Brake, electrical, suspension, powertrain and steering issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners
Purchasing a full-size truck is a big deal for most consumers. It’s vital to get the right balance between durability, capability and function. That’s why most people just assume that anything receiving the Motor Trend Truck of the Year Award must be a winner. Sadly, that’s not the case with the 2019 Dodge Ram 1500. It has more complaints than can be counted, between the suspension, electrical system, powertrain, steering, structure and brakes.
Click on other model year to view more problems: 2020 2021 2022
Most Common Problems with the 2019 RAM 1500
There are a huge number of complaints lodged by 2019 RAM 1500 owners with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) – 554 in all. Those with the highest volumes are filed under Electrical System, Steering, and Unknown or Other, a category that attracts a wide range of different complaints. These include reports of water leaking into the cabin of the truck, which is also a common complaint filed under Structure.
Other top complaint topics include brakes, powertrain, structure, and suspension issues. Not unexpectedly, there have been 23 recalls that involve multiple components.
Additionally, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), which operates as Stellantis North America and owns the RAM and Dodge brands, has filed 546 manufacturer communications, including technical service bulletins (TSB) with the NHTSA. They must, by law, provide copies of all this documentation to the NHTSA.
We have highlighted typical problems that relate to all the problematic component categories. We have also referred to recalls and TSBs where relevant.
2019 Dodge Ram 1500 Complaint Summary
|Complaint Category||Number of Complaints|
|Unknown Or Other|
Problems with the Structure of the 2019 RAM 1500
Most of the complaints about the structure of the 2019 RAM 1500 are due to water leaking into the cabin of the truck. Most commonly, owners report that the rear glass seal fails resulting in all kinds of damage and multiple concerns. For example:
- It creates a musty smell
- It allows mold to develop creating a risk to human health
- Airbag sensors are affected by the infiltration of water
- There are potential electrical hazards associated with water leaking in
- Seatbelts randomly locking up because of water damage
While the problem is major, widespread, and has been an issue for years, the FCA (Stellantis) warranty generally doesn’t cover repairs and replacement parts.
As owners say in their complaints:
- “It is a known issue as Ram has updated the part to correct the problem, but refuses to replace due to (the) vehicle being 2 mos out of warranty and only 15k miles.”
- “It appears this has been happening to several ram 1500 from years 2019-2022 this should not be happening on a like-new, 2-year-old, well taken care of vehicle.”
- “My truck is out of warranty, and I understand that there isn’t much (that) FCA will do. I just hope that pressure is put on them to improve and develop a better design to prevent this issue. I would like to see FCA extend an olive branch, so to speak, to customers who have this issue, by either replacing the part or covering a portion of the repair cost.”
There have been at least 13 manufacturer communications about water leaks. One issued on April 22, 2021 acknowledges “water leaks at sliding backlite.” Dodge/RAM dealerships are advised to inspect and replace the rear sliding backlite if it is leaking. It states: “The customer may comment on the following: Water leaks from the cab back, evident on rear seats, carpet, and potentially roof.”
Others indicate other places where water leaks through into the cab, including the third brake light and a pillar onto the vehicle floor. A document issued on March 18, 2020 deals with testing the sunroof of the RAM for leaks and replacing the power sunroof glass if necessary. “The customer may describe a water leak from A-pillar grab handle or headliner microphone.”
RAM 1500 Water Leaks Complaints to the NHTSA
Here are some more detailed complaints about leaks.
“Water is leaking into the cab of the truck from the back window. Took the vehicle to Dodge and they stated it was an issue with the window and seal and it shouldn’t have failed like this. Declined warranty because it isn’t covered past 12k miles. Customer service via phone call on 5-17-21 stated windows are similar to brakes and windshield wipers as they wear out and that makes it not a manufacturer’s issue. The water damage is severe and causes a moldy smell and could comprise the live wires in the third brake light. There were no warnings and this isn’t anything caused by the user.”
Another owner reports that the rear window structure frame cracks prematurely causing structural damage due to water leaking through into the cab of the truck. “This defective backlite by RAM 1500 has been leaking causing the rear window visibility to be affected by fogging up too easily and water dripping through the windows frame on to the inside of the window, also the vehicle is equipped with a battery pack behind the rear seat and if left to get wet will cause failures and damage to vehicle electrical system.”
An owner wanting to file a claim for a defective rear window states: “This is a known issue that FCA has refused to acknowledge or resolve.” He goes on to say that “this may be due to a faulty seal when manufactured. My fear is that this will cause mold to develop behind as well as on my rear seats causing potential harm to not only my vehicle but myself and family. I also do not want potential damage to important electrical components that are located behind and under the rear seat.”
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Problems with the Suspension
The suspension is a vital system that ensures the drive is comfortable and smooth. When one aspect of the system doesn’t work the way it should, it can make any excursion miserable. That’s precisely what RAM 1500 owners find.
Read this review left on the NHTSA website. “While driving sometimes there is a noise underneath by the steering suspension area. Feeling like if something is loose. Most notable when hitting a hole, ditch or uneven road as the wheel turns. Took vehicle to dealer even though they hear it also, all vehicles make the same noise.”
What’s implied here is that even though the dealer hears they noise, they claim it happens on all the trucks. What this dealer failed to share with the customer is that there is a service bulletin dealing with this problem. In Manufacturer Communication Number 02-002-19, the noise from the front sway bar link is talked about. The technicians are even told to tighten the sway bar link nuts better. This shows that the noise isn’t something to be expected, especially from a new full-size truck that wins awards. While we know that the ram (animal) makes some strange noises, no one wants to hear them from a truck, even if they share the same name.
Problems with the Electrical System
What happens when an electrical system on a vehicle begins to malfunction? It can show itself in many ways, from a non-starting engine to trouble using the interior accessories. Any one of these problems becomes more than just an inconvenience.
Unfortunately, this is exactly what Ram owners face. Just read this Edmunds review, “Since buying this truck the same day out the dealership my left fog light would flicker in and off immediately took it back the next day got it fixed, a wiring issue, next issue about a month owning the truck it won’t start one Sunday morning no lights come on my key fob don’t work either tried jump start and nothing so I stopped messing with it and then about 4 hrs later I try again and everything comes on like nothing happened to it, I take it back to the dealer again and they just say it was an electrical issue and they updated the system, and then exactly 1 month later on a 2/4/19 it won’t start again trying to go to work and this truck won’t turn on for nothing I have to call mopar care to get it towed to the dealership they look at it and get it to run only by smacking the power distribution component but once you turn it off it won’t start again so this part will take 3-4 days to come In and the dealership doesn’t have any loaners and I would have to buy a rental and then Chrysler would reimburse me back but on 35 dollars a day when a small little gas saver car is the cheapest at 55 dollars a day.”
While this review continues to go on, it’s easy to get the point. Ram isn’t afraid to share electrical problems with everyone. In fact, there are already three electrical system recalls owners should know about. The first talks about an instrument cluster failure that doesn’t keep the driver informed. In the second recall, the automaker acknowledges that the auxiliary battery terminals might overheat. Finally, in a third recall, it’s evident that the cruise control might fail to cancel and cause an accident. Bottom line – there’s nothing right with the electrical system in a 2019 Ram 1500. They might as well rip out all of the wires and components and start over.
Problems with the Transmission
Okay, maybe the powertrain is durable and reliable? That would be a reason this truck might have won so many awards. Nope, that’s not the case, yet again.
In fact, this driver wrote about a big problem on Edmunds. “Drove this truck for exactly 5 days. Transmission completely went out. Dealer told me it was a fluid leak. Drove at 2 miles after picking it back up from service and the whole thing went again. Wouldn’t come out of first gear. 212 miles on the truck total. Now I’m told transmissions are on back order and I have no date when I will get the truck back.”
And yet once again, there are two more powertrain related recalls. It appears that’s one thing this truck is good at – receiving recalls. The first one talks about how the driveshaft could fracture and separate. It’s labeled with NHTSA Campaign Number 19V324000. In the next recall, with NHTSA Campaign Number 18V556000, the automaker talks about the rear axle failing and locking up the wheels. What truck did Motor Trend drive when they awarded this as the best? Was there a special model made just for them, because the current owners would love to have that one instead of all these issues.
Problems with the Steering
Imagine driving down the highway and having the steering wheel lock while making a turn. That would be a scary situation, yet it happens to Ram owners across the country.
Here’s what one of them had to say on Edmunds. “The steering wheel locks when you turn left, please google it in RAM forum, Fiat/RAM refuse to knowledge it, maybe they waiting for few accidents/ death before issue a recall. (like the Boeing 737 max).”
Again, we see two steering-related safety recalls on these trucks. The first labeled with NHTSA Campaign Number 19V020000 talks about how consumers lose power steering ability and have to put forth extra effort to steer the vehicle. What’s even scarier is NHTSA Campaign Number 19V201000 which addresses how drivers might end up with a steering wheel that detaches from the column. This is no joke; it’s like a real-life cartoon playing out in Ram truck cabs everywhere.
Problems with the Brakes
When someone steps on the brakes of a full-size truck, it’s supposed to stop. That’s not the case in this award-winner.
One customer wrote on the NHTSA website, “Engine was started on the vehicle. Vehicle was put into gear with the brake pressed firmly down. The vehicle started moving even while brake was pressed very firmly in. Brake pedal was engaged as far as it could be, but the truck continued to pick up speed until it collided into another parked vehicle. The brakes were not working at all. It caused a crash which caused damage to both vehicles, mine being a bent up bumper on a two-week old truck.”
So far, it’s been addressed that the steering wheel on these trucks can come detached and it’s also documented that the driveshaft might separate. With the braking system, we see something very familiar. In another recall, labeled with NHTSA Campaign Number 19V067000, we see that the brake pedal might separate from the assembly. This stops owners from having braking power and leads to a crash. Maybe all the parts are attempting to get off of this truck because they recognize how dangerous it is. They are all jumping ship and so are loyal owners.
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