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really awful
Crashes / Fires:
4 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 0
Average Mileage:
99,292 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2003 Dodge Ram 1500 drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2003 Dodge Ram 1500 Owner Comments (Page 2 of 3)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #26

Sep 272014

Ram 1500 4WD 8-cyl

  • 70,000 miles


Rear axle locked up while driving and snapped bolts to the drive shaft then drive shaft fell off onto the road. Truck came skidding to a stop. Rear axle will not turn at all.

- New Haven, CT, USA

problem #25

Aug 112014

Ram 1500 8-cyl

  • 104,000 miles
There was not an accident but could have been. The clips in the differential fall out and could cause axles to lock up which could be very dangerous at speed. When changing my fluid I found these clips in the bottom of the case. This is a very common and dangerous problem. If these clips were to get caught in the ring and pinion gears it would have been scary. Dodge should be recalling these.

- Burlington, WI, USA

problem #24

Mar 142012

Ram 1500

  • 33,000 miles
The contact stated 2003 Dodge Ram 1500. The contact stated while driving 25 mph, the vehicle made a loud thumping sound and immediately after the check engine light illuminated. The contact was taken to an independent mechanic. The technician diagnosed that the clutch assembly and transmission would have to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired but the failure recurred. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 33,000 and the current mileage was 36,000.

- Charlotte, NH, USA

problem #23

Jan 102014

Ram 1500 8-cyl

  • 135,700 miles


When I was pulling on the highway from entry I was depending on my cars engine when I was trying to accelerate car first jump then shut of completely and as a busy highway route 80 I was almost got run over by a trailer good thing I'm experience driver car stall out and didn't start for easy 1 minuet at this time I was on side of the road after that day car randomly stalls out I try to understand what's the problem it doesn't give me any related code also cruise control is when U set a speed and you slow down with the button but sometimes car will take off faster engine has multiple design errors that makes the engine fail out of nowhere.

- Wayne, NJ, USA

problem #22

Mar 132014

Ram 1500 8-cyl

  • 124,000 miles
Rear pinion nut came off of rear end causing the rear end to lock up completely. Driveshaft broke off and rear tires locked up causing a total loss of control....updated 01/07/15 updated 06/2/2015

- Klamath Falls, OR, USA

problem #21

Sep 282012

Ram 1500 8-cyl

  • 122,739 miles
I had just stopped my truck in front of my garage and, with my foot on the brake, shifted into the park gear position. Suddenly the engine began to race and my foot on the brake peddle went to the floor as if I had no brakes at all. I took my foot off of the brake peddle and the engine leaped forward through my garage door. I hit the brakes immediately and came to a screeching stop. I put the truck in reverse but it would not engage. A neighbor came and asked if I needed help. I asked him to try backing out of the garage for me. He took my place behind the wheel and shifted into reverse with the same result. He asked me if I had the emergency brakes on because the truck would not move. I told him no and when he attempted to use reverse again the gears engaged and he backed the truck out of the garage for me.

- Wildwood, NJ, USA

problem #20

Sep 112009

Ram 1500

  • 80,000 miles


Differential/ rear end has gone out on me twice now. The first time was after camping, where I was towing a light truck bed trailer with camping stuff. Noise developed and increased over a few months. Took it in before it failed. Had to have it rebuilt - clips coming off, etc. The 2nd time was about two years later - I was on city streets, going only 5mph since it was busy, when I stopped at a light. I felt / heard a clunk. My rear differential had totally lost the clips, and coils broke. Thank god I was not going fast. I had it totally rebuilt again. I know from facebook and the web that it is known that Ram 2002 to 2005 rear end C-clips are bad, and have caused many accidents, some at high speed. I don't understand why this is not a recall!!! I have spent my own money 2X to get this fixed and I do not tow even though I bought a truck that was supposed to be a work / towing truck.

- Norwalk, CA, USA

problem #19

Oct 192013

Ram 1500 8-cyl

  • 156,000 miles
My son (16) was driving his 2003 Dodge Ram 1500 up to a stop light before turning onto our street, when truck made a loud noise and it felt like someone ran into the back of the truck, he lost control of truck while all this going on, but managed to keep in the lane he was in. Truck finally stopped and when he got out the drive shaft had fallen off and the rear wheels are locked up. Some men pulled him off the main road and we called for a tow truck to tow us to our house, until I could find out where to take the truck to on Monday. The rear wheels just skid across the road while being pulled to a safe spot and I am hoping I don't need new tires, since the tires we have on were just bought in July/August 2013.

- Beaumont, TX, USA

problem #18

Mar 012013

Ram 1500 8-cyl

  • 150,000 miles
I own a 2003 Dodge Ram 1500 V8 with 4.7 now with 155K miles, I had truck since 2005. I always took great and still take great care of it. The following event has happen twice to me, one year apart from each other. The first time 2011 truck has about 120K miles, I was doing 30 mile an hour when a loud grinding started I was able to slow down to 10 miles an hour before the big bang noise occur and drive shaft felt off in the middle of a very busy intersection in stpete Florida ( 49th St and ulmerton ) the rear end had lock up my tires, even the big flat bed tow truck had hard time picking me up, the second time 2012 it happen in tampa Florida 140K miles also in a very busy hwy (veterans express). Second time the grinding noise was less louder when I first heard it, or I heard it way early jeje I knew what it was already so I let off the gas and let truck slow down but the big bang happen, lucky this was the second time this happen I knew what it was and I was already getting off the right shoulder, the second event happen with a second set of drive shaft and rear end, both time the rear end lock up my rear tires. Due to pinion and pinion nut malfunction and costly repairs I write to you today. The truck runs today, but the grinding noise is back. Is their recall or new better parts.

- Tampa, FL, USA

problem #17

Jun 192013

Ram 1500

  • 175,000 miles
I was driving my Dodge when I heard a grinding popping noise coming from the rear end. I immediately pulled over. And a local mechanic shop. They said bring it in so I did my pinion nut backed off and I needed a whole new rear end for the second time something needs to be done cause im only 17 and cant afford to keep putting $1000 + in a truck for the same thing.

- East Brewton, AL, USA

problem #16

Jun 092013

Ram 1500 8-cyl

  • 77,642 miles


While reverse parking at approximately 10 mph; the accelerator stuck to bottom of vehicle floor (sending vehicle to speed exceeding 70 mph) and it accelerated out of control. In an attempt to stop and avoid hitting pedestrians and building behind me; I hit the brakes, but the brakes would not stop the vehicle. I was forced to place the vehicle in park shift position while hitting brake, in order to stop vehicle. At first the shift control stopped in 'd' and the vehicle shot forward, but I kept hitting the brakes. And eventually; I managed to get it in the park position and it stopped the vehicle.

- Miami, FL, USA

problem #15

May 092013

Ram 1500 8-cyl

  • 130,000 miles
While driving, heard a loud noise and lost control as the back wheels locked up and back end fishtailed. Turns out the drive shaft dropped because of a sudden rear differential failure. Apparently there is a known flaw in the manufacturing \ design of the rear differential and sadly, Chrysler\Dodge is doing nothing to resolve the problem and insure the safety of their customers and vehicles. It is only a matter of time before someone is seriously injured....... Chrysler\Dodge's profits should not be allowed to grow at the expense of public safety....

- Daly City, CA, USA

problem #14

Oct 032012

Ram 1500

  • 215,000 miles
Truck stalls every time I start slowing down for a stop sign or red light and sometimes when I turn corners. When idling it shuts off immediately unless I throttle to keep rpms up. Also stalls when I put it in reverse. I've been almost hit several times when pulling into an intersection. Replaced all known causes and nothing has fixed the issue. I have read in some sites I may need a software update from Dodge dealership.

- Ft Hood, TX, USA

problem #13

Jul 252012

Ram 1500

  • 78,563 miles
While pulling out into busy traffic my truck lost power and I had no acceleration. After about 30 seconds the vehicle kicked back in and took off. This has occurred multiple times, at random, with no warning. I have had it in the shop and repaired the throttle positioning sensor, and treated it for water in the gas. Neither one of these solved the problems, and they have no answers for what else may be wrong. This is a dangerous situation that is not unique to my vehicle. I have read many other cases online for the same problem. I do hope that Dodge issues a recall and finds a remedy before someone is seriously injured or killed.

- Carroll, IA, USA

problem #12

Jul 082012

Ram 1500

  • 72,000 miles
I was driving the truck at approximately 45 mph when suddenly their was a loud bang and the rear wheels completely locked up. This caused the vehicle to skid about 60 feet before coming to a stop in the right lane of traffic. Upon examination, it appeared that the rear differential had locked up, causing the drive shaft to separate from the rear differential. I was sitting in the right lane of traffic, unable to move the truck from the road way. We had to direct traffic until the tow truck arrived. Fortunately no one was injured. Total repair bill to replace the faulty rear differential: $2,681.31.

- Lewisberry, PA, USA

problem #11

Dec 292010

Ram 1500 4WD 8-cyl

  • 110,000 miles
Was driving our vehicle 2003 Dodge Ram 1500 P/U in normal conditions, suddenly there was a whining noise from the rear end and a lot of drag. Shortly after a loud thud, the driveline had disconnected from the rear differential. The repair shop said the differential had seized, most probably due to a bad pinion bearing. After conducting research, both by myself and the shop owner, we both have found that it is a defect common to Dodge, as even acknowledged by the local dealership and that it is extremely difficult and/or expensive to locate replacement parts for the problem.

- San Jose, CA, USA

problem #10

Nov 012010

Ram 1500

  • 100,000 miles
The contact owns 2003 Dodge Ram 1500 quad St (na). While driving at an unknown speed, the contact stated that the rear end of the vehicle locked up, causing the vehicle to come to a stop without warning. The dealer and manufacturer were informed and they both stated that there was no warranty on the vehicle and that the rear end needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The current and failure mileages was approximately 100,000.

- St Pauls, NC, USA

problem #9

May 232004

Ram 1500

  • 16,585 miles
Driving on highway in 2004 & 2008, engine quit running(Dodge calls it a stall). Dodge trouble shooting database does not include this problem. Other independent data bases point to loss of crankshaft or camshaft pulse. There are no codes for this event, therefore no corrective action was taken after several scans at dealers. Safety hazard: Possible multiple rear end collisions and possible fires. Ref. Dot / NHTSA vehicle owner's questionnaire no. 10251962.

- Idaho Falls, ID, USA

problem #8

Sep 112009

Ram 1500

  • 60,573 miles
Hydraulic clutch went out, unable to shift gears (standard trans) odom under 60,000 could cause crash due to low speed. And inability to safely stop vehicle.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #7

Aug 122009

Ram 1500

  • 84,000 miles
2003 Dodge Ram 1500 laramie (5.7L hemi). Vehicle passed warranty, began to hear a low hum upon acceleration and deceleration. Hum/whining noise became increasingly worse, led to catastrophic failure of the rear end. Dodge engineers have determined that the rear end in the 2003 Dodge Ram 1500 - 3500 truck has an engineering flaw which causes the "C" pins in the rear end to break off and destroy the rear end. This damage has cause some of these vehicles rear ends to seize up and other to literally shear off the rear wheels. Repair consists of total replacement of the rear end in these vehicles. Although there have been numerous injuries and wrecks due to this failure and because Dodge does not recognize this as a major problem, there has never been a recall on any of these vehicles to correct the deficiency. Dealerships will not honor warranty, or accept liability for this catastrophic failure of one of their systems, for full or partial repair costs.

- Anniston, AL, USA

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