What kind of problems does a Ram 2500/3500 usually have? This blog lists the essential issues you should consider while buying a RAM 2500/3500. First, let’s take a look at a quick answer.
The main problems in RAM 2500/3500 include suspension problems leading to a death wobble, engine failure, and fuel pump problems. The early models (2005-2010) saw camshaft issues and faulty TIPM. Recalls were issued for the 2015-2018 models to rectify unexpected tailgate opening, and the 2013-2015 models saw problems such as knocking and fuel pump failure.
This is only the tip of the iceberg—a detailed analysis of these problems entailing the root cause, symptoms, and fixing cost are still left. We will also suggest the best and worst years for buying a RAM 2500/3500. For all these details, read on!
What Is The Difference Between RAM 2500 And 3500?
Before we move on to our problems, we must lay out some significant differences between RAM 2500 and RAM 3500. The primary difference between these models lies in their engine capabilities.
The RAM 2500 used to have a 5.7L HEMI V8 engine at its simplest trim level (2010 – 2018), while the RAM 3500 used a more powerful 6.7L CUMMINS engine. These days, the RAM 2500 uses a 6.4L HEMI V8 as a standard, whereas the 3500 still uses the 6.7L CUMMINS (although this one is also available on the 2500 and vice versa).
Both of these models share many similarities and face very similar problems. Let’s dive into what these problems are, what symptoms they usually show, and how much it will cost to fix these issues.
Also read: The Expected Mileage Of A RAM 1500
Suspension Problems – Death Wobble (2500 & 3500)
A common problem that has plagued trucks for a long time is the infamous death wobble. The death wobble is a violent shaking of the truck’s front end. During the death wobble, driving a car becomes challenging, exponentially increasing the chances of an accident. Both RAM 2500 and RAM 3500 are prone to death wobbles.
This problem suddenly appears, but you might hear a clunking sound before its onset. This is due to the track bar becoming loose, ultimately resulting in your car’s steering and suspension system giving in.
The death wobble has several potential causes – from a rusted track bar to worn-out ball joints, many components in your car can cause or contribute to a death wobble. However, the malfunctioning part typically belongs to the suspension or the steering system of your RAM and it’s not just big trucks that suffer from suspension problems.
If you have a lifted RAM 2500/3500 or if your RAM has a large wheel, the chances of you experiencing a death wobble can significantly increase. Most truck owners have reported experiencing this difficulty while driving on highways at high speeds or when they’re on a bumpy road.
Depending on the solution and the malfunctioning part, the fixing cost varies. The most likely cause is a rusted track bar, which will cost around $200 to fix. However, the jolting and vibrations of your car during the death wobble can also damage other components. If this is the case, expect a hefty repair bill of around $1000-$1500.
Cam and Lifter Failure (2500 Only)
Another common problem in RAM 2500 is that its cam and lifter mechanisms are prone to failing. These problems are common in 2011 RAM 2500 with 5.7L Hemi engines. The cam allows timely fuel entry and exhaust gas expulsion while the lifter aids the camshaft. Any damage to either of these components can cause your car’s engine to cease.
The most common cause of a broken camshaft in a RAM 2500 is a faulty MDS. MDS or Multiple Displacement System works to provide a constant flow of oil or lubricants to the camshaft and lifter mechanism.
Due to a faulty MDS, the lifters are not engaged, becoming victims of friction and the high-pressure engine environment. It causes the lifter to ‘slam’ into the camshaft, damaging both. This can also cause the roller pins to fail, resulting in this problem.
As you can see in the image below, the middle ring is worn down, whereas the rings around it are not. This indicates this lack of lubrication.
Your RAM will give you several signs if a cam and lifter failure is on the cards. A loud ticking noise from the engine, cylinder misfiring, and an active ‘Check Engine’ light are some of the most common symptoms.
Camshaft/cam and lifters are expensive to replace. It will cost around $1400-$2000 to replace these parts on your RAM 2500.
Tailgate Opening Unexpectedly (2500 & 3500)
For several RAM 2500/3500 models from 2015 to 2018, Dodge has issued a recall to examine and fix another recurring issue – the unwarranted opening of the tailgate. All the affected RAM trucks have a 6-8 ft bed and power locking tailgate.
The technicians at RAM have pinned down the problem to a faulty tailgate actuator limb tag. It is more susceptible to wear and tear, which can cause a fracture. A fractured actuator can randomly unlatch the tailgate.
The sudden opening of this tailgate can cause you to lose all cargo placed at the back of your truck and create a potential road hazard.
The NHTSA Recall ID for this issue is 19V347000. RAM has asked the dealerships to modify the tailgate and actuator tab in the affected RAM Trucks. To rectify this issue, a revised locking assembly on the tailgate has been installed. If the release switches were malfunctioning, they’ve also been replaced.
Fixing this issue via a recall does not cost you anything.
Cruise Control Cannot Be Cancelled (2500 & 3500)
Nearly all of the latest cars come with adaptive cruise control. The RAM 2500 is no exception. The cruise control allows the driver to set the car at a constant speed, allowing the car to ‘cruise’ without using the accelerator pedal.
For some RAM trucks, including the 2500 and 3500, this feature has become somewhat compromised. In these models, the cruise control shows three kinds of problems:
- The cruise control cannot be activated at all.
- Once it is activated, it cannot be canceled.
- Sometimes, the cruise control will activate on its own.
All of these problems have similar causes. These can be traced to switch issues, failed control modules, sensors, or throttle actuation problems. Another likely cause of this problem is a software glitch.
The speed wheel sensors and throttle compensation sensor faults randomly cause the car to deactivate the cruise control. In these cases, your speedometer will also stop working correctly. If you witness these symptoms in your car, your cruise control is most likely at risk of failure.
To rectify the ‘Cruise Control Cannot be Cancelled’ problem, RAM issued a recall with campaign ID 18V332000. In these 2014-2018 RAM 2500s, the fault lies in the wiring, which can result in a short circuit. The dealerships have been instructed to replace the wiring and remove any software glitches (if applicable).
If a recall has been issued for your car, this problem won’t cost you anything. However, if the throttle or speed sensor has been damaged, you will have to pay around $200-$400 to fix this issue.
Knocking And Seizing Due To Engine Issues (2500 Only)
Several owners of the 2014 RAM 2500 have reported experiencing excessive knocking and seizing in their car engines. This issue starts with a little knocking sound and culminates in the form of an engine failure.
Engine knocking is a symptom that your RAM is running into some problems. A repetitive tapping-like sound from your engine is a tell-tale sign of knocking.
In a RAM 2500, the knocking is typically due to worn bearings in the lower end of your engine. If the knocking sounds intensify on inclined and rough terrains, it’s most likely due to engine wrist pin problems. If these knocking sounds are unchecked, your engine will fail, and you will have to opt for a total engine replacement.
Diesel Exhaust Pump Not Working (3500 Only)
In some years of RAM 3500, mainly 2014-2015, the diesel exhaust fuel (DEF) pump is reportedly prone to an early failure. DEF pumps supply highly pressurized fluid to the doser injector to supply atomized fuel spray to the SCR chamber.
These DEF pumps have pressure sensors installed to monitor excessive pressure and have valves that can direct the flow during a purge cycle. These sensors do not work correctly, causing the pump to face extreme pressure, leading to its failure. This is primarily a manufacturing fault.
If your DEF pump fails, the only way out is a complete pump replacement. Contact your local dealership for an OEM or an aftermarket part. These parts are highly susceptible to failure, so you might not find them readily available. You could also check out eBay or other online platforms for this part.
Inadvertent Driver Airbag Deployment (3500 Only)
The RAM 3500 has been the subject of another recall – the accidental deployment of driver airbags is a known issue in the 2012-2014 years of RAM 3500. This unexpected deployment can startle a driver and may lead him to lose control of the vehicle resulting in an accident. This issue has NHTSA recall ID of 15V-459.
RAM has reported that this problem is caused by a detached steering wheel harness that rubs against the driver air bag module retainer spring, causing it to release without any reason.
If your car has been the subject of this recall, it won’t cause you anything to get it fixed. A trip to your nearby RAM dealership should be enough. If you are in the market for a 2015 RAM 3500, ensure this issue has already been rectified.
Defective TIPM Causing Electrical Problems (2500 & 3500)
The Totally Integrated Power Module (TIPM) is known to cause an array of problems in the RAM 2500/3500 trucks. This defect can result in multiple issues such as:
- Horn randomly going off
- Fuel pump failing to send fuel to the engine
- Randomly deploying airbags
Several minor recalls have been issued to rectify this issue, but RAM owners are still reporting several electrical problems that can be traced back to the faulty TIPM.
Water intrusion is one of the most common causes of TIPM going bad. The under-hood location and layered design make it vulnerable to moisture or water-related problems. Some forums have also narrated that rodents chewed on the wirings of TIPM, making it non-operational. Incorrectly installed aftermarkets and corroded circuits are other leading causes.
If your TIPM has gone bad, purchasing a new OEM part is your best shot at solving this problem. If you want to go for a repair, note that only those TIPMs that DO NOT have a solid-state integrated circuit control can be repaired. A new TIPM is likely to cause you around $500-$600.
What Are the Worst Years for RAM 2500/3500?
RAM 2500/3500 trucks are some of the most reliable ones in the pickup truck niche. These trucks will last you for 10-12 years, considering you repair the usual hiccups efficiently.
These trucks have had their share of bad years, where owners gave them poor reviews and low ratings. The worst year for the Dodge RAM 2500/3500 has to be the 2013-2014 model. This year had the infamous death wobble, several engine issues such as brake and fuel pump failure, and significant suspension problems.
The early 2000s and the latest (2020-2022) model years are the best RAM 2500/3500 has to offer. These models have ironed out the major problems, are more reliable, sturdy, and have better features such as adaptive cruise control and high towing capacity. The latest models are also the most expensive ones, but you cannot go wrong with them!
Hi! My name is Stefan; I’m the owner and lead writer at TheDriverAdviser.com.
I’m an active writer on this blog myself, as well as a novice car mechanic. For the really technical stuff, I find writers with experience as a mechanic or who have studied mechanical engineering.
Read more about our fantastic team on our about page!