RAM 2500 The 11 Best and Worst Years to Buy! [Data-Backed]

RAM 2500: The 11 Best and Worst Years to Buy! [Data-Backed]

Like any other behemoth in its class, the Ram 2500 is to be unleashed in its natural habitat, which is hopefully anywhere that can allow it to flex its massive torque figures as opposed to being wrenched on back at the shop every single month.

But the problem is either scenario can be true depending on the model year of the truck, and a game of eeny-meenie surely isn’t the way to get the most reliable and bargain find for you.

To save you from potentially getting an expensive three-quarter-ton deathtrap, we’ve gathered all the best and worst Ram 2500 model years based on actual stats so you don’t have to!

What are the best and worst Ram 2500 model years?

The best Ram 2500 model years are 2009, 2010, 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021, while the worst years are 2003, 2006, 2014, 2015, and 2016.

The best and worst Ram 2500 years are determined by their expert/consumer ratings, reliability reviews, features, and number of reported complaints.

Those looking to get a proven dependable workhorse can turn to the mighty Ram 2500, whether it comes with a Dodge badge or not.

This is because ever since its inception in the 80s, it’s already been given a strong DNA featuring powerful engines, flexibility in cab and bed options, and other accessories that further help it become the solid 3/4-ton truck of choice it is today.

Fast-forward to the 2000s and you’ll see the same unshakeable work ethic getting behind the wheel of a modern Ram 2500, but since we’re here for the best of the best, we’ll spare no effort in showing you which years will serve you the best!

What are the best Ram 2500 model years?

The best Ram 2500 model years include 2009, 2010, 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021 owing to having a good balance of high expert/consumer ratings, reliability reviews, notable features, and fewer complaints about various issues.

2021 Ram 2500

2021 Ram 2500

Going for the latest-gen Ram 2500 isn’t a bad place to start if you want your tow rig to come with a side of the latest tech and comfort features, and the 2021 model is a good example of such a tow rig.

While not being the newest model year in the 5th-gen “DT” production run, the 2021 Ram 2500 comes with fewer problems reported as well as higher consumer/expert ratings on average than its newer counterparts.

The 2021 Ram 2500 currently has ratings of 4.3/5 from KBB consumers, 3.8/5 from Edmunds consumers, 9/10 from Car and Driver experts, and 82/100 from J.D. Power consumers, which are pretty respectable numbers for this generation.

Aside from its impressive 19680-lb towing capacity with the 6.7-liter Cummins diesel engine, The 2021 model is well-decorated with interior luxury and comfort features for its trims, making it quite sophisticated for a truck of its size.

Such features include a Uconnect infotainment system, leather materials, A Harmann Kardon audio system, a cargo view camera, and more.

You also get a Limited Night Edition trim for this model year, giving you black 20-inch alloy wheels, a different black grille with “RAM” letterings, black exterior accents, and a matte black tailgate.

2019/2020 Ram 2500

If you’re looking for a 5th-gen Ram 2500 that effortlessly balances solid reliability, unwavering towing capability, and great innovative features, then the 2019 and 2020 models won’t disappoint you.

Having the fewest complaints out of any 5th-gen model on CarComplaints, you really can’t go wrong with either the 2019 or 2020 Ram 2500 reliability-wise.

Consumer ratings are also quite high for these two model years. The 2019 model, for instance, earned scores of 4.3/5 on KBB and 4.2/5 on Edmunds.

The 2020 model, in comparison, received a 4.3/5 on KBB, 4.1/5 on Edmunds, 9/10 on Car and Driver, and 79/100 on J.D. Power. 

The 2019 Ram 2500 alone is already a strong contender even while being the first model year, featuring more lightweight and high-strength materials, blind-spot monitoring, forward collision warning, and a torquey 6.7-liter I4 diesel engine.

However, opting for the 2020 model adds further updates such as a Night Edition version, two-camera support for the auxiliary camera system, a trailer tire pressure monitoring option for all trims, and a 50-gallon tank option for the Crew Cab.

Whether you opt for the 2019 or the 2020 model, you’ll still get dependable towing and hauling performance while having the luxury of a comfortable driving experience either way.

2018 Ram 2500

2018 Ram 2500

The 2018 Ram 2500 is another great model year of the 3/4-ton truck to consider, particularly if you’re looking for a 4th-gen model with a fairly good reputation for reliability.

Being the last model year of the 4th generation means that Chrysler had ample time to polish the 2018 Ram 2500 while also adding a ton of features not found in earlier models.

While not quite as high compared to the best 5th-gen models on average, the 4th-gen 2018 model received 4.3/5 on KBB, 4.4/5 on Edmunds, 6/10 on Car and Driver, and 79/100 on J.D. Power.

Such ratings further add to its overall dependability, especially considering that it’s able to tow a maximum of 17,980 lbs fully equipped with the Cummins diesel while simultaneously giving a very civilized riding experience.

Speaking of its diesel engine, it’s known to deliver an abundance of torque on demand the best when you pair it with the automatic transmission option. As for the manual variant, you’ll be slightly down on power delivery.

Inside the 2018 Ram 2500 is a collection of standard features such as a Uconnect infotainment system, a ParkView backup camera, a ParkSense park assist system, a cargo view camera, and premium-quality materials lining the interior.

Also new for this model year are an optional 8.4-inch screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a Fleet Telematics Module, a remote exterior switch for the truck bed’s LED lights, and a new Limited Tungsten trim level.

2010 Dodge Ram 2500

2010 Dodge Ram 2500

Another one of the Ram 2500’s best model years happens to be its last year bearing the “Dodge” badge, which is back in 2010.

Despite being in an awkward spot where it’s the last year as a Dodge yet the first year of the 4th-generation model, the 2010 Dodge Ram 2500 is a durable beast in its own right that comes with a handful of options.

Having an arguably more attractive design than the last generation, for one, already works wonders for solidifying its brute yet classy demeanor, but it even has a powerful 5.7-liter HEMI V8 as its base engine.

But if an absolute torque monster is what you’re looking for, then by all means go for the 6-cylinder Cummins diesel that peaks out at 650 lb-ft and watch your truck tow with ease with the proper equipment.

While its 13,450-lb towing capacity is significantly lower than newer models, the 2010 model’s combination of a comfortable and well-equipped interior, great reliability for its age, and lower used prices make it a bargain that’s tough to beat. 

The 2010 Dodge Ram 2500 received impressive consumer ratings of 4.7/5 on KBB, 4.3/5 on Edmunds, and 76/100 on J.D. Power, all while keeping the number of complaints relatively low for an over a decade-old truck.

2009 Dodge Ram 2500

Those who prefer the more classic vibe of the 3rd-generation Dodge Ram 2500 will find its best example in the 2009 model year, the final rendition before the newer 4th-gen model came into the picture that same year.

Despite this model year not being spared from steering issues the entire generation is known for, it still received fewer complaints in this category as well as others compared to earlier models.

This demonstration of improved reliability also helped it earn considerably high ratings on average, such as 4.5/5 on KBB, 4/5 on Edmunds, and 74/100 on J.D. Power.

Similar to the newer 4th-gen models, the 3rd-gen 2009 Dodge Ram 2500 also features a powerful 355-hp 5.7-liter HEMI V8 as its base engine with the option to upgrade to a 6.7-liter I6 Cummins diesel with oodles of torque at your disposal.

Apart from its very potent powertrains, the 2009 model also has a fair amount of standard features for the base trim like four-wheel ABS (anti-lock braking system), dual front airbags, and a tilt steering column.

While there are a lot more tech features to be had as you go up the trim levels, the truck also came with optional towing, off-road, and cosmetic packages when it was new to really personalize your own build.

Don’t let the 2009 Dodge Ram 2500’s massive size and known history of steering problems fool you either, as a well-maintained unit is more than capable of a very comfortable ride and surprisingly good handling for a heavy-duty truck.

What are the worst Ram 2500 model years?

The worst Ram 2500 model years are 2003, 2006, 2014, 2015, and 2016 due to having lower expert/consumer ratings on average as well as garnering the most complaints about common problems, making them more unreliable.

2016 Ram 2500

2016 Ram 2500

Some Ram 2500 owners have been dealt a bad hand throughout the truck’s production run, and this is true even for those who chose to trust the 2016 model as their workhorse of choice.

The 2016 Ram 2500 has been part of a series of 4th-gen model years that have been plagued with problems concerning their powertrains, electrical system, and everything else in between.

Some more specific issues that are typical for this model year include a check engine light (CEL), a broken grid heater bolt, the engine running rough, engine failure, transmission shifting malfunctions, and rollaway cases.

While data is currently unavailable for the 2016 model’s total number of complaints on CarProblemZoo, about 348 complaints (including ones from the NHTSA), have been logged on CarComplaints for this particular year.

Moreover, its rather mixed consumer ratings on average also speak volumes about its questionable reliability and overall dependability, such as 4.3/5 on KBB, 3.6/5 on Edmunds, and 73/100 on J.D. Power.

Not only is the 2016 model an untrustworthy year for the Ram 2500 in terms of reliability, but it’s also quite hazardous given the nature of its flaws and some of the resulting accidents because of them.

2015 Ram 2500

The 2015 Ram 2500 is another bad model year for the truck thanks to numerous engine, drivetrain, and exhaust system complaints as well as lower averages on consumer ratings.

Despite KBB’s 4.3/5 consumer rating for the 2015 model (which is most likely the average for the whole generation anyway), it still receives a rather low 3.5/5 on Edmunds and an “average” 75/100 on J.D. Power.

RepairPal also rates it 3/5 on reliability, and while the frequency of its issues is not as high as other model years, they can be quite severe and lead to very expensive repair bills.

Some of the most well-known issues with the 2015 Ram 2500 are diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) pump failure, the transmission shifting on its own, rollaway despite being in park, and sudden engine failure.

Multiple recalls for various issues were made for the truck, yet many owners have had to wait for ages just for the parts to arrive to start the repairs. 

Some specific parts around the truck that reportedly went bad include broken water pumps, a faulty tailgate that opens on its own, and a stuck brake transmission shift interlock (BTSI) pin, which is a known culprit for the dangerous rollaway issue.

2014 Ram 2500

One of the worst model years of the 4th-generation Ram 2500 is none other than the 2014 model due to a mixture of bad reviews, low reliability ratings, and several major headaches.

Expert and consumer ratings for the 2014 Ram 2500 are considered average at best compared to other model years, with Edmunds rating it a 3.5/5 and J.D. Power a 73/100.

In addition, reliability ratings are also on the low side for the 2014 model, with RepairPal giving it a 3/5 and J.D. Power scoring it a 68/100 on “Quality & Reliability”, the lowest out of any 4th-gen Ram 2500.

Even though it doesn’t have the most complaints per se, this model year is still prone to engine and electrical issues that can easily require expensive repairs.

It was also involved in 16 different recalls concerning specific problems with its wiring, steering linkages, tailgate, fire extinguisher, brake transmission shift interlock (BTSI) pin, water pumps (diesel variant), airbags, and so on.

2006 Dodge Ram 2500

2006 Dodge Ram 2500

If reliability is just as important to you as how maneuverable your truck is, then avoid the 2006 Dodge Ram 2500 like the plague.

We say this since the 2006 model year of the truck has gone through a plague-like wave of steering issues and other electrical problems that also affected several model years of the 3rd-gen Dodge Ram 2500.

Garnering 779 complaints on CarProblemZoo and an additional 169 on CarComplaints, the 2006 Dodge Ram 2500 is one of the most problem-prone model years of the truck period.

The most commonly reported symptom of the 2006 model’s steering problems is the notorious “death wobble”, wherein the truck’s front end starts shaking violently and makes it very difficult to steer properly after hitting a bump at speed.

Aside from that, it’s also known to develop issues with its turn signals, headlights, taillights, air conditioning, airbags, windshield wipers, defroster, and other electronics on the truck.

2003 Dodge Ram 2500

Much like the 2006 model, the 2003 Dodge Ram 2500 is a problematic model year for the 3rd-gen model. With reliability not being its strong suit, we recommend staying away from this particular year as well.

Amassing a total of 775 reported problems on CarProblemZoo and 348 on CarComplaints, it’s even worse than its 2006 counterpart in terms of frequency of issues.

The majority of the 2003 model’s issues are mostly steering-related and interior-related, which is quite characteristic of earlier 3rd-gen models.

Other than the infamous “death wobble” steering problem caused by faulty front-end suspension components, this model is also known to have faulty airbags, faulty A/C, and a crack-prone dashboard.

On occasion, some owners have also experienced shifting problems with the automatic transmission, which was reportedly known to take the vehicle out of “park” (P) and into reverse (R), causing the vehicle to roll away.

Ram 2500 Best and Worst Years Per Generation

Generation/Model YearsBest YearsWorst Years
3rd Generation (2003 to 2009)20092003 2006
4th Generation (2010 to 2018)2010 20182014 2015 2016
5th Generation (2019 to 2024/Present)2019 2020 2021

Consumer/Expert Ratings for Best Ram 2500 Model Years

Ram 2500 Model YearKBB Consumer RatingEdmunds Consumer RatingCar and Driver RatingJ.D. Power Consumer Rating
20214.3/5 3.8/59/1082/100
20184.3/54.4/5 6/1079/100

What are the common problems of a Ram 2500?

What are the common problems of a Ram 2500

Common problems of the Ram 2500 are engine problems like excess oil consumption and engine stalling, and transmission problems like fluid leaks, overheating/smoking, and rough shifts.

The Ram 2500 is also known to have steering problems (death wobble) and other electrical issues around the truck.

Engine Problems

We can’t deny that the Ram 2500 has some serious power under the hood, though it’s still a shame that several model years have had a series of engine problems that just about nullify that.

The Ram 2500 has been receiving complaints about the check engine light turning on, excessive oil consumption, and reduced acceleration performance.

Certain 2016 models suffered from broken grid heater bolts that caused engine failures, while some 2015 models exhibited faulty water pumps and loss of power during acceleration.

Transmission Problems

Transmission problems are also another common problem category for the Ram 2500 that can quickly turn into a hefty repair bill if not dealt with right away.

2014 to 2016 Ram 2500 models have been on the receiving end of numerous complaints about a malfunctioning transmission, leading to erratic and rough shifts.

Dozens of owners also report that these models pop out of the parking gear (P) even with the engine turned off, resulting in dangerous rollaways. This has since been traced back to a stuck brake transmission shift interlock (BTSI) pin.

Other issues such as overheating or smoking, fluid leaks, and complete failure have also been reported to occur in certain Ram 2500 transmissions.

Steering Problems

One of the most prevalent problems with the Ram 2500 is its steering system suddenly vibrating or shaking uncontrollably, otherwise infamously referred to as the “death wobble”.

Listed as the Ram 2500’s #1 problem category on CarProblemZoo, steering-related complaints totaled 1,756 from 1996 to 2015, though the bulk of it is made up of 3rd-gen models from 2003 to 2009.

Although the death wobble affects the truck’s ability to steer, the culprit was determined to be damaged linkages, tie rod ends, and other front-end suspension components as a result of going over bumps or other undulations.

Multiple recalls have been issued regarding such components, with the common theme being that they can fracture or break apart in certain driving conditions. 

Electrical Problems

Several model years of the Ram 2500 have been susceptible to all sorts of electrical issues whether inside or outside of the truck.

The interior cabin can fall victim to electronic malfunctions such as the infotainment not working, the radio not playing music, a faulty gauge, and non-working air conditioning.

The most common electrical complaint outside of the truck would be the malfunctioning of the different exterior lights. A good example of this would be the left signal turning on despite activating the right one.

In some instances, the Ram 2500 tailgate’s latch mechanism can malfunction and cause it to either open while driving or be difficult to open or close.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What year Dodge Ram 2500 is most reliable?

Reliable Ram 2500 model years include the 2019 and 2020 models, which have the fewest reported complaints out of any 5th-generation model and relatively high consumer and expert ratings on average.

The 3rd-gen 2009 Dodge Ram 2500 has also demonstrated superb reliability for its age, whereas the 4th-gen 2018 Ram 2500 proves to be the most polished model of the generation owing to having few reported problems and great tech features.

Is 2018 a good year for RAM 2500 diesel?

The 2018 Ram 2500 is a good year for the 6.7-liter Cummins diesel variant and even the base 5.7-liter HEMI V8 option due to great dependability and power delivery, especially when paired with the automatic transmission.

Pairing the 2018 model with the Cummins diesel allows you to reach the truck’s maximum towing capacity of 17,980 lbs when fully equipped for towing.

Which Ram 2500 engine is the best?

The “best” Ram 2500 engine can depend on what you’re going to use your truck for. While there is adequate performance to be had in the HEMI V8s, towing prowess goes to the 6.7-liter I6 Cummins diesel and its monstrous torque figures.

Does the Ram 2500 have transmission problems?

Certain model years of the Ram 2500, such as 2014, 2015, and 2016, are prone to transmission problems that cause the truck to randomly shift into the wrong gear or pop out of park (P) even after engaging it and turning the engine off. 

You may also encounter other bad transmission symptoms such as overheating and transmission fluid leaks. In severe cases, even transmission failure can occur while driving.