The 2010 Dodge Ram 1500
Patrick Rall's picture

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.

Subscribe to Torque News on YouTube.

Follow Torque News on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.


I am dearly sorry for this awful incident that could have been prevented by dodge. I just had my daughter driving my truck when this happened and if something would of happened to her I would of never forgive myself. Once again I am dearly sorry for your loss and if there is anything I may be able to do to help with any future case or what ever please let me know.
You are right. This problem goes way beyond 03. My 95 dodge is behind the house just being towed in yesterday after the rear end went out. The police found the nut in front of the truck after it locked up and the drive shaft hit the ground. Recalls should be moved back and something done before someone dies.
I have a 2007 Ram 1500 4X4 that had this happen just last week. No warning at all. Lucky my son was driving in town and there was not much traffic at the time. The nut rattled off the pinion and the drive shaft fell off causing the rear end to lock up tight.
also own a 2004 dodge 1500 hemi, my truck was leaking differenial fluid, so i had a,new gascet put on, about 2 weeks later, we were driving pulli,g a horse trailer, heard,some loud noises, the drive shaft blew off and a hole in the rearend, replaced it, with a used one, 2 days its leaking, omg!!
My son owns the 2001 dodge ram 1500 4x4. His rear end locked up too. I am so glad that he was not hurt. but it left him stranded in the middle of no where and he had to have some one pick him up and his truck had to be towed. now he has the drive shaft and some other things in the back of his truck. I hope this gets recalled!!! we have a truck now that needs a LOT of work done to it to get it back on the road.
same thing happened to my 2005 on may 15 2014. juncked the rearend, driveshaft and exploded the transfer case. I reported to the highwy safety people also.
I have a 2005 Dodge Ram Quad Cab 5.7 Hemi. On May 15 2014 i was driving about 70mph down the interstate and heard a long bang, lost all power and pulled to the emergency lane, luckily this was at about 5am so there wasnt a lot of traffic. The pinion nut backed off juncking the rearend,transfer case and driveshaft. I have reported it to the highway safety people and i think im gonna contact the attorney general.
My 2010 Dodge ram 1500 truck was in the Dodge shop few months ago with rear end howl. They told me it was the tires. Turned out it wasn't but bad pinion gear . I heard it is a problem due to too much power with the Hemi engine on the rear end. I also have my truck back in the shop with 4 exhaust manifold bolts broken in the right side passenger side of the engine. Waiting for the parts to come in as usual! Thank god I bought an extended warranty or I would have been screwed on both repairs!
Today scared the heckle out of me differential locked up shaft kicked out left me stuck for 8hrs.
The differential on my 2003 Dodge Ram 1500 locked up on 8/8/2014 with no warning. It will cost about $3500 to fix.
I have a 2009 dodge ram 1500 4 wheel drive with the hemi. Just earlier today the drive shaft broke off my differential. I was looking up prices and came across this site. Was never aware of the continuous problems everyone has been having until now. Does anyone think there will be a recall or should I just save my pennies for the rest my life to get this fixed myself.
there is a recall I just mine fixed at the dealership.
on Saturday August 16th 2014 my twenty year old daughter and fourteen year old son took our 2009 ram 1500 to the store at 10:00 at night on the way back whole drive shaft fell out in the middle of the road there is a recall and just got mine back from the dealership today brand new rear end put in for no charge!!!! Happy girl.....
My rear end just locked up and snapped the bolts holding the drive shaft on. Drive shaft fell out onto the road. I was traveling about 40 mph. Truck cam skidding to a stop. Gear oil all over the road. Truck is a 2003 1500 quad cab Laramie with 70,000 miles. Don't know what I'm going to do now.
I have a 09 Dodge 3500 4x4 and been having problems with a clunk and a wheel lock up. I took it to my shop and they advised me it was my emergency brake and its been 3 weeks till today. I used my truck today and was on a busy street doing 35 km's and all of a sudden heard a big bang and my right rear wheel locked up. By the time I stopped there was a 10 ft skid mark and a angry driver behind me who nearly rear ended me. I managed to back up problem cleared for half a block where my pickup now sits in the driveway. What a shock when it happened and now read Chrysler knows of this problem and with no recalls, I guess someone will have to die before they react and fix this major problem!!!!!
Mitch. I thought I seen some where that the emergency brake did have a recall. I will do some checking and reply back to you. Also have you had any problems with the transmission or defrost
Same thing with me in my 05 ram 1500 Daytona series! Locked up on highway almost killed myself!
My rear differential locked up as well! No indication anything was wrong. People who have had the same thing happen should file a complaint with the National highway safety administration because if 50+ complaints are filled dodge will have to recall
My 2009 SLT 1500 Hemi, just locked up on me. I have just over 65,000 miles on it. I was going about 40 mph and without warning BANG, the truck started to slide as if the brakes were slammed on. I had no idea what happened. The AAA tow truck driver and looked at the differential as the truck was being lifted up. He remarked he never saw anything like that before. The guys at the garage are telling me its going to be around $2500 to get a used one to replace the broken one. We need a voice to get us heard at Dodge, Chysler. This is a hugh problem from all the similar complaints I have read on this site.
2005 rumble bee, junk, junk ,junk,junk, and more junk. just turned 99000 kms. Rear end is going,hopefully it's only bearings. 5000 km. no reverse, 10,000 km. front ball joints, 12000 km. rear brakes. Twice under warranty, power steering leak, door handle fell off. Both wheel bearings front at 71000 km. Bought this truck new now I am past angry ....just embarassed.
I have a 03 Dodge Ram 1500 Quad Cab.160,000miles Rear differential replaced under warranty first time at 50,000mi, I have had to have it fixed twice since then out of my pocket. Now its making noise again, I think Dodge should do something about it. I think I should go back to Chevy if they dont do something.
I had a 2006 hemi ram with 87k and my pinion seal was leaking same issues as stated above. I think this problem is more widespread than just those two years.... Traded mine for a chevy
This is such bull.... Dodge knows its a problem. Its not just 2009 models with this problem with rear diff. I have 2003 dodge ram 1500 with same bull going on. Who the hell wants to own a truck that has to have rear diff fluid changed ever 15000 miles my god you could change every 500 miles and these junky ass rear diffs would still come apart. --ck you dodge . Wonder how much you have made off of these people from 2001 to 2014 off of your faulty rear diffs. By the way my 2003 has stArted its humming sound once again after rebuild. The honest to god truth first dodge truck i have ever owned and first rear diff problem in any make of vehicle. There are chevy/ford trucks out there with 300.0000 miles on them that never had diff fluid change still smooth as silk half full of water. DODGE TELL THAT BULL TO SOMEONE ELSE. CHANGE DIFF FLUID EVERY 15000 MILES HA YOUR CRAZY. MAN UP FIX THIS MESS 2001 UP TO 2014 PERIOD. This is what's wrong with this country crap like this. Sure all vehicles have there problems but rear diff lock up just ain't right . Then you do a recall on selected newer models to act like your fixing this nightmare NOT.. WHO CARES IF SOMEONE IS KILLED BECAUSE OF THIS MESS RIGHT. WRONG. MAN UP FIX ALL OF THEM. CAN KARMA DESTROY A HUGE CAR COMPANY LIKE DODGE OR RAM AS YOU NOW CALL IT. WE WILL SEE. LOOKS LIKE YOUR REAR DIFF ARE MADE OF CHEAP PLASTIC LIKE YOUR DASH. (ANOTHER STORY) HA. I LOVE MY BLACK 2003 DODGE RAM 5.7 HEMI TO BOOT. AFTER I REPLACED DASH THAT CAVED IN WHILE AT WALMART HA WOW I COULD SEE THE RADIO FROM THE TOP WTF . I BOUGH A REAL REPLACEMENT NOW I HAVE A DASH. FIX THIS MESS MAN UP!!!
My son was driving my truck on the freeway and it just went out he had it towed to my house and let's still sitting there about 3 years now on non opp, no money to fix am on SSĎ. And I have no money to fix
2002 ram 5.9l 4x4 had same thing coming into a town on highway slowing from 70 to 35 crossing rr tracks. Don't know whether was clips or nut backing off but could of killed somebody.
2005 been hearing clunking noise for a week or so go to carl gregory dodge in sav ga. tell them my problem they tell me wait for a second letter from dodge for when parts are alvailable HELLO CORRECT ME IF IM WRONG TAKE THE NUT OFF CLEAN PUTT 2 DROPS OF LOCK TIGHT ON NUT INSTALL.PROBLEM SOLVED///// No the service manager tells me if it tears up dodge will fix it .BUT WHAT IF IT LOCKS UP AND A CITY BUS GIVES ME AN ENAMA WHO WILL FIX ME/////////// K.P.
2004 Dodge Ram 1500 Quad cab driveshaft departed the vehicle at over 45mph. No noise no warning just flew out and then locked the rear end up tight. Dodge recalled over 250,000 trucks for this issue. I filed a complaint with the NTSB. Dodge says the vehicle is not part of the recall due to manufacture date. Please file complaints with the NTSB to get another recall on all years of the Ram 1500. So far I have come across at least a dozen or so similar events with drive shaft failures. Thank you and be safe.
2004 Ram 1500 Quad 4x4 3.92 LS rear, 53k miles; I caught mine early, listen for a slight clunking noise at slow speed when making a turn, sounds like bad universals for us old folks. Went to the dealer next day, mech. showed me the broken clip and said I was lucky, otherwise it would have started eating the rear. Maybe this is the same problem, when the clips break it causes the nut to back off ? Now have a 2013, will be more diligent after reading post on this site.
The same thing happened to my 2006 Dodgeram 1500 this past week. Driving along the taking an exit with a hairpin when my differential just locked up with no warning.I was in a curve ... Had no effing idea what just happened as I was losing control . It felt like an explosion . Needless to say if you have experienced this ,you know exactly what I mean. Have you had any luck with Dodge thus far? Your post was some time ago
The same thing happened to my 2006 Dodgeram 1500 this past week. Driving along the taking an exit with a hairpin when my differential just locked up with no warning.I was in a curve ... Had no effing idea what just happened as I was losing control . It felt like an explosion . Needless to say if you have experienced this ,you know exactly what I mean. Have you had any luck with Dodge thus far? Your post was some time ago