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

Powertrain and structure problems among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

In the world of HD trucks, there are only a handful to choose from, but the 2021 Dodge Ram 3500 claims to be “America’s longest-lasting heavy-duty pickups.” It’s hard to understand how this claim can be made when looking at the defective powertrain and faulty structure.

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NHTSA Complaints for the 2021 Dodge Ram 3500

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Fuel/propulsion System
Unknown Or Other
Power Train
Electrical System
Vehicle Speed Control
Exterior Lighting

Problems with the Powertrain

The powertrain is what makes or breaks a pickup truck. In this case, it’s such a piece of crap that even top automotive publications are speaking out about it.

Car and Driver says, “Diesel rivals have more modern transmissions.”

How can anyone expect Ram to make a decent transmission when the company hasn’t even perfected the engine yet? It wasn’t that long ago that the company was facing class-action lawsuits because of poorly built engines. Now, there are other recalls showing how poorly built these 2021 Dodge Ram 3500 trucks are. For example, NHTSA Campaign Number 21V163000 states that some trucks have an electrical short in the Solid State Intake Heater Grid relay that can cause a vehicle fire. Would it be that terrible if the truck burnt up in flames? Probably not because it would remove one more lemon from the streets.

Problems with the Structure

The Ram truck company is struggling to make any vehicle that holds up under pressure.

Car and Driver goes on to say that the “largest models are cumbersome in traffic.”

Yet, there are more pressing concerns to think about. As another example, NHTSA Campaign Number 21V398000 proves that the company has no business making vehicles. This recall says that some flanged lug nuts were over-tightened from the factory which is causing wheel separation and broken wheel studs. It’s funny to see the wheels fall off a vehicle on TV, but not so funny when it actually happens in traffic. It looks like the Ram manufacturers need to get back to the basics.

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Complaint Data

DateJan 09, 2023
My truck has approx. 80,000 have been dealing with the dealer for at 3 months he says the heater core is clogged do to the type of antifreeze required to use. They flushed the system still the same blows luke warm air will not keep windshields clear during bad weather they say heater core needs replaced and not covered under warranty my thoughts how can heater core be clogged on a truck less than 2 years old and 80,000 miles have made several complaints can get exact dates of first incident and have receipt on flushing no one else besides dealer has ever worked on truck
CategoryStructure:body, Suspension, Wheels
DateNov 27, 2022
Went in for warranty repair for a recall of the lug nuts and wheel stud to find the dealership claimed they did the recall but committed fraud and actually didn't. Went to pick up vehicle and go directly to discount tire for a tire rotation to find the lug nut and wheel stud completely broken off and the wheel not attached to the truck at all. “only one pothole away” from coming off I was told. The dealership lawley chrysler, dodge, jeep, ram in sierra vista, az didn't want to work with me any longer and told me to “go [xxx] yourself” when I attempted to work with them for repair. This issue is exact repair the warranty recall was to avoid and should have been fixed. This is major issue which could have caused fatalities had I not gone directly to attempt a tire rotation. Vehicle was towed to dealer as that is only dealer warranty would tow to in area. The other issue is the truck has a “puck” system that was cut wrong at factory and is unable to be replaced as factory and dealership refuse to help and submit a claim. The vehicle has issues and less than 12,000 miles on it before first repair attempt. Information redacted pursuant to the freedom of information act (foia), 5 u. S. C. 552(b)(6).
CategoryFuel/propulsion System, Unknown Or Other
DateNov 05, 2022
I've replaced turbo twice, computer once, now I've been told by multiple dealerships that I need to replace the def system and or fuel pump I hadn't even got a 100k on the truck yet. The last incident I was driving and it kept saying in so many miles it would only allow me to go 5 mph see dealership for service then the numbers kept changing from high to low I was able to make it over 200 miles to get the truck back to the dealership without any issues.
CategoryPower Train, Vehicle Speed Control
DateSep 07, 2022
Hello. I have a 2021 ram3500 that I purchased brand new. Approximately 3. 5 weeks ago I was operating the vehicle while towing a trailer in excess of 10k pounds. I was approaching an intersection and noticed that my vehicle was not slowing down. At the same time the gauge cluster started flashing an fault message in red stating thottle control module failure and the accelerator was pinned to the floor. I ended up running the red light and almost slammed in to a vehicle. I race cars professionally so I was able to act quick, throw the truck in neutral and turn it off. I pulled to the side of the road and was in disbelief of what had just happened as well as the fact that I almost slammed in to another vehicle. I limped the vehicle back home with minimal throttle and contacted dodge. After much persuasion they picked up the vehicle to take to the local dealer. It has been over 3 weeks with numerous calls to the dealer, ram corporate customer care and social media outreach. I have had numerous scheduled calls missed by ram management and have sent desparate messages to get this resolved. As of a week ago I am being told to pickup the truck as they cannot duplicate the issue and thus far I have refused. I am genuinely fearful to drive the vehicle but more importantly I cant imagine this is an isolated issue just affecting me. It appears ram 1500 models use the same throttle body and based on forum posts some have experienced this same issue. The worst thing of all is this 75k truck that I use daily for my business has been gone for 3 weeks with no real end in sight. Ram is not taking this seriously even after repeated messages about the danger of this issue. Thank you for your time and assistance. Warm regards, richard advani 949-294-0435
DateSep 05, 2022
We had the left driver side rear tire crack in two different places on the outside while driving from al to ok with a load of cattle. No air tire pressure warning from truck when tire deflated. Tire happened to quickly deflate right as we stopped for gas due to the cracks in sidewall. This tire would have blown out while we were driving and we could have lost truck, trailer, and cattle. It was luck 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. Truck was bought in april 2021. Tires are firestone transforce lt285/60r/20 at. These tires are dangerous, and we'd like them replaced. It makes me sick to my stomach to think what could have happened.
CategoryElectrical System, Exterior Lighting
DateSep 02, 2022
The auto lights sensor turns lights on/off at random during dark/night driving. The high beam auto sensor keeps the high beams on, so you do not notice losing driving lights. I found this out by accident, when I started losing my trailer lights at night. Quick fix, turn the light switch to on, instead of auto. Note - cost me over 1000. 00 to find that out. Re-wire the trailer, replace the 7-way plug.
DateJul 29, 2022
The truck comes with a factory installed tpms. The system to constantly reporting an error where one or more tires is not reading correctly. I spoke to a tire shop who said the ram is notorious for this but there is no know fix. Yesterday while towing an rv down the highway, as usual the tpms system was reporting errors in tire reading. This morning, I wake up to find a tire that is completely flat and not helping to support the load.
CategoryElectrical System, Service Brakes, Air:antilock:abs Warning Light
DateJul 25, 2022
The contact owns a 2021 ram 3500. The contact stated while driving 60 mph, the check engine, cruise control, 4wd, stability control, the abs and trailer brake warning lights were illuminated. The contact called the local dealer and made them aware of the failure. The dealer informed the contact to turn the vehicle on and off multiple times to reset the computer. The contact stated all the warning lights turned off, except for the check engine warning light. The contact stated two days later, the check engine warning light turned off independently. The contact stated that the failure recurred three times. The contact took the vehicle to the local dealer, where it was diagnosed with needing the rear passenger's side wheel speed sensor and the rear passenger's side abs sensor to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired but continued to experience failure. The contact took the vehicle to rogersville chevrolet (5655 us-11w suite a, rogersville, tn 37857: (423) 272-1000), however, the mechanic was unable to duplicate the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer had not been informed of the failure. The failure mileage was approximately 30,000.
CategoryElectrical System, Engine
DateApr 27, 2022
Our vehicle was involved in a total loss fire from the engine compartment while driving. We were driving the unit and noticed smoke, when we were merging to pull of 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. This occurred on september 2, 2021. At this point in time there were no recalls on the vehicle. When we contacted stellantis to report the incident, they concluded their investigation they denied responsibility. A few months after the fact we received notice of the recall. To date we have not 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. Our insurance company, stellantis, etc all inspected the unit related to the claim and confirmed the fire began in the engine compartment.
CategoryPower Train
DateMar 21, 2022
The transmission's 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. I did burned my 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. I sent pictures of the truck to the dealer. There is a recall in february 2020 with the same problem that I had with my 2021 ram. Prior to this incident, the truck did not have any warnings or lights on.
CategoryUnknown Or Other
DateJan 01, 2022
On 1 jan 2022 after driving from washougal wa to vancouver wa, I noticed after stopping for food that my front driver-side tire was near completely flat. Upon checking the dash information screen and cycling to the tire pressure screen, it reflected that my front drivers side tire was at 15 psi, while the other 5 tires (dually) were at the proper pressures. The problem is that the tpms did not, nor continues to not display a low pressure warning at all, despite the vehicle being aware of the low measured 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 only way I discovered was by noticing the tire after stopping. 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. The vehicle is 100% stock with zero modifications. I have included pictures to support the facts above. The vehicle is also in the “failed state” should your agency wish to examine and confirm. This could very well result in a large scale safety recall.
CategoryFuel/propulsion System, Power Train, Vehicle Speed Control
DateOct 19, 2021
Brand new truck (226 miles) stopped running on interstate 90 in montana. Very dangerous situation, although was able to pull to side of interstate and was able to tow truck to butte montana and no one was injured. Nonetheless, had this occurred in rural area, snowy mountain passes, pulling livestock trailer etc (purpose for which truck is intended), could have easily been life threatening. Understand this may be the same fuel pump issue affecting many others. Should be recalled immediately. No warning, truck just went from 75 mph to zero in very rapid fashion. Please help put a stop to this asap. Extremely dangerous in winter and rural situation, and pulling livestock or other trailers, goose neck and 5th wheel. Happy to provide more info or answer questions. Thank you.
DateSep 17, 2021
Power steering comes and goes. They can't get a part for 45 days minimum. Pretty much give them 60,000 dollars and they could care less
DateSep 02, 2021
The tailgate opened without command. Was pulling a 5th wheel at the time and when the first turn onto the hwy the tailgate contacted the trailer and caused the stability light to illuminate on the warning panel. This is a safety hazard for obvious load securing reasons and also create a hazard on hwy while trying to stop any further damage to trailer. The manufacture sent a representative to inspect the tailgate and determined that it did not open by itself. Rather absurd since that particular 5th wheel cant be hooked up without closing the tail gate. I submit this report since the particular combination of options on my truck may have caused the uncommanded tailgate opening. I am sure that other reports will start to come in on this problem.
DateAug 16, 2021
The contact owns a 2021 ram 3500. The contact received notification of nhtsa campaign number: 21v398000 (wheels) however, the part to do the recall repair was unavailable. The contact took the vehicle to the local dealer and it was confirmed that the part was not yet available. The contact stated that the manufacturer had exceeded a reasonable amount of time for the recall repair. The manufacturer was made aware of the issue. The contact had not experienced a failure. Vin tool confirms parts not available.
CategoryFuel/propulsion System, Unknown Or Other
DateJan 22, 2021
My brand new 2021 ram 3500 limited longhorn, suddenly stopped running at around 70 miles. This happened on I-84 between caldwell, id and baker city, or on 19 jan 2021 around 9:00pm. Roadside failed twice at getting us towed to safety. The 1st towing company called to say he declined the service and was surprised that they booked him anyway. The 2nd one informed us they had to decline the service because roadside assistance would not pay a fair price. By then we, the truck, and our trailer waited on the interstate for 4 hours in pitch dark and very cold weather. We were able to find and pay a towing company ourselves. The dealership investigated the next day and informed us the vehicle stopped because it was out of fuel. The float or the part that detects fuel level was stuck in between wires of the fuel pump. The dealership apparently did not put fuel on the car and we did not notice because the car was indicating a full tank. The car also did not diagnose the problem properly, indicating "def fault" before it died. I am concerned about the safety of ram vehicles and their services. A ram 3500's purpose is to tow heavy trailers and expected to be realiable in extreme road conditions. The brand new one we bought costs ,000+ and is their high end trim. However the car company and/or their dealership seem to think that mistakes like this are acceptable/expected even though they have high potential to lead to accidents. They refused to take the car back because it would cause them to lose money and I am bound by the contract. According to the lemon law, the car needs to break down twice before I can be protected. The culture of accepting low standards, zero culpability, inadequate quality control systems, and incompetent roadside assistance are a dangerous combination that could lead to loss of lives and traffic inconveniences.

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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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  • john j

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

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