Best transmission for towing

/dev/yj

Ralph Graw
Joined
May 19, 2005
Location
Raleigh, NC
Thinking about a new or new to me truck. Regardless of all the other aspects of a given brand/model, the trans always seems to be the weak leak. My biggest concern is that the trans can hold up to towing. Not necessarily towing huge loads, but some trans seem to have issues with really even a few thousand pounds in the bed, on trailer, or flat towing Jeep (I guess that's really just a special case of a heavy trailer load) over time.

I've Googled but want to get some real world perspective. What have you had that held up? Manual/auto? What's available new or not too far back that the truck would be financeable?

thx
 

drkelly

Dipstick who put two vehicles on jack stands
Joined
Mar 21, 2005
Location
Oak Ridge/Stokesdale, NC
I have had zero trouble from the NV4500 in my 01 Ram. I wish it was a 6 speed though with closer ratios.
 

shelby27604

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2013
Location
Raleigh
I have had the NV4500 behind a 350 vortec and a 360 magnum. It held up well, no issues, it definitely had a hole in the gear spacing.

The 4l80 in my 1500hd seems fine for moderate loads.

By far the ZF 8 speed used in the 2014+ ram 1500 was the easiest to use. I only put 20k on the truck before it got sold, but for most of those miles it had 5-10k behind it. I would snap up a used one if I could find something reasonably priced. (Also, I really liked the 3.92 gears, but I have heard the 3.21 is also acceptable.)
 
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shawn

running dog lackey of the oppressor class
Administrator
Joined
Mar 13, 2005
Location
Raleigh, NC
I wish it was a 6 speed though with closer ratios.
That's not the end of that line of thinking. I wish a 6 speed was paired with a 2 speed rear, or that it was actually a 7 speed with double od, etc.

10 forward gears and two reverse might be where it's at.
 

Bebop

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 16, 2019
Location
TN
Thinking about a new or new to me truck. Regardless of all the other aspects of a given brand/model, the trans always seems to be the weak leak. My biggest concern is that the trans can hold up to towing. Not necessarily towing huge loads, but some trans seem to have issues with really even a few thousand pounds in the bed, on trailer, or flat towing Jeep (I guess that's really just a special case of a heavy trailer load) over time.

I've Googled but want to get some real world perspective. What have you had that held up? Manual/auto? What's available new or not too far back that the truck would be financeable?

thx
Money being no object, the new Aisins that are in the HO cummins are nice.
Most Ford trans that are mated behind 6.7s have good reputations as well from what I can tell.
 

Jody Treadway

Croc wearing fool
Moderator
Joined
Mar 20, 2005
Location
Hendersonville, NC
Money being no object, the new Aisins that are in the HO cummins are nice.
Most Ford trans that are mated behind 6.7s have good reputations as well from what I can tell.
My 2020 Ram had the Aisin and it was great towing. But slow speed (under 10 mph) shifting was violent. Overall, I was happy with it. The 68RFE series do need upgrades to last unfortunately.
My 22 Ford has the 10 speed auto. It is very smooth, has a proper gear for whatever speed I'm in. The tow/haul strategy is very nice too with how it holds shift and applies engine braking on decel.
Really, any of the later model big 3 have their auto trans stuff figured out by now.
 

paradisePWoffrd

Recovering Project Junkie
Joined
Nov 5, 2005
Location
Newton, NC
That's not the end of that line of thinking. I wish a 6 speed was paired with a 2 speed rear, or that it was actually a 7 speed with double od, etc.

10 forward gears and two reverse might be where it's at.
Yeah, another top gear would be nice, better synchros would be also.


If you are looking for something newer, you are likely stuck with an auto. Are you planning to get a 3/4+ton truck or also looking at 1/2tons and SUVs?
 

Bebop

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 16, 2019
Location
TN
The Allison in my 2002 3/4 8.1 Chevy didn't seem to mind any load behind it at all. I loved all it's features!
I enjoy it as well.
GM actually upgraded the ECM and trans in 2003 for 6sp and having an OD-off feature that I wish I had.
 

Croatan_Kid

How's your hammer hangin'?
Joined
Nov 4, 2007
Location
New Bern
Any of the 5 speed Allisons are capable of being made in to a 6 speed, but of the available options, they all shift like crap. Gotta change the valve body and tune the TCM. It's also pretty expensive.

I do want to get a tap shifter for mine and flash in a different TCM file so I can use it.
 

Bebop

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 16, 2019
Location
TN
Any of the 5 speed Allisons are capable of being made in to a 6 speed, but of the available options, they all shift like crap. Gotta change the valve body and tune the TCM. It's also pretty expensive.

I do want to get a tap shifter for mine and flash in a different TCM file so I can use it.
I think you got to change the VB to go from 5 to 6sp. Not cheap.
 

/dev/yj

Ralph Graw
Joined
May 19, 2005
Location
Raleigh, NC
Yeah, another top gear would be nice, better synchros would be also.


If you are looking for something newer, you are likely stuck with an auto. Are you planning to get a 3/4+ton truck or also looking at 1/2tons and SUVs?
It's a head/heart thing. I'll very likely never tow or haul more than 8-10K and that would be very occasional. I've driven trucks (Ford, Dodge) or Jeeps my whole life, since learned to drive in a field ('66 F250 long bed). I like the utility of a truck, although enclosed space is nice so crew cab or mega cab if Dodge. Always had 3/4 ton and like the flexibility of that. 4x4 certainly - I tend to end up in places I wouldn't get out of if not (you could argue that's how I got there...).

It's articles like these that make me think first figure out which trans, then find a truck with that - whether 1/2, 3/4. or 1ton, diesel or gas. I'll get hooked on something else I'm sure (really liked the mega cab), but want it to be a "last truck" scenario.
and then ways to fix some issues
68RFE Valve Body • Problems & Solutions

Articles like these
make it look like its all about towing and payload capacities but not if the trans fails

This had some good info but wanted to get y'alls practical experience
 

Croatan_Kid

How's your hammer hangin'?
Joined
Nov 4, 2007
Location
New Bern
I think you got to change the VB to go from 5 to 6sp. Not cheap.

Uhh...yeah...didn't you read what I said? :confused:

Any of the 5 speed Allisons are capable of being made in to a 6 speed, but of the available options, they all shift like crap. Gotta change the valve body and tune the TCM. It's also pretty expensive.

I do want to get a tap shifter for mine and flash in a different TCM file so I can use it.

The last sentence was referring to just using a tap shifter. In and 01/02 you have to change the TCM tune or it jumps from 5th to 3rd when you downshift, just like stock. They don't have an OD lockout like 03+ does, and thus, no way to keep it in 4th gear.
 

jeepinmatt

At least half the people are dumber than the rest
Joined
Mar 24, 2005
Location
Stanley, NC
My 03 Chevy Duramax with 5 speed Allison (and Hypertech chip) was by far the slickest shifting truck I've had, extremely sporty, but still towed well if I remember correctly. The Aisin AS69RC in my 2017 Ram may be stout, but it loses boost between shifts, has no manual control, and shifts SUPER slow. The 6R140 in my 11 and 12 F250's was a really good balance of durability and driveability, plus it has manual control on the stalk. I haven't driven any of the newer 10 speed truck, but I assume they are pretty dang good too.
 

Croatan_Kid

How's your hammer hangin'?
Joined
Nov 4, 2007
Location
New Bern
10 speeds are wild! I want one...2020 L5P/10 speed swap in my 02? Hmm...:D
 

/dev/yj

Ralph Graw
Joined
May 19, 2005
Location
Raleigh, NC
Like you, this is a dream truck. If it were only 10 yrs younger. Were the axles still Dana is '07, on a 3500 D70's? Just a lot of money for a 15 yr old vehicle, although the value seems in line with at least some book values. I've spent an avg of 500 per yr on my '96 since I got it in '08. Which was fine since I got it for for 4k. Even tho he's fixed a lot of things, mostly from the accident it was in, I gotta figure there's major work in it's future. Somebody tell me I'm wrong and I'll drive those 4 hrs and take a look... :)
 

Darkbloodmon

Member
Joined
Dec 21, 2020
Location
Concord, NC
Like you, this is a dream truck. If it were only 10 yrs younger. Were the axles still Dana is '07, on a 3500 D70's? Just a lot of money for a 15 yr old vehicle, although the value seems in line with at least some book values. I've spent an avg of 500 per yr on my '96 since I got it in '08. Which was fine since I got it for for 4k. Even tho he's fixed a lot of things, mostly from the accident it was in, I gotta figure there's major work in it's future. Somebody tell me I'm wrong and I'll drive those 4 hrs and take a look... :)

Every Dodge Ram truck 03 and up is equipped with AAM axles. Dana is second gen and down.

G56 trucks aren't going to be a bad option going forward as they have better parts availability and there are more of them. Stock clean low mileage 3rd gens are hard to come by but there are a lot of things to look out for on the final model 5.9s. Additionally some objective upgrades would be nice such as a better filtering fuel system at the very least. If its bone stock OEM it has a dual mass flywheel and those are often problem bound on the Mercedes G56 platform.

This is an arguable opinion but the early 03 04 305/555 HO 6 speeds were peak for 3rd gen manual trucks.

For what its worth I daily an 03 6MT 2500 with a 3.73 rear, it did tow...…Previous 4 owners got most the life out of the wearable parts towing a 5th wheel and got rid of it at 207K when It needed nearly a rebuild on everything but the engine.

If you're serious about a 3rd gen Dodge 3/4 or 1ton I suggest getting on the TDR forums checking out the buyers guide and going through the archives for common issues and year specific concerns. If you need a pre-purchase inspection on a 3rd gen 5.9 I don't mind helping out, Majority of my knowledge and experience is on this generation 5.9.
 

Bebop

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 16, 2019
Location
TN
Uhh...yeah...didn't you read what I said? :confused:

Brain fart, sorry.

In and 01/02 you have to change the TCM tune or it jumps from 5th to 3rd when you downshift, just like stock.

Mine doesn't, it just depends on how far and how quickly you push the gas pedal. I can make it downshift in 3rd or 4th at will.

They don't have an OD lockout like 03+ does, and thus, no way to keep it in 4th gear.

That is true though and I really wish they did. It would be a big help when towing in the hills.

There is a mod out there to add a button though.

Chevy even has a bulletin on it : Bulletin No.: 02-07-30-051A (Transmission Shifting In and Out of 4th and 5th Gear (Hunting) When Pulling/carrying a Load, Unable to Manually Select 4th Gear (Install 5th Gear Inhibit Switch) )

I just wish I could find the TCM tune file I need to install.
 

Jody Treadway

Croc wearing fool
Moderator
Joined
Mar 20, 2005
Location
Hendersonville, NC
Like you, this is a dream truck. If it were only 10 yrs younger. Were the axles still Dana is '07, on a 3500 D70's? Just a lot of money for a 15 yr old vehicle, although the value seems in line with at least some book values. I've spent an avg of 500 per yr on my '96 since I got it in '08. Which was fine since I got it for for 4k. Even tho he's fixed a lot of things, mostly from the accident it was in, I gotta figure there's major work in it's future. Somebody tell me I'm wrong and I'll drive those 4 hrs and take a look... :)

I'll say this. The seller is my oldest and best friend in the world. If he tells ya the sky is blue, you can leave the umbrella at home.
Lemme know if you're interested in talking to him and I'll send you his number. He's not on here much.
 

shelby27604

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2013
Location
Raleigh
That mega cab ram seems steep by prices two years ago, but very well priced for the current market. If you are looking for a forever truck, you probably won't find one closer or cheaper than that one. In general finding a mega cab with the G56 is hard, I don't know what the markets valuation of 5.9l vs 6.7l is.....but some kid will show up in the not too distant future with cash from a co-signed loan and hoonigan the life right out of that truck.

It will cost a lot more than $500/year to shake out some of the typical needs an older truck has, but I suspect as time marches on, a manual transmission Cummins ram will not see a significant drop in value.
 

jeepinmatt

At least half the people are dumber than the rest
Joined
Mar 24, 2005
Location
Stanley, NC
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