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Josh Rosenberg By Josh Rosenberg
Updated Feb. 4, 2024



Older Dodge Ram Review, 2002 - 2018, Reliability, Possible Maintenance Problems, Overall Pros And Cons

Related: How To Get The Lowest Price On A "Brand New" Ram

In today's very high-priced used car market, many shoppers are now looking for "older" models that have aged well as a way to save significant dollars.

2018 Ram 1500

This really then puts the spotlight on a model's track record for reliability and dependability. And fortunately for the Ram, it's proven to be a fairly reliable vehicle overall. That said, it can have some issues, as all vehicles can.

The numbers say that a properly cared for Dodge Ram, including timely repairs when needed and friendly driving conditions and habits, can last 200,000 - 300,000 miles. The key, of course, is "proper care".

And there can be issues in some Rams, so if you're in the market for an older one, it's best to know what they are so that they can be checked before buying.

So, here ...

- We'll do an overview of the third and fourth generation Rams, produced from 2002 - 2018.

- We'll also list the possible mechanical issues that have been reported by owners of these older Rams so they can be checked before buying one today.

- And then we'll summarize the overall pros and cons of an older Dodge Ram worth consideration by potential buyers.


Fourth Generation Dodge Ram (2009 - 2018)

2009 Dodge Ram Laramie Crew Cab

This generation Ram was offered initially in ST, SLT and Laramie trims, each with progressively more features. There were also three different cabs, three different bed lengths and either two-wheel or four-wheel-drive models.

And while the "Mega Cab" had been eliminated, this run's Crew Cab still had nearly 40 inches of rear legroom.

The three available engines include a 210-horsepower 3.7-liter V6, a 310-horsepower 4.7-liter V8 and the 390-horsepower 5.7-liter V8 Hemi. Particularly significant was the addition of a new coil-spring rear suspension that provided improved ride quality over rough roads.

Highlights of the ST's (available in regular and extended cabs) standard features include 17-inch steel wheels, air-conditioning, vinyl upholstery, vinyl floor covering, a folding rear bench seat in the extended cab, and a 6-speaker audio system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack.

However, some used models can be found with options such as satellite radio, cruise control, chrome-clad steel wheels and a bedliner.

The SLT, which came in all cab styles, added full power accessories, cloth upholstery, keyless entry, cruise control, satellite radio, a rear power-sliding window, 17-inch alloy wheels, floor carpeting, and a trip computer.

The upscale Laramie model, which came in extended and crew cab styles, came standard with a leather interior with wood-grain trim, 20-inch chrome-clad wheels, a 10-way power driver seat with memory settings, a 6-way power passenger seat, Bluetooth, a heated steering wheel, power-folding exterior mirrors, remote engine start, power-adjustable pedals, additional exterior chrome trim accents, and a surround-sound stereo system.

Again, the cabin of this version was spacious and well-equipped. And these used models can be found with options such as rear-seat video, a 10-speaker surround-sound audio system, Bluetooth, lined wells below the rear floor mats, a RamBox, a cargo bed storage compartment, navigation, and a rear back-up camera.

In 2011, Chrysler rebranded this iconic pickup to simply "Ram".

2012 Ram 1500

This version, is much like the previous and offered the same trim levels. Again, the ST is fairly basic, but still offers air-conditioning and a full array of safety features including side curtain airbags, antilock brakes and stability control.

The SLT and Laramie models are also similarly equipped to their predecessors and the engine choices remain the same. Option highlights include navigation, "RamBox" storage containers (mounted on the sides of the bed), a rear entertainment system, and a TRX off-road package.

The previous Sport Package also became its own "Sport" trim and featured the larger V8 engine, dual exhaust, 20-inch chrome wheels, a body-colored grille, foglamps, auto-dimming rear- and sideview mirrors, Bluetooth, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, a touchscreen display, special bucket seats, a unique console, an upgraded audio system, a 10-way power driver seat and a split-folding rear seat with under-seat storage in the crew cab.

There was also a refresh in 2013 which included the new Pentastar V6, a new eight-speed automatic transmission, and active grille shutters, along with some minor looks and feature changes.


2009 - 2018 Dodge Ram Possible Mechanical Problems

While generally considered reliable, like any vehicle, some had reported issues which should therefore be included in an inspection prior to purchase:

Transmission Issues: Some owners reported problems with the automatic transmissions, including issues like rough shifting, slipping, or transmission failure.

Exhaust Manifold Issues: Cracks or leaks in the exhaust manifold were reported in some fourth-gen Rams, leading to increased noise and potential reductions in engine efficiency.

Front Suspension and Steering Components: Some owners reported problems with front suspension and steering components, such as ball joints and tie rod ends.

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Hemi Engine Tick: Certain models equipped with the HEMI V8 engine had reports of a ticking or tapping noise. While not necessarily indicative of a major problem, it has been a concern for some owners.

Air Suspension Issues: Rams equipped with the optional air suspension system may experience problems with air leaks, leading to inconsistencies in ride height and potential suspension malfunctions.

Electronic Throttle Control Issues: Some owners reported issues related to the electronic throttle control system, leading to problems with acceleration or responsiveness.

HVAC System Problems: There were some reports of issues with the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, including problems with blower motors and temperature control.

Uconnect System Issues: Some owners experienced problems with the Uconnect infotainment system, including glitches, freezes, or malfunctions. Software updates are often released to address such issues.

Rust Issues: In regions with harsh weather conditions and road salt usage, some owners reported rust problems on the undercarriage and body panels.

Third Generation Dodge Ram (2002 - 2008)

Dodge Ram Laramie Quad Cab (2006)

This model lineup included the basic Ram ST, the overall most popular SLT and the upscale Laramie (replaced the SLT Plus in 2003). Club and Quad Cabs were available and the larger Mega Cab was introduced in 2006.

Two of the three available engines were new, including a 3.7-liter V6 that was good for 215 horsepower and was used on the 2WD regular cab only, as well as a 4.7-liter V8 that produced 235 horsepower.

There was also an older 5.9-liter 245 horsepower V8 that was replaced by the 345 horsepower 5.7-liter V8 Hemi in 2004. In addition, the 2007 model year saw a boost in power for the 4.7 V8 to 310 horsepower.

Transmissions were also consistently updated during this time. Five-speed manuals were replaced by six-speeds, while four-speed automatics were upped to five-speeds.

In terms of standard features, the Ram ST was sparsely equipped and featured 17-inch steel wheels, air-conditioning, a 40/20/40 front bench seat, vinyl upholstery, a tilt steering wheel, manual windows and a 4-speaker CD stereo.

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Moving up to the SLT added full power accessories, cruise control, keyless entry, alloy wheels and cloth seating.

The top-of-the-line Laramie went on to add leather upholstery, a power driver seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, steering wheel-mounted audio controls and a 6-disc CD changer.

Many optional features were available as well depending on the year and the model. These older used Ram pickups can be found with upgraded sound systems, various wheel and tire packages, navigation, Bluetooth, keyless remote start, a rear DVD entertainment system, Bluetooth, and an off-road package.


2002 - 2008 Dodge Ram Possible Mechanical Problems

Again, while mostly fairly reliable, these vehicles are older and with typically higher miles and have had their share of some mechanical issues reported by owners.

Transmission Issues: Some owners reported problems with the automatic transmissions, including issues with shifting, slipping, or failure.

Front Suspension and Steering Components: There were reports of problems with front suspension components, such as ball joints and tie rod ends, leading to issues like uneven tire wear and handling problems.

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Axle Seal Leaks: Rear axle seals were known to develop leaks in some trucks, leading to oil leaks and potential damage to the differential.

Exhaust Manifold Issues: Cracks or leaks in the exhaust manifold were reported by some owners. This could lead to increased noise and reduced engine efficiency.

HVAC System Problems: Some Rams experienced issues with the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, including problems with blower motors and temperature control.

Ball Joint Wear: Premature wear of the front ball joints was reported in some models, leading to potential safety concerns.

Rust Issues: In regions with harsh winter conditions and heavy road salt usage, some owners reported rust problems on the undercarriage and body panels.

Electrical Problems: Owners reported various electrical issues, including problems with the dashboard instruments, lighting, and power accessories. These issues could be related to wiring or component failures.

It's important to emphasize that not all third generation Dodge Rams experienced these problems, and many owners had positive experiences with their vehicles.


Overall Older Dodge Ram Pros And Cons

Older Ram Pros

Lower Purchase Price: Obviously, older models typically come with a lower initial purchase price, leading to upfront savings. However, this has to be weighed against the increased risk of higher repair costs going forward.

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Reduced Depreciation: Older vehicles have already experienced the majority of their depreciation, there won't be the steep decline in value that new vehicles often undergo in their first few years.

Simpler Technology: Older Rams may have simpler technology, which can be an advantage if you prefer a more straightforward and easier-to-maintain vehicle. This can also mean potentially lower repair costs.

Easier to Work on: Older vehicles often have simpler mechanical systems, making them easier for DIY maintenance or repairs. This can save money on labor costs if the buyer is capable of handling some tasks.

Proven Reliability: If a specific model has shown durability and reliability, it may continue to serve well even as it ages, especially with proper maintenance.

Powerful Engines: The Ram offers a variety of powerful engine options, including the HEMI V8, providing strong performance and towing capabilities.

Comfortable Interior: Compared to its predecessors, these Rams have an improved and more comfortable interior, with better materials and upgraded features.

Towing Capacity: The Ram is known for its impressive towing capacity, making it suitable for hauling trailers, boats, or other heavy loads.

Off-Road Capabilities: Certain trims and models, particularly those equipped with the Off-Road package, have good off-road capabilities.

Distinctive Styling: The Ram's exterior design sets it apart from other trucks with its bold and distinctive look.

Updated Styling: The fourth-gen Ram featured a more modern and refined exterior design compared to the third generation, with a sleeker and aerodynamic appearance.

Improved Interior: The 4th generation interior also received significant upgrades, including better materials, enhanced comfort, and improved technology features. Higher trim levels, in particular, offered a more luxurious cabin.

Ride Quality: The fourth-gen updated suspension system and improvements in chassis design contributed to a smoother and more comfortable ride.


Older Ram Cons

Higher Mileage: Older vehicles are likely to have higher mileage, which can affect their overall condition and longevity.

Increased Maintenance Costs: While an older vehicle might have a lower purchase price, it could come with higher maintenance costs if certain components need replacement or if there are unforeseen issues.

Outdated Safety Features: Older Rams might lack some of the advanced safety features found in newer models, potentially compromising occupant safety in certain situations.

Limited Technology: Older models may lack modern conveniences and entertainment features that have become standard in more recent vehicles.

Emissions Compliance: Depending on your location, older vehicles may not comply with current emissions standards, which could be a consideration for both environmental and regulatory reasons.

Availability of Parts: Depending on the model year and specific components, finding replacement parts for an older Ram could become challenging, potentially leading to longer downtimes during repairs.

Fuel Efficiency: Larger engines and the overall size of the truck contributed to lower fuel efficiency. Also, older engines may not be as fuel-efficient as newer ones, which could result in higher fuel costs over time.

Ride Quality: Some users found the ride quality to be stiffer compared to competitors, especially when the truck bed was empty.

Interior Quality: While the interior was improved, it still faced criticism for not being as refined or luxurious as some competing trucks.

Size: The increased size of the fourth-gen Ram might make it less maneuverable in tight spaces, and parking can be challenging in urban areas.


Things To Do When Considering An "Older" Dodge Ram

Locate Lower Mileage Vehicles: They are certainly out there to be found with careful and patient shopping. Be willing to drive a distance if you have to.

Vehicle History and Maintenance: Ask for the vehicle history report (CarFax or AutoCheck) as well as documented maintenance and repair records. If not provided by the Dealer or private seller, it's usually best to move on.

Pre-Purchase Inspection: Have the vehicle independently inspected before making a final decision. This usually will cost in the $150-$200 range but is well worth it given the potentially thousands in savings over the long term.

And My #1 Price Tip: It's important to get dealers to compete for your business by using auto sites such as Edmunds.com and CarsDirect.com (both, actually), whether looking for a new or used car. Competition among dealers for your business is what gets you a lower price, and it's very easy.

And quickly, while we're at it, my #2 Tip is to always know the up-to-date trade-in value of your current car to insure you get a fair price. You can get a quick and surprisingly accurate one at Edmund's Trade-In Quotes.

It's free and just takes a couple of minutes. I think what helps its accuracy is the inputs will include either your plate# or VIN# followed by many simple, but specific, yes/no questions. It really focuses in on the detail of the specific vehicle.


Lastly, Suggestions For Getting A Low Ram Price

First of all, here's a Lowest Price Used Car Buying Guide that details a very effective method.

Here's another method that identifies Price-Distressed Cars Right On Dealer Lots. These are vehicles they are so desperate to unload they would welcome your wholesale offer.

In addition, you can also try the Public Car Auctions in your own geographic area. This article reviews what to expect at open-to-the-public car auctions and how to locate them.

And for those of you who might be interested in a "brand new" Ram if the price was really good, here's info on The Best Way To Buy A New Car. This works just phenomenally well.


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