really awful
Crashes / Fires:
4 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 0
Average Mileage:
135,363 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 1 of 3)

problem #48

Nov 232016

Ram 1500

  • 250,000 miles


Driving down the road and the truck started to make long D noise upon slowing down for a stop sign, then the drive shaft fell out of rear end.

- Spring, TX, USA

problem #47

Oct 182016

Ram 1500

  • 1,680,000 miles
While driving down the interstate my 03 Dodge 1500 started making a whining noise. We pulled over and check the rear end fluid. It was fine. Got back on the highway and it was still whining. Made it about 50 miles do that and my truck shuts of. No power at all. I put it in natural and got it started and got off on an exit. It barely had power to move. Pulled into a motel and power picked up. I was 265 miles from home. I had to have my truck towed the 265 miles not knowing the problem and awaited to drive it any :* that. Got home my husband replaced the bearings and seals in the rear end. Well that didn't fix it. As we had the cover off the punkin of the rear end we found a broken piece in the bottom. A friend told me it was a part of the opinion gear. I don't know but a new rear end cost $2500 if not more. A used one costs $350 to $800. I'm stuck and don't know what to do.. I love my truck but I can't afford the rear end and I have to have a way to work.

- Watts, OK, USA

problem #46

Aug 042016

Ram 1500

  • 145,000 miles
Currently my 2003 Dodge Ram 1500 has a howling noise coming from the rear end. After reading numerous accounts of this same problem I feel lucky that my rear-end has not yet locked up on me. This is a definite safety issue as if lock up were to occur at highway speeds severe injury or even death could result.

- Fullerton, CA, USA

problem #45

Jun 112016

Ram 1500

  • 150,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Dodge Ram 1500. While driving at approximately 60 mph, a loud noise came from the rear of the vehicle. The contact stated that upon deceleration the gear shift shook rapidly. While putting the vehicle in park, the driveshaft fell and the rear driveshaft axle lifted. The contact stated that the vehicle was towed to his residence where he diagnosed that the rear driveshaft axle failed due to a loose rear axle pinion nut. The vehicle was repaired, however, the failure recurred. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 150,000.

- Keizer, OR, USA

problem #44

Jun 032016

Ram 1500

  • 75,000 miles
While driving down a hill at aprox 45mph I heard a loud bang and my drive shaft hit the ground and my differential locked up due to pinion nut backing off. I had no clue anything was going to happen. Thank god my family wasn't injured or killed.

- Racine, WI, USA

problem #43

Apr 072016

Ram 1500 4WD 8-cyl

  • miles
2003 Dodge Ram 1500. Consumer writes in regards to light switch still not working after repairs. The brakes and rotors were replaced. Also, the left front axle seal was starting to leak.

- Vulcan, MI, USA

problem #42

May 292015

Ram 1500

  • 130,000 miles


Takata recall. The contact owns a 2003 Dodge Ram 1500. The contact stated that the vehicle shifted gears abnormally. The check engine warning indicator illuminated. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where it was diagnosed that an O2 sensor malfunctioned and needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The contact received notification of NHTSA campaign number: 15V312000 (air bags), but the part to do the repair was not available. The manufacturer exceeded a reasonable amount of time for the recall repair. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 130,000. Parts distribution disconnect.

- Bedford, IN, USA

problem #41

Apr 032016

Ram 1500

  • 175,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Dodge Ram 1500. While driving approximately 35 mph, an abnormal sound emitted from the rear of the vehicle and it stopped abruptly without warning. In addition, the vehicle failed to move forward. The contact inspected the vehicle and discovered that the pinion nut loosened and caused the driveshaft to fracture from the vehicle. The vehicle was not diagnosed nor repaired. The vehicle was towed to the contact's residence. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The VIN was not included in NHTSA campaign number: 13V038000 (power train). The failure mileage was 175,000.

- Arkansas Pass, TX, USA

problem #40

Nov 012015

Ram 1500

  • 66,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Dodge Ram 1500. The contact stated that while driving approximately 20 mph with the accelerator pedal engaged, the vehicle failed to accelerate without warning. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic where it was diagnosed that the transmission needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 66,000.

- Tallassee, AL, USA

problem #39

Sep 042015

Ram 1500

  • 150,300 miles
Rear end locked up while driving on highway at appox. 35mph, no warning truck was jumping all over because rear tires would not move in forward, looked and noted: Drive shaft was on street broke off at pinion and differential not at universal as I expected I'm almost 80yrs old never had anything like this happen to me, even when flat bed towing company tried to load it, it broke his cable and freewheeled backwards lucky no one got hurt something about clutch in diff locked up in forward only, all this I have documented by licensed mechanic's and repair shop that rebuilt differential, also jonesville Michigan police were on scene and made out a report

- Jerome, MI, USA

problem #38

Aug 302015

Ram 1500

  • 89,000 miles


I brought my truck in for a routine transmission service, and alerted the service guy about a loud growling noise coming from the trans/ rear end. This had been becoming more frequent and louder every time I took my foot off the gas, upon deceleration. After inspection, it was discovered that the pinion nut was coming off. This caused a lot of damage inside the differential. After learning this, I was frustrated and researched online to see if there was a recall, there is a recall for the 2005 model year, but mine is a 2003... but it's the exact same problem! I can't be the only one who's had this happen in this model year, mine and my families lives could've been in jeopardy! the 2005 recall specifically says - "consequence: If the pinion nut loosens, the rear axle may seize, and/or the driveshaft may detach resulting in a loss of vehicle control, increasing the risk of a crash." I want to know if there will be any accountabilty for this from anyone? I have an unexpected bill now of a pretty substantial amount...

- Aberdeen, WA, USA

problem #37

Jul 032015

Ram 1500

  • 140,000 miles
While driving on the expressway at approximately 60 mph the rear axle pinion bolt vibrated off, causing the driveshaft to drop from the rear, the wheels locked up and the truck swerved to the left, luckily it swerved into a grassy median and not into another vehicle. The 2005 Dodge Ram was recalled for the same issue, no adhesive on the bolt to stop it from vibrating off. Its the same truck with the same rear and the same problem, and it should also be recalled before someone is killed!

- Hauppauge, NY, USA

problem #36

Jul 012015

Ram 1500

  • 81,500 miles
While driving home from work I started hearing this noise coming from the rear end at 81,000 I know it cant be the rear end, but yes its the rear end going out never pulled anything with the truck, fluids are changed on time and oil and rear end al ways change at the same time. The other problem is the steering I notice when I hit a dip in the hwy its hard too control but every time I take it buy the dealer ship they say its normal, never thought ill be giving up on Dodge but now I see they just wont your money and they wont stand be hind there product. I am sure I'm wasting my time writing this but gotta know if Dodge will respond back.

- Meridian, MS, USA

problem #35

Jun 112015

Ram 1500

  • 74,000 miles
Rear end locked

- Greenfield, IN, USA

problem #34

Apr 192011

Ram 1500 4WD 8-cyl

  • miles
The rear end grinds and has been for many years or is grinding little metal pieces off truck is unsafe to drive any longer until rear end gets replaced.

- Arena, WI, USA

problem #33

Apr 162015

Ram 1500 8-cyl

  • 149,515 miles
Had the rear end fail going close to 70 mph, drive shaft broke off the pinion gear shaft at the rear end causing the rear end to momentarily lock-up, before it broke free. This damaged the rear end! was lucky it didn't stay locked up! drive line ruined as well !

- Sanger, CA, USA

problem #32

Jan 122015

Ram 1500 4WD 8-cyl

  • 126,000 miles
While driving down the road I felt my entire truck shudder. Pulled over as soon as possible and saw driveshaft laying on the ground. Had truck towed back to my residence, where I inspected threat end and saw that the pinion but had backed off and cause driveshaft to come undone from rear differential my entire rear end is locked up and needs to be rebuilt. There is currently a recall for 2004 and 2005 for this same issue. However the recall states this could happen. Unfortunately it did happen to me and currently my vehicle is not on the list. 2003 Ram 1500 has 9.25 rear end, same as the recalled vehicles. I've been told by Chrysler that I should get vehicle repaired and hold onto receipt in case a recall arises with my vehicle. However this doesn't seem right since it's almost exactly the same truck with same equipment and this equipment failure isn't a potential issue, it's already ruined my rear end that I now have to pay myself due to faulty equipment, recall that should cover my vehicle.

- Ferndale , MI, USA

problem #31

Jan 242015

Ram 1500

  • 130,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Dodge Ram 1500. The contact stated that while driving approximately 40 mph, there was a loud abnormal noise. In addition, the tires seized and the drive shaft fractured. The vehicle was not able to be driven due to the failure. The vehicle was towed to a dealer but was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The VIN was not available. The approximate failure mileage was 130,000.

- Brighton, MI, USA

problem #30

May 252013

Ram 1500 8-cyl

  • 118,434 miles
My wife, kids and mother in law were driving North in miami heading to fort lauderdale the truck made a loud whining noise and then suddenly the rear wheels locked up and there was a huge bang and smoke rose from the rear of the truck. The aluminum driveshaft was split in 2 and there was oil all over the underside of the truck and on the ground. The truck would not roll at all and a flat bed needed to be used to bring the truck back to potamkin planet Dodge. The mechanic that did the tear down on the rear axel said he initially thought it could be rebuilt but I was contacted later and I was told that it was so frozen they couldn't free up the gears, I had to buy a new axel. The rebuilt replacement axel cost me $4334.01. The reason I'm now sending this in is because I just saw the recall notice that went out for the 2004 and up trucks and when I read the descriptions from the people that had submitted all of the complaints I realized how similar everyone's story was and that my situation may not have been just dumb luck due to a simple mechanical failure. The mechanics that worked on my truck were not surprised at all and made it seem like this is a pretty common failure on these trucks and I didn't even think at the time that it may have been a manufacturing or assembly defect. If my 2003 Dodge Ram 1500 axel had the same lot number or series serial number or came from the same factory then this recall should be expanded further back to cover all impacted parties. I owned the truck since it was brand new and it was not used as a work truck or any tough duty truck, it was our daily driving truck and I still own it today. I take care of my vehicles and people don't believe the truck is 12 years old when I tell them.

- Staten Island, NY, USA

problem #29

Dec 282014

Ram 1500

  • 110,000 miles
Driving down interstate 60 mph, drive shaft fell out from under truck, rear wheels locked up. Mechanic said the pinion broke off. Truck rear wheels would not turn. Couldn't roll the vehicle off the interstate. Some one pulled it off with a chain.

- Evansville, IN, USA

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