Trucks & SUVs

Which Ram Trucks Have Too Many Complaints to Buy?

If you’re in the market for a used pickup truck with impressive power, you may be considering a Ram. You’ll save thousands by buying a used Ram and still get its outstanding towing and hauling capabilities. Why not buy the truck that’s won Motor Trend’s Truck of the Year six times?

As long as you know which years and models to avoid, a Ram truck is an excellent choice. Certain Ram trucks have been the subject of hundreds of complaints with the dashboard. So, potential Ram buyers beware: These trucks will never be a good deal no matter the price.

Read on to learn more about the model years that have the most complaints about this problem.

2001-2004 Dodge Ram 1500

Dodge Ram 1500 SLT Quad Cab 4 x4 at the 2003 Canadian International Auto Show
Dodge Ram 1500 SLT Quad Cab 4 x4 | David Cooper/Toronto Star via Getty Images

CarComplaints.com’s most-reported problem with the 2001 Dodge Ram 1500 is its cracked dashboard. This made up a whopping 610 complaints out of 930. Cracked dashboards were common in model years going back to 1997 when owners reported 59 related complaints, and they continued to rise until 2001.

Apparently, Dodge failed to address this issue because the next two model years were nearly as bad, with 2002 registering 518 complaints and 2003 having a startling 531 problems. The dashboard issues only began to subside with the 2004 model year, with 30 complaints.

When submitting these complaints, many owners demanded that Dodge recall the truck or at least replace the faulty dashboard free of charge, citing safety concerns.

In some cases, owners reported sharp dashboard pieces coming loose and flying off. They were understandably concerned that someone could be hit in the eye or face. Others mentioned problems with the heating and cooling systems since the cracked dashboards no longer provided protection. 

Owners have theories about why the Dodge Ram‘s dashboards were so bad. Some blamed the poor material quality. Others thought there was a glitch in the production process. Another possible explanation was a design flaw. The dashboard and instrument cluster was reengineered in 1998, which was the year the problem first began.

A few complaints were reported as recently as the summer of 2019, so it’s obvious that, to this day, Dodge hasn’t satisfied Ram 1500 owners. In many cases, dealerships minimized the problem as a cosmetic issue. They refused to repair them unless the owners paid for it. Some owners resorted to replacing the dashboards themselves or installing a cover.

As a result of the myriad complaints reported for these model years, CarComplaints.com has designated the 2001 and 2003 Dodge Ram 1500s with the “Beware the Clunker” stamp. The 2002 model year received the even more extreme “Avoid Like the Plague” label.

2001-2004 Dodge Ram 2500

For these Dodge Ram 2500 model years, everything was heavy-duty except the dashboards. The heavy-duty version was plagued with the same problem as the light-duty one. While there were fewer complaints about this model because fewer trucks were produced, it still presented a huge problem that Dodge never solved.

For the 2001 model year, CarComplaints.com posted 130 complaints about this problem. Dodge Ram 2500 owners submitted 64 complaints. The 2003 version was the worst with 183 complaints reported and a severity rating of “Pretty Bad.” Owners submitted 30 complaints about the 2004 model.

As with the Dodge Ram 1500, owners of the heavy-duty truck were faced with safety concerns with this issue. One owner was actually cut by a chunk of the broken dashboard. Others worried about being hit by flying dashboard pieces if the airbags deployed in a collision.

Dealerships, again, offered owners no recourse and charged high prices for replacements. So many either installed a dashboard cover or replaced the dashboards themselves. And, once more, complaints against these trucks were made as recently as this year.

Recent models are better

There’s an upside to this story: Ram trucks seemed to have generally improved. While the Dodge Rams produced in 2005 and after weren’t entirely trouble-free, owners no longer complained about cracked dashboards and reported fewer problems overall.

Ram became its own brand in 2012, and the trucks’ quality has remained generally good with a few exceptions. Some of the 2014 and 2015 Ram 1500s have electrical issues. But the most notable exception is the 2013 Ram 2500 and its infamous death wobble which, like the models with cracked dashboards, you should avoid at all costs.

So, take heart if you have your sights set on a used Ram pickup. You can buy a good used truck for a fraction of the cost of a new one, as long as you avoid the Dodge Ram 1500 and 2500 in the 2001 through 2004 model years.