The Dodge Ram 1500 truck is a great truck if you ask anybody. It can do the job when you need to haul something heavy. It’s not the 2500 or the 3500, which do the heavy duty work but it still is pretty impressive for a truck in its class.
Maintaining the Ram 1500 is not hard, the biggest part is to stay on top of it and make sure that you follow the schedule diligently and get the items on the list done. A truck like this doesn’t need much, so let’s see what items are important when it comes to maintenance of your Dodge Ram 1500.
- Regular Oil and Oil Filter Changes
- Check Oil Level
- Checking Coolant Level
- Replace Air Filter
- Replace Transmission Fluid and Filter
- Replace Broken Parts On Time
- Don’t Abuse Your Truck
Maintaining Your Dodge Ram 1500
When buying a new truck, it is recommended to break the engine in before towing heavy loads. It is a way to ease the engine and other parts into heavy duty work and not drop it on them all of a sudden. This allows the parts to wear in and prepare a working surface where the parts meet with each other.
Maintaining your truck regularly is a big part of helping your truck last a long time and it also keeps the truck’s performance and gas milage from decreasing. This is why you want to follow a regular schedule. Nobody remembers everything so it is best to plan on reminding your self somehow. Adding it to my calendar works for me, since I check it every day. Every year when I change out the calendar, I transfer over any regularly scheduled tasks onto the new calendar so I don’t miss anything.
Regular Oil and Oil Filter Changes
It is recommended to change the engine oil every 3,000 to 6,000 miles. This is the standard oil change interval for most cars and trucks. Changing the oil removes the dirt and particles out of the engine system and provides new clean oil to lubricate and cool the engine. When the filter is replaced, which should be done at the same time as the oil change, catches any particles that are larger to keep them from getting into the moving engine parts.
Checking Oil Level
If you have a high-milage Dodge Ram, you may want to keep an eye on the oil level more often, like every week, or a couple weeks. With a newer truck you can get away with about every few months. With time, the engine parts wear out and the gaps between them become bigger. Especially the piston rings, they will let a small amount of engine oil into the combustion chamber and slowly over time, the oil will burn off. This is how the oil level decreases over time.
When you see the level get down below the normal operating range, check to make sure you don’t have any oil leaks. If you don’t, just add some more in there to keep the level up. You don’t need to change the oil right away, just keep the level up by adding a little more.
Eventually you will want to have some work done on the engine to get all that renewed. This will require an engine rebuild, which can get expensive. Until then, just check the oil level and add if it is low.
Checking Coolant Level
This is same as with oil level, if your truck is older, it is a good idea to check the coolant level more often than if you have a newer truck. On older trucks, with time, the engine will let some of the coolant into the combustion chamber and burn it off. This is how it disappears. Running your truck with low coolant levels can make the coolant and the engine overheat. Overhearing causes engine components to warp and then you start getting all kinds of serious leaks and performance problems.
By the way, if you notice the truck overheating, it may not be the coolant, but is could also be malfunctioning Active Grill Shutter (AGS) that is suppose to open the shutters to help with cooling of the engine.
IMPORTANT: Never open the coolant cap when the engine is hot. Let the truck cool down for at least an hour before opening the cap. The coolant in there is not cool at all, in fact it is scolding hot. Many have learned it the hard way unfortunately, so don’t let that be you.
Some trucks have an overflow tank where you can see the coolant level marked on the side. On some trucks you will have to open the radiator cap to check the level. If you have the one without the overflow tank that is marked, open the cap and see inside if you can see any coolant. It is usually fluorescent green. If you don’t see any in there, add some.
Replace Air Filter
Your truck breaths air, just like you. So making sure it has clean air to breathe, we need to make sure the air filter is clean. I like to replace my truck’s air filter about once a year. Some people replace them at every oil change. I don’t think that is necessary, but if you want to do that, more power to you.
Replace Transmission Fluid and Filter
To keep your truck’s transmission last many many years, just like in the engine, the transmission fluid and filter needs to be changed regularly. This needs to happen about every 60,000 miles or about every 3 to 4 years, depending on how much you drive.
Replacing the tranny fluid is not easy and I don’t recommend doing it at home unless you are pretty experienced in the mechanics of the truck. You will need to raise the truck up and get it on some jack stands to get to the drain plug. Keep the dip stick pulled out of its place to let the air in as the oil leaves.
Many of these transmissions don’t have a drain plug so you will need to unbolt the pan and let the fluid come out over the side of the pan while it is still attached half way with a couple bolts on one side. This can get messy if you are not prepared with some kind of a large tub below the tranny.
Once the transmission fluid is drained and the pan is removed, you will have access to the transmission fluid filter. This can be replaced with a new one and the pan bolted back in place. Ofcourse you will want to clean the area thoroughly before bolting the pan back on.
Now you just need to fill the transmission fluid back in, usually through the dip stick pipe or through a special port on the top of the transmission.
Replace Broken Parts On Time
The other important part of maintaining your truck and taking a good care of it is to replace broken parts when they break. Don’t just ignore them and keep driving. Every single part of the truck is an integral part of the truck’s performance. If you neglect it, the truck’s performance will lack. It will also make you start disrespecting the truck and that is a downhill slope. Before you know it, you no longer care about the truck and that is the easiest way to kill it.
There are warning lights on the dashboard that will let you know if something is malfunctioning or has failed. Things like an oil pressure sensor, or idling issue. Beeping sounds coming from the dash can also be another signal that the truck uses to communicate with you.
Don’t Abuse Your Truck
While you maintain your Dodge Ram 1500, make sure you also don’t abuse it. Know the capacities and abilities of your truck and keep the load on the truck below them to make sure it performs for you for a long time.
Don’t rev the engine past the red line, don’t over load the bed so its dragging its bumper. Don’t tow things that are over the truck’s towing capacity, and don’t neglect repairs.
Love your truck, and it will love you back for many years.
Valik loves tinkering in the garage and is currently restoring a 2000 GMC Sierra 1500 truck. He also writes about the progress on this blog. When not in the garage, Valik is also a web developer and a blogger. I know, strange, a hand in two completely different worlds. And that is the way he likes to keep it.