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Discussion Starter #1
Hey guys, I own a 2001 Dodge Ram 3500 DRW Cummins. I do grading for a living so I haul equipment frequently and I’m not very happy the trucks capabilities. It seems like everyone I talk to hypes these trucks up and I see people towing with 2nd gens all the time but my truck struggles. Unloaded it does fine but the second I hook a trailer up it drags. Even if it’s just a couple thousand pounds. I understand it’s almost 20 years old, but this truck was made for this so I feel like I should be getting a little more.

It seems to me like the motor has all the power it needs but it can’t do anything with it when it only has 4 gears. Whenever I try to go up a grade, it will bog down until it downshifts, then it runs a little hot because the RPMs are way up.

It truly handles good but it makes me uncomfortable when my tans temp is 200 degrees and motor temp starts creeping towards 200 when I’m still going up hill.

I’m not saying the truck has any problems, I just don’t want to grenade it. So I’m asking for others experience when towing to see if we’re in the same boat. I’m mostly pulling between 8-15k pounds
 

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Discussion Starter #2
It’s a 53 block so it’s a gamble for me to throw bigger injectors or a tune in it.

The trans shift fine and it doesn’t do anything abnormal. The motor and trans just run hot so is there a way I can keep them cool? It really only warms up when I’m in stop and go traffic or going up hill. After that it cools down.
 

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While pulling up the hill, do you ever use low 4wd? Regarding engine heating, you've checked the coolant level, right?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I’ve never attempted to activate 4wd going at high speed. I’m directing more towards highway and roads where speed is around 50-70.

Funny that you bring up the coolant. My mechanic supposedly flushed the radiator not to long ago so I didn’t think much of it. (Looking back at it was pretty dumb). Anyways I just got done driving it and noticed some fluid on the ground. Turns out it’s coolant and I traced it back to the drivers side of the radiator. I’ve yet to find out if it’s the actual radiator or just a connection somewhere
 

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Do you know the crank case vent is at the front of the engine and how badly it oils and craps up the radiator core? If the crank case vent has never been redirected and the radiator cleaned you better do it now. While you have it out you can see if it leaks and clean all the other exchangers. Also put a new thermostat in it if you haven't done it lately. Craig
 

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There is a drain on the drivers side, maybe the mechanic didn't tighten up up properly. Good torque converter with some mild valve body work i'm sure would help in the transmission department.

I tow upward of 25k at times, it's not pleasant, but it works.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks guys

BFD are you talking about the “catch can”. I haven’t cleaned it but I’m sure it could use it. I’ve kinda been meaning to look at it but haven’t. I’m not sure how that affects the radiator though? Does it throw gunk on the backside? I replaced the t-stat a couple weeks ago. Mechanic said radiator was cleaned when flushed but he claims he did a lot...

Marco I couldn’t image 25k in my truck. That definitely makes me feel like I’m loosing power somewhere. I’ll check that drain in the morning
 

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2nd gen only had 12,500 tow rating stock. There are a few things you can do.
1, Replace radiator due to the leak probably caused by internal corrosion. Use OSC brand from Summit Racing or better, $170. It is 3 rows and 1/4 in thicker than OEM.
There are others for more money.
2, You likely have 3.55 diff gears. You need to go to 4.10 for serious everyday towing.
3. If you have the trani out for anything upgrade the torque convertor.

Without doing a lot of mods or spending a lot of money you can add one of several small power chips to add a few HP and some torque without doing anything else or causing a lot of stress on the block. Something from BD, Edge or others. Maybe even used.
Make sure fuel pressure is at least 12-15 lb.

Most of your equipment is fairly heavy for a 2nd gen considering it is 12.5k vs 16-30k on newer trucks. 4.10's and a little power will make a lot of difference. The new radiator will help a lot with proper cooling.

The puke bottle and dirty external radiator core is usually an issue that needs cleaning and would help, bit is moot due to the leak and replacement is needed.
The vent can be rerouted and bottle deleted for future.
 

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My FIL had a 2000 and I ran the vent to the back of the engine with a hose. The radiator was WAY beyond cleaning it in place so I took it to a carwash. The EPA would have fined me if they saw all the oily crap that went down the drain! No more heating problems. I also fixed all of his boost leaks and it ran great again. Craig
 

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It's often hard to notice the gunk on the rad because the fan flings it up into the corners behind the shroud. Something to look for.
 

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I’ve never attempted to activate 4wd going at high speed
Didn't realize you were at highway speed. Thought it was just getting it out of a jobsite, field, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks again everybody. I checked the radiator drain to see if that was the problem but it wasn’t. I guess it’s time to get a new radiator. What would y’all recommend? I’m not looking to spend a lot of money but I’d like to get something that will last. And how difficult is it to replace?

I’d like to put a small tune in it but I feel like that would open a can of worms. There’s a lot of factors that keep me from pulling the trigger on one (53 block, 47re, fuel pressure). I make 16 psi at idle and bottom out at 9 when I really get on it but I’d like to have an aftermarket lift pump to support the tune.

I have 3.54 gears but a 4.10 swap is just out of my budget right now. I’m sure it would make a big difference, but I’d sell it if that’s what it takes for me to pull.

I have the funds to get an older 4th gen which would be ideal but I have to much in my truck to sell it right now. But at this rate it seems like I’m going to keep putting more in it. So I can’t decide.

A little background, I am 16. This is my first truck. I decided on a 2nd gen because it fit my budget and “it is capable of pulling”. But I ended up with $20k in a truck that’s only worth 10. Still kicking myself for not just taking the debt and getting something newer. So do I buy the radiator, tune, lift pump, axle swap, etc and still risk blowing the transmission or cracking the block on a 200k mile truck or do I just bite the bullet and buy a 4th gen.

Anyways, i know it’s a lot of rambling but I really appreciate the advice from everyone. It’s is very helpful
 

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...Does it actually fail to tow or do you just want more?

If it is the latter then just live with it. They only have 235 hp from the factory, not a ton of power.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
It doesn’t necessarily fail it just worries me. I could push the truck a lot further but I don’t want the temps to go through the roof. The motor has what it takes. I just need to figure out a way to handle it.

After a lot of thought I’ve decided to keep the truck. At least get my moneys back out of it. The plan is to replace the radiator to keep engine temps down, either get a deeper trans pan or a fan (what’s the better upgrade?) , and maybe put a mild tune in it. I looked at the air filter and it was filthy so I’m going to replace it tomorrow and see what that does. Once I get everything running at the right temps I’m going to load my setup onto a bumper pull trailer and see the difference. I feel like it would make a big difference compared to the 25’ gooseneck.
 

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Do you get trani TC lockup in both 3rd and OD? You should on an 01 without OD off, but you may have to use OD off more. Some that use 2nd a lot use a lockup switch for lockup in second. Not locking up when needed causes a lot of trani heat. If you have the money the 410's would help a lot. Your glove box sticker will tell what you have. I don't tow much but the OSC radiator from Summit made a world of difference compared to my old corroded one.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
When OD is off TC locks up when overdrive is off. It definitely helps with torque but it seems like it’s pushing things to hard. I’ve had better experience with overdrive on unless I’m on big hills or in town.

The truck has 3.54 gears and I’d like 4.10 but it’s not in title budget right now. Maybe down the road.

I filled the radiator back up and the leak stopped. I’m thinking with the lack of coolant, it got hot and expanded, causing a leak. I’ll keep an eye on it but it seems fine now. When radiator gets replaced, I’d like an all aluminum. Most leaks I’ve seen are where aluminum meets plastic but I still haven’t decided.
 

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When OD is off TC locks up when overdrive is off. It definitely helps with torque but it seems like it’s pushing things to hard. I’ve had better experience with overdrive on unless I’m on big hills or in town.

The truck has 3.54 gears and I’d like 4.10 but it’s not in title budget right now. Maybe down the road.

I filled the radiator back up and the leak stopped. I’m thinking with the lack of coolant, it got hot and expanded, causing a leak. I’ll keep an eye on it but it seems fine now. When radiator gets replaced, I’d like an all aluminum. Most leaks I’ve seen are where aluminum meets plastic but I still haven’t decided.
based on what? gearing down and lettings RPMS come up is the right thing to do.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I understand that but pulling 15k lbs going up a steep grade with a 4 inch straight pipe and OD off makes you feel like your in a war zone. In all seriousness I turn OD off at low speeds and it definitely handles better, but with this coolant problem it makes the motor heat up a lot quicker. Once fixed, there should be no problem with it being off.

I am by no means a mechanic. That’s why I’m here. What I was trying to say with that comment is it seems like the motor is getting pushed harder when OD is off because of the higher RPMs. Although it provides better torque, ~2400+ RPMs going uphill for miles at times seems too stressful on the motor for the benefits I’m getting for trans. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a time in a place for both, but there are many situations I’m putting more stress on things with OD off then I would with it on.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Another question I need some advice on. Should I get a deeper trans pan (+4-5 quarts) or get an aftermarket fan to put in front of my transmission cooler. More fluid will definitely keep it cooler longer but I’m sure it will eventually reach the same temps. I’m just not sold on the performance of those universal trans cooler fans. If it does what it’s advertised to do, then it will definitely help temps. Especially when at idle or in traffic, but they seem cheap to me.

After some research a Mishimoto trans cooler is close to the same price as a deeper pan so that could be an option as well. So what’s the best bet?
 

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It is not a matter of cooling, and it has a good cooler. It is a matter o fixing what is making it heat up.
 
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