2021 Dodge Ram 2500 Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Electrical system, engine, powertrain, and structural problems are among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones | Reviewer: Sergei Lemberg

The 2021 Dodge Ram 2500 is a heavy-duty truck meant to do tough jobs. The automaker claims it has “the power to haul.” But that’s only true if the truck isn’t in the shop for repairs, which is the experience of many owners. As complaints to the NHTSA and other reputable sources state the electrical system, powertrain, engine, and tailgate all have major problems.  

Click on other model year to view more problems: 2019   2020   2022

Common Problem Summary

Complaints to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have been mounting up since the 2021 Dodge Ram 2500 was launched in the U.S. CLose to half of these (more than 49%) are about electrical system issues. Other components that most complaints highlight as problematic are the powertrain and the engine.

There are reports of vehicles catching fire, accelerating spontaneously, decelerating without reason, power steering failing, brakes and airbags failing, and many others that cover a multitude of other issues.

Other component and systems implicated include electronic stability control, equipment (in this case, the trailer hitch), exterior lighting, forward collision avoidance, the fuel system, lane departure, latches/locks/linkages, seat belts, seats, brakes, structure (also mostly the tailgate), suspension, tires, vehicle speed control, visibility/wiper, and the wheels.

Since March 2021, there have also been seven recalls that involve the 2021 Dodge Ram 2500. Two relate to urgent fire risks, both of which are because of electrical system problems. The third electrical system recall also warns of a fire risk. There is also a powertrain-related recall that warns leading transmission fluid could contact an ignition source in the engine compartment increasing the risk of a fire.

By February 2023, Chrysler had issued seven recalls that affected the 2021 Ram 2500. In addition to the electrical system recalls, there are recalls because of airbags, faulty electronic stability control, the powertrain, brakes, and structure — unsurprisingly due to the tailgate opening when driving.

The airbag recall warns that 376 vehicles have airbags that may not deploy properly. Whether this fault was the cause or not, there are two complaints that state people were injured when 2021 Ram 2500 airbags didn’t deploy.

2021 Dodge Ram 2500 Complaint Summary

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Electrical System
31
Power Train
17
Engine
13
Fuel/propulsion System
5
Structure:body
5
Structure
4
Unknown Or Other
4
Service Brakes
3
Visibility/wiper
3
Air Bags
2

Electrical System Problems

The most serious NHTSA complaints tell how 2021 Ram 2500 vehicles caught fire. As of December 2023, there were two fire-related complaints, both of which were also regarded as being engine-related.

An owner from Georgia tells how after driving for about 10 minutes, his truck started smoking from the front passenger wheel well. The “smoke intensified and quickly turned black.” He pulled over immediately and “found flames burning through (the) front passenger wheel liner and from around (the) passenger side battery and intake filter.” While the fire was extinguished with the help of a fire truck, it melted through (the) battery case, leaking battery acid, parts of the intake filter housing, all surrounding electrical wiring, and went completely through the wheel well. The complaint adds that it had no active recalls.

Another owner tells how there was a fire on the sliding portion of a rear window. It turned out to be a short on the connection point of the wiring harness for the defroster. This was verified and confirmed by the dealer. However, the complaint states that the dealership won’t “do work or rectify this issue.” It states that the service manager (who is named), “has a personal attachment to online reviews and refuses work to any paying customer that voices their dissatisfaction leaving me with a truck that to this day is a fire risk.”

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Other Electrical Problems

It’s no surprise to find out that a fair number of complaints relate to recall issues. Many of these state that the recall parts needed to do various repairs weren’t available, including a complaint lodged in September 2023 by an owner from Nevada. It was in response to a notification about NHTSA Campaign Number 23V060000 dated February 9, 2023. This particular recall affects 302,067 vehicles, including the 2021 Ram 2500. It warns that an electrical short can cause a fire in the engine compartment — and it’s one of the two urgent fire risk recalls.

Another owner registers anger that the recall parts weren’t yet available. “This is unacceptable to have my children and family at risk of injury or death from vehicle fire because the manufacturer is slow to remedy this known problem.”

A different electrical system complaint states that when the driver wanted to move off from a stop light, the truck stalled “for no reason and I lost all control.” There was no steering, no brakes, and the truck wouldn’t start “until I came to a full stop after almost getting side swiped by oncoming cars in (the0 opposite lane, of which I rolled into.”

Powertrain Problems

While there aren’t any NHTSA complaints that appear to relate directly to the powertrain, there is a recall that warns of a fire risk due to a fuel risk (see above). This involves 250,079 2020-2023 Ram 2500 and 2020-2022 Ram 3500 vehicles.

Lemberg Law received a complaint that tells how “the transmission blew fluid out and caught the truck on fire.” Shortly after Chrysler told the owner the cause of the fire was “undetermined,” he received a recall notification stating that “the transmission might blow out fluid through the dipstick and catch the truck on fire.”

Alarmingly, one NHTSA December 2023 complaint records that two years after receiving the recall in 2021 the parts still weren’t available. The owner, from Florida, states that he has been told several times that the parts are available, but when he checks the vehicle in, the dealer states they aren’t! “The grid heater relay has already had 2 previous recalls completed and I have been trying to not park near structures following the recall directions for a long time now until this gets resolved.”

Other NHTSA complaints worth noting include this one from an owner in Nebraska. “This vehicle literally drove away while in the Park gear. It was running and accelerated across a state highway, down an embankment and 200 feet into a cornfield while pulling a trailer. I immediately called Ram and they did perform an investigation.”

Another tells how the Ram 2500 “abruptly died” while traveling at a slow speed. Suddenly there was no steering, brakes, or acceleration. There were no codes and no check engine light — and the owner was left “stranded in the middle of an intersection.”

Engine Problems

In addition to engine problems that are linked to the electrical system, there are also accelerating, deceleration. And other problems.

A complaint lodged in November 2023 states that while driving the owner noticed the engine light was on. At the same time “the truck started accelerating like it was on cruise control and returning to a higher speed. The cruise control was not set when I tried to access the cruise control I would get the message that it was unavailable at this time. I had to stop the truck and turn the truck off. When I restarted the engine light was still on, but the acceleration stopped. I drove to the dealership to see if they had any information or recalls but by the time.” They couldn’t duplicate the failure and “had no idea what was happening.”

In total contrast, another owner states that “on multiple occasions while driving at various speeds, the vehicle started to decelerate inadvertently while the accelerator pedal was depressed. The vehicle then lost motive power.” The truck wouldn’t go any faster than 10 mph. IN this case, the diagnosis was that the fuel pump had failed and needed to be replaced. But the failure recurred. It happened again and, after the fuel pump was replaced again, it recurred again. At the time of the complaint in April 2023 there had been no resolution.

An owner from Iowa describes how, while driving at highway speed, the truck “shut off completely.” The dealer found no issues, but it happened again with a “complete loss of power, power steering, power brakes, etc.” There was no resolution.

Structure Problems

The major problem with the structure of the 2021 Ram 2500 is the electronic tailgate that opens “unintended” potentially causing a road hazard. The automaker knows this is a problem as the recall, NHTSA Campaign Number 22V904000 dated December 8, 2022 indicates. A total of 1,224,078 Ram 1500, 2500, and 3500 trucks are implicated, including the Ram 2102 2500.

But as recently as July 2023, complaints were stating that the parts needed to do the recall weren’t available. Then, in September 2023, an owner from Arizona had the recall repair work done… and, after experiencing no previous problems, the tailgate suddenly opened. The result was that a “tool” valued at $4,000 fell out of the vehicle. The dealership told the owner to call Ram (the automaker). Ram told him it was a dealership issue “since they did the recall.”

Your Lemon Rights

If you think that your 2021 Dodge Ram 2500 may be a lemon, you are welcome to contact Lemberg Law. We will assess your problems and advise you free of charge. The law makes Chrysler pay the legal fees of lemon law cases, so it’s not going to cost you anything.

All you have to do is fill out a contact form or call our Helpline.

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
1 COMMENT
  • David S

    I purchased a 2021 Dodge 2500 Big Horn Ram lifted truck in October of 2021. July 7th, 2022 the transmission blew fluid, out and caught the truck on fire. The truck had 1527 miles on it and the second time we had pulled our camper. Allstate refused to pay for the lifted kit and the additional items I had placed on the vehicle. I lost a total of $14,000. on the truck and an additional $6,000. on a trade while trying to replace the truck. Chrysler sent me a letter stating that the cause was undetermined. Today I received a recall letter say the transmission might blow out fluid through the dipstick and catch the truck on fire.

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