Reader Question: Classic Ram?

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

Williams asks: I am considering a Ram 1500 Classic and read your review regarding the Classic vs. the new 1500.  I didn’t see where you had any comments on the Hemi MDS VVT engine in the Classic. Is it a direct injection? Any comments on the MDS VVT system?  Keep up the great work – I have learned a lot from your blog.

My reply: Good news! The 5.7 Hemi is a PFI engine (you can download all technical specifications from the Ram media site here). So there aren’t any potential down-the-road worries with DI. And I personally would avoid the “eTorque” system in the ’20 Ram like I would a girl in a dark bar with an Adam’s apple and hair on her upper lip!

Like almost all new engines, however, the Hemi is equipped with variable valve timing and cylinder deactivation; the VVT system has some merit in that it allows the engineers to alter engine performance characteristics to meet driver demands; basically, you get the benefit of a more aggressive cam profile when power is wanted but the benefit of a milder one when you’re just trundling along.

Cylinder deactivation (also called variable displacement) on the other hand doesn’t strike me as being of much if any value to the vehicle’s owner. The idea is to “save fuel” by running (well, feeding fuel to) four of a V8’s cylinders during steady-state cruise/low-load conditions. But the fuel savings are trivial and the system is complex as well as potentially expensive to repair. Some believe it may also be a detriment to longevity.

Variable valve/cam timing systems are generally hydraulically (oil under pressure) powered so the key thing is to keep up with your oil and filter changes and always use the correct type and viscosity oil. Don’t push the intervals – and do not use heavier (or lighter) than recommended oil.

Otherwise, I have no unkind words for the Ram – it’s the one I’d buy were I in the market for a new truck!

. . .

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  1. Chrysler has been making nothing but junk for many years now, and now, since their merger with Fiat, they’re making even junkier junk!

    The engines have tons of problems, and just as has been the case for a long, long time, the bodies, interiors, suspensions and everything else falls apart quickly.

    Heck, friend of mine who should have known better, bought a brand new’un with a CUMMINs, and it developed a KNOCK within 2 days!

    • Nunz, living in Tx as I do, I hear the low-down on all pickups…..all the time. That Cummins thing has been going on for over a decade now. Bottom ends and pickups with 50,000 miles and lately much, much less, just falling out. I’ve seen it, lying on the ground in a big mess of oil and parts. During that same time Dodge faithfuls all call for the old 2 valve engine.

      I have no idea what the problem is but back in the days of the badass mopar engines, large amounts of their blocks from small to large made great power at the expense of being really heavy but didn’t last long due to not having enough nickel in the blocks. Just plain old cast iron better suited for sewer pipe isn’t going to last long as an engine.

      A buddy and I were driving along in one and it started overheating, bad thermostat. No biggy and nothing any other brand didn’t experience but when I pulled the water neck off to change the thermostat, the housing was such a poor casting many of the holes were deep enough it appeared the paint was the main thing keeping them from leaking. I bought an aftermarket housing and it was fine, made by some other company Chrysler obviously hadn’t used.

      • 8, when I first moved here, I didn’t have anything set up to tow with. I was lamenting to my neighbor about an old AMC Eagle about 2 hours away that I’d like to have, but had no way to get it home. He offered to lend me his [at the time] c.7 year-old Cummins 4×4 dually with farm bed. I really appreciated the offer- but I don’t borrow nor lend vehicles- and his being a Dodge made it even more taboo.

        It was a good decision! Literally, next time I see my neighbor, turns out the water pump on the truck had grenaded, and about 3 other serious problems (I forget what, now) had manifested themselves.

        Had I borried that truck, not only would I have been stranded somewhere, with at least a trailer- and possibly a car on it- but I sure would have felt responsible/looked bad/had to take some responsibility…

        At least my neighbor used the opportunity to replace that famous 12V pin-in-the-timing-case-that-is-notorious-for-falling-out….but of course, that didn’t stop the rest of the truck from just falling apart piece by piece over the next few years. He was finally able to sell it and get some of his money out of it after a while- after patching the dash together with some sheet metal…..

        Same guy now owns a small repair shop (He didn’t know too much about cars- but I once showed him how to do the head gasket on his car, and it gave him confidence), and it seems I’d say about 70% of his bidness is fixing late-model Chrysler products- mainly cars and “Jeeps”. (Late model is redundant- as you rarely see an older Chrysler..unless it’s from the musckle-car era).

        My friend who bought the new Cummins that developed the knock in two days…he had dumped it back at the stealership…wanted his money back…didn’t want it fixed (Don’t blame him…the freaking thing was brand new); didn’t want another one, since, as he quickly learned, they’re garbage. Ended up taking another one though, when he saw that he had no real options- Now he’s driving a brand new $65K truck that he knows can ‘splode at any time…. Keeping his old Powerstroke for when that happens. That’s the state of the car industry these days…buy a brand new $65K truck, and have to have a back-up, that ya didn’t even need when you were driving a 20 year-old one…… He’d lose a fortune if he tried to sell the dam,ned thing now…so he’s stuck with it for quite some time- and he’s 71 and has cancer, so it’ll likely be his last truck. First time since probably the 1970’s that he’s bought a brand new vehicle….

  2. You might not be too pleased with a late model Hemi. They’re falling left and right with bad lifters that take out the cam. Not a cheap fix if it’s out of warranty. I recently rented one that was maybe a year old and not many miles. It already had that top end clicking going. Glad I didn’t own it.

    I can’t knock it for lack of power. It was extremely fast, bare pickup wise. The best thing about it was the fuel mileage. I drove it like I stole it and it got better mileage than any pickup I’ve driven……ever.


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