Prepare Your 46RH Automatic Transmission For Towing

Posted by on Friday, November 22nd, 2013

The 46RH is a heavy duty four speed automatic transmission designed and built by Chrysler.  It was first put into use in 1992 and remained in production through the end of the 2003 model year. The 46RH was only used in truck based models, including the Dodge Ram, the Ramcharger, the Dakota and the Durango, and the Jeep Grand Cherokee.

The 46RH automatic transmission can be found in the Dodge Ram

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All the vehicles mentioned above use a full frame, making them ideal for towing. Although the 46RH is considered a heavy duty transmission, there are a few things you can do to this transmission to better prepare it for a life of towing. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

Excessive heat is the 46RH’s worst enemy.  Given the fact that towing creates more heat than any other activity, you must take steps to keep the heat levels in check. Ideally you don’t want your transmission to go over 200 degrees. For every 20 degrees you go over this limit you risk cutting the lifespan of your transmission by a factor of two.

The number one way to combat excessive transmission heat is to install an aftermarket transmission cooler. You will want to purchase the biggest cooler that will fit your vehicle. It should be installed in a location that will get good airflow when the vehicle is in motion. If that is not possible, consider purchasing a transmission cooler that comes equipped with its own built in electric fan.  For maximum efficiency,  you want to install the cooler in between the line that is coming out of the factory cooler and the return port on the transmission.

This is the 46RH automatic transmission


You can also keep heat in check by installing a deep sump aluminum transmission pan. A deep pan will usually add two to three quarts of transmission fluid to the transmission’s cooling and lubrication system. The properties of aluminum are such that they dissipate heat much better than the stock stamped steel pan. Because an aluminum pan is much more rigid than the factory pan, it will help strengthen the transmission case.

I recommend that you install a shift kit into your 46RH transmission. This will benefit your transmission in a number of ways, especially when you are towing. First, a shift kit will include components and modifications that are designed to increase the internal line pressure. This will provide more clamping power and aid in preventing the bands and clutches from slipping. Second, it will give you more manual control over the transmission, and allow you to down shift at higher vehicle speeds. This will give you the ability to use engine breaking to slow your vehicle, and will result in reduced brake wear. Third, a shift kit will help reduce the time it takes for the bands and clutches to fully apply, reducing both heat and excessive wear.

A shift kit is a good investment for any 46RH transmission that will be used for towing


Sooner or later, due to high mileage or abuse, you will be faced with a decision to replace the 46RH in your vehicle. I highly recommend doing so with a re-manufactured transmission over one that was simply rebuilt. A re-manufactured transmission comes with a much better warranty; three years compared to an average 90 days for a rebuilt transmission. In the rare event that you need to contact the company that re-manufactures transmissions, they are just a quick phone call or email away!

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