— A federal Ram 2500 and 3500 steering failure investigation has been upgraded after customers reported losing the ability to steer the trucks.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened the original investigation in December 2018 concerning 200,000 model year 2015-2016 Ram 2500 trucks.
NHTSA was contacted by two Ram 2500 drivers who claimed they lost the steering while driving, with one driver saying the truck was traveling nearly 70 mph when the steering linkage separated. The truck allegedly went off the road and caused injuries to the driver.
In another incident, the Ram 2500 driver says he lost the steering while backing out of a parking space, and again this driver reported the steering linkage separated.
Investigators found the steering failures were caused by separations of the drag links, steering linkages that connect between the right front steering knuckles and the pitman arms. The point of separation was at a threaded coupler within the drag link normally used for adjusting the length of the linkage during steering alignment.
Turning the steering wheel is useless and leaves a driver no way to control the truck.
NHTSA determined the same threaded coupler was used on two different drag link designs on 2013-2018 Ram 2500 and 3500 pickups, referred to by Chrysler as 4x2-style or 4x4-style drag links.
Fiat Chrysler (FCA US) sent info to NHTSA indicating 13 crashes and one injury caused by a loss of steering on the trucks. In addition, 48 incidents were reported to the automaker about losing the steering from steering linkage separations. Importantly, all the separations involved 4x4-style drag links.
FCA also told NHTSA more than 300 trucks may have experienced loosening of the coupler jam nuts, and all the trucks had 4x4-style drag links.
The automaker also announced a February 2019 recall of more than 600,000 model year 2013-2018 Ram 2500 and 3500 trucks for separated drag links that caused steering failures.
Although a root cause of the problem was never found, Chrysler told investigators, "While root cause of the 4x4 style defect has not been established, FCA US believes that bending loads on the drag link is, at least, a causal contributing factor."
Because the evidence doesn't indicate problems with Ram trucks equipped with 4x2-style drag links, the upgraded investigation now includes nearly 40,000 model year 2014-2018 Ram 2500 and 3500 trucks with 4x4-style drag links.
NHTSA is monitoring results of Chrysler's Ram recall and will try to determine the root cause of the steering problem.
CarComplaints.com will update our website with results of the upgraded steering investigation.