Won't Engage 4 Wheel Drive

2008 Dodge Ram 1500 (Page 1 of 2)

This problem may be covered under warranty. Ask your Dodge dealer.

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pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
No data
Average Mileage:
22,650 miles
Total Complaints:
21 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (15 reports)
  2. replace tipm/update software (2 reports)
  3. dodge need to fix the software glitch (1 reports)
  4. Dodge needs to fix software glitch (1 reports)
  5. don't shift on the fly (1 reports)
  6. get rid of it. there is no fix! (1 reports)
2008 Dodge Ram 1500 drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2008 Dodge Ram 1500 Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #21

Feb 092017

Ram 1500 XLT 5.7L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 193,000 miles


This issue happened in 2016 and then again today. Same symptoms, heater shut off momentarily before the 4WD stopped working during a tight turn. Both times in the middle of a snow storm and both times where I was almost stranded.

Last year we ended up changing the TIPM, control module. I've used 4WD since, but this winter once again the symptoms.

When the 4WD goes out, the truck thinks it is still engaged. The light is on, although attempting to switch modes results in blinking. Switching to 2WD doesn't remove the 4WD light. Even though the 4WD indicator is on, the truck is not in 4WD.

I've had other issues including periodic freezing of the vehicle. The truck would not start, as in not turn over. The alarm would not work etc. The truck was basically dead. That is until I pulled a fuse to discharge built up static and then all would work again. That problem has not happened since the module was changed.

N. Coppola Connecticut

Update from Dec 8, 2017: The situation where the truck will not start has started again. Once again, removing the master fuse and putting it back in seems to do the trick. Also, while I've yet to use 4WD this year, I do notice (in cold weather, which may only be coincidence) that with lights on and heater going, I can see/experience what appears to be a dip in power.

I'd love to know what the culprit is...battery, alternator, computer. I'm guessing bad voltage is causing problems.

- Nick C., North Haven, CT, US

problem #20

Jan 212012

Ram 1500 5.7L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 38,000 miles

Last year during the winter, I put my truck in 4-wheel auto mode due to the road conditions. after about 10 minutes, a bunch of error messages flickered on my dash and the electrical went off for a second then came back on. From that point on, the 4-wheel symbol on my dash kept blinking no matter what drive mode I was in. I took it to a dealership and they replaced some type of motor (sorry) and near my transmission. I was lucky to have extended warranty and did not cost me. This year the exact thing happened to me during our first time I engaged the 4 wheel drive feature.

I've completely lost faith in the Dodge dealerships ability to fix their own product.

- ronn.j, Robbinsville, NJ, US

problem #19

Nov 152011

Ram 1500

  • Automatic transmission
  • 49,710 miles

I own a 50,000 dollar 2008 dodge 4x4 truck that used to have a working 4x4 but now it has quit working due to a problem in the fuse box or the tipm as they now call it. the dealership said the repair bill would be at least 1200 dollars and that this is a common problem and that sometimes it shuts the vehicle down completely. even while driving maybe this should be a safety recall for all 2008 dodge trucks before someone or some family gets seriously injured or worse.


- Maurice K., Regina, Sask, canada

problem #18

Jan 052009

Ram 1500 SLT Bighorn 5.7L Hemi V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 7,000 miles


The first snow we had after buying the truck I used the 4WD, got away with shifting on the fly once, the second time the 4WD selector burnt out and send a surge into the electrical system that also affected lights and windshield wipers, the truck would still run in 2WD.

Took it to the dealer, they replaced the selector under warranty and I was on my way but one of the mechanics told me off the record that that component has a design defect and although it supposed to work if the vehicle if the vehicle is moving slowly it frequently fails. Dodge knows about it but it's cheaper to handle the complaints than do a re-design and a recall to replace it. He advised me to come to a complete stop before shifting into 4WD, I've done that ever since and had no further problems with it.

- Scott W., Port Orchard, WA, US

problem #17

Feb 212011

Ram 1500 sport 5.7L Hemi

  • Automatic transmission
  • 36,040 miles

Bought a 2008 Dodge Ram 1500 SLT 4X4 in '09. Having the same problems as everyone else. Four wheel drive stuck in "auto4whl" mode. Unable to switch back to "2whl" or "4whl lock" positions. Told that the module that shifts in 4x4 mode burnt out.

Looking back, I know the exact time it failed because my heater fan turn off for about 5 seconds and came back on again. Didn't know it then, but that was a direct result of the power surge caused by the electronic shift module. As a result of that faulty module, it's causing other electrical issues. Re: radio signal interuptions, fan blower interuption and on one occaision the truck just outright stalled as I used my wipers to wipe away excess snow. As I see in this very forum, these are all problems that've been previously reported. Chrysler dealer tells me this is a first for them and that they're "not aware " of any other complaints regarding 4 whl drive failures. Ya right! And all the complaints on this site are imagined? I'm certain every Dodge dealership has a file folder full of Quality Audit reports on this matter and are saying nothing to anyone. So, of course, the dealer tells me they have to replace the 4whl drive shift module which is on back order as you all know. Stay tuned. Hope some of the complaintants here got some satisfying news regarding this nightmare.

Update from Aug 11, 2015: Update: the cause of all the problems is the software associated with the Total Integrated Processing Module (TIPM). The TIPM, which is basically part of the fuse box is the software that's responsible for the majority of the trucks electronic components. The software is faulty. Plain and simple. The dealer simply swaps out the TIPM which means the entire fuse box, replaces the burnt out actuator shift module and they send you on your way. Until, of course, the TIPM shorts out again, sending a surge to the shift actuator thereby burning it out as well and you're right back where you started. In talking to other Dodge owners, I'm fortunate. When my TIPM shorts out all I lose is my 4 wheel drive. Some lose headlights, some lose their gauges while others have complained that the truck simply dies all together with no power at all.

Update from Jul 26, 2016: No solution. Dodge doesn't give a damn and have made NO attempt to even acknowledge that the problem exists. I've dumped it. Finally got rid of it and I can safely say, "NEVER, EVER, EVER AGAIN" will I buy that company's garbage. There's a reason both Chrysler and GM went bankrupt. They make junk and through deceptive advertising they dupe people into believing they've changed. They haven't!

Disappointing, since I liked the Ram truck in virtually all other aspects. But it let me down far too often.

Update from Feb 7, 2017: Bought a 2015 Toyota Tacoma. One third the size but three times the truck. Have had it a year and a half now and have had "zero" issues. Finally, a quality vehicle that delivers what they advertise. Cheaper on fuel, insurance and most importantly, peace of mind. The 4 wheel drive works every time, ALL the time.

- Matt E., Welland, Ontario, canada

problem #16

Jan 192011

Ram 1500 SLT 5.7L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 59,030 miles

The 4X4 won't come on. the truck is always on 2WD, the tie-rods, the ball joint, the rack and pinion, the actuator (4wd) all is broken and have to be replaced. Just want to trade my truck.

- medic6457, Shippagan, N.-B, Canada

problem #15

Dec 192008

Ram 1500 SLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 31,069 miles


My radio, fan and wipers all stop working when my 4wd fails. The dealer has had this vehicle in 5x in an effort to fix the problem. Chrysler engineering Canada can't solve it and has asked Chrysler engineering US to assist - still waiting for answer.

So far they have replaced the shift actuator every time, the MCC, the entire wiring harness under the hood and some other module that is connected to the wiper, fan, radio issue with no luck. On this most recent visit engineering advised to replace the shift actuator - so basically start back at square one - we've done that - didn't work! I thought engineers were supposed to be smart. I wish we had lemon laws in Canada.

- Aaron C., Waterdown, Ontario, Canada

problem #14

Nov 142008

Ram 1500 Laramie Hemi

  • Automatic transmission
  • 3,500 miles

For all you people out there with the 4 wheel drive problem listen up. Finally after the 5th time with this problem dodge might have fixed it. Not sure yet since no snow here now but the little snow there was I went and tested it and no problems yet. So it's lasted way longer now than any other time. What they need to do is replace the tipm and the actuator at the same time. Dodge says that only replacing one of the parts draws too much power and shorts the other part out. Hope this helps all of you out there.

- ibuyfromwy, Gillette, WY, US

problem #13

Dec 232008

Ram 1500 Laramie Hemi

  • Automatic transmission
  • 2,400 miles

Had this problem before and had it fixed. Didn't need the 4 wheel drive until today. Thought it was fixed until it was put in 4 wheel drive due to weather and it went out again. The parts are on back order of course because everyone is having this problem. Have no vehicle to get to family for Christmas so thank you dodge. No wonder you need money for a bailout when you make crap like what is in the shop all the time. All I can say is that I will keep using the 4 wheel drive when it gets fixed because that is what I paid for. When it goes out another time then the lemon law will kick in and I will get something that is more reliable. To all the others out there having the same problems over and over again, look into the lemon laws. Here in Wyoming if it is the same problem 3 times or more then it is considered a lemon.

- ibuyfromwy, Gillette, WY, US

problem #12

Dec 172008

Ram 1500

  • Automatic transmission
  • 10,000 miles

When I went to work on the first snowy day,4wd auto would not engage. I called Dealer and they kept telling me to try this and that. It ended up being back at the dealership for more than thirty days so I contacted a lemon law lawyer. After begging to have someone from Chrysler in the US call me they finally did the day after the lawyer contacted them telling them I was suing. They offered to reimburse me for one month payment. I have a bill for the rental car for 400.00 plus and they say it is not their policy to pay but we could negotiate after I got the truck back. The lawyer advised me not to take their offer because I would be signing away my right for further action if problems were not resolved.

Remember you have a lemon law case if a) the same parts fail 3x or b) the repairs take more than 30 days (even if they are separate times). After the almost six weeks the repair took, the dealer called me to say the truck was fixed however I couldn't use 4wd auto. THATS WHAT I TOOK IT IN FOR!!! Somehow by the time I arrived to pick it up they had fixed 4wd auto. can't wait to see if it lasts. The TIPM was the culprit for the second time since I bought the truck in Aug. 08.

- cfratrik, Danboro, PA, US

problem #11

Oct 162008

Ram 1500 Laramie 5.7L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 8,000 miles


The same symptoms as below, but I have initiated the Iowa lemon law.

I ordered a new 1500 Laramie and picked it up in July. It has been in the shop for 2 months (since Nov 22) with a problem on the electronic transfer case. It has stranded me twice, once out of state. It burns out a board and then it won't start. The dealer supplied me with a loaner car, a Ford Taurus with over 80,000 miles on it. Quite a difference from a top of the line 1500 with gps, and dvd. Sure could have used the comfort and dependability of what I bought for what is turning out to be a snowy snowy cold Iowa winter. My children sure miss their movies on our nightly rides home.

Dodge's response has been, well... they haven't respond, or had the courtesy to call. I notified twice by certified letter that the vehicle qualified for action under the Iowa lemon law. Then, after no response for two weeks, I called their customer service hot line. I was told that I would receive a call in 24 to 48 hours. No call. On the 3rd day I called again, their systems were down. I called later. I was told that everything had been ok'd ( what ever that means) and Chrysler end and that the regional manager would call me in four days. On the fifth day I called again. I was told that there were a lot of people involved in my case and that it had been relayed to another dept. I was promised, and promised again that I would receive a call from someone in 1 to 2 days. Well it is now the end of the 2 days. So I call the "help"line again. I am told that the systems are down and they can't look anything up.

You know, one of the people on the line went on ad nauseum about how he was going to take responsibility for my call, and that it meant alot to him that I had the best possible customer service encounter. He even gave me his name. I felt pretty good. Then after the last deadline came and went, I called back and asked to speak to Mozez (he spelled it for me), and this person said that she had no way of knowing who I talked to and could not connect me. Yeah,,,,,He sure took responsibility for my customer experience.

All of the new vehicles that I have ever purchased have been Dodge or Chrysler. My Father has been a chrysler mechanic for 45 years. Until now I have been a loyal customer. It took a lot to get me to this point, but I am DONE with Chrysler. I will not be treated like that again.

- Brad N., Fairbank, IA, US

problem #10

Dec 212008

Ram 1500 SLT 5.7L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 261 miles

When I bought the truck I immediately put it in 4x4 auto because of road conditions. Almost immediately it would not shift back into 4x4 lock or 2wd. The next day I was driving around town doing errands and I was having trouble starting it. By the end of the day it would not start at all. The next day I called my dealerships service department and they said that they had been having problems with the 4x4 auto burning out the 4x4 shifting mechanism and then burning out the tipem starter. I confirmed this with my local service department both service departments said I should have been told about this problem before I bought. I called the sales manager with the dealer I bought from and I said that I wouldn't have bought it if I knew there were any potential problems. He said that there was nothing he could do but lend me a vehicle until my truck was fixed. It took two weeks to get fixed and it lasted two days before the 4x4 was burnt out again. The service departments aren't happy with this problem and have told me that there are lots of other new trucks having this problem. They say its a software problem with the 4x4 auto and that Chrysler is "working on it". I agree with other posters and I think selling a defective product without warning the customer is fraud. I guess I'll call Chrysler direct tomorrow and see if that gets me anywhere.

- Richard D., Whitecourt, Alberta, Canada

problem #9

Dec 232008

Ram 1500 Laramie 5.7L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 3,686 miles

HAHA! If this wasn't so infuriating I would be laughing my a** off. I took my family on Christmas vacation to WI from ND. My truck is still broke in Madison. It won't start. They changed the power distribution box because you couldn't start the truck. (it was burnt out as a result of the electric 4X4) Got it started and now they found that the electric gearbox for the transfer case is bad, the wire harness is bad and also have to change the power distribution box again. My heater fan would die then whine, dash lights would flash, warning lights on the console would flash. What a joy to own. I should have kept my 1993 Dakota. I can't wait to see what they say about how I'm going to get my truck back to ND, over 600 miles away from Madison, WI.

Update from Jun 6, 2009: Here's an update to our (dodge owners) never ending saga with Dodge.

My truck broke on 23 Dec 2008. Stuck in auto 4 wheel and wouldn't start. I received my truck back on 6 feb 2009. The initial repair was for a burnt up Integrated Power Distribution box. After they got the truck started they also found the electronic portion of the 4X4 burnt up. They also changed a wiring harness and another IPD for fear that the first one installed was spiked after they got it started. I'm active duty Air Force and was not home when the truck was repaired. I had emphasized with the dealer that I would not be around when the truck was done and that they needed to figure out how to get it back to me. They told me that I had to come get it. Around and around we went. I finally told them they could keep the truck, I would eat the price of my toppper and bed liner and skid plates. (why didn't it have skid plates from the factory?) That I would then turn in the rental car in up here. They told me that they would have to pay $1.90 per mile to get the rental back to their region. I empathized with them and gave them the address of where they could pick up the rental in N.D.

Low and behold they found someone to drive my truck from WI to N.D. It has been working well so far. I have had it in locked 4 wheel, in auto 4 wheel at high speeds shifting in and out. At low speeds in and out, locked and auto. Shifts good. I was told by the dealer that repaired it, that they had an engineer come down and do all sorts of diagnostics on it and that they found nothing further. They also told me GM and Nissan were also having the same problems as it is one manufacturer for this auto shifting component. Any further problems and I shall return!

- Dayne H., Grand Forks, ND, US

problem #8

Dec 082008

Ram 1500 Laramie Hemi

  • Automatic transmission
  • 900 miles

I could explain the problem's i have, but there are 7 other people that said it perfectly. I bought the truck expecting a 4x4, and the first time it went into the shop the "Tech" said that i wasn't using the 4x4 right..the second time i took it to the shop i let the "tech" drive it and he, as he said, "made it mad" and now they called me and said that there IS a problem, but because their computer didn't tell them what it was or how to fix it they cant do anything for me. also my windshield wiper motor went out about the same time...I had to drive 30 miles in snow/rain without any wipers...thank the world for RainX... I cant understand it, the auto makers complain that they want our money, we give it to them and buy there product, and still NO HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am so upset about this it makes me sick, i have had my NEW truck for 3 weeks now... and EVERY part they need is on backorder, hmmm, that's weird...i don't even want to think about long it will be before i have my truck back...cause i hate to think i am wasting 500 bucks a month in these tuff times...I would bring that up to dodge but they would probably say "Yes, but just think about the gas your saving"...I hate my ram...

- Matt P., South Bend, WA, US

problem #7

Dec 232008

Ram 1500 SLT Hemi

  • Automatic transmission
  • 11,806 miles

cant believe this is happening just like the others are mentioning

4x4 motor is burning out and u have to wait to get one. You ask when - they don't even know

am not happy at all. I really like the rams, never had a problems with them before. I had 2003,2005 they were great

now the 2008 is like this you cant even use 4x4 they should let us trade up to 2009 model

am not sure what to think rite now am still mad

- rikont, Windsor, Ontario, Canada

problem #6

Dec 042008

Ram 1500 SLT 5.7L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 960 miles

3 minutes after the first time I switched into four wheel drive the lights flickered and I heard a weird buzzing noise- it popped out of 4 W/D and wouldn't re-engage. Took it in to the dealer and a few days later it was "fixed"- that night the same exact thing happened- it has less than 1,000 miles! Now a week later I finally get it back again but am told I cannot put it into 4WD, that there is a tech problem that Chrysler has to fix- are you kidding me? Why do people buy 4WD trucks? Did they ever test this 4WD system before it was put into production? WOW, truly unbelievable. I bought this truck so I could tackle a Minnesota winter- now my rear wheel drive Q45 gets around better than my 4WD truck.

Should have never sold the 04 Ram- never had a problem (other than a noisy heater fan) with that one- trucks used to be strong category for Dodge- once word of this gets out they can kiss that goodbye.

- kapopl, Minneapolis, MN, US

problem #5

Aug 202008

Ram 1500 Laramie 5.7L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 700 miles

This problem must have been known by Dodge and I consider this to be fraud. Dodge has a bad truck and should be pulling them from sales till the problem is solved. No wonder people buy foreign trucks, If I had it to do over agin I would never by a Dodge product. My problem started from new and reads like a carbon copy of these other reports. four by four will not engae/disengage with wild electrical surges during startup and random electrical failures and problems throughout. I am considering camvap arbitration but for the fact camvap is in the automakers pockets. I have had this truck in four different times for this problem and it is in the dealership as I type this. I believe the new solution by Dodge is to keep my truck away from me so I cannot use the four by four. I have been told that parts are on the way to the dealership to fix my problem, I can only hope so.

- Les M., Airdrie, Alberta, Canada

problem #4

Dec 142008

Ram 1500 Laramie 5.7L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 14,000 miles

I have a $40000.00 4x4 that can only be driven in 2 wheel drive. Dodge says they are working on it.

- Tracy W., Graham, WA, US

problem #3

Oct 222008

Ram 1500 Laramie 5.7L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 1,385 miles

i have 2008 ram Laramie and y have the problem of the 4wd shifter motor wont shift in to 4x4 3 times happened already it keeps burning the motor it all starts at 1385 miles and 1570 and the last time at 1700 miles. before the last time when i went to pick it up at the dealership i didn't had to leave the dealer by when the problem occur again i live in Colorado and its snows and i cant be with out 4wd and the only solution that Chrysler gave in order too not burn the shifter motor again is not tou use the 4dw auto and shift to a 4x4 only and i have to make sure the lights to be off and after i shifted to 4x4 i can turn lights on but for disengaging from 4x4 to 2wd i have to turn lights off first and then make the shifting.very bad situation and i don't feel safe driving the truck so i haven't drove it since last time and the only options is waiting for any fix soon because they don't have a fix yet.and i very disappointed with dodge and im hopping they can get it fix before they disappear.very nice trucks but very very poor response from Chrysler.for now im just sitting and waiting for dodge to get back to me with a fix

- mikenene85, Avon, CO, US

problem #2

Nov 202008

Ram 1500 Laramie 5.7L Hemi

  • Automatic transmission
  • 1,367 miles

I have the same problem with my 2008 Dodge Ram. I was driving down the highway and put the vehicle in 4x4 Auto, when I stopped at a gas station I took it out of 4x4 and it would not disengage. When I tried starting the vehicle it would not start. I had it towed to the nearest dealership and they replaced the motor that drives the 4x4. They fixed it once and it went again. They said it sounded like an engineering problem because their is a few more in with the same problem. They are going to fix it the second time but told me not to use the 4x4 because chances are it will keep happening until they re-engineer the problem. Thought I bought a 4x4, but I guess I'm stuck with a 2 wheel drive. Also no vehicle in the meantime and the part is on back order due to the amount that needs to be replaced. It also took out other electronic components like my washer fluid pump and Power module.

- tincan1974, Saskatoon, Sask, Canada

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