By on September 10, 2010

Trucks are a hot commodity in America. According to a few pickup truck forums, if you’re not some leftist tree hugger, then you either have a pickup truck or want a pickup truck. Truth be told, every time I bought a new car, I secretly wanted a pickup truck: a huge red one-ton diesel pickup truck. So when the US Government Dodge said one would be available for a week, I jumped at the opportunity. Not one week later and occupying four parking spots was that boyhood Tonka-truck dream: an extended bed, dually-equipped 2010 Dodge Ram 2500 SLT Crew Cab 4X4 (seriously, could that name be any longer?), but is the boyhood dream shattered by adult realities?

Before we jump right into the meat of the review, let’s start with a reality check. I’m not a contractor, construction worker, rancher, or vehicle transporter, nor am I the owner of a ginormous fifth-wheel RV. I am building my own home singlehandedly however (ok, so there are two sets of hands involved), but even still the biggest payload I ask of a truck is a pallet of concrete weighing in at 3360lbs, which I can put in the bed of the non-dually Ram 3500. Since I don’t own a truck however, I just toss the pallet in my trailer and tow it with my Volvo wagon. So that begs the question, who needs a truck this big? Not too many people really, but if you need it, it’d better be good.

The first thing that strikes you about the 3500 is its size. This is an imposing vehicle from every angle. Our tester measured in at just under 22 feet long, 8 feet wide and tipped the scales at 7,743lbs. This baby is BIG. Really BIG. Ever wonder why 3500 drivers are camping out in the left lane? As I soon discovered, there is a reason: these things are huge and not terribly nimble, so you need to choose a lane where you only have to worry about traffic on one side and don’t have entering/exiting traffic to deal with. Parking? Yet again, an education for me: why do drivers of big trucks park like pricks taking up multiple spaces? Because you have to in order to ensure that you will be able to get the thing out of the parking lot later.

On the outside, the Ram dually has finally gotten the respect it deserves. It’s no longer a 3500 truck with some bulging fiberglass fender extensions bolted on. The dually has its own rear sheet metal, and parked next to a Ford or Chevy one ton truck, the exterior lines work for me. Sadly the same cannot be said of the interior. While I would say that the interior is good for Chrysler standards, and not really that far below the competition in style, the materials choices leave something to be desired. In a vehicle intended for the working crowd, the acre of metallic-effect plastic trim is an idea that only works in a focus group. In reality, with less than 5,000 miles on the clock (all driven by the press who I can guarantee you never had tools rolling around the interior), the fake metallic surfaces were already showing significant wear. I’m not sure I want to know what this interior looks like after 100,000 miles.

The rest of the driving experience with the 3500 is the same mixed bag. The interior of this beast is quiet, and I don’t mean quiet by truck standards, I mean quiet by any standard. Sadly even the standard engine, the 6.7L Cummins diesel is eerily quiet. I miss the loud Ram pickup trucks of the past. What kid playing with their Tonka doesn’t make noises? The ride is hard, but then that’s to be expected with a payload capacity sufficient to haul a Range Rover in the bed. When you hammer the throttle, you get what feels like decent acceleration from the 350HP, 650 lb-ft of torque engine, but when the clock is finished the 60MPH run took over 12.2 seconds every time. Of course it also ran a similar time with quite literally a ton of bricks in the bed. 12.2 would be quite respectable if Ford’s new monstrous diesel V8 didn’t propel the 2011 F-350 to 60 in a rumored 9 seconds.

Let’s talk fuel economy, or lack thereof. In our 860 miles of testing, mostly highway miles with little traffic, we averaged 14.2MPG. Not stellar, but again, expected and not out of the ordinary for this segment. Speaking of engines, the Cummins diesel boasts a 350,000 mile time-between-overhaul rating which is 100K more than the Chevy or Ford, but I wonder how many people ever keep their truck to 250,000 miles let alone 350,000? If you have, let us know in the comment section below. Dodge tells us that 79% of Ram heavy duty trucks sold in 2008 were diesels and more recently the number approached 87% which explains why Dodge dropped the gasoline engine for 2010.

The thing about the Ram 3500 is that it kept charming me in unexpected ways. The up-level audio system is excellent, almost good enough for me to overlook the uConnect radio/nav system that has to be hands down the worst I have used in a long, long time. Seriously, there were better after market head units in the 1990s, what gives?

The real fly in Chrysler’s truck ointment is the Ram’s tow rating. Allpar.com claims that the 2011 models will be class competitive with a tow rating of 22,000lbs, but the 2010 Ram Dodge loaned us was only rated at 17,600lbs. Sure, over 8.5 tons sounds like a huge tow rating, but compared to the F350 which tops out at 22,600lbs, or the F450 that bumps the tow rating to 24,400lbs, 8.5 tons seems like weak sauce. Let’s hope Dodge gets their tow on for 2011. Reality checks are always important, so I have to temper towing capacities with the fact that few people will ever tow would be a conventional hitch trailer which would top out well within the tow capacity of the Dodge. Of far more use is the payload rating where unfortunately the Dodge still falls short with a 5130lb capacity to the Ford’s 6360. S

As my week with the Ram drew to a close, I realized that I would actually miss my boyhood fantasy truck. The big-rig style Jake brake had earned a special place in my heart on my daily commute, as had the fact that the Ram meets 2010.5 emissions requirements without urea injection. Dodge chose to use the more expensive NOx scrubbers instead of some expensive pee injection system like other makers. It should be noted that chassis cab versions of the Ram trucks do use urea injection instead of the NOx scrubbers as a cost reducing measure.

Our tester was $55,000 as equipped, and there’s the final rub, a similarly equipped F350 rings in a hair cheaper and brings more hauling cred to the party. If you’re just going to buy a truck on looks, your boyhood dream, or you want to tow your non-fifth wheel trailer, then the Dodge is competitive, otherwise you should just drive right past the Ram dealer. At the end of the day Chrysler’s financial condition is likely to blame for the tune the Ram 3500 plays and unless they take their engine and chassis back to the drawing board, Dodge will need to get used to being the handsome brute at the back of the pack.

Dodge provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

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77 Comments on “Review: 2010 Dodge Ram 3500 SLT Crew Cab 4X4...”


  • avatar
    Alex L. Dykes

    Just a note: This press loaner was handed to us before we got out Facebook fan page going. As always, if you want to see what’s going on a TTAC, ask questions about reviews in progress, or just hang out, head over to http://www.facebook.com/TheTruthAboutCars

  • avatar
    86er

    What did you tow with it?

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    I’m a bit disappointed to hear that the interior still isn’t worthy. The car magazines seemed impressed, but their credibility is a historical footnote. As for the propensity for people to rack up high mileage on medium duty trucks, I’d say it is a reality. I used to know a number of people who farmed in rural areas of Virginia. They owned a lot of pickup trucks, and most of them were diesels. It wasn’t uncommon for them to put 50K miles a year on each of a number of vehicles that they owned. They looked at 300 mile round trips the way I look at driving 15 miles to a specialty store. They didn’t seem to sell many of their trucks either. Once they were too beaten up and their interiors were too gutted for full street registration, they ‘farm use’ plated them and continued to work them until they were junk. I’d say the transition to farm use happened between 250 and 300 thousand miles generally, but my last visit to a Virginia farm was in 2004, so maybe expectations are higher now that pickups can cost $55K.

  • avatar
    Alex L. Dykes

    We towed a conventional trailer, dual axle with electronic brakes and an overload (for the trailer) of about 8,000lbs of bricks.

    • 0 avatar
      86er

      Sorry, but your article stated you were going to get to the meat of the review, and then it ended with me asking “where’s the beef?” (apologies to Gary Hart).

      What does the 3500 come standard with?  7-pin, class V, all that stuff?  How did the jake brake (an inspired move on Dodge’s part) work for slowing down your load w/o laying on the brakes?  Seamless or does it cut in when you don’t need it?  Speaking of the brakes, how are they?  With the way wheel sizes are going, I’d imagine they could fit some pretty hefty discs on the front and drums (?) on the back. 

      Does Dodge have an integrated brake controller under the dash/in-dash, or are they behind there too?  Any of those electronic stability gizmos like the Ford?

      I’m not sure how important 0-60 is, and the total load you had there wouldn’t have really taxed this one-ton, but did it shift when it was supposed to?  Maybe it’d be useful to know where the Cummins’ peak torque is rpm-wise vs. the PowerStroke and Duramax.  Not that a software upgrade isn’t likely in the offing.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      The 2010 Dodge HD doesn’t have trailer sway control, but it does offer an integrated trailer brake controller.  The Ram 1500 has sway control, but it doesn’t have the capability of controlling the trailer’s brakes as well as the trucks.
      The 2011 Silverado HD offers sway control, but Chevy’s implementation in the past didn’t allow for asymmetric braking (i.e. it couldn’t brake only the left or right side of the truck at once) I don’t know if the version that they are rolling out with the 2011s does or not.

  • avatar
    baabthesaab

    Oh look!! A pickup truck with training wheels! Really, for most of us, four wheels would be plenty, but I am just teasing. It looks a little better than most duallies.
     
    As for the engine durability, I have known several owners of Dodge/Cummins trucks, and it seems agreed that Dodge should supply engineless replacement trucks for those whose bodies have rusted or worn out while the engine has hundreds of thousands to go.

    • 0 avatar
      86er

      While Cat engines have the Cummins beat in longevity, it’s probably for the best as you’d never want to get the bill to open up a Cat engine…

    • 0 avatar
      OldandSlow

      Wait till you see one with AWD and duallies on the rear.
       
      A lifetime warranty for the plastic dash would be a nice start.  They have a tendency to become brittle, then crack and cave in down here in the Texas sun.

    • 0 avatar
      86er

      Oldandslow:

      Jeez, no kidding.  I thought the ol’ cracked and caved in dash ended in the padded vinyl days.

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      Since 2003 Cat engines for trucks have earned a well deserved horrible reputation for reliability, bad enough that they pulled out of the heavy duty truck market.  Their medium duty engines are generally considered throwaway motors (cannot be rebuilt) sold to price shoppers (government, fleets, and others who buy from the lowest bidder).  Big trucks with Cat motors now sell at a discount, and in industry publications I’ve seen ads from trial lawyers putting together class action suits against Cat for reliability and failure problems.
       
      Ford (Navistar) Powerstroke engines have also had a terrible reputation for the past few years and a lot of owners who wanted the image of a big pickup with a diesel ended up with some really big repair bills.  Diesel repairs can be crazy expensive, and to shell out thousands to fix a motor for truck that you didn’t need in the first place probably gave many posers the vapors.  While Ford deserves credit for a lot of things is has done in the past few years, I’m not sure I would trust an all new diesel from a company that has not built their own truck diesel in many years.
       
      The Cummins pickup engine has been based on their B series motor that is used in medium duty trucks with GVW’s up to 33,000 pounds for well over a decade.  That is more than enough power, durability, and reputation for most pickup buyers and why it is the choice of many long haul owners.  If the body and interior packaging are adequate I’d buy the Dodge/Ram just for the drivetrain.

    • 0 avatar
      Canucknucklehead

      A friend of mine has to tow a small excavator to and from jobs and uses a low bed trailer for it. He has completely given up on diesel and now uses gas engines. Why? Well, a couple of reasons. The particulate traps on modern diesels hog enormous amounts of fuel. Dodge motors since 2003 have serious issues as do Powerjokes from Ford. GM diesel is, well, GM diesel. He now has a Chevy one ton he bought used for a song, with an 8.1 litre. Pulls the 15,000 lb trailer/excavator with no issues. His next truck will be a real truck, a commercial, probably a Hino 230.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Yeah, most of the guys who really need this sort of capacity on a daily basis would be better off getting a CDL and a truck to match.

    • 0 avatar
      86er

      Toad:

      Right, I meant longevity in the “durability” sense, although maybe that isn’t even the case any longer.
      Thank you for the background on cats, especially the “throwaway” aspect (what I meant by never “opening one up”).
       

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Having just taken a cross-country camping trip this summer (while towing a U-Haul behind the Sedona), it seemed the most popular towing vehicle was the Dodge Ram diesel, followed by the Ford diesel and GM diesel last.  This surprised me because actual sales of Dodge trucks are small compared to Ford and GM.

    If you’re gonna spend $55k on a truck, then you’d better mean to use it for something heavy duty.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      The last figures I saw Ford had around a 40% market share for heavy duty trucks, GM’s combined Silverado and Sienna had about 36%, and Dodge had 24%.
       
      Both Ford and GM are more popular with the commercial market due to greater aftermarket add-on and upfit support, so Dodge might have an edge in the personal use segment.

  • avatar
    BMWfan

    Far too many people around here use these for personal use. Not with the dual wheels but the diesels. They are as they say in Texas “all hat, and no cattle”

  • avatar
    Patrickj

    I AM a leftist tree hugger and I still want to own a pickup.  I just don’t plan to use it as a single-person commuter.

  • avatar
    Dimwit

    With the 3500 does it still have the coil springs like the 1500? If so, how was it under load? I certainly found that unloaded, a Ram was far more comfortable than a F150 but under load it had a tendency to wallow. Not huge but strange feeling.

    For the above posters, it’s all about the diesel. Everyone in Texas is buying the Cummins, it’s unfortunately attached to a Dodge. If Ford was the Cummins partner it’d be a huge difference. You probably wouldn’t find a Dodge anywhere in the state.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      The Dodge heavy duty trucks use leaf springs.  Coils heavy and stiff enough to support the kind of payload a HD pickup needs wouldn’t give any ride quality benefit vs. a well designed leaf spring setup.
      The new 6.7 liter has helped SuperDuty sales.  It’s a huge improvement over the old Powerstroke, and with Dodge having some recent black eyes with Cummins recalls, not to mention people wondering about the long term viability of Chrysler, we’ve had previous Dodge and Cummins loyalists jumping ship.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      Nullo, do you have any knowledge of how the old Navistar 7.3L compares to its contemporaries? I’ve got an 89 F350 with that motor, and it seems pretty solid. The rest of the truck has issues (don’t ask me about the pedal cluster mount) but the motor seems bulletproof at 240K+ miles.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      Steve -
       
      The 7.3 was before my time at the dealership, but it seems that the people that have them, love them.  I hear it is pretty bulletproof, if not the most efficient or powerful motor of the era.

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      Steve 65, the Powerstroke had 185 hp through 1995.  OK by the standards of the day, but not close to the specs of the new diesels.  Not only do newer diesels of similar displacement have more power, but they are much quieter, cleaner, and more efficient.
       
      History of Powerstroke specs here:  http://www.fordiesel.com/ford-diesel/ford-diesel-engine-specs.php

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      Steve, the Powerstroke had 185 hp through 1993; you can find the historical specs here: http://www.fordiesel.com/ford-diesel/ford-diesel-engine-specs.php
       
      While the old pickup diesels were OK for their time, the newer versions are much quieter, cleaner, smoother, more powerful and have greater torque.  Comparing the old pickup diesels to the new ones is is like comparing an old VW Rabbit diesel to new Audi Turbodiesel.

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    Our tester measured in at just under 22 feet long, 8 feet wide and tipped the scales at 7,743lbs.

    That’s almost as big as a ’61 Chrysler Imperial.

  • avatar
    shiney2

    I have never had any desire to own a pickup. Full size vans keep your stuff dry and have a better view making them easier to drive. Pickups are for construction work or fifth wheels.

    • 0 avatar
      Mike66Chryslers

      I had a GMC van with the 6.2L diesel before my pickup, and I tend to agree.  I always wished Dodge kept making the Ramcharger and that they had put the 5.9L Cummins 12-valve into it.  For me that would’ve been perfect.

  • avatar
    obbop

    Unbelievable.
    No measurement of the clearance room between the tippy top of the testers’ head and the cab roof, in inches, and an estimate of how many gallons the hat filling that space would accept.
    That is US “wet” gallons, not dry or imperial gallon and nay on any of that metric stuff.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    I’m not so sure why you spent soo much time on tow ratings. They are born in the marketing, not engineering, department & are completely meaningless IMO.  I’ll take the refinement of offered by the Isuzu Duramax/Allision in a Chevy/GMC over the other two anyday. 

  • avatar
    toxicroach

    Why are tow ratings meaningless?  If they are meaningless, why isn’t Dodge just making one up?

    • 0 avatar
      nikita

      Tow ratings are a balancing act between Engineering and Marketing, between warranty claims and sales numbers. GM used to base it entirely on engine peak torque, transmission and axle ratios. So, an S-10 with the 4.3 V-6/4L60E/3.08 had the same GCWR as my C1500. That meant that the claimed tow rating on the lighter S-10 was actually higher (GCWR – Unladen Weight – driver = max trailer weight). We are in transition now to a more fair SAE standard. Dodge may be using the new SAE standard while Ford may be still using an internal rating system.

  • avatar
    newcarscostalot

    I bet Paul’s old Ford could haul or tow that pallet of concrete no problem. :-)

  • avatar
    joe_thousandaire

    A farmer told me once, “If you want a truck with a million mile body and and a hundred thousand mile motor – buy a Ford. If you want a truck with a million mile engine and a hundred thousand mile body – buy a Dodge. Tough choice.
    Most people I know who tow allot eventually end up with a Cummins powered Dodge, for durability and reliability. When you are putting that much stress on your powertrain every day you’re going to want something that’s over-built, not built just-well-enough (especially at over 50 grand). Its the same reason people pay more for the Allison transmission on a GM. Allot of people are going to pick the Dodge over the Ford’s gaudy numbers because of Cummins reputation, and because no one drag races their work trucks. Ford’s diesel’s didn’t have that kind of cred when Navistar was building them, and since this is Ford’s first in-house diesel since I-don’t-know-when, there’s no telling what to expect from them.

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      A farmer told me once, “If you want a truck with a million mile body and and a hundred thousand mile motor – buy a Ford. If you want a truck with a million mile engine and a hundred thousand mile body – buy a Dodge. Tough choice.

      Did he have anything to say about GM products?

      It is nice to know that the status quo is being maintained in the domestic light-truck industry, i.e., Chrysler still retains their engineering edge. Too bad they completely lost it on the auto side since about, say, the mid-seventies.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    Seems funny none of the major magazines that have tested the rams, some over a pretty long period of time said anything majorly bad about the interior.  I havn’t been inside a new ram yet, so I don’t know.
    My 04 2500 and 05 3500 are used for my roofing business, so they pretty much have standard interiors, only luxury options they have are a/c.
    As far as the cummins goes, they are used by a lot of people who travel with RV”S, and people rack up lots of miles on them. I have an uncle in Tenn that is retired, and he and my aunt travel about 4-5 months out of the year. They have an 02 3500 cummins diesel that they use to  tow a medium sized 5th wheel camper with.
    Last time I saw the truck, about a year ago it had around 176k, and my uncle said it wasn’t even broken in yet.
    Chrysler advertises a 350k mile lifespan, but they are being conservative, many are starting to show up with over a million miles on them without having been overhauled. Diesel power magazine on occasion features cummins powered rams with over a million miles. Here is a truck they featured about a year or so ago. http://www.dodgetalk.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-18020.html

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      I’ve sat inside a new Ram 2500 about once a week or so for about six months now. I’ve never noticed anything wrong with the interior at all. But then again, I had no issues with, and liked my ’03 Ram 1500′s interior just fine. It held up much better than my ’00 Sierra’s did. In 3 years, the Sierra looked much more worn than the Ram did in 5. I had to have the seat fixed in the Sierra just before it hit 3 years old. Never had to fix anything in the Ram, except the rear end was improperly assembled and it started making odd noises about at 24K. It was fixed the same day and that was my sole issue in 60k+ miles.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    Actually I goofed. Looks like the truck featured on the website is from a few years ago. When I first read the story I mistook it for the truck recently featured in diesel power, since that truck was also used to deliver trailers across the  country for an RV company.

  • avatar
    car_guy2010

    You know, I’m getting sick of the stereotypes about “tree huggers”. As someone who primarily votes Democrat, I have driven a pick-up before and I have many uses for a pick-up.
    Stop passing around these silly stereotypes. You aren’t doing yourself much of a favor.

  • avatar
    67dodgeman

    A friend of mine runs a roofing company, has an older Dodge Ram with a Cummins. Maybe 4 years old?  Motor’s at ~200K miles and still running fine. Body was in horrible shape. In fairness, he runs it hard. Bumper was knocked off in an accident, front end fender bender, interior covered with so much trash I couldn’t see the carpet, no paint left in the bed after being scratched all to hell, etc. I kept teasing him about replacing it until he went out, had the bodywork fixed, repainted, and cleaned out the interior. Looks good now, he expects to get another 200K out of it.

    You also gotta figure most of the people I know with diesels (maybe 2 dozen) have all went out and chipped them when the warranty expired. Instead of 350 hp, they are pushing 500+. I haven’t bothered trying to drag race any of them, but they all beat the 12 second 0-60 times, easily.

  • avatar
    jimble

    I sat in one of these at an auto show in January and some of the cheap dash and console bits were falling apart. The glue that held them together had totally failed. Granted, vehicles can get abused at a car show, but if an interior can’t stand up to a few days’ worth of auto show traffic I don’t think it’s going to last very long in the field, either.

  • avatar
    Canucknucklehead

    Have a look at actual tradesmen, people who actually do stuff. They almost always have cargo vans. I used to work at a Dodge store. Lots of guys bought these things. Almost none of them ever used them for anything other than transporting their beer bellies to work. It is all about who has the biggest you know what. That’s the reason that these monstrosities have been getting more and more monstrous.
     
    If one really needed hauling and/or carrying capacity, they could, for the same money or less get a Hino 198 or even a 230. I see real tradesmen around where I live with them all the time. A 198 is actually more maneuverable than one of these monsters. 7743 lbs and 14mpg on the highway? My lord, who could justify this? If I had one of these things hanging around my neck, my company would never make a cent.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      I completely agree with this. There is no reason for pick-up trucks to have gotten all out of proportion to the real world. If the car makers want to do something really radical, just take any GM, Ford or Dodge from, say, 1968 to 1972 and copy the dimensions and actually build a simple, capable pick-up truck and do away with these obscene behemoths which too many people just buy for image alone. SIMPLIFY!

  • avatar
    BuzzDog

    Just curious about the “Jake brake” on this truck: Can it be switched off?
     
    I’m asking because so many small towns and cities have a “Jake (or Engine) brakes prohibited” sign right below the one reading “(Townname)/Pop. ###.”
     
    Living within a a half-mile of an Interstate highway I have to admit that the occasional gargling noise isn’t very pleasant, but it disturbs me a bit to see municipalities choose noise control over effective brakes on huge trucks. Last time I checked, bad brakes had the potential to injure and kill; can’t say the same for noise at the level we’re talking about in this scenario.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      Yes, it can be turned off…there’s a switch on the dash below the HVAC controls.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      @Buzzdog, I always felt that way about the Jakebrake issue too.  Wouldn’t towns choose effective brakes over noise control?  Or at least make it “Jakebakes prohibited after 10pm” or something similar.  But in the middle of the day when the streets are actually busy or school kids are trying to cross the street, I’d rather have my truck drivers use the best bake possible.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      ISTR reading somewhere (possibly right here on TTAC) a for real Trucker commenting that using a jake brake in town or for offramps and the like is simply attention whoring. They’re for long downgrades where overheaitng the brakes is a serious possiblity.

      Yup. Right here a few days ago:

      http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/curbside-classic-outakes-oakridge-the-little-town-that-time-and-rust-forgot/#comment-1657992

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      Yep, the regular friction brakes are plenty for non-mountainous driving.  It’s basically like downshifting at high revs on a car with a really loud exhaust.  It makes a bunch of noise and slows you down faster than coasting in a higher gear, but it has no effect on braking distance unless your brakes are already severely overheated. It would reduce brake pad/shoe wear, but I don’t think that’s justification for noise pollution.

    • 0 avatar
      colindgrant

      These trucks don’t have a ‘Jake Brake’, they have an ‘Exhaust Brake’.

      A Jake brake is a system for operating the exhaust valves, installed in the cylinder head. An exhaust brake is a butterfly valve installed after the turbo, that limits exhaust flow when actuated. An exhaust brake is very quiet.

      An exhaust brake on a diesel engine is like a throttle body on a gasoline engine. Both restrict airflow through the engine.

      On an exhaust brake equipped diesel engine, the exhaust is restricted so the piston speed is limited by how much air it can push out.

      On a gasoline engine, the intake is restricted so the piston speed is limited by how much air it can pull in.

      Without an exhaust brake and a lock up torque converter, downshifting in a diesel truck is very ineffective.

      Good information here:
      http://www.bankspower.com/magazines/show/508-Banks-Exhaust-Brake

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    Loaning a guy a one ton diesel truck to pull a measly 3600lb. load from home depot to his house doesn’t sound like any type of test for a truck to me.
    A real test of a 3500 diesel would invlove towing a trailer of at least around 10,000lbs. over a variety of different roads and terrain.
    The tester would make note of how the truck rides and handles over those roads loaded and unloaded. They would also note the vision from the mirrors with the trailer attached, braking, how effective the engine/trans are at slowing the vehicle down on grades while downshifting.
    How effective the jakebrake is, how the engine maintains speed on a grade with the load, engine/trans temperature, does the trans downshift too often/not enough?
    They would also mention the attaching hardware, connetors, ect. and talk about how well that stuff works and how easy/difficult it is to use.  I could go on and on, but like I said, this does not qualify as a real 1 ton diesel test in my book.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    That’s a pretty good way of putting it, steve. Jake brakes are meant to use in hilly terrain, where frequent use of the regular brakes, perticularly with a heavy load could overheat them.
    They are a very useful tool in maintaning control as well as extanding brake life. They can also be a lifesaver, say you’re traveling in unfamiliar territory wiith a heavy load, and you descend a steep grade and see a minivan full of kids at the bottom, you can imagine what the result might be if you had been using your regualr brakes to the point that they are now so hot that they don’t work, and you would be unable to stop.
    There are a lot of guys, though, mainly rookie 18 wheeler drivers that think the jake brake sounds cool and they abuse it by using it all the time, annoying people in the process.  That is why they have signs posted on the highways in most metro areas saying not to use it.

  • avatar
    michaelfrankie

    If you check the forums, the 6.7 is a CEL nightmare. You can actually find higher priced 5.9l vs 6.7 with everything being equal but model year.  But I do love a good Cummings.

  • avatar
    Mike66Chryslers

    In my opinion, the Cummins 5.9L 12-valve in 1994-98 Dodge pickups is the best diesel ever used in a pickup truck.  I bought my 94 used in 2001 with just under 125,000mi on it.  I have about 218,000mi on it now.  I check out other Cummins trucks when I see them.  The highest mileage I’ve seen was a 96 with 625,000mi on it.  The owner said the engine was pretty beat, but had never needed any mechanical work done on it.
     
    People had bad things to say about the automatic transmissions used in these trucks.  I think a lot of the problems stemmed from bad throttle position sensors that went unfixed and took out the lockup in the torque converter, or were misdiagnosed as a failing transmission which was then needlessly overhauled.  I’ve spent a lot of time debugging the TPS.  Most TPS issues can be resolved with a capacitor soldered into the wiring harness, or replacing the TPS with a manually controlled potentiometer in the cab.
     
    From what I’ve read, newer Cummins 24-valve trucks seem to have problems with fuel lift pumps and injection pumps failing, and the more recent ones with piezo injectors are sensitive to a bad batch of fuel clogging the injectors.  Fuel filter not fine enough for the application perhaps?  I think the other new diesels are the same in that regard.  I would not touch a 6.7L with the new exhaust aftertreatment system — sounds like a bag of headaches.
     
    If something catastrophic happened to my truck, and I couldn’t find another 94-98 Cummins in good condition to replace it, I’d probably look for a 2006 Chevy with the 2nd gen 6.6L Duramax.  That’s what I recommended to my dad when he needed to replace his truck, and he’s been very happy with his.

  • avatar
    Mike66Chryslers

    The real fly in Chrysler’s truck ointment is the Ram’s tow rating. Allpar.com claims that the 2011 models will be class competitive with a tow rating of 22,000lbs, but the 2010 Ram Dodge loaned us was only rated at 17,600lbs.
     
    A recent magazine article I read said that the 2010 RAM3500 is mechanically the same as the previous generation, which dates back to 2007, just with updated sheetmetal.  That might explain why the tow rating trails the pack despite the new improved look.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    12.2 seconds is slower than I expected.  How much rpm were you able to build on the launch?  How much slower was it in 2wd?
     
    Did it have the factory Alpine stereo?  My buddy’s new 2010 Ram 2500 has the Alpine system.  It sounds harsh to me, and the silly ceiling speakers are terrible when you’re a back seat passenger.  Does anyone actually want to listen to music with a single cheap mid-range speaker in a plastic and sheet metal enclosure right beside their ear?

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      The 12.2 time was recorded in 2WD mode. The model that we tested only had a locking 4WD mode which wasn’t supposed to be used on regular dry pavement, so in the interests of safety I did not do a full 0-60 run in 4WD. I don’t think it would have been of any benefit anyway since it would have just introduced some loss into the equation. Even in 2WD mode on dry pavement there is no rear wheel slip.
       
      Yes, this has the factory Apline unit with the Nav system. The sound was actually pleasant honestly to my ears. I have been in plenty of luxury and near luxury cars that didn’t sound this good. I would rate it as above average with the same caveat you raised, the rear seat sounds stage is downright strange. I could see it in the 2 door Ram, but in the 4 door where I would assume you would expect to have rear passengers on a more regular basis I would have preferred those speakers were somewhere else. But if you don’t sit in the rear seat, it’s all well and good.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      Thanks for replying.  I don’t think you were trying hard enough!  I suspect the 9 second time of the Ford is in 4WD with a fully boosted launch.  That is the way to get the best time out of these trucks.  I got excessive wheelspin in 2WD with only a mildly boosted launch on the 2010 2500 I drove, and the dually axle shouldn’t make much difference.
       
      The manufacturer advises against using 4WD on dry pavement because it can cause accelerated wear on the front and rear drivelines, depending on uniformity of the diameters of the four tires.  4WD on dry pavement at highway speeds would be very hard on it, and it becomes pretty obvious the first time you make a lower speed turn why you don’t want 4WD on dry pavement in the city either.  But for a short rip in a straight line, not a problem!

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    I have a copy of last month’s truck trend on hand, in which they tested a ram 2500 laramie against the F-250 super duty king ranch. Both are diesels.
    0-60 times for both trucks unloaded was 8.3 seconds. With a load it was 9.2 seconds for the ford and 9.9 seconds for the dodge. Max payload is 2090 for the ford, 2190 for the dodge.
    Yet max towing capacity is listed at 12,600 for the dodge and 15,700 for the ford.  How they can have such a close payload yet different towing capacities is a bit puzzling.
    Base price for the super duty is $49,835, model tested with the king ranch package is $64,405.  Base price for the ram is $43,450 while the model tested with the laramie package was $53,570.

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      I saw that issue of Truck Trend, and I do not wish to call their numbers into question, but in the interest of complete disclosure, I must in a way. I tested the Ram 3500 several times, keep in mind that the Ram we had was the quad cab, extended bed, dually model so it was as heavy as it gets, quite a bit heavier than the 2500. As delivered to my doorstep, the Ram did 60 in 12.2 time after time after time. I don’t think there would have been much that could be done to get that number down into the 8 seconds. The diesel tank was nearly empty, there was nothing in the truck bed and I weigh under 190lbs.

  • avatar

    My Father-in-law has a 2004 Ram 2500 long bed with the inline 6-cylindar cummins and he gets low 20′s mpg when not towing.  They have a farm so there is towing tractors and animals and a fifth wheel and it handles it all.  He’s about to tick 250k miles.  I know he had some trouble with water pump bearings, and Dodge changed the fuel pump.  It used to be mounted to the back of the filter housing, but then they changed it to a tank mounted unit, so we had to pick the bed up off it to get to the tank and install the newer pump.  What a stupid design change when it was so much easier to get to the one mounted on the filter and that pump lasted 200k miles.  Other than that it’s been trouble free.  The outside looks like hell, and the interior is falling apart but it still runs good.

  • avatar
    brettc

    I hope Dodge didn’t actually provide a tank of gas for the review. Diesel engines run better on diesel fuel.
    (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    Alex,I agree that the 3500 dually extended cab ram weighs considerably more than the 2500 model tested by truck trend, and therefore would be slower.
    Where my defense of the ram tested on this website came into play was that when the 2500 series ford and dodge diesels were tested they had similar acceleration times unloaded.
    You stated that the F350 should post a 0-60 time of around 9 seconds, but since the 250 does it in around that time then the 350 should be slower, since it also weighs considerably more than the 250. My bet would be that it’s times would be in the same ballpark as the 3500 dodge, just like the 250 was close with the 2500.

  • avatar
    SupaMan

    The kid in me wants this truck.
    But the grown-up in me says no way.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    Supaman…hardly anyone buys a truck this size for a playtoy or image machine. The majority of people that buy trucks like this actually use them. People that buy a truck just because they want one usually go for a half ton.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      I’m not so sure of that. I’m painting a house these days, which means I’m outside all day. An inordinate number of the vehicles going by are diesel pickups (so much so that I’ve begun saying “diesel pickup” every time one goes by), and most of them were :1) empty, and 2) clearly owned by individuals, not businesses or tradesmen. They may get used once a year to tow a ginormous 5th-wheel trailer, but they seem to be spending most of their time as trip runners. Not a lot of half-tonners, either. Mostly 250/2500/350/3500/etc. Stupid big.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    I happen to be outside all day long also, being a roofer. I also see a lot of diesel pickups drive by all day long, many being empty.
    Just because the owners aren’t pulling something with them 24 hrs a day certainly does not indicate that they never need them. When out on the interstate a very high percentage of the diesel pickups I see are towing soemthing.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    *something

  • avatar
    Royme55

    My neighbor has a ’99 Dodge dually with a 5 speed manual trans. He tows a rather large 5th wheel rv trailer with it. He has actually taken care  of it over the years. The interior is in really good shape and so is the exterior. I road in it the other day and it didn’t rattle but was a lot rougher riding than my 09 Laramie. Here is the kicker, it has the 12 valve Cummins, with almost 600k MI on it and he has done nothing to it other than a tune up and services. He did some front end work at around 500k and some turbo repairs around the same time. He drives it like he has to pay the bills. The truck never moves until the engine is warm even in the summer. He never shuts it off until it has had a few minute cool down time at idle. He showed me mileage proof of a fairly consistent 22 mpg. That was of coarse unloaded and 15.5 towing and high 8000 lb RV. He travels at 60 to 65 mph and doesn’t hammer it ever. There are probably stories out there the same about Fords & Chevs that are true too. The key to long lasting trucks and cars is how well they are treated and maintained. If you beat the crap out of anything and don’t take care of it you are going to break it down.

  • avatar
    JWWs Farm

    Have there been any problems with the engaging of the 4WD?  I am looking at a 3500 and currently have a 2000 Ram 2500 and the 4WD is engaged different.


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