Common 2021 Ram 1500 Transmission Problems & Solutions

The 2021 Ram 1500 has three common transmission problems, which are-

  • Problems with shifting gears are caused by a faulty transmission shift solenoid. This requires a replacement of the component.
  • You can hear clunking noise while shifting gears, which can be caused by many reasons. However, insufficient transmission fluid and damaged transmission linkage is the main reason. Call a mechanic if you face this.
  • If you notice a burning smell from your transmission, it is probably because you have contaminated or low transmission fluid or a leak in the transmission. Repair the leak or refill the Fluid in this case.

In this article, you can find all the details about the 2021 Ram 1500 transmission problems and more.

3 Common 2021 Ram 1500 Transmission Problems & Solutions

You can face a lot of transmission problems with your 2021 Ram 1500, but here are 3 of the most common 2021 Ram 1500 Transmission problems-

Shifting IssuesFaulty Transmission Shift SolenoidReplace the Solenoid
Clunking Noise While ShiftingInsufficient transmission fluid,  Worn transmission linkage,  Maladjusted binding           Call an expert
Burning Smell From Transmission/ Transmission Shaking While Driving/Gears SlippingContaminated Transmission Fluid  Not Enough Transmission Fluid A Leak in the Transmission.Refill Transmission Fluid Repair Leaks
2021 Ram 1500 Transmission Problems & Solutions

Common 2021 Ram 1500 Transmission Problems & Solutions

Let’s dive in deep to know how you can solve these issues.

Problem One: Shifting Issues

The most common issue you can face with a 2021 Ram 1500 transmission is shifting problems. There are a lot of problems you can face with the shift, such as:

  • Hard shifting
  • Stuck in gear
  • Skipping gears
  • Irregular shifting, etc.

Reason: Faulty Transmission Shift Solenoid

The transmission shift solenoid controls the flow of transmission fluid, which is needed to change gears. Without a functioning shift solenoid, you will experience all kinds of gear-shifting problems.

A shift solenoid can get stuck in an open or closed position because of dirty transmission fluid. Or, it can just malfunction because of electrical problems or get damaged over time. 


If the solenoid is stuck because of dirty transmission fluid, changing the transmission fluid will fix the issue. 

But if the solenoid is damaged or gotten bad, you will have to replace it. It’s better to get a skilled mechanic for the replacement, which should cost you about $135-$500. A new solenoid will cost you about $15-$100, and labor costs will add up to another $120-$400.

Note that the cost can vary based on where you are located. 

But if you do decide to save up the money on labor and do it yourself, you can. Just make sure you know whatever you are doing. Transmission components are sensitive and complex; if you accidentally damage them, it may cost you way more.

Anyhow, here is a simple guide on Ram 1500 transmission shift solenoid replacement

Tools and Materials You’ll Need:
  1. Socket and wrench set
  2. Torque wrench (inch-pounds)
  3. T25 Torx bit
  4. New transmission shift solenoid
  5. Replacement gasket for the oil pan
  6. Transmission fluid (if needed)
  7. Drain pan


Prepare the Work Area:
  • Ensure your vehicle is on a level surface and safely supported.
  • Wear appropriate safety gear, such as gloves and safety glasses.
Removing the Transmission Pan:
  • Remove the plug from the transmission connector. It might take a bit of effort, but turn it to unlock and remove.
  • Remove all the bolts securing the transmission oil pan using a socket and wrench.
  • Carefully lower the pan and drain the transmission fluid into a drain pan.
Removing the Oil Filter:
  • Locate the oil filter on the transmission. Remove the bolt and screw securing it using a T25 Torx bit.
  • Once removed, you can take out the oil filter.
Removing the Valve Body:
  • Identify the six bolts holding the valve body in place. Use a size 8 socket to remove these bolts.
  • Carefully lower the valve body from its position. It’s heavy, so be cautious.
Removing the Shift Solenoid:
  • The shift solenoid is part of the valve body. You need to remove the bolts securing it.
  • The 15 bolts are to be removed to take out the shift solenoid. These bolts are secured in a specific pattern.
  • Remove the old shift solenoid from the valve body.
Installing the New Shift Solenoid:
  • Place the new shift solenoid in the same orientation as the old one.
  • Use the provided diagram or your own markings to place the bolts back in the correct locations.
  • Tighten the bolts according to the manufacturer’s specifications using a torque wrench. The torque should be set to 50 inch-pounds.
Reassembling the Valve Body and Pan:
  • Carefully place the valve body back onto its position in the transmission.
  • Tighten the six bolts that hold the valve body in place according to the specific pattern.
  • Reinstall the oil filter and secure it with the bolt and screw.
Reinstalling the Transmission Pan:
  • Clean the transmission pan and the mating surface of the transmission.
  • Place a new gasket on the pan and align the holes.
  • Lift the pan and gasket into place and secure it with the pan bolts.
Completing the Replacement:
  • Refill the transmission with the appropriate amount and type of transmission fluid.
  • Reconnect the transmission plug.
  • Start the vehicle and check for any leaks.
  • Test the transmission’s shifting operation by driving the vehicle.

Problem Two: Clunking Noise While Shifting

The 2021 Ram 1500 transmission making clunking noise can prove to be very frustrating. Although many owners have faced this issue, different people have found different causes for this problem.


The grinding noise you hear when shifting gears may be caused by-

  • A lack of transmission fluid,
  • A damaged or improper transmission linkage,
  • A clutch that does not fully disengage when the clutch pedal is depressed

If the noise only comes when shifting from neutral to any gear, it can be damaged linkage parts or synchronizer blocking rings, shift forks, or bearings.


Since this issue is hard to diagnose, it’s better to contact a Ram dealer or an expert mechanic to solve this issue.

Problem Three: Burning Smell From Transmission

There can be a burning smell coming from different parts of your engine like the earlier 2016 Ram 1500 transmission problem. But if you are sure that it’s coming from the transmission, it’s something with the transmission fluid.

Reason: Transmission Fluid Burning

There can be three reasons for a transmission fluid burning up. 

  1. The transmission fluid’s expiry date has passed.
  2. There is not enough Fluid.
  3. There is a leak in the transmission.

If the transmission fluid is burning, it can lead to corrosion and grime buildup.


If the Fluid’s expiry has passed or there is not enough Fluid in the transmission, all you need to do is to refill the transmission fluid. If you prefer to do it yourself, here’s a video that will definitely help you- 

Now, if you suspect there is a transmission leak, here is how you can diagnose it

Step 1: Prepare for Diagnosis

Before inspecting, ensure your safety by wearing eye and hand protection. Also, make sure your vehicle is at operating temperature by driving it and then parking on a level surface with the engine running.

Step 2: Locate the Transmission Dipstick

Find your transmission dipstick, usually colored red for easy identification. If your vehicle has a plug, it may have a red or black cap. Remove the dipstick and wipe it clean.

Step 3: Check Fluid Level

Observe the dipstick’s end, where you’ll see two dots and hatches between them. When the engine is warm and running on a level surface, the transmission fluid level should be between these dots, preferably closer to the upper one. Low fluid levels can lead to the symptoms mentioned earlier.

Step 4: Analyze Fluid on Dipstick

Inspect the fluid level on the dipstick. If the fluid is significantly below the safe range, you may experience symptoms related to low fluid levels. If it’s extremely low, your transmission fluid needs immediate attention.

Step 5: Look for External Leaks

Low fluid levels are often due to external leaks. Inspect common areas for leaks. These include:

  • Transmission cooler lines near the radiator: Check for accumulated debris and moisture.
  • Transmission cooler behind the grille: Examine for signs of leakage around the cooler and lines.
  • Transmission pan gasket: Look for fluid around the pan, and remember that leaks above it can mimic pan gasket issues.
  • Selector shaft seal: In automatic transmissions, this seal can lead to leaks.
  • Input and output seals: These seals on rear-wheel drive vehicles may cause leaks.
  • Bell housing area: Inspect for leaks from the torque converter area.
  • Tail-shaft seal: On vehicles with a rear drive shaft, look for leaks around this seal.
  • Transmission and transfer case seal: For four-wheel drive systems, check these seals.
  • Transfer-case fill plug: In GM trucks, check for overfilled transfer cases due to internal seal issues.
  • Seals around axles: Any place axles enter or exit the transmission can develop leaks.

Now, a low level of transmission fluid can also cause your Ram 1500 transmission to shake while driving, and you may notice your gears slipping. 

That means if you can ensure you have no transmission leaks and you have sufficient transmission fluid, you will rarely have transmission problems with your 2021 Ram 1500.

How To Maintain Your 2021 Ram 1500 Transmission

You can easily minimize the transmission problems of your 2021 Ram 1500 by following these tips-

Check Fluid Regularly:

To maintain a healthy transmission, check the Fluid often. Just like you’d monitor your oil level, pull out the dipstick while the engine is running. After a moment, see if the Fluid is a vibrant red color and doesn’t have a foul odor. If it’s not looking good, you might have a leak or other issues.

Use Correct Fluid:

Consult your vehicle’s manual to know the exact type of transmission fluid needed. If you’re still unsure, don’t hesitate to visit experts like those at Mister Transmission. They can help you get the right Fluid for your car.

Service Cooling System:

Your car’s cooling system isn’t just about the engine. It helps regulate your transmission’s temperature, too. By preventing overheating, you’re safeguarding both engine and transmission. Regular cooling system maintenance is essential.

Flush Fluid Yearly:

Leave the transmission fluid change to the professionals. Your car’s manual can provide guidance, but as a rule of thumb, consider getting the transmission flushed annually. This can vary depending on how much you drive and the operating temperature.

Stop Before Changing Gears:

Don’t rush gear changes. Always bring your car to a complete stop before shifting from ‘drive’ to ‘reverse’ or vice versa. It eases the strain on the transmission, avoiding potential issues down the road.

Warm-Up Engine:

Give your car a few minutes to warm up, especially in colder weather. This allows the engine and transmission fluids to circulate properly, reducing wear and tear.

No Extended Spare Tire Use:

If you’re using a spare tire, don’t make it a habit. Extended use of mismatched tire sizes can lead to alignment problems and extra stress on the transmission.

Change Filter:

Some vehicles have transmission filters. These need periodic changes, often in conjunction with a fluid flush. Depending on your car’s make and model, keeping this filter fresh can enhance transmission longevity.

Avoid Heavy Towing:

Towing puts extra strain on your car’s transmission, especially in hot conditions. The heat can cause the Fluid to deteriorate, potentially damaging the transmission. Avoid heavy towing if you can.

Yearly Inspection:

Make it a routine to have a certified transmission specialist examine your transmission annually. They’ll check for leaks and odd behavior and evaluate the Fluid’s color and smell. This proactive step can catch problems before they escalate.


In short, 2021 Ram 1500 Transmission problems can be quite a handful. But most of the problems are fixable, and even you can do it by yourself. Also, by regular maintenance, you can avoid most of these problems.

Last Updated on May 8, 2024 by Rifen

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