Short-Circuited - Transmission Digest

Short-Circuited

In March 2006 Dodge issued safety recall E17 for 2003-05 Dodge Ram pickups equipped with the 5.9-liter diesel and 48RE transmission. This recall addressed a safety issue that could occur if the driver parked the vehicle without placing the gear selector fully in park and left the engine running. The repair consists of a re-flash that when initiated will sound the horn, flash the headlights and cause the PRNDL display to flash if the door is opened and the driver tries to exit a running vehicle without the selector fully in Park. This re-flash can be done only with the DRB-3 scan tool and dealer software.

Short-Circuited

Technically Speaking

Subject: Malfunction in out-of-park alarm system
Unit: 48RE
Vehicle Application: 2003 Dodge Ram 2500 diesel pickup
Essential Reading: Rebuilder, Diagnostician
Author: Wayne Colonna, ATSG, Transmission Digest Technical Editor

Technically Speaking

  • Subject: Malfunction in out-of-park alarm system
  • Unit: 48RE
  • Vehicle Application: 2003 Dodge Ram 2500 diesel pickup
  • Essential Reading: Rebuilder, Diagnostician
  • Author: Wayne Colonna, ATSG, Transmission Digest Technical Editor

In the September issue of Transmission Digest both the Shift Pointers and Technically Speaking articles discussed connector issues in Dodge and Jeep vehicles in which a short to power can cause a no-upshift condition or no overdrive and no TCC application, depending upon the transmission being used. No sooner did this article appear than another unusual condition was brought to our attention by the good folks at Mister Transmission in Guelph, Ontario, regarding a 2003 Dodge Ram 2500 diesel pickup.

To set this up I first need to remind you of a Dodge safety recall involving 2003-05 Ram pickups. The particulars follow:

In March 2006 Dodge issued safety recall E17 for 2003-05 Dodge Ram pickups equipped with the 5.9-liter diesel and 48RE transmission. This recall addressed a safety issue that could occur if the driver parked the vehicle without placing the gear selector fully in park and left the engine running. The repair consists of a re-flash that when initiated will sound the horn, flash the headlights and cause the PRNDL display to flash if the door is opened and the driver tries to exit a running vehicle without the selector fully in Park. This re-flash can be done only with the DRB-3 scan tool and dealer software.

Now if a vehicle that falls under this recall is taken to the dealer for any service, it will receive this re-flash automatically, with or without customer approval or notification. If the driver of one of these vehicles opens his door to see better while backing up, the out-of-park alarm system will be initiated and the horn will sound, surprising the driver/owner and causing them to think that something is wrong with the vehicle. Since the PRNDL lights also will flash when the out-of-park safety alert is initiated, many have incorrectly concluded that the problem was related to the PRNDL circuit when obviously it is not. As a side note to this, if the door switches are dirty or sticking, this too could initiate the out-of-park alarm system.

With the alarm system explained, now we can talk about the scenario that the guys at Mister Transmission dealt with.

Apparently, at some point, the computer in this 2003 Dodge Ram had this program flashed into it. This vehicle also was equipped with the transmission-range sensor (TRS) that is hard-wired to the instrument cluster. The problem this vehicle had presented itself in several ways. Opening the door anytime the vehicle was in park with the engine running would activate the out-of-park alarm system, which should occur only when the selector is not in park. Additionally, when the door was closed and the selector lever was placed into drive, the PRNDL lights did not display a Drive selection. When the truck was driven, the safety-alarm feature would initiate itself intermittently at speeds around 35-40 mph. The customer said he could live with the alarm going off in Park but not when it would occur while he was driving. Can you imagine that?

The vehicle was scanned for codes and none was found in either the ECM or PCM, but the scan tool was unable to enter the instrument cluster to acquire any data there.

So DVOM testing began down by the TRS, where it was discovered that with the connector unplugged the 5-volt signal wire was reading 12 volts. This would seem to indicate that either this wire was shorted to power somewhere between the instrument cluster and the transmission or the instrument cluster was bad. Tracing the wires up past the bellhousing eventually brought them to a connector under the dash, to the left of the brake pedal, called C219. It is very similar to the C134 connector in a 1999 Dodge Ram shown on pages 20 and 44 in the September issue of Transmission Digest. And it was this C134 connector that caused a short to power into the cruise-control switch-sense circuit. Now it appears that the C219 connector is doing the same thing, but with the 5-volt sense wire for the TRS.

One point that needs to be made right about now is that Dodge wiring diagrams say terminal 2 at the TRS connector is the ground circuit and terminal 5 is the 5-volt sense wire. Yet on every vehicle I have personally tested it is the opposite. Terminal 2 has 5 volts and 5 is the ground. The connector contains six pins, with terminal 3 being empty. Terminals 1 and 2 are alongside the empty terminal-3 cavity, with wires 4, 5 and 6 on the other side (Figure 1).

So it is easy to identify the terminals. When everything is working correctly, with the connector unplugged you should see ignition voltage on terminals 1 and 6 and 5 volts on terminal 2 (figures 2, 3 and 4).

With the connector plugged into the TRS and a voltmeter on wire 2, you will see the following approximate voltages throughout the gear ranges: park, 4.2; reverse, 3.3; neutral, 2.6; drive, 1.9; second, 1.2; and low, 0.6 (figures 5 through 10). This is very similar to the old Ford manual-lever-position sensors with the step-down resistors.

The 5-volt signal wire for the TRS is a yellow wire with a red tracer called the Y193 circuit, and it passes through terminal 47 in the C219 connector (figures 11 and 12). The cavities around this wire are 48, 51 and 52. Cavities 51 and 52 are empty, leaving only 48, and it did have a red wire with a tan tracer passing through it. This wire is called the A12 circuit, and its job is to supply system voltage to a power outlet. Careful inspection of the connector did not reveal any reason for circuit A12 to be shorted to the range sensor’s 5-volt sense wire. This wire then was removed from both sides of the connector and reconnected externally, restoring the integrity of the circuit (Figure 11). Once this was accomplished the PRNDL lights and the safety alert functioned correctly.

Just another situation that could cause a shop to be short-circuited for a few days because of a connector malfunction. It’s apparent that these Dodge and Jeep vehicles are prone to these connector problems, and being aware of this could prevent you from being short-circuited.

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