One of the defining features of a diesel truck is its reliability. Sure, performance and power are important, but you want a truck you can depend on when you have to haul payload day in and day out. But that’s not the 2018 Ram 3500.
If you’re in the market for a used or certified pre-owned diesel pickup, you’d do well to steer clear of the 3500 in that model year in the otherwise dependable Ram lineup. Here’s why.
What makes diesel trucks reliable?
Diesel trucks are widely considered more reliable than their gas-powered brethren in part because their engines are more robust. They have to be to deal with high cylinder pressure in diesel engines and high-compression ratios. The typical diesel truck also lasts longer, sometimes hundreds of thousands of miles longer. Diesel engines also get better gas mileage, higher torque, and greater towing capacity.
Because diesel trucks typically last longer with less maintenance needed, they also usually enjoy a higher resale value. They typically cost a bit more to purchase, but that upfront investment is more than offset over time by cheaper refueling costs and fewer repairs.
And most people buy diesel trucks because they need to. They need to haul cargo and carry payloads. When they buy a diesel truck, they’re purchasing not only the vehicle but also the reliability and dependability that should come with it. An unreliable diesel truck is a waste of money, not to mention a massive disappointment.
What you should know about the 2018 Dodge Ram 3500
On the surface, the 2018 Dodge Ram looks like a reliable heavy-duty truck. It’s the more powerful brother of the Ram 2500 and 1500, whose 2018 models have garnered high praise from automotive publications such as MotorTrend and Car and Driver. The 3500’s base model gets 383 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque thanks to a 5.7-liter V8 engine. You can also choose a 6.4-liter V8 producing 410 hp and 429 lb-ft of torque or the most powerful engine option, the Cummins turbodiesel inline-six.
The 6.7-liter I-6 packs 385 hp and 930 lb-ft torque. And when paired with the six-speed automatic transmission, it gives you the best hauling and towing performance of the 3500’s options. You can choose between a short or long bed and various cab sizes. The Power Wagon trim is ready for off-roading and comes with front and rear locking differentials, tow hooks, skid plates, and 17-inch wheels with all-terrain tires.
The 3500 comes standard with safety features like a rearview camera and tire pressure monitoring, but features like front and rear parking sensors are available. There’s also Sirius Guardian, providing vehicle services you can use to request assistance in case of an emergency and to keep your vehicle secure.
So the 2018 Ram 3500 looks good on paper. But in real life, it’s another story. In fact, Consumer Reports lists it as one of the worst used trucks to buy.
The 2018 Ram 3500’s numerous problems
For starters, and one of the reasons Consumer Reports also gave this truck a 1-out-of-5 reliability rating, owners have reported that the 2018 Ram 3500 has issues with several systems. They include the engine, fuel system, exhaust, suspension, brakes, and transmission.
Though the occasional smattering of complaints from vehicle owners is expected, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued seven recalls for the 20218 Ram 3500 for problems with its tailgate latch, cruise control, automatic transmission, equipment, and rearview camera. The final two recalls involve different steering problems.
The NHTSA website is also flooded with dozens of complaints from angry owners who have frequently faced steep fees with diagnosing and repairing these issues. And who can blame them? Say you’re climbing a mountain with a heavy payload and your brakes start to fail. Now you’ve narrowly avoided an accident but then have to cover the cost of repairs for what turns out to be a manufacturer’s defect. You’d be angry too.
If you’re looking at used heavy-duty trucks from 2018, you’d likely be better off with a Ford F-350 Super Duty, a Chevy Silverado 3500HD, or a GMC Sierra 3500HD. But avoid the 2018 Ram 3500 and save yourself the pains of a thoroughly unreliable truck.