2021 Dodge Ram 3500 Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

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

Updated on Author: Brian Jones | Reviewer: Sergei Lemberg

In the world of HD trucks, there are only a handful to choose from. But the automaker claims the 2021 Dodge Ram 3500 is America’s longest-lasting heavy-duty pickup,” making it an obvious choice for many. Unfortunately, though, there are many disillusioned owners who are identifying electrical system, powertrain, wheel and tire, and other structure problems that affect their vehicles. There are also complaints that trucks catch on fire!

Click on other model year to view more problems: 2022

Most Common Problems

The most common problems owners of the 2021 Dodge Ram 3500 are complaining about to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) coincide with some of the many recalls (8) that have been issued by the manufacturer, Chrysler.

The most pressing recall is an electrical system issue that warns of a possible electrical short in the relay. This can result in an engine compartment fire, whether the ignition is on or off. A total of 302,067 Chrysler vehicles with Cummins 6.7 liter Turbo Diesel engines, are potentially affected. A major concern is that this is the third recall warning of electrical shorts that can result in fire. The first was in March 2021, with 19,214 Chrysler vehicles implicated. The second was in October 2021, with 131,177 vehicles affected by the recall. The third was issued in February 2023. In all instances, owners were advised to park outside, away from structures, because of the fire risk.

While most of the complaints state that the parts for the recall remedies were not available, there is a complaint that describes an engine fire.

Other Problems

There are almost as many powertrain complaints, ranging from fuel pump issues to allegations that the parts to repair a powertrain recall aren’t available. This recall affects 250,079 2020-2023 Ram vehicles including the 2021 Ram 3500. It warns that “A build-up of pressure and heat inside the transmission may result in a transmission fluid leak from the dipstick tube.” And this also creates a fire risk, although it is not regarded as an “urgent” fire risk like the two most recent electrical system recalls.

There are also common problems that affect the structure — specifically the tailgate of the truck — and wheels, as well as the tires of the vehicle. Most of these relate to recalls, one for the wheels and wheel studs that break, the other for the tailgate (structure).

There are eight recalls in all, the two others being due to side curtain airbags not deploying properly and the other because of the electronic stability control (ESC) indicator light not illuminating. This also affects the brakes.

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2021 Dodge Ram 3500 Complaint Summary

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Electrical System
Power Train
Fuel/propulsion System
Unknown Or Other
Exterior Lighting
Service Brakes

Electrical Problems

The very first complaint about the Ram 3500’s electrical system was lodged in April 2022, although the incident occurred in September 2021. The owners were driving when they noticed smoke. As they started to pull off the road, “flames started coming up and we immediately exited the vehicle and had to run, because it started popping. We were lucky to escape unharmed physically, but the situation could have been much worse. There were no indications or lights warning of engine failure or fire. The vehicle was a total loss.

The automaker launched an investigation but “denied responsibility.” A few months later, they received notification of the second recall! At the time of this complaint, the owners hadn’t been reimbursed “for the loss of the vehicle, our personal belongings in the vehicle, and the loss of income from no longer having the vehicle.” The complaint states that the insurance company and the automaker inspected the unit after they claimed, “and confirmed the fire began in the engine compartment.”

Most of the other complaints — as recently as October 2023 — state that the parts required to complete the recall repair are not available.

An owner from Arizona states in a complaint dated July 18, 2023, that the dealer said “they can only order one (part) per week. I will have to wait over a year for the part to come in. This is a fire hazard and I have been advised to not park the vehicle in the garage or near other vehicles. Waiting over a year for a fire hazard repair is not acceptable.”

Powertrain Problems

The first complaint about the 2021 Ram 3500 powertrain was from an owner in Montana. His brand new truck with only 226 miles stopped running on the interstate. It was, the complaints states, a “very dangerous situation.” Luckily, he was able to pull to the side of the interstate and tow the truck back to Butte Montana. Also, no one was injured. “Nonetheless, had this occurred in (a) rural area, (with) snowy mountain passes, pulling (a) livestock trailer,” which was the purpose for which the truck is intended, it “could have easily been life threatening.”

This was in September 2021, more than a year before the powertrain “fuel leak” recall that was issued in November 2022. In his complaint he implies that the reason the truck stopped was related to “the same fuel pump issue affecting many others,” and called for an immediate recall.

The second powertrain complaint was lodged in March 2022, also before the recall was announced. Another owner, from Florida, wasn’t so lucky.  “The transmission light came on saying that it was heated. I parked as soon as possible and that’s when the flames were coming out of the hood.” He burned his hands trying to put out the fire with 3 fire extinguishers. “I did not want my truck to burn. Now, the dealer is trying to say that they can’t get a conclusion of what started the fire. The truck smells like burned transmission fluid.”

Since then, most of the complaints (up until October 2023) have been about the recall repair part not being available.

Wheel and Tire Problems

We mentioned the fact that there is a recall that relates to the wheels of the 2021 Dodge Ram 3500. Issued in May 2021, it warns that as many as 447,985 Chrysler vehicles, including the 2021 Ram 3500, may have incorrect information in their service and owner manuals. Following this information can lead to “the flanged lug nuts to be over-tightened, which could result in a broken wheel stud and possible wheel separation.” If this happens, there is a chance the vehicle may crash.

Like most of the other recalls, owners have been complaining that the parts to fix the wheel recall aren’t available. But even when they did become available, the problems continued.

In November 2022, an owner from South Carolina took the 3500 for the recall repair. From there he went straight to the tire shop for a tire rotation, only to find that “the lug nut and wheel stud (had) completely broken off and the wheel (was) not attached to the truck at all. ‘Only one pothole away’ from coming off (was what) I was told.” when he tried to go back to the dealer for a repair, they “told me to ‘go [XXX] yourself,” the complaint states. ”This is (a) major issue which could have caused fatalities had I not gone directly to attempt a tire rotation.”

Another owner tells a similar story. Even though he had taken the Ram 3500 for the recall repair, soon after, while driving, “the passenger’s side rear wheel studs fractured.”

Additionally, there are several complaints that focus on tires, rather than wheels.

Tire Problems

An owner from Alabama states that the left driver side rear tire cracked in two different places on the outside without warning while he was driving Oklahoma with a load of cattle. It deflated quickly “as we stopped for gas due to the cracks in (the) sidewall. This tire would have blown out while we were driving and we could have lost truck, trailer, and cattle. It was lucky we stopped for gas when we did. The right front tire has bubbles and is not holding pressure. The dealership told us if they bring it up to pressure it will blow out.”

An owner from South Dakota states that the system constantly reports “an error where one or more tires is not reading correctly. I spoke to a tire shop (employee) who said the RAM is notorious for this but there is no known fix.” The next day, he woke up to discover that one of the tires was completely flat and couldn’t support the load.

An owner from Washington had a similar issue. After stopping for food while on the road, the driver noticed that the front driver-side tire was near completely flat. The other tires were at the correct pressure.

“This vehicle is brand new, with less than 7000 miles on the odometer. I tow heavy loads, and without a doubt the tire was well below proper pressure for at least 20 miles of driving.” The complaint continues, “The tire pressure screen confirmed what I saw, but zero warnings were displayed (low tire pressure, TPMS light, service message, etc) as all TPMS cars/trucks I have driven over 25 years have done. This is a huge safety issue, and deserves significant attention as this situation could have resulted in a major accident.”

What Are Your Lemon Law Rights?

If you think you have a lemon you can do something about it. Contact Lemberg Law and we’ll evaluate your problems and see how we can help you. The law makes Dodge pay legal fees, so you’ve got nothing to lose. Apart from which, every year, auto manufacturers buy back, replace or pay cash settlements to thousands of ‘lemon’ owners.

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
  • john j

    hyundai recall was performed on my daughter veh , WRONG,,,and dealer or major company, wont make good

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