G56 Transmission Problems – Can a RAM Truck Let You Down?

Manual transmissions aren't that popular nowadays. They are pretty hard to use and they are not practical at all for a modern person. Why should you find those gears when driving if you have an option to relax and enjoy your time on the road? But heavy-duty trucks have many problems with automatic transmissions, so the manual options are still good here.

One of the last manual transmissions in American trucks is the G56 transmission. It was introduced in 2005 in RAM trucks and it was also used in some other commercial vehicles in America and Europe. Today, we'll be speaking about the G56 transmission problems and common issues, its longevity, and also about its repair costs. Stay tuned!

So, here are some topics we'll discuss:

  1. G56 transmission and the vehicle you can find it in.
  2. What are the main problems with the G56 manual transmission?
  3. The reasons some G56 transmissions die so soon.
  4. How to drive a vehicle with the G56 to avoid problems?

Let's get started!

Is the G56 manual transmission actually good?

The G56 manual transmission was introduced in 2005 with the RAM 2500 truck. Also, it was used in other RAM heavy-duty trucks that were mainly produced for industrial companies or for communal services. Also, these transmissions were used in commercial Mercedes vehicles like the Atego and the Vario.

This is a lightweight transmission that is engineered to withstand the different levels of loads including heavy-duty loads. But like many other lightweight counterparts, it has some problems. The construction is not extremely durable. But the good thing is that repairing this transmission is not that hard.

Here are some of the main factors of this unit:

  • this is a 6-speed manual transmission that is able to withstand a lot of towing weight;
  • it's engineered to equip pickup trucks and commercial vehicles that carry loads;
  • this is a pretty reliable transmission that is not going to bother the owner with a lot of problems;
  • it's much lighter than the manual transmissions that were made before;
  • the extremely simple construction is always good when it comes to commercial transmissions.

The unit is simple and so it's not very hard and expensive to maintain and repair. Also, this unit helps RAM trucks burn less gas. Compare the gas mileage of a 6.7-liter diesel RAM truck with a manual transmission and the same 6.7-liter diesel truck with an automatic transmission. The difference will be over 10%.

The maximum known torque for this transmission is 700 lb-ft. But it only worked well with this torque when it was remanufactured and reassembled with better parts. Actually, the torque limitation is one of the worst things in this transmission, but let's talk about it in the problems section.

What are the main problems of the G56 transmission?

This is not a problematic unit. It can go for a long time and a lot of miles. But sometimes, this unit causes problems that should be considered. If you own a truck with this transmission, you should be ready to repair it or avoid any problems at all.

Even though we know some problems that can happen with this unit, we still think it's good and even better than many of its counterparts, especially the previous manual transmission made by Chrysler or Mercedes. We also know that this is a very reliable unit if it's maintained as it should be.

Here are some problems that may occur:

  1. Clutch failure. Usually, the clutch dies prematurely here because it's not of the best quality and also because it needs to withstand a lot of torque from powerful engines.
  2. Flywheel problems. The flywheel may be just broken because of the same reason - big weight and high torque. This part is not very hard to replace, though.
  3. Cracked case. The case is known to crack once the load is higher than stated by the manufacturer. Also, the aluminum case can crack if installed incorrectly.
  4. Torque limitation. If you decide to modify the engine, you will have problems with this transmission. It will just fall apart once the torque is higher than it was initially.
  5. Gear cracks. Again, any higher load than allowed by the manufacturer will lead to cracks in the system of gears. This is a bad thing that will cost you a lot to repair.

These are all bad things that we've found. The worst-case scenario is when the case cracks near the bolt holes. In this case, you will need a new gearbox. Any cracks in the case can be welded or repaired. But the cracks near the bolt holes are impossible to repair. Replacing the case is sometimes more expensive than replacing the gearbox.

Now you know that actually, too bad things don't happen with this gearbox. It's completely reliable unless you go out of certain frames introduced by the manufacturer. If you do, your transmission will turn to a very unreliable unit that is going to break at every corner.

G56 transmissions and engine tuning - they don't come together

One of the biggest problems of this engine is actually the torque limitation. The manufacturer doesn't say directly that the higher torque will kill the gearbox very quickly. But we know about the experience of some truck owners who wanted to modify the engine and add some power and torque.

The result of such engine tuning was a broken gearbox. What happens is the gearbox may just crack or the clutch gets broken quickly. But the good thing is that you can reassemble this transmission using more reliable parts that are available in part shops.

If you own a truck that is equipped with the G56 transmission, better avoid engine tuning. It's a tempting thing because for a little money you can get higher torque and more power. But this will just kill the transmission and make you spend a lot of money on the repair.

Avoiding the problems - what should you do?

To avoid basically all problems with this transmission, you should avoid tuning the engine, as you understand from the previous parts of this article. But it's not the last tip we'll give you today. Driving style and habits are also important factors that decide how long you can drive a vehicle without bad breakdowns and expensive repairs.

Here are some tips you should remember:

  • attentively shift gears to avoid overrevving the engine and also driving on too low RPMs;
  • be careful with the weight of trailers you tow - any excessive weight will kill the gearbox fast;
  • never use any bad oil - actually, the original oil is not that expensive to search for alternatives;
  • avoid speeding up like a Formula-1 racer - this vehicle isn't made for this;
  • don't overload the truck - it's important to prevent more damage, not just the gearbox problems.

Regular maintenance is important. We recommend changing the oil more often than the manufacturer wants you to do. A lot of trucks are used for commercial purposes and the oil loses its quality very fast.

These are some of the most important tips. But you should also remember the general rules of using the manual transmission. Be careful with the clutch pedal and never apply too much power to shift the gears. You can easily damage the gearbox if you do some things wrong for a long time.

How long can a G56 transmission last?

This transmission is not bad at all and it can last approximately the same time as the engines. We would say that the longevity of the G56 transmission is no less than 250,000 miles, but it's just an average lifespan. If you stick to the tips and rules that we've given above, we think, you can use this transmission for up to 400,000 miles and even more without very expensive repairs.

One of the important advantages of the manual transmission is that this gearbox can be repaired really cheaply and fast. Automatic transmissions are harder to repair and labor costs are much higher. But the G56 transmission will not take a lot of money even if you will need to replace all important parts.

What's more, the used remanufactured transmission will not cost much. We would say you can buy one for $1500-$3000 depending on the year, mileage, and other factors. Sometimes it's cheaper than trying to repair the old transmission.

Final words

Well, you shouldn't think that all manual transmissions are eternal and they never die. But if you compare the G56 transmission with any automatic gearbox you can have in a RAM truck, you will see that the manual option is at least twice more durable. If you maintain the transmission regularly and don't try to save up money during servicing, you will drive your truck for a lot of years.

Some problems still can occur. But for this, you should find a good mechanic who can repair manual transmissions. This lightweight gearbox has very simple technologies and it will not be hard to repair or replace if needed.

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