2019 Dodge Ram 3500 Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Electrical, fuel system, structure, engine, powertrain and service brakes problems among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

Heavy-duty trucks have a following that demands the best. The 2019 Ram 3500 claims to be “up for the challenge,” but most owners are anything but satisfied. In fact, this Ram truck seems to struggle with the electrical system, engine, powertrain, fuel system, service brakes and structure, making it one of the most complained about models on the market.

Click on other model year to view more problems: 2018

Problems with the Electrical System

A well-running electrical system can make the vehicle what it is. Conversely, a faulty system is going to make the drive unbearable.

Here’s an example from an Edmunds review. “I don’t recommend going with their 12″ screen as it’s still driven by relatively old software, slow and buggy. Another catch – if you order Group 2 option you will have wireless charging for your smartphone, but will still need to connect device with original cable to use Apple Car Play (i.e. Google Maps).”

This isn’t the only problem with the Ram 3500. NHTSA Campaign Number 20V191000 states that the rearview camera can display a lingering image, even after moving. This fault distracts drivers and increases the chance of an accident. What’s worse is that it affects nearly 320,000 vehicles. It might be that more Ram trucks are on the road with this defect than without, proving that the automaker does indeed face a difficult “challenge.”

2019 Dodge Ram 3500 Complaint Summary

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Fuel System, Diesel
Fuel/propulsion System
Electrical System
Power Train
Service Brakes

Problems with the Fuel System

The fuel system installed in a heavy-duty truck must be capable and dependable, none of which the Ram 3500 is.

Another Edmunds user says, “After a few hundred miles – fueling truck was taking almost 40 minutes as nozzle was clicking back every quarter gallon. Dealership, after inspection, stated that ‘fuel line was crossed during manufacturing process’ and still waiting for required parts for warranty replacement.”

It turns out that there is also a fuel-related recall worth mentioning. NHTSA Campaign Number 19V498000 talks about defective fuel lines leaking diesel fuel into the engine compartment. When this occurs near an ignition source, there is a higher chance of a truck fire. While some customers might be wishing that their truck would burst into flames, this is a dangerous situation.

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Problems with the Structure

Heavy-duty trucks are made to do the hard work. But, if the truck isn’t built to handle the work, it can’t get the job done. 

That’s what this Edmunds user talks about. “Ram advertises ~150–200 lbs more in both payload and towing capacity in their marketing materials that actual vehicle was built and delivered (they explained it as those measurements were done for Tradesman trim and not applicable to higher trims like my Laramie). After delivery immediately second issue was realized – I was reinstalling fifth-wheel PullRite sliding hitch from my 2017 Ram 3500 and have found that my brand new 2019 Ram 3500 has distance between fifth-wheel prep sockets 3 mm longer on passenger side than on driver side.”

Again, there is a structure-related recall on this heavy-duty truck. NHTSA Campaign Number 20V207000 discusses how the bed step could fail while the owner is loading cargo. If this occurs while someone is using it, there could be an injury that follows. At this point, it would appear the only “challenge” that Ram is facing is learning how to build a dependable truck.

Problems with the Engine

Of course, the engine is what provides the power to the truck. When the engine doesn’t operate the way it should, the truck has trouble doing anything of importance. 

One NHTSA complaint says, “The contact owns a 2019 Ram 3500. The contact stated while his wife was driving at 55 mph, when she heard an abnormal noise before the vehicle stalled and smoke started to enter the cab through the vents and exiting the hood. The contact stated no warning light was illuminated. The driver was able to park on the side road and opened the hood to see fire exiting the engine. The driver was able to extinguish the fire with a fire extinguisher. The contact stated no fire or police report was filed. The vehicle was not drivable. The vehicle was towed to local dealer where the vehicle was being serviced at the moment.”

Not surprisingly, there is another recall worth mentioning. NHTSA Campaign Number 20V511000 says that more than 32,000 vehicles built with the Cummins 6.7-liter High Output engine might have inadequate warmup protection, which leads to an oil film left on the engine connecting rod bearing, resulting in engine damage, connecting rod failure and a possible puncture to the block itself. If this occurs, the block could leak oil, which could cause a fire if it comes in contact with the hot engine or exhaust. Again, there seems to be a huge “challenge” for the Ram to simply not burst out in flames.

Problems with the Powertrain

Just as critical is the durability and dependability of the powertrain. This system seems to be as disappointing as the rest. 

Another NHTSA review states, “While driving on the highway, the Check Engine Light came on when the transmission would not shift on the last two gears. Truck would go to 2500 to 3000 RPMs until it would shift but felt as if it was on Neutral during the time. As this situation is extremely dangerous because this truck is used to haul a 3-car trailer. The truck has been to [dealer] and they have yet to fix the problem, only saying that there is a recall but once the truck is driven again, the same problem persists. I will be taking the truck to another dealership to see if they can fix the problem.”

Just when it seemed that the Ram 3500 wouldn’t face any more fire-related concerns, another recall sprung forth. NHTSA Campaign Number 20V043000 talks about over 87,000 vehicles that might have a buildup of pressure and heat in the six-speed automatic transmission. This defect could result in a leak where the dipstick tube is located, leaving the occupants at risk for another fire. One would have to assume at this point that the “challenge” faced by Ram designers was how many ways they could find to blow up the heavy-duty pickup.

Problems with the Service Brakes

Finally, a look at the service brakes reveals just as many issues. Once again, problems go back to leaking fluid and defective parts.

One more NHTSA review reveals the following. “Red hydraulic fluid in brake system caused brake failure, which caused me to cause minor damage to a brake line. Dealer has had vehicle for over 2 months, claim vehicle doesn’t qualify for recall that states similar issues as V98 which is for 2019 Dodge Ram 3500S. Also says parts are on restrictions due to recall and cannot repair my vehicle due to this.”

What a runaround this customer received. Furthermore, NHTSA Campaign Number 19V63500 addresses other brake problems. It turns out some trucks have brake calipers that were manufactured with the wrong assembly fluid, leading to the swelling of the caliper rubber seals. When this happens, the brakes could drag and overheat, leading to a decrease in performance and possible accident. Do any of the fluids remain where they are supposed to with this Ram truck? It wouldn’t appear so. At this point, owners should be asking themselves if they are “up for the challenge” to find a new truck brand.

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Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 30 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.

See more posts from Brian Jones
  • Carrie

    We having trouble with our dodge 3500 pickup duly 2021 the exhaust service come on it losses power we have had it in shop 3 time only have had it a month is a knew pickup. We use it for work we are transporting RV around the United States.

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