Case Study: 2007 4wd Jeep Commander With 545RFE 45RFE Transmission

  2007 4wd Jeep Commander With 545RFE 45RFE Transmission Repair Problem
  Dave Riccio, Owner/Technician

By Dave Riccio, ASE Certified Technician, Owner of Tri-City Transmission & Auto Repair, Co-host of Bumper to Bumper Radio

CASE STUDY:  Customer Saves $4,500 over dealership quote

545RFE Transmission, Strange Transmission Issue, Mis-Diagnosed by Dealer

545RFE / 45RFE

This was a mildly lifted Jeep Commander with the Hemi 5.7l motor in it. This customer had issues with the vehicle stalling while sitting at stop lights for extended amounts of time. Also, the vehicle shifted strange on occasions.

He had bought this vehicle only six months earlier for his wife as a daily driver and weekend warrior. That's mentionable because when someone has a funky transmission symptom, they will oftentimes trade the car off and make it the next person's problem. That's more than likely what happened here and our customer was that next person.

The symptoms were fairly intermittent. This customer took the vehicle to the dealership on the premise the dealer would know best. The dealership looked at it and decided it needed a new transmission at the tune of $5,000.00. The customer was not confident in that answer and told the dealer thank you, but no thank you. So, he brought the Jeep to Tri-City Transmission.

Our technician did not experience the customer's described negative symptoms on multiple test drives. There were no diagnostic trouble codes stored in the computer as the dealership had cleared them all out. We contacted the customer and were able to get the codes that the dealership had recorded.  P0944 - Loss of Hydraulic Prime and P0733 - Gear Ratio Error in Third Gear. These codes are significant codes, however, when we were initially driving the Jeep, we did not experience any definable symptoms.

  2007 4wd Jeep Commander With 545RFE 45RFE Transmission Repair Problem
  It may be hard to see, but the filter is at the right of the picture next to the dipstick tube. It is crooked only by a couple degrees but enough to create a hydraulic leak. It's the filter that looks much like an engine oil filter. 

With more road testing, in excess of 20 miles, our technician discovered the symptoms and immediately knew they were consistent with a filter issue that we have seen only after a bad transmission service. Apparently, the prior owner had that bad transmission service and then traded it off. We often see this issue on this transmission whether it be in a Jeep Commander, Jeep Liberty, or Dodge truck. This transmission is often serviced wrong and a hydraulic leak is created at one of the two filters, specifically the spin on filter. They can be a difficult to diagnose if you can't get the symptoms to duplicate or don't have experience with the particular issue.

Transmission Background Information:

This particular transmission gets replaced in error all the time. It has been our experience that they simply don't fail -- and when they do, it is very rare. They get replaced often when they hadn't failed and the consumer wouldn't have known any different and neither would the technician. Unfortunately, most automotive technicians and transmission technicians won't take the necessary steps to truly diagnose and repair a simple problem. Not necessarily because they are dishonest, they just don't know how.

  2007 4wd Jeep Commander With 545RFE 45RFE Transmission Repair Problem
  This is after the removal of this filter. You can see that the threaded coupling is cross threaded where someone had forced it over for the pan to clear the exhaust pipe. This is a common error and unfortunately promotes the old wives’ tale of not servicing a high mile transmission. A transmission service does not cause transmission failure, a bad service does.

As the old saying goes, they simply don't know what they don't know. Additionally, consumers sometimes are pushing for quick answers and don't like the discomfort of a thorough diagnostic process, assuming they will only get bad news and they want that Band-Aid off. In this instance, we had the vehicle a day and a half before we had the answer. With patience, this customer got the great news of not having to drop $5,000.00 just before Christmas. That's a phone call we love to make. 

The Advantage of our Custom Transmission Repair Process.

At Tri-City Transmission and Auto Repair, we have been providing custom rebuilt, custom repaired and custom remanufactured transmission services for over 45 years. With that experience, we know how, why and what the pattern failures are of each transmission. We are regularly able to save customers thousands of dollars on unnecessary replacements of transmissions.  In general repair terms, we equivalate many of these misdiagnosed and replaced transmissions to replacing an engine when all you needed was a spark plug. Unfortunately, because transmissions are such a black box to most of the industry and the fact that people don't know what they don't know, thousands of dollars and natural resources are wasted unnecessarily replacing transmissions. 

The 45RFE fits in Jeep Liberty, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Dodge Dakota, Dodge Ram - Its cousin is the 68RFE and shares most of the same attributes but is found behind the Cummins Diesel in heavy duty truck applications.

Repair Order #1031930, 11/30/18

Case Study 2007 Jeep Commander 4WD 156,561 Miles Transmission Issue Repair


2005 E. Rio Salado Pkwy
Tempe, AZ 85281
(480) 968-5062


Open Monday - Friday
7:00 am - 5:30 pm

What Our Customers Say