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Old 03-26-2016, 03:05 PM
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5.9l - tranny issues - NO CODES

Hi - thank you in advance for any help/advice/ideas!

1998 JGC 5.9L - mostly stock except for the exhaust. I always use premium gas ($$$) and buy the best parts for repairs, etc. because I love my Jeep!

The original transmission was replaced about 8 years ago at ~120k miles with a (new?/factory rebuilt?) Chrysler transmission with a 3-yr/36,000 warranty that cost about $3600. (Yeah - $3600 - EIGHT YEARS AGO! )

Now (only 52,000 miles later!) it has 172,000 miles and is acting up. At one point, there was no reverse and forward chugged/sputtered/lurched. Sorry I can't be more precise but I'm afraid to drive it because I don't want to do any further damage...

The Check Engine Light is NOT lit up/on.

I bought a $100 Bosch OBDII code reader (model#OBD1100) and NO TROUBLE CODES came up.

I also tried the "key dance" and there were NO flashes on the OD button.

Sooooo, before I make the fateful decision whether or not to spend another $3000-$4000 for a new transmission - on a car that Blue Books around $3000-$4000 - please help me...!

QUESTION: Can my 52,000-mile transmission really be dead WITHOUT triggering any TROUBLE CODES?

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Old 03-26-2016, 05:28 PM
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Re: 5.9l - tranny issues - NO CODES

The first thing I would do is check the fluid level. Has the fluid been replaced or tranny serviced in that 52,000 miles?


Park the Jeep on level ground. With the Jeep running, cycle through the gears, stopping at Neutral. Set the park brake so the Jeep doesn't roll away. Open the hood and then check the tranny fluid level.
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Old 03-27-2016, 11:31 AM
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Re: 5.9l - tranny issues - NO CODES

^ what they said.

I'm going to assume this is a automatic transmission... Also is this a 2- or 4- when drive vehicle?

If your a bit mechanically inclined and feel like you can handle it, I'd even suggest dropping the transmission pan and checking to see if there are bits of metal in there. You can change the transmission filter when your in there, just to be sure. The down side is that it's a bit of a messy job & your going to have to replace some fluid as a good amount of it will come out when you drop the pan.

If there are lots of flakes, bits of metal in the pan and on the magnet, then you know you have some transmission damage and you can decide what to do from there. This is a pic from my 1995 ZJ with very obvious transmission damage / metal bits in the pan to use as an example / reference.

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Old 03-27-2016, 02:17 PM
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Re: 5.9l - tranny issues - NO CODES

Also a good indicator on the mechanical health of the transmission is the color and smell of the fluid. Fresh fluid is light red, but it can become a bit towards brownish after use for a long time. Very dark brown or black fluid is a sign that there is trouble. Burned smell to the fluid is mostly caused by slipping clutch(es) and an other evidence of internal trouble.
Your jeep has the 46RE transmission, which already has some electronic controls.
The fluid level is indeed the first thing to check, because when it becomes too low or too high, you can draw air into the fluid and lower or even completely loose line pressure. Then the clutches will not apply anymore and you get problems as you described.
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Old 03-27-2016, 02:29 PM
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Re: 5.9l - tranny issues - NO CODES

Hi -

Yes - automatic
Yes - 4WD (actually AWD)

So I just went out and checked the fluid - it was low, so I added more but it looks good - clean, clear and red.

NOTE: when it first acted up I took it to a general shop (not a tranny shop) and they said it most likely needs replacing and started throwing $$$prices$$$ at me... I ASSUMED they at least checked the fluid, but apparently not! I guess that's what I get, huh?

It started right up with a roar like it always does , idled normally, revved fine in Park, no strange sounds, no warning lights - all seemed fine.

I put it in Reverse - it rolled back but did not engage - the gas pedal just made it rev - like it was in Park/Neutral.

I put it in Drive - it popped into gear kinda hard (harder than normal) - then seemed to drive normally (for the 10-feet back up my driveway!)

I checked for trouble codes again (Bosch scanner/reader & key trick) still nothing came up.

I crawled underneath, looked around and took some pics. There's nothing obviously wrong that I could see - other than the tranny pan and surrounding areas looked wet (fairly fresh) but there wasn't a puddle of anything on the driveway.

I was hoping to see a sensor/plug/wire hanging down or something simple, but - no.

I was also thinking/hoping it might be a malfunction of the PCM/sensor/relay...? Again, doesn't it seem that if the tranny is really 'broken' - that one of the many sensors would read that and throw out a TROUBLE CODE?

Or - is that the whole point? There is nothing wrong with the ELECTRICAL/ELECTRONICS of the tranny - so the problem MUST be the internal MECHANICAL parts of the transmission - which means rebuild/replace?

So yeah, I agree - the next thing will be to take the tranny pan off and see if there's any metal flakes inside. I gotta wait for some dry weather to do that - then I'll report back what I find. Feel free to leave more comments/suggestions!

Thanks again!
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Old 03-27-2016, 05:31 PM
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Re: 5.9l - tranny issues - NO CODES

Unfortunately tranny shops can be a bit too easy in saying; he, you need a new transmission. Of course they need work, but for us, as the ones who need to pay the bill, not that fair. (there are some good and thrust worthy shops though)
Im not familiar with the 46RE transmission, but will see if I can find something what can help. You did drive a very little bit and the problem can be that there is air in the respective clutch servos/ actuators. The actuators have very little drain holes and it can take a bit of time to get all the air out. I would suggest to keep the shift lever in Reverse for a few minutes, go back to Park or Neutral and see if then Reverse will work normally.
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Old 03-27-2016, 05:38 PM
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Re: 5.9l - tranny issues - NO CODES

Best of luck. I miss my 5.9L and wish I wouldn't have sold it.


I would suggest taking it to a tranny shop though. Those guys do nothing but transmissions and usually know right away what the problems are. Your issue is going to be getting the Jeep to the shop though as I imagine you don't want to drive it. Maybe call them or go to the shop and describe the issue and go from there.


If it is going to be $4000 to repair (can't imagine a rebuild being that high though) you may want to just sell the Jeep as is and put that money towards a newer Jeep
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Old 03-28-2016, 04:53 AM
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Re: 5.9l - tranny issues - NO CODES

Don't know the RE that's in a ZJ, but in a generic RE I'd suspect a problem with the rear band. Have the trans ever had a fluid change and band adjustment?
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