The main benefit of the Ram EcoDiesel is the amount of torque it produces (480 lb-ft). This makes it great for towing, and in my opinion, it’s an excellent engine. However, Ram EcoDiesel problems are no joke, and you absolutely need to be aware of them before purchasing a vehicle with one of these engines.
The main issue is the risk of fire due to coolant leaks (yikes), but EGR failure and premature timing chain wear are problems to watch out for as well. The following is a more detailed breakdown of what you might expect with an EcoDiesel:
Table of Contents
What problems does the Ram EcoDiesel have?
EGR cooler failure
Exhaust gas recirculation (or EGR) is the system that is used to recirculate exhaust back into the intake system, where the gases are re-burned inside of the combustion chamber. The EGR cooler is needed due to the high temperature of the exhaust gas, which needs to be cooled before reentering the intake system.
The issue with the Ram EcoDiesel is that the EGR cooler has been known to crack.
- Hairline fractures in the cooler cause the coolant inside to leak.
- If the coolant leaks into the engine bay, there is a chance that it might cause an engine fire. Constantly low coolant levels may signify a crack, and in 2019, 108,000 EcoDiesel Rams were recalled due to the EGR coolers cracking.
- Even if a fire isn’t doesn’t result from a failing EGR cooler, hot gasses that have been sent back into the engine without being cooled can cause the engine to overheat, affecting the engine’s overall performance.
- Signs of an EGR cooler failure include hissing coming from the engine and engine overheating.
Exhaust couplers that leak
The job of the exhaust coupler is to hold different parts of the exhaust system together. Ram EcoDiesel exhaust couplers from the years 2014 and 2015 have been known to crack due excessive heat coming from the exhaust gases.
- If the exhaust coupler cracks, exhaust fumes are sucked into the air system and blown into the truck cabin, which can cause nausea and illness for the driver.
- In 4×2 Ram EcoDiesel models, there were also issues of exhaust leakage due to the bolts in the exhaust system not being tightened properly.
- Defective exhaust couplers from 2014 and 2015 Ram models were recalled by Dodge and replaced free of charge.
Timing chain and camshaft gears that slip
The timing chain and camshaft control the opening and closing of the exhaust valves and ensure that they open and close at the right time. If the timing chain shifts in any way, it causes the engine to misfire and affects the overall performance of the vehicle. This has been a common problem for the Ram EcoDiesel engine (all model years).
- If the timing chain has a significant amount of slippage, it causes the valves and pistons to collide, breaking the piston. When this happens, the whole engine will need to be rebuilt or replaced altogether.
- Signs of timing chain and camshaft gear slippage include rattling of the engine, cylinder misfires, or the engine not starting at all.
Oil cooler failure
Oil needs to be cooled as it circulates throughout an engine. If the oil is not cooled as it circulates, its quality decreases, and it does not lubricate engine parts as it should (which causes excessive wear and tear on the engine).
With the Ram EcoDiesel engine, problems have been reported with the oil cooler failing when hauling heavy loads or towing over rough terrain. The act of hauling heavy loads causes the temperature of the engine to increase, and if the oil cooler fails, the coolant and the oil gets mixed together (this contaminates the cooling system). If the cooling system is contaminated, a full cooling system flush is required to fix the issue.
Other issues from oil cooler failure include overheating of the engine, black smoke exhaust, and overall poor performance of the vehicle. This Ram EcoDiesel problem is most prevalent in 2014–2016 truck models, which resulted in warranties being extended due to a class-action lawsuit.
The good news is that EcoDiesel problems related to the failure of the oil cooler are not widespread, and there have been no serious injuries or death reported to date. Any issues that arose were taken care of by extended warranties, recalls, or class action lawsuits, and improvements have been made on subsequent engine models to provide better safety features and to ensure that fewer issues occur in the future.
Is the Ram EcoDiesel engine reliable?
Although there have been some recalls, Ram EcoDiesel engines can be reliable as long as they are maintained properly. Newer engine models are even better equipped for longevity.
How long will an EcoDiesel engine last?
Proper maintenance will ensure the longevity of your EcoDiesel engine. It is reported that the engines could last from 200,000–300,000 miles by staying on top of fluid changes and recommended maintenance schedules. That’s about on par with smaller diesel engines from other manufactures. I’d recommend reading my list 3.0 Duramax problems to get a better sense of how the EcoDiesel stacks up to the competition.
Of course, limiting towing weights will prevent wear and tear on the engine.
Why did Ram redesign the EcoDiesel?
The EcoDiesel engine was completely redesigned in 2020 due to the risk of coolant leaks (which could potentially result in a fire). Minor injuries have occurred from coolant-related engine fires on vehicles equipped with this engine from 2014-2019, although there have been no serious injuries or death (at the time of this writing).
Newer versions of the Ram EcoDiesel have redesigned cylinder heads and EGR coolers, along with other updates for improved safety.
How reliable is the EcoDiesel compared to Ford EcoBoost engines?
The good news is that the Ram EcoDiesel is one of the best engines I’ve written about to date. Yeah, the coolant leak problem (which can lead to fires) is something to be concerned about, but overall, this engine is far more reliable than some other popular truck engines such as the Ford Ecoboost:
- Ford 2.7 L EcoBoost problems aren’t bad, but they are more significant than the Ram EcoDiesel.
- Ford 3.5 L EcoBoost life expectancy is about the same as the 2.7 (which makes it worse than the EcoDiesel).
- 107,898 vehicles with Ram EcoDeisel engines built between 2014-2019 were recalled for the coolant leak problem described above. 2020 models (and newer) were not included in the recall.
- In October 2019, FCA US (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) provided a statement about the EGR coolers stating that they were “voluntarily recalling an estimated 107,898 vehicles in the U.S. to address a potential for coolant leakage.”
- Through dealer-service reports, the compiled data prompted an internal investigation, and this is how the hairline fractures in the EGR coolers were discovered.
- Some consumers have received minor injuries due to the engine fires, but no major injuries or accidents have been reported. Vehicles sold in Canada and other countries outside of North America were subject to a recall as well.
- In the U.S., Dodge replaced defective EGR coolers free of charge. In addition to EGR leakage, defective exhaust couplers from 2014 and 2015 Ram models were recalled by Dodge.
Outside of the EGR cooler leaks and defective exhaust couplers of the previous models, the EcoDiesel is easily one of the most interesting engines I’ve ever tinkered with. I’ve driven several trucks with this engine, and I walked away from each experience feeling like it would be the perfect vehicle for me if I did a lot of towing. I don’t, unfortunately, so no EcoDiesel for me.
It should also be noted that from 2014–2016, the Ram EcoDiesel made Wards 10 Best Engines list three years in a row. So it’s not just me who thinks this is a great engine for anyone who does a lot of towing. Yeah, I may drive a Mustang, but I’m not as dumb as you may think I am…