2021 Dodge RAM 1500 Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

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

When the time comes to get a new full-size truck, many enthusiasts gravitate toward the 2021 Dodge Ram 1500 for its amazingly good looks and superior powertrain options. In fact, the manufacturer claims this truck was “designed for serious performance.” However, the owners have found it was meant to sit at the service department because of the faulty electrical system, terrible engine, malfunctioning fuel system, poorly-built structure and dangerous service brakes.

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Problems with the Electrical System

A well-functioning electrical system can make any ride more enjoyable. With that in mind, the opposite is true when there are malfunctions, as found with this 2021 Dodge Ram truck.

One NHTSA complaint says, “I was turning right, going less than 5 MPH when the truck stopped abruptly in the middle of the lane. A message came on the dash telling me to switch the shifter to park. The emergency brake was engaged automatically. I had only applied minimal accelerator and didn’t have my foot on the brake. After a few seconds, I was able to disengage the parking brake and continue on my way. This was very dangerous as there were people behind me that may not have noticed my abrupt stop after turning. This puts the safety of myself and my children at risk.”

There’s also an electrical system-related recall, NHTSA Campaign Number 21V438000. It appears that the rearview camera image might not display properly, thereby increasing the chances of an accident. Sadly, the 2021 Dodge Ram truck doesn’t need anything else helping it to collide with objects because there are already so many other faults that put people at risk. It’s better with a tagline that says something like “designed for serious headaches.”

Problems with the Engine

To be considered a powerful and capable pickup, there must be a reliable engine under the hood. With either the gas or diesel power options, there have been many complaints, causing people to trust the integrity of the Ram brand.

One Edmunds customer wrote, “Engine stalls when pulling into traffic. Been at the dealer for almost 2 weeks and they can’t duplicate it so therefore in their eyes it didn’t happen. Resolution – put a customer back in an unsafe truck that stalls without any hesitation for safety concerns. They’ve called me to pick up my truck saying nothing they can do and they don’t care they are putting their customers in a truck that could crash. I’ve seen on a forum in the past month 4-5 others with the same issue. Ram corporate and customer care backs this decision too to return me into a truck that stalls. No one cares.”

Some people thought that the newer lineup of trucks would have left engine issues in the past, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. If you remember, 2014-2019 Dodge Ram trucks were part of class-action lawsuits because of catastrophic engine fires on the 3.0-liter Eco Diesel models. Is the new lineup going to face similar lawsuits because of defects? At this time, it looks like it might be heading down a similar pathway. Maybe the new models should burst into flames like the old ones, just to help get rid of some of the evidence.

Problems with the Fuel System

A well-performing fuel system is just as important as the motor, but it appears to be equally defective.

Another NHTSA review reads, “Making a right hand turn into school parking lot at 7:11 am this morning the engine died, steering went stiff and emergency parking break set. Almost caused a very serious accident with injury’s to multiple minors. Was moving 11 MPH with my foot on the brake into the right turn, when I let off the brake the engine died. The cluster screen told me to place the vehicle into park and release the emergency brake.”

The Dodge Ram trucks brand isn’t hiding issues with the fuel system either. Service Bulletin #S2025000008 discusses the reasons why the trucks consume an excessive amount of diesel exhaust fluid (DEF). Acknowledging the problem is the first step to recovery because it’s clear that drowning this truck in fluids won’t remove any of its sorrow.

Problems with the Service Brakes

When it comes time to stop a vehicle, it’s important to have a functional set of brakes. But it should come as no surprise that this system is also malfunctioning.

One final NHTSA review reads, “The contact owns a 2021 Ram 1500. The contact stated that while the vehicle was driving down an incline, the brakes engaged without warning and an abnormal sound was heard coming from the vehicle. The vehicle was taken to [dealer] where it was test driven. However, the technician was unable to duplicate the issue. The vehicle was not diagnosed. The vehicle was taken back to dealer and test driven in front of the technician and the failure occurred. The technician informed the contact that the vehicle operated as intended and she should contact FCA for assistance. The contact was informed that the feature could be disengaged.”

At least with the defective brake system, Ram issued a recall for the 2021 Dodge Ram for everyone’s safety. NHTSA Campaign Number 21V037000 states that some trucks were constructed without a retaining clip to secure the master cylinder push rod to the brake pedal. Without this clip, the pedal can separate itself from the braking system, leaving drivers unable to engage the brake. These Ram trucks might just find themselves in need of a runaway truck ramp to avoid an accident. Or, maybe the Ram pickups want to show they are like the Energizer bunnies and just keep going.

Problems with the Structure

A final glimpse into the way the Ram trucks were built shows even more serious concerns.

Another Edmunds review says, “I only have 730 miles in it and 4 months …truck is already giving issues… Ram boxes pop open… lights flicker when door opened, odometer jumps up and down… truck makes all kinds of scary noises, almost like a short is going on. I regret ignoring warnings of people telling me to stay away.”

If these issues weren’t enough, how about taking a look at Service Bulletin #S1823000029 Rev. that discusses how manufacturing issues can lead to a water leak in the carpet of both the front and rear seats. There’s nothing quite like a water-logged truck to make someone feel like they’ve gotten their money’s worth.

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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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14 COMMENTS
  • James S

    2021 Ram 1500 4X4 automatically jumped from 2WD into 4WD Low/High both and locked the park brake while going approximately 20 mph. And dealearship says they can’t find anything wrong with the vehicle at all. It’s done it 3 times now and luckily at slow speeds only. But this is ridiculous.

  • Mayra G

    Bought a 2021 Ram 1500 Limited crew cab last Sunday 4/10/22, woke up this morning and the vehicle is dead. It will not start even when we tried to charge with the cables. Front blinker is on as well as the back left blinker (will not shut off) but truck will not start. Spoke to dealership and they can’t get to it until Monday and would not give me an answer as to what they think may be wrong with it. You would think with as many problems they have they would already know they have an issue.

  • Timothy F

    I bought a 2014 ram 1500 6 years ago and have had nothing but trouble with the air suspension and now it’s been in the shop for the last 2 months and the the dealership I have it at has been giving me the run around for the last month a d a half about my driver side back air bag leaking I have had it in for that 4 times now and they ordered it it 3 and a half weeks ago it finally came in and they told us 2 different stories it had a hole in new bag when they took it out of box when they finally worked on it and the other story they told my wife was they got it all done and the bag Blu up and they have toorder a new one they argue with me all the time the air suspension has never worked rite and it’s a pain in the neck I have spent at least 6000.00 on that air ride dodge should fix it fir free or something and the dealer ship should be investigated for over charging and miss representation and living

  • Lisa R

    We just purchased a new 2021 Ram 1500 in December. Engine light went on when my husband was driving to work. We took it into the Valencia Dodge dealership 2 weeks ago. They say it is a major cylinder head issue. We are apparently 8th in line to get it fixed. It could be 3 weeks before we even get it looked at. They said they would give us a rental car for 10 days. They will give us $40.00 a day for a rental. My husband drives from Bakersfield to Santa Barbara every day for work.
    I checked Enterprise for a rental car. The small sedans are $69.00 a day. Dodge said they would reimburse us for the rental.
    Well, we had to get a car so I rented one at Enterprise here in Bakersfield last Tuesday. The car is $60.00 per day. Now I have emailed my bill for $694.13 to FCA Customer Care and they are not answering my calls. We need help. This is ridiculous.
    Do they give extensions on rentals if there is a serious problem with a new vehicle? I cannot believe the hassle we are going through for this situation. This is terrible customer service. I would never buy a Dodge vehicle again.

  • Robinson

    I am currently stranded at the super Lub because the oil will not go back into the engine. It backs up and will not pour in properly. Help!

  • Anthony C

    I have a 2021 Dodge Ram 1500 Night Edition. 14,000miles I have had this problem ever since having the truck sometimes.when I’m sitting still and takes off the truck drops down to lower gear and I’m barely moving its kind of dangerous cause I have to pull over to side and put my truck in park then put it back in drive then it’s shifting fine and ok to drive when I takes off.

  • randy

    I have a 2021 Ram 1500 Classic 5.7. I have 345 miles on it. When I back up and then put it into drive, it hesitates going into gear and if I give it too much gas too quick it won’t go into the drive gear. So I wait till it feels like it is in gear before proceeding. Only a second or 2 but still sometimes you gotta go right away so you don’t get into someone’s way. Anyone else having this problem?

  • Upset D

    13,000, miles on 2021 Dodge Ram 1500, 4×4 limited e torque engine. In a parking lot going about 8 miles per hour truck jerks cuts off and will not start . Was towed to dealer waiting for a response a day later.

  • Ben G

    Anyone have a 2021 ram 1500 , any recalls or issues known of,  today while driving to work  the check engine light popped on with battery indicator lamp bing bong bing bong… code reader shows no active codes but mil still illuminated..???

  • Vanessa F

    CA- 2021 Ram 1500 Laramie Eco Diesel purchased 10/31/2021 first started 5/2021 at 15k miles current 28k and just continued on. Truck will break and shut off while I’m driving doesn’t matter speed it just does it and it’s a major safety issue, truck won’t completely shut off at time sometimes, dash sometimes turns on in the middle of the night which triggers my security cameras at home, has trouble picking up speed, windshield cracked out of no where a month after purchase and no replacement since it was on back order, mufflers aren’t even and loose, door panels came apart within a month of purchase. I do have a case with FCA and truck has been to dealer 4 different time the last for a month and due to truck not “duplicating” and no codes they don’t know whats going on. I do have video of the incidents and still it’s like they don’t see it. I have made several complaints to NHTSA and its terrible with so many of the same complaints there still is no recall yet they just recalled 2022 Ram 1500 and 2500 for “defrost” issues and are doing a buyback since they can’t fix that apparently yet while my truck and several others brake and turn off suddenly its not a concern for RAM. How does that make sense?

  • Unhappy R

    2021 Ram 1500 Classic 4×4 Quad Cab needs new engine at 24 k .. has been running “rough” since 4 miles ..proper recommended manufacturer break in procedure followed . At 22 k cylinder head on passenger side replaced due collapsed valves.. Exhaust manifold bolts had to be cut off due to rust issues .. Radio froze up another issue .. We’ll see what happens here in the next week with the opening of a star ticket w Chyrsler

  • Joe Y

    Bought a new 2021 eco diesel , was back at dealership 3 weeks after I bought it , metal fuel shavings in the fuel system. Just got it back not even 24 hours and truck burnt down to the ground completely with fire .

  • Mike P

    I have a 2021 Ram 1500 Rebel with 2500 miles. It has cut off on me 3 times as I made a right turn onto a highway. Two of those times it placed me in a situation where someone could have crashed into me if they had not stopped. Dealerships can’t replicate the issue and have basically said it’s nothing they can do. Ram customer care and FCA state that they are unaware of such phenomena but I have informed them that all they have to donis Google it and they can see its not just me. I also informed them of the nearly 100 safety complaints on NHTSA describing identical issues. Some of which nearly resulted in a crash. I have a $65,000 truck that my family and I are afraid to drive. Please help

  • donald

    i have a 2021 dodge ram 1500 classic and i have not received anything about any recalls

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