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  • Fixing Dodge Durango Transmission Problems by Replacing Sensors

    Posted on October 10th, 2013 Lee Devlin 56 comments

    I recently encountered a problem with my 1999 Dodge Durango’s transmission that was repaired by replacing some sensors. Whenever I discover the solution to a problem I’m having and figure that there are a number of others who may be having the same issue, I like to post the discovery on my blog.

    I purchased my Durango new and it has been the most reliable and useful vehicle I’ve ever owned. I love it. So when the transmission started acting funny after about 130,000 miles, I began to think my luck had finally run out. I was impressed lately when I took it to a Grease Monkey and learned that one of their other customers owns 2 Dodge Durangos of the same vintage as mine and each was approaching 300,000 miles with no major issues.

    The transmission problems were especially worrisome because I’ve recently acquired a light weight camper (a 16′ Scamp) and have begun taking it on camping trips. I expect to be using it a lot in the future and that will include towing it up some pretty steep grades in the Rocky Mountains here in Colorado. So I need a vehicle I can rely on to handle the task.

    Dodge Durango and Scamp 16

    The issue I was having was most noticeable when I was starting out from a dead stop. The vehicle seemed to surge back and forth shifting up and down, with the RPM climbing and falling. It would do this for as long as I held the accelerator in the same place. It was almost like a positive feedback loop. But if I stepped down harder on the gas, the problem seemed to go away, instead of getting worse, which wouldn’t generally happen if something inside the transmission was at fault. When your transmission is sick and you ask more from it, it usually demonstrates the problem with even more enthusiasm. But that wasn’t happening in my case. It seemed like it couldn’t decide whether it needed to upshift or downshift at a particular speed which was in the 10-15 mph range.

    I started searching for Dodge Durango transmission problems on Google and came across a YouTube video that showed a similar issue, except this guy was having his problem at 70 mph where the vehicle kept dropping into and out of overdrive. He said in his research he had read about transmission problems that could be related to both the throttle position sensor and the transmission speed sensor which are both relatively inexpensive and easy to change yourself. His video goes into detail on how to change the throttle position sensor and it looked quite easy.

    I also found a website that talked about how to test the TPS using a volt meter. However, I found that the voltages were impossible to measure because the plug that connected to the TPS is all sealed up. So I reasoned, based on the description of the test, that the throttle position sensor was a simple potentiometer and the way to find a problem with it was to rotate it while watching the resistance level. By removing the plug, I was able to get alligator clips on the potentiometer’s left and center conductors and I carefully rotated the potentiometer from idle to maximum throttle by rotating the linkage on the throttle body. Ideally, it should read from about 800 ohms to 5 K-ohms and increase consistently while rotated in one direction.

    Durango Throttle Position Sensor

    Image of a 1999 Durango Throttle Position Sensor

    The Sensor is easy to access on the side of the throttle body.

    The sensor is easy to access on the side of the throttle body just under the air box.

    Instead of smoothly increasing in resistance, I noticed a point around 1200 ohms where the resistance would increase, but then go DOWN about 200-300 ohms for a while, and then come back up even though I continued rotating in one direction. This defect would cause the voltage to do something similar, so I reasoned that the TPS was a likely candidate to be changed first.

    These sensors are easy to find in local auto stores like O’Reilly, Autozone, NAPA, etc.. where they keep them in stock. My web search on the Autozone site assured me that the TPS333 (the model my 1999 Durango 5.9L used) was in stock at my local Autozone store. I picked it up for $34 including tax. It came with extra mounting screws, an O-ring, and a gasket. Although my existing sensor had no gasket, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to install it. It was very simple to remove the old one and replace it with the new one using a Torx T-25 driver. The only ‘tricks’ were that I needed to press in on a latching mechanism to remove the plug and that you have to rotate the part slightly as you install it to get the shafts to mate.

    I rotated the linkage by hand to make sure it moved correctly and then I took it out for a test drive. At first, I thought that this had completely fixed the issue. However, it came back after a while so then I tried replacing the transmission speed sensor, a part that costs around $20 and requires a bit more effort to replace. It’s on the driver’s side of the transmission housing and I found it necessary to remove the plate that protects the transmission in order to get a wrench in closer to it. After I replaced that item, I noticed no difference.

    I continued to drive the vehicle for a few more weeks and noticed that a new problem had emerged. Sometimes while accelerating, the transmission wouldn’t want to shift into a higher gear. It was frustrating while attempting to achieve highway speeds only to see the tachometer approach the red line. Usually, I could get it to shift by dropping it into 2nd gear with the shift lever, then back into drive and it would usually shift properly after that. This was an intermittent problem too, one that I feared would be hard to diagnose and fix.

    The only other candidates that I could think of based on my research were the governor solenoid and governor pressure sensor. Unfortunately, these parts are inside the transmission and are a bit more expensive (about $80 for the sensor and $120 for the governor solenoid). Of course, that meant dropping the pan which is a messy job. I knew that the transmission was due for an oil change, and that I hadn’t ever had a proper oil change where they could access and change the filter (most shops today rely on a ‘transmission flush’, which means they suck out the old fluid and don’t actually change the filter). So I figured that I could combine a transmission fluid and filter change at the same time the governor solenoid and its sensor could be changed so I could more easily rationalize paying nearly $200 in labor to a shop instead of doing it myself.

    I took the vehicle to the local AAMCO shop and explained what was happening and they agreed to test drive it with a scanner so they could monitor transmission oil pressure. What they found was that the pressure never got above 30 psi and this was causing erratic shifting, indicating that there was something wrong with the governor solenoid or its pressure sensor. These parts are nearly always changed at the same time since if one is bad, the other is probably also worn and you need to drop the pan to get to either one so it just makes sense to do them both at the same time.

    I am happy to report that after spending another $450, the transmission is back to normal, shifting precisely when it should and hopefully ready for another 135,000 miles before needing any repairs. In the 15 years that I’ve owned this vehicle this is the only repair I’ve other than routine maintenance and since the vehicle was paid for long ago, I don’t feel too bad because people who replace vehicles every few years can end up spending that much monthly on a loan or lease payment.

    In reading through several forums, I read a horror story where a Dodge dealership wanted to replace the entire transmission for a similar problem for around $4000 but the person declined and found fixed it by replacing the throttle position sensor. So I think it makes sense to try with the easy/inexpensive fixes first and then work up to the more difficult and expensive parts. At the least, you’ll have the peace of mind that all your sensors are good as new.

    So if you have a Dodge Durango or Dodge truck based on the same chassis and you’re having transmission issues like I described, you may want to change these sensors to see if the fix works for you too. There’s too high a temptation for a dealership or transmission shop to want to ‘over repair’ and hence over charge for a simple issue like this.


    56 responses to “Fixing Dodge Durango Transmission Problems by Replacing Sensors”

    1. U may also like to try seafoam trans tune i was having similar problems and found this worked well

    2. I am so glad I found your article!!!
      I own a 2002 Dodge Durango SLT V8 which has also been a very reliable car for 9 years & is nearly paid off…
      I’ve been noticing several things starting to go wrong over this last year & have contemplated selling it before what I think might be a major transmission repair.
      My shifter began sticking in park or would not engage in park, the oil pressure suddenly drops no nearly zero sometimes for no apparent reason, the cooling fan sticks on, while accelerating the transmission sometimes doesn’t want to shift into a higher gear & I have had to do manually shift it down into 2nd & then back up, once it even accelerated much faster without me pressing any harder on the gas peddle & when I let off it decelerated immediately, nevertheless, it was kind of scary!
      It recently reached just over 100,000 miles & as I arrived home two days ago my shifter got stuck in park while stopped at my gate to open it. After some manipulation I finally got it into drive & parked it, but the dash light showed that it was in reverse. I shut my car off & tried to start it again thinking it may be a sensor or something & it would reset itself but that didn’t work and my car wouldn’t start. After some investigating, thinking it had to be the linkage, my boyfriend discovered that my shift cable had actually broken.
      While searching for a new shift cable online I came across your article & it gave me renewed hope & such a sigh of relief to know that maybe all the things that are happening can be fixed by replacing some simple sensors!
      I think I’ll start by checking the ones you mentioned….
      Thank You for taking the time to write this article!

    3. I have a 99 Dodge Durango the v8 Magnum I’mhaving a problem with its slipping a little bit In N Out at 80 kilometers if you know something about it can you get back to me thank you have a good day…

    4. Mr. Martell-
      There is a 4th (fourth) transmission sensor Mr. Devlin didn’t mention, (not that he needed to) and it has to do with the overdrive/lock-up. pt.#22954B (I think is what it’s called) I have a ’99 Durango with the 5.9L/518 Tranny and this may be your culprit. Sometimes these transmissions will inexplicably shift down from overdrive to a lower gear. These types of sensors rarely go bad, but they occasionally do according to my mechanic. Check it out. Price is around $130 or so, and the labor is a little bit more involved considering the fact that the valve body will have to be removed. I’d change the throttle position sensor FIRST before I did anything else. See if that fixes it. If not, get your transmission serviced and replace all four (4) sensors. There are also two bands that can be adjusted in the Dodge 518 transmission, but any reputable transmission repairman will know this.

    5. 99durango shifts into drive at like 55 was like 45 wanna fix before it messes up my tranny any help on what might cause this

    6. I have a1999 dodge Durango it won’t shift out of 1st gear it shifts into reverse fine but won’t shift out off 1st,some one told me it could be shift modual or pressure sensor is this true.

    7. I was having the same problem with my 99 Dodge Durango thinking it was the transmission I ended up having somebody clean out the throttle body and the car stop jumping around so that’s something that somebody could think about doing I also replace the speed sensor as well

    8. I have a 99 Dodge Durango having the similar issue. I took it the shop and they wanted to replace my tranmission. After research and coming across this page I know that the sensors is what is going on. Thank you!

    9. Just bought a 2000 dodge Durango. Did not get across town before it began to have problems. The motor had to remain at below 1rpm to get the truck from shaking so bad it felt like it was falling apart. Would this be a sensor problem as well. Do these trucks require premium gas as directed in the manual. Any suggestions would be welcome not sure the dealer will take the veh back although we just bought the thing at 500 tonight and by 730 everything went to heck.

    10. If the transmission started having problems that quickly, I’d take it back to the dealer and get your money back. There are two sensors that affect the transmission that are possible to change without too much difficulty. Those are the throttle position sensor (which is on the engine under the air box) and the output speed sensor which is on the transmission. Each of those costs less than $30. However, if you need to remove the pan from the transmission to replace the pressure sensor and solenoid inside, that is a $400-$500 repair half of which is labor. But if the transmission needs to be rebuilt, that will cost in the neighborhood of $2,500-$3,000.

    11. everytime I fill up my tank my engine surges and will not excellerate properly. I reset my engine lite and everything runs fine. I was told that the shift sensor on the drivers side of the trans. is going bad. I was told to remove the plug, unscrew the old sensor and screwin the new one. plug up the wire cable and itsfixed for about 100 dollars.


    13. I have a 1999 Durango & was driving it , and I came to a stop tried to put it in park. But would only go into reverse. I tried messing with the linkage . It all checked out ok. Even the shift cable was good. It would go into drive & neutral and reverse, but NO park. I messed with it more & eventually I lost everything . Does anyone know what it could be ? Or has anyone had or experienced that same or similar problem ?

    14. Recall list shows shift linkage recall dude

    15. I have a 2005 dodge durango.In the last few months a proble has risen where the transmission or transfer case will lock up and the car will not move. The car will be in drive and the engine running. this happens and I notice it when I am driving slow (like 2/3 mph-pulling in to a parking spot) I have had it in to a dealer for over 2 weeks and they serviced the transfer case, rear differential and front differential. I also replaced the 4 wd switch on the dash. the dealer said it would cost about $3,000 to install a refurbished transfer case. any body have any suggestions?

    16. This. Is not a comment. Its a question. I have. A 1999 dodge Durango v8 5.9 it’s a 3rd seater, For three years I have had problems. With it shifting into 3rd but it would change eventually. Now it won’t shift. Into. 2nd I changed the filter and fluid and governor. Sensor. And it won’t shift at all. What could be wrong I could use some advice. Thanks

    17. Hi Debby, If you take it to an AAMCO or similar transmission shop, they can connect up to the OBD2 port and drive it and see if the oil pressure in the transmission is adequate to cause it to shift. In my case it was not, which indicated it was either the pressure sensor or the pressure servo valve. There may be other sensors such as the transmission output speed sensor that are not providing the proper signal and if that’s the case, then it may also be causing the vehicle that it’s not reaching the correct speed for shifting. Again, monitoring the ODB2 port may point to the problem.

    18. Thank you very helpful

    19. Debby mine did the same thing and it was the shift sensor. Might wanna look into that.

    20. Recently took my durango to grocery store in snow n i live on mountain well on my way back to my house my durango started sliding on hill n wouldnt go,,so i stopped then placed it in drive n floored it and moved steering wheel back n forth so it would go in snow up hill n it did,,,so it made it home ok but the next morning i was taking kids to school n trantransmisión wont shift gears but durango drives but no shifting,,,,any suggestions of what it might be?

    21. Nice post, thanks for sharing the information about fixing dodge durango transmission problems by replacing sensors.
      Transmission Shop recently posted…HomeMy Profile

    22. I have a 99 dodge durango and having transmission problems I replaced the speed sensor and it still didn’t fix it when u come to a stop and then pull out it won’t shift right

    23. Another vote here on the throttle position sensor and also the pre-cat O2 sensor. Bought a sweet Dakota crew cab 4×4 for next to nothing because the guy thought the trans was bad. Got it home, pulled the codes and it was the TPS and O2. Replaced both and have been driving it happily every since.

    24. Thank you! That is the exact description of what is happening to my 2001 Durango, I will get on that fix right away. I was afraid I was losing my transmission, this is very encouraging

    25. I don’t know if this was already answered, but what about when idling at a stop light or other stop sign, when in gear, my 2002 durango 4.7 sometimes gets this violent jolt almost as if I was tapped from behind by another vehicle. A mechanic friend said it was probably a particular sensor/solenoid issue, but I’m hoping to not have to mess with the solenoid based on how-to videos I’ve watched. I’d like it to simply be a sensor issue if i could help it As much as I’d like to take to an AAMCO or shop, I’d rather save the money and do myself.

    26. its the throttle position sensor

    27. So my parents have a 98 durango 5.9L that i use. Recently the transmission gave out and wouldnt want to shift. We took it to the shop where we had a complete transmission oil and filter change. That helped solve the problem somewhat because it at least now accelerates. But same issue as mentioned, it doesnt shift passed 1 st gear and only tops about 20mph. However it seems that when the motor is cool, such as in the mornings it is easy to get it to shift by dropping it into neutral then back into drive. I would like to know if this failure is caused by the Throttle position sensor?

    28. i have a 99 durango wont shift out of 2 unless i disconnect the battery for a few seconds then hook the battery back up starts and will shift though all the gears just shifts at high rpm some one please help

    29. I have a 2003 Durango SXT 4×4 V8 engine. Everytine I turn off the engine and turn it on again I have difficulty shifting the gear from P to R. I need to play around with gear control for it to engage. Sometimes it takes the whole 15 minutes to do it. I don’t want to really force the gear control for I may do more damage.The moment it goes to R everything works perfectly fine. Please help me as your Durango brother. Thank You Very Much.

      M A N N Y

    30. Please notify me of any followup comments.

    31. Hi there. This is happening to our 1998 Dodge Durrango and I took it in today and they quoted me 2k for a rebuild. I asked about the sensors and they said if my engine light was on and if it wasn’t then they said it probably wa not the sensors. Was your engine light on?

      I’m going to try taking it into AAMCO and see if they would swap out the sensors if I did the transmission flush and filter replacement. That is what you did right? Weee they hesitant to do it with your own parts?

      Thank you! This is great!

    32. 2003 Durango will sometimes not move when I shift into R or D. I put it in park then seems to be fine. Any ideas ? thanks

    33. Hey. I have a 2003 durango SLT 4X4 with a 4.7. Sometimes the transmission will slip on take off, when this happens it doesn’t want to shift into overdrive at speed. So I’ll stop and turn it off for a couple of minutes, when I restart it, it works fine, could this be a sensor problem as well?

    34. this is really helpful. I have a super reliable 200 Durango with 175,000 miles on it. It just started slipping between gears when accelerating, and then will lug into gear. It only happens about 30% of the time, and runs normal the rest of the time. I will have the sensors checked because I cant afford an entire trans overhaul.. Hopefully, it is just one of the sensors. It has been such a great car! I just love it and want it to last.

    35. Thank you so much for sharing your experience with your Durango… I am experiencing the same sort of things with my 2000 Durango and I I’m hoping that replacing those sensors will help the way its been shifting. Im scared transmission is shot id be devastated!! Crossing my fingers tho, thanks again!!!

    36. This is great, my wife’s 98 durango is doing the same thing at stops or low speeds, and as soon as I get the day off to change out the sensors, this knowledge will come in handy.

    37. I have a 1998 durango 5.2L that stalls in reverse most of the time. Any suggestions?

    38. Bing the exact same problem with my 03 Durango with the 4.7 considering you have the 5.2 it sounds as if the real issue is the governor and solenoid that sucks considering its rather expensive to do I know their is a difference not only with the 5.2 but the year in your case 99 and mine being the03 with the 4.7 usually parts are differe t would the location of the tps senser the same I looked for the two parts at AutoZone and they asked not sure which one but asked which speed senser or tps senser cause there is three if this is the case can you tell me which one its is and should I change then other two as well location of the two would be nice I also have a code p oo52 doing the resach this is something to do with heater senser 2 of 1 is there any significance to this you think. Great article thanks a bunch everyone at YouTube had similar problems but as you mentioned not the exact problem I saw the one at 70 miles an hour as well. Alrighty thw me a bunch, tony tparent25@hotmail. Com

    39. I have a 2000 Durango 5.9 L 4 x 4 and the transmission started slipping in reverse I had the fluid and filter replaced and I did not rectify the problem A few days later the vehicle would not move in reverse at all but would go forward and not shift past second gear am I screwed?

    40. I own a 2004 durango 4.7 slt..am having some transmission problems..it kicks out of overdrive into drive and will jam up in drive…when that happens i only have second and drive that works until i stop and turn off truck then turn it back on…some help is needed and thank u for ur time…jj

    41. I recently got myself a 99 Durango… an when it’s turned to hard left or right the mph cuts out.. every so often it kicks back on… but lately it hasn’t…also when it is working it wants to shift to 2nd an then right to 3rd

    42. Same here but my font shift at all if I start in drive it takes forever to get up to speed and at 60mph to 70mph it revs at like 3-3500rpms

    43. I have a 2000 durango 45RFE transmission – this is hopeful thanks for Sharing (i know it was a couple years ago). I have used my Durango for over 2 years, only driving in 2nd. Because in Drive it does the erratic up/down shift and quickly goes into limp mode. Of course this is only a local driver and i don’t go over 45.
      I gave up on the tranny after putting in 2 solenoid packs from the parts yard -both made things worse before is settled and put the original one back in so i could at least have a 1/2 good vehicle.
      And like you i took it to a shop, they drove it with a scanner and it was a pressure issue and the guy told me it would likely be a complete rebuild. Maybe he was right, but this encourages me to take another stab at some more possibilities.


    44. have 2000 durango shifts fine forward gears ,will not back up

    45. I have a 2000 dodge durango and having a issue its got over 100,000 miles and i started loosing power it seemed like the transmission. I changed the transmission and it was still doing the same thing I have replaced the throttle positions sensor the speed sensor and still it takes off like a new truck but soon as it gets to about 30 mph i start loosing power it wont shift up to any other gears sounds like it wants to put wont…My next option is to check the govenor sensor and the pressure sensor if this dont work I dont know what else to check any ideas?


    47. I have a 2001 Durango, it seems to skip 2nd gear and go to drive/3rd, then if you press gas it jumps down to 1st, no slipping is happening, just skips 2nd…. Solenoid Maybe???

    48. My Durango has problems shifting on corners it seems like the transmission slips while going around corners any ideas only sometimes

    49. I owned a 2000 Durango SLT 5.9 that I bought used with 17k in 2000. I drove it for 11 years and had very few problems. I pulled a 22 ft travel trailer to camp sites all over northern ca. And a 20ft race car trailer to Oroville and Red Bluff many times. I did kill the trans but It was my fault leaving Red Bluff after the races the weather was horrible there was a 40 mile per hour head wind for the first 150 miles. Like most older trailers the front was flat like a 4×8 sheet of plywood. Floored I couldn’t go over 50 mph. I should have waited it out in a motel. Instead I just kept it floored for 3 hours. That’s tough on the transmission. Plus I think I left it in overdrive. That was a big mistake. Never tow anything in O.D. $3500 for a new trans from dodge.
      You said just normal maintenance in 140k ? It’s hard to believe you didn’t have to change the water pump a couple times ? They are natorious for bearing failure. Anyway thanks for the info on the trans. I found one for sale for $500 w/ good pleather interior , tow package, straight body, brand new tires, but the trans won’t up shift. If it seams more of a command problem then a slipping situation I’m going to buy and see if it has low pressure or a sensor problem. Do you remember the brand of scanner that Ammco used to test it with?

    50. Plugged converter is the first thing I thought of check fuel pressure to dodges of that era do not have a fuel filter that you can change. They rely on a sock over the fuel pick up inside the tank. No more than 2 psi pressure in the exhaust ( before cat) you can check it by removing the O2 sensors and driving it. It will be in open loop and the Ck engine light will probably come on but it will drive normally. Take it for a drive. If the problem is one or both Cat converters are plugged you will know it immediately. you can put the O2 sensors back in one at a time with a test drive in between to check if it’s one or both cats that are plugged. Fuel pressure should be around 40-45 I think ? Good luck


    52. My engine light is on but no codes … I’m thinking transmission wants to only go 40 up hills and wants to down shift… Any suggestions

    53. Mechelle Patterson

      I needed this my transmission is doing exactly the same thing

    54. Ross Richard Blankert

      I have been told that the crankshaft position sensor is causing a clicking sound and it will keep getting worse until it starts stalling and then it won’t start.
      I have a 1930 Ford Model A as well. It does not have any sensor or any electronics of any kind. Who in the heck started all this computer stuff anyway? Just saying.

    55. I to am having a similar problem and wanted to ask what ur opinion was I had a 45rfe I n it I heard like a pop and a jerk and the tranny started doing all different stuff like no lower gears first and etc but then I did all I could find on the net and still finally didn’t want toI’ve anymore my question is I have changes out the tranny and now it seems like it don’t go jnto overdrive its like it stays in tow mode so I also am not sure if it’s a 45rfe due to the fact that the pressure sensor or the solenoid is bolted kn the outside although this tranny I just put in has jo high gear I did use the sensor off the old one but the old one never seemed to lose the higher gears just the lower gear but this one is losing the higher gears and it also when u put it in drive or reverse it had alot more jerk to it it’s going into gear hard don’t seem to shift bad or hard just not going to high gear so could it b that sensor that u used out of the other and if not what sensor could it b as he granted me it worked the tranny that is and I’m just at a loss kn y no high gear please adv>see and thank you for your help in advance

    56. My 01 Dodge Durango started acting funny today it wants to shift from 1st to 3rd Back II and then back to Third is like it’s not building pressure in the transmission 2 Shift what should I do

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