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Dodge Dump 3500

Discussion in 'Ram Trucks' started by sgoalie23, Aug 20, 2005.

  1. sgoalie23

    sgoalie23 Member
    Messages: 62

    I am currently looking at purchasing a used truck for mulch and plowing. Right now i can't afford more than $20,000. I saw a 97 Dodge 3500 diesel dually, mason dump, and plow. I have some questions pertaining to the truck. First, is a PTO dump better than an electric dump? If it is, how so? Also, since i don't see many dodge dumps in my area (90% fords) is there a reason for it? Also what particular type of diesel engine is in a 97 dodge? Are there any faults with that particular diesel engine? And lasty, I have heard the Dodge's aren't reliable for plowing, mainly, front ends basically breaking, Is this true, or will the 3500 handle fine for plowing?

    Thanx in advance,

  2. cet

    cet PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,257

    First PTO is much better then electric. It will be quicker and more reliable. I will run off the transmission.
    I had a broker plowing for me with a '97 Dodge 3500 with a 12' stake dump box. It was standard and diesel..This truck was used for 6 years plowing and it was a daily delivery truck for house trim. It still has the original clutch.
    I drive a 2000 Dodge dually cab and a half. It has plowed for 3 years, commercial plowing. This spring I had to replace upper and lower ball joints, one wheel bearing, main wear bar and brakes all around. I have a 9' plow with sides. It is very heavy but I can move a lot of snow quickly and this truck makes good money.

    As for the engine in your '97, it will have a 5.9 Cummins,12 valve. This engine should be great. I always worry about buying a truck that has all ready been plowed. Some guys beat the crap out of them.
    In your area you will see more Fords because of pay load(IMO). Your Dodge will have a 11,000lb GVW. The Fords should have between 12,000 to 19,000lbs depending on the model. If you are looking to haul mulch you will not need a large payload and the Dodge may work well. It will most likely get better fuel mileage then the larger trucks as it will have a smaller rear end.
    It is a great truck and if it was going to have transmission problems it probably all ready had them.
  3. derekbroerse

    derekbroerse 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,377

    The PTO dump setup should be more powerful, as it is driven off the engine/tranny. A 1hp electric motor can't compete with xxxhp of the truck. The electric is more convenient, as all you do is push a button--no engaging the PTO first etc. Either would be fine, but for a larger dump a PTO system would be better in case you get overloaded a bit. My GMC has an electric powerpack but the bed is only 9'. I can load that as heavy as I want and it has never even whimpered... mind you, a dump is only as good as its components. I have a very heavy-duty scissor-style hoist, I think it was designed for bigger dump beds. If I recall, it used a 5" diameter cylinder, so it is a little slow (with a PTO style you could just throttle up a bit) but has plenty of oooomph.

    a '97 Dodge should have the older 12 valve Cummins diesel. They are rock solid as they are really more of a 'medium duty' engine, ie: school busses, delivery trucks etc. They are also quite efficient. the 24 valve version came out the next year and is significantly more powerful, but for most people a regular 12 valver is plenty. You can always get a chip or a turbo-reprogramming kit if you want more.

    My friend had a really nice black '98 3500 dually. It had the 24 valve Cummins (extremely impressive with the turbo kit), NV4500 five speed tranny, etc. He plowed with it for one year, then I bought the plow from him. Problems with the truck? In the 3 years he had it, not much until the end, prompting him to get rid of it. The NV4500 lost fifth gear, but he was able to repair it himself and saved a fortune. They should have used thread locker from the factory but a gear comes loose and off--a well known flaw in that tranny be it in the Dodge of the Chevy/GMC.

    He had sloppy u-joints, bad shock absorbers, and broken front stabilizers. Can't remember much else... the leather was cracking but he doesn't believe in protectants or even washing/waxing vehicles.

    The front axle was never an issue. It is a Dana 60, about as beefy as they get. They have kinda goofy ends to accomodate the coil-spring front springs.... at least compared to the older leaf style.

    I think the 'problem' with the diesel and plowing is that it puts you rather close to the weight limit for the front end. Probably more of an issue for trucks that are under warrenty still.
  4. T-MAN

    T-MAN PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,363

    If you dont buy that truck I would in a second ! That motor is probally the best ever offered in a light duty truck hands down. There is a club called the million milers and they are all dodge cummins 12 valvers with no rebuilds. No other diesel engine offered in a lightduty truck will hold a candle in life expectantcy. How many gassers are just getting broke in at 100,000 miles?How many lightduty trucks with a diesel are still running strong at 300,000? Most other brands are on there first or second rebuild by then.
    Those trucks front ends are as good as any other brand detroit built front ends. i think the Fords are out there cause that is what guys "like better". Popularity contest Ford wins hands down, F150 is the worlds number one selling pickup for the last ten years or more. Why ? I dont know, I know I owned one and will never buy another Ford product again. If the truck is clean and not completely beat I would buy it.
  5. hickslawns

    hickslawns Senior Member
    Messages: 627

    cet is right on. My 2000 ext cab 4x4 dually has 175000 on the original clutch. I would not recommend the truck if it has an automatic transmission. Not sure if they had a PTO available with the auto or not, so I am guessing it is a 5sp. Good setup! One of my subs uses several of these and has no problems. He uses his for excavating and they are really worked hard. As far as the front end problems, I think they all will have it. Most of the trucks with the diesels have shorter life expectancy on the front end parts due to the extra weight. I had a 99 F250 SD that ate front ends and brakes and it was a gas engine. It also had numerous other problems such as electrical, axle, hubs, exhaust manifolds, and this was a highly maintained truck its whole life. Sold and replaced with an 03 2500HD! I would say stick with the Dodge/Cummins combo and it will last a good while. They all go through brakes, front ends, tires. It's called maintenance.
  6. justme-

    justme- 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,138

    97 Dodges have 12 V cummins- there is not power chip for 12v, it is mechanical fuel injection. Chips are for computer controlled 24V engines- 98.5 and up. You have to ad a fuel plate and exhaust for more power.

    Ford has tons of commercial discounts and incentives over GM and Dodge that's why they sell better.

    Dodge has weak transmissions- both standard and auto. If it's an auto hae it overhauled by a show that KNOWS diesel dodge trannys- they can beef it up and all will be well. Standards throw 5th gear- locking nut loosen's under the torque- have it opened and the nut welded on. als the syncro's wear- not a big deal.

    Front ends are limited for weight, 9 footer overloades them with the cummins because the engine is sooo heavy. Front end will wear out quickly. Track bar and tie rods every year, ball joints every 2 is not unheard of in those trucks, but the truck is a good beast.

    and PTO is way better that electric. you could tap into it with another valve to drive a pto sander.....
  7. sgoalie23

    sgoalie23 Member
    Messages: 62

    Well guys, my father and I drove to Mass to see the dump. We tried to get as much info as possible over the phone, yeah, yeah the truck is in great condition. They all say that. We get there and the bed of the dump had actually had been fiberglass coated and painted (poorly I might add) over the outside bottom edge of the mason dump body. Unbelievable!!. My father went to the salesman to discuss the condition of the dump body and the salesman's comeback was, So? We got out of there as quick as possible. At least the steak dinner on the way was good.

    Thanks for all our your help.
  8. T-MAN

    T-MAN PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,363

    I would like to see the source of information for this, is this factual or just a best guess ? I talk with Fred every time I go to his trans shop for scheduled service. He is a local guy who rebuilds alot of trannys ( half the county goes to him to get there rebuilds done, he has 6 full time techs doing rebuilds and all the R&R shops get rebuilds from him). He stated to me they all suck ! No particular brand was better or worse, some had issues on certain models or years but was usually fixed in the following year. this previous season I would have to say ford wins hands down for letting garbage go out the door in the form of transmissions. It was a bad part, hopefully the newer superdutys don't have the problem. I guess i can now safely say Ford trannys suck cause they do right ?
    No I would not be that ignorant, I would state dont buy a superduty built between 04 and 05. Its great everyone has an opinion but that is just what it is an opinion not facts. He asked if they were any good and you stated they all have weak transmissions, great .
  9. cet

    cet PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,257

    I used to have a 98 cab and a half dually 3500 Cummins. Plowed with it for 3 years. The only problem I had with it was 3 sensors in the transmission. I now have the same truck but a 2000. Same 3 sensors went. I have plowed with this truck for 3 years with a 9' blade and sides. There are nights when there is a huge pile of snow in front of the truck. I have plowed for 17 years and never lost a transmission. I am going to say most lost transmissions are driver error. Many times I will watch people plow and the reverse lights are on and the truck is still going forward. Treat the truck well(MAINTENANCE) and it should make you money.
  10. justme-

    justme- 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,138

    It's Fact, but you're Tranny guy is correct too. Well documented- go to any Dodge diesel website- dodgeram.org, Turbo diesel registry, etc.
    Dodge's trannys are currently 47 series/48 series which is the new name for the A518, which is the aluminum bodied grandson to the venerable 727 Torqflight trannys. The old 727A (4 planaataries instead of 3- A was truck version) was capable of 1000 HP plus and equivalent torque. The problem is that a Gas engine, which they were designed for, runs ar higher rpm for a given HP or Torque curve versus a diesel.
    The low rpm of the diesel creates significantly less oil pressure in the tranny which makes it shift softer and therefore weakens the clutches grip. The new versions are also weaker than the 727 because of newer manufactureing differences. My Ram CTD puts out 480 ft/lbs- the 47re will handle it at the right rpm range- but my CTD will supply that power before the pressure in the tranny is in the range it needs to be so the engine is factory detuned to compensate.

    boosting line pressure is 1 improvement, but it can only do so much, adding clutches, bands helps. Adding the extra sprag (3 to 4) helps, changing shift points helps tremendously, converter stall speed change helps, etc.
    A good tranny guy can tune the tranny, any trannny, to an engine for the desired power band- that's what drag racers do....

    All autos are afflicted by this condition when you use a gas designed tranny behind a diesel at lower rpm. GM uses Allisons, which they own, and are designed for diesel engines hence different issues. Ford has diesel big rigs and better diesel designed trannys (chrysler closed their big rig line in 1981). Ford uses international engines (Navstar), older models were higher rpm engines, GM diesel's are Isuzu now, were GM Diesel or Detroit Diesel (GM owned) which were also higher rpm.

    I don't know who "Fred" is. My father was a mechanic for many years- drag raced a Barracuda with a 727A 327 Wedge in the day- Dodge boys used to help racers in those days. Cousin was a mechanic for years- had some experiance myself working on vehicles. Neighbor is my mechanic when I can't work on it- tranny specialist. His shop does all the municipal tranny work for the county (police especially).
    Ford superduty was more than a "bad part"- full blown issues are more like it. My neighbor's shop reported the issue to Ford and came up with the soultion they used before the "full overhaul" plan was enacted.
  11. T-MAN

    T-MAN PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,363

    I don't know who "Fred" is. [/QUOTE]
    Fred owns the shop here in Lake County IL. I sit and talk with Fred for about 1.5 hours every year while the trans service is done on my truck. They service "everything and rebuild everything" including a ton of municipal work. I woulds say "Fred" qualifys as an expert.
    You state Dodge has week transmissions, my last 3 had zero tranny issues.
    The factorys have to work with what they have and you then in turn have to follow the maintence schehedule. I troll threw tdr and diesel ram as well I dont see the part about "weak" trannys. Issues yes (allison has them as well), but not run away scared cause the 94 rams had issues.
    I too agree as well about the buildup of a bullet proof tranny, it can be done and it will be bullet proof. I would put a DTT built trans up against anything out there. But then your talkin major coin.
    I really dont feel the need to be scared of a Dodge product beacuase the trannys are weak, I think there as good as most products sold in Detroit. I guess the "allison" is king but so is the "Cummins".
  12. BreyerConstruct

    BreyerConstruct Senior Member
    Messages: 132

    From what I understand, the Allison is a weak tranny in the D-max use, something about not able to handle the power, & that engine has been de-tuned to allow for it. I believe you can't take it much past 600lbs of tq before it's time to look for a better tranny option....


    oh, yea, & they have IFS.
  13. justme-

    justme- 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,138

    no one should be scared of Dodge trannys- the 47re is simply a poor choice for a diesel- it's the same problem the Allison has- too much torque from the engine at the given rpm/pressure. Ask Fred about what happens when torque is applied with low line pressure and you have you're answer.

    the 94's used 46re/46rm trannys- again derivitive of 727 (weaker yet 518) they now use them in dakota's. The current trucks use 49RE to compensate. The stock 47re was good to 600 Ft/lbs of torque WITH proper line pressure. That means the normal, every day driver diesel ram would NEVEr experiance failure from the coupling, but put a 10K trailer behind it in the mountains and the truck was weak, beef the engine a little (4 inch exhaust, tst plate- mild stuff) boosts the torque over the tranny's reliable capabilities.

    Maintenance is always a major issue, but the physical limitations of a design have little to do with it. The factory SHOULD have designed a new tranny copmpatable with the diesel's specs, OR should have done what every other company that uses the same engine does- use someone else'sw tranny. the cummins is the B5.9 (infamous "killer B), used by Ford, Freightliner, Kenworth, International, Case, Peterbuilt, and many other heavy equipment companies. Allison makes a suitable matched tranny, as does Ford, and Road Ranger, and almost every other supplier of meadium duty/heavy duty transmissions.

    DC's engineers have failed to address the issue of a poor mating and instead chosen to improve their own product. Fine if you respond quickly enough.

    TDR and Dodgeram.org, as well as several other forums I have been on for 5+ years now have more information on the current gen of trucks, since the 12V has been done since 98 and the 47re was replaced in 01. However is you read about the "issues" as you call them, they add up to being the same problems over and over, with the same basic root causes- that means weakness. The trannys don't detonate often unless the engined is Bombed, but they all have low line pressure and that causes slipping.

    Remember the b5.9 is majorly detuned for the DC line- even the current generation of 24 valve ISB's (just a computer controlled b5.9 actually) is detuned for the current line. The 12V is capable of over 1000 ft/lbs of torque with no strain- that's the marine rating from the factory and stock truck medium duty rating is 650 ft-lbs. DC has it detuned to 480 for 94-97 model years.

    The major issue ALL makes have is they are putting engines designed for F600, GMC7000, Freightliner/Pbuilt size trucks in pickups and not putting in the transmission sized for the same truck, but useing the pickup tranny. They water down the engine to approach the tranny limits.
  14. T-MAN

    T-MAN PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,363

    Well put, my original intention was not to scare the poor guy away from buying a Dodge 3500 due to its transmission. But as you stated all the Manufacturers have these problems so buyer beware of all small truck diesel trannys. Oh and dont forget about Case heavy and medium duty equipment runs the Cummins as well.
  15. bigplow23

    bigplow23 Junior Member
    Messages: 22

    you guys where talking about dodge trannys. I got over a 100,000 miles out of both my dodge transmission. one was due to drive slamming it in and out of drive, the other was some one hooked up the tranny lines wrong (that is what i get for not takeing it to the dealer) other than that i had noproblems withe the tranny. the only problem i had with the cum mins is the turbo rusted out from plowing but they warranty it so now we wash the motors off after every plow