Skipping Oil Changes Destroyed This 2018 Ram 1500—and No, a Warranty Won’t Help
We’re sure you’re aware of how important oil changes are, but this is in case you’ve forgotten.
If you're going to buy a brand new car or truck with a warranty, it's important to follow the manufacturer's recommended maintenance schedule—if not for the vehicle's own wellbeing, then for the sake of keeping that warranty valid in the event that something bad happens. One Ontario owner is learning this lesson the hard way after getting stuck with a five-digit engine replacement bill due to allegedly not following the recommended oil change schedule for their 2018 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel pickup.
An electrician from Bowmanville, Ontario, purchased the truck brand new a few years ago with a 62,000-mile (100,000-km) warranty, according to CTV News. Back in November 2021 and with about 56,500 miles (91,000 kms) on the odometer, the truck's engine seized on the highway and left its owner stranded. While still being within its warranty-covered mileage, you'd assume that any and all repairs would be covered. Unfortunately for the owner, however, their warranty claim was denied because they "had not done the required oil changes at the appropriate times," CTV reported.
"When I asked them why it was not covered under warranty, they mentioned at [31,000 miles] the oil switch came on and I didn't get an oil change done right away," the owner told CTV. It's not clear how much further they drove around after the oil light came on.
The oil changes that the owner did have done were performed by a third-party oil shop. An employee there apparently told the owner that their Ram "could travel [15,000 miles] between oil changes." The owner also said that the truck did not come with a physical, paper owner's manual that they could consult. Instead, they were told that everything they needed to know could be found on the vehicle's onboard computer.
Yet, page 54 of the 2018 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel's publicly available owner's manual (which took me about 30 seconds to find on Ram Canada's website) reads, "Under no circumstances should oil change intervals exceed 10,000 miles (16,000 km) or 12 months, whichever comes first." It also instructs owners to have their truck "serviced as soon as possible, within the next 500 miles (805 km)," when the oil change indicator comes on.
Sadly, the owner was told their engine no longer worked and that a replacement was needed. The cost of replacing the EcoDiesel's 3.0-liter V6? About $15,000 ($19,000 CAD) before tax. The (former) Ram driver said that it was simply not something they could afford right now. "I don't think I have the money to pay for something like that," they told CTV. "Unfortunately, that vehicle will have to go to scrap, I can't afford something like that."
A Stellantis spokesperson reiterated the oil change intervals listed in the Ram's owner's manual to CTV News when requested to comment. They declined to disclose more specific details, citing customer privacy guidelines, but stated, "Our authorized Ram dealers reported that said maintenance was not performed to these parameters. There is no hesitancy on our part to comply with the provisions of a warranty, as long as they apply to a factory defect. Damage or failures attributed to any other source are the owner's responsibility."
While it's easy to point fingers and ridicule the Ram owner here for supposedly not RTFM and taking the word of what I will baselessly assume was a Jiffy Lube-esque shop employee at face value, it's important to empathize and remember that not everybody is as into cars and trucks as you and I are. It doesn't always occur to people that owner's manuals are frequently posted online (though it's a good habit to get into to always check). And while we hope that most dealers provide their customers with adequate owner information about the vehicle they are about to drive home with, that isn't always the case either.
That said, something tells me that this Ontario motorist will probably be reading every word and footnote of their next vehicle's owner's manual. Or at least check The Drive's handy-dandy guide on how often to change synthetic oil right here.
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