to regear or not

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Jan 19, 2007
Tipp City, OH
Hopefully some of you guys with experience can help me out. We bought a 2007 Puma 25BH TT this summer. Our old pop-up literally rotted away. We then sold my v6 powered F-150 and bought a 98 Ram 1500 with a 5.9 v8. The dealer let me test drive it with the TT hitched up. Unfortunately, the test drive was on a calm day and flat roads. Now I'm stuck with it.

The truck does fine for what will amount to probably 80% of the traveling we will do with it (mostly state routes to all the Ohio state parks). It is the other 20% I'm worried about. We took it up to Cedar Point this summer (mostly highway), and found that it really struggled to maintain 60 mph with a headwind. I could slow to 50-55 and it did much better, but the people behind me were not happy. The engine still had plenty of passing power left. I could kick it up to over 70 for short bursts to get around the semi trucks, but it would constantly hunt for gears when trying to keep between 60-65.

So now I am considering switching out the 3.55 rear end. I can go with a 3.92 or a 4.10. My dilemma is I think the 3.92 would be sufficient, but I would be very upset to find that I should have gone with the 4.10. By the same token, I don't want to put in the 4.10 and futher drain oil fields if the 3.92 will work. While I am pondering this, I can't help but think I need to just suck it up, keep the 3.55 gears and drive 55. But If I do that, will the transmission hold up, and how much trouble will I have when we take a trip to Florida, or over to Boston?

I assume you have the automatic transmission. What you have happening is the transmission is hunting between the high range and overdrive. The manual for my Dodge truck says to punch the overdrive button--mines located on the end of the shift lever. This will eliminate the cycling of the overdrive. You should have a light on your dash come on that says "overdrive off/towing".

While "hunting" is an unnecessary source of wear on the transmission, it isn't a disaster. Shifting gears to match load is what an automatic is supposed to do.  It's more irritating than anything else. I think the 3.92 would be entirely adequate to solve the hunting problem.  You could also add a Gear Vendors Over/Underdrive. That's an expensive solution, but gives you the best of both worlds - additional high gears for cruising and intermediate gears for hauling loads.

You should be able to lock out the overdrive like Chet says. That should stop the hunting, at the cost of some fuel economy.

Thanks also for providing yet another example where a half ton truck with a small block V8 (even one labeled Magnum!) comes up a bit short when towing even a modest sized trailer. You may have noticed this point being debated here repeatedly when we tell folks their half ton is a bit wimpy for towing.
I guess I should have noted that I do turn the overdrive off.

The transmission in the 98 Dodge trucks just suck. There are not enough gears, and the difference between each gear is too much (Which is probably why they keep blowing up). The under/over drive might be a good option, but I don't think I want to spend that kind of money on a near decade old truck with over 200,000 miles on it. Plus we are quickly out growing it. We have three kids and just found out one more is on the way.

I think I'll have to really start looking for an Excursion (unless anyone knows if there are any diesel Suburbans that would be cheaper than an Excursion) I need 4 wheel drive due to where I store the trailer, and I want a diesel for the fuel mileage.

I think going with the 3.92 is my best short-term option. I can get a ring and pinion for less than $250. I'm sure I can find someone to install it for around $100. If I'm going to be selling it soon, the 4.10 may be too much of a turn-off for anyone who does not tow.
Question: Are you using cruise control? If so, the hunting will be worse than if you just use your foot and let the rig slow a bit when going up and down small rises. Even 18-wheelers with 500+ h.p. slow down on hills; if the people behind you are not happy, they can always pass, or you can find a place to pull over and let the train go by. There's no reason for you to be white-knuckling it because other people are in a hurry. :)
I towed a 24 ft. Terry with the 5.2 in a short wheel based 1998 Dodge 1500 all over the West with the automatic and 3.54 gears.  True, it was a bit slow, has to turn the overdrive off, and when it started to hunt between ggears yu just have to slow down.  I also towe the same TT with my wife's 99 Durango with the 5.9 and 3.54 gears with automatic.  It worked better than the 5.2 and it pulled the Rockies with 5 people in the Durango and water in the holding tank in the TT and we experienced no problems other than you were slower than everyone else going up the steep hills.  As far wind, I towed the same TT from Ft. Bragg, NC to Ft. Lewis, WA with a Dodge Ram 2500 with the Cummins diesel and it too hutned between gears when going up long grades into a headwind, thereby causing me to have to manualy downshift into D2 on occasionand lower speed to keep the transmission from hunting between gears.  Bottom line is, you can save yourself the expense and the time by using the accelerator and the trnasmission to vary your speed and torque and you should be fine. 
sfjefe said:
Bottom line is, you can save yourself the expense and the time by using the accelerator and the transmission to vary your speed and torque and you should be fine. 

Thanks for the input.

I have never been all that happy with the Dodge. We just bought the Puma, and wanted to use it over the 4th of July. I knew the 4700# dry weight and the 5000# towing capacity on my Cherokee was not even a possibility, but I needed a hitch on it, and the dealer was willing to throw it in. I figured I would tow it home with the Jeep then hook it up to my Ford for the weekend trip.

I hooked up the the Ford (1997 F-150 ext. cab long bed with a 4.2 V6 and manual tranny) and quickly accepted that the clutch would never hold up to that much trailer. So, with the 4th only a week away, I was desperate for something to pull the new trailer. I found the Dodge, it had the 5.9, ext. cab, and it already had a brake controller installed. It was just what I needed, and for a price that I could sell the Ford for.

In the first 3 weeks I had the Dodge, the water pump grenaded, and I had to replace the intake plenum gasket (it was burning a quart of oil every 100 miles!). After that, the A/C pump bearing went out. All that combined with slow towing and piss poor fuel mileage makes me not want to keep this truck for any longer than I have to.

The ext. cab is sufficient for a young family of five, but six is too cramped with all the booster seats. A 9 passenger Excursion would be my ideal tow rig, but I don't have that kind of cash to lay out. I've found a couple mid 90's 3/4 ton Suburbans with the 454 and four wheel drive for less than $6000. At this point, that is probably what I'll end up with.

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