68 RFE Transmission Overview
2007.5-2018 Dodge Ram
We’re not simply rebuilding your transmission. We’re looking at what fails, how it fails, and what we can do to eliminate that failure. Our trademark is attention to detail and quality upgrades.
“That's why we spend the extra time and put the extra parts in it that make us less money. Because the reality is that you compare my build to somebody else's, mine's going to be higher quality, but his profit margin is going to be higher than mine.”
- Cody Gilbert, Owner/Founder
The Common Issues We See
Generally Poor Seals
Poor seals, or seals that experience a significant amount of wear and tear due to uneven sealing surfaces and/or reduced cost parts are consistently an issue with the 68RFE. We have perfected an elaborate process (even developing our own tools) of evening out these surfaces to be as flat as possible. The seals we achieve exceed the manufacturer’s minimum requirements for a vacuum test by about 20%-25%. The increased performance of the seal dramatically reduces the wear and tear on these areas, promoting longevity of the transmission and avoiding the cost of a transmission replacement/rebuild.
The P0871 Code
90% of the time when we have a customer with a 68 RFE transmission come into our shop, we get a code read of P0871. This is the overdrive pressure switch rationality. Somewhere, the bore has worn out. A routine vacuum test will confirm this suspicion. Many places will tell you you need a new transmission, but we have 5-6 pre-built valve bodies in stock and ready to go, because that is where the issue actually is the majority of the time.
Simply replacing the valve body and moving on is not the Bare Knuckles Diesel approach. We want to improve longevity and truly upgrade your truck. We have developed a process and manufactured tools for the valve body seals to eliminate the issue caused. By replacing parts with a higher quality version (we upgrade the channel plate from a cast plate to a 1-inch, cut billet plate) and with excruciating attention to detail for the sealing surface, we often see our valve bodies exceed the minimum factory requirements by 20-25% during a vacuum test. This process reduces wear and tear on that area, a common failure point. So common, in fact, that we keep 5 to 6 built valve bodies ready to go for incoming customers with a P0871 code read out.
This has proven to be an effective upgrade and significantly reduces the cost by avoiding a transmission replacement. Replacing the transmission due to a P0871 code is the money making mindset. While it will give the customer a functioning truck, the new transmission is just as likely to throw the same code in the same amount of mileage and “require” another transmission. The actual underlying issue was never addressed with a trans swap. With our approach, we stop the switch valve wear, meaning you can keep your current transmission AND address the actual issue of wear and tear leading to an improper valve body seal.
The Accumulator Cover
The accumulator cover comes from the factory with button-head screws. It is common for the heads of these screws to get busted off under standard work loads. Which, of course, means the accumulator is no longer secure. The usual symptom we see related to this issue is the loss of first gear, but the repair is rather simple. We return the accumulator to its correct position (the accumulator is rarely lost and usually hanging out of place.) We then upgrade the parts that caused this issue. We replace the factory accumulator cover with a coated steel version and the button-head screws are replaced by allen-drive bolts rated for high speeds. Additionally, we drill and tap an additional bolt. This bolt, in turn, adds more rigidity, more strength, and more peace of mind. We prioritize using quality parts as opposed to the lowest cost parts. But relative to a transmission rebuild, this repair is inexpensive and certainly an upgrade. All of this is in the pursuit of making your transmission last longer than the factory standards would allow.
Additional Upgrades to the 68RFE
As we have stated before, at Bare Knuckles Diesel, we do not call our work an upgrade unless it truly improves the truck beyond factory standards. Some of these upgrades are simple, but still eliminate irritating issues and/or improve longevity.
Deep Pan Addition
Each transmission we build gets a deeper pan increasing the fluid capacity.
Steal Insert For The Spin-On Filter
From the factory, these inserts are plastic. Upgrading them to steel reduces the chances of cracking or premature wear.
Thermal Block Thermostatic Valve Delete (Climate Dependent)
In the northern or winter climates, this valve is necessary. It essentially forces the transmission into the “proper” operating temperature window by restricting the flow of coolant. Texas is hotter than s***. A Transmission has never had an issue getting into a safe working temperature window here. In fact, the deletion of the thermal block thermostatic valve allows the transmission to work at 30-40 degrees below the standard temp. This does not affect performance but it does increase the longevity of the fluid. We want to maintain the fluid quality for as long as we can.