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A Testament of Reliability

This 1999 Ram 3500 Cab and Chassis (pictured below) is a real testament of the reliability of V10 Magnums and 2nd gen Dodge trucks. In this post I will tell the story of this truck and all the issues it had and still has.

January 5th, 2018 I found this truck for sale on Facebook Marketplace and drove 2 hrs after work to go look it over. Upon arrival I was greeted by this extremely rust free 1999 LWB 2x4 V10 5spd Cab and Chassis with 136000 miles on the odometer. After a short test drive I handed the owner $1000 and headed home with the title in hand. Since I did not have anyone else with me I had to come back the next day to pick it up. As usual, the excitement of getting a new truck led to not much sleep that night so we got an early start on our adventure to bring this truck home. Overnight temperatures dropped to -8 degrees so it would be a good test to drive the 80 miles home in an unfamiliar vehicle. This is when the issues really started to show themselves. We left the seller's house complete with what appeared to be a full 12 pack of crumpled Busch Light cans on the passenger floorboard (one was a beer slushy I guess he forgot to finish) and went straight to the local gas station since a V10 is always out of gas. Here I discovered that the coolant was a whole gallon low. With all the fluids topped of we pressed on. Out on the highway the truck cruised surprisingly well even with a bad shake over 55mph, a drivers door that wouldn't fully shut, and an intermittent power loss. We made it home without much fuss even in below zero temperatures and the heater worked fantastically. Now that the truck was home I was able to give it a proper inspection on a paved surface. The issues I found:

  • Bad fuel pump (seller told me this)

  • Misfire at all engine speeds

  • Hesitation/studder at low speed

  • Drivers door did not shut fully

  • Blown rear shocks

  • Leaking radiator

  • Bald tires and one has shed a large chunk of tread on the drive home

  • Bad shake at 55+ MPH

  • Junk flatbed that was nearly falling off due to the shake

  • Codes for injector faults and o2 sensor faults

  • Typical cracked dash top

  • Drivers seat shredded

  • Reverse lights were out

  • ABS and Brake light on

  • No parking brake

  • Bad speaker in passenger door

  • Exhaust leak off drivers manifold

Even with all these issues the truck got me home. I promptly ordered a new radiator and fuel pump to get those changed out on the next warmish day. Fixing the radiator cut down on the coolant loss but did not fully solve that issue. The factory fuel pump was ok but the regulator had failed allowing full fuel pressure to the injectors at all times. I also addressed the exhaust leak at the manifold. All these repairs made the truck perform substantially better but it still ran poorly compared to my other V10. Shortly after those repairs due to unforeseen circumstances my wife and myself had to rely on this truck and my 2500 V10 as our daily drivers. I was forced to drive this truck daily for 4 months while putting 300 miles a week on it. All issues aside this truck got me through ice, snow drifts, and subzero temperatures reliably everyday when I needed it most.

Once spring rolled around I decided to finally tackle the misfire and hesitation. Upon tearing into the engine I found that a rocker bolt and two lifters had failed on cylinder #9. I cover repairing this issue in detail here. At this time I also replaced the plugs and o2 sensors. The truck was finally running on 10 cylinders for the first time I owned it. I had put roughly 4500 miles on it running on 9 cylinders. Over the summer I addressed many of the other issues to bring the truck into a better state of repair.

  • Replaced tires

  • Fixed drivers door

  • Replaced shocks

  • Replaced brake rotor to fix shake

  • Repaired flatbed

  • Repaired reverse lights

  • Replace the exhaust

  • New plug wires

  • New rear brake line

  • New clutch master and slave cylinders

With all the work I've done to this truck I am roughly into the truck for $2800 and it continues to serve me well. In the 11000 miles I have put on this truck it has only broken on me twice, rusted out rear brake line and the clutch slave cylinder went out. Each time I was still able to get home and never had to walk or get a tow. Currently the only mechanical issues are the ABS/Brake light and the parking brake cables being frozen. The rest of the issues are mostly cosmetic or small things that don't really matter on an old work truck.

This truck has proven time and time again the amount of abuse and neglect these V10's can take and still keep working. Out of all the vehicles I have owned my V10 Dodges have been the most reliable even after a history of abuse and neglect from previous owners.

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Eric Vensel
Eric Vensel

Glad to hear it's been a good truck. I am going to pick up a 2wd dually that's nearly rust free and needs some minor attention tomorrow. My 04 ram hemi has been a great truck and made me a dodge fan.

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