Dash Complaints on the Rise
Cracked dashboards in Dodge Ram trucks have become a widespread problem - you can usually find it listed on CarComplaints.com top problem trends. This is because thousands of cracked dashboard stories have been submitted to CarComplaints.com from owners of the Dodge Ram 1500, 2500 and 3500. The problem was first reported with the 1998 model year and goes all the way up to 2006, with the highest incident reports during the 2001-2003 model years.
Owners are up in arms saying "this is just unbelievable, my dashboard has literally just falling apart" and that it's "incredibly disturbing to see how many customers have had this well-known problem."
Dodge Ram Trucks with the Most Cracked Dashboard Complaints:
|Dodge||Ram 1500||2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004|
|Dodge||Ram 2500||2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004|
|Dodge||Ram 3500||2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004|
What's causing the dashes to crack?
Your local dealership may try and tell you the dashboard cracked because of sun exposure or a general lack of maintenance, but don't fall for it. Even though Chrysler/Dodge would love to place the blame on you, it's much more likely this problem is due to one of the following:
- The most plausible explanation is the dashboards are simply made of defective plastic that doesn't stand up to even just a few short years of regular use. Would it really surprise you if a manufacturer used cheaper materials and/or shortcuts to save themselves a few bucks? I didn't think so.
- In addition to cheap materials, some say the root of the problem is a faulty manufacturing process, specifically in how the dashboards are molded. If the molten plastic is not the proper temperature during the molding process then the dash will develop "stress cracks" which are straight lines. Compare that to most sun damaged dashes that have "spider web" cracks.
- Another theory, and we should emphasize that this is just an observation made by a few owners, is these trucks appear to have an engineering flaw where the dash doesn't have the proper support to keep the plastic in place. We're still researching this one...
What is Chrysler / Dodge Doing About it?
Long story, short: nothing. At least not yet.
Most Ram owners report that Dodge does one of the following when asked about the defect:
- They claim this is a cosmetic issue and that the vehicle is out of warranty so there is nothing they have to do, however…
- If you want to be eligible for any type of assistance they'll need an official complaint directly from your local dealership. In other words, they don't believe you and want you to deal with the hassle of convincing your local dealership to diagnose the issue and file the official complaint. Only then will Dodge consider helping you buy a replacement dash, but most likely they'll just go back to telling you the vehicle is out of warranty.
This type of response fits with a report by a North Carolina news station where Chrysler spokesperson Christina Biache said:
“Chrysler Group is aware of the isolated dashboard incidents in Ram Trucks in the U.S. However it is important to keep in mind that some vehicles in that scope are 16 years old.”
Ah, the old "your vehicle is old so deal with it" excuse. This was later backed up by another spokeswoman from Chrysler, Ann Smith, who said:
“ [Chrysler is] aware of some dashboard complaints that are generally isolated to older vehicles outside of the warranty period.”
What About a Recall?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) considers this a cosmetic issue and therefore marks it as ineligible for a safety defect investigation.
Not a safety issue? Try telling that to owners who are terrified of what those sharp shards could do in an accident. Imagine the airbags deploying and sending hundreds of sharp, cracked plastic projectiles throughout the cabin!
According to some owners, you don't even need to get an accident before pieces start flying into your eyes. On CarComplaints.com, Chris V. of Highland Parks, CO said:
“The dashboard has broken and [is] falling into the vents and every time I turn the air conditioning on I get plastic blowing all over the windshield and today I have had it. I had a piece hit me in the eye while driving. This is unacceptable!”
Unacceptable is putting it nicely. Let's convince the NHTSA how serious of a safety issue this really is! For now the best thing you can do is report this issue to Dodge at (800) 992-1997 and sites like Car Complaints.com and SaferCar.gov.
There is a precedent for a dash-related recall. According to Clarence Ditlow, the executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, in 1977 Ford recalled over 250,000 of its 1985-77 Econoline vans because the plastic dashboards could fracture during a crash and the sharp pieces "could controbute to occupant injury." In the case of these Ram trucks, the dashboards are already broken making the matter even more dangerous.
Actions You Can Take
This step is crucial, don't just complain on forums! The sites below will actively manage your complaints and turn them into useful statistics. Both CarComplaints.com and the CAS will report dangerous trends to the authorities and are often called upon by law firms for help with Class Action lawsuits. Make sure to file your complaint on all three sites, we can't stress that enough.
Step 1: File Your Complaint at CarComplaints.com
CarComplaints.com is a free site dedicated to uncovering problem trends and informing owners about potential issues with their cars. Major class action law firms use this data when researching cases. Add a Complaint
Step 2: Notify the Center for Auto Safety
The Center for Auto Safety (CAS) is a pro-consumer organization that researches auto safety issues & often compels the US government to do the right thing through lobbying & lawsuits. Notify the CAS
Step 3: Report a Safety Concern to NHTSA
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is the US agency with the authority to conduct vehicle defect investigations & force recalls. Their focus is on safety-related issues. Report to NHTSA