Dodge Ram 1500 Years to Avoid Buying

Ram 1500 is a top-rated pickup truck in the United States. The pickup truck started its journey in 1981 as “Dodge Ram” and has manufactured many advanced models until now. At present, the Ram 1500’s fifth generation model year is on the market. During this long journey, some Ram 1500 model years have been highly problematic and have received many complaints. That’s why these model years should be avoided.

Here are the Ram 1500 years to avoid:

  • 2019 Ram 1500
  • 2016 Ram 1500
  • 2015 Ram 1500
  • 2014 Ram 1500
  • 2002-2006 Dodge Ram

Note that the above list was made based on the following factors:

  • User’s reliability ratings
  • Annual maintenance costs
  • NHTSA ratings
  • Kelley’s Blue Book owner ratings
  • Cars.com owner ratings
  • Safety ratings
  • Consumer Reports
  • J.D. Power ratings
  • Edmunds owner ratings
  • Consumer Reports on reliability scores, etc.

At the end of the discussion, I have added a chart that shows each Ram 1500 worst model year’s reliability ratings. So, based on the generations, let’s start the discussion about why the above Ram 1500 model years are the worst ones.

Some Ram 1500 model years have major issues, and that’s why they are less reliable. It is important to know about the model years before buying a used Ram 1500. So, if you are thinking about buying a Dodge Ram, make sure you will not buy the following Ram 1500 model years:

5th Generation Worst Year: 2019 Ram 1500

2019 Ram 1500 is listed as the worst year because of a lot of complaints and recalls. This 5th generation’s model year has some common problems, including instrument cluster failure, infotainment system glitches, transmission issues, reduced engine power, broken exhaust manifold bolts, and steering power assist issues. Due to the many issues, Ram has issued around 25 recalls for the 2019 Ram 1500 model years.

The majority of recalls were issued for the following issues:

  • Rearview camera problems
  • Crankshaft position sensor issues
  • Airbags issues
  • High-pressure fuel pump problems
  • Cruise control malfunctions
  • Occupant Restraint Controller or ORC malfunctions
  • Driveshaft failures
  • Power steering assist reduced
  • Problems with windshield wipers
  • Cracked EGR coolers
  • Brake pedal problems
  • Tailgate issues

According to NHTSA (external link: https://www.nhtsa.gov/vehicle/2019/RAM/1500/PU%25252FEC/4WD), 2019 Ram 1500 received 25 recalls and around 938 complaints for these problems. That will reduce Ram’s credibility and reliability in 2019 model year. Therefore, the 2019 Ram 1500 should be avoided at any cost.

Reliability ratings for 2019 Ram 1500:

  • J.D. Power: 69 out of 100 scores
  • Edmunds: 3.4 out of 5 stars
  • RepairPal: 3.5 out of 5 stars

4th Generation Worst Years: 2014, 2015, 2016 Ram 1500

In Ram’s 4th generation, the years 2014, 2015, and 2016 should be avoided. These model years were the most problematic, and more than a thousand complaints were received on NHTSA. The most common problems with these model years are major engine issues, powertrain problems, and electrical system errors.

According to NHTSA, reduced power steering assist, electrical malfunctions, broken exhaust manifolds, exhaust manifold bolts, fuel tank strap issues, and faulty sensors are the most common issues in these model years.

The 2014 Ram 1500 received over 17 recalls and 1318 complaints (Based on NHTSA report). There are four complaints for this model year that are still under investigation. The 2014 Ram 1500 is commonly affected by coolant leaks, transmission problems, airbag sensor issues, and a few engine problems.

Reliability ratings for 2014 Ram 1500:

  • J.D. Power: 3 out of 5 stars
  • Edmunds: 3.5 out of 5 stars
  • RepairPal: 3.5 out of 5 stars

On the other hand, the 2015 Ram 1500 prone to air suspension failure, power steering loss problems, rear tailgate latches, and coolant leak issues. Dodge issued 16 recalls because of multiple coolant leaking and airbag malfunction issues in the 2015 Ram 1500.

Reliability ratings for 2015 Ram 1500:

  • RepairPal: 3.5 out of 5 stars
  • J.D. Power: 81 out of 100 scores
  • Edmunds: 3.7 out of 5 stars

The 2016 Ram 1500 has powertrain, fuel pump, electrical, and transmission problems. This model year has had 16 recalls, where 4 recalls issued for powertrain problems.

The reliability ratings for 2016 Ram 1500’s are:

  • J.D. Power: 80 out of 100
  • RepairPal: 3.5 out of 5 stars
  • Edmunds: 3.5 out of 5 stars

However, Dodge issued most of the recalls for 2014-2016 Ram 1500 model years for the following common problems:

  • Instrument cluster malfunctions
  • Cruise Control malfunctions
  • Cracked EGR cooler (3.0-liter EcoDiesel engines)
  • Rear shock absorber issues
  • High-pressure fuel pump failures
  • Tailgate problems

3rd Generation Worst Years: 2002-2006 Dodge Ram

The Ram’s most problematic generation is the 3rd generation. Most of the model years in this generation are put on the avoid list due to a lot of complaints and recalls by NHTSA. The 2004 and 2005 model years are much more problematic in this generation. The 2004-2005 Ram 1500 model years have exhaust problems, unusual noises, coolant leaks, and ECM malfunction issues.

Reliability ratings for 2004 and 2005 Dodge Ram trucks are:

  • RepairPal: 3.5 out of 5 stars
  • Cars.com: 3.5 out of 5 stars
  • Edmunds: 4.3 out of 5 stars

On the other hand, the 2002 and 2003 Ram 1500 have transmission problems. Most of the time, these model years (2002 and 2003 Ram 1500) transmission need to be replaced, which costs thousands of dollars. Another problem with these years is engine failure by building up sludge in the engine compartment.

Some owners also report about water leaks. The faulty rear window seals cause water leaks in the 2002 and 2003 Ram trucks. The 2002 Dodge Ram has had 12 recalls and around 940 user complaints.

In contrast, the 2003 Dodge Ram has had 12 recalls and 1351 user complaints (4 of which are under investigation). However, these two model years received 4- out of 5-star safety ratings by NHTSA.

Reliability ratings for 2002-2003 Dodge Ram trucks:

  • Emunds: 4.3 out of 5 stars
  • RepairPal: 3.5 out of 5 stars

The 2006 Dodge Ram is also a problematic model year for the 3rd generation Ram. This model year has 16 recalls and 812 complaints (NHTSA reports- 2006 Dodge Ram 1500 4DR RWD/AWD).

Airbag issues and exterior lighting problems are the major issues with the 2006 Dodge Ram trucks. This model year received a 4.5- out of 5-star overall safety rating.

Most of the recalls for 2002-2006 Dodge Ram are issued for the following issues:

  • ABS module corrosion
  • Air intake issues
  • Electrical malfunctions
  • Airbag malfunctions
  • Vehicle assembly issues

2nd Generation Ram’s Worst Years: 1995, 1996, 1999, 2000, 2001

Most of the 2nd generation Ram model years are problematic, except 1994, 1997, and 1998. The second-generation Ram is popular among some buyers because of its powerful Cummins 6-cylinder engine and low price.

However, it is challenging to find a second-generation Ram, especially the best years (1994, 1997, and 1998), in good condition today. These model years are too old and have already traveled hundreds of miles.

Despite that, if you find a second-generation Dodge Ram that belongs to the best year with the lowest price, you should consider purchasing it.

Dodge Ram 1500 Reliability [Complete Chart]

Some Ram 1500 model years are highly reliable, while some are problematic. The number of recalls and reported complaints impacts a vehicle’s reliability. Therefore, I give priority to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports for listing the worst years. From the table data, you can easily understand why the above-mentioned Ram 1500 model years should be avoided.

The chart given below shows you the Ram 1500’s worst model year reliability rating given by NHTSA and J.D. Power:

Rated by YearsNHTSA (Recalls Numbers)NHTSA (Complaints Numbers)J.D. Power Ratings (Out of 100)Carcomplaints (Complaints Numbers)
20192593877150
201616104676140
201518108679149
201417131381378
20061681276292
2005121191Not rated148
2004141046162
2003121351224
200212940221
2001161466657
200013686231

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