really awful
Crashes / Fires:
5 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
4 / 2
Average Mileage:
16,036 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 transmission problems

transmission problem

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2003 Dodge Ram 1500 Owner Comments

problem #18

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 #17

Jan 032007

Ram 1500 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 59,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Dodge Ram 1500. The consumer stated from time to time, the vehicle would not engage in reverse for 10-15 seconds. The dealer replaced the transmission oil sump, cooler bypass and torque converter. Since then, he has had to return to the dealer several times for the same problem. The dealer then stated they could not find a problem with the transmission. The failure mileage was 59,000. Updated 2/22/10 updated 06/25/10.

- Independence, OH, USA

problem #16

Oct 172008

Ram 1500

  • 19,959 miles
This is an update to the complaint I filed due the incident with my stepfather. That complaint is #10246879 wherein I reported a failure in the ignition/parking system that caused his 2003 this is an update to complaint ODI 10246879 wherein I reported the failure of the ignition / parking system of his 2003 Dodge Ram 1500 truck. The failure caused his truck to roll over him, catching him up under the truck and dragging him over a curb where it jumped the neighbors fence before coming to a stop. At first it was thought he would survive his injuries but he died from complications of his injuries after a long and painful hospitalization. I am updating that complaint to advise of his death. This appears to be a not so unusual occurrence with this vehicle and I note that the 2002 models were recalled for a similar problem.

- Oakland Park , FL, USA

problem #15

Nov 282008

Ram 1500

  • 16,000 miles


I would like to make a complaint in reference to my 2003 Dodge Ram 15 quad cab that caused injury to myself by jumping out of gear. Brief description of incident that happened on the date of nov28 wile in a convenient store parking lot I have two of my vehicles that were running at the time and the gear selector was in park position. I hopped out of my truck to go in store but to my surprise I felt a sharp pain in the lower right leg when I looked at what was going on to my surprise I was hit by my own vehicle I was stunned my truck which was in park hit me and there was noone else in my truck lucky for me that store had a big concrete curb to stop the truck or I might not be the one writing to you so I hurried in to my truck to see to my surprise the truck shift indicator was in park. So my compliant is that my truck is now a fearful thing to drive my wife wont even drive in the truck which only has 18000 miles on it I bought it in June of,2007 with 4800 miles I tried to get Dodge to handle this issue but I never got a response so I feel its my duty as humanbeing to inform everyone of the issue that Dodge wants to keep ignoring this safety concern. I wrote emails to them and get nothing in response. I feel they owe me atleast a response to the issue and am very fearful of driving this vehicle that I will be making monthly payments on for the next 48 months. I hope this letter falls into the right hands and someone who can help me with this new truck. Thank you for taking the time to read my letter mr edward riding. If you have any questions feel free to call me.

- Bellmawr, NJ, USA

problem #14

Oct 222008

Ram 1500

  • miles
This complaint is being filed on behalf of the 2003 Dodge Ram pickup truck 1500 Mr. Jp waters by his stepson. Mr. Waters was severely injured on October 22, 2008 after placing the aforesaid vehicle in park on an incline, turning off the engine, and exiting the truck. As he went around to the passenger side to retrieve some items the truck rolled, knocking him down and dragging him across a curb into a neighbors yard. He sustained a fractured hip/ numerous lacerations/ contusions all over his body and consequently suffered heart failure and had to be air lifted to a heart hospital. His recall is that he definitely placed the truck in park position (it is an automatic)/ turned off the engine and noticed no movement of the vehicle when he exited--it was parked on a steep incline. The rear movement of the vehicle did not occur until he had come around to the passenger side of the vehicle.

- Mcalester, OK, USA

problem #13

Jul 202005

Ram 1500 8-cyl

  • 30,000 miles
Has happened numerous times! when parked on any kind of incline, the truck running or not (has happened both ways) has rolled backwards and is very difficult to stop with the brakes. Luckily no one has been run over, and it hasn't hit anything, but next time may not be so lucky! I now use the parking brake at all times when truck is parked. This is a very dangerous problem that needs addressed by Chrysler!

- Mount Carroll, IL, USA

problem #12

Sep 072007

Ram 1500 6-cyl Diesel

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


The contact owns a 2003 Dodge Ram. The contact parked the vehicle in her driveway. She exited the vehicle and left the driver side door open. She then heard a loud pop and noticed that the vehicle was moving. She was unable to enter and stop the vehicle. The contact was struck several times by the driver side door. She was pinned between a metal post and the door of the vehicle. The contact was able to free herself and sustained injuries to her midriff, back, and head. The powertrain, speed, and failure mileage were unknown. The current mileage was 46,900. Updated 01/17/08 the dealer stated the right brake lamp is inoperable. The consumer has provided all medical documentation and repair invoices pertaining to the incident. Updated 01/17/08

- Purdy, MO, USA

problem #11

Sep 012005

Ram 1500 6-cyl Diesel

  • Automatic transmission
  • 51,567 miles
- on 09/05/05 while driving on a major road, the contact stated that his 2003 Dodge Ram was unable to shift out of a low gear staying at a speed of 25 mph. The contact took his vehicle to allen samuels in houston, tx and they stated that they couldn't detect any failure on the vehicle. On 10/28/06 while driving down a hill pulling a 30 ft travel trailer at 50 mph, the contact tried to down shift, but the vehicle would not change gears. The contact stated that he couldn't use the emergency brake to assist in stopping the vehicle. The contact took vehicle to his local dealer( dub herring in picayune, ms) and they couldn't detect any failures with the vehicle. The contact can provide copies of the invoice repair if needed. Updated 03/14/07.

- Carriere, MS, USA

problem #10

Oct 262006

Ram 1500 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 32,000 miles
I placed the truck in park and exited the vehicle. The truck then began to roll backwards in reverse. I was knocked down by the open door before I could reenter the truck and rolled away to avoid being run over. The truck backed into a fence post damaging the drivers door and right front fender. The fence post was also bent over.

- Tulsa, OK, USA

problem #9

Apr 212006

Ram 1500 Diesel

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
2003 Dodge Ram fuel lines rotted resulting in a severe leak. ***** the consumer stated the manufacturer cannot or will not produce a replacement fuel line. The consumer stated while the truck was sitting in idle, the vehicle began to move backwards. The consumer attempted to stop the vehicle with no success. The vehicle rolled down a hill and into a tree. The consumer received a recall notice after he experienced the failure with the transmission.

- Sheffield, PA, USA

problem #8

Mar 122006

Ram 1500 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 37,100 miles


I was driving my 2003 Dodge Ram 1500 truck and my transmission went out. I was able to get it to my service dealership where they repaired it. I only had 37,000 miles on my vehicle at the time. I didn't have the extended warranty on my vehicle. I had to use a rental car. Then on top of everything, Chrysler damler would not pay for my rental. The real issue here is that my transmission should not have gone out under 40,000 miles.

- Sylmar, CA, USA

problem #7

Nov 282003

Ram 1500 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 3,500 miles
On Friday, Nov. 28, 2003 my husband died as the result of our 2003 Dodge Ram jumping from park into reverse, the drivers door hit him from behind and rolled him over forward, penning him under the drivers door and pavement. This incidnet was reported to and investigated by the birmingham police dept.

- Birmingham, AL, USA

problem #6

Nov 262002

Ram 1500 4WD

  • Automatic transmission
  • 2,147 miles
10/25/02-bought new 2003 Dodge 1500 extended cab. 11/26/02, ABS light and brake light on. Dealership said "connection at cab had water in it, and dried off and sealed." 12/19/02, 3685 miles, took back because of ABS and brake light on. Short in brake switch and replaced the brake switch. 12/20/02 returned with ABS light and brake light on. Brake switch and rear ABS sensor shorted. Replaced both sensors and found water in the wiring connector. Disconnected, cleaned, dried and sealed. Returned to me on 12/24. 12/30/02, 4339 miles, ABS/brake lights on/RPM spiked. 8-way plug had water in it. "contacted star and was told to cut out plug and solder wires." Truck returned to me on 01/02/03. 01/24/03, 5864 miles, ABS and brake lights on/speedometer spiking at idle. Dealership checked codes, checked wiring, rear ABS sensor, connector, ABS controller connector, cleaned, sealed connector. Truck returned to me on 01/28/03. 08/20/03, 19775 milest, transmission wouldn't kick out of passing gear until 80 mph and when it did, made loud popping noise. Dealership said "transmission not upshifting, flash program transmission control." 10/11/03, 23180 miles, I was driving, power steering pump came out and caused me to lose control/run into ditch. Damage to bumpers and tailpipe. I had also noticed that day before the wreck that the transmission was kicking into passing gear at 40 mph. Had towed to nearest dealership on 10/13/03. Would not give me a rental-I had bought the truck from a different dealership. Dodge sat on this truck for five months leaving me without a vehicle, saying that they were sending an inspector out to look at it, inspector would be there any day. Dodge would not replace bumpers and did not fix/return to me until 03/09/04. Truck was still not right/acted like it was going to quit running when started. 09/09/04, ABS and brake lights on again/speedometer spiking. Over 36,000 miles, have extended warranty, going back to dealership tomorrow.

- Tunnelton, WV, USA

problem #5

Sep 032003

Ram 1500 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 4,145 miles
Transmission is not shifting properly. There is a period of free-wheeling when it downshifts from the od back into fourth gear, causing increased pressure to have to be applied to braking the pickup which in turn causes a jerking while braking. There is also a pause before the transmission shifts, it is slow getting into each gear and does not downshift properly. The rear-end has excessive slack to the point of startling people if nearby when shifting into gears. These have all been described as normal by the dealer. Not so!

- Amarillo, TX, USA

problem #4

Sep 242003

Ram 1500 8-cyl

  • miles
While shifting from park into reverse or drive consumer heard clunky noise. Dealer inspected the vehicle and could not duplicate or correct the problem. A factory rep. Looked at the vehicle and stated it was a normal characteristic of the Ram 1500. Consumer stated he was not informed of the transmission problems until it was too late.

- San Antonio, TX, USA

problem #3

Jan 262003

Ram 1500 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Consumer stated transmission shifted hard at times, stalled and hesitated. Dealer notified. This happened when pulling into traffic. On three occasions, vehicle had failed to start. When it did restart black smoke emitted from the vehicle.

- Villa Rica, GA, USA

problem #2

Mar 122003

Ram 1500 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 232 miles
Transmission will not shift into reverse when left outside in the cold. Vehicle has 1200 miles on it. Vehicle was imported from Canada and Chrysler Corp. Will not warranty, nor will selling dealer take vehicle back. I purchased vehicle 5 weeks ago. I was told by repair station that there is a recall on this vehicle because of problems with the transmission but it does not surface on carfax nor on this website because Dodge does not report recalls to either.

- Anchorage, AK, USA

problem #1

Sep 082002

Ram 1500

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
The transmission locked up, which caused consumer to abruptly pull over.

- Bentonville, VA, USA

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