Cabin Exhaust Fumes Prompt Ram Recall of 2014-2015 1500 EcoDiesel

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By Tim Esterdahl

After conducting research and taking many test drives, Chris DeVore felt great about buying his 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel 4x2 pickup truck. After putting nearly 3,000 miles on the odometer, he caught a whiff of diesel exhaust. At 5,000 miles the smell was so strong he felt like he was choking. Now after four trips to different dealers, more than 30 days of waiting on repairs, a new exhaust coupling, a new catalytic converter, a complaint to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, a phone call to the EPA and other hassles, his truck still stinks.

"The exhaust smell started out intermittent with just a whiff of raw diesel exhaust every now and again," DeVore said. "It then grew constant. It was just like having the tailpipe of an older Power Stroke diesel truck coming right out of the dash in our faces. It would choke us … and make me lightheaded after about 20 minutes of driving. I had to put the [air conditioning] on recirculate and open the windows in order to make the 200-mile drive back to the selling dealer for service. Even with the windows open, I still had to stop a few times for fresh air."

The retired Air Force officer says the smell is a much more than an annoyance; it makes it difficult for him to use his truck.

Many Owners Affected

And he is not alone. In researching this story, we found several owners like DeVore and they all tell a similar story. Each of them loves their truck, yet are tired of the diesel stink. The degree of stink seems to vary by vehicle; some owners say it is just a mild nuisance while one we heard went to the hospital after a driving a long distance.

These fumes apparently come from a defective exhaust coupling, according to Eric Mayne, FCA media relations manager for safety, regulatory affairs and engineering. Ram worked with the EPA to issue a voluntary recall for approximately 3,000 model-year 2014-15 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel two-wheel-drive pickups to replace the part.

"This is a voluntary emissions recall initiated by FCA US LLC in full compliance with EPA regulations," Mayne said. "Tests have confirmed there is no safety issue. Affected customers will be notified when they may schedule service, which will be performed at no cost."

Since Ram initiated a voluntary recall, the EPA will not issue one unless it believes the company is not doing all it can do to fix the issue.

"The Ram recall was initiated by the manufacturer, and they have alerted EPA as required," said EPA spokeswoman Christie St. Clair. "They are following the expected practice of recalling to fix a problem they found themselves."

The EPA issues about 2 million emissions-related recalls each year.

New Exhaust Coupling Coming

The problem first made news in December 2014 when the ABC affiliate in Detroit, WXYZ-Channel 7, followed up on several customer complaints about the diesel Ram. Many of these customers said the diesel exhaust fumes were so noxious they were concerned for their health and safety. Initially, WXYZ reported, Ram said the problem was limited to 11 pickups. Presented with numerous customer complaints, Ram eventually acknowledged the problem was bigger than originally thought.

Ram said it has identified the problem and has developed a new exhaust coupling that will begin shipping to dealers in the coming weeks.

"An exhaust-system coupling may crack because of a resonance specific to Ram 1500 pickups with 4x2 drivelines," Mayne said. "There is no issue with the powertrain, and tests have confirmed there is no safety hazard."

Ram is sending a letter to affected owners in May about the voluntary recall. It is up to the owners to bring their trucks in for the repair, which will be completed free of charge. Ram said if customers experience any issues prior to receiving a recall notice they can bring the truck to their dealer so the issue can be addressed sooner.

Difficult to Identify

An exhaust leak in the cabin is difficult to detect because carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless. For household applications, gas companies add an odor that resembles rotten eggs to provide a scent. In automotive applications, the rotten egg odor doesn't exist. Identifying the problem seems to come down to what the owner and dealership employees smell. Quite often, according to owners we heard from, owners and service managers disagree on whether there is a smell.

It also seems to vary by truck. Several owners dismissed it as a minor problem, others have never experienced it, and others carry a carbon monoxide detector in their cabin.

The odor seems more apparent when the truck is going through a regeneration cycle. This cycle happens when the exhaust particulate filter reaches 80 percent of its maximum storage capacity. The truck will display a message informing the driver to safely drive at highway speeds to remedy the problem. Once this is done, the particulate filter system will cleanse the filter to remove trapped particulate matter and restore the system to normal operating conditions. This process generates a stronger odor, which is normally detected outside the truck. In the case of the affected trucks, this odor permeates the cabin and can be quite strong.

Ram says the issue is only with 4x2 EcoDiesel trucks, yet our unscientific sample revealed some owners of 4x4 trucks have had the same issue as DeVore. These trucks include various trim levels.

Perplexing as it may be, DeVore simply wants his pickup fixed. He's had a software update, replaced the exhaust coupling and a cracked turbo exhaust pipe, yet the problem persists.

"The truck is being driven daily, but I still get weird exhaust smells intermittently that reek of DEF [diesel exhaust fluid]," DeVore said. "The smells seem to enter the cab at highway speeds and then dissipate completely randomly. If I leave the truck run while hitching up a trailer, it will usually burn my eyes and nose. It's strong smelling one day and clean smelling the next."

Cars.com photos by Mark Williams

 

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Comments

Fix It Again Tony.

RAM would have bought my truck back from me if it would have been me! Four trips to the dealer? No thanks!

This issue is not new. Most of the 2008 and diesels will have some of this at the downpipe due to the emissions.

I had that same in issue with a Chevy(2001), not a big deal,

It's a diesel, they all stink. With that said, I hope the coupling is produced and shipped faster then the 3 items our Grand Cherokee has been recalled for, going on a year now and dealer still does not have the parts to fix the recalls....

No, newer diesels aren't suppose to stink unless they are in regen. Fumes in the cab aren't something to take lightly. GM has had this issue on many 2011+ Duramax trucks where leaks develop in the downpipe coupler just downstream of the 9th injector on the exhaust. This sounds very similar

Ram leaking carbon monoxide into the cab? Quality.

"service managers [Quite often] disagree on whether there is a smell"

Nope, no smell.


I hate dealing with crappy service managers. You almost have to be a forensic scientist to force them to believe when you have an actual issue.

My cummins 5500 is the same way.... It's been repaired twice for it. Happens on active regen cycles as raw fuel is injected in the exhaust stroke... With the extreme heat of the regen cycles and repeated expansion and contractions of the exhaust systems coupled with varying restrictions of the dpf creating extra back pressure and vibrations of a ram diesel all these variables leads to exhaust system leaks. The fresh air intake for the ram climate is on the cowl right behind the turbo. It's not a matter if it's a matter of when. Do to the the 1500 diesel dpf have regen cycles every 100 miles or so compared to is big brothers 4-500 mile regen cycles the smell and fumes just appear to be most of the time on the 1500.

Ways to help this smell is to run your climate system in recirculate mode so it doesn't draw is fresh air just a few inches from the turbo. Leave your window up especially while regening at slower speeds and traffic. Also a lot of these ram 1500 guys are buying these special gauges they add so they can see the regens and when they are happening so they can then hit the highway and drive till the regens are complete before shutting there 1/2 ton diesels off.

It's kind of the nature off the beast of just using a modern diesel as just a commuter instead of a work horse. If you are towing heavy a lot or loading the motor a lot it will generate more heat essentially performing a passive regen and create enough heat to burn off the particulate matter in the filter without sending u burnt fuel into the exhaust stream on the exhaust stroke so it can burn while in the exhaust stream.

Soulation is simple...don't buy a foreign owned and built p.o.s. there so embarresed buy this truck they can't even put there name on it. Dodge..fiat..p.o.s. All the same
..

It's the guys here that own the F-150 Eco-Boost are the ones making the insulting comments about the Ram Eco-Diesel.

They are upset about all the problems they have with their eco-boost the only thing that makes them happy is a different make of truck having problems too.
Misery loves company

It seems the engineers will have to get back to the drawing board.

It seems quite a problem if you own an EcoDiesel.

Is it all the vehicles or some?

Maybe FCA should look at the driving habits of the drivers that this occurs to. This will help to find a solution.

I would definitely have a battery operated carbon monoxide detector in the cab until this was fixed.

Do these new diesel trucks have DPF or EGR on them like class 8 trucks? We are having major problems with class 8 epa systems in the exhaust systems a few cases of starting fires from the high temp regen. EPA they solve problems.... the problem of sanity.

i got this situation too and my truck is a4x4 limited crew cab

There are several items that should be concerning for most owners of the Ram Eco Diesel.

1. It should be a required NHTSA recall and not just an option for FCA.

2. The complete lack of urgency in FCA’s response

3. Unless there is something different about the 4x2 exhaust system then it would apply to both types of drive trains; not just one of them.

Seems Ram has a good distance to go regarding quality. Some of the recent lapses in current build quality are very troubling. There are current signs they may be losing the gain in sales they have made the last couple of years.

The NHTSA continues to lose all credibility regarding consumer’s safety.

Franck

You need to get one of those special scan tool/guage readout that tell you when you truck is regening and when it's finished, there only a couple hundred bucks. You will be able to figure out when your dpf is about to regen so you can put your trucks climate controls in recirculate mode so you don't suck that unburnt fuel smoke in the cab and also you will be able to head towards the highway and drive at highway speeds until the regen is complete..... You will need to do this every 100-150 miles and this should help your situation of the stink entering the cab.

I wonder how many buyers are not pleased to learn their pollution control systems work by injecting raw fuel into the exhaust every 100 miles. Let alone creating a breathing problem at the same interval. That's enough for me to take diesel off the option list.

My 2011 regen's with no interaction from me... I don't have to shift my AC controls, and if I shutdown mid cycle, the computer picks it back up on restart. The only smell I get is if I shut it down during regen I can smell the exhaust is hot... There is no reason a new diesel owner should deal with it, or alter their driving habits. The FCA engineers need to fix this. Don't let the anti diesel crowd make you think it is just a byproduct of the diesel technology... The emission system are complex, but they should be able to work through it...

@Montese_VR,
Does this problem exist on the diesel Grand Cherokee?

As for you concerns regarding the DPF systems, well sooner or later gasoline engines will require these types of systems.

GDI engines are emitting up to 1 000 times the particulates of the diesels.

Maybe this problem wouldn't occur if the particulate count between the diesel and gas engines were consistent with each other.

Here's a cut and paste and link to further you knowledge in this area from a very reputable organisation;

"It may be surprising to learn that the modern gasoline direct-injection (GDI) engines in today’s passenger cars can emit more hazardous fine particulate matter than a port fuel-injected engine (PFI), or even the latest heavy-duty diesels equipped with a particulate filter."

http://articles.sae.org/13624/

Should have purchased the 4x4!

Even with the minor problems with the Ram Eco-Diesel its still better than the F-150 Eco-Boost!
A F-150 4x4 crew eco-boost will cost ya $52K where you can get a 4x4 crew Ram Eco-Diesel for $43K
The Ram Eco-Diesel gets 28 MPG where the F-150 eco-boost gets 12-14 city, 16-17 highway
You can't drive the F-150 eco-boost in the rain or in humid conditions where any moisture doesn't effect the Ram Eco-Diesel.
PLUS the simple exhaust issue of the Ram Eco-Diesel is repaired under warranty at no cost where replacing those 2 turbo's on the F-150 isn't covered and will cost you $4000 !

This a low quality Italian Diesel engine. I highly doubt these engines will make it past 80k miles without major work. Ram was foolish to not use Cummins in developing an engine for their 1500 trucks. It's disturbing that people are dealing with these problem prone VM Motori trash. Please wear a gas mask when driving one.

Really tom. I have an f-150 crew ecoboost and paid 32500$ brand new. Gets 16 to 18 city and about 20 on the highway. ZERO problems drove in heavy rain, snow storms and pulls a trailer through the mountains like a freight train. I wouldn't trade my ecoboost for anything. Absolutely love it!

Oh the Ram haters come out. I've owned all big three brands and a Toyota. I currently have a 2015 Ram I bought Ram because of these experiences:

Toyota- Don't like the redesign. Personal taste.
GM- my 2010 GMC had paint chipping and AFM issues at 40k. the cosmetic issues alone took them off my list as I take care of my trucks and am seeing it on others
Ford- My EB ran great when I didn't have problems, the front hood edge on mine kept bubbling and paint fell off, (aluminum hood) not ready to trust a whole truck to it. Plus, I got a Ram Crew Cab for the Price of the suicide door supercab. I get ford X plan and Chrysler Friends and Family so It was not dealer pricing games.

so i got a Ram. I looked at the Diesel option decided against it due to my driving habits. I've had no quality issues and the dealer has been good.

and seriously lay off the fiat crap. its childish and pointless.

Rams choke you with smoke Jeeps burn,Chrysler quality svks,what else is new

http://www.ctvnews.ca/autos/fiat-chrysler-seeks-new-trial-after-jury-awards-150m-in-jeep-fire-case-1.2365018

You know, I sure hate when my F150 EcoBoost needs DEF refilled...and when I get greasy diesel all over my hands fueling...and when those noxious diesel fumes get all up in my face when I'm hooking up a trailer...or just into my cabin when I'm driving...or my headlights point to the sky with 500lbs of trailer weight. Oh, wait, it doesn't have any of those problems. And contrary to Tommy Boy's opinion, driving in humid conditions is not an issue, gas mileage is better than 12-18 mpgs, and turbos are covered under powertrain and factory warranties.
But when it comes time to pull 11,000 lbs up a 15 mile 6-8% grade at 8,000 feet, I'll take the EcoBoost any day. Mostly because the Ram can't handle that weight. But even if we drop it down to 8,000 I'd still take the EB.

This has been a problem for two years and Ram keeps kicking the can down the road. Fix your problem Ram or quit producing this POS.

Maybe you F-150 Owners need to read your ESP Warranty again.
The turbo IS NOT covered under the powertrain warranty
The turbo is considered part of the exhaust where the exhaust is considered a normal wear item like brakes, fan belts, wiper blades and tires.
The turbo IS covered under the first 3 year factory warranty but after that EVEN under the ESP Warranty they are not covered!


All the ecocboost bashing is getting tiresome...Yes, Ford had issues with 2011,2012 and maybe some early 2013 trucks. But major engineering changes frequently bring problems. The engines seem well sorted out now, and I suspect the 2nd generation engine (2.7) will be outstanding.

The engines offer good MPG driving under light load, and torque/power for heavy load. NO you do not get power w/o using fuel. There is no free lunch.

Similarly, the 2017 ecodiesel will probably be outstanding. we all wish it were not like this...but it is.

I hope GM has also sorted out its AFM issues. drove a Sliverado recently, nice truck, maybe a Tundra replacement.

Why does everyone bring up the turbos on the ecoboost? Turbos are on every diesel engine and turbos have been around forever. With proper care they will last along time

its says under power train warranty factory installed turbo......

http://www.ford.ca/resources/ford/general/pdf/service/ESP_4PlanBrochure_E.pdf

Apparently people are still drunk on diesel.


Fleets of new tractors are having issues with a system that has been out for years. The reason... it is a bad system. This system wont see the light of day on a gasoline engine regardless of emissions regulation. People cant afford it. And it doesn't do what they say anyway. It ends up wasting more resources getting overhauled for issues, in which negates the air quality increase this system provides. This is a scam for tax dollars. They are building quality diesel engines. Long lasting quality south korean designs.

@Dumblewski,
People can't afford it? Diesel?

How come the average transaction price of pickups has risen from $32k to $40k over the past 1/2 decade or so?

The addition of a diesel that cost $X is not different than the cost of anything else.

$1 =$1. One dollar worth of diesel is the same as one dollar of potatoes. The value of a dollar has little to do with what it is used for.

So, explain how $1 is really $2s, when buying a diesel engine?

Is their a tax on a diesel engine that makes $1 dollar turn into $2 or whatever.

The dollar is a unit of measure not connected to engine type.

Provide a link showing the dollar is of a different value when used to buy different products.

Italian engineering at its finest.

Easy fix -- Move all the cleaners/recyclers under the bed, preferably at or behind the rear axle (though that won't fix the trailer hook-up stink if engine is kept running).

Not so easy fix -- use some form of forced-air injection and ducting to blow all these stinks back behind the cab so it doesn't leak up between the bed and cab bodies.

Hardest fix -- Convert all diesels to pure battery electric power; incredible torque under almost all conditions and no emissions at all.

what I don't understand is why do people compare the Ecodiesel to an EcoBoost engine they're not even in the same category. 1 is a diesel 1 is gas powered.that's like comparing a powerstroke 6.7 to a 6.2 gas motor.

Anyone catch that he's already had to replace a cracked turbo exhaust pipe at 3k miles?

hi i purshase 2 weaks ago from rydell san fernando california 2015 ram ecodiesel i only have 600 miles and i star smell the fumes from the diesel engine i call the dealer and they tell me to drop it today so i hope they fix it have like 3 more problems but they are minor one is the noice on the passenger door look like is something missing and then the door passenger side is not aligment to the other door they said its normal i hope will not be a lemon

I had mine replaced in January. They said it had about a 2" split in the downtube, but I guess now I'm going to have to get the "Re-designed" part put in. I bought this LEMON in Sept 2014 and it has been out of service (No Joke) 14 weeks and 3 days cumulative since then... The lemon law in Texas is NO help whatsoever because it has to be the same problem over and over. With mine, each time it's something new, but I have not been able to drive this truck for an entire month without it being in the shop... DONT BUY ONE

I guess I got a good one. My 2014 4X2 ED has almost 15K miles on it. Get right at 30MPG fuel mileage highway, and DEF usage is close to advertised, about 8500 MPG. I haven't experienced the exhaust issue described here, but did get the recall. Scheduled to have remediated the first week of July. I won't lie though, all the bad news I read here has me a bit concerned. Keeping positive attitude and hope all of you who have had problems get them resolved, one way or another. Best of luck.

Correction, 8500 miles per 8 gallon tank on the DEF, 8500 MPG, LOL, don't I wish. But still not way off the 10K per tank advertised. Sorry folks... for the mis-speak on my part.

I have a Ram 150 eco diesel my def filter is 100% full the truck shuts down the dealership said no warranty because I had off road fuel in it. They also said that is the reason I am getting fumes in the truck

5500 miles on ED 2015 added another 30HP with Banks Bullet no problems has power and gets great MPG , fit and finish is awesome ,So far awesome power plant and truck.

For all you EB the DEF average is 1 GP 800 miles. You will be putting gas in you tank 2 as often as My Diesel and 12 times more on the DEF. EB owners must be proud to fill that gasser so often.

Glad I found this thread.

Looks like Dodge is still Dodge.

I was going to buy one but this couple with Fiat's attempts all spring to merge or sell out just tells me to stay away.

Those diesels are not near the advantage over gasoline they used to be.

Well, recall work done but before I took it in the CEL came on for the third time. So, this time in addition to the recall work they changed the powertrain control module (PCM). Picked the truck up on Jul 15. Yesterday, Jul 22, the CEL is back on again! Fourth time now. Heard from the dealer this morning. Have to replace the catalytic converter and one fouled injector.

The dealer is trying, and I have a loaner truck, but man am I glad this is all warranty work. Hoping this is my last "bad news" update.

For you Ford eco-boost owners, around where I come from 7 out of 10 ecboost all had problems with the turbo's in our damp conditions

I am currently having this problem...a foul odor in the cab of the truck. Makes you ill!! I have to operate the heater/ac on recirculation to avoid the smell. What is up??

I have a Ram Eco desiel with cab smell dealer thinks I
Making it up .if I drive it A couple hours I get bad head and sick
Got 6000 miles on it I can't drive because of smell what should I do

I own a 2015 1500 ram echo diesel and mine is a 4×4 and this is the 4th time i have had an issue with fumes in my cab so IT IS NOT JUST THE 4×2 i also get headaches and light headedness from these fumes, very frustrating i have always owned dodges but this is getting ridiculous!!!

I am seriously thinking of getting rid of my 2016 Ram EcoDiesel.l can't drive it around town the smell makes me sick. Long distance driving is not as bad on the highway. Going to try and check and see if I can get rid of the emissions and re-gen equipment on it. I'm getting sick......... of it



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