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Dodge Ram 1500 under investigation for rear differential failures

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened a preliminary investigation into select Dodge Ram 1500 pickups over a concern that the rear differential may fail, causing the rear wheels to lock up while moving and vastly decreasing the driver’s ability to control the vehicle.

This new Dodge Ram 1500 rear differential investigation pertains specifically to 2009 and 2010 model year pickups but with little detail as to which configurations of the Ram 1500 are affected (2WD, 4WD, etc), it is hard to estimate right now exactly how many trucks are potentially included in the probe but sources indicate that it could be as many as 230,000 trucks. This is only a preliminary investigation right now but over the next few months, the NHTSA will look to see if there is indeed a problem with the design or manufacturing process that is causing. Should the federal agency find some problem with the rear differential design of the 2009 and 2010 Ram 1500, they could elevate the procedure to an engineering analysis which is often the final step before a recall. However, it should be noted that many of these investigations open without any further action to it could be some time before we know the severity of this issue in the eyes of the NHTSA.

The NHTSA opened the investigation of these Dodge Ram 1500 models after receiving 12 complaints of the rear differential failing and locking up – which then prevented the rear wheels from turning. During 8 of these incidences, the Ram 1500 in question was traveling at speeds over 35 miles per hour and 4 of those 8 rear end lockups results in a loss of vehicle control – either spinning out or skidding uncontrollably to a stop. Unfortunately, one of those resulted in an accident as the Ram 1500 skidded into a concrete barrier when the driver lost control but there was no mention of injury. The majority of the complaints also indicate that when the rear end locked up, the driveshaft was broken as a result and in one of those cases – the shattered driveshaft punctured the fuel tank.

These reports to the NHTSA indicate that the 2009 and 2010 Dodge Ram 1500 rear differential failures were the fault of the rear differential pinion nut. This component holds tight one of the major components of the rear differential with when the pinion nut comes off, the internal workings of the rear end are pretty much guaranteed to fail. In addition to the damage done to the internals of the rear differential, a locked rear end can cause all sorts of other mechanical issues - some of which are mentioned above and all of which can increase the likelihood of an accident.

This is the type of mechanical investigation that could be conducted quickly, not by the government but instead by the Chrysler Group. Should Chrysler engineers find that there is an common occurrence of the rear differential pinion nut coming loose, the company could issue a recall of their own before the NHTSA investigation goes any further. Considering that the basic design of the rear differential in the 2009-2010 Dodge Ram 1500 is fairly standard (and has been for decades), the fix could be something as simple as swapping out the pinion nut for something that is found to more reliably stay tight. The problem is that the Ram 1500 is one of the Chrysler Group’s bestselling models so a recall of two model years worth of trucks could be costly – not because of a costly repair or parts but rather because of the sheer volume of vehicles that could be included in a possible recall.


Anonymous (not verified)    December 25, 2012 - 10:11PM

Well everyone!!

It's now officially a Recall for 2009 and 2010 owners that have the 9.25" rear axle!!


Anonymous (not verified)    December 27, 2012 - 11:15AM

We currently own a 2010 and 2003 Dodge Ram 1500 pick-ups. The 2010 has been nothing but problem after problem. Within the first 3 months it spent more time in the repair shop than on the road. We have had the computer changed twice, evaporator, head control for A/C, radio twice, A/C fan motor switch, and a few other parts. This truck would shut down at 75 mph and leave the driver with no control! After 3 dealerships across 2 states they finally said the computer recieved a virus from an update after purchase and the computer caused countless other problems since it was sensing things wrong with the vehicle that were not. We begged Chrysler to buy this vehicle back and all they would do for us is state that they would do all repairs without question. Now we get a recall stating that the rear end can lock up and cause an accident since the driver has not control over the vehicle. My children ride in this truck and now I have to wait for the dealship to recieve the parts before they can fix it! Why send out a recall notice and not the parts?
My 2003 pick-up has had only a transmission rebuild and it has over 213,000 miles on it! These newer built vehicles are not worth anything! I will never buy a Chrysler made product again!

el (not verified)    December 29, 2012 - 3:49PM

Grateful for this post. My differential blew this past weekend on a snowy drive over Snoqualmie Pass (Washington State) at 1:30 A.M. Was able to creep home in second gear sucking fumes from the fluid that sprayed inside the engine compartment. In the shop now. Hopefully they will take responsibility for their design problems.

Adam (not verified)    January 3, 2013 - 2:51PM

Just had my '03 rear diff go out too. Drive shaft came loose and beat the crap out of the underside of my truck. Luckily mine didn't lock up and I was almost home so the gears just ground themselves up while I coasted into the drive. Pulled the pan from the back and everything was chewed up. Insurance inspector said he thought pinion nut backed off too so I Googled it and read this. Of course insurance ain't paying cause there was no collision.

gman (not verified)    January 10, 2013 - 2:18PM

2003 Dodge Ram 1500, 5.7L V8, 4wd: Just has this same thing happen. Luckily it didn't completely lock up and I was able to coax it to my garage, with a whole bunch of banging, grinding and scraping. Whole rear-end needs to be replaced ($1800 used parts, $2400 new parts). Only 82000 miles on the truck!! We need to get Chrysler to backup the recall for all 3rd generation RAM 1500's!

Mandy (not verified)    April 11, 2015 - 9:40AM

In reply to by gman (not verified)

I also have a 2003 Ram 1500, 5.7L V8, in March of 2014 started making a loud whinning noise on my way back from North Carolina. took it to a mechanic and he said the rear end was no good after just pulling out of the parking lot. bearings had shattered messing everything up. Found someone to fix it, so i thought. its now Mar of 2015 and the noise is back. Now have to pay more money to fix the problem again, How many times will i have to put up with this? Dodge cmon, you need to fix these problems or people will buy their vehicles from other Companies.

TIMMY S (not verified)    January 15, 2013 - 11:17PM

i have a 09 dodge ram 1500 lone star 2 months ago rear seal leaking now this week all bearings in rear are shot and makes a horrible whining noise and metal shavings in rear dealer tells me it is because i didnot change gear oil at 24,000 miles what BULL S- - - BEWARE

frank Johnson (not verified)    September 19, 2014 - 1:20PM

In reply to by john (not verified)

Dodge needs to recall the 1500 ram from 1995 to 2013 for faulty. Dash rear ends and the transmissions they junk I got a 2001 I done replaced. The rear end 3 times and the transmission. Twice. The dash fell in dodge says it 640 bucks for a new one there there flaw they need to back up there product. Or we quit buying. Dodge. Thks

frank Johnson (not verified)    September 19, 2014 - 1:23PM

In reply to by john (not verified)

Dodge needs to recall the 1500 ram from 1995 to 2013 for faulty. Dash rear ends and the transmissions they junk I got a 2001 I done replaced. The rear end 3 times and the transmission. Twice. The dash fell in dodge says it 640 bucks for a new one there there flaw they need to back up there product. Or we quit buying. Dodge. Thks

Harold Connor (not verified)    January 27, 2013 - 10:15AM

I believe this rear end problem goes much further back then 2009-2010 models!

I own a 2003 Dodge Ram 1500 that I bought new, it has the 5.7 Hemi engine with the 3.92 gears. I had a problem with the rear end making noise so I went to the dealership to have it checked. That was Lancaster Dodge in Lancaster, PA.

There is a clip in them that snaps and causes the carrier to shift and that is exactly what happened to mine in 2007. Fortunately mine was still under warranty and it was covered. The Service Manager at that time told me that Chrysler was aware of this problem and there was even a bulletin out about them. I asked him, "if Chrysler is aware of the problem with the rear ends then why don't they recall them and fix them"? His answer was ... I guess they hope that it won't go out until after the warranty is up, then the customer would have to pay for it out of their pockets!

I know many people with 3rd Generation Rams that had to have this fixed!

Anonymous (not verified)    January 29, 2013 - 12:29AM

05 dodge ram 1500 89000 miles drive shaft felled rear end locked up this is bs I've been a dodge fan my whole life there about to lose me to Chevy or Ford forever if they don't make this right.

Anonymous (not verified)    February 16, 2013 - 1:37PM

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

same thing happened to me in febuary of this year pinion nut backed off drive shaft fell out gears locked up and if your lucky like me with 3:92 gears the salvage yards what 1200-2000 for one

Anonymous (not verified)    January 31, 2013 - 10:16PM

My 2010 Ram dropped the drive shaft because the nut backed off....was driving it one day and noticed a sound in rear that was similar to 2003 ram i drove that had the u joints go day i had shop order u joints and was about to head there for them to be replaced when truck started getting worse and as i was doing about 55 the drive shaft dropped. I luckily coasted to the roadside, had to pay almost 150 for a tow to the shop, then another 350.00 just for the to replace the seal and reinstall drive shaft....U joints were fine. I had called the dealer to find out if there were any recalls or issues with rear the time they said only an issue with A/C and i need to bring it by for that. I finally had the A/C issue come up about 3 weeks later and ended up calling another dealership only to find out that there was now a recall on the rear nut. Set my appointment to have repairs done for both A/C and rear and was told to expect vehicle down for 2 days....time came for repairs and when i picked truck up on day two i was informed Dodge doesnt have the parts to fix rear keep trying back. I was reassured that the damage from the nut loosening will be fixed during the recall...which means they will have to rebuild part of my rear end since it whines at accel and decel speeds, which was never present before all this happened. Now im just waiting on the parts. Im hoping they get this solved quickly as my truck is how i make my living, I dont know where to look for recall updates.

Steve (not verified)    February 9, 2013 - 2:12AM

I have a 2004 dodge 1500 tonight I left going to the fire dept turned out on highway and the rear end locked up and snapped the drive shaft the truck has 117000 on it always easy on it

Anonymous (not verified)    February 14, 2013 - 9:20AM

I have a 2005 1500 2wd Ram Quad, 95,000 mi. . 2/13/13 Drive shaft fell off (separated at differential) @ 40 mph. The Tow truck diver and my Mechanic both were scratching there heads. I thank God I didn't get into an accident and no one was hurt. Chrysler and all those affiliated with this issue please do what is right. I May be stuck with a huge bill but. revenge is the Lords!!!

Brad S (not verified)    March 15, 2013 - 2:29PM

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

My 2005 Ram 1500 just did the same thing. 94000 miles. Driving down the road at about 30MPH, heard some growling. Turned down the radio to hear better, growling got louder, followed by a loud bang. Rear wheels locked up as I pulled off the road. As everyone else, found the driveshaft laying on the ground.
I went to the NHTSA web site and filled out a safety complaint, and strongly encourage everyone else to do the same.

Ken (not verified)    April 23, 2013 - 10:53PM

I got my 2003 dodge ram a year ago from a car lot at that time they replaced one rear diff axle and seal. I now hear a squeaking sound from the other side. I checked the fluid and found nothing in the rear end and seen the yoke seal was leaking. I added fluid to it, it took 3 quarts. Well off to a garage I hope I got it in time before it did to much damage in side. Fingers crossed. I had no clue dodge had such a bad rap for this till now or I wouldn't have bought it and stayed with a chev. Now i'm afraid to take it anywhere.

PS My dad has an 2007 I should worn him.

Ontario Canada

jonathan wiley (not verified)    October 29, 2013 - 11:34PM

I were on my wait church sunday I heard a noise coming front rear of the truck c clip broke laying in the bottom of the housing I am stuck with a truck note insurance note and a 2000.00 dollars repair bill and no way to work 2004 dodge ram

tony (not verified)    November 22, 2013 - 8:13PM

i bought a 2010 1500 and 3 months later the pinion nut came undone and had to have the rear differential rebuilt. at that time there was no recall yet.
July this year took the truck in for maintenance along with the recall notice and was advised that the fix was not available at the time all they could do is check if it is loose. I was told it was fine no issues. November 11 2013 guess what!!! pinion nut came undone again and already have 105000 km on the truck but all the repairs are covered under the recall. Nov 22 truck diff was fixed but now won't shift into 2 wheel drive i can drive but only on 4wd.

Eric Reimers (not verified)    March 1, 2014 - 3:52PM

I have a 2008 Dodge Ram 1500 and since it was new it would lock up and send me into a wild spin in intersections or entering or leaving an interstate. I took it to the Dodge dealer at around 45,000 miles and they said nothing was wrong although the rear end made a bad noise when shifting from reverse to forward or back again. Of course at the time I had the lifetime powertrain warranty. Now that I took it in for service because of the spinouts my lifetime warranty has been taken away. Don't figure does it...

NICOLE (not verified)    March 19, 2014 - 3:22PM


Jessica Bates (not verified)    April 20, 2014 - 12:42PM

In reply to by NICOLE (not verified)

I'm so very sorry to hear of your loss! This is terrible! Can you tell me what year etc the truck was? My husband drives one of these and after reading all these comments I'm terrified to let him leave! I wish dodge would have done something sooner for your boyfriend that is terrible I'm so sorry!