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Issues with RAM 3500
Surely the name “Death Wobble” is an exaggeration, right? Not for those who have felt it. A shaky suspension is caused by a couple of factors found within the Dodge RAM 3500 (separate branding means its known only as the RAM 3500 currently, by the way), including a solid and inflexible front axle, and the tendency for ball joints to become worn after time.
The result is the feeling that a very big truck is going to shake back and forth until it flips, especially after going over an even slight bump - and most prominently when one front wheel hits that bump before the other, like during a turn. Unbalanced or underinflated tires only make the situation worse.
Drivers who experience the death wobble temporarily feel like they are losing control of the vehicle. Sometimes the best choice is just to come to a complete stop and gather yourself because it is a bit scary!
Some drivers have fixed this by installing a new trackbar in their truck. More recently, and after 2013, the problem isn’t as bad as it used to be thankfully! One of the most glaring issues we learned about within this specific truck is the number of times suspension issues related to bad shaking were reported - it is the leading complaint on CarComplaints!
Infotainment and Radio Issues
As standalone, replaceable computers infotainment and radio problems are not uncommon in modern vehicles. The larger issue here is that if many of the controls that make a RAM 3500 unique, like settings for towing, are locked within the infotainment screen - it has to work.
Multiple users reported issues with the RAM 3500’s screen glitching and not working. A driver trying to change settings for towing and trailering is out of lock when hauling because the screen is the only way to access settings needed just to make towing safe and effective.
Another issue some drivers reported was the unwillingness of RAM to fix the problem for free. When a bad screen leads to potential safety issues and should be under warranty, you would think that the owner wouldn’t be asked over $1,500 to replace the system.
Dead Pedal - Acceleration Issue
This is an odd issue that we haven’t seen before, and it is not a great problem to have with a large vehicle that is often used for towing.
The core of this problem is that the gas pedal may fail to react in time when the pedal is pushed down ¾ of the car to all the way. Considering that this level of pressure and angle is most commonly used when the driver is trying to accelerate uphill, pass, or get out of the way of danger, it's not welcomed.
While taking one to two seconds doesn’t sound bad, the truck has a built in turbo to handle the situation. If you are thinking that some smaller economy vehicles are slow to accelerate as well, you are right, but most owners who report this issue say that they are literally waiting with their foot on the pedal for anything to happen versus just accelerating slowly.
Other RAM drivers have reported a deeper problem. “Dead Pedal” can last for a longer term, and result in no acceleration even when the driver is in drive while not moving. While the problem sounds like a mix of a hardware and software issue, it is not something that RAM appears to have a complete fix for.
Repeat Check Engine Lights
Drivers already dislike when the blazing orange check engine light comes in. While the vehicle is basically asking you to plug in a code reader to see what is wrong, there is a bit of dread and anxiety about the time and cost of fixing the truck engine.
While the issue is most commonly related to the oxygen sensor that acknowledges the right air mixture in the intake - many drivers have also reported bringing their 3500 to the dealer or mechanic and finding nothing wrong. The visit to a dealership or mechanic is followed up with driving a distance again, only to have the check engine light pop on and off.
Oxygen sensors aren’t a big deal or a big fix. The repeated warnings from vehicle computer systems indicate an issue with software and hardware quality.
Note that most problems with a vehicle like the RAM 3500 that are not mechanical are a bit subjective - meaning that they are in the opinion of a reviewer. Anyway, let’s go:
Slow compared to rivals
Car and Driver makes frequent comparisons between vehicles, and says that since 2017, the RAM 3500’s engine and overall weight has made it slower than rivals. This might be a big deal for people who have a need to go a little faster.
Lack of standard safety features
With the RAM 3500, you don’t get a lot of extra safety features for the money. You’ll have to spend $65,000+ to get more serious safety features like collision alerts and adaptive cruise controls. Just to be clear, we are more saying that these are features that are available at a lower price in other vehicles - but are indeed available on the RAM 3500. I also understand that a RAM 3500 buyer tends to be more focused on the engine and hauling capabilities.
Is the RAM 3500 worth it?
The RAM 3500 is uniquely designed to haul a payload in the truck bed or haul a trailer. For that purpose, it is definitely worth it. Most of the problems besides “Death Wobble” and potential acceleration issues aren’t a huge deal. The wobble can also be dealt with if experienced frequently, though you should get your tires and suspensions inspected on a regular basis to help prevent it.
You’ll learn that the truck is still priced pretty well compared to its Chevrolet and Ford rivals, and cheaper than GMC.
For those worried about engines - don’t. The RAM 3500 has a fairly reputable and durable engine, especially with diesel. The problems we discussed have little to do with the engine and the acceleration is probably the result of hardware between the pedal and the motor.
About The Author
Working as a restoration tech on exclusively Mopar offerings of the late 60’s and early 70’s honed the skills to build what I consider the most prestigious make of American cars of that era. The iconic slant six, behemoth 426 Hemi and everything in between shaped my view on the automotive world. I’ve translated those skills towards vehicles that “everyman” has access to enjoy and Mopar influence still plays a significant role.Read More About Tyler Herndon