Last post on Oct 18, 2006 at 8:20 PM
You are in the Dodge Ram-2010 and older
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Dodge Ram Pickup 1500, Dodge Ram Pickup 2500, Dodge Ram Pickup 3500, Truck
#919 of 3275 Re: Kcram................. [kcram #900]
Jun 26, 2004 (12:41 pm)
Kcram, Dusty or anyone else,
I have a 2002 Dodge Ram 1500 SLT Sport with the 5.9 ltr engine, auto tranny, 3.96 ltd slip differential. Bought it new to pull a 4600lb travel trailer. The Ram now has 45k miles on it, of which probably 7k miles has been pulling the trailer, mostly around north Texas, but one trip last summer to Colorado. Just left last Monday, 6-21, for another trip to Colorado with the tt in tow, but didn't make it more than 200 miles before we fried the differential, which I had had serviced by my dealer before we left (they replaced pinion gear and bearings because of a whining sound we were hearing at 40mph). Dealer in Oklahoma replaced the guts of the fried differential--pinion gear, all bearings, carrier unit, etc. in less than 24 hours. So we left the next day and didn't make it 50 miles further before we fried that one. Made it back to the dealer (minus the tt), and they, along with Chrysler, determined that we had warped the original differential casing, which caused the pinion bearing to fail prematurely. So, with Chrysler's permission since this is a warranty deal, they built a new differential from scratch using new parts scrounged up all around the city (Chrysler is currently on backorder 50 units nationwide with expected delivery date of 7-12 for a new factory differential). The only things they used from the original differential were the axles. Everything else new. Left the dealer yesterday (Friday, 6-25), drove 50 miles to pick up the tt, no problems. Drove another 50 miles with the tt and fried it the third time. Having had five days to sit at a hotel trying to figure out what's causing this, we naturally ran through all of the logical things -- weight of the trailer, extra things loaded on it, what was loaded in the back of the pickup, locked brakes or bearings on the trailer, etc. Couldn't come up with anywhere near the 7500lb towing capacity of the vehicle (1000lb less than the standard Ram 1500 because of the 20inch wheels). I had had the trailer serviced before leaving, too, so I know it isn't the problem. So now we're back in Dallas, the truck and trailer are sitting at the OK dealership, and we're waiting for a Chrysler engineer to arrive on Tuesday to look into it. This is a long way to get to my question: Have you guys ever heard of any problems with these rear-ends? That there are 50 on back order across the US seems odd. At the same time, why would it wait 45k miles to let loose, and why wouldn't the replacements last that long? We're stumped (not to mention hosed in terms of our vacation being ruined). Any thoughts?
#920 of 3275 Re: Kcram................. [buffaloed #919]
Jun 27, 2004 (11:40 am)
Since you have the (I assume) factory installed towing package you should have the larger ring and pinion set. Beginning in 2002 with the current generation RAM I was under the impression that Dodge dumped their past supplier, American Axle, for either a Chrysler-made rear axle assembly or somebody elses (Borg,TRW?). However, someone in the past few weeks commented to me here that they are still the current supplier to Dodge.
Anyway, if you have talked to enough Chevy-GMC people you'll know that rear axle failures of this type seem to be more common with American Axle (division of General Motors, Buffalo, NY).
There is nothing in an automobile that requires more diligence and very particular skill and care than differential reassembly. Yet in my past visits to dealerships (not just Dodge) I do not remember ever seeing a can of Prussian Blue in possession by their axle technician. Special tools are required, which I'm sure they all have in order to get shop certification, but technicians certified on differential repairs is another story. In my observations getting a competent repair on an axle at a dealership is problematic at best.
There is a baseline dimension that is extremely critical in differential assemblies, and that is the pinion-to-ring gear center line reference. This dimension is determined by the machining process on the housing itself. If this is off at all the pinion height will probably never be set correctly.
Overloading the vehicle is a possible cause, that is exceeding the downward force rating (weight in the bed) of the axle. Towing, per se, even exceeding the tow limit in my opinion shouldn't have caused your problem. It is obvious that the original axle went 45,000 miles before failure. The only element involved since then is the quality of the repairs, so I strongly believe that either the root cause of the problem was not determined correctly prior to repairs beginning, the differential set-up was not performed adequately, or both.
If I read your report correctly, the carrier unit you refer to is really the limited slip differential case. The "carrier" is usually the term used for the complete rear axle housing, or the "third member" for those my age. I suspect that the differential was not set-up correctly at the factory causing a premature failure at 45,000 miles, or a bad part was included in the assembly. If you never performed the differential maintenance you exceeded both schedule "A" and "B." Whether this is the cause or a contributing factor is arguable, in my opinion. Since towing 4500 lbs. approximately 6 percent of your driving, the heavier weight axle lubricant should have been used, especially since you are in a warmer climate.
My recommendation is to plead for a complete rear housing assembly, sans the axles, backing plates and brake components. Generally the factory does the best job in setting these up, even American Axle.
As to your question about differential failures on RAMs specifically, yes I have heard of and seen some failures. In my opinion the failures appear to be about the same as the GM counterparts and slightly higher than Ford. But I hear of them, too.
Sorry to hear of your troubles. Best of luck.
#921 of 3275 Re: Kcram................. [dustyk #920]
Jun 27, 2004 (2:42 pm)
Thanks so much for your thoughtful response. I've spent part of today revisiting the weight issue, both the payload and the towed weight, and we're well within rating on both -- less than 900 payload including wife, kids, Happy Meals and everything in the bed, and well under 6,000lbs on the trailer (4600 for the trailer itself, plus accessories, onboard water, LP gas and everything we had inside it). I also have all service records -- I've had the dealer do everything except oil changes, so they know it well, and we've had many discussions about what and how I tow. So, as you pointed out, it keeps coming back to the work performed. I especially appreciate your suggestion that I accept nothing less than a complete rear housing assembly. Sadly, unless Chrysler intervenes, that means I'll probably have to leave the truck sitting in OKC until July 12, which is the estimated date that the backordered assemblies will be available.
Again, thanks for your thoughts. Helps me going into discussions with them this week.
#922 of 3275 '02 Ram 1500, 4x4, 4.7 auto
Jun 29, 2004 (12:13 am)
Now with 12,445 miles, I have fought from day one a symptom that seemed to be tire and wheel related. Have performed multiple balances, rotations and even changed from Goodyears to Michelins. Had the Michelins trued. Nothing helps. The problem is most noticeable in rear area at 35-40 mph and also braking at that speed. It shows up at highway speeds too and then seems to smooth out. Truck has the variable speed trans with anti spin differential. Dealer seems to have no clue. Thanks for any help that you can give.
#923 of 3275 Re: Kcram................. [buffaloed #921]
Jun 29, 2004 (5:44 am)
What dealer in OKC is it at?
#924 of 3275 Ram 2500 Payload
Jul 04, 2004 (4:14 am)
Will be buying soon, planning to haul approx 10,000lb 5th wheel, kingpin weight of EMPTY trailer 1450lbs. After spending many hours looking at the notes in this forum (and getting GREAT information), I am tending toward the Cummins with 6spd manual. I am surprised that the RAM 2500 payload spec is only 2220lbs (compared to GMC 3569 to 3342lbs).
This leaves only 770lbs for people and cargo in the truck, extra options over base and the weight of the gooseneck itself, which would suggest that the RAM 2500 is marginal for the task. Am I reading something wrong? (I can't believe the RAM payload is so much less than the GMC equivalent vehicle).
Do I need to consider the RAM 3500 whereas a GMC 2500HD would apparently do the job?
#925 of 3275 Re: Ram 2500 Payload [stann #924]
Jul 04, 2004 (7:02 am)
Without looking at the Dodge & GM specs, my first guess is the weight of that Cummins diesel is the factor.
Most people that I know with a RAM 2500 and the Cummins are hitch towing. When I see a fifth wheel my memory says they've always been 3500s.
#926 of 3275 Re: Ram 2500 Payload [stann #924]
Jul 04, 2004 (12:08 pm)
Well, I went to the Dodge and Chevy sites and looked at the specs. The way I read them the RAM 2500 is not available with the Cummins. So this would lock you into the RAM 3500 anyway.
With the diesel options, this is what the specifications are (in pounds) based on optional maximum weight ratings, quad cab, 2WD, and manual transmission in a 3500 version:
As you can see the RAM with a Cummins takes a nearly 500 pound hit off its GVWR because of it. The Chevrolet/GMC has the advantage in payload and, comensurately, GVWR. But with your requirements, as long as you keep the GCWR under 19,000 and the weight on the box less than 3480 pounds, the RAM should be fine. As you can see, the RAM has a significant advantage in towing weight.
I really don't know why the RAM's payload rating is that low. The 3500 version gets a large 11.5 inch rear axle assembly. It could be that Dodge is not using as much spring in the suspension, or, the RAM is rated conservatively and the GM is rated liberally.
#927 of 3275 Re: Ram 2500 Payload [dustyk #926]
Jul 04, 2004 (4:30 pm)
I can't thank you enough for the time you have taken to help me with my decision. There may be a difference in vehicle offerings between Canada and the USA, but I actually drove a RAM QUAD 4X4 2500 with the Cummins in Toronto last week, so it is available here.
I have more analysis to do and probably should meet with both my RAM sales guy and my GMC guy, maybe tomorrow. It starts to look like the GMC 2500HD would do the job: It's a GMC category with a little more payload than their 2500, but less than their 3500) whereas there is no such mid-category in the RAM line. That means a jump (as you suggested)to the 3500 if I want to stick with the RAM. I'll get the price difference tomorrow. I prefer the styling of the RAM, and I really prefer the Cummins power plant. The other factor at play is that we have about $3000 in GM points we could use with the GMC product. Lots to think about, will let you know and hope I can bounce ideas off you over the next few days/weeks.
Do you know if the weight of the fuel aboard needs to be subtracted from the payload available, or is it part of the 'empty weight' of the vehicle?
#928 of 3275 Re: Ram 2500 Payload [dustyk #926]
Jul 04, 2004 (4:34 pm)
I note your comparison was for the 2WD option only. Could I also get your thoughts on the 4X4 versus the 2WD option.