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Old 08-10-2012, 09:11 AM
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Fell out of gear

Need some expert advice gentlemen. I was driving uphill at 70 mph and the RPM's were in the 5500rpm range. I heard a large whine like it slipped out of gear...as if it were in neutral...saw the RPM's climb into the red and then quickly fall. There was no clunking or grinding noise. I coasted to the top of the hill (Vail Peak Summit, CO) as I pulled over.

On the dash, the display showed the P,R,N,D in brackets....like [P][R][N][D]...it would not go into gear. It sounded like it attempted to engage into 4th, it would rock forward slightly...but not go. It would however, go into reverse.

I tried removing and replacing the battery terminal...no change.
All my fluid levels check out and are in good condition. I ended up getting towed from Vail, CO to Fort Collins, CO because all the shops within 80 miles were booked up days out. I ended up eating a 156 mile tow truck bill. I was able to get into the dealership at closing. This morning while they were giving it a quick look over...they didn't see anything wrong AND it goes into gear! What happened? They are going to check deeper into it after they take care of their customers who actually had appointments. What am I looking at? I originally thought it was something shifter assembly, throttle linkage...something. Any thoughts or advice?
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Old 08-10-2012, 02:01 PM
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Re: Fell out of gear

Is there a sensor or something simple that would cause this to happen?
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Old 08-11-2012, 09:54 AM
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Re: Fell out of gear

Attached is a response I received from my friend Dimitri on my facebook page: The display on the dash is controlled by a sensor called an inhibitor switch that generally sits on top of the trans. I don't know a lot about Jeeps but everytime this goes out it generally sets a P0713 code in the Trans Control Module. If this sensor is bad then your transmission doesn't know what clutch pack to engage and often times no forward gears will engage. Sometimes it will allow a limp mode condition where it allows you to drive in a 1:1 ratio (generally 3rd or 4th) but all manufacturers are different. Like I said, I'm a master tech for Hyundai so I came speak with much accuracy in reference to a Jeep but that's definitely the direction I would be going if I didn't see any fluid leaks or notice any major mechanical failures in the drivetrain. Good luck.
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Old 08-11-2012, 10:04 AM
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Re: Fell out of gear

Anybody else know more about limp mode? I've seen in a few other posts how some members thought they were in limp mode, but saw no real solutions or responses. I'd love any additional info that anyone can put in...so I can be prepared to protect myself from the stealership which has my Jeep in their lot to be worked on in a few days.

A tech from the service dept. Called me back and said that there was an internal problem...and that it was not simply a sensor, but that they would need to get deeper into it. He said it could be that I needed a complete rebuild...or just some clutches to be rebuilt or a new torque converter. When I contemplated taking my jeep to another shop...I asked if it still went into gear and drove (albeit with hesitation...according to the tech), his response, "when it gets hot it will not engage into forward gears"

Any thoughts or advice? Anything is much appreciated. Thanks!
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Old 08-11-2012, 12:51 PM
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Re: Fell out of gear

Yes, the 545RFE has a limp home mode. Even if the electronic controls on the transmission are completely shot, the Park, Reverse, Neutral and third will still function (since they can be set without any electonic assistance, based on the shift position alone).

Usually, when in limp mode you get get a '3' where the drive would be with a square around it, or something like that.

It could be caused from just about anything electrical or mechanical with the transmission. Many transmission related DTCs will cause the transmission to go into limp mode to protect/prevent further damage.

Without getting the codes and/or tearing into it, it will be impossible to tell what caused it.

If the mechanics are correct and that it will not move forward once it gets hot, I would lean more towards a mechanical problem than electrical - but at this point it is all a guess.
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Old 08-11-2012, 01:00 PM
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Re: Fell out of gear

Forgot to mention:

IIRC, the brackets around all the gears can be a problem with the electronic shift module (like your friend suggested).

This thread may help - apparently some people have had success simply cleaning the part, others have had to replace the whole thing. Although, I would hope if this was the cause the dealership would NOT be tearing into your transmission to diagnose this...the DTCs present alone should guide them in the right direction.

HOW TO: Change out PRND Bezel/Gear Shift

Usually if that's the problem, however, you'll still be able to have at least third gear.
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