Grand Cherokee Transmission failure 545RFE





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  1. #1
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    Default Transmission failure 545RFE

    On a nice lazy Sunday cruise down on Durban's south coast, not exceeding 80Km/h, I could suddenly feel the transmission slip. Within 2 minutes there was a lot of smoke behind us and the engine light came on.
    The transmission oil has gotten so hot that it was coming out of the filler spout and dripped onto the exhaust manifold. There actually was a little flame when I opened the hood, but it had gone out when I returned with the fire extinguisher.
    She would not select any gears any more, I had her towed back to Durban on a flatbed.
    The car is an 06 Grand Cherokee 5.7, 142000Km on the clock, the transmission had an oil and 2 filter change 15000Km ago. Immaculate condition, like new in and out due to my obsessive maintenance disorder.
    I can not tell you how disappointed I am.

    Back home I checked for the correct oil level and removed the pan to see the extent of the damage. The oil smells like burnt plastic, no metal shavings in the pan but plastic shavings. The filters are intact and actually not visibly dirty.

    Using the Lemur BlueDriver I could read a plethora of tansmission and final drive problem codes.

    As I have not much experience in this specific field of automatic transmissions, can someone please point me in the right direction where to look for second hand units, or reputable local shops for recondition or remanufacture this type of transmission?

    Thanks, your advice is appreciated.

    Harry


    Here are the codes:
    2 Pending Trouble Codes:
    • P0700: Transmission Control System (MIL Request)
    • P0841: LR Pressure Switch Rationality
    2 All Wheel / Final Drive Trouble Codes:
    • C140F: Transfer Case Range Position Sensor Erratic Performance
    • C1406: Transfer Case Brake Performance
    1 Powertrain Control Module Trouble Codes:
    • P0700: Transmission Control System (MIL Request)
    6 Transmission Control Module Trouble Codes:
    • P0869: Transmission Fluid Pressure High
    • P0731: Gear 1 Incorrect Ratio
    • P1790: Fault Immediately After Shift
    • P0876: UD Pressure Switch Rationality
    • P0841: LR Pressure Switch Rationality
    • P0935: Hydraulic Pressure Sensor Circuit High
    Everything seems impossible - until it's done!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Transmission failure 545RFE

    Firstly, review the oil used for the flush and refill.

    Secondly, talk to Sakkie7, he seems to keep GC gearboxes all over the place.
    2012 Jeep Sahara Unlimited 3.6 V6
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  4. #3
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    Default Re: Transmission failure 545RFE

    Ouch. Sorry to hear.
    Please keep us up to date, specifically cost of refurb or replacement transmission.

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  6. #4
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    Default Re: Transmission failure 545RFE

    I have the same year model 5.7 with 436 0000km. Never touched the gearbox. Just normal service. Maybe just luck. Sometimes doing something preventative causes more problems. Maybe something went wrong with the oil and filter change.

  7. #5
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    Default Re: Transmission failure 545RFE

    Have to add, I took it to an Indie for service after warrentee. Never to a dealer.

  8. #6
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    Default Re: Transmission failure 545RFE

    Maybe consider having a chat with the Guys n Gals from Rex Diff and Gear (RDG). They keep all our Hummer Club Auto boxes in top condition and repairs.
    Estee = S T = Sean Towlson

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  9. #7
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    Default Re: Transmission failure 545RFE

    Sorry to hear.

    Who did the oil and filter change?

    I agree with Jelo, post #2, what oil was used?

    What was the oil level like when you checked it afterwards?
    Last edited by DC Polokwane; 2019/06/20 at 07:29 AM.
    Jeep Grand Cherokee 2002 4.7 V8

  10. #8
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    Default Re: Transmission failure 545RFE

    I did change it myself with the correct oils and filters .... I am very particular about using the correct oils. Chrysler ATF+4 if I remember correctly.

    What I was told so far is that the plastic shavings indicate a physical damage inside of one of the planetary gears setups. There seem to be plastic parts who help to distribute the oil to the gears, if I understood correctly. When these plastic parts get damaged the get ground by the gears and subsequently the shavings block oil channels and lead to catastrophic failure in no time.

    Today we'll bring her to a specialized shop in Pinetown to have the transmission removed and analyzed. I will report the findings here.
    Everything seems impossible - until it's done!

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  12. #9
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    Default Re: Transmission failure 545RFE

    I have a new Jeep indie in Pretoria that might be able to source units, so PM me if you run out of options.
    2012 Jeep Sahara Unlimited 3.6 V6
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  13. #10
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    Default Re: Transmission failure 545RFE

    That sucks. Is that the same gearbox that the CRD runs? the Merc one?
    2007 Jeep Grand Cherokee 3.0 CRD Overland - GDE Eco Tune + 2" Lift on 265/70/17 BFG KO2's
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  14. #11
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    Default Re: Transmission failure 545RFE

    OP, is there any chance some water got into the 545RFE? Your symptoms are just what happens when some water gets in.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quiksilver View Post
    That sucks. Is that the same gearbox that the CRD runs? the Merc one?
    Different boxes. This is the Chrysler 545RFE. The CRD's have the Merc WA580/Nag1/722.6

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  16. #12
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    Default Re: Transmission failure 545RFE

    Quote Originally Posted by Quiksilver View Post
    That sucks. Is that the same gearbox that the CRD runs? the Merc one?
    NO. The Merc box is not the same as on the Hemi or the 4.7 V8 petrol engines. The Merc one is softer..........
    2012 Jeep Sahara Unlimited 3.6 V6
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  18. #13
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    Default Re: Transmission failure 545RFE

    I am pretty sure the Merc box in the CRD is one of the best ones in the business/not soft, what makes you say this bud? Its used in many other applications.

    Sorry to hear about your failure

    2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee 3.0CRD
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  19. #14
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    Default Re: Transmission failure 545RFE

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay4 View Post
    I am pretty sure the Merc box in the CRD is one of the best ones in the business/not soft, what makes you say this bud? Its used in many other applications.
    I just said it is SOFTER. Like Arnold Schwarzenegger is slightly softer than Chuck Norris.

    - more sensitive to ATF quality, and needs better filtration
    - more sensitive to extreme temperatures
    - defective O-rings causing water contamination (see first point)
    - wear and tear in the valve body can cause the converter to come in and out of lockup when it shouldn’t, resulting in a judder or rumbling sensation
    - failure of what is known as a “conductor plate”, or electrics pack
    - the seals within the transmission that are responsible for keeping the clutches operating properly wear down and it is very unusual for a 5G-Tronic to manage much more than 150,000 kms without needing a complete strip down to replace the internal seals

    So do your RESEARCH, BUD
    2012 Jeep Sahara Unlimited 3.6 V6
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  20. #15
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    Default Re: Transmission failure 545RFE

    Points noted.

    I've owned many autos and this box would be my pic of choice. Anything that can handle 1000nm is solid in my book.

    That being said, I am on my second tuned CRD both with close to 700nm and I use them hard in the dunes and they run like a stabbed rat.

    What more do you want......I just dont see soft in that equation.

    2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee 3.0CRD
    2011 Jeep Cherokee
    2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee 3.0CRD-50mm EFS Lift, GDE Tune
    2009 Jeep Rubicon-50mm Coil Lift, Branches, Free Flow, K&N, MT`s
    2013 Suzuki Vitara-40mm lift
    2012 Suzuki Jimny-Fully Kitted.
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  22. #16
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    Default Re: Transmission failure 545RFE

    There is a guy on YouTube that does a full teardown of the 545RFE. There is allot to learn from the video as he goes through it step by step. Might not be relevant in this case but could help you better understand the gearbox.

    Please let us know what they find as I'm also running the same setup.

    https://youtu.be/BFBGsncgDvI

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  24. #17
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    Default Re: Transmission failure 545RFE

    Quote Originally Posted by Gerhard Hoffman View Post
    There is a guy on YouTube that does a full teardown of the 545RFE. There is allot to learn from the video as he goes through it step by step. Might not be relevant in this case but could help you better understand the gearbox.

    Please let us know what they find as I'm also running the same setup.

    https://youtu.be/BFBGsncgDvI

    Here's another good one. Hiram has a series on many different auto strip downs.
    Great advice and tips.


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  26. #18
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    Default Re: Transmission failure 545RFE

    The Chrysler 545RFE is One Hell Of A Tough Transmission And Here’s Why
    Posted by Regis on Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013


    The Chrysler 545RFE is a four speed automatic made by the Chrysler Corporation. The “RFE” at the end of the name of the transmission refers to Rear-wheel drive and Full Electronically controlled. The 545RFE first went into production in 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee’s. Over the years it was used in the Jeep Liberty and Wrangler, Dodge Ram, Power Wagon, Dakota and Durango. It is still in production, mainly in the London Taxi Company TX4.

    The transmission is produced at the Chrysler transmission factory in Kokomo, Indiana. This transmission is especially tough in that it includes a three planetary gear set instead of the two planetary gear set typically found in other four speed automatics. Other features of this transmission include three multiple-disk input clutches as well as three multiple-disc holding clutches. It also includes a unique dual filtration system, with one filter in the transmission pan and a second one in the fluid return system. The transmission features a very step 3.00:1 first gear ratio, making it ideal for towing and use in heavy vehicles. It also includes a very generous overdrive ratio of 0.67:1 which helps these work-horse vehicles return the best mileage possible.


    Depending on the year of the transmission, it is controlled by a stand-alone computer or controlled by the main computer controlling the rest of the systems in the vehicle. The stand-alone versions are ideal for transplant into vehicles that did not originally come equipped with this transmission. Ideal uses could range from off-road vehicles, to muscle cars, to high horse power street rods and drag racing cars.

    Maintenance is crucial to the longevity of the transmission. It is highly recommended that the fluid be changed every 25,000 miles or sooner, especially if used for towing. The transmission uses Mopar ATF +4 fluid and requires 6 – 8 quarts of fluid when draining just the pan. It is also recommended that both transmission filters be changed at the time of the fluid service. It is also recommended that an aftermarket transmission cooler be install if the vehicle will see heavy towing or heavy payloads. The ideal place to mount the transmission cooler is In between the transmission line coming out of the factory cooler and the line going back into the transmission (return line).


    Popular upgrades to the 545RFE transmission include reprogramming the transmission with a hand held tuners, installation of a shift improvement kit, installation of a transmission temperature gauge and the use of a deeper than stock transmission pan. If given a choice in choosing the type of material the pan is made of, choose aluminum. Aluminum pans are more ridged than steel pans and help strengthen the transmission case. Aluminum pans also provide an additional cooling benefit, as it dissipates heat better than regular steel.

    The 545RFE is a tough transmission, as long as the scheduled maintenance is keep up and the transmission is not abuse from overheating or towing beyond the recommend maximum limit. If you are a travel trailer enthusiast, and you are towing a trailer for long distances, you definitely need to make sure your transmission is in top condition. I can’t stress the importance of installing a transmission cooler like the one I spoke about earlier.


    Like all other transmissions, the 545RFE is designed to have a finite life span. In the event that your customer’s 545RFE transmission fails, consider replacing it with a re-manufactured transmission instead of one that has simply been rebuilt.

    http://etereman.com/blog/fiat-transm...nd-here-is-why

    I don't know this site/source, just sharing for interest sake.
    Last edited by DC Polokwane; 2019/06/21 at 08:45 AM.
    Jeep Grand Cherokee 2002 4.7 V8

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  28. #19
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    Default Re: Transmission failure 545RFE

    Ok here's a little in between update.

    What went wrong:

    One of the solenoids developed a malfunction, this had 2 of the clutchpacks work violently against each other, which is the slip that I felt. It also made the oil real hot real quick and made the clutch plates fuse hence no more gears.

    This solenoid malfunction can happen to anyone any time, no matter what the age, mileage or maintenance of the unit. According to the specialist this is the number 1 fault experienced on most fully electronic transmissions.

    The "plastic" bits I found in the pan were actually not plastic, they were bits of friction plates. There is no mechanical damage.

    Good news is that this happening is apparently as rare as winning the lotto, taking into consideration the millions of fully electronic transmission out on the roads. I will be looking for statistics on that.

    Only way to counter the problem is to monitor your transmission oil temperatur constantly. Once it goes up quickly you have to stop to prevent the big damage. You'd still have to tow the vehicle and get it repaired, but the cost would be considearbly lower.

    The repair:

    To overhaul/repair this box I would have to get the overhaul kit including all seals and clutchpacks for R8500, a new solenoid pack for R11500, recondition the torque converter for R8500. Add labour, diagnostics oils and filters and I am sitting at R45000, which I feel is too much given the value of the vehicle itself.

    Another, much bigger shop, where transmissions get assembled by workers on assembly lines, has quoted me a flat rate of 30 grand to "overhaul" my box, but were not able to tell me what it entails. They do give warrant though. I decided to stay with my small shop, where I can have a conversation with the person who does the whole job of stripping assembling and repairing, and has a history of doing so in a succesfull fashion. Let specialists do what they are good at.

    Second, much cheaper option would be to slap in a used unit. Box plus labour under 20 grand, but then I don't know the condition or mileage of that and would have the feeling of driving a time bomb and would not dare to do long trips, which sort of defeats the purpose.

    This is whay I decided the third option:

    At the moment the shop is stripping a used unit and they are going to assemble my "new" box out of the best bits of both boxes. Before I bought the used unit I checked the condition of the oil and had a look inside the pan. This way I know what I have inside there and how I can rely on it. It's not new but so is the car itself. Cost: R10000 for the used unit, R16500 for labour filters and oil.

    Cheers, I'll keep you up to date!
    Everything seems impossible - until it's done!

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  30. #20
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    Default Re: Transmission failure 545RFE

    Thanks for the update.
    R45k! Ouch. Luckily you have options.
    I think you made the right choices.
    Hopefully next time you rather win the lotto
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    AVZ

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