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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.


Russell Matteo (not verified)    February 27, 2015 - 7:44PM

WWW.SAFERCAR.GOV FILE A COMPLAINT WITH NHTSA as well as Chrysler Recall 14V796000 action PE14019.
PHONE IS 888'327-4236

Together we can get a solution. Call today.
Next step Federal Trade Commission.


shawanda henderson (not verified)    March 15, 2015 - 5:29PM

I have a 2010 dodge Ram 1500 an mine have a roaring when I go between 30 miles an up but it dont do it in the standard mood any one having that problem

steven morse (not verified)    April 4, 2015 - 2:50PM

I have a 02 dodge ram 1500 4x4 is there any recalls on the rear diff. It locked up on me today while I was driving and I lost my drive shaft.

Jim (not verified)    April 30, 2015 - 6:21PM

2004 Ram 1500 50k+ miles 4x4 Quad Hemi 3.92 LS rear: while making a slow turn (parking lot) listen for a slight clunking noise. Us old folks will remember the sound of a universal going bad. I heard it, 2011, went to the dealer the next day, the mech. showed me the clip that had broken inside the rear. Maybe when this happens it causes the nut to come off,? will certainly jam up the rear. Now have a 2013, will listen carefully.

Gary from NC (not verified)    May 16, 2015 - 9:15PM

On April 30th about 6:30 PM on US 1 i was going about 55 MPH in my 2010 Dodge Ram 1500 HEMI when without warning i heard a loud roar, vibration in the floorboard and next thing i know im heading for a guardrail hitting the front passenger side spinning me around 3 or 4 times hitting the rear drivers side bumper on the guardrail pushing me out into on coming traffic then getting hit head on by another truck. Had it towed to body shop, Got a hold of Dodge and Dodge sent it to the Chrysler dealer right across the street. I was assigned an independent investigator by Dodge who was asking me questions and as the conversation continued he was trying to make it sound like it was my fault. The Chrysler dealer has had my truck for over 2 weeks, they have no date on when i might get my parts. I questioned the about issues beyond the rear end and drive shaft they told me they couldn't tell me that until they fix it and drive it. But it seems to me if a rear end locks up, snaps the drive shaft that it could possibly cause damage to the transmission??? I asked this to the rep at the Chrysler dealer again and then the service manager started arguing with me saying it was my responsibility because back in February i had a key made for my truck and it had to be programmed and on the receipt and i should be responsible for part of the cost. that's when the conversation went south and i said its your responsibility to tell me what its for....... for all i knew it could have been a door lock, a battery cable end, a sensor ...... but hell no, it was for a rear end that damn near got me seriously injured. and i told him 30 minutes sooner and US 1 would have been bumper to bumper and it would have been bad. But it seems that Chrysler and Dodge is trying to do anything to get away from assuming any responsibility from this. I already have $7000 in body damage not to mention what the total mechanical damage is ...... i have no idea at this point how much total mechanical damage is. But i will say this Chrysler dealer in NC we have had bad service dealings with them before over my wifes sebring that was perfect before an accident then after the body and mechanical repairs we couldnt even drive it from our house to down town Raleigh without the floorboard flooding. the body shop pointed at the dealer, the dealer pointed at the body shop, it never got fixed and we ended up trading the car eating $6000 in negative equity just simply because we couldnt drive a new car 20 miles. So beware of the dealers when they do the repairs and beware of the independent contractors that Dodge sends out to investigate your vehicle.

Tim Girard (not verified)    May 18, 2015 - 1:47PM

I own a 2009 Ram Hemi SLT 4x4, On the road 60 km from home, this weekend, towing a trailer with 2 kids and my wife in the truck, I heard a sound like I had run over the ribs on the road edge, then rear end smoke and loss of drive power. Dropped it into N and coasted to the side of the road. Im out of warranty miles and expect Chrysler too deny everything even though they had this truck back twice for the recall. Problem seems to be lack of the drain plug, ( for some time by the looks of the hole ). It seems my short trips didn't cause enough heat to blow it but a longer trip pulling a trailer did it. I'm assuming it fell out after service,... I cant believe somebody just didn't put it back in. Im ready for an argument or two. Any suggestions?

JOHN (not verified)    May 29, 2015 - 12:06PM


kate (not verified)    June 2, 2015 - 8:51PM

I have a 2000 ram 1500, back in April my truck did the same thing my boyfriend fixed it. The drive shaft slid out and the but was loose. Then a few weeks later it happened again. Now, trying to find a 4.10 gear ratio axle. The dealership said my truck didn't fall under the recall. However, it did what the newer ones did. Its starting to erk me because I have a 1 year old and if I get into an accident I can gaurentee if something happens that I will sue.

rob (not verified)    June 11, 2015 - 6:02PM

I drove down the highway yesterday......heard some whinning in the back.....getting louder and louder.....i decided to come to a stop....and it locked up on me at 10 kms an hour. Lucky i decided to stop. unreal.
Differential, axle and drivetshaft.....GONE.
Will Dodge homour the repair bill? I never received a recall to my knowledge.

Kirsten stark (not verified)    July 10, 2015 - 8:22PM

This just happened to me in my 2002 literally I am on the side of the road now. Wheels locked up at 60mph

Lisa Hudson (not verified)    November 18, 2015 - 10:57AM

In reply to by Kirsten stark (not verified)

Hello Kirsten , what did you do when your truck stirring wheel locked up on you? did you have it checked out ? and what did you find out ?..
I just had my truck into the dealership for 3 hours but they couldn't find anything wrong with it .. I was told if the stirring wheel locked up again to video tape it and call them , they will have a look at the video , then send it to the company..

Terry (not verified)    August 10, 2015 - 1:11PM

I have a 2008 Quad Cab 4x4 and have been experiencing the dreaded clunk when first shifting into gear. I don't use it for more than a farm truck so there are only 42,000 miles on it as of 8/10/2015. Never saw anything out of the ordinary so I was figuring the clunk was from the rotors getting some corrosion on them. Then last week when I pulled out, I saw gear oil on the parking pad at the rear end of the truck. I looked up underneath and can see that the pinion seal is leaking. I pulled the plug on the differrential and it was at two knuckles before I felt the gear oil. Fortunately, the differential hadn't locked up before I found the problem. Took a different vehicle to the store to get some 70-140 gear oil and loadeed her up. Took just under 30 ounces. Made an appointment to get the pinion seal replaced at the dealership. Hoping it is under $200 and also hoping Dodge adds model year 2008 to the 2009-2010 recall for this problem. I want to drive safe in the meantime but sure would like to be reimbursed.

bob bays (not verified)    August 18, 2015 - 7:52PM

I think it's all dodge trucks I see a lot of people with older trucks with the same problem .I have a 2002 the rear end locked up on and the Gerard busted the bottom out of the pumpkin and twisted the drive shaft in half will dodge cover this I doubt it .. but I do know this I will never own another dodge as long as I live and will let people I know or see looking at them not to buy one that Ford or Chevy is put together much better who in the hell ever decided to use aluminum thin as hell for a drive shaft and a cheap junk rear end

Ron Cota (not verified)    March 6, 2016 - 12:06PM

In reply to by bob bays (not verified)

Hello Bob, my name is Ron and I see that your comment was posted some time ago but I thought I would reply to your comments anyway. Currently I have an 2003 Ram and I agree with you about the rear end that all Dodge trucks have the same problem it's just a matter of time before they break! One thing that I have noticed is the poor design of the limited slip differential and from what I have read experts advise to upgrade to a positive differential. $4,000.00 later the rear end on my truck is posi-traction. When it failed I was on the freeway and pulled over safely but I was sure happy I was close to home and had a cell phone!

Adam Paradise (not verified)    October 19, 2015 - 7:18PM

My 2002 ram 1500 4x4 driveshaft fell off on expressway going 70 then reared lock up ,truck slid int emergency lane. Broke transmission,bent driveshaft and cracked rearend,broke pinion teeth off and ring gear teeth 3000 in parts I'm doing labor who's paying me back

Herman (not verified)    October 25, 2015 - 12:01PM

I have a 2003 dodgr ram 2500 2 wheel drive hemi, when backing up there is click/klung noise only in backing when to dealer they could not find the problem

Lisa Hudson (not verified)    November 12, 2015 - 9:22PM

I bought my truck brand new 2012 dodge 1500 4 doors I parked my truck went shopping for about one hour , when I got into my truck and started it put it into reverse my starring wheels locked the truck started to go forward with my foot on the brakes I didn't know what to do I panic , I put it in drive and the truck started to go backwards , I couldn't turn the staining wheel I turn the truck off waited for 10 minutes started it and it was fine this was February of 2015 .
I also had a recall on my 2012 dodge 1500 on the starring wheel , in September 2015 . after the fixed the recall . a week later the stirring wheel locked again , again I panic and yell for help because the truck was going backward with my foot on the brakes I came close to hitting a car . I call the dealership told them what the problem was they told me that they didn't know I asked if it had something to do with the recall on the stirring wheel they couldn't tell me .
This worries me very much , I would really like to get some answers on this matter .
who do I talk to ????..

Rogergatlin (not verified)    November 17, 2015 - 10:20PM

I have a 2000 and a 2001 the 2001 rear lock up last week lucky i was only doing about 35mph and its got 116.000 on it and my 2000 has 159.000 on it now the 2000 is making a roaring nose afraid to drive it now i thank they should be made to fix these problem at their expense

Martin (not verified)    December 12, 2015 - 12:24PM

I have 2009 Dodge Ram 130,000 I loved my truck but yesterday I have to leave my truck at my job site I have same problem to everyone I hope dodge fix the problem

mike wilburn (not verified)    December 13, 2015 - 12:56PM

as iv read I'm also very upset with dodge rear end I have a 02 dodgeram 1500 and 3 months ago I was going 45 and it shatterd on me turn the truck sideways and on two wheels luckly I got control and off the road I had to pay for it to be towed because rear end sezed I bought one from salvage yard and I'm having similar problems cant drive it.grrrrrrrrr

Roger (not verified)    January 15, 2016 - 10:58PM

In December of 2013 I had the rear end replaced with an identical one from another 2004 Dodge Ram 1500 SLT truck. On 1/14/16 the replacement seized up too. Dodge does not want to help out. Has anyone sued Doge for this problem?

jim (not verified)    January 16, 2016 - 12:24AM

I have a 2004 dodge ram 4x4 slt

does anyone know if the whining noise coming from the rear is the start of a failed rear end? it whines at any speed ..the whining sound is higher pitched at higher speeds and lower pitched at lower speeds

no clunking sounds....just a whining sound like gears metal on metal sound

Roger (not verified)    January 16, 2016 - 2:38PM

In reply to by jim (not verified)

That whining sound is your rear end about to seize up. If you can, get it towed to a service center. Have the pinion bolt checked. If it hasn't seized up yet, it will at random. And if your traveling at a high rate of speed, this could result in someone's death. Please have it looked at...

jim, (not verified)    January 18, 2016 - 5:23PM

In reply to by Roger (not verified)

simple question:

if this is such a common issue why doesnt chrysler recall all dodge rams?

this is not an isolated incident there are thousands of defects

i stopped driving my ram....called dealer and they said my 2004 not on recall list...does anyone know if there is a lawsuit i can participate in?

Roger (not verified)    January 19, 2016 - 11:00AM

In reply to by jim (not verified)

Have the rear end opened up and check the pinion nut. Dodge has a problem with this causing the rear to seize up. 2005, 2009-2010 are on recall for this. I'm looking in to. Class action suit against Dodge to help me and thousands of others before someone gets killed. Anyone care to join?...

Roger (not verified)    January 19, 2016 - 8:56PM

My attorney advised me of an ongoing class action lawsuit against Dodge-Chrysler. Contact me at [email protected] for the attorney and his number. I will be speaking with the law firm this week and have more info. My 2004 Doge RAM 1500 SLT Rear End Seized (twice)...

Ron C. (not verified)    February 5, 2016 - 2:23PM

In reply to by Roger (not verified)

Hello, please send me any information, Ph. 401-213-0384
Thank you,
My name is Ron I have a 2003 reg, cab short bed 4X4 5.7 hemi, so far I have replaced both front axles, valve spring at 67,000 miles, replaced the rear end from a lsd to psi-traction and enough body work to feed a body shop for two weeks with 10 employees.
A little humor but I am also sorry for the one guy that lost his life a posting I read on this web site.
Thank You, Ron