Originally sold under the Dodge brand, the Ram 1500 half-ton pickup is best known for its beefy Hemi and Cummins engines. But they were also always developed for work and leisure.
Modern Ram 1500s are truly comfortable vehicles with well-designed interiors. They're also packed with modern conveniences and technology, making them excellent value for money compared to their competitors.
In this article, we're going to look at some of the most common Ram 1500 issues and problems...
Ram 1500 trucks with Hemi-V8s can develop the infamous "Hemi-Tick" and start making loud noises.
This problem typically affects fourth and fifth generation Ram 1500s, starting with the 2009 model year, as well as many other Hemi-equipped Dodge vehicles.
It is typical for Hemi engines to rattle after a cold start, but it should settle down after a few seconds as the oil pressure in the engine builds. The injectors are also quite loud and rattle constantly.
If the engine continues to rattle loudly after it has reached operating temperature and is idling, the valve positioner may be faulty.
Tick Hemi is caused by a worn lifter roller bearing. In many cases, noisy bearings also wear out the camshaft.
This is an even bigger problem with the 6.4-liter Hemi, as they're equipped with an oil cooler that can trap metal shavings and direct them back into the engine, causing even more damage.
Eventually, ignoring the hemi tick can lead to:
- check engine light
- cylinder head damage
- camshaft damage
Serious tick problems are more common in trucks that don't get regular oil changes and sit idle for long periods of time.
Hemi-Tick repair usually requires replacing the tappets and camshaft. Most dealerships will charge around $5,000 for this type of repair, since the cylinder head must be removed.
An oil change every 5,000 miles with the recommended synthetic oil ensures that the valve train and tappets are always properly lubricated,This greatly reduces your chances of having to deal with serious hemitrapia problems.
2. Problems with the exhaust manifold
The Hemi engine exhaust manifold can warp over time and develop an exhaust leak, which is often mistaken for Hemi lifter problems.
When the exhaust manifold gets twisted or misshapen, it puts a lot of stress on the bolts that hold it to the head. This will eventually cause the bolts to break, resulting in an exhaust leak. Broken bolts can also cause the manifold heat shield to come loose and begin to vibrate.
Exhaust manifold bolts can break on all V8 Ram 1500s from the 2002 model year to the current generation.
In many cases, once the engine reaches operating temperature, the exhaust leak and associated noise will go away because the manifold and head have expanded enough to create a good seal.
Fortunately, exhaust leaks do not cause catastrophic engine damage and are very inexpensive to repair.
People who would rather never deal with exhaust leaks again often upgrade to aftermarket headers. They have the added benefit of improving exhaust sound and increasing engine performance.
3. Transmission problems
The second generation Dodge Ram 1500 had a bad reputation for reliability due to its widespread transmission failures.
It is normal for a second generation truck to need a new transmission or service every 50,000 to 100,000 miles. There are also many owners who have gone through multiple transfers over the life of the truck.
Successive model years of the Ram 1500 greatly improved the transmissions, which were more reliable. However, they can still fail if you neglect maintenance or add more power without beefing up driveline components.
Beginning in 2013, Ram also began equipping many 1500 models with the BMW-derived ZF 8-speed transmission, which has an excellent reputation for reliability.
According to the auto complaint website, the 2014, 2015 and 2016 model years have the most transmission issues among modern Ram 1500 trucks.
Fortunately, reports of catastrophic transmission failure are very rare, and most fourth-generation Ram 1500 transmission problems boil down to complaints of hard upshifting and downshifting in the cold.
This is how one owner described the problem:
“On cold starts the gearbox almost feels like it's slipping out of the wheel in first gear, the revs build on their own and the truck shifts into second. I also had a jerk when stopping. It feels like a block of brick or cinder sliding forward from the back of the truck bed when you come to a slow stop.
This shifting behavior is perfectly normal and will eventually go away as the transmission warms up. And while owners are concerned about transmission reliability, there is no evidence that this problem causes transmission failure.
4. Water leak from 3rd brake light
Water leaks caused by a faulty seal around the third brake light, which is located in the rear window, are fairly common on fourth- and fifth-generation Ram 1500s.
The third generation Ram 1500 can also have third brake light leaks, but it is more common to have brake light leaks on these older models.
Water leaks can not only wet the seats and roof, but can also cause mold and electrical problems.
Other possible sources of water leaks on the Ram 1500 include:
- Antena Sharkfin
- rear window seal
- sliding roof
- rear window seals
Leaks can be difficult to track, as they usually only happen during heavy rains.
Leaks coming from the third brake light are the most common culprit and the easiest to fix. Most owners simply make their own waterproof seal by applying a layer of RTV silicone around the third brake light to seal it. The same can be done for other leaks, but you may need to replace gaskets in other sensitive areas as well.
TIPM issues are found in many multi-generation RAM trucks beginning with the 2006 model year.
TIPM stands for Totally Integrated Power Module and is used in all Ram, Dodge, Jeep and Chrysler products.
It's basically a black box that contains a circuit board and lots of fuses and relays. It controls many important electrical components, from the windshield wipers to the air conditioning to the fuel pump.
Over time, TIPM can develop cold welds that cause random electrical problems. Moisture can also seep through the seals if they are splashed with water or simply left in a humid environment, shorting out various electrical components.
Symptoms of TIPM problems can vary, but can include:
- The vehicle does not start or starts with difficulty
- The electricity goes out sometimes
- Doors lock/unlock by themselves
- Windshield wipers no longer work
- car alarm and horn sounds
- check engine light
- The truck goes into emergency mode
To repair these electric gremlins, you need to replace the TIPM. Rebuilt units cost between $300 and $800 depending on the model year and usually come with all the fuses and relays already installed.
6. Connection problems
Many fourth-generation Ram 1500 owners have had issues with the uconnect infotainment system crashing or displaying just a black screen and blocking them from the radio, navigation, and air conditioning.
Other commonly reported UConnect issues are:
- rear view camera failure
- Wireless CarPlay not working
- Bluetooth off
- Radio presets are cleared
Some owners say that the Uconnect 5 software is better than the previous version, so many old issues may have been fixed. However, it is far from perfect.
If your Uconnect is not responding, you can reset it by pressing the volume and tuner buttons. On newer vehicles, you will need to hold down the power and navigation buttons. If that doesn't work, try disconnecting the 12 volt battery for a few minutes.
For more persistent problems, it's best to have the dealer seek a more thorough diagnosis.
7. Touch screen delamination
Delamination issues are very common on the fourth-generation Ram 1500's 8.4-inch Uconnect display.
This issue only affects the 2018 model year Ram 1500. Earlier model years with the same screen size do not appear to experience delamination.
Delamination occurs when the adhesive holding the top layer (digitizer) of the screen wears away prematurely. It starts out as a small bubble, but quickly spreads all over the screen.
In addition to the unsightly bubbles, the infotainment screen can start to act strangely, like someone is pressing buttons.
To replace the screen, you will need to purchase a new radio, which can cost up to $1,000. Many owners have also successfully replaced just the digitizer, which can be easily ordered online for around $100.
8. Problems with the rear camera
Rear camera problems are common on modern ram trucks.
Problems reported by owners include:
- It just shows a blue screen.
- Camera not available Error
- Green lines on the screen
- The camera image does not turn off
Most camera errors can be resolved by checking the rear connector where the camera is mounted for loose connections. Often just closing the tailgate is enough to get the camera working again. Restarting the truck and the infotainment system can also help.
Ram also announced a mid-2022 recall to address a software incompatibility issue in the 2022 model year. Even if your truck isn't affected by the recall, it may be worth checking with your dealer to see if there are any. software update you need. You can ask for it.
Camera problems can also be caused by faulty hardware. Some defects can cause the image to appear blurry or distorted. If cleaning the camera lens doesn't help, the next step is to check the camera system.
9. Broken disc
Older Dodge Ram 1500 trucks have many cracks in the sheet metal after just a few years.
Once the cracks appear, they eventually spread throughout the entire slab until it completely collapses.
At Car Complaints, a website that tracks owner feedback, dash cracks are the most common problem for second-generation Dodge Ram 1500 owners. Pre-facelift 2002-2006 third generation Dodge Ram 1500 also suffers from cracked sheet metal.
This is how one owner describes the problem:
“I bought my beautiful truck in 2004, after four years the top panel broke from an air vent. Over the last six years it has slowly infiltrated my dashboard and separate areas.
Aftermarket replacement panels typically cost around $250 and are easy to install while the panel frame is still intact. If the frame is broken as well, you can save yourself a replacement from the junkyard.
10. Problems with instrument clusters
Fourth and fifth generation Ram 1500s can develop unusual instrument panel issues over time.
It is common for fourth generation Ram 1500 to have flickering on the instrument panel. Sometimes only the central digital display blinks, but there are also cases when the entire backlight in the group blinks. Even if you adjust the brightness, the flickering persists.
The flickering can be caused by a bad 12 volt battery or a loose fuse, both of which are easy to check. Some have reported that they were only able to fix it by replacing the entire cluster.
Another common problem with the 4th gen pool is that it sometimes empties and resets while driving. This is more difficult to diagnose and correct. Some were only able to fix it by replacing many cables and the ECU.
Fourth and fifth generation Ram 1500 owners have also reported issues with the instrument panel staying on after turning off the truck, consequently draining the battery.
This is usually caused by an electrical or software problem that is keeping the instrument cluster alive.
It could be as simple as a faulty switch or incompatibilities caused by USB sticks and other third-party electronics.
Some owners are also reporting that the issue only occurs when the passenger door is opened and the PowerStep is manually operated.
11. Water pump failure
While most Ram 1500 trucks have water pumps that last well over 100,000 miles, it's fairly common for them to fail between 50,000 and 70,000 miles.
The water pump is a critical component of the truck's cooling system, as it is responsible for maintaining the flow of coolant into the engine.
It is considered a consumable item that needs to be replaced from time to time, just like the belt, starter, alternator, and brakes. But you don't have to worry about that until you get closer to 100,000 miles.
However, since Rams have a history of early water pump failure, it's best to keep an eye out for potential problems once you get closer to 50,000 miles.
Signs of a water pump failure include:
- rolling noise
- Refrigerant leak/smell
- high engine temperatures
Here is how some Ram 1500 owners describe their experience:
“Changed the water pump on my 11 at 70,000 miles. It wasn't leaking, but the bearing was making noises."
"On my fifth water pump now, 2005 5.7 with 130,000 miles."
"Mine is a Gen 3 (2007) and the water pump failed at 62,000 miles (and boy did it drain everything in a hurry when it did."
Water pumps need to be replaced as soon as they start to show signs of failure. If left unattended and the engine overheats, it can warp the cylinder heads and risk a huge repair bill.
A new OEM water pump should cost around $400, and any competent mechanic should be able to install it in an hour or two.
12. Supply problems
Many fifth-generation Ram 1500 owners have complained that the gas pump shuts off automatically when they try to fill up the tank.
When that happens, they have to manually press the trigger on the gas pump until the tank is full, or let the pump run on the lowest setting and spend more time at the gas station.
Some owners have been able to prevent the automatic shutdown by pulling the fuel nozzle slightly out of the filler neck or by pointing the fuel nozzle toward the rear of the truck.
Those who took their truck in for repair report that the dealer had to replace the fuel tank and fill valve to fix the problem.
13. Power steering problems
In recent years, reports of failures in the electronic power steering (EPS) for the fourth generation Ram 1500 have been increasing.
Reports of EPS failures increased on the 2013, 2014 and 2015 model years. The 2019 Ram 1500 also has several reports of intermittent power steering failures.
If the power steering fails, you will have to use more force to turn the steering wheel. Parking is also more difficult because the steering wheel feels significantly heavier at low speeds.
Fixing this usually requires replacing the entire EPS system, which can cost around $3,000.
Ram also announced a recall of a limited number of 2015-2016 models due to a possible power steering failure.
Additionally, several fifth generation Ram 1500 owners have reported on various internet forums and car complaints that the steering wheel intermittently locks in the 11 o'clock position when making a left turn at about 30-40 mph.
This seems to affect only the 2019 Ram 1500, which is the first year of the fifth-generation model.
When this problem occurs, the steering wheel doesn't actually lock, but instead gets stuck or dented at the 11 o'clock position. The balance wheel only needs a little more power when it reaches the 11 o'clock position to turn normally.
Owners who have experienced this problem report that replacing the steering rack and EPS gear fixes the problem permanently.
It's also worth noting that the 2019 Ram 1500 also had a recall involving nearly 200,000 trucks due to intermittent power steering failure, so the connectivity issue could be related to that recall.
ram 1500 pros and cons
- powerful engines
- Excellent driving characteristics
- well appointed interiors
- Many standard features
- Good towing capacity
- Good off-road mobility
- Software and electronic problems.
- looks big and heavy
- long term reliability
- low resale value
What do the reviews say?
“Our test truck had the V8 engine and eight-speed gearbox. They work so well together that we can recommend this truck for that alone. It is strong and easy to ride in almost any situation. Much the same is true of the recently launched EcoDiesel powertrain, especially if you appreciate the pulling power of diesel torque.”
“Wind and road noise is minimal, especially in the higher trim levels. The Ram 1500 deftly soaks up the various bumps in the road and does it without the bumps you'd normally expect from a light truck.”
“The optional 12-inch touch screen is an impressive addition to any vehicle, let alone a truck. It offers a huge map and sharp graphics. The 8.4-inch Uconnect infotainment system is also impressive and offers navigation.”
“The build quality of the Ram 1500 looks great at first glance, especially in higher trim levels like the Big Horn, Laramie and more. However, after spending a lot of time in an endurance test truck, we did have some part failures that revealed lower quality than we originally thought.”
What is the resale value of a Ram 1500?
Here's a quick look at Edmunds used car prices at the time of writing. Prices shown are for the Hemi-powered Laramie trim level:
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