The Dodge Ram has a long and storied history. Ram started in the 80s under Chrysler’s roof as a diesel tough hauler. It had torque up the wazoo. It had gobs of red. And today it is a mature and sophisticated version of its original self.
Chrysler has a history of many changes. Has the reliability of the Legendary Dodge Ram 1500 by year suffered because of it? What are some of the worse and best years to buy a Dodge Ram? I’ll break down some specific years to avoid.
It still sports the red moniker. But it is an all-around beast that has won many awards in different categories. Dodge Ram Reliability isn’t known as a stand-alone feature. Its history is littered with generations of instances best remembered than experienced. Faulty transmissions, electrical, drivetrain issues, resale woes, and more.
Side note: Since 2011 Dodge and Ram are two different brands but they are still manufactured the same way. The brand split is purely a marketing stand point. And since most of the history was under the Dodge brand I’ll refer to the two just as Dodge.
That doesn’t mean Dodge has had only bad years. For instance, the 2014 Dodge Ram won Truck Of The Year. One could even say this was the best year for Ram 1500. No P.O.S. paperweight has that trophy in its collection. It does mean that the reliability of the Dodge Ram 1500 has not been as consistent as some other foreign brands, though.
We got some reliable data dating all the way back to the ancient year of 2000. Before that data were not collected as reliably and as detailed. So we will assume Rams scored 5’s across the entire spectrum.
What Do Dodge Ram Owners Say?
We’ve had a good look at the Ram over these past two decades and it’s clear that we’re not exactly on talking terms. The reliability of this truck will vary widely depending upon when it was made, with cars from before 1990 being particularly susceptible to breaking down or giving out under pressure without warning (or both!).
When they do go wrong, parts can be pricey and often need to be ordered from overseas. As far as the newer models are concerned, most of them have been fairly well-built but certain key areas – whether it’s suspension or engine – will necessitate a trip to a specialist for repairs or tuning.
In terms of performance, the Ram isn’t the best performer around. It’s particularly slow off the mark with some engines suffering from incredibly long-winded throttle pick up. Any torque that you do feel is more often than not accompanied by an annoying amount of turbo lag, so no matter how good this truck sounds, it doesn’t conjure up much in the way of excitement.
The interior of this thing is an absolute pain in the neck. The seating position is ridiculous, the gearbox isn’t exactly smooth or precise and there’s no sense of refinement at all. There are options for climate control but they’re slow to respond, which makes it difficult to get comfortable (and stay that way).
Not only that but the cabin is made from cheap, hard plastic that’s engineered to be tough but looks and feels pretty bland. It might have a tough exterior, inside it doesn’t feel particularly sturdy.
Then there’s the warranty. A lot of those stats listed above will only be covered for three years at best – one year less than most other pickups in its class. Most people are also paying for this truck so the warranty will only cover the first owner, not you or anyone else who may own it after that initial purchase.
So What Is The Dodge Ram 1500 Reliability By Year?
There are a lot of things to discuss when it comes to a truck’s reliability. Digging deeper we see the car’s systems performing differently than the overall score lets on.
Let’s see how your pocketbook will feel when we explore more about each individual system and how reliable they fair over the last two decades:
First, we break down the drivetrain into engine problems, transmission issues, and fuel system delivery. Overall the engine gets pretty spectacular numbers, scoring well above average since 2005 and for 2020 the Ram turbo diesel gets 32 MPG highway. The transmission isn’t close behind while the fuel system has been very schizophrenic.
Engines are designed to just go, haul, and pull. Automatic transmissions as well. Consistency has been key with Ram. The fuel line has other issues. There are more outside factors that can play a role in reliability. Gas quality, condensation, materials used can all affect a fuel line.
The rest of Ram’s systems have faired average over the long term. Hovering in mediocrity seems to be the status quo. From 2011-12 on there was a positive shift. Something seemed to come together. This is about the time when Dodge and RAM split. Officially since 2011 Dodge is Dodge. You can buy a 2009 Dodge Ram. But you can only buy a 2010 RAM.
Ram is not Dodge. But it is. But it’s a different brand. They are both owned by parent corp Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA). Almost all Ram (RAM? RaM? rAM? Yes, rAm that’s it) trucks have been built in Warren Michigan since 1938. Nothing changes after the brand split.
They say Dodge can focus more on high-performance sports cars that continue to break down instead of building a truck line that can do the same.
Dodge Ram As The Truck Of The Year
Ram trucks have been on a tear. They are no stranger to Motor Trend’s list. It has been a usual suspect on Motor Trend’s Truck Of The Year list’s more than once since 1994:
They have clearly been doing something right. And since the brand split no other truck manufacturer has won more TOTY awards than Ram. Ram has won 5 TOTY titles while only Ford and Chevrolet have one 3 each respectively. Toyota and Honda are no-shows in the past decade.
At face value looks like Dodge is doing a better job than the rest of the automakers. Winning this title is a feat in of itself and any automaker would be happy to win it each year. But digging a little deeper across the industry we see a different view.
Honda discontinued the Ridgeline after it won Truck of The Year in its inaugural model year. The Ford F-150 is the best-selling truck worldwide but doesn’t outperform most other trucks in performance, reliability, nor features. The Toyota Tundra sells less than most yet it year in and year out is the most reliable truck money can buy.
These graphs show a disconnect between reliability and sales in a truck:
These graphs are very telling. Toyota is consistently VERY reliable across most categories while sales stay stagnant and flaccid.
The F-150 fittingly had a bad stretch after the 2007 meltdown and through the bailout years. Its reliability has been fairly consistent (see my description for the Tundra’s sales).
READ MORE: WHAT IS THE AVERAGE LENGTH OF CAR OWNERSHIP?
The Silverado beats out the F-150 in reliability but fails to leverage that into any narrowing of sales gaps. Ford consistently laps the competition in annual sales.
The Dodge Ram 1500 reliability is about as consistent as a four-year-old’s sleep schedule. They seem to have trouble keeping things in order as reports have shown they can be all over the map.
Since the Dodge/Ram brand split and after the little depression it has been nothing but up, up & up for Ram sales even passing the Silverado as 2nd in US sales with 633,694 and 575,603 respectively.
What Do The Graphs Dodge Ram 1500 Reliability Mean?
Absolutely wrong according to Consumer Reports, or;
Not as valued as in the marketplace.
Brand loyalty, nostalgia, marketing, promotions, specific features, performance requirements, engine type, and more can all play a role in how we choose the trucks we drive. Hell, I have only purchased one car in my life from a dealer; the rest of the cars have been bought through someone I already knew.
Whatever the consumer uses to make a decision they are not choosing the reliability of the Dodge Ram 1500.
What Are The Dodge RAM Generations?
As of 2021, there are 5 Dodge RAM generations:
- First Generation 1981 – 1993
- Second Generation 1994 – 2001
- Third Generation 2002 – 2008
- Fourth Generation 2009 – 2018
- Fifth Generation 2019 – Present
Each generation has proved better than its predecessor with the fifth generation making a huge jump as the best and possibly being the best truck in its class offered on the market! With each generation model year winning Motortrend Truck Of The Year. Talk about a perfect start. This is in part thanks to the reliability of Dodge RAM 1500 as well as some key features customers rave about.
RAM trucks have had a long history. From diesel-powered to gas and all the way back again the big red truck has been a mainstay in the auto industry. It has had a storied history filled with as many accolades as any other truck manufacturer. It has shown that it is a reliable machine and will make its owners happy above the market average.
The Best Years For Dodge Ram 1500
The Dodge Ram 1500 is a popular pickup truck that has been around for many years. The Dodge Ram’s reliability varies by year, and it can be difficult to know which one to buy since there are no clear guidelines on how reliable each specific model is.
Some factors you might want to consider when deciding whether or not the Dodge Ram 1500 is right for you include: do you need a four-wheel drive? Do you need an automatic transmission? How much money are you willing to spend? What features do you value most in your vehicle (i.e. power)?
The best years for the Dodge Ram are 2006, 2011, 2020, and 2021.
The Worst Years For Dodge Ram 1500
The Ram has a mercurial history, one year it hits rock bottom and the next it wins truck of the year. Maybe poor ratings gave them the incentive to really improve its product. Whatever happened, some of the best years are tucked right next to some of the big red truck’s worst years.
The worst years for the Dodge Ram are 2001, 2005, 2015, 2019
Main Takeaways – Reliability Of The Dodge Ram 1500
It’s no secret that the Dodge Ram 1500 is one of the most popular trucks on the market. With its high performance, great interior, and affordable price tag, it’s hard to go wrong with this truck. But how reliable are they? After looking at over 30 years worth of data from Consumer Reports, I found out!
The Dodge Ram 1500 has seen a lot of changes in reliability over the years. There are many different factors that can contribute to how reliable your truck will be, so it’s important to do some research before you buy one.
The Dodge Ram 1500 can be a very reliable vehicle. It has been in production for over 30 years and has had few major recalls or safety issues to date, which makes it one of the most dependable trucks on the market today.
With all that said, let’s get into some specifics about how this truck performs with respect to speed. If you are looking for an SUV that can go from 0-60 mph in under 6 seconds without sacrificing reliability or longevity then this might be your perfect pickup!
The Dodge Ram 1500 is an amazing truck. It’s reliable, has tons of power, and has plenty of room for your family or business needs. You can find a new one at just about any dealership in the country. We have all sorts of information on this truck including how it performs by year, what features are available with each trim level, and more!
Interested in the Ford F-150. Check out my write-up on the Ford F-150 Reliability By Year and find out the best and worst years for the best-selling Ford pickup.
Thanks for reading and stay dirty.