The Ram 1500 is a pickup truck that offers a modern design and a driving experience that resembles large luxury vehicles, especially in its Limited version with adjustable air suspensions.
That said, mechanically, we are talking about known technologies. The Ram should therefore be robust, and foolproof. To find out, we went to our mechanic Andy for a proper mechanical inspection.
A hybrid pickup truck?
The Ram 1500 that served as our guinea pig houses a rather classic 5.7-liter Hemi V8 under the hood, which develops 395 horsepower and 410 lb-ft of torque. Except that he has a funny box attached to him! This is the module responsible for Ram’s eTorque technology. It is a small electric motor attached to the crankshaft using a belt. It produces up to 16 horsepower and 49 pound-feet of torque.
Essentially, it allows the Hemi engine to be more efficient when starting out, and to save a little fuel in certain situations. If this technology is relatively interesting, our mechanic explained to us that not all mechanics are comfortable working on this type of system.
Technically, therefore, we can say that our Ram is hybrid. But Ram doesn’t seem too keen on pushing this technology forward, since there’s no tag on the pickup that says it has the small electric motor in question. Moreover, the eTorque motor needs to be connected to a 48-volt electrical system, which could prove difficult to repair for technicians who are not specifically trained on this product.
For the rest, since the engine is particularly set back in its compartment, it is not always easy to carry out certain maintenance operations, such as changing the spark plugs. At two spark plugs per cylinder, for a total of 16, the bill increases rapidly! Fortunately, these are good for 175,000 km, on average.
Under the vehicle, more generally, we see the absence of protective plates. The Limited model is not designed for off-roading, but one would still expect a minimum of protection.
Here is a good example of this shortcoming: the wires of the electric motor which is used to lower the automatic running boards are completely exposed to the elements, and will therefore receive snow, mud, ice, abrasives, and other stuff … The system responsible for the steering assisted is also quite exposed.
Under the box, there is a large spare tire. Unfortunately, it is still a tire for limited use, for emergencies, and not a “real” wheel like on a Jeep Wrangler, for example.
There is also a stabilizer bar positioned near the oil pan and the plug which serves to drain the oil. It’s not the end of the world, but it’s an obstacle that could infuriate your mechanic.
Our Ram has an 8-speed ZF transmission. Although it has had problems in the past, it is now quite reliable. However, it is expensive to maintain! Our mechanic says an oil change on this transmission costs almost $ 1,000.
Still under the Ram, we see that several elements of the chassis have been perforated to reduce weight, but we agree that it is marginal, at most.
A quick word about air suspension
As mentioned above, our Ram is equipped with an air suspension which can be adjusted by the driver, depending on the situation. It also adjusts itself, lowering on the highway to increase aerodynamics or by automatically adjusting to the weight put in the box.
That said, if it is known for the great comfort it provides, this suspension does not have the reputation of being very reliable. Several users report problems, especially in cold weather when it seems to stop adjusting, sometimes getting stuck in raised mode.
What’s more, our mechanic points out that changing a suspension like this costs a small fortune! Fortunately, Ram sells its vans equipped with this suspension with a good warranty …
In summary, the Ram 1500 doesn’t have a major design issue. The eTorque electric motor adds an additional level of complexity to the mechanical maintenance, some parts under the vehicle are a little too exposed to Mother Nature for our comfort, and the air suspension could cause you certain problems in very cold weather.
thanks to Andy Elmaleh Mechanical for having received us in his workshop in the Vaudreuil-Soulanges region!