When it comes to high horsepower trucks, it’s hard not to notice the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX. The Hellcat-powered pickup packs a mighty punch, offering up not only the ground clearance and off-road capability of a Ram 1500, but also the raw output of Dodge’s 6.2-liter supercharged V8. It’s pretty clear to see why truck enthusiasts are so giddy over Ram’s latest performance offering. That also means owners are testing these trucks to their absolute limits, including YouTubers.
One such owner is Ben Hardy, a Utah-based influencer who enjoys test driving vehicles and happens to own a bright green TRX. Recently, Hardy made a video where he took the truck off-road—the TRX’s supposed natural habitat—but it wasn’t long before 2,184-mile Ram had to head back to the dealer over transmission problems that happened while filming.
Hardy decided to take his TRX onto an off-road course in the Utah desert. While filming on a high-speed section of the trail, which was largely flat land made up of packed earth, he can be seen pressing on the gas and the revs begin to rise while the supercharger can be heard whining in the background—pretty normal stuff. Suddenly, however, the revs dropped sharply and warning lights could be seen illuminating the gauge cluster.
Outside of the truck, fluid was leaking on the ground. Hardy and his friend were originally unable to diagnose the problem with accuracy and strapped up the truck to a Ford F-150 Raptor to pull it off the trail.
Hardy posted the video of his misfortune for his 99,000 YouTube followers. Commenters began to berate Hardy for using his paddle shifters and for selling his Ford Raptor. Some even switched to commenting on Ram’s reliability, a notion that quickly spread to forums and began to make buyers wary of potential purchases.
I can backyard-mechanic this all I want, but it seems pretty evident that there was an issue with the Ram’s 8HP transmission leaking fluid, which should have been a key indicator to shut the truck off, park it for good, and have it towed properly to the shop. However, Hardy said that the earliest he could have had the Ram towed was Monday and that he wasn’t going to leave a $100,000 truck in the middle of the desert. Because of this, he actually drove the truck to the dealership despite the warning signs and the truck began to do what Hardy describes as “crazy,” which roughly translates to the transmission slipping.
Some commenters accurately diagnosed the scenario from behind their monitors, telling Hardy what he would later find out from the dealer: the truck blew a transmission line.
Apparently, someone at Ram saw the video and decided to act. By Monday, the automaker had sent a corporate representative out to the dealership where the truck was located to assess the problem—something not entirely uncommon when a new product has a catastrophic failure, especially a flagship like the Ram 1500 TRX.
According to the technician that diagnosed the truck, a feed line for the transmission failed and pressurized transmission fluid sprayed out of the gearbox until it was empty. Because the transmission was eventually run dry, it now needed to be replaced.
Ram is allegedly taking care of Hardy and replacing the transmission, something which Hardy sees as a plus for other potential TRX owners, as Ram reportedly wanted to further study what caused the failure. We’ve reached out to Ram to verify these claims and will update this story if we hear back.
There are a few important takeaways from Hardy’s experience: the most important of which is that freak occurrences do happen with new vehicles. Sometimes, this is in the form of premature failures when vehicles are being pushed in a performance scenario. Many onlookers began worrying about the reliability of the TRX platform as a whole, and even Hardy addressed selling his Raptor in favor of the Ram (in all good jest), but commenters on both the Ram and Ford side began jumping down each other’s throats over reliability.
Another good example is to make sure you recognize when a problem is serious enough to stop and call a tow truck. While it’s impossible to pinpoint the moment where the gearbox became unsalvageable, it may have been saved if the truck had been parked immediately after the line broke.
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