Reader Question: DEF-Free Replacement for Old Ram 2500?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

David asks: I’m looking to replace my 1999 Dodge Ram 2500 with a newer model. I could not afford a new one – and would not buy it if I could. Also I would not buy a vehicle that requires DEF. What years Dodge truck would you recommend? I know it will not be easy to find, but I also want a long bed. Since I am 79 yrs. old, this will likely be the last truck for me! Really, really enjoy your automotive essays.

My reply: Well, if you want a Dodge truck – as opposed to a Ram truck – you’ll have to go back to 2009 or before, which was the last year Dodge still sold trucks. After 2009, FiatChrysler (which owns both brands) “spun off” – as they say in the business – Ram as a separate brand, probably in anticipation of cancelling the Dodge brand. I expect this will happen within the next two years; possibly sooner. Note that Dodge has nothing new in its lineup – and its lineup has been shorn of several models, including the Dart.

At any rate, you’d definitely be safe going with a Dodge of ’09 vintage or older – both as regards not having DEF and having a long (eight foot) bed. I personally would shoot for early 2000s or late ’90s – as this was (in my opinion) the pinnacle of vehicle development in every respect except power (the new stuff produces almost unbelievable horsepower on a per-displacement basis as well as on an absolute basis – but at tremendous cost as well as tremendous complexity).

But a mid-late ’90s/early-mid ‘2000s Ram 2500 diesel will not want for power. And the older you go, the simpler and easier to deal with it’ll be. In my opinion, it would even be worth buying an otherwise sound mid-late ’90s truck that needed some engine work because you’d end up with a great truck free of much of most of the afflictions of new trucks for vastly less money spent, both now as well as in the future.

Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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  1. If possible, just restore your current truck. It will be cheaper than a newer one and, if you fix the killer dowel pin issue, will last longer than you will. The Cummins engine in the 98-03 Dodges is a 750,000 mile engine. The Cummins engines in the pre-98 1/2 are million-plus mile engines, as long as the killer dowel pin issue is fixed.


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