1998 Dodge RAM Cummins 24V Diesel
Converter Clutch Cycling Repair

BTW, my 1998 Dodge Ram 2500 Cummins truck has 245,000 miles as of January, 2014, and I never need to add engine oil between 6,000 mile change intervals. I run AMSOIL 5W-40 Premium Full Synthetic Diesel Oil and AMSOIL Nano Oil and Air Filters. 
See my website: KentsOil.com

Symptoms

This problem has been reported on 1994 through 2004 Dodge trucks with Cummins diesel engines. 

Overdrive ON - The torque converter clutch cycles on and off at speeds between 40 to 50 miles per hour. The transmission feels like it is shifting, but it is not. The converter clutch is engaging and disengaging. This occurs in 4th gear. The problem typically disappears at speed above 50 mph. The clutch will disengage below 40 mph and stay disengaged.

Overdrive OFF - The torque converter clutch cycles on and off at speeds between 30 to 40 miles per hour. This occurs in 3rd gear. The problem typically disappears at speed above 40 mph.

The problem is actually related to the engine speed. In both cases the engine speed is between 1200 to 1500 rpm. See the problem theory below.

Dodge Dealer Solution.

The Dodge dealer is unlikely to make modification that are not sanctioned by the factory. Therefore, the only possible repair at the dealer level is to replace the alternator and accelerator pedal positions sensor (APPS). The APPS must be calibrated and the engine control module (ECM) and the powertrain control module (PCM) should be reprogrammed (flashed). The dealer fix is only temporary at best because the problem is caused by a faulty system design. A rebuilt alternator may not correct the problem. See the theory behind the problem as described below.

NEW Easier Fix No. 1

This Fixed My 1998 Dodge 2500 Cummins Converter Clutch Cycling

Background: I placed a noise filter on the PCM wiring many years and 150,000 miles ago. It stopped converter clutch cycling but causes a delay in transmission response for downshifting. See that story below as Fix No. 5. In December 2013, the accelerator pedal positioning sensor (APPS) went out, so I put on a new APPS and removed the noise filter that was installed years ago in Fix No. 5 below. The cycling came back after three days even with a new APPS and fairly new alternator, so I performed this fix that works great, looks factory, and performs as factory.

Overview: This fix requires relocation of the medium 1/4" diameter ground wire (black with white strip) that runs from the passenger side battery into a cable bundle that crosses above the alternator. This wire will be removed from the bundle and relocated. The wire will not be cut. Splicing is not require. Electrical tape is the only new material needed. The following picture shows the completed relocation. This work took me two hours because I was very caution and in no hurry. It could be done in one hour easily by an experienced mechanic. The detailed steps are as follows:

Ground Wire with White Strip After Relocation Away From the Alternator

Click the picture to see an enlargement.

Step No. 1 Disconnect both negative cables at both batteries first, then disconnect both positive cables. I place a heavy one gallon zip-lock bag on top of each battery to prevent the loose cables from accidental contact with the posts.

Step No. 2 Locate the 1/4" ground wire on the passenger side battery. It is black with a white stripe. The ground wire has a connector mounted on the battery support box. Pry this connector loose from the battery box. You can expect the anchor part of the plug to break off but that doesn't matter because it will not be anchored again. This will give extra length as needed for relocation of the wire away from the alternator.

Step No. 3 Disconnect the plug connection in the ground wire using channel-lock pliers to squeeze the tab that has lines on it. Squeeze gently so as to not break the connector or tab. Pull the smaller end of the connector out.

Step No. 4 Loosen the serpentine fan belt in order to remove belt tension from the alternator. This can be tricky and frustrating if never done before. Use a 3/8" drive long torque wrench in the square hole in the face of the belt tensioner assembly. Start with the wrench handle near the fan. Pull the wrench toward the battery as far as possible against the spring tension while sliding the belt off the smooth water pump pulley. Leave the belt undisturbed as much as possible and lower the wrench back toward the fan where it will rest and remain connected.

Step No. 5 Remove the bolt that connects the alternator to the top bracket nearest the overflow tank. Loosen the other bolt near the engine. Lift and rotate the bracket to allow access to the wiring bundle.

Step No. 6 Remove all of the wires that are connected to the alternator in order to work on the wiring bundle.

Step No. 7 Remove the ground wire from the wiring bundle that is above the alternator. The bundle is wrapped with fiber type electrical tape inside of a plastic corrugated cover. The cover is split length wise on the far side with more fiber type electrical tape over the plastic cover. Carefully cut or tear the electrical tape. Remove the ground wire to a point near the radiator metal elbow near the alternator bracket.

Step No. 8 Wrap the outside of the plastic corrugated wiring bundle with electrical tape. I did not use a fiber reinforced tape as was done in the factory. Standard electrical tape seems to be adequate.

Step No. 9 Run the ground wire toward the top of the radiator and anchor it with cable ties to the positive battery cable in several locations to give a nice appearance. Run the wire toward the battery. The heavy current flow in the positive battery cable during starting doesn't seem to cause any problems with induced current in the ground wire.

Step No. 10 The ground wire coming from the battery cable clamp has a branch running toward the firewall. Remove the plastic corrugated cover in the branch area in order to gain more length for the disconnected end. Plug the ground wire connector together again.

Step No. 11 Replace the wires to the alternator.

Step No. 12 Replace the alternator bracket and tighten both bolts.

Step No. 13 Pull the torque wrench on the belt tensioner as far as possible. Slip the serpentine belt below the water pump pulley again. Check the location of the belt on the A/C compressor pulley and move it into place. The belt must be completely slack in order to do this. My truck came from the factory with the belt running in the wrong grooves on the A/C compressor pulley, but I spotted it the first week of ownership. Lower the wrench to tension the belt. Check the belt location on all pulleys before removing the wrench.

Step No. 14 Step on the brake before connecting the battery cables. This will drain the charge from capacitors within the PCM.

Step No. 15 Connect the positive battery cables first and then the negative cables.

WARNING: Do not start the engine yet.

Step No. 16 Do not start the engine. Turn the ignition key to on. Reprogram the APPS by pressing the throttle pedal slowly to the floor and then releasing it slowly.

Step No. 17 Start the engine, drive, and test.

Other Success Stories

"I wanted to let you know that I tried rerouting the ground wire on my 99 2500 and it worked! I unplugged the ground on the passenger side next to the battery, removed the ground from the wiring harness all the way to the driver side of the engine to where it is spliced, rerouted it and tie wrapped it to the positive cable across the top of the radiator, then plugged it back in. Itís been over 3 weeks now and I canít make it do wrong, it shifts and downshifts perfectly! You are my new Hero," John, Van, TX.

~~~~~~~

"I used the first method. It worked just fine." David.

~~~~~~~

"I have been fighting this problem for several years. I took the wiring out of the harness and routed it around the radiator and over to the battery. The wiring across the top of the alternator (ground wire) was worn through and connecting to the outside casing of the alternator. I applied this fix a week ago. The intermittent problem I have been plagued with is gone. It usually acts up within the first week. At the time I did this fix the truck was to the point of being almost impossible to drive; cutting in and the whole time I was driving it. I knew it had to be something electrical and simple because everything else Iíve done never fixed the problem. The countless transmission shops Iíve talked to and other shops couldn't give me any helpful information. Your solution by far made the most sense and could see what you meant as I read through it.
You would think this should have a technical service bulletin through Chrysler for the dealer mechanics. I have friends that work for a dealer and none of them made a suggestion like this to fix the problem. I will drive the truck for another week and if it continues to work properly I will get back to you. I will also be letting all my friends at the dealer know about this fix. I am a third generation Chrysler mechanic and my father and I are amazed at the solution to this frustrating problem. Weíve come up with solutions to many problems but this one left us stuck. I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to post the solution to the problem." Mark C.

Fix No. 2 That Others Claim Works

Note: I have not had the opportunity to test this fix myself and instead recommend Fix No. 1 above because it is much easier than this fix.

Step No. 1 Disconnect both negative cables at the batteries first, then disconnect both positive cables.

Step No. 2 Locate the 1/4" ground wire on the passenger side battery. It is black with a white stripe. It enters a large wiring harness near the alternator and run across the front of the engine toward the fuel injection pump on the driver side.

Step No. 3 The ground wire has a connector mounted on the battery support box. Pry this connector loose from the battery box. Cut this ground wire about 3" from the connector, but leave enough exposed to easily connect it back together again. This will give extra length to relocate the wire away from the alternator.

Step No. 4 Remove the ground wire from the wiring harness across the front of the engine. Close the wiring harness without the ground wire inside.

Step No. 5 Slide a piece of hydraulic hose with braided wire over the ground wire. Do not connect the braided wire to anything.

Step No. 6 Redirect the covered ground wire above the alternator support bracket instead of underneath it. The goal is to move the ground wire away from the alternator to avoid electrical noise. Place wire ties to keep the ground wire in place.

Step No. 7 Reconnect the ground wire at the cut ends with a compression coupling. Also solder the coupling. Apply electrical tape for appearance only. Mount the connector back onto the battery support box, if desired.

Step No. 8 Turn the ignition key on for several minutes and turn it off.

Step No. 9 Connect the positive battery cables first and then the negative cables.

Step No. 10 Do not start the engine. Turn the ignition key to on. Reprogram the APPS by pressing the throttle pedal slowly to the floor and then releasing it slowly.

Step No. 11 Start the engine, drive, and test. The problem will always appear to be fixed the first day. A failure may not appear for several days. Report your results to my email above after one week of normal driving.

Fix No. 3 That ATS Performance Transmissions Claims Works

4th Gear Hunt Fix (1998-2002) v1.0.pdf

Fix No. 4 That Geno's Garage Claims Works

APPS NOISE ISOLATOR ('94-'04)

Interference in the throttle position sensor circuits (APPS) on Dodge Cummins engines from '94-'04 will create false voltage readings in the APPS/TPS circuit and cause the lock-up torque converter to rapidly cycle on and off as you drive. This part removes the RF interference.

Fix No. 5

My Older Fix That Works, but Read the Delay in Downshifting Symptom Listed Below.

I no longer recommend this method. Use Fix No. 1 above.

This procedure was successful in eliminating the converter clutch cycling. A toroidal inductance coil and capacitor circuit is installed on the wiring harness at the powertrain control module (PCM) on the accelerator pedal position sensor (APPS) signal circuit coming from the engine control module (ECM). The low frequency interference (LFI) noise that disrupts the PCM computer "learn" circuit is reduced.

This job is surprisingly easy to do.

Record the trip odometer reading because it will be reset to zero when the batteries are disconnected below.

Accelerator Pedal Position Sensor (APPS) Output Circuit

The signal wire from the APPS terminal number 3 is the problem circuit. This is wire number H102 that is light blue color with a black tracer. It runs to the ECM on the left side of the engine behind the fuel filter. The circuit is shown in the shop manual on page 8W-30-15.

The APPS signal circuit continues from the ECM to the PCM. This is wire number K22 that is orange color with a blue tracer. The circuit is shown in the shop manual on page 8W-30-7.  

Powertrain Control Module (PCM)

The PCM is more than the name implies. It is the main computer for the entire truck. The location is on the right side firewall behind the air cleaner box. Access is easier than first thought. The air filter top does not need to be removed.

Noise Filter

The noise filter assembly is a model N-25 by Navone Engineering, 4119 Coronado Avenue, Suite 4, Stockton, CA 95204-2336. Telephone: 209-465-6139 or 1-800-669-6139, Fax: 209-465-3059. Do not buy model N-25T without the capacitor because it will not work. The noise filter consists of an inline ferrite core toroidal induction choke and a capacitor connected to ground.

Navone Engineering - Filters & Noise Suppressers.
http://davidnavone.com/zencart/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=31

Installation

Disconnect both batteries by disconnecting the negative terminal first.

Step No. 1 The wiring harness going to the PCM has three large connectors. Connector C1, manual page 8W-80-13 contains the wires for connecting the noise filter. This connector is on the side nearest the engine. It has a black plastic tip on the male connector. Squeeze the top and bottom release clips at the same time while working the connector up and down slightly and pulling straight out.

Step No. 2 The center connectors has a white plastic tip and the connector nearest the fender has a gray plastic tip. Remove both connectors as done in step 1 above.

Step No. 3 The entire wiring harness can now be gently lifted up to the top of the air cleaner housing. The air cleaner top does not need to be removed.

Step No. 4 Locate the orange wire with a dark blue tracer on connector C1 that has the black plastic tip. Cut the wire midway in the exposed section.  Solder the RED filter wire to the cut wire on the connector side. Solder the GREEN filter wire to the cut wire on the harness side. Tape the wires. Do not use crimped connectors because they are not effective for suppressing noise.

Step No. 5 Locate any one of the three ground wires on C1. The ground wires are black with a tan tracer. Remove a small section of insulation. Solder the BLACK filter wire to the ground wire. Tape the wires.

Step No. 6 The noise filter unit is encased in a plastic tube but is probably not water tight. Place a heavy plastic bag over the filter assembly with the wire coming out of the open end of the bag. Wire tie the covered assembly to the harness with the open end toward the connector.

Step No. 7 Lower the harness assembly into position and plug in the three connectors. Both latches on each connector should click into place. Adjust the position of the filter assembly with the bag cover opening down.

Step No. 8 Connect the positive battery cables first. Then connect the negative battery cables. Reset the time on radio clock. Tell the truck owner what the trip odometer reading was before the batteries were disconnected.

Theory Behind the Problem.

The APPS signal goes from the APPS to the engine control module (ECM) and from the ECM to the powertrain control module (PCM). The PCM has a "learning" circuit in the computer that is disrupted by noise or low frequency interference (LFI) emanating from the APPS, alternator or both. The LFI noise appears to resonate with one of the circuits in the PCM causing incorrect changes in the learn circuit. The alternator can develop noise that is caused by "leaky" rectifiers. A rectifier passes current in one direction but blocks the current in the other direction. A leaky rectifier allows a small amount of current to flow in the blocked direction. Replacing the alternator repaired my Dodge for a period of more than one year. Beware of rebuilt alternators that could already have leaky rectifiers. Insist on a report that shows the leakage to be zero if you go this route. Replacing the APPS may fix the problem for a while also but this must be done by the Dodge dealer.

Disconnecting both batteries and reconnecting them fixes the converter clutch cycling for a few days. It is temporary fix because the "learn" memory in the computer is erases. The problem begins again as the computer begins to learn a new incorrect setting. The converter clutch cycling gets worse and worse as the learn setting is disrupted by the LFI noise.

Negative Downshift Side Effect Caused by the Noise Filter.

A new user discovered that the noise filter recommended here causes a negative downshift side effect. I have driven my Dodge for about 100,000 miles since installing the noise filter and didn't even notice the lagging in the downshift on full throttle. I now recall that the downshift on a few occasions in the past was sluggish.

I ran these tests:

1. At 30 mph the tranny would be in 3rd and no-lockup. At full throttle the tranny does not shift down to 2nd for about 4 seconds. This seems like a long time if you are trying to pass someone.

2. At 50 mph the tranny would be in 4th and lockup. At full throttle no downshift occurred.

Suggestions:

A. The noise filter is probably oversized which would delay voltage changes coming from the APPS. This design was not based on scientific research, so other sizes were not tested. You could try smaller sizes, but I don't have any other sources other than as listed on the web page.

B. You could try a noise filter on the alternation, since the alternator is the source of the problem. The present noise filter does not have enough amp capacity for mounting on the alternator output, so you would have to find a much larger unit to carry the high amps.

C. Other people have tried running the alternator output wire in a different manner, but I have no idea where or how to make wiring changes that will work. The Dodge factory solved this problem in newer models, but I have no idea what they did.

My conclusion:

I am not doing any further testing to find a better solution, since I didn't notice the downshift lag for 100,000 miles. It is not worth the effort for me.

I will manually shift from D to 2 when driving at a speed between 25 to 40 mph if a forced downshift us desired.

I will press the "O/D Off" button to force a downshift from 4th and lockup to 3rd and unlock at speeds between 45 and 60 when I want a forced downshift.

Please give feedback if you discover other methods of resolving the factory converter clutch cycling problem.

Good luck,

Kent R. Rieske, P.E.
Professional Mechanical Engineer
Automotive and Lubrication Specialist 

You can contact the author by clicking the mailbox above.

Success Stories

Dear Kent:

I have a 99 Dodge 3500 24valve turbo diesel with over 298,000 miles on the OEM transmission as well as shifter!!! Yes amazing but I had your filter installed over two years ago to stop the numerous errors in what appeared to be a floating ground. After reading your invention and solution to the problem it all made sense. Having a Electronic Engineering and Computer Programming degree, it was quite apparent there was some sort of issue with interpretations of information being processed by the ECM/PCM units that were cause erratic outputs as well. My overdrive would periodically go in and out at different RPMs, my ECM had to be replaced twice with reprogramming and other strange ghosts as well. After this wonderful filter being installed my ex husband with a Masters in Electrical Engineering is a design engineer for WAI the major supplier of voltage regulators, ignition modules, rectifiers, alternator etc for all the automotive whole suppliers such a NAPA etc etc told me how Dodge is the only design in which the alternator is controlled by the ECM/PCM and not having the voltage regulator separate regulating the alternator like all other automotive designs. This all came clear as to way your brilliant filter has fixed my great truck which I still have and many others. You know as well as me that high amperage devices do cause a lot of spikes and noise when turning on and off.†We all also know that such spikes not only cause damage but cause improper information or false reading to be supplied to the ECM which in turn causes the irratic behaviour of trucks. It is not good for high amperage devices to be controlled by 5 and 12 volt low current devices without the proper filters such as SMT ceramic capacitors coils etc. You did a great fix and I still have my OEM transmission with over 298,000 on it. Yes I love my little 1999 Red Dodge Dually. Now she has the Edge attitude, pure-air flow air dog fuel system, K&N air filter, oversized exhaust to the headers, my gooseneck towing package, and the OEM transmission!!!! Thanks for being a good Engineer from one Engineer to another.

Rebecca

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hello,

I own a 99 Dodge Ram 3500 diesel with the automatic transmission. I had the exact same problems that you described. I had taken it to the dealer 16 times for the same problem. They rebuilt the tranny twice in a year and a half, they had my truck tied up in their shop for weeks at a time, every time they gave it back to me the problem would be gone but as you know the problem would return. The problem started at 98000 miles and at that time I was still covered under my extended warranty. Anyways after 16 times of trying to fix it the dealer closed the door on me, and so did the manufacturer. They said that it was my fault that this was happening, due to abnormal driving. My tranny problem was happening at 40 mph the torque converter would go in and out of lock up. It would also do it at 80 mph. The service manager said that I was driving it abnormally. I will quote his written statement.

"Checked for codes, none founded, checked operation of transmission-ok, service manager drove with tech, service manager noted that phenomenon is difficult to duplicate - requires abnormal driving pattern {have to attempt to maintain precise 40 mph}. No recommendation."

Can you believe that crock? Anyways that was when they closed the door on me, and now I am pursuing taking them to court, because they never fixed the problem that started before warranty was up. Anyways I was at my wits end with this truck, and nobody knew how to fix the problem. Then I stumbled across your web page, and I followed your instructions to the letter, and so far so good. It's been about 5 weeks since I put the filter on and the longest it ever stayed fixed by the dealer was 4 weeks. I just wanted to say thanks for taking the time to share your solution. You have helped me regain some sanity in my life.

Thanks again,

Jeff

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hi there,

Taryn Breen here to report that the fix worked perfectly. I am thrilled.

Sincerely,

Taryn Breen

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Kent,

I have the same problem, and have been fighting it for over a year now.

I've been back and forth from the dealer to my local transmission (Grapevine Automatic) shop who is a very reputable transmission shop and has done several transmission rebuilds for me over the years. Fortunately they stuck with me, trying doing all the suggested fixes recommended by Dodge, including a reflash. Eventually the dodge dealer gave up on me, when they couldnít fix it and returned me to the transmission shop indicating that it was probably something they did on their end in the transmission rebuild. Rob at Grapevine Automatic indicated that it was related to a noise problem, and not his rebuild, and was persistent to find the cause of the problem using different ideas to eliminate the noise that was causing the problem.  I had the exact problem as you referenced, it would cycle in low at 30mph and in overdrive between 45 and 50mph, on the slightest incline. We installed additional ground wires, rerouted wires, increased clutch pressure, etc.  All fixes were only temporary, and the problem would resurface after a few miles. After installing the Noise filter from Navone Engineering, the problem went away. I put it through the test this weekend, actually trying to make it cycle, and I am happy to report that my truck is fixed. The annoying problem of clutch cycling went away immediately with quick install of this noise filter. I was ready to call it quits and buy a new truck. Now, thanks to your and Navoneís help, I think Iíll keep it for another couple of hundred miles.

Tommy
Electrical Engineer
Grapevine, TX

 

Copyright ©  2005 -2014 by Kent R. Rieske. All Rights Reserved.

Permission is granted to copy this information in whole and without revision providing that full credit is given to the author. This information may not be copied in part and the information may not be included in any material that is offered for sale. You are encouraged to place a link to this article on your website page.

Amsoil Independent Dealer at http://www.kentsoil.com

AMSOIL SAE 5W-40 Premium API CJ-4 Synthetic Diesel Oil.

AMSOIL synthetic motor oil and super duty oil filters can give your car, truck, RV, motorcycle, snowmobile or boat engine the extended life, wear protection and heat protection which was originally developed for jet engines. AMSOIL synthetic motor oil and other lubricants are for those individuals who want to preserve their cars, trucks and equipment. Many automobile manufacturers require the use of synthetic motor oil in their turbocharged engines because of this additional protection.

Though AMSOIL, Inc. was founded in 1972, its story begins in the mid 1960s, when Lt. Col. A.J. "Al" Amatuzio, a jet fighter squadron commander, was impressed by the superb performance of synthetic lubricants in jet engines (in fact, only synthetics stand up to the performance demands of jet engines) and began studying their possible automotive applications. In 1972, after an intense period of research and development, Al Amatuzio introduced the first synthetic motor oil in the world to exceed API automobile service requirements.

AMSOIL synthetic motor oil provides superior protection and reduced wear while extending motor oil drain intervals to 2, 3 or 4 times the equipment manufacture's recommendations up to 25,000 miles or 1 year. Save time and money by extending the life of your vehicle by using synthetic motor oil, super duty oil filters and re-cleanable air filters.

Click each category from the table below to review the extensive list of AMSOIL products.

NEW! AMSOIL Online Product Information Guide
Click to find all recommended AMSOIL products, 
filter sizes and lubrication capacities for your vehicle.

Auto Gas Engines Diesel Engines Motorcycles 2-Cycle Engines
Racing Filters Transmissions Gear Oils
Greases Farming Construction Accessories


Shop AMSOIL Online Store Browse

Simply place your order online and the products are shipped directly to your address from the nearest AMSOIL distribution warehouse. Ordering and delivery is quick and easy.

  • First to develop an API-rated 100 percent synthetic motor oil.
  • First to introduce the concept of "extended drain intervals" with a recommended 25,000-mile/1-year drain interval.
  • First U.S. company to utilize the NOACK volatility test as a standard of performance excellence.
  • First to produce synthetic motor oils for diesel engines, racing engines, turbos and marine engines.
  • First to introduce synthetic oils that legitimately contribute to improving fuel efficiency.
  • First to manufacture synthetic gear lube for automotive use.
  • First to manufacture a 100:1 pre-mix synthetic 2-cycle oil.
  • First to manufacture a synthetic automatic transmission fluid for automotive use.

Return to KentOil.com Home Page

Return to AMSOIL home page.Home

Thank You!
Dealer Logo.

Copyright © 2000 - 2014 KentsOil.com and AMSOIL, INC.