Dodge Dakota transmission

I recently acquired a 1995 Dodge Dakota 4X4 with a 318 and 46RH automatic transmission, 142k miles. The previous (original) owner passed away last winter and, up until I purchased the truck, had not driven it for about a year. Prior to that, the truck probably hadn’t left this small town of 3,400 people for several years. The problem I am having is that the transmission does not seem to like to shift past second gear once it’s been run down the highway for a few minutes. If I get on the highway, it shifts fine through all four gears and the torque converter locks when it’s supposed to, but if I slow down and turn on to a side street, the truck only wants to operate through first and second. If I drive for a few minutes at slower speeds (below 30 or so), it will once again go through all gears. If I drive it with a moderate to heavy foot, it is less likely to want to shift past second gear than if I baby it. It doesn’t slip at all. The only work I have done to it is replaced the transmission cooler lines, which were leaking, and topped off with ATF+4 fluid. Fluid level is perfect, color is bright pink, and there is no burnt odor. Could this problem be mechanical in nature? Could the lack of higher speed driving for the past several years caused things to “gum up” from lack of use? Should I try an additive? If so, which one? Could it possibly come out of it with time and driving?

Does it have a filter/screen under the transmission pan? If this were my truck, I’d drop the pan and clean/replace that first. If it didn’t fix the problem I’d start saving up as a transmission rebuild seems to be in your future.

Found the problem. The throttle valve linkage on the side of the transmission was loaded with gunk, crud, corrosion, and what not, which was causing it to stick. After much cleaning, oiling, and actuating to get it to function as it should, everything is working great now.


you are the man!

It might still be a good idea to drop the pan and replace the filter, as @GeorgeSanJose suggested

If this truck really didn’t move much, I’d probably change all the fluids

The truck will receive maintenance updates as time and money allow, including all new fluids. Right now, it’s waiting on new secondary ignition parts except for spark plugs, which I already changed. They were eroded to twice their original gap, so everything is probably original equipment. Any work done underneath this truck is going to be a major pain. It’s a small truck with a lot of physically large parts crammed into it (like a Dana 44 front axle underneath the V8) and tons of skid plates to protect it all. Being the gas swiller it is, it will probably be relegated to working, hauling, and getting me to work when the roads are bad in the winter, and if my brother has his way, playing at the Badlands with him and his Jeep. The trans pan may need to come off soon, anyhow. Overdrive seems to be flaking out from time to time, so a new overdrive solenoid may be in the truck’s future.