pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
101,615 miles
Total Complaints:
35 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replaced rear differential (23 reports)
  2. not sure (5 reports)
  3. replaced with a rear differential from Detroit Tru-Trac (3 reports)
  4. complete differential rebuild (2 reports)
  5. replaced rear-end and transfer (2 reports)
2003 Dodge Ram 1500 drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2003 Dodge Ram 1500 Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #35

Oct 132016

Ram 1500 SLT 5.7L Hemi

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles


I was driving on the New Jersey Turnpike on my way to Northeast Maryland with my brother in law on Thursday October 13,2016. I was pulling over to a service exit to grab a bite to eat I was doing 65 miles per hour and everything was fine with the car. In a matter of seconds I heard a weird grinding noise and I asked my brother in law if he heard it to suddenly without warning we heard a pop and the car began to swerve uncontrollably. Thank God I was not near many cars and the I was bale to swerve any the edge of the road that would have caused me to turn over. I nearly missed crashing into the wall. We than heard something drop and the back tires stopped moving. After calling a tow truck and paying over 500.00 my mechanic said my rear differential failed. I called the dealership and although this is an issue with the 2003 Dodge ram MY vin did not fall under coverage. This makes no sense because I had the same issue everyone else had but my truck was not covered. I am out over 2000.00 for a problem with this vehicle.

- , Newark, NJ, USA

problem #34

Aug 112014

Ram 1500 R15 5.7L Hemi

  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,000 miles

I was driving to work on a Monday morning heading to the interstate. The interstate entrance is about half a mile from my house. There were absolutely no warning signs of the failure that was about to occur. I got on the entrance ramp, accelerated up to speed, merged into traffic and let off the accelerator. I heard popping and grinding for a couple of seconds and then, BOOM! The pinion nut came off , driveshaft fell to the ground and the rear axle completely locked up as I was traveling 65mph. Cars were flying everywhere as they were trying to avoid my sudden uncontrolled slide. Luckily, no one hit me and my truck made it off the interstate (not under my control) and piled up in the dirt. That was in 2014. I had a drivetrain shop rebuild the front and rear differentials with 4:56 gears to compensate for the 37" tires I put on my truck thinking this would resolve the problem. NO... This time I had some warning as the popping and grinding started before I made it to the interstate. I turned around and gingerly drove it back toward my house. About 100 yards before I made it to my house, the pinion nut came off, the driveline dropped to the ground and the rear axle locked up. There I was in the middle of the road, at the top of a hill on a fairly busy road where the people coming up behind me couldn't see if any cars were coming up the hill. After several close calls, I removed the driveline, stuck it in 4-wheel drive and drug my truck off the side of the road. That was last week... I took it back to the shop and they rebuilt the rear differential. Today I'm hearing a whine come from the drivetrain again. I have thousands of dollars invested into repairs. What am I supposed to do, trade it in for less than I've spent on repairs? Who knows...maybe this time I'll be driving up to go hunting along the Payette river when it locks up and go careening off the road into the river. That ought to end my troubles... Maybe so many people need to die before Dodge will do something... Dodge, I'm done! Never again.

- , Caldwell, ID, USA

problem #33

May 082016

Ram 1500 4.7L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 390,587 miles

My 2003 Dodge Ram 1500 had a failure of the rear differential causing the rear axle to lock up and the truck to skid to a stop. Thankfully I did not lose control and only had the grief of directing traffic for 45 minutes while waiting for the tow truck to arrive.

I had very little advance warning of what was coming. It started making a grinding noise about 6 miles before the actual failure occurred. Now I am left with a hefty repair bill and decisions as to how far to go with it. The truck has been great for 390,000 miles, with numerous wear and tear issues along the way. No I have to ask myself if I want to put a new rear dif in or a cheaper (not cheap) used one that could have the same issue.

The issue seem to be that the pinion nut backed off, allowing the pinion to fall back into the rings gears causing sudden lockup of the rear axle. If only Dodge had the forethought to install a retainer for the pinion nut............

- , Louisville, TN, USA

problem #32

Nov 122015

Ram 1500 Hemi

  • Automatic transmission
  • 59,850 miles


I purchased this truck new in 2003. It was originally used to pull a light weight camper and boat. The truck was never treated badly and was serviced regularly. I recently purchased a much larger camper weighing 7100 pounds after contacting my local Dodge/Chrysler dealer and getting them to verify with the VIN number that my truck was fully capable of pulling this camper. It has the Hemi and towing package options.The rear end started making some popping noises at around 59,800 miles when I would make left or right turns. I had recently had the transmission and rear end serviced at the Dodge/Chrysler dealer and I thought they might not have put the additive in the rear end grease that is supposed to be added to limited slip rear ends. I took it back to the dealer to have it checked out. After they checked it out, they told me a clip of some kind in the cage that holds the clutches in the rear end had broken and the pieces had migrated through the rear end destroying about everything inside the rear end housing. They ended up replacing just about everything in that rear end except the outside housing. The Service Tech at the dealership told me that this was a reoccurring problem with these rear ends but Chrysler was not doing anything to help customers with the problem. I know this truck is 12 years old but that is no excuse for this problem. That truck has less than 60,000 miles on it and that rear end should be good for at lease 150,000+ miles. After seeing all of the complaints on this sight and talking to the Tech at the dealership, there is no doubt that this was a reoccurring problem that should have been corrected at no cost because this is clearly a design problem and I was informed that they did redesign the clip. I think I should be reimbursed for this repair job. I think all of the people that have had this issue should be reimbursed. This was a quality issue that Chrysler should make good on.

- , King, NC, USA

problem #31

Mar 092015

Ram 1500 SLT 5.7L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 185,000 miles

I live in Tampa, FL. and I own a 2003 Dodge Ram 1500 which purchase brand new when I got back from my first deployment in Iraq. I have been keeping it up as best as I can until now that my rear diff is whinning like crazy and I want to know where can I go and get it fix right and how much would it cost me? Is Dodge going to recall the 2003 Dodge Rams because of their rear end problems?

- , Riverview, FL, USA

problem #30

Mar 032011

Ram 1500 3.2L V6

  • Manual transmission
  • 130,000 miles

Here we go again! 2X, this time no noise, just complete failure! Luckily I was only going 5MPH and stopping when I felt a clunk, and change in ability to move vehicle. I was only about a mile from home, so we crawled back.

This is a known problem with several years of 2002-3 Rams, where Differential / Geer Fails. There are clips inside that come off. In this 2nd failure / occurrence, I towed my truck to a church friend / mechanic - who towed it to a precision / HD suspension shop out in the desert. Again - complete diff. rebuild!!!

So far - so good - It is holding up, but I baby my truck and don't overload or toe with it - which is crazy since I bought it to do just that! I bought the work truck that is supposed to be made to tow!!!! diff. is made for it! but failure is unacceptable! This should be a recall Dodge!!!!

This problem has been reported to dodge - corp & via Facebook. I also complained at the time to a consumer complaint - online. People have had serious accidents at low and high speeds. We need this solved! and our $ back!

- , norwalk, CA, USA

problem #29

Sep 202009

Ram 1500 3.2L V6

  • Manual transmission
  • 90,000 miles


This is a known problem with several years of 2002-3 Rams, where Differential / Gear Fails. There are clips inside that come off. In this 1st occurrence, I had towed a truck bed trailer to Cal. NP, and after my rear end started to make noises. Progressively got worse - By October - I took it to a diff. specific mechanic and had it rebuilt.

This should be a recall!!! Everyone knows about this problem, and many times it causes serious accidents!

- , norwalk, CA, USA

problem #28

Mar 012015

Ram 1500 4.7L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

I bought this truck a couple weeks ago off Craigslist. It was a Lifeguard vehicle in California that they sent to auction. My second trip down the hill to Sacramento from Auburn going to Dinios the rear end started howling off and on. At this point I was about a mile from my destination. I came to a stop sign at my location and proceeded to turn right when my rear axle locked up and my drive shaft broke off. If I would of listened to my girlfriend say we should get back on the freeway in try to make it home I fear that I would not be writing this message today. My biggest blessing is that I didn't get back on the freeway. For my son my girlfriend and I could off potentially been killed. Once the rear end seized and broke the drive line the tires never rotated again. In on the freeway at 65 miles an hour to have the reared lock up could of killed not only my family but anyone else's family near my truck. Dodge needs to wake up sales really .... sales are more important then peoples lives.

- , Auburn, CA, USA

problem #27

May 232014

Ram 1500 SLT 5.7hemi

  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,308 miles


- , Hatboro, PA, US

problem #26

Mar 072007

Ram 1500 Slt 4x4 4.3L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 54,761 miles

Barely made it home but at least it didn't lock the rear end and drop the driveshaft. Had the car towed to a Jeep Chrysler dealership with only 54k miles. Truck is a 4x4 that barely seen use as a 4x4 . It took them a week just to get the parts. Rear end later developed a whine with the accelerator off but better on load. The dealership later closed and I just put up with it.

Now at 110 k there seems to be lurching or lost connection of power. It looks like the rear end is going to go out again. Looks like this is a common defect with the rear ends with no guaranteed fix. After 12 years, you would think this problem would be fixed with better bearings, locking tangs for pinion nut and better retention clips.

Too bad the quality in body style isn't matched mechanically.

- , Corte Madera, CA, USA

problem #25

Nov 182014

Ram 1500

  • Automatic transmission
  • 205,000 miles


With only a brief notice of noise, when I exited the HWY running 70, when I started to exit the ramp, I heard a loud bang, and my drive shaft had fallen to the ground, I couldn't steer the truck because of this and also the rear brake caliper locked up. I slid into the curb causing damage and cars behind me were slamming on brakes barely missing my truck. It could have ended really bad. I had it towed to local shop and was $2700 plus a week to get parts to get it back on the road. Dodge knows it is a faulty part, ISSUE a recall before someone gets rear ended and killed like I could have been. Dodge needs to add 2003 years to the recall of the rear drive shaft problem.

- , Four Oaks, NC, USA

problem #24

Jul 012013

Ram 1500 Laramie 5.7L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,000 miles

Suddenly heard whining noise from rear of vehicle as we were towing our camper on I-95 near Baltimore. Tried to make it to a break in the guardrail so we could get off the road. About 50 feet before the opening, there was a loud bang as the rear end blew apart, exposing the gears, leaving the drive shaft dragging on the ground and a 50 foot oil streak. Total time from first noise to blow up was less than 30 seconds. Fluid level was checked less than two weeks prior.

Oh, did I say that was a saturday afternoon, 300 miles from home and the start of a 4th of July camping vacation? Only one open repair shop in the area and they had us by the $$$$'s. No more Dodge trucks for me.

- , Berlin, CT, USA

problem #23

Nov 052010

Ram 1500 SLT/Laramie 5.7L V8 Hemi

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

click to see larger images

rear differential failure

Truck rear end snapped and went out completely back in Nov of 2010.. Had to get it towed home and then to a 4x4 shop out of my own pocket.. I was stranded for a day and a half. I was without my truck for a month. When the shop called me, they said the pinion bearing went bad and snapped all the spider gears... I spent 900$ in new rebuild parts... I have driving it for about 1 year and the "clunking" started again... It's been getting worse and worse the longer I drive on it... I gotta take it back to the shop where the work was done and hopefully they will repair it with their own warranty they offer... No doubt the bearing went out again and is breaking off teeth from the spider gears again... Why hasn't dodge figured out a solution to this OBVIOUS manufactures default and called a recall on these 3.55 rear end issues in these 2003 dodge ram 1500 SLT/Laramie trucks yet?!?!?! What the hell are they thinking!!!! It's unsafe and seriously dangerous to send out into the world potentially life threatening manufactures foul ups!!!!! I pray that everyone driving these trucks, as well as myself stay safe out there on these rough streets!!! I'm filing a complaint and calling BBB about this issue!!! Enough is enough, I've been a loyal Dodge customer for several decades now and this truly is the last straw!!! I WANT RESOLUTION FOR THIS ISSUE!!!!!!!!!! And reimbursement for my financial loss and hardship!!! By the way, I have NEVER been off roading in my beautiful truck!!! What's the deal?!?!?!

- , Sanford, NC, USA

problem #22

Oct 012007

Ram 1500 SLT 4.7L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 53,000 miles

Bought truck brand new. Just after the original 50K drive train warranty expired, I start noticing a whine from the rear end. "Need to replace!" says my local dealer. Really? Replace the whole rear-end - on a TRUCK - with nothing but easy highway miles - that's never towed or carried anything heavier than my arse? "Must be done", says he. For some strange reason I had the money in my savings account, so I get it done. Since then, I've had the rear end checked regularly and fresh oil kept in it. Now I'm at 130k miles. Guess what? Whine coming from the rear end again. Dealer says "Replace!". I say "Not going to happen". When I look online, this seems to be a common problem for Dodge truck owners. Is their any actual SOLUTION to this problem, other than just putting the same faulty parts back in and crossing my fingers? Is there a later year rear end with less issues that can be swapped in? Aftermarket build something better than Dodge's complete failure? How can I get a Chevy 10 bolt in there - I've treated those like crap my whole life and NEVER had to replace one!

- , Ontario, CA, USA

problem #21

Jan 042013

Ram 1500 SLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 151,525 miles

In looking on the web, and researching this a little bit, there seems to be a fairly large problem with the rear-ends in the Dodge Ram trucks. First, I seem to recall this truck being a Motor Trend truck of the year at some point, and the problem is not limited to one model year. I have seen one site that graphs the complaints and it seems this rear-end problem peaked in 2010. I can't believe they ignored this problem, and can't believe that Dodge has ignored this problem for so long. As a matter of fact, the decline in complaints in 2011 and 2012 may be because auto sales tanked with the economy, so the problem may still be as bad.

I plan on buying a new truck in a year or so, and unless they own up and fix this problem I will NOT look at Dodge.........sorry.

- , Rice, VA, USA

problem #20

Jan 032013

Ram 1500 Laramie 5.7L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 119,626 miles

It started with a whining, but I just got new tires so I figured that was the cause. Travelling on the PA turnpike the sucker let loose and started bucking and carrying on. I limped it to the first mechanic I found at 5:30 in the morning and left it for him to look at. He said the diffy was gone and would cost $2500 in parts. I ended up paying $350 to tow it home and there it sits in my driveway leaking gear oil all over the place.

THANKS DODGE for making a terrific product.

- , Douglassville, PA, USA

problem #19

Sep 012012

Ram 1500 SLT 4.7L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 111,847 miles

Had a dealer repair could not justify new parts used wreckers qualified parts cost 3000 got another 600 miles blew again going to cost the same again. Dealer will reimburse 1500 but seems to me there should be a recall. discussed with neighbor his friend had it lock up on a major highway I suspect there are many cases not reported here.

- , Calgary, Alberta, canada

problem #18

Sep 302011

Ram 1500 5.7L Hemi

  • Automatic transmission
  • 104,000 miles

Well I guess I'm another lucky Dodge Ram 1500 owner with a locked up rear differential. This truck has 4WD, 104,000 miles. At first I thought it was a rear brake pad or inner shoe dragging. Problem - one rear wheel will lock up after backing up, and then, as going forward a few feet -- Snaps free or should Clanks free. Now wheels locked together - no slippage for turns. Apparently, from the previous owner, at 20,000-30,000miles (2005) was in for " clunking in rear axle " at a dealership in San Diego, Calif.

So, How do we get a recall going from Dodge. Petitions? NTSB-National Transportation and Safety Board? Ralph Nader?

Other than that Runs Great! for 100,000+ miles. At the moment looking for a reputable service shop in Los Angeles

- , glendale, CA, USA

problem #17

Dec 262010

Ram 1500 SL 4.7lV8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

I had the rear end repaired under warranty in 2006. however the dealer hoodwinked me into $900 worth of repairs replaced front wheel bearings when I probably didn't need them replaced. I sold the truck to my stepson in May 2010. When we went to visit him in Fl in Dec 2010 he complained of a noise in the rear end. We took the truck to a dealer in Chiefland Fl.The dealer told us the rear end needed to be replaced. We had this done at a cost of $2000. My stepson has only driven the truck 3000 miles. The rear end noise is back,the repair job is still under the 12 month warranty. I feel that Dodge knew that that model of truck had bad rear ends but didn't issue a recall. When my stepson comes home from over the road truck driving we will have the rear checked out again. I hope the dealer honors the warranty of the dec 2010 repair.

- , Toledo, OH, USA

problem #16

Oct 052011

Ram 1500

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,450 miles

Just bought this truck used from a dealer less then a year ago. had 58000 miles on it. at the time. at 70450 miles the rear differential went out. every one wants $2500.00 to fix this. I am taking my chances and going to the junk yard and fixing it myself and hoping i get a good rear end for $800.00 I am a Chrysler employee and this is my 3rd dodge truck and I have had problems with them all. I will never buy another one. Pay this one off and giving ford a shot. sad to say

- , Toledo, OH, USA

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