Like many utility vehicles, the 2nd Gen Ram comes with its own fair share of problems. Check out this video and the post below to see these issues that crop up after a long time of heavy usage or simply due to rust and degradation. At 1A Auto, we’ve compiled a list of the most common 94-02 Dodge Ram problems that we’ve come across.
Top 5 Issues with the 2nd Gen Dodge Ram Truck (1994-2002)
1. Steering Wander
If you ever find yourself struggling to keep your 2nd Gen Ram in a straight line while driving, you could be having a vehicle that’s wandering. This is a problem that tends to show up when you hit a corner and bump at the same time or come across a road crown that forces you to keep steering the car from side to side to make up for the tilt. Sometimes, you may feel like the car is trying to jolt out of the road.
A good place to start when diagnosing this issue is to first check the front end. Make sure the stabilizer shock is stiff and in good working condition. You’ll also need to take a look at the power steering system and the pressure in it. Having to steer a car that’s wandering can be quite annoying. It’s one of the most common Dodge Ram problems that adversely affect the driver’s safety.
Apart from the power steering pressure and stabilizer shock, vehicle wander can also be caused by oversized tires and wheel spacers. A common solution here is to install an aftermarket bracket specifically designed to mount on the sway bar brackets across the front part. It holds the frame still and makes sure it’s rigid.
The bracket also comes with a part that connects to the steering box at the sector shaft. It has a little bearing that adds the extra support needed. This helps to eliminate movement in the box and the swaying that you experience every time you turn your truck. This goes a long way in improving your 2nd Gen Ram’s steering ability and safety.
2. Transmission Regulator Valve
The transmission regulator valve is located inside the transmission. When it goes bad, you’ll hear a whining or whirring sound every time you put the truck in Reverse and back up. The valve has a casing that makes a lot of noise.
Dodge went ahead and updated the casing and introduced another version that doesn’t make that annoying sound you hear. One important thing to note is that it’s not one of the easiest Dodge Ram problems to fix. You may need some professional assistance when replacing the casing on the valve.
It’s important that you take a look at the transmission fluid level as well. Make sure it’s in the right condition and up to the right level. If it’s inadequate and old, you’ll definitely still hear the same annoying sound when you steer.
3. Front Dash
The 2nd Gen Ram is an older vehicle. As such, it comes with a dash made out of cheap plastic. The plastic tends to get dry and brittle after prolonged exposure to the sun. It does not have any reinforcement underneath and as a result, tends to wobble and crack whenever you drive over bumps or off-road. Continuous rocking and swaying eventually leads to very big holes that form on the top of the dash.
Possible solutions to this include getting a new dash from 1A Auto or having a special plastic material installed over the old one. The latter will cost you less. The material is more durable and doesn’t crack.
4. Transfer Case Grinding Noise
When you’re driving your 2nd Gen Ram, you may notice that the truck doesn’t move as fast as the accelerator indicates once you step on the gas. On top of that, you may hear a loud grinding noise. This is one of the scariest Dodge Ram problems. It can have you thinking that there’s an issue with the transmission.
You may also notice that this doesn’t happen much while driving in 4WD. The cause behind it a snap ring that prevents the output shaft from going in and out on the transfer case. To access it, you’ll need to get under the vehicle, remove the rear driveshaft, and take out the transfer case tail housing. Inside, you should find the transfer case output shaft together with the snap ring.
The snap ring is a small round metal object that goes on the shaft. If you don’t see it, try dumping out the contents inside the transfer case tail shaft housing. The ring should fall off. It isn’t super strong so it tends to fail when the truck is under strain or load. This causes the bearing to step out of alignment.
As the shaft is moving in and out, the gears inside stop being copacetic anymore. Instead of meshing in as they should, they are left barely in contact. They rub on each other every time you step on the gas, causing the loud and annoying grinding sound you hear. This is one of the more serious problems you’ll experience in your Dodge Ram.
If you ever hear this noise, get off to the side of the road and have your vehicle towed to your house if you wish to fix the problem yourself or to a reputable shop for a fairly simple fix. As you replace the snap ring, it’s also advisable that you do a transfer case service. Check the fluid to ensure it’s not gray or full of metal deposits that may have come from the gears grinding on each other.
Just plain ATF will work when replacing the fluid. You may also want to also check for gear damage. Torque everything to the manufacturer’s specifications once you’re done and take the vehicle for a test drive. If the noise persists, you’ll either need to rebuild or replace the entire transfer case.
5. 4WD Disconnector
The 2nd Gen Ram uses a vacuum to help shift the vehicle from 2WD to 4WD and vice versa. When there’s a leak, it won’t drive as it should. Some of the most common symptoms here include a 4WD light that won’t pop up, being unable to change to 2WD, and having some wheels not spinning especially on a slippery surface.
The truck is designed to create a vacuum inside the intake when you’re driving. This vacuum is sent to the actuator that’s inside the axle through a pair of vacuum lines. There’s a collar in there that’s supposed to slide over the fourth axle and shift the car into 4WD. If the vacuum leaks, it won’t be enough to facilitate the shift.
You may have a leak either at the intake or somewhere along the vacuum lines. It could also be at the connection point right where the lines meet the front differential axle disconnector. When diagnosing this problem, you’ll want to first test for vacuum along the lines.
One line will test for vacuum when you shift into 2WD and the other when you shift into 4WD. If you don’t find any, you’ll need to work your way further up the lines and make sure their connection towards the intake is solid. If you realize that there’s none at all, GM has an alternative mechanism that uses cables to help with shifting. You can always opt for that.
But, if you have vacuum and still have a problem, you’ll need to check the actuator. It’s located on the front differential. Take a peek inside the actual box that the hoses connect to. You want to see if there’s is any corrosion or debris. These can easily reduce the amount of vacuum flow that reaches the actuator. 1A Auto offers a kit that makes it easy for you to rebuild this part and make sure everything is clean and lubricated.
One of the more common Dodge Ram problems that is also related to this is having splines inside the axles that are pinned over. This happens when you continue driving while the car is struggling to shift in between 2WD and 4WD. You’ll want to also check the axles for major damage. If there’s a major issue, you’ll need to rebuild or replace them.
Bonus: Torn Seats and Rust
On most tall vehicles like the 2nd Gen Ram, you’re likely to rub on the driver’s seat every time you hop in. It happens in many vehicles that have more ground clearance. What this does, in the long run, is rip the material on the seats.
Running boards could stop this from happening but, if you already have a seat that’s in bad shape, a better solution would be to put some new foam inside and cover it with new material. Alternatively, you could replace the seat entirely if you have some extra cash to spare.
Finishing off on our list of the top Dodge Ram problems is rust build up on the rocker panels. The corrosion tends to eat away at the panel, causing it to completely tear down. At 1A Auto, we stock replacement panels that you can get for your 2nd Gen Ram. All you have to do is order for one and get down to work.
- Difference Between AWD and 4WD
- Is your Transmission Slipping, Jerking, or Low on Fluid?
- Signs of transmission failure and ways to prevent it
- Is Your Dodge Ram Dashboard Cracking? Here’s How to Fix It
- The 5 Most Common 3rd Gen Dodge Ram Problems