When Tom and I bought the Ram 5500, we never thought we would have any problems getting it serviced. We have always taken our cars and trucks back to the dealership for service. It probably cost us more, but we knew we would get warranted service with parts appropriate for the vehicle. If it wasn’t fixed right the first time, it would be fixed right the second at no extra charge. We have always been pretty happy with the service we received at the dealerships.
The Ram 5500 has been another issue entirely. We now have almost 37,000 miles on it and have had it serviced as part of the manufacturers recommended service four times. Each time has been an adventure in getting it right. Of course, it doesn’t help that we have had to do it in four different states.
The first time was in Las Vegas, Nevada, where we called, told them what kind of vehicle we had, and took it in (no appointments at this dealership). The service person admired the truck, then told us it would have to go to their truck service facility. The whole process took twice as long as it was supposed to take because they had to come, get the truck, take it to the truck facility, wait for the one lift that was big enough to lift it get open, then service it. I think that visit was about 5 hours.
Our second visit was to the same facility, four months later (before and after our time in Death Valley). Although this visit was more expensive (oil changes on big trucks are not cheap), it only took an hour because the big lift was open when we got there.
Our third service visit on the Ram 5500 took place while we were in Chattanooga. We had to call three dealerships before we found one with a big enough lift. They did not take appointments either, so we went in. There were several recalls on the truck and it was going to take all day for the service appointment, but they gave us a loaner vehicle for the day (didn’t know anyone still did that!). The loaner vehicle was a small, fuel-efficient car that was really fun to drive. Tom wondered if we could just leave the truck at the dealership during the last month we were in Chattanooga and keep the loaner. We returned the loaner the next day when the truck was ready.
Our fourth service visit was divided between Charlotte, North Carolina, and Ohio. I called four places before we finally found a dealership with a big enough lift in Charlotte. After making an appointment and driving the hour to Charlotte, we found that they couldn’t do all the service. Our primary concern was getting the front tires rotated. Although the dealership had the lift, we have truck tires on our truck (imagine that!) and they didn’t have a machine big enough to take them off. So they did the things on the manufacturers recommended service list – except for rotating the tires – and sent us on our way.
When we got back to Ohio we knew the tires had to be a priority – the tread on the outside of the front tires was getting pretty low and the back tires were cupping. We called some Dodge dealerships but none of them could handle the truck tires. They recommended we take it someplace that services semi-truck tires. After several more phone calls, we found Bob Summeral Tire in Seville, Ohio (close to the intersection of 71, 76, and 224). We drove the hour up there, talked to the service guy, and an hour later our tires were rotated and properly inflated. He recommended we get new front tires in the fall, but felt they would be good through the summer. We were very pleased with how knowledgeable and professional they were and it cost less than $100.
We were feeling pretty good as we drove the Ram 5500 away from Bob Summeral Tire – until Tom glanced in the rear view mirror and noticed one of our hubcaps rolling across the road. We pulled into the dirt median and Tom ran across the road and grabbed it. Then we went back to Bob Summeral. Once we got there, we realized that we were missing another hubcap, so we drove back down the road to look for it. We found it in the dirt median where we had turned around. I grabbed it and we returned to Bob Summeral. The manager apologized profusely while he used a mallet to hammer the hubcaps back on.
Tom and I were a little nervous the first few hundred miles after that: we hoped their failure to hammer the hubcaps on was not an indication of their work in general. But the tires are doing well and we haven’t had any more independently traveling hubcaps.
The Ram 5500 is a big truck and we budget for our service visits, expecting them to be expensive. We did not, however, expect to have such trouble finding a place to get it serviced. Perseverance and patience are important qualities when dealing with the challenges and blessings of living on the road.