2001 Dodge Ram Dashboards Collapsing, Cracking, Dealerships Won't Fix

Dashboards on people’s 2001 Dodge Rams are cracking and collapsing across the nation.

When consumers try take the truck in for warranty repair, dealerships say the dashboards aren’t on a recall list, so they can’t do anything. The only thing Dodge will say is that they’re “reviewing records.”

Customers experiencing the problems are advised to file complaints with crash.test@nhtsa.dot.gov, try to hack out a deal with the dealership, or try their luck with arbitration. — BEN POPKEN

Dodge Ram Owners Report Dashboards Collapsing, Cracking [Local 6]
ONLINE COMPLAINTS: [Dodge Froum] [Car Complaints] [MotorTrend]

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  1. Buran says:

    While I think it’s dishonest of Dodge to stand by and do nothing, they also are not legally obligated to fix this because the vehicles are no longer under bumper to bumper warranty after six years. If this were a powertrain issue, that might be a warranty claim (though that depends on the make of vehicle) but I’d be really surprised if the B2B warranty were still in effect.

    The dealers were actually doing more than they were required by offering to pay half the cost — and people complain anyway. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you, and all that.

    If this becomes a formal recall later, you’ll get reimbursed for any costs you incur to have it fixed now. Just get it fixed, save your paperwork, file with the NHTSA, and be glad the dealer offered to comp half the bill.

    And then buy your next vehicle from a carmaker with a better reputation.

  2. Coder4Life says:

    Another reason not to buy a Dodge.. Or just about any other American made car..

    This coudl go either ways, for instance there are lot of companies that sell cars taht 8 years downt he road realize that a certain part goes out and 50 – 70% might see that problem, but they don’t complain.

    But this is something that you look at it and can see, and is probably why they want it fixed.

    dodge should probably go head and fix it, I mean come on these peopel bought your damn vehicle in the times that your company is doing horrible… Their next vehicle probably wont be a dodge….

  3. nh_dave says:

    Well don’t throw all american cars under the bus… I have a 2000 Honda Element that is prone to this. Honda lost a class action lawsuit and it stipulates that you get one free windshield replacement.

    I am on my 5th windshield. My local dealer is totally usless, won’t buy another honda because of how they have treated me with it…

  4. Onouris says:

    @Buran:

    A warranty can’t be all a person can rely on surely? If this many people are having a problem it has to be an inherent fault, and they can just get away with that?

  5. The Walking Eye says:

    American car quality is a lot better than it was 15 years ago, with GM making the most advancement and Ford being better and Dodge barely better. The “imports” (just about all of them made here now) are not light years ahead as the American makes have caught up to them. That being said, Dodge is the worst of all the majors when it comes to quality.

    Toyota’s quality has dropped off recently and it’s not getting better, but they’ll gladly keep the stereotype up that American cars are crap and imports are the balls. I’ve never liked Honda due to the cheap feel I get from them, but their chassis are outstanding.

    We expect to go to a dealer and get a car that will last 10 years w/o a single problem. Have people lost sight of how intricate and impressive a modern car really is, even the cheap ones?

    This could be a simple batch of dashboards was bad from the manufacturer, and if it affects enough people a recall will be issued. To expect the dealer to just replace a dash on a 6 year old vehicle that is out of warranty is a bit much to me. My bumper to bumper period is up, as is my powertrain, and if anything goes wrong with my car, I’ll fix it.

    I guess it’s just the bitching to a dealer when this is Dodge Corporate’s issue that’s bugging me. The one guy should be glad the dealer offered to pay half, and that sounds like a dealer who’s trying to keep a customer happy.

  6. BWJones says:

    Classic Dodge, dodge. Several years ago I dumped by Dodge Ram because of stuff just like this that I documented on Jonesblog here:
    http://prometheus.med.utah.edu/~bwjones/C1276349108/E13493

    In short, Dodge has a history of known defects that they choose to pass on to the customer in terms of hassle, cost and possible safety. One would have thought they learned their lesson by now…

  7. chrisgoh says:

    nh_dave

    I’d like to see this 2000 Honda Element, since the first model year Element was 2003… :)

  8. JCWhitless says:

    You can throw a cap over the top of the problem. Of course that won’t correct the fuzz landing at your feet from the insulation. But you can’t win them all!

    http://www.jcwhitney.com/autoparts/Product/Pr-p_Product.CA

  9. bhall03 says:

    Have a 2000 Honda Accord and had it serviced 3 months ago because of a seatbelt problem. Even with no B2B warranty in place it was covered repair due to a recall. Saying Dodge doesn’t have to cover because the B2B is over is a cop out. This is why I just bought ANOTHER Honda.

  10. @bhall03:

    That’s because Honda has a lifetime warranty on the seat belt system in their cars. I had a belt replaced in a 15 year old CRX for free.

    As to the Dodge thing, dealer paying half on a cosmetic issue on a car that is no longer under warranty is a pretty damn good deal.

  11. royal72 says:

    with enough complaints they’ll fix it… dodge wouldn’t want to look like a company who doesn’t care about it’s customers and their safety.

  12. stock87 says:

    “Dodge Ram. The longest lasting, most durable line of full-size pickups.”

    *snort*

  13. Flash604 says:

    Without getting into the American vs Foreign debate, I would have to agree that Dodge has no obligation here. While I am in a completely different industry, I spend a lot of my time talking to customers who state “I don’t care if I’m out of warranty, this is a defect!” My response, with the niceties removed, is “And what do you think you were covered for when under warranty?”

    Unless it is a special warranty, such as accidental damage protection (which really isn’t a warranty so much as insurance), a warranty normally only covers defects in the first place. The company states in their warranty “We will fix defects for ___ years.” The warranty is part of the overall package being offered, and by purchasing the consumer has stated “I agree that this package is worth the amount of money I being charged.” Yes, it might be that these dashes are defective; but the period that defects are covered has expired, and it was the customers’ responsibility to either arrange an extended warranty, decide to pay for repairs as needed, or sell the vehicle before any issues occurred.

    My stereo speaker on my 16 year old car is loudly buzzing. By definition, it is defective, but it’s my responsibility to pay for any replacement.

    As for the continuous mentions in the video of recalls; after-warranty recalls are for serious safety defects affecting multiple units. One person having electrical problems that may or may not be related to this issue does not constitute a need for a recall. Did anyone else notice that this person seems to not even have had the issue diagnosed, but rather just made the supposition that it might or might not be from the dash caving in, and if not that then it might or might not be from the wires being exposed to the hot sun (add dramatic shot of the sun with a star filter)? For all we know, the truck as a bad alternator, a loose fuse, a driver that turned a knob the wrong way (she only mentions it happening once). She herself states “It’s a safety issue now.” Correct me if I’m wrong, but if your vehicle has a safety defect and you do not fix it, you will be responsible for any traffic tickets you receive and you will be at fault if it causes an accident.

    I am a consumer advocate, and in my customer relations job I do provide the benefit of the doubt to the customer whenever possible; however, I have little sympathy for cries later of “I shouldn’t have to pay for repairs after the warranty” and “They should stand behind their product.” They did stand behind their product by offering a warranty. It’s now an older vehicle, and issues will need to be fixed by the owners as they occur.

  14. danio3834 says:

    @bhall03:

    If there is no recall on the item, then the repair would fall back on its warranty coverage. Since they are 2001s, warranty exp.

    Just because there are a number of vehicles that have the same part that fails, doesnt mean that the automaker can just go ahead and cover the repair no matter how old the vehicle is. No automakers are immune to this, there are plenty of instances with Japanese automakers in the same situation.

    If the dealer is willing to pay half, thats pure goodwill, i say take it or join a class action, if there is one. Personally, i think most people expect too much from all automakers

  15. danio3834 says:

    @Flash604:

    Bingo.

    This kind of stuff is what creates the sense of entitlement among consumers. It makes great TV to get people all stirred up and to “help the little guy”. Dont get me wrong, its great when a corporation goes above and beyond to help a customer, but to assume that a company will fix something outside warranty is just naive

  16. Landru says:

    It’s all well and good to say that those trucks are out of warranty and the customers are a bunch babies for complaining, but really, it shouldn’t have happened. It’s sad to see the American automakers go out of business, but really, no one should be surprised when Chrysler/Dodge and the rest of them just fade away.

  17. everclear75 says:

    I’m in the same boat as those FL. peeps. I have a 2000 Dodge P/u with a big gaping hole in my dash. Which I’m not suprised, since I live in SE Texas, where it can get over 150 degrees in a car in the summertime.
    It’s been widely known in the Dodge Community that the dashes were made with an inferior plastic. I went to the local pep boys and ordered one those dashmats. Looks alright, but its not the same as having the actual dash. I know of another company that makes molds, but neither here nor there. Dodge is aware of this, but the tech that I talked to said that its around 1500 bucks to change out the dash. It’s not peanuts to Dodge so I can see where they would be backpedaling on this. Oh, and it may be coinsendense(sp?); but my A/C went out and my stereo failed me soon after the dash falling apart.. mmm

  18. Poor design, poor craftsmanship, and now poor customer service, another reason why foreign automakers are gaining in American market.

    http://www.tian.cc/

  19. The Walking Eye says:

    @The Walking Eye: Hmmm…what I meant was GM has the best overall quality followed by Ford, then Dodge in that first sentence above. And Dodge hasn’t improved as much as the other of the big 2.5.

  20. suckonthat says:

    Whether or not the warranty is expired, the fact remains that cars are supposed to last longer than the 5 year limited warranty. Comparing the dashboard caving in a 6 year old car to a buzzing speaker in a 16 year old car isn’t really fair. Also, stock87 was right on the money; Dodge labels the Rams as being long-lasting and then shrugs when a critical piece of the car falls apart??

    I think this all comes back to the fact that everything is now made disposable in order for companies to make more money, but that’s too much of a digression for this comment.

  21. Flash604 says:

    The comparison of the speaker and the dash is fair from the point of view that both vehicles are both out of warranty, and it is consumers’ choice as to whether they wish to pay extra for the peace of mind of a warranty, or run the risk of having issues and therefore out of pocket expenses. Yes, my vehicle is older, but due to that I run a higher risk. I used the example of the speaker because that is the current issue with my car; but I just completed a $450 repair on my car two weeks ago, and had a $600 repair last year. I expect that due to the age of the vehicle. All consumers have to balance the risks, and can’t complain much if they take a chance by not having a warrantied vehicle. It is a shame it happened, but there is no entitlement here; there risk was lower than mine that they would have issues, but that was still no guarantee that they wouldn’t have issues.

    In the end, Dodge loses due to not only the fact that these three will never purchase again; but also by the fact that, even without this TV coverage, their experiences will affect the purchasing decisions of many people that they know/encounter. That is good, that is how capitalism works.

    As for everything being made disposable, that is not true; however there now tends to be a much wider range of quality available in most products, and the lower quality ones sell in much higher volumes due to the price. You can’t blame the manufacturers for the majority of their products being lower quality if they offer several levels of quality and the consuming public chooses to by the cheap crap. As an example, I work with notebook computers. You can get ones that are extremely tough and reliable with North American call centers when you call for support, but they cost several thousand dollars. When I started this job, that is all we sold. Even though the notebooks we sell now are extremely more powerful than those of 5 years ago, now 90% of our customer base demands a product that is $1000 or less. However, they are the first to complain (quite loudly!) if they don’t last for years and that much of the support is in India or Costa Rica. My point being, “most” things are “disposable” in quality because that is what most of the consuming public purchases. They do so because of the price point, and they need to accept the risks involved when they do so.

  22. Flash604 says:

    I just did some searching of the wonderful interweb, and found the 2001 started production on Jan. 1, 2000; and ended before the end of the year (typical of how car years are determined); and the bumper to bumper warranty was 3 years (5 year powertrain). So these people have approximately 7 year old vehicles. In other words, we aren’t talking a year or so out of warranty like some are implying, but rather that they are older than double the the warranty.

  23. Sudonum says:

    @Flash604:
    I don’t believe your comparison is fair. Your 16 year old speaker is not defective, it has worn out. Reached the end of it’s service life. A dashboard should not have reached the end of it’s service life after 6 years. Are both items out of warranty? Yes. Should Dodge replace the dashboards? Don’t know. From a PR standpoint? Possibly.

    I had a problem with a factory paint job on a 2000 GM vehicle in 2005 (3year/36000 mile warranty). I went to my dealer, showed the Body Shop Manager my problem. He went and checked his computer. Turns out GM had issued a service bulletin for the same issue for cars under warranty. He agreed to fix the problem at no charge as a courtesy.

  24. Buran says:

    @Onouris: Read again what I said about reimbursement if it becomes a recall issue.

    You seem like one of those types who expect everything to be fixed for free after the warranty expires, since you seem to think a dealer who won’t pay for a repair on an out-of-warranty vehicle is “trying to get away with something”.

  25. zymurgy says:

    It happened to our 1997 Dodge truck.

  26. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    Okay, the whole hyped-up thing about the lights going off and the scary music on the video is ridiculous. But hey, the lady does have a grand-canyon sized hole where here dashboard used to be.

    The vehicles are out of warranty, and therefore, Dodge has no legal obligation to do anything. Should they do something from a PR standpoint? I think they should. I mean, come on, it’s a 2001 truck..used, yes, but I’d hardly call a 2001 vehicle ready for the boneyard (Some of these people are just finishing with the last of the payments!).

    But you know, to be fair, the dashboard on my truck has cracks in it too, so you mean people should stop being so hard on poor Dodge. Okay, so maybe it’s an unfair comparison because my truck is a 1979 Chevy, and even after 28 years, it still looks a lot better than the one on the 2001 Dodge.

    So here’s Dodge’s position…”Ooops, we used really crappy cheap plastic on our dashboards. Suckers!!!!! Not our problem. But hey, wouldn’t you like to buy another Dodge to replace that 2001? No?? Why not? Come on, we promise it won’t happen on the new ones!” That’s surely going to make a good impression on people when they’re looking for a new truck. I bet they won’t buy another Dodge, will they?

    As far as the dealer attitude goes, my experience has been that if your car is more than 3 or 4 years old, they’ll treat it like it’s ready for the scrap heap. “What, you’re driving a 2003? Don’t even come near our dealership with that thing unless you’re buying a new one. That vehicle is soooo four years ago!”

    So Dodge…how about fixing a few dashboards, not because you’re legally obligated, but to prove that that if you screw up and knowingly make cheap junk, you’ll own up to it and fix it. Or, then again, you could just let it fester for a few years on the Internet.

  27. SmoovyG says:

    Out of warranty or not, this sort of thing shouldn’t happen to something you pay tens of thousands of dollars on. It being Dodge, I’m not surprised they aren’t doing anything to make things right with the customers. My Dodge Neon had a paintjob that began to flake after 2 years of ownership, and they made me pay half to get the door repainted. When the rest of the car began to flake, I was told “tough luck” even though the body had begun to rust.

    Since then, I noticed that every other Neon that was the same color had the same paint issue, sometimes to the point of having entire doors, trunks and/or roofs that were totally bare. When I contacted Dodge once more, they said they were aware of the issue, but since it was a cosmetic problem, they weren’t going to do anything about it. Bastards…

  28. Flash604 says:

    Sudonum,

    Read the definition of defective – it means not working. My speaker is therefore defective. However, yes, warranties do exclude normal wear and tear. That is the reason why I also mentioned that I barely use it, because has never received enough use to wear out. In contrast, according to the story, these dashes are exposed to 150 degree heat in that area; and so they get much much wear and tear than my speakers.

    Don’t get me wrong, people are quite justified to feel that a dash should withstand the glaring sun for more than 7 years. And due to that, there will probably be a lot less Dodges selling in the future.

    However, we really don’t know enough to know if this is a problem. Dodges might not have any worse of an issue than any other brand. Using my own industry as an example again, I have customers that tell me our computers are obviously junk because their hard drive failed 1 year after the 3 year waranty. But we do not have any higher failure rate than our competitors; some peoples’ hard drives will fail at the four year mark, some will fail in the first week of ownership, and some will never fail. If it fails in the first three years due to a defect, we have contracted with the customer that we will replace it at no charge. We offer upgrades in the warranties for more years, and it’s ultimately the customer’s choice whether they want to make that purchase. With the massive numbers of units we sell, my customers that claim 4 years is unacceptable could easily find 2 other people in their area that had the same issue and say “See, that’s proof that it’s an issue.” If three customers came to us at the 7 year mark and said “There’s more than one of us, so this must be a mass defect, you therefore need to do a recall”, I would politely decline their request and explain much the same as I have here. (And I have had to do so often, there are a lot of people that don’t understand what long out of warranty and recall mean, they just feel entitled.)

    I personally do have a feeling that, in this case, there is a higher failure rate than competitors, but we don’t know for sure. If there is, Dodge could choose to fix them for PR purposes; but even if there is a huge failure rate, it is almost 4 years past the warranty expiration and these customers are entitled to nothing. And that’s all several of us are trying to say; we’ll probably never buy Dodges ourselves because we hear their dashes suck, but we are offended by the sense of entitlement going on. Dodge can choose to fix them for PR, but these people “deserve” nothing at all, and shame on the reporter for doing zero factual reporting and instead creating an sob story which has nothing to do with news reporting. My local consumer advocate reporter goes and collects statistics to back up claims, focuses on stories where the customer is wronged of something to which he is actually entitled, and leaves the dramatic shots and music out of the newscast.

  29. mattbrown says:

    Thanks you, Scott Whitney, for your concern of freaking me out.

  30. Buran says:

    @dwayne_dibbly: And then future customers will demand that problems be fixed on their vehicles “because you fixed it for the 2001 model! Why won’t you help me!?”

    If people were honest and cared about other people, it’d make sense for them to get help. But people are selfish and will take a mile if you give them an inch, so until this becomes a warranty recall – which I think should happen if it really is a safety issue – Dodge shouldn’t do anything. Besides, if they do, who’s going to wind up paying for that?

    Future customers, that’s who.

  31. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    @Buran: Well, assuming they didn’t repeat their mistake on future models, they shouldn’t find themselves in that position.

    Yes, I understand your point and I agree that for the most part, people are selfish and society has promoted the “every man for himself” way of living and there’s no doubt that people would take advantage of that. However, such a huge blunder deserves some kind of action. It’s not normal wear and tear for your dashboard to disintegrate.

    Besides, no matter what you do, somebody will try to take advantage of it. Does that mean everyone will have to lose out?

    I understand your point, and I don’t entirely disagree, but if you manufactured a TV, and suddenly all the cases on all the TV’s started disintegrating, you’d be hard pressed not to do anything, lest your product be labeled the “fall-apart” TV. And on the Dodge trucks, I’m more concerned about the one that now have a huge empty spot where the dash used to be. That deserves attention. One or two cracks, no, I think that’s a different magnitude of problem and doesn’t justify replacing the whole dash.

    Even if Dodge met these people halfway, it would go a long way to fixing the issue. Everyone will take advantage of free, but I think if they split the cost, it would at least take some of the sting out of it and would root out most of the “I want something for absolutely nothing” crowd.

    Future customers always pay for any automaker’s screwups…from poor sales, to layoffs to cost overruns to skyrocketing pension costs to retiling the floor of the water-cooler nook in the company breakroom.