Troubleshooting 2016 Ram 1500 Transmission Problems: A Comprehensive Guide

Your 2016 Ram 1500 is your pride and joy. You depend on it to get you where you need to go, but what happens when it starts experiencing transmission problems? Transmission issues can be costly and frustrating, especially if you don’t know what’s causing them or how to fix them.

In this comprehensive guide, we will cover all the transmission problems faced by 2016 Ram 1500 owners, including bumps, hard shifts, jerks, slips, BTSI failure, and more.

We’ll also provide you with the knowledge, tips, and practical solutions to address common transmission problems head-on. Whether you use your Ram 1500 for heavy hauling, navigating rough terrains, or everyday commuting, we understand how vital it is to your daily life. Let’s learn how to fix the transmission issues at hand and get you back on the road as quickly and safely as possible.

Troubleshooting 2016 Ram 1500 Transmission Problems A Comprehensive Guide

Understanding The 2016 Ram 1500 Transmission System

Before diving into the specific transmission issues, it is essential to have a basic knowledge of the 2016 Ram 1500’s transmission system. The transmission plays a crucial role in transferring power from the engine to the axles, enabling the vehicle to operate smoothly and efficiently.

The Ram 1500’s transmission system is comprised of multiple components that collaborate to facilitate gear adjustments and torque delivery. These features include

The transmission fluid comes first, followed by the torque converter, clutch packs, and valve body.

Understanding how these elements interact is essential for effectively diagnosing and treating transmission issues.

Common Transmission Problems in the 2016 Ram 1500

The 2016 Ram 1500 has been associated with several transmission problems reported by owners. Let’s take a closer look at some of these issues:

Slipping Transmission

One prevalent problem is a slipping transmission, which occurs when the transmission fails to maintain a steady power delivery to the wheels. Slipping can be caused by low transmission fluid levels, fluid leaks, or worn-out clutch packs.

Symptoms may include a loss of power, erratic behavior, or the engine revving without a corresponding increase in speed. A slipping transmission can lead to reduced performance and potential long-term damage if not addressed promptly.

Delayed or Harsh Shifting

Many owners have reported delayed or harsh shifting, especially when turning or changing gears. Delayed shifting refers to a delay between the driver’s input and the transmission engaging the selected gear.

Harsh shifting involves abrupt gear changes resulting in a jerking motion. These issues can be caused by faulty valve bodies, worn-out clutch packs, or electronic control module malfunctions. Delayed or harsh shifting can negatively impact the overall driving experience and may indicate underlying transmission problems. We noticed similar shifting issues in the later 2021 Ram 1500 Transmission.

Transmission Bumps

Maintaining an optimal level of transmission fluid is crucial to prevent transmission bumps in the 2016 Ram 1500. Low levels of transmission fluid can cause damage to the gears and bearings, resulting in jolts or hesitations during acceleration or shifting. Dirty filters can also restrict the flow of transmission fluid and lead to bumps.

Additionally, worn-out gears, damaged sensors or solenoids, and faulty torque converters can contribute to these problems. Regular maintenance, such as fluid changes and filter replacements, can help prevent future transmission issues.

BTSI Failure

BTSI (Brake Transmission Shift Interlock) failure can be a serious safety hazard on the road. This feature prevents the vehicle from shifting out of the park unless the brake pedal is depressed. If it fails, the vehicle may not shift gears or start if the system detects that the brake pedal isn’t pressed.

Common signs of BTSI failure include warning lights on the dashboard and clicking sounds when pressing the brake pedal. Prompt attention should be given to these issues to ensure safe operation.

Transmission Overheating

Transmission overheating is another issue encountered by some 2016 Ram 1500 owners. This problem can arise due to factors such as insufficient transmission fluid, fluid leaks, or excessive strain on the transmission system. Signs of an overheating transmission include a burning smell, high transmission temperature readings, or erratic shifting.

Continuous overheating can lead to reduced transmission lifespan, potential damage, and costly repairs if not addressed promptly. Regularly check the transmission fluid level and condition, address any leaks promptly, and monitor the transmission temperature gauge during heavy loads or extreme driving conditions.

Torque Converter Issues

The torque converter is responsible for transferring power from the engine to the transmission. Problems with the torque converter can result in transmission slipping, overheating, or stalling.

Possible Causes of Transmission Problems

Understanding the potential causes of transmission issues can help you identify and address problems more effectively. While the specific reasons can vary, here are some common factors that may contribute to transmission problems in the 2016 Ram 1500:

Insufficient Transmission Fluid Level

Maintaining the appropriate level of transmission fluid is vital for smooth gear shifts. Insufficient fluid levels can cause increased friction and heat within the transmission, leading to improper functioning of the gears. Regularly checking and replenishing the fluid level is crucial to avoid shifting problems.

Leakage In The Transmission Cooler Lines:

One of the culprits behind shifting problems in the 2016 Ram 1500 lies in leaking transmission cooler lines. These lines are responsible for cooling the transmission fluid. When they develop leaks, the fluid levels may drop, leading to inadequate lubrication and impairing the shifting mechanism.

Worn-out clutch packs:

Premature gear clutch failure can also be a factor contributing to shifting issues. The gear clutches play a crucial role in transferring power from the engine to the transmission, allowing for smooth gear changes. If these clutches wear out or fail prematurely, the shifting process may become erratic or completely non-responsive.

Faulty valve body or solenoids:

The valve body and solenoids play a critical role in directing hydraulic pressure and engaging different gears. Malfunctions in these components can lead to shifting issues, such as harsh shifts or failure to shift into the desired gear.

Issues with the torque converter:

The torque converter transfers power from the engine to the transmission and helps maintain smooth operation. Problems with the torque converter, such as lock-up clutch failure or insufficient fluid pressure, can result in various transmission issues.

Malfunctioning transmission sensor

A faulty transmission sensor can disrupt the communication between the vehicle’s computer system and the transmission. This can result in incorrect gear selection or delays in shifting, negatively impacting the overall performance of the vehicle.

Defective speed sensor:

The speed sensor is responsible for relaying crucial information about the vehicle’s speed to the transmission control module (TCM). A malfunctioning speed sensor can lead to improper gear shifts, causing the vehicle to struggle with acceleration or deceleration.

Contaminated transmission fluid:

Over time, transmission fluid can become contaminated with debris, dirt, or metal particles. This can hinder the fluid’s ability to lubricate and cool the transmission, potentially causing damage or affecting performance.

Loose wires or faulty electrical relays: Electrical issues, such as loose connections or faulty relays, can disrupt the transmission system’s communication and result in shifting problems or other malfunctions.

Issues with the alternator and battery voltage

The electrical system of the 2016 Ram 1500 plays a significant role in the proper functioning of the transmission. If the alternator is faulty or the battery voltage is low, it can result in inadequate power supply to the transmission, causing shifting problems and other electrical malfunctions.

Dysfunctional shift motor actuator

The shift motor actuator is responsible for engaging and disengaging the gears in the transmission. A malfunctioning shift motor actuator can lead to issues such as failure to engage gears, gear slippage, or difficulty shifting between gears.

Software issues with the TCM

The transmission control module (TCM) is the brain behind the transmission’s operation, relying on various sensors and data inputs to make accurate gear selections. Software glitches or outdated TCM software can cause the TCM to make incorrect decisions, leading to shifting problems.

Broken boost valve spring retainer:

The boost valve spring retainer is a critical component responsible for regulating hydraulic pressure within the transmission. If the boost valve spring retainer is broken, it can lead to improper pressure regulation, resulting in harsh shifting, gear slipping, or even transmission failure.

Solutions and Remedies for Transmission Problems of 2016 Ram 1500

When faced with transmission problems in your 2016 Ram 1500, several solutions and remedies may be applicable depending on the underlying cause. Here are some potential courses of action:

Regular maintenance and fluid checks:

Following the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule is vital for the health of your transmission. This includes periodic fluid checks and changes to ensure proper lubrication and cooling.

Addressing transmission fluid leaks:

If you discover transmission fluid leaks, it is critical to locate the source and have it repaired as soon as possible. Regular inspections and leak detection can help prevent additional transmission damage.

Replacing worn-out clutch packs:

If worn-out clutch packs are identified as the cause of transmission problems, replacing them can restore proper functionality. A qualified technician can perform this repair, ensuring the correct installation of new clutch packs.

Repairing or replacing the valve body and solenoids:

Malfunctioning valve bodies or solenoids may require repair or replacement. These components control the flow of fluid and engage gears, and their proper operation is essential for smooth shifting.

Repairing or replacing the torque converter:

If issues with the torque converter are identified, repair or replacement may be necessary. This can help resolve problems such as slipping, lock-up clutch failure, or inadequate fluid pressure.

Software Update

In some cases, a straightforward software update can resolve certain transmission problems in the 2016 Ram 1500. Software updates can address issues related to the transmission’s electronic control module (ECM), improving its performance and responsiveness.

If you are experiencing transmission issues, particularly those related to shifting or performance, consult with your dealership or a qualified technician to determine if a software update is available for your vehicle.

Drive Shaft Replacement

In severe cases where other solutions have been exhausted, owners may need to consider drive shaft replacement. Drive shaft issues can manifest as vibrations, clunking sounds, or difficulty in maintaining power delivery from the transmission to the wheels.

A worn-out or damaged drive shaft can negatively affect the vehicle’s drivability and may require replacement. The cost of drive shaft replacement can vary depending on the specific circumstances and labor rates, typically ranging around $750.

Proper transmission fluid maintenance:

Transmission oil needs to be checked and maintained on a regular basis to make sure it works well and lasts as long as possible. It is important to use the right type of transmission fluid and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for changing the fluid. When you flush the transmission fluid at the right times, you get rid of any contaminants and make sure that the fluid can still lubricate and cool the transmission.

Testing for problems and repairs:

If it’s not clear what’s wrong with the transmission, diagnostic tests may be needed. Advanced scanning tools and testing equipment can tell you a lot about the transmission system by showing you error codes, sensor problems, or other problems that are deeper down. Depending on the results of the diagnosis, the right fixes or replacements can be made.

Professional repairs and expert assistance:

Transmission problems can be complex, and attempting DIY repairs without proper knowledge and experience can lead to further damage. It is advisable to seek professional help from certified technicians or automotive experts who specialize in transmission systems. They have the expertise and tools to accurately diagnose the problem and perform the necessary repairs or replacements.

Preventive Measures for Maintaining a Healthy Transmission on 2016 Ram 1500

While transmission problems can arise unexpectedly, there are preventive measures you can take to maintain a healthy transmission and minimize the risk of issues. Consider the following tips:

Follow the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule:

Adhering to the recommended maintenance schedule is essential for keeping your transmission in good condition. Regular service intervals for fluid changes, filter replacements, and inspections should be followed diligently.

Use the correct transmission fluid:

Using the recommended type and grade of transmission fluid is crucial. Different transmissions require specific fluids, and using the wrong one can lead to performance issues or damage. Refer to your vehicle’s owner’s manual or consult with a certified technician to ensure you are using the appropriate fluid.

Avoid aggressive driving habits:

Aggressive driving practices, such as quick acceleration, abrupt braking, or excessive towing, might place undue strain on the transmission. It is best to drive responsibly to prevent putting extra strain on the transmission system.

Keep an eye out for fluid levels and leaks:

Regularly check the transmission fluid level and inspect for any signs of leaks. Low fluid levels or leaks can lead to poor transmission performance and damage. If you notice any abnormalities, consult with a technician to identify and address the issue promptly.

Allow the transmission to warm up:

Allow the engine and transmission to warm up before driving in extreme cold temperatures. The viscosity of the fluid might be affected by cold weather, preventing effective lubrication. Allowing the engine and transmission to warm up for a few minutes will assist prevent any harm.

Avoid overloading and over-towing:

Towing or carrying too much weight can place a substantial pressure on the drivetrain. It is critical to follow the manufacturer’s suggested weight and towing capacities. Overloading or towing over the vehicle’s limits can result in overheating, increased wear on transmission components, and potential damage. To safeguard your transmission, always stay within the specified limitations.

Practice smooth driving habits:

Smooth and controlled driving can help reduce stress on transmission. Avoid sudden or aggressive acceleration, as well as abrupt braking, which can cause unnecessary strain on the transmission system. Gradual and smooth shifts between gears promote better transmission longevity and performance.

Install additional transmission cooling:

If the vehicle is subjected to large loads or towing on a frequent basis, installing an additional transmission cooler can help maintain appropriate operating temperatures. An extra cooler can help to dissipate heat from the transmission fluid, lowering the risk of overheating and extending the transmission’s lifespan.

Perform regular inspections:

Regularly inspecting the transmission system for any signs of leaks, unusual noises, or vibrations can help detect potential issues early on. Addressing minor problems promptly can prevent them from escalating into more significant and costly transmission repairs.

Seek professional advice:

If you have any concerns or questions regarding your 2016 Ram 1500’s transmission, it is always best to consult with a certified technician or an automotive expert. They can provide expert guidance, perform diagnostic tests if needed, and offer tailored advice specific to your vehicle’s make, model, and year.

By following these preventive measures and practicing good maintenance habits, you can significantly reduce the risk of transmission problems and ensure the longevity of your 2016 Ram 1500’s transmission.

Why Should You Always Keep Regular Maintenance Of Your 2016 Ram 1500

Regular maintenance is crucial for maintaining the overall health and performance of your 2016 Ram 1500’s transmission. Here are a few key maintenance tasks that should be performed at recommended intervals:

Fluid checks and changes:

It’s important to check the amount and condition of the transmission fluid on a regular basis. If there isn’t enough fluid or if the fluid is dirty, the transmission may not work well or even be damaged. To get the best lubrication and cooling, the transmission fluid should be changed at the intervals suggested by the manufacturer.

Filter replacement:

The transmission filter prevents debris and contaminants from circulating through the transmission system. Over time, the filter can become clogged, hindering fluid flow and potentially causing damage. Replacing the filter at recommended intervals helps maintain proper fluid flow and extends the life of the transmission.

Inspections and adjustments:

Periodic inspections of transmission components, such as seals, gaskets, and connections, can help identify any signs of wear or potential leaks. Additionally, adjustments to the transmission’s linkage or bands may be necessary to ensure proper shifting and performance.

Diagnostic scans:

Regular diagnostic scans can help identify any stored error codes or potential issues with the transmission system. This allows technicians to address problems early on before they develop into more significant and costly repairs.

Proper cooling system maintenance:

The cooling system plays a critical role in regulating the transmission’s temperature. Regular maintenance of the cooling system, including coolant flushes and inspections of the radiator and hoses, is essential for preventing transmission overheating and ensuring efficient heat dissipation.

Scheduled maintenance services:

Adhering to the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule is crucial for overall vehicle health, including the transmission. This includes periodic inspections, fluid changes, and other services outlined in the owner’s manual.

By prioritizing regular maintenance and addressing any potential issues promptly, you can keep your 2016 Ram 1500’s transmission in optimal condition and enjoy a reliable performance for years to come.


How often should I check the transmission fluid level in my 2016 Ram 1500?

It is recommended to check the transmission fluid level at least once every few months or as advised in the vehicle’s owner’s manual. Regular fluid level checks will help ensure that the transmission has sufficient fluid for proper operation.

Can I change the transmission fluid myself, or should I have it done by a professional?

Changing the transmission fluid can be a complex task, and it is generally recommended to have it done by a professional technician. They have the necessary tools and expertise to ensure a proper fluid change, including removing the old fluid, replacing the filter, and filling the transmission with the correct amount of fluid.

Is it possible to prevent transmission overheating during towing or driving in extreme conditions?

While towing or driving in extreme conditions can put additional strain on the transmission, there are steps you can take to help prevent overheating. These include using an auxiliary transmission cooler, ensuring proper weight distribution during towing, avoiding aggressive driving, and taking breaks to allow the transmission to cool down if necessary.

Last Updated on April 26, 2024 by Rifen

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