It is always interesting to know Dodge Ram problems in the second generation (1994 – 2002) and the third generation (2002-2008). Here, I’ll cover the top issues for this truck. There is nothing wrong with this vehicle, and I hope you don’t regret it when you own it or buy it because every car has its problems.
Dodge Ram 1994-2002 (Second Generation) Problems
1. Steering Wander
The first thing I always like to talk about is the safety issue on this vehicle. There’s one that concerns me most, and it involves the steering wander. It can be a little scary. In general, it’s not that bad until, of course, you’ll turn, and you might hit bumps at the same time.
A symptom you may notice when driving on the road is that you are going straight when the road starts to tilt. You seem to have to turn the steering wheel to make up for the tilt.
But while you’re trying to stay centered, you’ll also have to constantly turn the steering wheel left and right to make the truck look straight.
To fix this, you need to check the front end, check your shock stabilizer. Make sure it is in good working condition and also needs to be very rigid. Also, check your power steering system pressure, especially if you have too big tires or maybe if you have wheel spacers.
The way to solve this problem is with aftermarket parts. It’s a side-to-side bracket that fits right where the sway bar bracket is on the frame.
Thus, it will be straight, and it will hold the frame well and stiffly across the entire front. At the same time, you have another area that will connect to your steering box.
You will have less bearing on the sector axle, which will add extra support for your steering box inclined sector axle.
So when you turn, you don’t get any frame swaying or movement from the box.
The right way of repair will help the steering ability that makes control stable.
2. Transmission Regulator Valve Problem
The following Dodge Ram 94-02 problem lies under the vehicle, inside your transmission. You have a transmission regulating valve, but it isn’t very accurate.
The symptom that you will probably notice for these Dodge Ram problems is that you will hear a slight buzzing sound when you reverse or forward, whether slow or fast. It comes from the transmission control valve, the casing on it makes noise. So what they did was make an updated version with a case that didn’t live up to that noise.
So when you reverse, and it doesn’t matter if you are slow or fast, it won’t make a very annoying sound. Something important to remember is that it is not the easiest thing to replace. It’s not something you crawl under your vehicle and do yourself. Another thing I’d mention is if you hear that noise, it’s a good idea to check the transmission fluid level. Also, you’ll want to check the condition because if it’s terrible, you’ll probably have the same annoying noise.
3. Poor Dashboard
The next thing I want to talk about is this vehicle is located in the front cabin. If you have an older Dodge Ram vehicle, you may have the same problem. The dashboard, just a cheap plastic that quickly becomes dry and brittle. For some reason, they don’t put any support under it. So that when you tap it with your finger anywhere, it will just wobble around.
Your dashboard is easy to dry and brittle due to exposure to the sun. Also, when you drive the truck over some bumps or rough roads, it will wobble, shift and be prone to cracking. I’ve seen dashboards that have huge holes with cracks running across and are in terrible condition. To fix this, you can replace your Dodge Ram dashboard with a plastic-type that is much more durable and will not crack.
4. Transfer Case Grinding Noise
The next thing I want to talk about the 1998-2002 Dodge Ram issue is a harsh grind noise coming from the transfer case.
Now, this noise can be super scary, and it might even make you think that it’s a transmission problem. Let’s say you’re driving in your vehicle, maybe you’re in the two-wheel-drive, you step on the gas, and for some reason, the car doesn’t move as fast as the accelerator saying to go, and you hear this horrible grind every time you step on the gas.
You’ll also probably notice that this doesn’t happen as much in four-wheel drive. Let’s talk about the reasons why. So you want to get under your vehicle safely, drop the rear driveshaft, and drop the transfer case tail shaft. Look up inside, and you’re going to see the transfer case output shaft that leads to the rear.
You will see a little snap ring that goes on that shaft. If you don’t know that snap ring on there, go ahead and dump out your transfer case tail shaft, and you’re probably going to see it fall out onto the ground.
At that point, what happens is under strain or load or just a little bit of off-roading where the wheels get loose a little bit. It puts a lot of pressure on that rear driveshaft right out the transfer case. The little snap ring it’s just a tiny piece of metal. It’s not super strong, and it will prevent the output shaft from going in and out on the transfer case.
So, if the snap ring is gone, the shaft can move in and out. So, the gears inside aren’t copacetic anymore, and Dodge Ram problems may occur.
So as that moves apart, the gears are just barely touching instead of, you know, meshing in as they should. They’re just barely touching you step on the gas.
The gears are just rubbing right across each other they’re not in, and this isn’t good at all. If you start hearing a grinding noise when you’re driving, it’s super important that you pull over, get off the side of the road, and get your vehicle towed either to your house if you want to fix it by yourself or you know to a reputable shop.
It’s a relatively simple fix, at the same time as replacing this snap ring. I would also do a transfer case service. Take a look at that fluid, and maybe you see it’s full of metal deposits, or if it’s gray, that’s because of metal inside. The metal on your fluid tells you that those gears weren’t copacetic.
You could have gear damage inside your transfer case. It would be best if you replaced the snap ring. Also, you want to do a transfer case service with the manufacturer-specified fluid. After that, put it all back together, torque it to manufacturer specifications, and then take it for a road test. At that point, if you hear any noise continuing, you know you need to either rebuild or replace your transfer case.
5. 4WD Disconnector Problem
The next thing that is often problematic on the Dodge Ram ’94-’02 is the front axle disconnector. It’s located right on the front differential, and I think you need to know.
On the front differential axle disconnector, you have two vacuum lines leading to it. If your Ram truck doesn’t produce a vacuum that goes down to the actuators, it won’t work. So, it could be involved with intake.
Chances are you leak into that area or somewhere along the line leading to it.
Or even a leak at the connection point, where the line connects to the actual disconnector, can cause Dodge Ram problems.
When you run into this issue, you are trying to ship from two to 4WD. You may notice that as you drive forward, your vehicle doesn’t seem to shift to four-wheel drive.
You might even notice on the dashboard, it doesn’t light up saying four-wheel drive, and that could be a sign of a problem.
Other things you may or may not notice is that you’re on four-wheel drive, and you’re trying to get out of the 4WD, and you just can’t.
Plus, you probably won’t notice much unless you’re on a slippery surface and you notice that your four tires aren’t turning the way they should.
So the probable cause of these Dodge Ram problems is a vacuum leak. In general, the vehicle will generate a vacuum in the intake as you drive. When that happens, it will deliver that vacuum exactly as needed as you move in or out of the four-wheel-drive; this will apply the vacuum downwards in the actuators in the axle.
If there is no vacuum, it will not shift as usual because it becomes too weak and will not shift. So when you have two axles in front, and you are driving, they should both turn. There should be a small collar that will slide over the four axles. So it’s going to kick it into four-wheel drive.
Overall using a vacuum to move mechanical parts like this is probably not the best idea. Anyway, it’s time to talk about repairs. We will talk about the vacuum part, and you need to test it, which comes from those two lines.
One of the lines will vacuum as you move from two to four. The other path should have a vacuum when you go from four to two. So, that will apply the necessary pressure to the tiny caller inside the front differential area to slide it into lock-on the axle.
You will only find a vacuum on one line at a time. So notice that if you check one of the lines plugged into it, and you recognize it doesn’t have a vacuum. You’ll want to check out the others as they might be the ones with the vacuum for your intended application, whether it’s from 2WD to 4WD or four to two.
If you don’t have a vacuum, you have to work further up and make sure that it’s connected and up towards the intake area.
If you find the vacuum is the problem, they upgrade to make this mechanism work with cable. But we will assume that you have a vacuum, and we will return to the actuators in the front differential.
You will check where the hose connects to the actual box. Peek inside to see if it’s full of dust and debris. So, it will eliminate the amount of flow or vacuum that will flow to the actuator.
So you have a problem when you try to switch from two to 4WD. It will engage the front driveshaft of the transfer case, and then it will start rotating. Make sure everything is nice and clean, lubricate everything as needed, torque it down properly.
You can also see the axles. If the splines look like they’re pinched, maybe it’s because the car is struggling to move between, and you’re still driving, so the axles kind of catch it but don’t.
It can cause damage, and it will be a big problem for your Dodge Ram. If you have something like that, you can do some rebuilding or maybe replace your axle. Ensure there is no significant damage there that would cause the coupler not to pass through the two axles.
Dodge Ram 2002-2008 (Third generation) Common Problems
1. Misfires, Codes P0300-P0308
It’s always a good idea to replace your spark plugs, wires, and even coils.
If your coil is damaged, sometimes you have a fuel injector problem, leading to Dodge Ram problems.
But more common than that is a buildup of carbon on the inside of the engine. You need to remove the carbon, adding a chemical into the intake while the engine is running.
Let the engine do its job, clean it all up, and then your engine will run better, no more misfiring. So you can always do a fuel injection cleaning where you clean the injectors and get into a specific port with the appropriate tool.
But sometimes, with the same tool, they have a system where you can get into the intake itself.
That way, you will clean your intake better, and this will clean the throttle body, some intakes, and intake gaskets.
Make sure to get all that carbon out of there. If you are not a professional tool, there are always aerosol cans of various engine cleaners. You need to follow the directions on the can and use a straw to get under the intake tube.
You’ll have someone activate the accelerator pedal, perhaps to increase the RPM or engine speed to keep it at a certain amount. Whatever it says on the tin is what you want to do. It may not fix the problem, but it can help prevent it if you add some fuel injectors or a fuel system cleaner specifically for the gas tank.
2. No Heat
So usually, what happens is that the heating core is plugged in, and that’s where you get the heat. If the cooler has some sediments or contaminants, they will eventually clog and stop the coolant flow, and you won’t get any heat.
Now, all you can do is focus on the two hoses coming out of the water pump area, and you can remove them. After that, take a garden hose and flush the heating core. You need to get most of the sediment out of there.
Also, make sure you replace all the coolant in the system because if the heating core gets clogged, the rest of the system won’t work correctly. Once done, plug it back in and see if you have any heat.
You might stick with doing that for a while. I know it’s probably not going to be a permanent fix, but it’ll keep you going for a time. A permanent repair will replace the heating core.
But again, make sure also your cooling system is working well to overcome your Dodge Ram problems.
3. EVAP System (P0440, P0441)
Whenever you have an EVAP code that you check with a scan tool, the first thing you want to do is always check the gas cap. Just grab it, make sure it’s not loose, and then you can always check the ratchet. Just take it off, look at the seal.
If you notice dry rot or cracks in the seal, you will need a new gas cap. As with the ratchet part, you should always replace it if it feels very loose or not tight enough.
Usually, it is the first cause, but I advise you to check again. Another possibility is that you may have a problem with the EVAP purge valve located under the fuse box.
Now they are not all located here, but they are often attached to the engine. You need to look for the vacuum lines and the lines that lead to the vehicle’s back. The purge valve can get stuck open or leak, and it needs to be replaced; it’s a pretty easy job to do.
The Dodge Ram stalling problem is similar to the number one problem with carbon buildup.
But this is the accumulation of carbon in the throttle body. What you can do is remove the throttle body and clean the throttle blade.
You never want to remove the screw, and it’s calibrated right there. So when you put it back, you have to idle learn. There is a particular procedure for doing this. The idle relearn procedure is that you have to remove the battery for at least 90 seconds.
Then you reconnect the battery and turn on the key without starting the vehicle. Let it last for at least 10 seconds. I’d leave it a little longer than that, and then you should be able to turn everything off, and you should be good to go.
5. Transmission Solenoid Packs Problem
If you have transmission problems, if it feels like a funny shift or skid, or even if you have a check engine light with transmission code (P07050), that doesn’t necessarily mean you need a transmission.
You may have a transmission solenoid that is starting to weaken and needs to be replaced. Now it’s always a good idea to regularly follow your transmission service and check your fluid levels, and you want to make sure it’s a nice red color. Make sure you double-check your owner’s manual.
So you want to run your Dodge Ram, and while it’s running, check that fluid level. Make sure it’s normal and that you change it regularly. Your transmission is under the vehicle, and under the pan is where the solenoid pack is. So you have to remove the pan to access the solenoid and check it.
Ryan Daniel is a car enthusiast, and he has years of experience in the automotive field as an engineer. Now he is also active as an automobile blogger and member of the auto community.