A518 Trans Swap

Tech Question


T.C. Allen, Vernon, BC, Canada, 1992 Dodge Dakota 2wd 5.2 litre

Hi Rich: I just bought this truck. It hadn’t moved for theprevious 7 years. It’s got 200,000 kms (124,000 miles). Except for the selfremoving paint it’s mint. Problem is the A518 transmission packed it in.Shuddering above 1500 rpm, and pan full of aluminum shavings and clutchdust. The local shops want 2 grand to rebuild it. I’m consideringreplacing it with a wrecking yard unit. There is conflicting informationabout which other transmissions will fit. As far as I can tell this is a42RH. Which trucks or vans (or cars?) will have a drop in replacement. Cana RE trans be adapted or is a manual conversion (NV3500) a realisticalternative.

I just found your mag recently on the news stand and am reallyimpressed. It’s not just a vehicle for showcasing advertisers products.And you don’t talk down to Canadian readers (like some other well knownmags).Thanks for any help you can provide.



Your original trans was an A518, almost certainly with electronic lockup (3pin connector). Generally, you can swap a 46RH in its place (i.e., thru1995). A 46RE (96-up) would physically swap, but, for all practicalpurposes, you’d never get it to shift. The 42RH was smaller (A904 based,A500), avoid it.

You could also use an earlier non-lockup A518, with the correct converter,but fuel economy (highway) would suffer.

The trans can come from a 318 or 360 N-Dak, D-p’up truck, or B-van. Nopasscars ever had this tranny. If the converter comes from a 360, knock offthe large weight (chisel).

The other option is to find an on-line rebuilt for less money. On eBay, onceyou add a converter (a must!), they sell for about $1,000 plus shipping.Hopefully, you can find a place north of the border so you won’t get rapedon duty and VAT.

Manual swap’s a LOT of work, but can be done.


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