Is Buying a Used Ram 1500 Pickup Truck a Good Idea?

Buying a gently used pickup truck is never a terrible idea. And honestly, all the manufacturers have been building durable and reliable full-size trucks for over a decade. But here is some useful information on recent generations of used Ram 1500 pickup trucks, the lifespan of a used Ram, and how often it will need maintenance.

The Ram 1500’s fourth generation lasted until 2018

The grilles of a row of Ram trucks parked in a dealership lot.
Ram trucks on a car lot | Scott Olson via Getty Images

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A 2009 through 2018 Ram 1500 belongs to the pickup truck’s fourth generation. This truck will probably have the same 3.6L Pentastar V6 or 5.7L HEMI V8 engines you’d find in a modern Charger or Challenger. In 2014, Ram introduced a turbocharged V6 “EcoDiesel” for the 1500.

The final trucks of the Ram’s fourth generation were advanced pickups: they came with rear coil springs instead of leaf springs and an eight-speed automatic transmission. This is one of the reasons Ram continues offering the fourth-generation 1500, badged as the Ram Classic, into the 2022 model year.

A recent fourth-generation Ram, whether a pre-2019 Ram 1500 or a more recent Ram 1500 “Classic,” offers a relatively modern drivetrain and chassis. The biggest changes with the 2019 redesign were aesthetic and interior upgrades.

If you buy a 2019 or later Ram 1500 you’ll enjoy one of the best interior fit and finishes in the segment. This fifth-generation will also weigh less and be able to tow more. But otherwise, its drivetrain will not be very different than the later fourth-generation Ram 1500s.

Is a used Ram 1500 reliable

Promo photo of a silver 2018 Ram truck parked on a street in front of a row of trees.
2018 Ram 1500 | Stellantis

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Ram offers a 60,000 and 100,000 mile warranty on its durable HEMI V8. That shows a lot of confidence in the engine. But with proper maintenance, this engine is likely to last for 200,000 miles or more—according to FourWheelTrends.

Consumer Reports and J.D. Power appear to disagree on the Ram 1500’s reliability. J.D, Power gave the 2021 and 2020 Ram 1500 a “Great” score for its quality and reliability. The 2018 Ram 1500 earned a “Great” score as well.

Consumer Reports, however, gives each new vehicle an estimated reliability based on past model years. The publication only gave the 2021 Ram 1500 a 2/5 reliability rating.

But after one more year of testing the fifth-generation truck, Consumer Reports bumped that rating to 3/5 for predicted reliability for the 2022 model year. Consumer Reports gave the 2018 Ram 1500 an average reliability score: 3/5.

Will a Ram 1500 be difficult to maintain?

The hand of a man holding a wrench above a car's engine.
Mechanic holding a wrench | Christian Buehner via Unsplash

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The service intervals of a Ram 1500 are similar to those of the Chevrolet Silverado or Ford F-150. That said, most services on any truck cost more than the same services on a car or midsize truck. In the same way, heavy-duty trucks cost even more to maintain than light-duty trucks like the Ram 1500.

The 2019 Ram 1500 has seven different major services. The shortest interval is an oil change and tire rotation service twice a year. Longer interval services may only occur twice in a truck’s life and include some big-ticket items.

If you are considering a used Ram 1500, it’s important to know which services have already been completed and which future services you’ll have to pay for.

If the truck has been pressed into commercial service, towing, or plowing, you may have to complete some maintenance ahead of schedule. In these cases, it’s wise to take the truck’s odometer, double the number, and use the new number to draft a maintenance budget.

Worse than a truck used in a commercial application is a truck with no service records whatsoever. If a truck has high mileage and now records, buying it is a real crapshoot.

Ram 1500 suggested service schedule

MileageService
Every 8,000 miles/6 monthsChange the oil, change the oil filter, and rotate tires
Every 20,000 miles/1 yearReplace cabin air filter. Align the front end and inspect and/or repair front suspension and brake linings.
Every 30,000 miles/18 monthsThis is a good time to replace the engine air filter and adjust the parking brake. In addition, inspect CV/universal joints, transfer case fluid, and front/rear axle surfaces.
Every 60,000 milesSome mechanics suggest an automatic transmission service as well as replacing the fluid in your transfer case, front axle, and rear axle every 60,000 miles.
Every 100,000 miles/6 yearsReplace the engine’s spark plugs, serpentine belt, and PCV valve.
Every 120,000 miles/7.5 yearsChange the automatic transmission fluid, lube the front driveshaft fitting, inspect, and repair the exhaust.
Every 150,000 miles/12 yearsFlush and replace engine coolant.

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