Here’s a challenge for our readers. Can you name a more iconic pair than America and pickup trucks? We don’t think you can. The pick-up has been the country’s most popular vehicle for years. Out of the dozens of trucks for sale in the United States, the Ram 1500 is one of the most beloved. Its masculine design and powerful engine choices have been adored by Americans for decades. But, how is the reliability of this American icon? Here, we have ranked the Ram 1500 reliability by year, so you can pick the best one out of the bunch.
The reliability of vehicles changes with the model year. This is due to reasons like the introduction of new engines, new electronic components, and even changes in the materials. Because of this reason, it is important for you to have a good understanding of the particular model year of the vehicle you are about to purchase.
After going through this article, you will have a great understanding of the Ram 1500 from one model year to the next. As a starting point, let’s take a look at the history of Ram trucks.
When it comes to pickup trucks, Ram is one of the most recognized names in the world. For 5 generations, these vehicles have been some of the most dependable vehicles on the streets.
The history of the Ram pickup can be traced all the way back to 1981. In those days, Ram was a brand name used for Dodge vehicles. Dodge had been in the business of making trucks long before 1981. However, this model year was the first to use the Ram name. In keeping with the name, Dodge even had a special Ram hood ornament on these vehicles too.
In the beginning, both two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive Dodge Rams were offered. Furthermore, there were three engine choices. The base models came with a 3.7-liter engine that produced 95 horsepower. The three-quarter ton Ram came with a 5.2 liter V8 making 140 horsepower, while the one-ton version came with a massive 5.9 liter V8.
Electronic fuel injection found its way to the Ram in 1988, which increased the performance of the engine. In the following year, some new engines were offered. The most significant of which was the Cummins turbodiesel engine. In this generation, it came in the form of a 160-horsepower inline six.
Since then, the Cummins turbodiesel engine has gone on to become one of the most popular engines ever made, thanks to its durability and performance. From this humble beginning, the Ram evolved into the capable pickup we all know and love today.
Dodge Ram 1500
Ever since its introduction, the Ram 1500 has been a popular vehicle among pickup truck buyers. Along with the Ford F150 and the Chevrolet Silverado, the Ram 1500 occupies a large percentage of the trucks we see on the road today.
However, the Ram 1500 is not just a work truck. Higher-end trim levels of the Ram come with luxurious interiors and the newest technology. If you want a good-looking pickup truck with the capability to go anywhere, the Ram 1500 should be on the top of your list.
When talking about Ram 1500 reliability by year, there are some model years that stand out more than others. In the next sections, we will tell you about some of the most significant ones.
2003 Dodge Ram 1500
2003 was a troubled year for the Dodge Ram. The all-new third generation of the truck had just come out, but there were many reliability issues. However, most of these were minor problems that could be fixed with ease.
The engine was the main area of concern for the 2003 Dodge Ram 1500. The check engine light came on frequently for no apparent reason. Furthermore, the engine was prone to stalling without warning. There were even complaints about engine knocking too. If this happened, owners had to throw away the whole engine and replace it with a new one.
However, the most common issue with this model year was related to the interior. You see, the dashboard of the Ram had a tendency to crack easily. Many users complained about this, and their frustration is understandable. No one wants a cracked dash in their brand new truck, do they? Because of this widespread cosmetic issue, we advise you to avoid purchasing a Ram 1500 from 2003.
2014 Dodge Ram 1500
2014 was the first generation of Ram 1500s to come with the new EcoDiesel engines. As this was the first outing of this engine, it came with a few issues. 14 recalls were issued for the Ram 1500 in 2014 alone.
The other area of major concern with the 2014 Ram 1500 was the transmission. Some of the most common problems were noise at low speeds, issues with downshifting, being noisy at cold starts, and shifting out of gears while driving. The engine revving up without acceleration was another common issue with the 2014 model year. However, complete transmission failure was the worst-case scenario. In that case, users had no option but to replace the whole transmission assembly.
2012 Dodge Ram 1500
When ranking Ram 1500 reliability by year, 2012 should be put at the bottom of the pile. This was the fifth year of the 4th generation Dodge Ram. However, it still suffered from a whole slew of annoying problems.
Ticking noises coming from behind the dashboard indicated cam-shaft lifter failure. This issue was mainly found on trucks equipped with the powerful 5.7-liter Hemi V8 engine. Fixing the cam-shaft lifter lock was a major undertaking, and was very costly. However, as this wasn’t safety-related, the Ram was not recalled due to this issue. If you are planning to buy a 2012 Ram, be sure to get the engine inspected before committing to a purchase.
2015 Dodge Ram 1500
The problems with the EcoDiesel engine continued through to the 2015 model year of the Ram 1500. Throughout the years, this model year of the Ram was recalled 14 times. Other than the aforementioned engine issues, the 2015 Ram was plagued with some electrical, transmission, and fuel system problems too.
The Uconnect infotainment system of the 2015 Ram 1500 was faulty as well. The system was reported to be constantly malfunctioning, and the screen had some issues as well. On top of that, the warning lights on the dashboard were also problematic.
Most of these issues don’t have permanent fixes. Our advice for you is to avoid buying a 2015 Dodge Ram 1500 at all costs.
2017 Dodge Ram 1500
The 2017 model year is the most reliable fourth-generation Dodge Ram 1500 produced during the last decade. However, there were some minor problems with this model too. One of the most documented ones is the rear tailgate opening while the truck is in motion. This had the risk of ejecting whatever you had in the truck bed to the outside.
Not only that, the transmission system originally came with a faulty interlock pin assembly. A few issues with the 3.0-liter diesel engine were also present. The 2017 Dodge Ram 1500 was recalled 9 times during the years, and most of the above issues were fixed as a result of them.
Apart from great reliability, there are many other reasons to buy the 2017 model of the Dodge Ram 1500 as well. An advanced air suspension system, a sports exhaust as well as blacked-out exterior trim make this one of the most stylish and capable pickup trucks money can buy.
2016 Dodge Ram 1500
Compared to its preceding year, the 2016 Dodge Ram 1500 was slightly more reliable. But, some issues with the EcoDiesel engine were still present. 11 recalls were issued for this model, most of which were related to engine issues.
The power locking feature of the rear tailgate was faulty on some models. Some other common reliability problems with the 2016 Ram 1500 were faulty gear shifter linkages, cruise control issues as well as defective airbags.
2013 Dodge Ram 1500
When ranking Ram 1500 reliability by year, 2013 is considered by many to be at the top. This pickup received 5-star ratings from many reviewers, and it is for good reason.
The 2013 Ram came with a powerful Hemi engine that made 395 horsepower. Furthermore, this truck was highly fuel-efficient as well. The EPA rates the Ram to get 18 mpg in the city and 25 mpg out on the highway.
Ram EcoDiesel Problems
We mentioned the EcoDiesel engine a few times during this article, and that is for good reason. Ever since its introduction in 2014, this engine has been affected by many issues. Here, we will tell you about some of the most common ones.
- Oil Cooler Failure
- Fuel Pump Issues
- Leaking Exhaust Couplers
- Slipping Timing Chain
- EGR Cooler Failure
1. Oil Cooler Failure
The OEM oil cooler of the EcoDiesel engine was faulty by design. Because of this, the engine oil and coolant have the risk of getting mixed together. This causes many internal issues, including the failure of the main bearing.
On the other hand, the same issue can cause oil to enter the cooling system of the vehicle as well. You can identify whether this has happened to your vehicle through a few common symptoms. Rising engine temperatures, poor performance, black exhaust smoke, and leaks in the oil cooler are some of the most common.
The best fix for Ram EcoDiesel oil cooler failure is replacing the component with an aftermarket one. After replacing the cooler, be sure to flush the system as well.
2. Fuel Pump Issues
Fuel pumps for the EcoDiesel were made by Bosch, and these were recalled in 2022. The cause of the recall was that the fuel pumps were failing on their own, causing many issues for the owners. This fuel pump issue was mainly found in Dodge Ram 1500 vehicles from the 2014 to 2019 model years.
A faulty fuel pump has the risk of letting metal debris enter the fuel system. As a result, fuel system components like the injectors, fuel lines, and fuel rails can get clogged up. This is an expensive problem to fix too, as the parts and labor cost falls in the range of $3000 – $6000.
3. Leaking Exhaust Couplers
The exhaust coupler is a pipe that joins the diesel particulate filter with your engine’s turbocharger. Leaks in this pipe may result in diesel fumes entering the cabin of the Ram 1500. It doesn’t take a genius to understand the unhealthy nature of this problem.
However, only two-wheel drive Rams with the EcoDiesel engine are affected by this problem. Furthermore, it was covered in a recall that happened back in 2015.
4. Slipping Timing Chain
A slipping timing chain causes major damage to the interior components of an engine. It can vary from minor issues like misfires all the way to catastrophic engine failure.
Poor engine performance is one main indication of a slipping timing chain. If left unattended, this can cause the pistons to bend and jam inside. Not only that, the piston valves can completely break off well. However, you shouldn’t worry too much, as this is not a widespread issue.
5. EGR Cooler Failure
The EGR cooler is responsible for redirecting the exhaust gases into the intake system as a way of controlling emissions. Inside the intake system, the exhaust gases are burned off at a high temperature. The EGR cooler is what reduces the temperature of these hot gases.
In some Dodge Ram 1500s with EcoDiesel engines, the EGR sensor can crack. As a result, coolant leaks into the engine compartment, which is a huge fire hazard. On the other hand, gases that are not sufficiently cooled can overheat the engine. A recall was carried out for the 2014 – 2016 model years to address this issue.
As you can see, the EcoDiesel engine has its fair share of issues. However, when it is functioning as intended, the EcoDiesel is one of the best engines you can get in the Dodge Ram 1500. The most impressive figure of this engine is its towing capacity.
The EcoDiesel is capable of towing up to a massive 12,560 lbs. Not only that, it is one of the most economical engines you can get with this pickup as well.
If you are thinking of getting a Dodge Ram 1500 with the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel engine, just be sure to thoroughly examine the engine before spending your hard-earned money. With a little bit of research, you will be able to find a great truck with a powerful and efficient engine.
Dodge Ram Generations
As we told you before, the Dodge Ram is currently in its fifth generation. The timeline of the Dodge Ram generations is as follows.
- First Generation (1981 – 1993)
- Second Generation (1994 – 2001)
- Third Generation (2002 – 2008)
- Fourth Generation (2009 – 2018)
- Fifth Generation (2019 – now)
As the next stop on our quest of ranking Ram 1500 reliability by year, we will take a deeper dive into each of these model years and what they had to offer.
First Generation (1981 – 1993)
The Dodge Ram made its first appearance in 1981. It was the replacement for the long-running Dodge D series of trucks. Originally, two bed-sized were offered, with the long bed coming in with an 8-foot bed while the short bed had a 6.5-foot bed.
Three engine choices were paired with five transmission choices. Not only that, the first-generation Dodge Ram had three cabin sizes as well. The three options were short, extended, and crew cab. With its small body and squared-off design, the original Dodge Ram has recently made a comeback in popularity, and we are sure it will remain popular for many years to come.
Second Generation (1994 – 2002)
In 1994, Dodge revealed the second generation of the Ram pickup to the world. This was the first year of the Ram that received the ‘1500’ moniker. This generation was also the one to debut the tough and durable-looking design language we all know and love. The designers set out to model the look of the Ram after semi-trucks, and we have to say, they did that perfectly.
Once again, there were several engine choices. The most powerful gasoline engine was a 5.9 liter V8 that put out 230 horsepower. Work Special, LT, ST, and SLT were the trim levels on offer. Out of these, the SLT was the most luxurious. It came with creature comforts like air conditioning, a stereo, a cassette player as well as power windows.
A quad cab version made its appearance as part of the 1998 mid-cycle refresh. Further updates were done to the second generation Ram in 1999 and 2000. The sale of this generation came to an end in 2001.
Third Generation (2002 – 2008)
The third-generation Dodge Ram modernized the design of the older one. Although the exterior remained somewhat similar, internally the Ram went through drastic changes. The chassis, suspension components, interior, and engine choices all received significant updates.
The long bed was now only available with the four-door Rams. Independent suspension also made its way, replacing the older live axle system. As for the engines, a 375 horsepower, 5.7 liter Hemi V8 was now the most powerful engine on offer.
The third generation Ram came with new safety options as well. In fact, it was the first full-size truck in the world to offer side curtain airbags. This generation saw the introduction of a few special editions like the Power Wagon and Daytona.
However, the special edition most people remember is the Ram SRT-10. Under the hood of this crazy pickup was the 8.4 liter V10 engine lifted straight out of the Dodge Viper. The Ram SRT – 10 can be seen as the predecessor of the Jeep Trackhawk, Ram TRX, and Durango Hellcat of today.
Fourth Generation (2009 – 2018)
The fourth generation of the Ram was the first to drop the ‘Dodge’ moniker from its name. This is because of a split that happened in 2009. This generation of the iconic American pickup was based on a whole new platform and came with two-wheel or four-wheel drive.
A number of trim levels were on offer, including the ST, SLT, TRX4, and Laramie. A new 5.7-foot-long short truck bed was offered for the first time. The EcoDiesel engine also made its first appearance during this generation, and it replaced the 4.7-liter V8 engine in the lineup.
The fourth generation of the Ram was focused heavily on comfort. Heated seats, a rearview camera, and power-adjustable pedals were packed into a redesigned cabin to make the Ram appealing to the urban crowd. A mid-cycle refresh was carried out in 203, and the off-road-focused Ram 1500 Rebel made its appearance 3 years later.
Fifth Generation (2019 – now)
The most recent iteration of the Ram entered the limelight in 2019. The body was completely redesigned with a focus on performance as well as efficiency. The body was made lighter, and the ride quality was increased significantly. In fact, the fifth generation is the most comfortable Ram to date.
As we mentioned, this generation of the Ram is focused on efficiency as well. The new eTorque mild hybrid system is the perfect example of this. It comes paired with both the 3.6 liters V6 and the 5.7 liter V8 and helps to increase fuel efficiency.
2021 saw the debut of the most powerful Ram yet. The Ram 1500 TRX comes with a supercharged Hemi V8 engine producing a monstrous 702 horsepower. It is safe to say that the TRX (T-Rex) hunts Raptors for fun!
Conclusion For Ram 1500 Reliability By Year
When ranking the Ram 1500 reliability by year, some great years, as well as some bad years, can be identified. When taken as a whole, 2003, 2010, 2014, and 2015 are the worst years of the Ram that should be avoided at all costs.
In contrast, 2011, 2013, 2017, and 2020 are the best years of the Ram in terms of reliability. However, this is not applicable to vehicles equipped with the EcoDiesel engine. Although it is efficient, the EcoDiesel has its own set of major reliability issues.
FAQs On Ram 1500 Reliability By Year
Who Makes Ram Trucks
Ram is a subsidiary of the Chrysler Group, and they specialize in making pickup trucks. Earlier, Ram trucks were made by Dodge. However, the two companies separated over a decade ago.
Who Owns Ram Trucks
Ram Trucks are owned by Chrysler. They own other popular vehicle brands like Dodge and Jeep as well.
When Did Dodge And Ram Split
Dodge and Ram split in 2009. From then on, Ram exclusively makes pickup trucks, while Dodge makes passenger vehicles like sedans, minivans, and muscle cars.
Where Are Ram Trucks Made
Ram trucks are made in a number of locations spread throughout North America. The two main Ram assembly plants are in Michigan and Mexico.
Does Dodge Own Ram
In the past, Dodge used to make trucks under the Ram name. However, the two companies split up in 2009.
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