Curious about the reliability of the 3.0 EcoDiesel in Jeep and RAM trucks? Unfortunately, the rumors on the internet about these trucks having a plethora of common problems and reliability issues is true.
The EcoDiesel did receive a lot of upgrades for the 2020 model year which did improve reliability compared to the first generation. However, these engines are still plagued by problems including oil cooler failure, EGR cooler failure, slipping cam gears, and leaking exhaust couplers. We’re going to discuss all of these problems in depth and provide some overall thoughts on actual engine reliability.
If you would rather consume this content via a video, check out our 3.0 EcoDiesel Problems video below or on YouTube:
Jeep & Ram 3.0L EcoDiesel Engine Problems
- Oil Cooler Failure
- EGR Cooler Failure
- Leaking Exhaust Couplers
- Slipping Camshaft Gear
1. Oil Cooler Failure
When towing heavy loads, or towing in mountainous regions, the engines oil temperatures can increase significantly which is known to cause the oil cooler to fail. While this problem can happen to an EcoDiesel that has never towed a thing before, it is most common under heavy towing conditions. Additionally, this problem primarily only affected 2014-2016 models.
When the oil cooler fails, engine coolant and engine oil mix together, contaminating the whole cooling system. Additionally, coolant can contaminate the oil which can lead to accelerated wear and tear of engine internals. On the 3.0 EcoDiesel it is more common for the oil to contaminate the cooling system which requires a full cooling system flush.
Oil Cooler Failure Symptoms
- Engine overheating
- Oil or coolant leaking from the oil cooler
- Oil in the coolant or coolant in the oil
- Poor performance
- Black smoke from exhaust
The frequency of oil cooler failure resulted in a class action lawsuit and an extended warranty for the oil cooler for 2014-2016 trucks.
In any event, you will need to replace the oil cooler, change the oil, and flush the whole cooling system. Aftermarket oil coolers are available, such as the CFT Performance Oil Cooler, as an upgrade to prevent this problem from arising again. Replacing the oil cooler with an OEM unit can lead to future issues arising as the blame lays on the poor design and manufacturing of the stock oil cooler.
2. EGR Cooler Problems
The EGR cooler is prone to cracking. Fortunately, in October of 2019, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) issued a recall for 108,000 EcoDiesel Ram 1500’s due to EGR cooler failure. FCA claimed that hairline cracks in the EGR cooler could cause coolant to leak into the engine bay and cause fires.
While the likelihood of a fire starting from a cracked EGR cooler is low, it does have various other performance impact. An EGR cooler failure can lead to very hot exhaust gases being sent back into the engine, resulting in engine overheating. Additionally it can cause an exhaust leak while will decrease engine performance and acceleration.
Symptoms of a Cracked EGR Cooler
- Leaking engine coolant from EGR cooler
- Engine overheating
- Exhaust leaks (hissing or tapping noise from engine)
- Check engine light
Fortunately due to the recall any cracked EGR coolers will be replaced completely free of charge by Dodge. While there have only been a handful of engine fires caused by the EGR cooler, we recommend getting the recall service done for piece of mind.
3. Leaking Exhaust Couplers
The 2014 and 2015 EcoDiesel Ram 1500 trucks are susceptible to leaking exhaust couplers which can make the interior of the truck smell like diesel exhaust. The exhaust pipe from the turbo to the DPF system is connected via a flex pipe or coupler. The coupler is prone to cracking which causes an exhaust leak. Exhaust fumes permeate through the engine bay and are sucked through the air system and into the cabin.
Some owners have reported mild smells in the cabin while others have reported unbearable or nauseating amounts of fumes. The leaks are due to poorly manufactured couplers which are prone to cracking from the heat of the exhaust gases. Dodge issued a recall for this coupler and redesigned the coupler in late 2014, hence the defective part only affecting 2014 and 2015 model year Ram’s. The Jeep Grand Cherokee 3.0 EcoDiesels used a different coupler due to a slightly different design in the piping connecting the turbo and DPF system and therefore did not experience the same issues.
Additionally, this problem is known to only affect 4×2 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel models. There have been some other reported exhaust leak issues from connecting bolts on the exhaust system not being tightened down enough, allowing for small exhaust leaks.
4. Slipping Camshaft Gear / Timing Chain
The 3.0 EcoDiesel uses a traditional timing chain for valve timing. The gears on the exhaust side passenger head are held by 1 long, singular bolt. Over time heat and stress cause the expansion and contraction of the metal which allows the gear to slip. Eventually, the gear slips to the point that the exhaust valves and pistons collide with each other. There have been instances where the timing has slipped to the point that the exhaust valve has blown through the piston, breaking the piston, wrist pin, and connecting rod.
While we list this issue as a common problem, we have personally only seen this happen a few times. The severity of the damage has caused the internet community to overexaggerate the likelihood of this occuring. With that being said, we have seen it occur a handful of times from cars ranging from 70,000 miles to upwards of 150,000 miles.
Slipping Timing Gear Symptoms
- Cylinder misfires
- Engine runs rough
- Rattling from engine
- Engine won’t start
While there may be some warning signs that your timing chain has started to slip, catastrophic failure is usually not preventable unless caught early on. As mentioned above, this problem was blown out of proportion on the internet from a YouTube video posted by Shawn “Mopar Ecodiesel”.
If you are an unfortunate owner who has experience catastrophic engine failure from cam slippage, then a new engine is likely in order, or a serious rebuild. However, as we do not believe this problem is very common we do not recommend trying to perform any sort of preventative maintenance on this item. There are no aftermarket kits or preventative maintenance options.
3.0 EcoDiesel Reliability
Despite having a 12,560lb towing capacity, these trucks do not do well towing. The added heat and stress from towing makes oil cooler and EGR cooler failure very prominent. We wouldn’t recommend towing anything beyond 7,000lbs with this truck, at least not on a frequent basis. Fortunately the majority of the major problems with these engines have been covered by warranty or recalls.
2014 and 2015 Ram 1500 3.0 EcoDiesel models seem to be very hit or miss and are the least reliable years available. A handful of design tweaks were made in 2016 which greatly improved Ram EcoDiesel reliability from there on out. Additionally, more tweaks were made in 2020. So far the newer 2020+ versions are proving to be a good bit more reliable than the previous generation.
As is true with most diesels, the most problematic 3.0 EcoDiesel parts tend to be the emissions systems.
Overall, 2016 and onwards EcoDiesel’s are quite reliable and strong. With proper maintenance there is no doubt that these engines can last 300,000 miles and onwards. Just be cautious of towing heavy loads as this seems to be the most frequent cause of common problems with Ram EcoDiesel engines. Despite being a diesel they were built for fuel efficiency and longevity rather than being serious haulers.