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Hi all, so I own a 2001 Dodge Ram 3500 24v Cummins 4wd. I just wanted to give my opinion on these trucks to benefit someone wanting to buy one. I bought this truck about a year and a half for $10,000. This is my first truck and at the time it was my dream truck. Before I bought it all I heard was good things out of these. “Power house”, “reliable old Cummins”, “can tow anything you put behind it”. I’ll tell you right now this truck has been an absolute nightmare and hasn’t lived up to the hype. That is coming from a guy who has grown up around the trucks their whole life, I’m a Cummins guy through and through. Hell my last name is Dodge. But I will never buy another one of these again. It has been nothing but problems.
When I brought it home for the first time it started blowing white smoke. Took it to the shop...$4k. I get it back and I need to pull a trailer, I was highly unimpressed with the power. I shouldn’t feel a 4,000 lb 20ft trailer with a dual but it struggled. Soon after that I found out it’s a 53 block and that has worried me since. Many more trips to the shop and about $6k later, I’m in for just about what I paid for the truck. I can’t seem to keep this thing running.
Today I got to the store... blow all my transmission fluid out, can’t wait to see how much this is going to cost me.
Again, I’m not trying to bash these trucks, and for all I know I got a lemon. I just wanted to warn anyone looking at buying one. Cause I’ve had a headache for a year and a half and I don’t think it’s going to stop until this truck is sold. Even though I’m going to lose my a** on it.
Couple things I left out, even after all those trips to the shop: steering is terrible, rides worse than our 1988 dump truck, I’m in a constant battle with fuel pressure, shifts hard, rattles, And the interior sucks (cracked dash, tear in seat, cheap plastic), along with hundreds of more little things that annoy me on a daily basis.

Some of the good: it sounds good (which most probably don’t care for), a good looking truck... well that’s all I can think of

Thanks for your time
 

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Sorry for the troubles but you did not say what went on at all those trips to the shop. biggest problem is you have not done your own work. I do not know many first time 2nd gen owners that do not plan on doing most of their own work, even 20 year olds. Only a little complicated but not hard. Probably would have ben worse with a Ford and Chevy's do not live that long with old Duramax. You would have saved 75% doing your own work. Most know they are not high powered stock and need a little mod, even just chip. All cars and trucks, especially 20 year old ones with 200k all have issues
 

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When I brought it home for the first time it started blowing white smoke. Took it to the shop...$4k
What all did they quote you for? Seems waaaayyyyy too high for head gasket work or a bad vp44. Even with both of those jobs combined you wouldn’t be looking at that much. Also if you have any issues at all a google search or forum post can keep a ton of money in your wallet, it could have just been a simple air getting into the fuel lines over night, that will cause white smoke on start up.

You have an 8,800lb grvw truck with 215/235 horsepower, most 4 cyl are making that much naturally aspirated. These trucks are absolute turds, but the engines were significantly overbuilt so you can add a tuner (without any worries about damage to the engine, not saying that about the 47RE). A plug and play tuner can net 180hp and 420ftlbs, think about that, that’s insane. But nobody ever got into a completely stock truck and talked about how fast it was.
Also, have you checked for boost leaks? Are the injectors stock with high mileage? Have you checked to see if the map sensor was going bad? All of those things can contribute to low power.

Today I got to the store... blow all my transmission fluid out, can’t wait to see how much this is going to cost me.
You’re not the first and you won’t be the last, it sucks but it does happen, happened to me as well and I try to do a lot of preventative maintenance. Over time the hoses to the cooler rot, the hard lines at the push lock fittings leak, vibrations cause things to loosen up.

Soon after that I found out it’s a 53 block and that has worried me since.
Don’t worry about a 53 block so much, it’s not as common as people make it out to be, my 99 with compounds, a tuner, 100hp injectors etc etc had a 53 block and ran like a top when I sold it with 379k miles on it, my both of my 01s are 53 blocks, both game over 250k miles and neither are cracked.

Couple things I left out, even after all those trips to the shop: steering is terrible, rides worse than our 1988 dump truck, I’m in a constant battle with fuel pressure, shifts hard, rattles, And the interior sucks (cracked dash, tear in seat, cheap plastic), along with hundreds of more little things that annoy me on a daily basis.
1. Agreed, the steering sucks but that’s because parts are worn out, luckily you have an 01 and the 4th gen steering setup is a direct bolt on without any modifications needed and it’s the cheapest option for upgrading your steering. A cheap eBay steering brace works wonders too (I’ve had both eBay and expensive name brand BD diesel steering stabilized and I can’t tell them apart steering wise, but the BD looks pretty I guess 🤷🏻‍♂️)
2. It’s a 3500 meant for heavy hauling, paired on top of a 2.5” level, of course it’s not going to ride smooth, there are a few things you can do though, ditch the spacers and get some Thuren or Carli leveling springs, install a good set of shock absorbers as yours are probably blown. If you really wanted a smooth ride you can pair the things I said above with some Carli leaf springs that smooth out the ride but end up reducing your towing capacity making your truck a “light duty” then add a pair of helper airbags for when u have to tow heavy
3. I’m glad you’re keeping an eye out for your fuel pressure. At minimum these trucks need an upgraded lift pump, whatever issue you’re having I’m sure a lot of people have also had and a quick google search can point you in the right direction
4. Shifts hard, when’s the last home the TV cable has been adjusted, or the transmission fluid & filter changed, or the second gear band adjusted? Is the valve body aftermarket? There’s a few starting points you can consider looking into.
5. It rattles, leaky stock injectors with 200k+ miles will cause that, RV275 injectors would help our a lot with rattling. Bust out a .010 and .020 feeler gauge and check valve lash. I’m willing to bet with over 200k miles your valve lash hasn’t been checked in 19 years.
6. Blame Chrysler for the cracked dash and not using UV inhibitors in the plastic. LMC makes an absolutely beautiful dash replacement. The interior doesn’t suck, the tears are caused by the people dragging along the seat when getting in and out, especially in 4x4 trucks.
 

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PS for transmission leak like that patch or replace the line, fill it up and drive it. it is not damaged. It will take 6-12 qts to get it to move depending on how much you lost. Check rubbersecdtions at front or anywhere metal lines rub each other or something else. Tubing cutter and hose and clamps will work. 1/2 in transmission hose, not fuel line and double clamps.
 

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Sorry for the troubles but you did not say what went on at all those trips to the shop. biggest problem is you have not done your own work. I do not know many first time 2nd gen owners that do not plan on doing most of their own work, even 20 year olds. Only a little complicated but not hard. Probably would have ben worse with a Ford and Chevy's do not live that long with old Duramax. You would have saved 75% doing your own work. Most know they are not high powered stock and need a little mod, even just chip. All cars and trucks, especially 20 year old ones with 200k all have issues
My LLY duramax gave me way less issues than my 2nd gen Cummins, and it took me to 300,000 miles with next to no engine oil consumption with ZERO transmission work.
I didn't have to spend 4Gs on the front end to make it steer straight down the highway, oh and the dash didn't shatter and crack into a hundred pieces.

IMHO the 2nd and 3rd gen dodge trucks are shoddily built outside of the engine and manual transmission.
I think the 2nd gen seats are actually better than the 3rd gen ones.

I've noticed a lot of people look at these older trucks with rose-coloured glasses, we tend to forget how many issues they had from the factory.
Can these issues be fixed in the aftermarket? Absolutely, but don't kid yourself that fixes are cheap and easy.
 

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Over hyped? definitely. Doesn't bother me to know my resale isn't blue book value.. I look at these truck as more of a tinkers/do your own wrenching platform. I believe the early 7.3 super duty chassis is much better for the person looking for no hassle put a old truck to work thought.
 

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Owning ANY 20 yo vehicle and not doing your own work is going to be an expensive exercise. I believe Cummins lists the service life of the engine at 500k. That doesn't mean the accessories will last that long; VP or tranny. Most Americans have lost the ability to work on a car which is why shops can charge so much and electric vehicles are so popular. Most of these parts are extremely cheap. Even a new VP at $2k to $3k is not bad when you look at the price parts on a new car or the monthly payment. I actually own my truck and 70% of the people at the stoplight don't. There something to be said about not being in debt.
 

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I'll add, working on a V8 diesel was much harder for me than a straight 6. The turbo is almost in the front seat of the v8s and trying to get the up pipes together drove me nuts. Plus, double the cylinder heads.
 

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Ironically if you comb through the 3rd, 4th, and 5th gen forum sections you'll see all kinds of problems and issues.
I think its worth saying that if you're not mechanically inclined or dont have the ability to work on your own vehicles then you shouldnt own anything older than a few years old, or have a vehicle that doesnt come with a warranty.

The cheapest part about owning any vehicle is buying it... ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Great info guys. Y’all honestly took this a lot better than I thought and I completely agree with what was said. I’m just trying to warn people interested in buying one of these on what to expect. Not saying it’s going to happen... but it’s not uncommon. These are definitely a project trucks. If you want reliability then go for something newer.

I understand there are a lot of upgrades or replacement parts that fix most of the problems, but that cost money, and it adds up FAST when there’s this many issues.Like I said before, I will sell this truck once I get it fixed. I’m not going to get near what I have in it but at this point I’m going to have to bite the bullet before I dig myself in a deeper hole.

The VP was not the only thing worked on the first time. I do a lot of work on my own but some things are just out of my my comfort zone. Here’s a list of all the parts I’ve replaced within the last 10k miles.

New industrial injection vp44 injection pump
Fairly new Industrial injection lift pump
  • New front seals
  • New axle seals
  • New thermostat
  • New ball joints
  • New Alternator
  • New radiator
  • transmission oil temp sensor
  • ABS module
  • All new brakes (disk, calipers, pads, drums)
  • Banks High Ram intake horn
  • Banks triple pillar gauges (Trans temp, turbo boost, exhaust temp)
  • MaxTow fuel pressure gauge
  • SDT steering stabilizer
  • Rough Country 2.5” leveling kit with shocks
  • 4th gen bumper with sport grill (color matched)
  • custom grill badge
  • husky floor liners
  • New JBL speakers
  • Kenwood head unit
  • Banks 4” turbo back straight pipe
  • MBRP 6” exhaust tip
  • All smoked lights (running lights, clearance lights, tail and headlights)
  • Both batteries replaced
  • New headlight and tail light bulbs
  • A/C recharged
Last service
  • Replaced all fluids (differential, engine, transmission, coolant)
  • Removed radiator and cleaned/flushed
  • Replaced all filters (fuel, oil, transmission)
  • Transmission bands were adjusted
  • Replaced transmission pan gasket
And this doesn’t include whatever it’s in the shop for now...
 

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As a comparison, I also have a 04 QX56 I turned into an overland vehicle. I did a 2" lift, Bilstein shocks all around, front upper and lower control arms, ball joints, transfer case, almost every light bulb, gauge cluster, air bag modules, tps sensor, new leather for the seats, a new battery/cables and I think that's it...for now. But I can drive it across country now without a worry just like my Dodge. I'm sure I did the same amount to my Dodge.
 

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I would wager that there are very few completely stock 2nd gens on these forums. Most are modified and/or have been altered to address known issues.
 

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Not going to rub any more salt in your wounds, I've had my '99 since new, like ALL brand of trucks, there are some kinks that need to be worked out. 21 years later, with proper maintenance and listening to my truck when it 'talks' to me, I love this truck but not as much as I love my 1948 Chev pickup, things were much simpler and more dependable and inexpensive to fix when it became mine over 50 years ago - Dad bought it new. Not your truck's fault that previous owner/s had their stinkin' mitts in it. These days I would spend money to have a certified mechanic go over a used vehicle before I called it mine. I hope you get some resolution to your problems, not nice to be stuck in your position, I'm sorry.
 

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Maybe I am one of the lucky ones. 2001 3500 dually with manual transmission. Aside from the obligatory VP44 replacement 7 years ago, only routine maintenance and some normal replacement stuff. 534,000 and starts with a bump. Pulls what I tell it to, and runs just fine. Sorry you had all the troubles, but as the others stated, you gotta get your knuckles dirty with these old trucks.
 

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Just to get mine road worthy took literally rebuilding the entire front end, 1 piece driveshaft, new clutch, all new lights, mirrors, ball joints, wheel bearings, tires, fuel lines, airbox, rebuilt turbo, new brake calipers, and shocks. All within a year of ownership. The first 9 items were to get it out of the driveway!

Power steering gearbox **** the bed so swapped it out. Driving back from the alignment shop, 2nd time, and one of the PS hoses blows. Also have to warrantee out the new shitty gear box, as the shop was having issues getting the alignment corrected. That was when we find out the new GB is crap. Since the PS hoses were original all got replaced.

Replaced the driver seat, new dash bezel with clips, old dash had been swapped but just set in, so that was bolted down. Found out the temp. Control actuator is missing so it is manual for now. New vinyl floor. Just purchased the manual 4x4 locking mechanism.
Fortunately the drive train and motor are is great shape. I am keeping a weathered eye on the vp44 but it has had a Fass installed forever so that will help with longevity.
I have been keeping a spreadsheet of all the parts purchased, where, cost, ect. and in the 2 years I have owned it I have put over 2x the money just in parts than I played for the entire truck. I am not done, it still doesn't have a full exhaust, it just vents up through the bed where the stack was.

However, I am running out of parts to replace and the truck is a truly a beast. Best of all it beats a car payment.
 

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Don't forget the brakes suck also
You got that right at least on the pre-2001.5 2500 autos. I had lousy luck with my 98.5. A friend bought a '98 Superduty and it's been a great truck. I almost didn't buy another Dodge based on my 24v experience but I really like my '07 5.9. Steers,brakes,accelerates better and is MUCH quieter. However,the 2nd gen trucks are the best looking truck of the bunch.
 

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A lot depends on if they were taken care of and things not let go and left for the next owner to deal with, and a buyers ability to find those things before hand. There are also a lot of good trucks outther, trick is finding or inheriting them
 
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