By on March 16, 2018

Image: FCA

Mankind’s greatest foe — road salt — can never be fully vanquished, and the latest evidence of its malevolence just cropped up in 20 northern states. Salt, though essential to human life, turns water brackish and wreaks havoc on vehicles — just ask the owners of previous-decade Toyota Tacomas, Nissan Frontiers, and Mazda 3s.

We can now add the 2009-2012 Ram 1500 pickup to the list of vehicles with salt-sullied undercarriages, though this issue, for which Fiat Chrysler is recalling 270,254 vehicles in the U.S., doesn’t result in the vehicle breaking in half (or, in the case of the Mazdas, disappearing into brown dust).

After an investigation, FCA determined corrosion of a bracket can cause the truck’s gas tank to sag. While this conjures up images of Rams dropping their fuel tanks on the road, or at least springing a significant leak, the automaker says it isn’t likely.

“FCA US testing indicates the remaining structural components would help prevent separation,” the automaker stated. To date, the automaker says it isn’t aware of any accidents, injuries, or fuel leaks stemming from the saggy tanks. All models sold from 2009 to 2012 feature tanks made from high-density polyethylene, it added.

Unlike other recalls, such as Ford’s free-floating steering wheels, this recall is only occurring “out of an abundance of caution,” FCA claims.

Included in the recall are Rams sold in 20 U.S. states with frequent bouts of wintry weather: Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Wisconsin, and West Virginia. In Canada, where not a single square inch of land is immune from frigid weather, some 26,676 Ram 1500s from the same model years have been called back for fuel tank bracket replacement.

The work is free of charge, and FCA encourages owners to take a peek under the rear bumper for obvious signs of bracket separation. If it lets go, the fuel tank strap will hang down very obviously. It might also look like your truck is pregnant.

By the sounds of it, Rams of that era didn’t boast the beefiest brackets. Here’s one complaint from 2013, concerning a 2009 model.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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20 Comments on “Salty States Get a Ram 1500 Recall of Their Very Own...”

  • avatar

    We’ve had 150” of snow this season and the DPW has dropped about 150” of salt. Cars take it better than they did 30 – 40 years ago but it still kills your undercarriage. I go through the car wash about three times a week in the winter, just prolonging the inevitable.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    With all the salt they throw on the roads due to public demand that winter roads drive like summer roads, I’m surprised anyone needs AWD.

    • 0 avatar

      This is the exact reason I drive back roads to and from work in the winter. I’d rather drive on packed snow and ice than slush (which is all it is at best at 4am anyway.)
      Township roads here don’t get treated only plowed unless you are within village limits, where as state routes get the obnoxious heavy doses so motorists can get that warm fuzzy false sense of security.
      Funny thing is it generally only adds 5-10 minutes to my 25 mile commute at best. Some mornings it’s a wash because I don’t have nearly the traffic to contend with. People just can’t figure out why my vehicle isn’t a solid slush box between the wheel wells when I’ve got one of the longer drives in my crew.

  • avatar

    This is just the tip of the iceberg.

    Expand your search of vehicle undercarriages and you’ll find hundreds of thousands of badly-rusted subframes, brake lines and fuel lines on aging cars which the owners believe are 100% rust-free because the outer panels still look good.

    Trade ’em or spray ’em is the choice for most brands. Only BMW, Volvo and VW/Audi seem to have any meaningful rust resistance baked into their undercarriage components.

    • 0 avatar

      I knew a woman who had her V70 XC condemned by the dealer for underbody rust at six years old…in Virginia. To be fair, the Volvo had apparently spent its first three or four years in the north east. BMW stopped comprehensive rust proofing in 1992 to make their cars easier to recycle. VW/Audis aren’t on the road long enough for it to matter whether or not they’re made out of papier-mâché.

  • avatar

    A friend of mine had an early 2000’s Tacoma that started dragging its gas tank because the straps rusted away. He heard a strange noise and luckily pulled right over. That truck looked good on the surface, but underneath…. Sheesh!

    Here in New Brunswick, the government has taken a lot of flack for not salting the roads enough this year. The cost of salt went up after their supplier shut down and they had to buy it from out of province. As a result, a few more people than normal have died on our highways this year due to accidents on icy roads.

  • avatar

    Earlier I was out and I had to go to Walmart. I parked across from a Dodge of this generation, and I couldn’t help noticing that it was already starting to lose it’s cab corners. I couldn’t believe it.

  • avatar

    This is why I love vehicles from the west. My overlanding/off road buggy is a ’99 Grand Cheroke with 306k km or 188k miles and the underside is corrosion free. The tradeoff is yearly windshield replacements.

  • avatar

    My ’02 Dodge Dakota has rusted rear wheel well arches and live in snow free Florida! In this case the salt came from saltwater boat ramps. The rear tires dip into the water slightly when I’m retrieving my boat, then I drive home throwing saltwater up into the wells. Given the tiny amount of salt and the damaged it caused I guess the entire bed would be gone if I lived up north. Its really sad because otherwise my truck is in perfect condition, I credit that famously hard and cheap plastic Dodge used on the interior – that stuff holds up great.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      I have been told that coastal vehicles – especially those with a prevailing ocean wind – can suffer great salt damage.

      NASA has a long-term corrosion study going on at its Florida launch facilities because of this. The abandoned equipment there looks as bad as anything in the Rust Belt.

      The only thing worse than cold + salt is warm + salt.

  • avatar

    I would throw anything made in Korea on the brownfire. I haven’t seen one yet in Wisconsin that is not consumed underneath. They had the recalls for subframes, control arms etc and it wasn’t enough.

  • avatar

    Having grown up in Massachusetts, I can remember BEFORE they used salt on the roads – they used sand. I recall watching equipment show up every Spring, with a claw scooping sand out of the storm drains and dumping it in trucks. After the debris was sifted out, they’d re-use the sand the next winter.

    It turns out salt isn’t really any better, but it’s a lot cheaper. Environmentalists were also complaining about the dumping of sand into rivers, lakes, and bays, but curiously there’s little about the effect of salt. “Back in the day”, cars didn’t melt, but they lasted only about 60k before everything loosened up and the mechanicals needed ridiculously simple, but extensive work.

    So we’ve moved from corrosion being minor but cars not made to last long, to cars built to last, but being replaced early due to corrosion. Progress!

  • avatar

    I can’t really understand why when I lived in Michigan, it was salt salt salt and more salt.

    But in Idaho it seems to be sand, gravel, sand, more gravel, and gravel.

    I think I’d take the sand/gravel…. the cars here still look great after 10-15 years, despite just as much snow as Michigan.

    • 0 avatar

      Windshield and paint pitting is the problem with sand and gravel. In densely populated cities, the sand clogs the storm drains and has to be cleaned out, or several homes might be flooded in the Summer, causing lawsuits.

  • avatar

    In Syracuse it snows everyday. I think the city even pays employees extra to throw salt out the windows of their personal vehicles on weekends. If there’s a basketball game, the first 10,000 fans at the Carrier Dome receive a free bag of salt. If you approach the city from the surrounding hills, you can see the salt just hanging there, looking for quarter panels that are weak or that stray from the herd.

  • avatar

    Car and truck manufacturers should make rocker section, wheel arches and cab corners to actually drain or make them out of stainless steel. the cost would be worth it.

  • avatar

    Years ago Rusty Jones or Ziebart rustproofing treatments were a big thing to get when buying a new vehicle with car dealers even offering it for a an extra charge . Since metal is supposedly treated better for rust at the factory those services have disappeared . There’s only one Ziebart place I can find in northern NJ and it’s at least 50 miles away from me and Rusty Jones went out of business in the late 1980s .

    • 0 avatar

      Not the case here at all. There are both handful of Ziebart and Krown dealers within a 75 mile radius, which says alot given my rural location. I also see many repair shops advertising Fluid Film application at a fairly reasonable price.
      One thing is for sure, if one does nothing here after 8-10 years the structural integrity of a vehicle is severely compromised regardless of badging.

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