When it comes to top-of-the-line, heavy-duty trucks, the Ram 3500 appears to be a solid choice. It’s comfortable with impressive hauling and towing capabilities. It was fully redesigned in 2019 along with the Ram 2500. It offers a mighty powertrain with an award-winning selection of configurations that can handle everything from road trips to big construction jobs.
But if you look at the recent history of the Ram 3500, you’ll notice there were a number of complaints about that model for a variety of reasons. What went wrong with the 2017 model of the Ram 3500? Should you consider this model if you’re searching for a good used truck?
What went wrong with the 2017 Ram 3500?
The picture is grim when you look up the 2017 Ram 3500 on Consumer Reports. CR assigned the truck its poorest reliability rating, putting it dead last in its class. On top of that, there have been 10 NHTSA recalls on it. Clearly, a lot went wrong here.
Most troubling are the ratings for the suspension and transmission minor. There were multiple suspension problems including the alignment, ball joints, bushings, power steering, shocks and struts, springs and torsion bars, steering linkage, tie rods, and wheel bearings. There are also problems with electronic or air suspension.
Minor transmission issues included clutch adjustments, gear selector and linkage, leaks, rough shifting, transmission slipping, and glitches with transmission computers, sensors, and solenoids. Major transmission problems required having the transmission entirely replaced or rebuilt. Sometimes, the clutch needed to be replaced, and other times, the torque converter.
There were other minor problems with the engine and truck’s body. There were problems with belts, pulleys, and engine mounts. It wasn’t uncommon to experience engine knocks, pings, or oil leaks.
While it wasn’t a safety issue, the in-car electronics were a mess. Various components of the system that includes media players, radio, speakers, GPS, and other communication systems experienced freezing or blackout moments.
Why people complained
When it came to what car owners actually complained about on the 2017 models of Ram 3500, it made perfect sense.
One Texas owner commented on their experience with fuel contamination. CarComplaints.com gave the issue a 10, the worst severity rating they could assign a car problem. The problem struck at 7,250 miles. Inexplicably, the truck just died. No codes were thrown and no alerts came on. The owner experienced this five times in one trip before giving up and calling a tow service.
The mechanic recommended taking it to the dealer who informed them it was fuel contamination and not covered by warranty. They ultimately lost the truck that was meant for their business or faced a $14,000 fuel system replacement.
A California owner complained about horrible vibration in the vehicle. They started experiencing the problem at 50 miles. They claimed that once the vehicle reached a speed of 70 mph, the vibration was so terrible the owner feared it would bounce off the road.
Another owner in Washington experienced a caliper gasket leak within 15,000 miles of getting their Ram 3500. Car Complaints gave it their worst severity rating of 10. During a routine oil change, they were told the brake caliper was leaking and that the truck was unsafe to drive. They had to rely on a rental for 90 days because no parts were available to fix it. The owner wasn’t happy having to pay truck payments, insurance payments, and more for a vehicle they wouldn’t get to use for three months.
Fixes moving forward
While the reviews on the new 2020 models of the Ram 3500 appear to be promising, Consumer Reports tells a different story.
Consumer Reports gave the 2018 models of Ram 3500 a one out of five reliability rating also. There were seven NHTSA recalls on the 2018 models. No data is available from CR on the 2019 models at all aside from listing there were three NHTSA recalls.
There’s a predicted reliability rating for the 2020 models on Consumer Reports, and it’s a one out of five. While no other data is available, it appears that CR is basing their rating on past models. It would likely take significant improvement for CR to change their mind.
On CarComplaints.com, there’s one complaint filed for the 2019 models. A Connecticut owner complained of a metal grinding sound on acceleration, but that’s all. So far, there are no complaints about the 2020 models.
If you’ve got your heart set on a Ram 3500 as either a new or used truck, proceed with caution. Hopefully, between the NHTSA and FCA recalls, they’ll get the various issues with the popular heavy-duty truck resolved. Until then, you may want to try a Ford F-350 or a Chevy Silverado 3500.