They include:

  • cam and lifter failures,
  • exhaust manifold failures,
  • compression issues,
  • coolant leaks from the radiator-related hoses,
  • or water pump seals that can lead to overheating due to lack of coolant flow in the cooling system.

Engine stalls are caused by faulty ignition modules linked with power steering failure and seat belt retractor problems. Cylinder head failures happen when leaky valve cover gaskets allow unfiltered oil into combustion chambers which causes cracking on cylinder walls leading them to break down faster than normal causing fatal consequences for your car's performance.

In 2015 alone, there were 4,000 reports made about these engine problems, which prompted Chrysler to investigate the issue further. So if you happen to be one of the many Ram truck owners who's had your engine fail, contact a mechanic today for help with any repairs that might need to be made on your car.

Transmission Issues

The newer RAM trucks have had a history of transmission issues. As a result, owners often complain that they experience jerky shifts, slow acceleration, and clunky shifting, contributing to their inability to enjoy the truck's performance capabilities.

Dead Battery

On their new purchase, several owners of the 2019 RAM 1500 had an issue with an unexplainable dead battery. One owner states, " I got my new 2019 RAM 1500 last night, and this morning it wouldn't start. It was in the driveway all night with a half tank of gas, and when we tried to start it after breakfast, there was no life whatsoever. The radio wouldn't even work."

One possible cause for these issues may be lead content in the battery. Because of these lead issues, many companies are starting to phase out their batteries and use more eco-friendly nickel-metal hydride (NiMh) or lithium-ion ones instead.

In Closing

A gorgeous Dodge ram 1500 parked on the side of the road,Ram 1500 Not Shifting Properly - What Could Be Wrong?

Just because the Ram 1500 has had common issues, it is important to remember that all vehicles have common issues. There isn't one that is perfect and will never have a repair. But, overall, the Ram 1500 is still a great truck to consider and put on your test-drive list!

If you enjoyed this article on troubleshooting Ram 1500 shifting issues, you might also like:

How Much Weight Can A Ram 1500 Hold In Its Bed?

Can You Flat Tow A Ram 1500?

Ram 1500 What Are The Common Problems?

Have you ever had issues with your Ram 1500? We would love to hear from you!

Share this article


  1. I have a 2019 Ram and love it, on trips I used to get 27 to 30 mpg. The last two trips I only get 21 to 21.5 something is wrong, I took it to the dealer service and had it checked, they told me it was fine. It won’t shift in to 8th unless I am going 72 to 75. I went to boston and back and it ran in 6 gear most of the way and I am sure that is killing my mileage. I would like someone to call Northpoint in Derby, Vt. and give them some ideas on what to check, they are lost! Thank you

  2. I have a 2019 ram rebel it has 75000kms on it the last 30000kms i have noticed my transmission does not like to shift down from 2nd to first gear,it shifts very rough and sometimes it will kick itself out of gear into neutral,So when that happens i wouuld have to stop put into park and then select drive. I have had into the dealership at least 4 times for this issue and they cannot seem to fix this issue, they tore the engine down to the block thinking the cam shaft was bent or the camshaft pin but all was good. I phoned chrysler customer care and got no satisfaction at all,all they said was to keep working with my dealership or maybe go to a different dealer ship for a second opinion. Frustrated to the fullest right now.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *