Ram 1500/2500/3500 Owners & Service Manuals

Ram 1500/2500/3500: Eight-Speed Automatic Transmission - If Equipped

The transmission is controlled using a rotary electronic gear selector located on the instrument panel. The transmission gear range (PRND) is displayed both above the gear selector and in the Electronic Vehicle Information Center (EVIC). To select a gear range, simply rotate the gear selector. You must press the brake pedal to shift the transmission out of PARK, or to shift from NEUTRAL into DRIVE or REVERSE, when the vehicle is stopped or moving at low speeds (refer to Brake/Transmission Shift Interlock System in this section). To shift past multiple gear ranges at once (such as Park to Drive), simply rotate the gear selector to the appropriate detent. Select the DRIVE range for normal driving.

The electronically-controlled transmission provides a precise shift schedule. The transmission electronics are self-calibrating; therefore, the first few shifts on a new vehicle may be somewhat abrupt. This is a normal condition, and precision shifts will develop within a few hundred miles (kilometers).

Only shift from DRIVE to PARK or REVERSE when the accelerator pedal is released and the vehicle is stopped.

Be sure to keep your foot on the brake pedal when shifting between these gears.

The transmission gear selector has only PARK, REVERSE, NEUTRAL, and DRIVE positions. Manual downshifts can be made using the Electronic Range Select (ERS) switches (described later in this section). Pressing the GEAR-/GEAR+ switches (on the steering wheel) while in the DRIVE position will select the highest available transmission gear, and will display that gear in the instrument cluster as 1, 2, 3, etc.

Automatic Transmission
Electronic Transmission Gear Selector

Gear Ranges

DO NOT race the engine when shifting from PARK or NEUTRAL into another gear range.

NOTE: After selecting any gear range, wait a moment to allow the selected gear to engage before accelerating.

This is especially important when the engine is cold.


This range supplements the parking brake by locking the transmission. The engine can be started in this range.

Never attempt to use PARK while the vehicle is in motion. Apply the parking brake when leaving the vehicle in this range.

When parking on a level surface, you may shift the transmission into PARK first, and then apply the parking brake.

When parking on a hill, apply the parking brake before shifting the transmission to PARK. As an added precaution, turn the front wheels toward the curb on a downhill grade and away from the curb on an uphill grade.

NOTE: On four-wheel drive vehicles be sure that the transfer case is in a drive position.


  • Never use the PARK position as a substitute for the parking brake. Always apply the parking brake fully when parked to guard against vehicle movement and possible injury or damage.
  • Your vehicle could move and injure you and others if it is not in PARK. Make sure the transmission is in PARK before leaving the vehicle.
  • It is dangerous to shift out of PARK or NEUTRAL if the engine speed is higher than idle speed. If your foot is not firmly pressing the brake pedal, the vehicle could accelerate quickly forward or in reverse.

    You could lose control of the vehicle and hit someone or something. Only shift into gear when the engine is idling normally and your foot is firmly pressing the brake pedal.

  • Unintended movement of a vehicle could injure those in or near the vehicle. As with all vehicles, you should never exit a vehicle while the engine is running. Before exiting a vehicle, always apply the parking brake, shift the transmission into PARK, turn the engine OFF, and remove the key fob. When the ignition is in the full OFF (key removal) position, the transmission is locked in PARK, securing the vehicle against unwanted movement.
  • When leaving the vehicle, always remove the key fob and lock your vehicle.
  • Never leave children alone in a vehicle, or with access to an unlocked vehicle. Allowing children to be in a vehicle unattended is dangerous for a number of reasons. A child or others could be seriously or fatally injured. Children should be warned not to touch the parking brake, brake pedal or the transmission gear selector.
  • Do not leave the key fob in or near the vehicle (or in a location accessible to children), and do not leave the ignition of a vehicle equipped with Keyless Enter-N-Go in the ACC or ON/ RUN mode. A child could operate power windows, other controls, or move the vehicle.
  • DO NOT race the engine when shifting from PARK or NEUTRAL into another gear range, as this can damage the drivetrain.
  • Before moving the gear selector out of PARK, you must start the engine, and also press the brake pedal. Otherwise, damage to the gear selector could result.

The following indicator should be used to ensure that you have engaged the transmission into PARK:

  • With brake pedal released, look at the transmission gear display and verify that it indicates PARK.


This range is for moving the vehicle backward. Shift into REVERSE only after the vehicle has come to a complete stop.


Use this range when the vehicle is standing for prolonged periods with the engine running. The engine may be started in this range. Apply the parking brake and shift the transmission into PARK if you must leave the vehicle.

WARNING! Do not coast in NEUTRAL and never turn off the ignition to coast down a hill. These are unsafe practices that limit your response to changing traffic or road conditions. You might lose control of the vehicle and have a collision.

CAUTION! Towing the vehicle, coasting, or driving for any other reason with the transmission in NEUTRAL can cause severe transmission damage. Refer to "Recreational Towing" in "Starting And Operating" and "Towing A Disabled Vehicle" in "What To Do In Emergencies" for further information.


This range should be used for most city and highway driving. It provides the smoothest upshifts and downshifts, and the best fuel economy. The transmission automatically upshifts through all forward gears. The DRIVE provides optimum driving characteristics under all normal operating conditions.

When frequent transmission shifting occurs (such as when operating the vehicle under heavy loading conditions, in hilly terrain, traveling into strong head winds, or while towing heavy trailers), use the Electronic Range Select (ERS) switches (refer to Electronic Range Select (ERS) Operation in this section) to select a lower gear range. Under these conditions, using a lower gear range will improve performance and extend transmission life by reducing excessive shifting and heat buildup.

During extremely cold temperatures (-22ºF [-30ºC] or below), transmission operation may be modified depending on engine and transmission temperature as well as vehicle speed. Normal operation will resume once the transmission temperature has risen to a suitable level.

Transmission Limp Home Mode

Transmission function is monitored electronically for abnormal conditions. If a condition is detected that could result in transmission damage, Transmission Limp Home Mode is activated. In this mode, the transmission may operate only in certain gears, or may not shift at all.

Vehicle performance may be severely degraded and the engine may stall. In some situations, the transmission may not re-engage if the engine is turned off and restarted. The Malfunction Indicator Light (MIL) may be illuminated. A message in the instrument cluster will inform the driver of the more serious conditions, and indicate what actions may be necessary.

In the event of a momentary problem, the transmission can be reset to regain all forward gears by performing the following steps:

NOTE: In cases where the instrument cluster message indicates the transmission may not re-engage after engine shutdown, perform this procedure only in a desired location (preferably, at your authorized dealer).

1. Stop the vehicle.

2. Shift the transmission into PARK, if possible. If not, shift the transmission to NEUTRAL.

3. Turn the ignition switch to the OFF position. On vehicles with Keyless Enter-N-Go, press and hold the ignition switch until the engine turns OFF.

4. Wait approximately 30 seconds.

5. Restart the engine.

6. Shift into the desired gear range. If the problem is no longer detected, the transmission will return to normal operation.

NOTE: Even if the transmission can be reset, we recommend that you visit your authorized dealer at your earliest possible convenience. Your authorized dealer has diagnostic equipment to determine if the problem could recur.

If the transmission cannot be reset, authorized dealer service is required.

Electronic Range Select (ERS) Operation - Eight-Speed Transmission

The Electronic Range Select (ERS) switches allow the driver to limit the highest available gear when the transmission is in DRIVE. For example, if you shift the transmission into 3 (third gear), the transmission will not shift above third gear (except to prevent engine overspeed), but will shift down into second and first gears normally.

You can switch between DRIVE and ERS mode at any vehicle speed. When the gear selector is in DRIVE, the transmission will operate automatically, shifting between all available gears. Tapping the GEAR- switch (on the steering wheel) will activate ERS mode, display the current gear in the instrument cluster, and maintain that gear as the top available gear. Once in ERS mode, tapping the GEAR- or GEAR+ switch will change the top available gear.

Automatic Transmission

  1. ERS (-) Switch
  2. ERS (+) Switch

To exit ERS mode, simply press and hold the GEAR+ switch until "D" is once again displayed in the instrument cluster.

WARNING! Do not downshift for additional engine braking on a slippery surface. The drive wheels could lose their grip and the vehicle could skid, causing a collision or personal injury.

When to Use TOW/HAUL Mode

When driving in hilly areas, towing a trailer, carrying a heavy load, etc., and frequent transmission shifting occurs, press the TOW/HAUL switch to activate TOW/ HAUL mode. This will improve performance and reduce the potential for transmission overheating or failure due to excessive shifting.

Automatic Transmission

The "TOW/HAUL Indicator Light" will illuminate in the instrument cluster to indicate that TOW/HAUL mode has been activated. Pressing the switch a second time restores normal operation. Normal operation is always the default at engine start-up. If TOW/HAUL mode is desired, the switch must be pressed each time the engine is started.


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