Dodge Ram 1500 5.2 318 - transmission swap/5 speed manual conversion
I have a 2000 Dodge Ram 1500 with the 5.2L 318 engine. The truck has exactly 164,000 miles on it at the moment.
This thread is for anyone curious about doing a 5 speed swap in their Dodge Ram 1500. I am currently in the middle of the swap and just waiting on flywheel and pressure plate bolts in the mail. I will continue to update on the complications that I come across but I would also appreciate any advice from anyone that has done this before.
Two weeks after I bought the truck, the automatic transmission went out, so my buddy and I dropped it out knowing that I was either going to have it rebuilt or do a 5 speed swap. Well I was lucky enough to find a 5 speed tranny and transfer case on Craigslist for $800 with pedals and hydraulics. The transmission was out of a 1998 Ram with the 318 as well. And it only had 130,000 miles on it. Great deal!
Anyway, my first task was changing the pedals out. My initial thought was that I would have to take the entire bracket out with pedals and all. I was relieved to find that all I had to do was take a C-clip off of the rod that holds the pedals on, and slide the rod out towards the passenger side. I put the new brake and clutch pedal up and slid the rod back in then clipped the C-clip back on without having to take any of the dash apart!
My next task was to mount the clutch master cylinder and reservoir. Thankfully, there was already a hole in the firewall for the master cylinder and bolts. I used the bolts that the guy sold me and it fit in perfect. I slid the push rod onto the clutch pedal and then put the clip on. For the reservoir, there were not holes for the bolts, but there were indents exactly where the bolts should go. So I drilled 2 holes where the indents were and mounted the reservoir.
Now I'm at the point where it's time to mount the new flywheel and pressure plate on. I got a new flywheel for $100 and a clutch kit for $140 off of RockAuto.com. They shipped it next day. When I went to mount the new flywheel on I noticed was that the crank sensor sits just 1/2" farther down for the automatic's flex plate than the manual's crank sensor does for the flywheel. Therefore, the flywheel will not go on while the automatic's crank sensor is installed. So I went out and bought a new crank position sensor today for $70 at AutoZone. I am kind of curious if I can just put washers under the automatic's crank sensor bolts so that the new flywheel can bolt on, but I'm not sure if I mounted it too close or too far away if that would cause the sensor not to get a good reading?
You will also need new flywheel bolts if you are doing this conversion because the ones holding the flex plate on are much shorter than what you need to mount the manual flywheel on. I am waiting on my flywheel and pressure plate bolts to arrive in the mail because AutoZone didn't have them. Plus the set I found was a Mopar set that comes with the flywheel and pressure plate bolts for $40 off of Summit.com.
My only concern at this point is that when I layed the automatic's flex plate on the new flywheel to make sure everything matched up, it didnt. When I line up the flywheel crank sensor holes to the flex plate crank sensor holes, every single one lines up perfect except for one. I am kind of worried that it will cause the engine not to run right. Does anyone know anything about that?
The last thing that I think I will have problems with is figuring out the neutral safety switch. I don't really care that I will be able to start the truck in gear because I'm smart enough to not do that. But I have heard that I will need to ground the automatic's neutral safety switch to trick the computer into thinking that the tranny is in park/neutral. I also heard that if you disconnect the sensor that it will still think that it's in park/neutral. I don't think that's right though because it seems like there would be a safety precaution that wouldn't let the engine start if the sensor wasn't plugged in. I just hope that I don't have to change out the ECU like some posts on the internet say. I mean I cant think of anything else that would keep it from running properly besides the neutral safey switch.
I would really appreciate any other advice from anyone who has done this before or knows of any complications that I am going to run into because I have never done a swap before. And there aren't many posts online detailing the problems with the swap.
But like I said, for anyone that is reading this to get an idea how to do the swap or what they will need, I will continue to update as I do the swap. Please comment with questions or advice!
Update April 2nd:
Sorry everyone for the delay. I finished the swap but got busy and never really got the time to sit down and update about everything I've done but I'm finally back and here to help anyone who needs it.
Well the last time I updated, I was waiting for the flywheel and pressure plate bolts, and had the master cylinder and clutch pedal installed. It's been awhile now so I'm not going to remember every detail but I can definitly give you a good idea of what you'll need.
Last time I was here I was curious what I would need to do about the crank sensor. See, the crank sensor for the manual is different for the automatic. Both will bolt up the same, but on the crank sensor for the automatic, the magnetic end that faces the flywheel is about 1/2 inch longer than the crank sensor for the manual. So what that means, is when you put the manual flywheel on, well it wont even slide on because it hits the crank sensor. So my first thought, which is how I figured out how long the manual crank sensor was, was to buy one for the 318 with manual. It mounted up great, but because I decided to leave the stock automatic wiring harness on my truck, it wouldn't plug in because the end was different. Well I wasn't going to go spend $50 on a wiring harness after I just spend somewhere around $50 for a crank sensor that was half an inch shorter. So what I did was measure out 1/2 of washers and used them as spaces under the crank sensor then put the bolts back in. Flywheel slid right on, I plugged the sensor in, and mounted it up. I took the new crank sensor back and fixed it for free with a few washers!
So after that, the easy part. Bolted and torqued the flywheel and pressure plate on, lined up the clutch, and slid the tranny in. Fit like a glove. Now the one thing that I realized after the tranny was on, not all the bolts matched up now. Here is the part that I'm not going to be able to tell you everything you need. I probably ended up taking 5 or 6 trips to Lowes for bolts but they had all the ones I needed. Some of them I just needed longer bolts because the bell housing was thicker in places. I think I used 3 or 4 of the original bolts to mount the tranny to the engine. I'm not sure if I used the same starter bolts or needed longer ones for that too. But it wasnt hard to figure out just took some measuring. And you may need a tap and die to clean up the threads in the block as well because mine needed some cleaning before the bolts would go the whole way in.
Also the dust shield will not be the same. I was having trouble finding one so I broke down and got one from the dealership. I think it might have been around $20 and the bolts for the old dust shield worked fine. Another thing that I didn't realize until I tried to put it on, was that I didn't have bolts for the slave cylinder, so I ran back to Lowes for those too.
After all that was finished, it was time for the crossmemeber. I was lucky to get the mounting bracket from the truck I got the transmission from. The different was the bracket for the manual was smaller but had the same bolt holes and went together pefect with the rubber transmission mound because it had elongated holes so it would line up. Which brings me to the next difference in the transmissions. The NV3500 is roughly about an inch to one and a half inches shorter than the automatic. So the elongated holes in the mount allowed it to still mount up properly.
But that did bring another issue, the drive shafts... which now because my transfer case was sitting about an inch closer the front of the truck, the front drive shaft wouldn't fit, and the rear drive shaft has about an inch less contact on the transfer case spline. Well suprisingly it still has enough contact that it wont slip the teeth or come off because I am still driving it with the original rear drive shaft. Although, I did have to call the guy back and go get the front drive shaft from him which he overcharged me for but I can't go without 4x4.
Well then I ran into another problem, and you can see why it took me so long to get back and update. But hopefully this post will save someone else the time I spent trying to gather parts. But anyway, when I got the drive shaft from him, I put it up to my truck and it was the perfect length so I took it home and tried mounting it up. Well that's when I realized that the U-joint was a different size. Apparently in 1998, Dodge decided to make a smaller U-joint for the front drive shaft. Well my truck being a 2000, and the driveshaft off a truck that was apparently built in early 1998, the U-joint wouldn't fit in the pinion slots on my differential. Luckily there was a cheap fix for this too. I found a conversion U-joint on eBay. I'm not sure the what the sizes were but if you research it you should be able to figure out if you'll need a different size. So I bought the U-joint, got it a few days later and mounted up the drive shaft, and the four wheel drive works awesome!
Eventually I definitly want to find the right rear drive shaft before I have any problems but I have beat on the truck pretty good off-road and through the mud but the drive shaft is holding up fine and hasn't come off, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
Now after all that, or maybe somewhere in the middle of it, I needed a hole in my floor. Well first of all I already had the tranny in and mounted up so it was difficult but better this way because now I could see exactly where I needed the hole. So I took my time and measured and looked from both angles, drilled a hole, looked again, drilled another hole, and eventually had enough of a hole that I could use a saw-zaw and cut it out. Don't worry I remembered to cover the top of the tranny to keep all the metal shavings out.
After about an hour of fine tuning my hole I put the shifter on, the rubber boots, and the plastic. It looks like its meant to be. The platic fit perfect because the truck I got it from was a 98 and it was in 98 that they changed the interior of the Rams. Now the only problem I had here is that I have a 2" body lift, so the tranny sits 2 inches lower, and the shifter bends towards the driver, so it rubs the plastic. But it doesn't bother me, still goes into all gears and shifts great.
The last issue which I was concerned about was the computer and neutral safety switch. Which was also I problem because I decided to keep the original automatic computer and wiring harness. So I did a little bit of expirementing with a test light and figured out what the wires did that went to the automatic neutral saftey switch. One of the wires is a 12 volt constant that when grounded will turn the reverse lights on. Another is just a ground, and the last is the neutral safety switch which when it is grounded, will allow the truck to start. And I didn't feel like spending any money here either so what I did was take some wire and ran a jumper from the neutral safety switch wire to the ground. Then I ran the 12 volt constant to the tranny that I just put in which has 2 prongs. It doesn't matter which prong you run the power to. Just run the 12 volt reverse light wire to one prong on the transmission and ground the other. And like magic your reverse lights will work. It took me awhile to figure out how I wanted to do that and I drove around for awhile with no reverse lights.
But as for the computer, the one comment from beginningjockey was correct, the computer works fine. It does throw some codes but they are all for things to do with the automatic transmission like temperature sensor and shift solenoid. The one issue that I do run into is that the computer still thinks there is a torque converter, which means that it anticipates some drag when the RPMs are coming down, but now that there isn't because I have a clutch, the engine likes to stall sometimes. But after driving it for a few days I figured out the trick to it. If I'm accelerating and I push the clutch in it is fine because I'm putting it back in gear quickly enough. But if I'm downshifting thats when I have the problems. Once I downshift to 2nd I'll push the clutch in and let it coast, but becuase the engine doesn't have anything to drag, it stalls. So all I do now is tap the gas right after I push the clutch in and it never gives me problems.
So yes I did take a few shortcuts and didn't do everything professionally but I'd say I spend about $1500 total on the swap. That is including the $800 for the transmission. I'm not even about to try to add up everything, but I'll list as many parts as I can remember. I needed a new clutch and break pedal, a master cylinder and salve cylinder, the shifter and plastics that go around it, a few washers for the crank sensor, a few new bolts for tranny-to-block, a dust shield for the new tranny, a mounting plate for transmission mount, some wire to ground the neutral safety switch and reverse lights, a shorter drive shaft, and a conversion U-joint for the front drive shaft.
The whole project ended up being so much easier than I expected, and just took a little extra time because I was doing it in on my days off work and didn't know exactly what I would need till I reached that point. But I would say this job could be done in one day if you had everything ready and access to a Lowes for bolts. Hopefully this post helped some of you with some things you were curious about. Feel free to comment with questions.
I'll continue to update if I make any more modifications to the truck.
Last edited by dont dodge it ram it; 04-02-2013 at 08:58 PM.