Why Does Dodge RAM Have a Bad Reputation? The beast is back!


The top three trucks in the US – GMC, Ford, and RAM – RAM is often seen as the poor cousin. Let’s look at why this is and is it actually true?

The 2009 – 2017 RAM 1500 model has a bad reputation but it was redesigned in 2019 with style and technology at the forefront, it is now one of the top trucks to buy.

Trucks in the US are year on year, some of the best-selling vehicles. Unlike an SUV, trucks are earning their keep and generally feeding a family. RAM has had some bad reputation in the past. It’s hard to live up to the likes of GMC and Ford. But in recent years RAM has been making moves.

Reliability in Older Models

Dodge RAM trucks have been on US roads for a long number of years. They were always in the shadow of the Ford F150. The F150 is the highest selling truck in the US followed by the GMC Sierra. The Dodge RAM was always well below both of these in the sales department. 

And to be honest I can understand why. Reliability in older RAMS just wasn’t what it should have been. If we look at the 2009 – 2017 years there are some major issues with the 1500 model.

The biggest issue was with the TIPM – Totally Integrated Power Module. This is the box that contains all your fuses, to run pretty much everything electric on your truck. If you take a look at the box in the mentioned years, you’ll find it’s not at all compatible with the weather. It’s just under the hood at the side, and to the front of the engine. It has a high tendency to take on water. Water and electricity don’t mix at all! Fuses and the wiring become corroded and no matter how hard you try to clean and dry them they will never work properly after getting damp.

They start to play havoc with your truck. I can understand truck owners getting mad when they return to their truck and not only are the wipers going full tilt but all the windows are down and your truck’s belongings are missing/stolen and taking to the forums in their droves.

There are other reliability issues with these years such as transmission problems and coolant leaks but to be honest every brand goes through engine issues. 

What would bother me would be when you have tidied away all your gear and tools into your truck, closed the tailgate, and headed for the highway. Only to discover that your tailgate latch hasn’t closed properly and your things are strewn all across the highway.

This is a major cause of complaints and a bad reputation. However, fast forward through these years to 2019 when RAM redesigned 1500.

2019 RAM Redesign

The 2019 RAM was redesigned with two major factors in mind. Comfort and Technology. RAM did their homework and realized that yes people who drive a truck are more than likely making money from its use (ie a utility vehicle) but also they are being used as a family vehicle. In fact, 50% of trucks sold are family vehicles.

RAM made the interior super comfortable, especially with the second row of seats, it will accommodate 3 adults no problem. The front seats are not just the standard bench seat but bucket seats that move forward and back.

It’s easy to climb in and out of and more spacious than any of its rivals.

The ride is made smooth by their use of coil-spring rear suspension which other brands just haven’t introduced.

In fact, Edmunds.com felt that the Hemi V8 engine and the 8-speed transmission were so good that the review could actually end there. That’s a lot of praise for a newly designed truck.

But not only is it a smooth, roomy, work-life, family-life vehicle it also has incredible technology.

The infotainment screen is like being at the movies! It’s a full 12” touchscreen with high clarity graphics. Who knew we all needed such a thing in a truck, but owners now can’t live without it. There’s multiple USB/ USB-C ports throughout and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard.

The only negative is that driver assist is not available as standard. Only the Laramie comes with parking assist, lane exit warning, and forward collision.

RAM compared to Ford and GMC

Comparing the RAM to Ford and GMC, in the past, was like apples and oranges. But in the last couple of years since the redesigned RAM has become – not a threat – but certainly not a brand to be dismissed.

Ford has been the number one truck seller for 42 years. GMC maintains they are out in front, but this is only when you combine both their midsize and large truck sales together. 

Although RAM only ever had about 10 -15% of the market share in the early to late noughties, this increased to 23% in the last couple of years (2019-2021).

Truck customers are very loyal to their brand. If you drive a Ford you’ll likely never own a GMC and vice versa, But either buyer might choose a RAM.

That’s pretty good news for RAM.

Consumer Reports Create Bad Reputations

If we think about it, we’re all driven by consumer opinion. No one wants to look out of place in anything they do, least of all in their new car.

But sometimes consumer reports can give vehicles a bad reputation. The more complaints that are made about a vehicle the lower the rating will be. However, the more add ons and up specs a vehicle has the more complaints it will receive and so the scales tip in favor of the plainer vehicle.

I’m not suggesting that the better the car the worse the review gets but you have to compare like with like. There’s no getting away from the astronomical F150 sales but RAM is not as bad as people make out.

Reading on review sites such as Edmunds and Kelley Blue Book RAM scores quite well, even for older years. 

The 2014 RAM 1500 scores a 4.5/5 on Edmunds and 4.6 on Kelly Blue Book.

For 2021, the RAM scored highest for comfort (4.7) and Styling (4.7) which is what RAM had set out to do with the new 2019 model.

In Conclusion

I think RAM is certainly a truck to be given consideration to. Yes, it had problems with a bad reputation in the past due to mechanical issues, but the RAM of old is truly gone and the RAM of 2021 is most definitely a beast to be reckoned with.

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John Cunningham

John Cunningham is an Automotive Technician and writer on Rustyautos.com. I've been a mechanic for over twenty years, I use my knowledge and experience to write articles that help fellow gear-heads with all aspects of classic car ownership, from tires to roof aerials and everything in between.

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