really awful
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
97,800 miles
Total Complaints:
16 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. new engine (5 reports)
  2. replace engine (4 reports)
  3. buy a ford (3 reports)
  4. not sure (2 reports)
  5. had to buy a crate to replace 7k later (1 reports)
  6. valve job (1 reports)
2003 Dodge Ram 1500 engine problems

engine problem

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2003 Dodge Ram 1500 Owner Comments

problem #16

Jun 052004

Ram 1500 SLT 5.7L Hemi

  • Automatic transmission
  • 10,000 miles


First year of the new Hemi. Valve springs were a problem. Dodge replaced the one valve spring but would not replace all others until they failed. In 2010 another valve spring failed at 100,000 miles. Had both heads rebuilt. New valve seats to correct the lose valve seat problem and all new springs. The valve spring defect and the differential defect are well know defects with Dodge Ram trucks. I now have 250,000 miles on the truck. I got back the cost of these two costly repairs in miles driven and expect to get 350,000 miles out of this truck.

- fitz70, Clovis, CA, US

problem #15

Aug 202015

Ram 1500 LS 5.7L Hemi

  • Automatic transmission
  • 165,000 miles

Add me to the long list of hemi buyers same thing happened ordered reman engine supposed to get it back next weekend see from there.


problem #14

Dec 122014

Ram 1500 SLX 4.7V8L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 126,000 miles

From the beginning I heard engine noise. I always check water levels and oil. I love my truck. One day it blew-up. The bad part I am broke and no way to fix my truck. I am willing to pay 100 dollars a month for engine.

- Daniel G., Brownsville, TX, US

problem #13

Jul 102013

Ram 1500 SLT 4.7L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles


Timing chain tensioners failed, Head Gasket started leaking, engine failed soon after.

- Marco G., Austin, TX, US

problem #12

May 122014

Ram 1500 SLT 5.7L Hemi

  • Automatic transmission
  • 125,000 miles

I bought my 2003 Dodge Quad Cab 4x4 5.7 L Hemi brand new 0 miles, well maybe 6 or 7 miles on it. I had the oil changed every 3000 miles, synthetic oil. Not 1 problem with the truck motor, used the 4-wheel drive maybe 10 times. The common things everyone complains about have happened, dash all cracked and the actuator is stuck.

At 125,000 miles, the check gauges light came on, the oil pressure gauge would drop for a split second and then every thing would go back to normal. It did this about 20 times over the course of a couple days. I was driving at about 55 mph, engine suddenly sounded really rough, shut off, I pulled off the road. The engine would not turn over. Towed it to dealership, number 8 piston shattered, only a mere $ 8,000 to replace it, that is if they do not need to replace parts the don’t come on the “new” engine, like thermostat, water pump, etc… This is an $ 8000 NEW engine, but it doesn’t come with a water pump, go figure.

I did some research, this is yet another common problem with Dodge Rams, like the dash cracking and the actuator sticking, I found several complaints from people with the same exact problem, same exact piston, number 8 piston, so maybe, just maybe this could be a factory defect? No, not Dodge.

Yes I am replacing my engine for $ 8000, I love my truck, no way could I replace it for that amount, no way I am going to spend $ 50,000 for a new truck. So you got me again Dodge, what a sucker am I?

- instagator, Orange City, FL, US

problem #11

Sep 232009

Ram 1500 SLT 4.7L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,695 miles

I bought my 2003 Dodge Ram 1500 4x4, used, back in 2005 when I returned home from overseas. It had roughly 25,000 miles on it at the time. I had continual issues with this truck. Misfired all the time, CEL, etc. dealers couldn't fix it. I was an ASE Master Certified Technician before I went into Active Duty Military in 2001. I serviced this truck regularly because I know how. The truck up and decided one day to start misfiring badly at 77,695 miles. For those of you tracking, that's only 52,000 miles in 4 years. Found out by my own diagnosis (pulling the plugs) that it was the # 8 cylinder. It wasn't the injector, nor the brand new platinum spark plugs, or anything else. I ended up having to pull the valve cover off the right side. I found the # 8 exhaust valve stuck open and it's rocker arm sitting in the bottom of the cylinder head. I took it to the dealer that I bought the truck from because I luckily got an extended warranty through them. Guess what? The engine needed to be replaced. Since the # 8 exhaust valve stuck open and kicked the rocker arm out, then it closed and heated up the cylinder wall enough to crack it. The warranty company replaced the engine with a long block 4.7L from Dahmer Powertrain, Inc out of Lees Summit, MO. From the start this engine made noise from the bottom of the motor. I didn't like it but was forced to deal with it. Luckily I only had to pay my $100 deductible for an engine that was $6,500 and 10 hours labor at over $100/ hr. You do the math. I have seen all of the other complaints about this motor doing the exact same thing and I feel sorry for everyone who has serviced their vehicle on a regular basis, has proof of it, and gets jacked around by these big corporations who deny claims while they KNOW they ave serious problems with this motor. And for all of you out there that like to say that it's a lack of maintenance, dealers, extended warranty companies, Dahmler Chrysler, you can BUZZ off!! As I stated earlier, I was an ASE Master Certified Technician for years. I worked the line, I know how to service a vehicle and have done it for years. By the way, I made Master in 2 years! I know what I'm doing!

- Shane H., Tucson, AZ, US

problem #10

Feb 042012

Ram 1500 4.7L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 117,180 miles


I bought this truck and had to wait 9 days to get it.They had to do body work on it due to rust this turn out ok.My wife went to pick up the truck on friday and drove it home no problem.My wife & I went to go to altoona so we got in to the truck went 40 miles & all hell broke lose.The motor made a noise & went from 70 miles an hour to 40 miles an hour.The dealer is going to tell me on monday 2/06/2012 what the problem is.Can't wait to hear what he has to say.I owned the truck less than 24hrs.The oil gauge only works when you turn the truck on back off and on again. Had the oil pressure checked and its alright. Dealer told me that is how it works, did not fix it.

Update from Feb 11, 2012: Ok,No more 2003 ram 1500.The dealer took the truck back and I got my money back.The motor is no good.Needs head,cams,etc.I went some where else to buy my truck now I have a 1500 (2004) Hemi motor 4 door loaded.Wow this is a nice truck.You all need to put Full Synthetic oil in your engine and buy a good filter.They are about $12.00 to $15.00.

- athlon4532, Bedford, PA, US

problem #9

Jan 022012

Ram 1500 SLT 5.7L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

IT is the biggest piece ever on the 2003 dodge ram hemi!!!!!!!

- Alec G., Arkadelphia, AR, US

problem #8

Aug 182010

Ram 1500 Xenon 4.7L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 112,000 miles

Does any body know how to fix this problem !!?? stalls while driving at low rpms sometimes starts back up... sometimes you have to wait an hour

- Thomas O., New Orleans, LA, US

problem #7

Nov 182010

Ram 1500 Laramie 5.9L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 91,177 miles

My pickup started to run a little rough, and I knew it was due for new plugs, change them every year, and I replaced the air filter. Truck ran better, but idled a little high. Next day had a diagnostic check done, was told cylinder number one was miss firing, to check my plug wires. Did that, and all vacuum hoses, began checking to see if fuel injectors were going bad. While trying to solve the problem had to keep getting to work, so I took it easy, by the way, truck ran great with the OD off, but really rough, (like driving on a washboard gravel road in a Honda civic!). This morning halfway to work, check gauges light flashed, oil pressure gauge dropped and bounced back, by the way, the dipstick said I was at the safe level last night and the three previous days before. Then I lost all power while driving on the freeway, and had to muscle the truck to the side of the road. Turned it off, let it set and turned the key, and NOTTA. Come to find out, after getting it towed, the mechanic shop cant remove the dipstick to check the oil level, its wrapped around the crankshaft. Now I have to pay 7 GRAND for a new motor on a truck I have owned for one year. I too, took good care of my rig, always checking the fluid levels, and the normal things. What a way to start the holidays.

- John G., Richland, WA, US

problem #6

Jul 302010

Ram 1500 SLT 4.7L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,000 miles


My quad cab 4.7L dodge Ram SLT had the heater core go at 75,000 miles. No heat in the middle of winter!! Of course the warranty was only 7 years / 70,000 miles and the dealer wouldn't budge to help one bit. Looking into the problem further the truck needed a new thermostat, new radiator, and the top end of the engine rebuilt: new head gaskets and cylinder heads milled and rebuiltall in it was over $4,000 to get it back working right. Unfortunately it wasn't worth selling in non-working condition and I still owed on it so I had to go ahead and fix it. What upset me the most other then spending that much money is I kept this truck near mint, did all preventative maintenance, and never beat on this vehicle. Up until then it ate no coolant and never ran hot or over-heated. It was out of the blue.

What's even worse is this happened TWICE! 6 months later at 82,000 miles coming home from a trip I was watching the thermostat slowly move pass the middle ground towards the hot mark. I immediately pulled over to the side of the interstate and it was too late. Within one minute of stopping I heard a loud sissssss and then the heater core blew part dumping all the antifreeze from my entire cooling system onto my girlfriends feet, flooding my interior. The dealer said it needed head gaskets and heater core again. Of course the original dealership only guaranteed 90 days on parts and no labor coverage so that was no help. They suggested a new engine as they said mine must have a "hot spot" or "something causing pressure spikes" in the cooling system.

I choose to put it back together and sold the truck at a huge loss with full disclosure. I just couldn't deal with the uncertainty of that truck. Long story short I would tell everyone to stay clear of any 2003 4.7L dodge Ram. The money you save on repairs would be better spent on the higher sale price of more reliable trucks from the likes of Chevy/Ford.

- mtny, Horseheads, NY, US

problem #5

Mar 292010

Ram 1500 LX 5.7L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 111,500 miles

I had the lower end of the 5.7 Hemi rebuilt in September of 2009.

In November I had to have the top end done (I know I should have done them both at the same time).

Now the ETC (red lightening bolt light) is on and it stalls and runs awful.

Is there any end in sight?

- Alan W., Hesperia, CA, US

problem #4

May 032007

Ram 1500 4.7L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

Just like everyone else, engine light was on and took to dodge and they said I need $10,000 worth of engine parts, and I had the oil every time it needed to be done. My truck is down with 60,000 miles. It's a shame dodge treated us this way and please if anybody filed a lawsuit call me or email me please Mrs.Rome (903)280-0876 or laqesiarone@yahoo.com

- Laqesia R., Texarkana, TX, US

problem #3

Oct 262007

Ram 1500 SLT 4.7L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

I puchased a 2002 Dodge Ram 1500 SLT in August 2002. The truck was in like-new condition with only 8000 miles on it. I changed the oil/filter every 3000 miles. The truck was the best I've ever had until on a short trip from Macon to Atlanta, a distance of 85 miles, just as I reached my destination, the temperature skyrocketed and puked out water and cooling fluids. I had it towed to a garage where ti spent the next week getting the entire cooling system replaced, starting with the thermostat and ending with the radiator. Parts-$600 Labor-$600 Motel-$300 Meals-$100 Lost Wages-$1200 Cost of Cheap Heap-$2000 -(and I only got it last October). I picked up the truck and waazaa! -it ran great, and cool too!

For 50 miles before in just a few seconds,and before I could get off the road, she lost her cookies again, this time with lubricants. When I inquired about the problem to Dodge, they said since I didn't buy the Extended Warranty.....well, they had a new motor in stock for only $6000 -plus installation -a mere $2000, they could have me running in a week.

Needless to say -I couldn't afford that, so after calling dozens of wrecking yards and wholesale engine rebuilders, I found out that since this is happening all over the country, still running and rebuilt 4.7L motors are in such high demand, they run $1000 to $1500 HIGHER than the 5.9L Magnum or the 5.7L Hemi motors. -and get this...-since the Daimler engineers has a hand in designing this remarkable piece of technology, the mounts and transmission housing cannot interchange with any other Chrysler product.

Does anyone out there need a low mileage pre-owned 2002 Dodge Ram 1500 SLT?

- Gary S., Warner Robins, GA, US

problem #2

Oct 302008

Ram 1500 4.7L V8

  • Manual transmission
  • 100,000 miles

apparently dodge has a problem with their heads cracking at the valve seat (journels are small) that is why they stock so many. it ended up bending the rod and crank in my #2 cylinder..seepage of fluid thanks dodge just out of warranty and no recalls

- grt88, Colorado Springs, CO, US

problem #1

Apr 162009

Ram 1500 SLT Sport 5.7L Hemi

  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,000 miles

Dodge should just go away, the world would be a better place. Truck never lost oil pressure, temperature never rose above normal. Pulling an incline towing a lightly loaded 5x8 covered trailer, heard a ticking noise and almost immediately engine quit with a thump. Broken rod, timing chain and all that goes with the break down. Oil and filter was changed according to manufacturer's recommendations. Yes had a Hemi-roid I'm a Ford man now!

- volboater, Beech Bluff, TN, US

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