really awful
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
91,950 miles
Total Complaints:
13 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace engine (8 reports)
  2. not sure (6 reports)
2003 Dodge Ram 1500 engine problems

engine problem

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2003 Dodge Ram 1500 Owner Comments

problem #13

Mar 012008

Ram 1500 SLT 4.7L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles


Purchased a new 2003 Dodge Ram 1500 Quad 4x4. At 75,000 miles the engine went out while going on vacation. Used the 4x4 maybe twice since I purchased it. Kept up on service. Changed oil regularly. Had it towed back to Phoenix, AZ Earnhardts said it was due to oil sludge. I had copies of all my receipts. I don't think it was SLUDGE. I believe the 4.7 l motor was to weak for a truck this size. They should have never placed a 4.7 l in a heavy 4x4. Chrysler put in a new motor, my cost was about $500.00. THANK GOODNESS! I'm afraid to take this truck out of town now and I fear cruising up to the mountains because the motor seems like it is struggling and rpm's get up to 6500. Other complaint is the front dash is cracking and the dealership said this is a common problem for this year. What the f%$* !

- nomoredodgeaz, Gilbert, AZ, US

problem #12

Feb 082009

Ram 1500 4.7L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

i have 26 years in at chrysler. I used to yell at my daughter because she wanted to lease or buy a mazda or honda, i have leased at least 8 vehichles all dodge or jeep. I bought my 2003 dodge 1500 4x4. I loved it, the truck started bogging out @ a year ago. took it to a mechanic and he replaced the right side head and all rocker arms and valves, said i had alot of sludge in engine, 3000.00 worth of work. it ran for 3 months. same problem. rough idle wont go over 40 mph. Took it to chrysler jeep on telegraph road in Taylor mi. They told me I needed the left side head replaced'.I talked with the guy who wrote my truck up and the mechanic who was going to work on the truck. told him about all work done on my truck . All parts put in on truck were brought through these guys, they showed me what was bought. Any how, told Brian at telegraph chrysler jeep the last mechanic noticed sludge problem . Thought i would let him know PRIOR to doing left head. Well $2500.00 later the truck lasted 80 miles.. Took truck back and they decided i need a new engine..... After i spent 2500.00..The service manager will not refund my money on the work they did saying i withheld the fact the last mechanic noticed sludge...I swear on the bible i told these people everything prior to them even looking at my truck, Is it my responsability to track down the service manager to a dealership to explain my dilemma?

He, Mike K totally ripped me off 2400.00 dollars. i told his mechanic brian all about the problems i was having prior to any work being done, Now they want 5000.00 for a rebulilt engine. my discount is $70.00 an hr for labor instead of $90.00.PRETTY GENEROUS OF THEM HUH?

I THINK ITS A SHAME THIS GUY IS ABLE TO JUST PLAIN RIP ME OFF THE WAY HE IS. I gaurantee i will not stop here, HE WILL GIVE ME MY MONEY BACK.CHRYSLER TELEGRAPH IN TAYLOR MICH NEEDS A NEW SERVICE MANAGER,HE IS A TOTAL CROOK. I am hiring a lawyer. EVEN IF IT COST ME MORE THAN AN ENGINE.26 years building these dodge cars should help me somehow......oh yeah my truck only has 80,000 miles on it.


problem #11

Jun 092010

Ram 1500 SL 4.7L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

my engine just lockedup! now i need a new one. it was do to sludge.

- Tony H., Palmetto, FL, US

problem #10

Nov 242009

Ram 1500 4.7L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 140,000 miles


On the way to Thanksgiving dinner, the check gauges light comes on. All gauges look fine so my husband keeps driving as the truck has had no trouble prior to this. A couple miles down the road it dies. Later it cranks up w/ a noise in the engine, we send it in to find out whats wrong and they tell us it has no oil pressure because of sludge blocking the tube going from the oil pan. They restored oil pressure but the engine is still knocking and has a few shavings in the oil pan. They tell me we need a new engine and it will be $5300. We of course do not have this much money and still owe a bunch on the stupid truck too! Mine husband regularly changes his oil and filters and monitors all that stuff religiously, so there shouldn't be that much sludge to begin w/. $5300 sounds like an aweful lot for an engine. Then I get online and find literally hundreds if not thousands of this same exact complaint..... people that take good care of their trucks have the engine go bad because of sludge. Why is Dodge not doing something about this? Should there not be a recall to fix the problem!!! We are soooo not happy. This is our second Dodge and we also had to replace the engine in the first one! I will never buy another Dodge Truck - EVER!!!!

- akapple, Martinez, GA, US

problem #9

Jul 182009

Ram 1500 SLT Magnum 4.7L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 119,633 miles

Well first of all it all seems to start with my coolant system that I had to get replaced several times. The dealer mentioned that they had problems in the past with some particular parts. They switched the system several times (new radiator and all) . Keep in mind that my check engine light keeps coming on. I am no mechanic so I looked to the dealer for answers. O.k after about a thousand plus for that and some other things I am thinking everything is fine. I get oil changes virtually every 3000th mile give or take.

Check engine light comes on again, back to the dealer, this time they tell me about some oil sludge. I am thinking oil sludge, how is that possible when I had just got an oil change recently. I was shocked! But paid for the problem as usual. They did not tell me that Dodge 2003 Magnum 4.7 litre engine were having a problem some how. Recently I wanted to take a 200 mile trip away from home with a check engine light on that would not go off (after taken it to the dealer) they said it would be fine after they had looked at it. On my trip I had a problem of engine overheating. So to make a long story short I went back to the dealer...and you know that they wanted more money for this and that. and now I am totally frustrated... No more Dodge of any kind. I am not sure if I should even try to fix this, thinking something else will come along! It was nice to read on this site knowing I was not an isolated incident.

- Timothy C., Hinesville, GA, US

problem #8

Oct 012008

Ram 1500 SLT 4.7L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

There is no way this truck should be doing this,i have had it checked twice and they say the #6 cylinder is not working andf the engine needs to be replaced,with only 100,000 miles on it and looking brand new and oil changed and serviced right on time every time it makes me sick. No wonder Chrysler is going under, and as always the warranty ran out this vehicle with the 4.7 should be a recall. I am fed up with this vehicle.

- George D., Weedsport, NY, US

problem #7

Feb 232009

Ram 1500 4x4 4.7L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,000 miles


Same as every one else changed my oil last weekend on Friday the oil light came on so I pulled over and shut the truck off. I check the oil it was fine, stated the truck back up gauge was fine. today on the way home (Monday) it did it again half mile from home now the engine needs rebuilt. this is the first time i am thinking about buy something other than a dodge. dealer will not help this is the fourth new auto i have bought from them no more.

- mxracer988, Cement City, MI, US

problem #6

Jan 202009

Ram 1500 SLT 4.7L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,000 miles

Just another premature failure, lost oil pressure on my way to work, now have noise in engine and cannot afford to repair

- Ken W., Pinson, AL, US

problem #5

Jul 282008

Ram 1500 3.7L, V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 79,000 miles

I am completely disgusted with the Dodge company starting at where I purchased my truck, on up the line! I have experienced the same problem as the others under this complaint. My truck NEVER had any priblems at all. I have taken good care of it too. After my 75,000 mile warranty had expired (of course), my motor stopped working. My mothers husband looked at it for me and told me exactly what happened. He said that there was an unusual amount of sludge throughout the motor and it caused it extensive damage. The lifters in the engine would not ome back up, and there was several other factors. I was unaware, until now, that this seems to be an ongoing problem for Dodge truck owners. We purchased a rebuilt motor and it ended up not being compatible with my truck. In 2004, Dodge changed the crankshafts reluctor ring from 16 tooth to 32 tooth. We changed this out and everything was fine for about 5 months. Now the reluctor ring has come off and was damaged in its process. BUT GUESS WHAT?!?! You can't just buy this one part for my truck! Dodge does not sell it! You have to buy the whole dang crankshaft!!!! If anyone has any words of advice or helpfulness... please send them to me!

- Shannon J., Seymour, TN, US

problem #4

Sep 032008

Ram 1500 4.7L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

We have had this truck in and out of the shop for months. The truck has 75,000 miles on it now, the engine finally seized after check engine lights has been on for months. Would put it in for repairs, get it fixed, engine light back on. Threw in tons on money on several repairs. Little did we know that was the beginning of the end. Oil pressure gauges going up and down had that replaced while in the 7/70 warranty. Now the engine fails at 75,000 miles and I called Dodge the other day and they denied any financial help at all. The woman in customer service was RUDE and on a power trip telling me know. They know they have a problem. I have all the receipts from our continuous repairs and they do not care because we did not bring it to a DODGE dealership. I have contacted an attorney and will be filing a claim against dodge for this repair. I hope everyone joins in as a class action suit. Look at their record for engine failures on several of their models. NEVER EVER BUY A DODGE........

- Ann D., Weymouth, MA, US

problem #3

May 132008

Ram 1500 4.7L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 135,000 miles


Dodge needs to fix oil sludge build up problem. Left cylinder head and camshaft trashed.

- jack70621, Vidlaia, GA, US

problem #2

Jan 012008

Ram 1500 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 39,800 miles

Same thing happened to me that I see happens to other owners of Dodge Ram 1500's all over the web! On the 2003 Dodge Ram V6 and V8 models there seems to be a serious problem that hits these engines at mid-life, say around or above 50,000 miles. There seems to be a seize in the oil pump followed by cylinder/valve failure?! I have only 39, 800 miles on my engine. An orange check light came on followed by a tapping coming from one of the cylinders. I had the truck towed to a mechanic here in the valley (Van Nuys) and they told me there is sludge in the engine. I'm on full warranty but Chrysler will not honor it because they want full maintenance records on the oil changes. I have moved about 4 times over the years as a traveling consultant and I have misplaced some of the receipts. ( I guess I never thought this would occur, so I didn't keep them) However, interestingly, this truck has not been driven too much either, since I prefer to ride my Honda Goldwing Motorcycle instead when it's nice outside...It has never towed anything heavy and I used it mainly when I move things around, say when I switch jobs or residence. This happened pretty quickly and I guess I would never have expected this from such a beast of a truck like a Dodge. I thought, initially, that these trucks are extremely reliable! It seems there is a known complaint from consumers throughout the auto industry about these vehicles and most mechanics including the dealer stay away from fixing them! The dealer turned me down for an appointment for over two weeks when I told them it was a Dodge 1500. The dealer also told me that they were pretty sure that if there is gunk on the valve heads, the warranty will not cover it! Can you imagine how strange this sounds to a consumer that is out of luck, who has a full warranty? Seems that there is not way out of this but to purchase a new engine for about $9000.00, since no matter what you do, Chrysler will not cover a seized engine failure! They call it "Sludge In The Engine" and will avoid talking to you and will blame you for the failure! I don't know what to do from here...I still owe money on this vehicle and I'm considering filing a suit against the warranty company just like the other scores of people who are having the same problem. I believe this needs to be known and more people should come forward to file a class action law suit against Dodge/Chrysler for not standing by their warranty! This is a prevalent problem and I will collect all evidence from the web I can find and create a case against Dodge who needs to step up to the plate and handle their problem with this/these particular vehicles...

- Mario G., Burbank, CA, US

problem #1

Nov 012007

Ram 1500 SLT 4.7L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,812 miles

This is the same thing that has happened to Jeffrey D. Reidsville, NC, POST #2 "Ram 1500 XLT 4.7L"

"2002 Dodge Ram 1500 engine failure due to oil sludge."

Driving down the highway on November 1st about 100 miles from home, the check gauges light and audible alarm came on and a ticking sound coming from the engine. I looked down to see that oil pressure gauge going from low to high. I immediately pulled over and turned the truck off. I popped the hood checked the oil, it was fine not burnt and the correct level. We just had it in to Hendrick Dodge NC 5 days prior (Oct 25 2007) for this problem, the Tech checked the oil pressure with a gauge and told my Wife it was fine to drive that it was a faulty oil pressure sensory switch. Six days prior to that (Oct 19 2007) Hendrick Dodge Cary NC had changed the oil.

I waited 5 mins, turned it back on and it was tapping just as before so shut it down and called the local dealership Crown Dodge in Greensboro, NC. I then called Spotlight Towing and had the truck delivered to Crown Dodge dealership. I received a call a day later from Crown Dodge service rep saying the truck engine was full of sludge and that I needed a new engine. The Rep told me new engine was going to cost me over $7K for parts before tax and labor, (Keep in mind it was running fine when I had it towed, I had it towed as a precautionary method). The truck has 86,812 miles on it and was last serviced by Hendrick Dodge in Cary, NC. Crown Dodge in Greensboro NC charged me $408.00 for removal of oil pan and to put it back together.

I then had my RAM towed to Hendrick Dodge Dealer Cary NC for them to diagnose the problem, they said the engine was full of sludge, that I needed a new motor at 7k before tax and labor. I asked what they thought the cause of the problem was, the Tech said it was due to my Negligence and that I didn't have the oil changed on a regular basis. I asked how could he say that and his response was, "I looked in the service computer and it shows you have only change the oil three times at Hendrick". I told him I usually have the oil changed at Hendrick Cadillac, so he was wrong. The service Rep said without any receipts for oil changes, I would have to pay out of my own pocket and he was not speaking professionally. The RAM owner's manual says the manufacturer suggested maintenance every 6000 miles and no receipts were required. I had the oil changed every 3000-5000 miles and keep it mint condition, it still looks new.

I called Hendrick Dodge on five different occasions trying to speak to or set an appointment with Dale Campo the Service Department General Manager, without any luck. Why are the Service Department General Managers always unavailable?

So I have a meeting set for the Service Department General Manager, myself, and my attorney for next week.

I will be filling claims against the Dodge/Chrysler Corporation, Hendrick Dodge and a claim with the BBB. Also I will be calling the Raleigh local News channels, “5 On You Side” news team for assistance.

Any information I get I will post back.

If you had the same problem, “engine failure due to oil sludge”,

please let me know how you resolved the issue with the Dealer.


- K. S., Raleigh, NC, US

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