U.S. auto safety officials have opened an investigation into hundreds of reports that older Ram 1500 pickups can suddenly lose power steering assistance, to determine if 1.1 million trucks should be recalled.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Office of Defects Investigation says it has 380 complaints about the problem, and knows of three crashes. There were no injuries. NHTSA says the investigation covers pickups from model years 2013 through 2016.
“The subject vehicle may experience a sudden intermittent or complete loss of power steering assistance,” NHTSA says. “A loss of power steering assistance may result in extra steering effort or loss of vehicle directional control, increasing the risk of a crash.”
Stellantis, Ram’s parent company, recalled 440 pickups in 2016 for a power steering problem, but NHTSA says it will attempt to determine if that defect or a different one is causing the problems in these current reports.
Many of the complaints cited expensive repairs or long waits for parts. One Florida driver complained that the streering wheel of a 2013 Ram 1500 “would not turn left or right.” He was told parts alone for the repair would run in excess of $2,000.
A driver of a 2014 Ram 1500 in California said the steering wheel “seized and became immobile” at 55 mph on a busy road. “Using tremendous force, I was able to get the truck through traffic and to the side of the road.”
A complaint regarding a 2015 Ram said the driver went into a ditch, causing minor damage.