After a first-generation run of the famed Ram pickup, Cleverness introduced the second-generation Dodge Ram in 1994 to continue and pioneer the massive, masculine styling popular in pickup trucks today. The oversized grille is inspired by large semi-trucks.
Behind that mighty grille was a then-new V10 powerplant that propelled the 330 horsepower Dodge Ram to victory. During its first year of sales, the new Ram sold more than double that of its predecessor.
Today, the Dodge Ram is one of the coolest classics worth keeping. This truck will always go down in history because without it we would still be using trucks that look like vans. Treasured by restorers and moderators alike, the second-generation Dodge Ram is a must-have classic pickup.
Here’s why it’s best for budget-conscious buyers and everything you need to know before choosing one.
2nd Generation Dodge Ram Pickup: It’s a well-refined 1990s pickup
From the older minivan-like look of the first generation, the Ram 1500 began to take on the appearance of a modern half-ton pickup during the second generation. Looking at some other models of the era, such as the Ford F-150 and Silverado from the 1970s to 1980s, the Dodge Ram is among the most refined. Besides existing solely for hauling duties or taking families on road trips, the Dodge Ram served both worlds, with decent practicality and a more decent price tag.
While its competitors only offered a few features, such as the speedometer and fuel gauge, Dodge focused on upgrading the cabin, giving it a full set of instruments. Later, the Ram received a notable facelift, including the introduction of a new “Quad Cab” body design with smaller suicide doors behind the main driver and front passenger doors. The Ram 1500 really started playing in 1998 with sportier, less commercially oriented variants intended for private customers.
The second-generation Dodge Ram offers a smoother ride
Dodge offered regular body styles, club cabs or crew cabs for their second-generation Ram trucks. The Dodge truck used an 8.0-liter V10 gasoline engine with 330 horsepower for the first time. However, this was only offered on the 2500 and 3500 versions, which were larger.
The Dodge Ram came on the market in 1995 with a natural gas engine. However, it was only used in a few fleet cars and the market didn’t really want to bite. Two years later, Dodge again removed them from the program. In addition to the V10, other options included a V6, a V8 or a straight-six diesel engine. Only medium-duty vehicles carried the straight-six diesel engine.
Depending on the engine, the Dodge truck came with either a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic transmission. You probably want to find a manual because it has a better reliability factor.
Behind the wheel, the Dodge Ram makes for quite a ride, thanks to the punchy engine, which is the star of the show, propelling the truck and its power with ease, while also giving the truck a cool 5700-pound towing capacity. The manual transmission feels fast and engaging, the brakes are springy and the handling is good.
How Much Does a Second Generation Dodge Ram Pickup Cost?
Today, according to Classic, buyers should expect to pay at least $20,437 for a second-generation Dodge Ram produced from 1994 to 2002. Interestingly, even as more pickups hit the market—some with electrified powertrains—the Dodge Ram remains one of the most popular of its era, with the well-preserved models costing up to $76,000.
Also, even after more than 150,000 miles on the clock, some will still look and drive like new with proper care. If you look closely, you can still find a model between $5,400 and $8,800, but such models will likely have one or more of the issues we’ve discussed below.
Common problems with the 2nd generation 1500 Dodge Ram pickup
All in all, the Ram 1500 is a handsome truck and a fantastic building foundation. But as with any truck out there, the Dodge Ram isn’t perfect. Here are some common problems reported with the Second-Gen 1500 Dodge Ram Pickup.
Front dashboard breakage
The dashboard of the second-generation 1500 Dodge Ram Pickup consisted of a layer of low-quality plastic. If you park your vehicle off-road, the dashboard will begin to dry up, become brittle and break, which will eventually turn into holes. The only way to fix the problem is to replace the stock dash with an aftermarket model made of more resilient material.
Another problem plaguing the 2nd Generation 1500 Dodge Ram Pickup and other older models is rust. The Ram’s rocker panels are particularly vulnerable. The solution is to either sand down and recoat the panel or, if it is very intense, replace the panels with aftermarket panels.
4WD disconnect switch
Sometimes you cannot switch to 4WD or 2WD. If so, a vacuum leak on the separator supply lines is the source of the problem, as it causes the separator to malfunction.
To solve this, some people change the vacuum 4WD disconnect switch using a cable to switch modes to solve this problem. If this is not practical, you can solve this by removing the debris from the separator inlet and repairing any holes in the pipes.
Steering is another issue you should be aware of. Many owners reported that when driving fast on straight highways, the steering wheel tends to have this drift problem which in turn affects your driving performance. Trucks with large tires and trucks with wheel spacers are more likely to have this problem. To prevent the truck from drifting back and forth due to the road crown, you must constantly change the steering input. The problem can also be solved by installing an aftermarket bracket that connects to the stabilizer bars. This gives the frame a firmer front.
Transmission control valve
There is a control valve in the transmission that can easily break. This is very common on automatic transmission Dodge Ram models of this era. The result is a whining sound from the faulty control valve when the vehicle is in reverse. Fortunately, Dodge introduced a new version of the control valve that made no noise.