Driving habits costing us a bundle!

My husband drives a 2001 Dodge Ram and had to have the transmission replaced at 100k two years ago. It would appear the rebuilt transmission is not fairly well now either. I have to wonder if it?s how he is driving his vehicle. We live in the mountains of Vermont and he ALWAYS uses cruise control which not only seems ridiculous as we are going up and down hills all the time but it seems to me this could be hard on the transmission as well. Is there any validity to my thoughts?

Thank you.

Paula-- Vermont

I doubt that it’s the way he’s driving (but it could be). It more likely to be the transmission or how it’s maintained. Maybe those Dodge transmission are failure prone? Also, has he been having the fluid changed every 30K miles or whatever interval that Dodge calls for?

Cruise control shouldn’t cause a problem. When backing up, does he come to a complete stop before shifting from Reverse to Drive? Does he drive gently, or do jack-rabbit starts and accelerate hard? Does he pull heavy trailers with this truck?

Using the cruise control all the time on hilly terrain could cause the transmission to ‘hunt’ more than usual, but I doubt it will cook it in two years. As mentioned previously, regular fluid and filter changes (every 30k miles is a good rule of thumb) will help prolong the life of the transmission. Don’t just have a fluid exchange, or ‘flush’, done. Take it to an independent mechanic or transmission shop and have the pan dropped and filter changed. You also need to make sure the proper transmission fluid is used during the fluid changes and the installation. This transmission requires ATF+4. Anything less will rapidly hasten the demise of this transmission.

Another thing you could consider having done, once this transmission is properly evaluated and is to be repaired, rebuilt, or replaced, will be to make some upgrades to it. Consider having a shift kit installed. This makes some changes to the way the transmission shifts, resulting in faster, firmer upshifts, which results in less friction, heat, and wear. An aftermarket transmission cooler will also help a lot, as will a constant-pressure valve body, if one is available. These are worthwhile upgrades to consider which will help the transmission last longer and perform better. I know a guy who has the same truck. The first thing he did when he bought it was had an external transmission cooler and shift kit installed, along with a trailer hitch. The transmission work cost him about $350, and he credits these upgrades, along with regular maintenance, to the transmission standing up to all the heavy towing he puts it through. In the seven years he’s had the truck, it has given him no problems, and he tows with it all the time.

If you are looking to pin this on your husband’s ues of cruise control I have to say nope, look for some other reason.

It isn’t the cruise control. Perhaps it’s his truck selection. Have you looked in Consumer Reports for reliability data on that particular truck? CR is available at the local bookstore.

I agree that if the transmission has a lockup final gear and if it is “hunting” (going into and out of lockup), that is not good. A friend towed a trailer on a long trip with his near new pickup with a lockup transmission while using cruise, permitted it to “hunt” and his transmission was ruined before the trip was over.

Use the selector to keep the transmission out of lockup if the terrain or load causes it to “hunt” while using cruise or not.

The first transmission lasted 100,000 miles and seven years. I think if you husband had been abusing his truck, it would have died sooner.

On a less technical note, why was your impulse to blame your husband? (That’s a rhetorical question. I don’t expect an answer.) Personally, I would have been more likely to blame Chrysler.