Dodge Ram 3500 cargo van reliability

I’m looking at a 2001 Ram 3500 cargo van with the 5.9L/360 cid V8 with 120k miles on it. Any of you pros have experience with this vehicle? Wondering what the reliability of the drivetrain is, etc. I read that this engine was produced from 1971 to 2002, so I’m assuming it was a good design. This van is in New Hampshire, and owner says the frame front doglegs are rusted and will need repair. What does that mean, and how much should it cost?

The motor in these vans are great, strong no issues. The trannys are ehh, but with Proper service should be ok. The issue with these vans and why they are not in high demand is they are uni-body, not body on frame like most other vans. As such they just are not up to the heavy duty use of a chevy or ford van. Rust is a huge issue, and if its in one place its probably in others.

Great engine and trans…we use one of these “Big Blue” an 85 B3500… We go camping with it…2 quads fit end to end in there along with everything but the kitchen sink for camping…great, tough, reliable, solid as a tank.

That van should be body on frame…No? The 85’ sure is…I had no idea they went to a uni-body…thats why we stuck with the oldie for camping…tough as nails that thing is…

New Hampshire = RUST to me I HATE RUST…so should you. Buy one from somewhere else…like an auction…they often come from churches, military…etc…anywhere but RustHampshire


The powertrain in these things is old and proven. It should be fine as long as the previous owner hasn’t abused or neglected it severely. I agree with H.B. and gsragtop re. rust. And vans seem to rust more and faster than cars in my experience. So if it has rust like you say, I’d pass. Even if you manage to fix the damage, the rest is in as bad of shape and just waiting to give you more problems that will be difficult if not impossible to fix.

Any 11 year old vehicle with 100k miles+ is a crapshoot. The badge on the vehicle is irrelevant and it all depends on how it was driven and maintained.

New Hampshire + rust + already needs frame repair due to rust = scrap metal price or run away fast.

How much are they asking for this creampuff?

You will get bout 800 in scrap metal for it…CASH

Thanks all, I will pass on the rustbucket. It was tempting because it was a hightop bus conversion that would have been great for use as a camper. Owner asking 2500 because it also has a wheelchair lift, but I’ll let someone else scrap it.

If you’re looking for solid cars for not too much money, look into getting them from places like Idaho. Whatever it’ll cost you to get it home is way less than what you’ll pay in body problems. Cars over there are really solid.

Idaho? No nasty weather out there?

Nasty weather, yes. No salt is used on the road, though.
Check out craigslist for Boise and see what gems can be found. The prices are amazing with perfectly solid bodied cars. I’d have to pay lots more for cars of that quality here in New England, if you can even find them.

I’ve seen a bunch of classic cars come out of Idaho that are absolutely perfect, with dings here and there but no rot - maybe a little surface rust. My 52 truck in my avatar came from there, after having lived on a farm most its life.

Well I bought a '96 2500 van new and just traded it off this summer. It was body on frame and I don’t think they changed that before they quit building them. It was not rusty anywhere, not a tear on the interior anywhere, the engine, trany, power steering, the A/C, and differential had never been repaired. The engine had a lifter noise when first started and I was only getting about 13 MPG and the A/C was not cooling as well as it did for the first 14 years, and my brother and his wife was coming to visit for a month, and they just couldn’t stand heat and would be using the van so I traded for another minivan, my 3rd one, with rear A/C and heat.
BTW we took several trips with 8,9,or 10 people in it and it did good.

If a cargo Van is what you’re looking at, I would suggest you shift your “looks” toward a GMC/Chevy and Ford. I am not pleased with Ford for rust prevention either in this year also. That leaves GMC/Chevy as your best alternatives IMO for an older van.

Econoline has trumped the others by far for the last 40 years…handles better, ergos for the driver don’t make you turn yuor feet sideways like you’re an afterthought. Dodge and Chevy have been intolerable for me (size 14 shoe) since inception. Dodge…heavey duty enough but a real rattletrap…I’ve never liked GM vans…hard to work on and always need work. Ford only.