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Ram maintenance: cost, plans & service schedule

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    Whether you’re thinking about buying a Ram or just deciding whether to keep yours after the warranty runs out, it’s important to know how much you can expect to pay to keep it on the road. Read on to find out what average ownership costs for a Ram look like, what repairs Ram owners commonly deal with and how you can potentially save money at the mechanic.

    Key insights

    • Overall, Ram vehicles have below-average reliability and above-average upkeep costs, but that doesn’t tell the whole story.
    • For example, RepairPal ranks the Ram 1500 as one of the most reliable full-size trucks, but it places the Ram 3500 near the bottom of the same class.
    • If you want to protect yourself from getting a large bill at the mechanic, consider an extended warranty as a hedge against future malfunctions.

    Are Rams expensive to maintain?

    At the end of the day, upkeep on a Ram is likely to be more expensive than on other vehicles. According to RepairPal, a site that aggregates automotive repair data, Rams cost an average of $858 per year to maintain and repair. That’s considerably higher than the average of $652 across all other automakers. Part of this higher cost comes down to reliability — Ram is 23rd out of 32 car brands in RepairPal’s reliability rankings.

    “The only real reason I have a Ram truck,” said Nathan Myers, a mechanic we spoke with, “is because Ram didn’t manufacture the powertrain. But my Ram truck isn’t like other Rams — I’ve made a lot of modifications and replaced a lot of parts.”

    How Ram compares to other automakers

    Ram vehicles don’t actually visit repair shops more often than average, according to RepairPal’s data. However, Ram vehicles tend to need more expensive repairs when they do break down. Collectively, other automotive brands average a 12% likelihood of needing “severe” repairs, but Rams average 15%.

    MakeAverage maintenance and repair costs*
    Ram $858 per year
    Honda $428 per year
    Toyota $441 per year
    Ford $775 per year
    BMW $968 per year
    *According to RepairPal

    Ram maintenance and repair costs by model

    The figures in the table above are helpful for comparison purposes, but if you want a more accurate idea of what owning a Ram may cost you, it’s important to look at model-specific information. That’s because Ram ownership costs and reliability ratings vary considerably by model, with some models at the top of their class and others at the bottom.

    For example, RepairPal gave the Ram 1500 a glowing score for dependability, ranking it No. 1 out of 17 full-size trucks. The Ram 3500, however, was ranked No. 14 in the same category, which makes sense given that its $1,279-per-year repair and maintenance costs soared above the $936-per-year average for full-size trucks. (Not to mention its 21% probability of a repair being severe.)

    ModelAverage maintenance and repair costs*
    Ram 1500 $691 per year
    Ram ProMaster 1500 $1,072 per year
    Ram 3500 $1,279 per year
    *According to RepairPal

    It’s important to note that RepairPal’s price estimates combine repair and maintenance fees, even though these are really two separate categories. Unforeseeable fixes fall into the category of repairs, while maintenance covers scheduled preventive services, such as oil changes and tire rotations. We’ll go into a little more detail on each of these to give you a better idea of how they may affect you.

    Ram maintenance schedule

    Each Ram model has a different timeline for maintenance services, and you should check your manual for specific recommendations. (Trucks will typically require more frequent check-ups than cars and minivans since they’re made to do heftier work, for instance.)

    Example: Ram 1500 maintenance schedule

    To give you a general idea of what Ram maintenance might look like, we’ve outlined the recommended maintenance schedule for a 2023 Ram 1500 Classic below.

    Check engine oil level Once a month or before a long trip
    Check windshield washer fluid level Once a month or before a long trip
    Check tire pressure and tread and rotate if wearing irregularly Once a month or before a long trip
    Check fluid levels of coolant reservoir and brake master cylinder; fill as needed Once a month or before a long trip
    Check all interior and exterior lights Once a month or before a long trip
    Inspect CV/universal joints Every year or 10,000 miles (after first 20,000 miles)
    Inspect and replace the Evaporative System Fresh Air Filter as necessary (for severe dusty driving conditions) Every year or 10,000 miles (after first 20,000 miles)
    Replace cabin air filter Ever 12,000 miles
    Inspect front suspension and tie rod ends and replace if necessary Every 2 years or 20,000 miles
    Inspect brake linings and replace as necessary Every 2 years or 20,000 miles
    Adjust parking brake as necessary Every 2 years or 20,000 miles
    Replace engine air cleaner filter Every 2 years or 20,000 miles
    Inspect front and rear axle surfaces Every 3 years or 30,000 miles
    Inspect transfer case fluid (after 30,000 miles, then every 60,000); change for police, taxi, fleet or frequent towing use Every 6 years or 60,000 miles
    Replace spark plugs Every 100,000 miles
    Inspect and replace PCV valve if necessary Every 10 years or 100,000 miles
    Flush and replace engine coolant Every 10 years or 150,000 miles (whichever comes first)
    Change transfer case fluid Every 12 years or 120,000 miles

    You might’ve noticed that the schedule above doesn’t include oil changes and some other common maintenance tasks. That’s because the frequency of oil changes for this vehicle is determined by an automated oil change indicator system, which reminds you when it’s time to take your truck in for maintenance.

    Ram maintenance costs

    Unlike some other manufacturers, Ram does not offer any complimentary maintenance on a national basis. (Some models in Texas receive free maintenance through the Ram Care Program, which provides four oil changes and four tire rotations over a two-year membership.)

    The good news is that Ram maintenance costs are relatively simple to budget for because you usually know when they’ll be needed. Just find out how much your local garage charges for the services listed in your manual and plan those costs out over the recommended service schedule. These costs may seem expensive when you see them all together, but they’re worth it in the long run.

    “Taking care of a vehicle changes everything,” said Myers. “A lot of statistics regarding reliability are skewed by the fact that so many brands are work trucks that get trashed from heavy-duty work. If you regularly maintain any vehicle, including a Ram, it’ll more than likely serve you well. It might not be the best brand truck out there, but it’ll serve the average consumer well enough.”

    If you regularly maintain any vehicle, including a Ram, it’ll more than likely serve you well.”

    Example: 2018 Ram 1500 maintenance costs

    Generally speaking, maintenance costs vary by make, model and labor rates in your area. We’ve included some estimates for a 2018 Ram 1500 below to help you set some rough expectations, though.

    Tire rotation $69 to $88
    Oil change $186 to $321
    Brake pad replacement $273 to $619
    Spark plug replacement $543 to $819
    *According to RepairPal for a 2018 Ram 1500 in the 78705 ZIP code

    Bear in mind that you’ll likely pay higher prices for work on a pickup than you would for most other vehicles.

    Ram repair costs

    Repair costs are harder to budget for because they tend to come about unexpectedly and vary wildly. However, some problems are common enough in a line of vehicles that they gain a bit of notoriety. For example, two recent ConsumerAffairs reviewers have mentioned the so-called “hemi tick/tap” — a fairly well-known problem among Ram vehicles.

    Alex, a ConsumerAffairs reviewer from Arizona, wrote: “I had a 1999 and 2006 Dodge Ram, both were decent quality. I then purchased a 2015 Ram 1500 Big Horn with the 5.7 and have had nothing but problem after problem after problem. … They’ve lost my business for good. So many common problems (i.e.: manifold bolts snapping, which is where the ‘Hemi Tick’ comes from) and the company won’t fix it.”

    T. Michael, a ConsumerAffairs reviewer from Florida, had a similar experience as a veteran Ram truck owner, writing: “This is my third Ram pickup. I have always been very pleased with these trucks until now. The first problem was the ‘hemi-tap.’ … Apparently, the manifolds are not properly cast — they are ‘green.’ In other words they are cheaply manufactured. This cost me about $1,000 to replace two bolts, and I am just waiting for the next bolt to snap.”

    This cost me about $1,000 to replace two bolts, and I am just waiting for the next bolt to snap.”

    Your experience may — and likely will — vary, but it’s worth doing some research into common issues with your particular Ram model so you know the financial risks involved.

    Example: Ram 1500 repair costs

    We can’t break down the cost to fix every possible issue for every possible Ram here, but we’ve included a look into what some repair services cost for the popular Ram 1500 below.

    Oxygen sensor test $35 to $44
    Engine leak inspection $88 to $111
    Tailgate lock cylinder replacement $115 to $127
    Power seat switch replacement $179 to $190
    Headlamp control module replacement $236 to $255
    Engine coolant temperature sensor replacement $564 to $578
    Air conditioner evaporator replacement $916 to $1,233
    Water pump replacement $940 to $1,000
    *According to RepairPal

    New Ram vehicles come with factory warranties that can save you money on repairs, though. 

    Ram’s three-year/36,000-mile basic limited warranty provides bumper-to-bumper coverage early in each vehicle’s life. For diesel-powered vehicles, Ram also offers a 100,000-mile diesel powertrain limited warranty that lasts up to five years, and gas vehicles are given the same powertrain warranty but only for 60,000 miles.

    Unfortunately, your factory warranties will run out eventually, and once they do, you might find yourself on the hook for a massive repair bill. But there are ways you can protect yourself financially if you want to keep your Ram long-term.

    » LEARN: What is a manufacturer’s warranty?

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      How can an extended warranty or maintenance plan help?

      Purchasing an extended auto warranty lets you be proactive about future automotive spending. Accidents and breakdowns happen, but with an extended warranty, you won’t have to foot the entire bill for covered repairs. Ram’s extended warranty program is worth considering, but you may be able to save if you shop around with other auto warranty companies too.

      If you’re also concerned about ongoing maintenance costs, prepaid maintenance plans are a great way to keep up to date on routine service and potentially save money. (It can be a relief to get these costs out of the way, and prepaying can also help you avoid increased prices later on.) Ram offers a prepaid lube, oil and filter plan through Mopar that also includes tire rotations and inspections.

      Overall, there may be some Ram vehicles you want to avoid. However, Ram also offers a handful of models that receive positive feedback from consumers and experts, and there are ways to keep the cost of ownership in check. Whatever you choose, we recommend you do your research and make an educated decision about what’s right for you.

      » MORE: Car warranty vs. car insurance

      ConsumerAffairs writers primarily rely on government data, industry experts and original research from other reputable publications to inform their work. Specific sources for this article include:
      1. RepairPal, “Ram Reliability Rating.” Accessed April 17, 2023.
      2. J.D. Power, “2022 Ram 1500 Review Update.” Accessed April 17, 2023.
      3. RepairPal, “Ram 1500 Reliability Rating.” Accessed April 17, 2023.
      4. RepairPal, “Ram ProMaster 1500 Reliability Rating.” Accessed April 17, 2023.
      5. RepairPal, “Ram 3500 Reliability Rating.” Accessed April 17, 2023.
      6. Juneks Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram, “RAM 1500 MAINTENANCE SCHEDULE.” Accessed April 17, 2023.
      7. Ram Care, “TERMS & CONDITIONS.” Accessed April 17, 2023.
      8. CarEdge, “RAM 1500 Maintenance Costs.” Accessed April 17, 2023.
      9. Car and Driver, “2023 Ram 1500.” Accessed April 17, 2023.
      10. RepairPal, “Fair Price Estimator.” Accessed April 17, 2023.
      11. RepairPal, “Ram 1500 Repair & Maintenance Costs.”
      12. Mopar, “YOUR WARRANTY INFORMATION.” Accessed April 17, 2023.
      13. Mopar, “MOPAR VEHICLE PROTECTION PREPAID OIL PLANS.” Accessed April 17, 2023.
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