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The million-Ram tailgate recall

by David Zatz on

According to a recent NHTSA release, FCA is recalling 2015-17 Ram pickups, both light and heavy duty, because the tailgate may suddenly open when driving.

Exempted from the recall are 2015-17 trucks made with eight-foot beds, or without power locking tailgates. It covers Ram 1500, 2500, and 3500 pickups with any bed shorter than eight feet, and with locking tailgates.

The problem is a tailgate actuator limited tab, which may fracture; that would allow the lock rod control bracket to over-travel, pulling on the lock rods, thereby releasing the latches. Once the latches are released, the tailgate is essentially unlocked, and can fall open. That’s a safety issue because cargo can be jettisoned, possibly leading to a crash from following vehicles.

One member blamed the fact that the tailgate automatically locks and unlocks with the rest of the doors, and suggested disconnecting the power-lock mechanism until the recall, using a key for the tailgate.

The safety team first heard about the problem on May 8, 2018, as a result of customer complaints. Two days later, they met with Body Engineering to review the issue and learn about the lock system. Over the next two months, the team analyzed incidents, partly to discover the cause and partly to find the scope — which vehicles were vulnerable. In June and July, the team analyzed build and repair data, and evaluated vehicles.

2014 Ram Ecodiesel pickup truck on hilltop in Southern California

2014 Ram 1500 Ecodiesel pickup. Photo credit: B. Cawthon/Allpar

FCA had found no less than 5,643 warranty claims and repair orders which could be related to the problem, but was unaware of any accidents or injuries related to the issue. The company decided to do a voluntary safety recall on July 29, 2018; global in scope, the recall covers the 1.1 million Rams sold in the US, another quarter million in Canada, around 19,400 in Mexico, and roughly 25,000 elsewhere in the world.

The fix is to limit the locking actuator’s travel, so it can’t pull on the rods. Owners who already paid for a repair will be reimbursed if they send in their receipt or proof of payment. The new tailgate automatic locking control assembly has part number 68093354AC; we don’t yet know how much time the company is budgeting for its replacement. In the meantime, FCA pointed out that the owner’s manual already suggests securing all cargo while driving.

The recall is reportedly to start on September 14, 2018, with an internal code of U74 and an NHTSA campaign number of 18V486000. It’s going to be a costly one, covering as it does 1.15 million pickups in the US alone.

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