2018 Dodge Ram 3500 Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Brake, electrical, engine, powertrain and steering issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

By Brian Jones | Updated on

By Brian Jones | Updated on

When it comes to owning a heavy-duty pickup, few can compare to the capability of the 2018 Ram 3500. Even the automaker wants owners of newer models to “have the nicest truck on the block,” but this version falls short. It suffers from a defective electrical system, engine, powertrain, steering and service brakes.

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Problems with the Electrical System

From the battery to the radio, the electrical system is responsible for it all. When this system fails, owners experience minor inconveniences to major catastrophes, all of which are seen with the Ram 3500.

One NHTSA complaint states, “The contact owns a 2018 Ram 3500. While driving approximately 35 mph and towing a fifth wheel trailer, the brake pedal was depressed; however, it was difficult to slow down the vehicle. The vehicle was taken to [dealer] to be diagnosed. The contact was informed that the vehicle operated as intended. The contact requested that the mechanic perform a voltage test on the integrated trailer brake controller. The voltage read 8.3 volts instead of 12.6 volts, which was needed to activate the integrated trailer brake controller. The contact stated that an aftermarket integrated trailer brake control was installed and the braking system performed as intended. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was contacted. The approximate failure mileage was 5,500.”

It’s not only the electrical system to the brake controller causing life-threatening emergencies, but also NHTSA Campaign Number 18V332000 that states the cruise control might not deactivate on nearly five million vehicles. The issue stems from a short circuit in the wiring that prevents owners from disabling the cruise control by pressing the brake pedal or turning off the system. It can even cause some trucks to accelerate further in response. With this in mind, it doesn’t matter how nice the truck is if it gets totaled in a collision.

Problems with the Engine

To tow and haul maximum amounts of cargo, the engine needs to be powerful and reliable. Unfortunately, owners don’t feel that the latter is a good term to describe the Ram 3500 engine.

Here’s another NHTSA complaint. “The contact owns a 2018 Ram 3500. The contact stated that the Check Engine indicator flashed and remained illuminated. The vehicle was taken to [dealer] and [another dealer] three times each, but neither could determine the cause of the failure. The vehicle owner inquired about a buyback option since there was no remedy. The vehicle was not repaired and remained at the [dealer] for over three months; the approximate failure mileage was 86,000.”

With nearly 140 manufacturer communications, there are no engine-related bulletins worth discussing. It’s likely that the automaker is hiding the majority of problems since they are so busy handling the recalls and NHTSA investigations currently plaguing the company. Having the “nicest truck on the block” does nothing to help get the job done.

Problems with the Transmission

The powertrain is just as important as the engine and needs to be in tip-top shape to keep the truck running correctly.

Again, there are numerous NHTSA complaints about this component, including this one. “Transmission has a whining sound when shifting through the first 3 gears, dealer said it was normal.”

While the whining is annoying in itself, there are bigger problems occurring for owners. NHTSA Campaign Number 18V100000 talks about how the transmission can take itself out of Park, even if the key isn’t in the ignition and the brake pedal isn’t depressed. Apparently, the Ram 3500 is so excited about how nice it is, that it wants to show itself off to the neighborhood by rolling out of the driveway.

Problems with the Steering

If the Ram 3500 is known for anything, it’s probably the steering issues that are causing owners to switch loyalty.

Here is one statement left on the NHTSA website. “Welded draglink rendering the front suspension not able to be aligned. This was the approved recall process from FCA. This is not an acceptable response to the issue, just a bandaid to the underlying issue. The recall was approved by FCA and NHTSA. Approved repairs were performed by [dealer].”

The original recall affected nearly 800,000 vehicles that suffered from steering loss due to the linkage separation. As a repair, the dealers welded the nut, which caused trouble when owners needed an alignment. Because of all the complications, the NHTSA now has an open investigation into the problem to try and find a resolution, but it’s too late. Loyal Ram owners have decided to get a new truck on the block.

Problems with the Brakes

When it comes to stopping, having functioning service brakes is essential to running a heavy-duty truck, but once again, this is another system that has failed miserably.

Read this NHTSA review. “The contact owns a 2018 Ram 3500. While driving approximately 35 mph, the vehicle accelerated when the brake pedal was depressed. In addition, the Hill Assist Warning Indicator illuminated. The vehicle was taken to [dealer] where it was diagnosed that there was an open circuit in the brake lamp switch that needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired, but the failure recurred. The manufacturer was not notified. The failure mileage was 5,000.”

It shouldn’t come as any surprise that the FCA doesn’t want to discuss any further issues with this truck. After all, there has been enough of a spotlight shined on this model, to begin with. That’s why there are no communications related to the service brakes that are worth discussing. Instead, the automaker wants owners to believe that the Ram 3500 is still the best truck on the block, even though all the other trucks are talking about it behind its back.

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Think you have a lemon? Sit back and let the experts work out your lemon case at no cost to you. The law makes Dodge pay legal fees. You may be able to get your lemon out of your life. Every year, auto manufacturers buy back, replace or pay cash settlements to thousands of ‘lemon’ owners like you.

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Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 20 years working as an ASE Certified Master Tech and Parts Specialist at multiple dealerships. Brian has become an authority in the industry, traveling across the country to consult for car dealerships and contributing his expertise as a writer for several major automotive publications. In his spare time, Brian enjoys working on pickup trucks, muscle cars, Jeeps and anything related to motorsports.

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  • Ima J

    Bought 2021 Ram 2500 Tradesman. Had 3 miles on it when we test drove it. Have significant mountains to go over coming home from dealer. Wasn’t shifting right. Decided to see if things got better, just needs to work out some bugs. Purchased August 26, 2021. Blew transmission November 6, 2021 with 2,611 miles on it. Then no parts to fix it. 6-9 months expected for it to be fixed. Had to have vehicle. Traded off 2021 for 2018 Ram 3500 long bed. Now we read all the stuff on this truck. Sure in a year or two we will be trading this Ram off for a different car maker.

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