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Old 08-13-2007, 06:16 PM   #1
Okie Guy
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Dodge Owners

I am thinking about purchasing a 2003 Dodge 3500 Diesel Dually. Anyone with this year or simular I would appreciate your thoughts. Give me the good, the bad and the ugly. I have always been a Ford man but this deal is too good to pass up.

Tranny Problems?

I know the engine could pull anything I throw its way but I have been told the transmissions have had issues in the past. I just want to make sure I am giving up the caddy for something which is going to be better in the long run.

Thanks in Advance!
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Old 08-13-2007, 06:44 PM   #2
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We've had 3 Dodges, a 97, a 04.5 and a 06 now. The newer ones, including the 03's have a new trans, the 48RE. They are a strong trans, much better than the one in the 97, a 47RE. My BIL has an 03 2500, no problems. They get a bit better fuel mileage than the newer ones. I can't compare them to the other 2 as we have never owned either one. Be sure it's not a neutered California model. I'm not sure how to determine that though, maybe hp output listed on the valve cover. If you get it watch the lift pump, it is a weak point in the system.

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Old 08-13-2007, 07:03 PM   #3
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I bought a 2004, 3500, qc, diesel, AT, and have 59000 miles on and just changed fiters and service as needed all stock and getting around on the hwy and around 11-12 towing a 3000 Montana doing 60 on road. I don't think I can do much better then that.
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Old 08-13-2007, 08:08 PM   #4
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I am with blarkman, our 2004 3500 Dodge AT diesel is great. My only complaint is that it rides like a truck, with or with out the Montana attached. Not sure if there is really any advantage to a dually except it's hard to remember that you are a lot wider in the back than the front.


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Old 08-13-2007, 09:23 PM   #5
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The early 03's came with the 47RE transmission. I would check the numbers and make sure it is the 48RE. If it is a 47RE it may have been built to the newer specs. If it was there may be a decal or sticker that would let you know it has been beefed up.

My truck has the 47RE and has 90K on it with no problems but at the first sign of trouble I will get a DTT, Suncoast, or Dunrite rebuild. I will not just rebuild it back to stock.
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Old 08-14-2007, 06:02 AM   #6
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Take the VIN to a dealer, parts dept, They should be able to get a build printout which should give you the info on trans and motor.

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Old 08-14-2007, 06:12 AM   #7
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Had an 04. Best truck I have probably owned. 65,000 miles and never had one problem, engine or 48RE trans. The truck was never back to the dealer except at trade in time. Have an 07 now and the jury is still out.
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Old 08-18-2007, 06:35 AM   #8
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I also have a 2003 3500 dually....Like clutch said the early ones have the 47re. If it has the 47re it will have the standard output motor, if it has the 48re it can have the standard or the high output motor.

I have owned the 47re and the 48re equiped trucks and I can say I like the 48re much better. It shifts without hesitation or being sluggish, it also holds overdrive better than the 47re. It shifts into OD at 80 kph. religously unless it is under a load.

The 03 2wd. is equiped with rack and pinion steering and is sheer pleasure to drive, on the highway it is effortless (no wandering)

These trucks do a little better in the mileage dept. than the new ones also. Pay attention to drive axle ratios...they came with 3.73 and 4.10 ratios. Unless your really pulling heavy the 3.73 is the one to get. I think it's rated at 13,500lbs. towing capacity. The only weakness is the lift pumps, the 03's pump is outside the fuel tank and has to draw fuel from the tank making it work harder than the 04's where the pump is in the tank (on most) and pushes the fuel out. This is easier in the pump.

I am really enjoying this truck and would recomend it to anyboby.

Good luck with your purchase.
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Old 08-18-2007, 06:37 PM   #9
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I can't speak to the 2003 Dodge as this 2007 is my first Dodge (well, I did have a 1972 Dodge 2500 full size van many years ago). But I do want to speak to the comment about the ride. I agree the ride on the Dodge is considerably more firm than on the Ford and GM. Being a Ford guy buying his first Dodge, that was the one thing I didn't like about the truck. So, we had a set of Rancho 9000 adjustable shocks installed. Major difference in ride. I had the compressor and incab controls installed, too, so I can adjust the adjustable shocks from the cab. If you find the ride not to your liking you might give some thought to the adjustable shocks.
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Old 08-18-2007, 07:28 PM   #10
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I have an 03 with the standard output engine and the 47re. Truck has 70K on it with no problems. I also have a chip and the high cap oil pan on the tranny. I love the truck and it pulls our 2980 with no problems. I plan on keeping it as the prices they are getting for the new ones are out of controll. Al
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Old 08-28-2007, 05:24 PM   #11
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I currently have a 2003 Dodge 3500 4wd without the HO engine. I have had no trouble pulling my 3670RL. I do have a Bully Dog Chip, and exhaust, and I do get good mileage pulling or not. It's the best truck I have ever owned. Hope to see 300,000 or more miles from it. It should outlive me!! If you floor it everytime you start, You will have troubles, I don't care what you drive. I am gentle on all my equipment, and it all lasts.
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Old 08-29-2007, 10:28 AM   #12
Tom Gina 06
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I purchased a 03 this year and am very happy with it. Did have a water pump go out but it was still under warranty (100,000 mile) called Dodge dealer in the town I was in. They had me call the factory warranty tow people and had it towed for no charge. The water pump was kind of a freak deal and considering all the miles driven over the years I was probably up for a break down. One thing about the towing Dodge will not cover the Monty, the truck only and kind of a pain to deal with. I would not mention this and pay the difference to have the Monty towed with it out of my pocket. For the extra 20 bucks better than leaving the Monty on the side of the road. One thing I did do with this truck was when I first got it I was only getting 17 MPG light on the road 3.73 gears. Had the dealer re-flash the computer ($90.00) with all the new updates and now get 21 on the road 19 over all average light around 11-12 towing. You will not be disappointed............
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Old 02-18-2008, 12:44 PM   #13
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Have been a Dodge fan for a long long time. Had one of the first models with the Cummings engine. Only problem I have ever had was the linkage for the foot pedal for the fuel. Fixed it with dental floss to get the next 40 or so miles where I was able to pick up a new one and install in about 20 minutes.

They did have tranny problems (automatics) early on but seems alot of that was due to excessive load and / or trying to accelerate 0-60 in 100yrds with a load.

After a few years without a truck when I got the 06 one of the things I looked into was how much of a problem this still was. Dodge of course says it is not a problem, but some of the other forums and talking with individuals who seemed to know the problems still exist under the above conditions. If you are going to overload and / or gun it off the line you could still expect to have a problem. Reasonable driving habits should serve you well with the Dodge.
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Old 02-18-2008, 01:01 PM   #14
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I have a 2001 and have been serviced well, I have the RE47 Tranny. Initially I put away enough to pay for a tranny upgrade with heavy-duty aftermarket parts. My son is a master mechanic and does all the tranny work for a large dealer in Las Vegas, I discussed this with him and his response was do the required services and spend the money on something you want. Well the money is gone, the tranny services done and 103,200 miles later I'm still pulling a 3400RL (Had another trailer before this) and no problems. I do know that this Cummings will pull anything I want and the driveline is just fine. I do not drive like an idiot when pulling but have known to really get into it if the need is there.

I keep looking at new Dodges but can't realistically justify it, as the current truck is just fine, I guess it's just because I want one, but it's got to be a Dodge.

Before all the Ford and Chevy fans go nuts let me add, I have had Dodges since before they were good vehicles (first one in 1953 first new one in 1956)and have had at least one Dodge in the garage since. We have history.
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Old 02-18-2008, 01:09 PM   #15
H. John Kohl
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I bought my 03 in May of 04. I did not trust the RE48 yet and got the six speed manual. I have heard (hear say) that the RE48 can handle the torque and pull the load but agree with Tiffensdad that hot rod starts under load is not smart.
Suggest you check out some of the Dodge forums they will give you straight scoop on the RE48 transmission. You did not say if it was a Calf or HO 305 engine.
Good Luck.
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Old 02-18-2008, 01:20 PM   #16
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The 47re was the problematic one .........the 48re was just fine..........this new 68re(6 speed auto) seems to be even better yet, and the exhaust brake (standard on 07+) is awesome for slowing the rig.......
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Old 02-18-2008, 01:59 PM   #17
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Phil. I had a 2001 3500 DRW Cummins and the rear end was a 3.55, which was not rated to pull a 3400. (fact) I considered upgrading the gears but ended up with a Chevy instead. I would just check the rear end ratio. Just my opinion........
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Old 02-18-2008, 04:28 PM   #18
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I have the 2003 Dodge with a Smarty Jr and an mp-8 box for the SO 250hp 480ftlbs of torque Cummins. I have a 47re in the truck with 76000 plus miles on it to date. I have a good friend who is a tranny specialist and says there are very small differences in the 47 and the 48re. If you do like the one gentleman suggested and service the transmission and take care of it I believe you will get good service out of the truck. I also use a synthetic transmission fluid by Amsoil which I believe contributes to extending the life of the tranny. I'm sure thats not what some of the others would believe but thats okay. I to believe that how you drive it when loaded has a lot to do with life. I pull a 3485sa with mine. Al
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Old 02-18-2008, 04:57 PM   #19
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I have a 1998.5 Dodge 3500 dually with a 4:10 rear end and an automatic tranny. In 2002 I pulled a 33' Wilderness 5th wheel 20K miles over a four month trip from Fla. to Alaska and back. I had installed a Pac Brake before we left and it is still on. I now pull an 07 3475RL. My red noisy Dodge now has 165k on it. I had heard that the trans would go at 100+ miles . We were going on a long trip to Az, so I put in a performance trans at 123K. The garage checked my old one and asked why I wanted to replace it because it was OK. I serviced it religiously and drove it smartly. I replaced it with a Jasper that had a billet torque converter,beefed up clutches, heavy duty valve body and other goodies.
Love the truck as noisy as it is. I had thought of trading for a newer model, but I feel that would negate the reason I bought a diesel in the first place. I hope to put at least 300k on it.
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Old 02-18-2008, 07:06 PM   #20
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I have a 03 Dodge 2500HD with the auto transmission. Only have 38,000 miles on it and so far the whole package has been outstanding. Bought the truck new and its only used to tow our 5th wheel. One very strong truck.
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