Reader Question: Ram 1500 Thoughts?

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

Rick asks: I found out yesterday that my 2008 Ford F150 is pretty much done for. I was informed by my mechanic that it’s going to start ” nickel and diming me” so I need a new truck. A truck is essential to where I live and my lifestyle. I really like the new Rams but I am torn between a V6 and V8. I would like to possibly put a plow on it and it needs to be able to tow an enclosed trailer. What are your thoughts on these two engine options?

My reply: Before you act, are you sure about the ’08 F150? A new half-ton with 4WD is going to cost you more than $30k – even for a base “work truck” with the standard (and not very tow-haul/suited engine). Add a V8 and a few options and you’ll be looking at close to $40k.

That plus the taxes, insurance and so on.

I would weight that against what you might spend maintaining your ’08, which I assume is paid for. If it costs you say $2k per year in repairs vs. $5k per year in monthly payments (plus the taxes/insurance)… well, that’s the math!

Even putting in a new engine/transmission can be well worth the expense if the truck itself is still basically in a good shape.

That said, if your old truck is too tired to keep – a new Ram is a great choice. I do not like the new F-150’s aluminum body and overly complex systems. The Chevy is a good truck in terms of its mechanicals but also overdone in my opinion. Ram has done a good job of keeping the Ram 1500 a truck.

Unfortunately, the Classic version is fading away after this year – but you might still have time to get it. Which you may want to do if you want a regular cab as the ’21 isn’t available in two-door configuration.

If not and you go for a 2021, I would advise two things: Avoid the V6 – for two reasons. One, while it makes plenty of horsepower, it is light on torque for a truck – and hauling and towing. It is also basically a car engine and while probably okay for general transportation duties, it’s not a truck engine – built to long-haul handle heavy duty loading and use.

Two, it is paired with a “mild hybrid” 48V electrical system, which is very complicated and so very likely to cost you money down the road when its components begin to fail.

The V8 is available without the 48V mess and it has plenty of torque. Plus it’s a burly/rumbly engine perfect for a truck.

Ram also offers a diesel with tremendous torque -and towing/hauling capacity, along with better mileage than the V8. It’s not cheap but it might be worth considering.

Hope this helps!

. . .

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  1. Personally, the way I rate them is that the Ram is the best car out of the three, the GM twins are the best trucks and the Ford is a decent compromise between the other two. If I’m doing nothing but hauling and towing, I’d go GM. If you will only use it as a car, the Ram. It has the nicest interior and most car like ride. Coil springs aren’t what you want in the work truck however. The Ford is a decent compromise. The only reason I went Chevy over Ford was that Ford dealers only want to sell the turbo sixes and in the long haul I would rather have a simple V8. Direct injection isn’t the voodoo science it once was and you can get new Delphi parts pretty cheap. The injectors are about the same price on Rock Auto as some port injectors.

    I don’t know how you use your truck so I can’t make a recommendation. I would question the suspicion of your current truck’s future problems. I would question why your mechanic made such an assertion. Does it have some structural rust that will be a problem in the new future? If you’re current truck is well maintained, I wouldn’t sweat it. It’s a simple vehicle with readily available and cheap parts. You should be able to affordably keep it running for as long as you want. Like Eric said, even an engine or transmission isn’t the end of the world.

  2. There is also the possibility of getting a “newer” truck, as in a well-maintained used truck. It takes some legwork, it takes some mechanical know-how, but it can be a better bet than straight up new.

    By the way, it depends on exactly what nickel-and-dime problems you’re having. Most likely, the electronics, like sensors, relays, computers, etc. are what causes problems. The basic chassis and power train is basically robust. Some of those components are easy to replace yourself; others, not so much. The trick is to find out what trucks are relatively easier to work on and less likely to have problems.

    Just my 2 cents.

  3. I have a 2020 F150 XL 4wd 2.7L ecoboost. I shopped a long time, and the choices for me were: 1) Ford with 2.7L ecoboost, 2) Ford with 5.0L V8, 3) Chevy with 5.3L V8, 4) Ram 1500 classic with 5.7L V8.

    I sided against the Ram primarily b/c their 5.7L has cylinder deactivation which Internet research showed problems with. They have cam problems in that to deactivate the cylinder, they collapse the lifter and then reinflate the lifter when needed. (Actually, they all do it this way). Anyway, I’d heard of problems with this leading to the cam wearing out prematurely. Also, it only has Direct Injection. I was looking for Regular Cab, and the Ram has the best regular cab layout.

    I sided against the Chevy for pretty much the same reason, although my Internet research showed less reports of this problem in the 5.3L Chevy. I also found a gizmo that you plug into your OBDII port that disables the cylinder deactivation. Had I bought the Chevy, I would have gotten that gizmo. Also, the Chevy only has DI. Chevy has on okay reg cab layout, but the most room behind the back seat of the 3.

    The 5.0L Ford was too expensive and very unavailable. The 2.7L ecoboost is a $900 option and the 5.0L is just over $2k. Plus, you cant find the damn things. The ecoboosts are more prevalent. Also, the Ford has the ASS, but a simple button on the dash to turn it off, it has both direct and port injection, and the turbos, which are probably the most prone thing to fail are *external* to the engine! I thought this very important, b/c the cams on the Ram and Chevy are internal to the engine.

    I am very happy with the performance of my 2.7L ecoboost, but I am just a homeowner/commuter. I reckon if I was a contractor/trailer hauler, I would have gotten the 5.0L

    • I did end up finding a unicorn, a ’18 F150 XLT long bed 5.0. Only two around a large area search, and I picked one up certified used. I really liked the truck compared to my prior gm’s, however it was a stripper which has ended up being a little bit of a problem for me over the long haul. little things like the std. cloth seats are horrible to me, I just can’t get comfortable in them (just me), and the tiny little info screen I can’t read anything on it at my older age. The 5.0L w/10sp has been a surprise to me that it works very well, for me.
      And why I am trading it in on the 21 Ram below. Best seats I’ve had in a truck, not better than my 300S sport seats, but close. and obviously the 12″ large screen is really informative and I can read it. The 5.7L 8sp is hard to beat for a good overall powertrain. The Ram interior is second to none, bonus. To be fair I love GM’s 6.2, but I’ve always felt GM short shifted these trans’ and I never liked the drivability of such. I have not driven their new 10sp, which probably is much better, but GM lost my biz, at least for a while.

    • BTW, I’m pretty sure the Ram 5.7L is not direct injected. I agree the cylinder deactivate thing sucks, but I’ve rarely see it activate in my ’20 5.7 Ram.
      Yes, the GM and Ford are DI, and the known issues with it, however I think both now since 2019?? have a small ‘bleeder’ injector to keep the intake valves clean. I think.
      Eric, I smell another article on differences in current truck engines?

      • ALL of these new trucks (With the possible exception of Toyotas) are bumblefu**ed with ridiculous amounts of technology and electronics- you basically keep ’em until the warranty runs out, then rush to trade them, because just seeing the stuff that had to be done under warranty makes ya realize there’s no way that you want to be stuck paying for the next repair.

        It’s ridiculous how much old (c. 20+ y.o.) trucks are going for- but there’s a reason for it- It’s better to spend $20K on a mint old truck, or get a decent one and renew much of it, than to spend more on a late model which WILL start nickel-and-diming one in short order.

  4. Holy crap, Rick! Is your mechanic also a part-time fortune-teller? If your truck isn’t currently nickel-and-diming you to death, and there is nothing definitively wrong with any specific major system….then I personally would keep it until such time as it actually starts nickel-and-diming…and get another mechanic.

    I’ve been driving Ford trucks for half my life…and lemme tell you, these trucks were designed for fleet service, and as such are highly reliable, even when old and with many hundreds of thousands of miles on ’em. Even at 300K miles, I’ve NEVER had a Ford truck nickel and dime me. [All the above does not apply to late-model ones!]

    Now ya wanna talk about nickel-and-diming…get a Dodge! They seem nice at first…but start falling apart before long…..

    • Nunzio,

      When I was a wee lad, my dad, uncle, and paternal grandfather had a dairy farm. They had a small fleet of pickups, most of which were Fords! Of course, this was back in the day when pickups were minimalist; they had a vinyl floor, heat, gearshift, clutch, and not much else. But yeah, thogh they’d used other makes of trucks, the Fords were the best back in those days…

  5. I am buying my second Ram 1500 (2021). I needed a truck in a hurry last spring, so I am old enough now not to care too much anymore, I’ve owned mostly GM, and a couple Fords. So the new Ram intrigued me only cause it was all new, looked great (to me, smaller grill instead of in-your-face huge grill). Interior was class leading. So I bought one off the lot sight unseen (remember the not caring too much anymore part). They picked me up from the airport and off I went. std. V8, Long bed, air ride. It road sooooo good on the highway I thought I was in a 70’s Caddy boat. I said to myself, this thing is going to be a pig in the mountain twisties when I get there. Nope, handled better than any truck I’ve ever driven, even pushed it to squealing tires just to see. I am very impressed with it’s overall package.
    Will it be as reliable as GM/Ford? Probably not, but I really don’t care, I never keep them past 70K mi.
    I am now in need another truck for another location so I’m buying Ram again, my way, have to order it.
    I am calling these new trucks, our large sedan replacements that no longer exist (except S-class, etc…, can’t own) 300, Charger is closest you can get to larger affordable sedans.
    I agree with Eric, get the std. v8, not the V6 or V8 e-torque.
    Best of luck. Buy an extended factory warranty for as long as you will own it, and zero worries/concerns, IMO.


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