Thursday, February 14, 2013

1999 dodge Ram 1500: Automatic Transmission won't shift in first gear

Transmission Gear shift Issues

No first gear, or Will not go out of first gear,Transmission stuck up in first gear.

This types of all issues are related to few possibilities.

Either worn out shifting bands, or very low transmission fluid,or issue with speed sensor.

On some cases if the problem is started after filling the tranny fluid then may be wrong transmission fluid is filled/replaced.

Please reconfirm what fluid have you used.

Go through the explanation in more details:----

That will help you to know and understand the problem much better.

For your information, the bands need to be adjusted at every fluid change, every 30,000 miles.
If you haven't had the bands adjusted for more then 5 years then the first thing i recommend is attempt to adjust them and see where you're at.

  • The kickdown band is the forward most band and is applied for first and second gear, your problem involves the kick-down band in one way or another.You will have to inspect that band position.

  • It may be that the band is out of adjustment simply from lack of periodic adjustment.

  • Or the other possibility is the band anchor may have fallen out of place. 
Anchor is very important part, it goes between the band and adjuster. It can fall out of place because it breaks or if the band gets worn far enough without proper adjustment.Yes it's possible.

  • Another possibility can be leaking or damaged kickdown band servo. The servo is the hydraulic piston that applies the band.If it leaks on band then band can get slippery and slip from its actual position and cause gear shift issues.


  • If all checked ok,then other possibility is faulty sensor.Yes absolutely a bad output speed sensor or governor solenoid or transducer issue can cause gear shift problem. we have seen and lots of such cases at out car repair Auto Garage.
  • If the check engine light isn't on or there are no fault codes stored then these wouldn't be nearly as likely as a band issue.But if check engine light is ON,then i suggest get the engine module and transmission module scanned.It will provide you code for start per that you can continue further.


Yes its not that very hard.

But to perform this task you need to have basic garage tools ready with you.
Also confidence is another thing required or you can take help of mechanic friend of yours or go to local garage mechanic.

I will mention the procedure/. The very first thing  kickdown band is adjusted from outside of the case.So dont open the case,its alignment is difficult.So just outside the case,look near the front cooler line and  band adjuster will be seen. You will loosen the lock nut and then torque the adjuster in the center to 72 inch pounds. The adjuster is then backed off 2 7/8 turns and the lock nut tightened back down.Please be sure the adjustment should be correct like its mentioned.Otherwise it can be loose or over tight band and hat will not help.
Accuracy is the key here.You cannot go few inch plus or minus.It should be exact.


If you find that the adjuster threads into the lock nut all the way an won't tighten down then the band anchor has fallen out of position. In that case the next step is to remove the pan and look for it, and then the valve body if necessary. The anchor should be fallen in there.If the anchor has fallen out of position then it would have to be on top of the valve body if its not in the pan.
It's roughly one inch square and somewhat of a wedge shape, it has a notch in one end and a concave part on the other end. The anchor goes between the band and the adjuster on the outside of the case.

The lock nut should not thread all the way into the lock nut without bottoming out?

  • If it does then, band isn't adjusted. If it threaded all the way in then it wasn't possible to adjust. As earlier mentioned for adjusting the band  it requires to be torqued to 72 inch pounds and then be backed off. 

If you couldn't get the adjuster torqued down then the band isn't adjusted.You will have to again see whats going wrong.

  • Another possibility ,if it is threaded all the way in then the band anchor has fallen out or the band is worn beyond use.Yes it happens,this bands gets old,dried and worn out by age and also form cracks or get broken. If the anchor is out it is either broken which caused it to fall out or it fell out due to lack of periodic band adjustment.Yes if you dont get your band adjusted by time,then also such problem occurs.If the anchor is not seen then i suggest Remove the pan and look for the anchor. 

BUT IF, bands and anchor looks fine and its also properly adjusted then i suggest get the vehicle scanned for error code.or you can purchase code reader do it yourself to retrieve error codes.


There are many error codes related to this,but mostly P0500 and P0720 are noticed.

P0500 means  the speed sensor  malfunction and 
P0720 means output speed sensor circuit malfunction.

Please Note: Fault codes are a starting point for diagnosis, they don't pinpoint a problem.

If in your case you get any of those error codes then i suggest replacing output speed sensor.

As per your dodge vehicle details, the output speed sensor is situated on the left rear of the trans.
This sensor  threads directly in and has a two wire electrical connector. Output sensor signal is used for governor pressure calculations and without a clean signal from it that could be causing the trans issue.
May be that is what causing the problem in your case too.

So going through this possibilities will help you to at-least start troubleshooting your problem.

Hope this helps.


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