> Main > Tech > New Ram Inspection

New Dodge Ram Inspection Checklist
NOTE: To receive maximum benefit, the inspection should occur during daylight hours.
Take delivery of the new vehicle after it passes this inspection.
Site sponsor


Paperwork check:    IMPORTANT - verify before you fall in love with the truck!!



  Vehicle Identification - Check VIN on dashboard and door plate against title
  Option Verification - Check Sticker to verify all codes
  Owners manual, vehicle warranty, Chrysler contact pamphlet, tire warranty - should be in glovebox. These items can be very difficult to obtain after the dealership has your money.

Check the red DOT sheet "Comsumer Information, Truck Camper Loading" in the glovebox.

  Make sure the cargo weight raiting is sufficient for your needs.


Exterior Appearance Inspection: ( walk around inspection of the exterior )

NOTE: While inspecting exterior, look for paint problems such as Bubbles in clear coat, Excessive orange peel, Industrial fallout on paint finish, Scratches, Dents, etc.



Front End & Cab
       Nose / Fender / Hood Area
  Bumpers (not even a hint of rust, there were problems in 1998)
  Fender fit and finish
  Hood fit and finish
  Grille fit and finish

       Cab Area

  Door fit and finish
  Door Jamb Area
  Rubber gaskets
  Outside decorative Trim
  Window operation
  Watch for windshield cracks in the lower corner on driver's side
  Look under rear of cab for seam separation on back wall
  Radio antenna
Bed & Rear End

       Rear End

  Bumpers - watch for dents, rust, loose mounting bolts
  Tail gate - check latch function, cables, make sure the security bolt is installed
  Receiver - installed, bolts tight, trailer plug cover opens without interference


  Make sure the bed paint matches the cab paint, especially on the new colors
  Fender fit and finish
  Front Wall
Under body inspection
  Check for coffee cups and trash stuffed in chassis rails
  Check for proper amount of grease in grease fittings
  Check for loose steering box
  Shake intermediate steering shaft - feel for loose slip joint
  Check for loose shocks (cause a rattle) - loose lower bolts are very common
  Check brake line routing (no kinks, no rubbing)
  Check routing of emergency brake cable at left rear axle - some vehicles routed this cable directly under the rubber bump stop


Jack, Lug Nut, and Tire Checks


       Wheels & Tires

  Check door plate against tire size for match
  Right Front Tire - proper size, tread pattern, inflation pressure
  Left Front Tire - proper size, tread pattern, inflation pressure
  Right Rear Tire - proper size, tread pattern, inflation pressure
  Left Rear Tire - proper size, tread pattern, inflation pressure
  Spare - installed, proper size and tread <-- it's not unusual to find the wrong size spare, incorrect load rating, or incorrect inflation pressure

       Jack and wheel changing accessories

  Retrieve jack and tire tools from cab - inspect for completeness
  Check jack function - it will be stiff, but should crank up and down
  While Jack is removed - Lift the Carpet Flap under the jack and check for water under the carpet.
  Using the lug wrench, verify that all lugs are not crossthreaded and tight
  Check spare tire winch - lower the tire to the pavement and raise it while checking for binding
  Return jack and accessories to cab


Under hood Inspection


  Check function of secondary hood latch
  Check for smooth hinge operation with no binding
  Check grill for loose fasteners

Under hood light turns on with hood open, Light goes off before hood closes

  Identify all components
  Check brake fluid
  Check Power steering fluid
  Check PS tubing and hoses for rubbing
  Check Oil level
  Check washer fluid
  Check transmission fluid
  Check for coolant leak, heater hose, above exhaust manifold, passenger side
  Check Battery cables - tight?
  Check A/C hose routing for rubbing

       Check Air Cleaner

  Check housing for obstructions (coffee cups, trash)
  Check filter seal - Smear vaseline on filter gasket, close cleaner, open again. check for 100% positive mating mark, vaseline should be displaced (plastic air cleaners housings can warp, allowing unfiltered air to pass)


Take a break, go wash your hands


Interior Inspection - look inside for appearance problems


       Front Seats

  Appearance of upholstery and hardware
  Recline Function
  Front to rear adjustment
  Folding Function
  Center Console Raises and lowers smoothly
  Center Console Latch works, check for loose trim ring around latch button

       Rear Seat

  Appearance of uphostery and hardware


  Water pooling under passenger front seat from rear window leak (remove door sill and feel under the rug and pad for moisture)
  Water pooling under driver's front seat from missing plug behind kick panel (remove door sill and feel under the rug and pad for moisture)
  Check for stains and tears

       General Interior Fit and Finish

  Dash & Steering wheel
  Shifter & Pedals
  Headliner & Door Panels
  Check for grill/vent on quad doors (seem to fall off)
  Sliding Rear Window Open/closing action
  Sliding Rear Window Latch Function

       Alarm System

  Check arm and disarm function
  Open door with alarm armed - alarm should sound
  Check panic button

Operation Verification


Set parking brake
Put manual transmission in neutral, Automatic in Park
Turn key to run position ( DO NOT START )

  Warning lights should illuminate and then go out (engine warning should stay lit )
  Oil pressure reads 0
  Water Temperature steady
  Voltmeter reads less than 12.5 Volts and steady - may be lower in a cold diesel while heater grids cycle
  Fuel Gauge steady
  Tachometer reads 0
  Warning Buzzer should sound if door is opened
  Warning Buzzer should sound if headlights are turned on

       Start Engine

  Firm brake pedal (not mush, does not slowly sink to floor)
  Oil Pressure - normal and steady
  Water temperature - steady
  Voltmeter - should read 13.5 to 14.5 volts - may jump up and down on a cold diesel as heater grids cycle on and off
  Fuel Gauge - steady
  Tachometer - steady at a reasonable idle speed
  No Warning Lights or Buzzers
  Shift between forward and reverse gears listening for abnormal sounds and clunks

       Test Lights

Turn on Lights and check bulbs

  Check Instrument Panel Light dimmer
  High beam
  Low Beam
  Tail Lights
  License plate lights
  Side marker lights
  Running lights

Turn lights off

  Brake lights (including CHMSL)
  4 way flashers
  Turn signals
  Dome lights on when doors open
  Dome lights on when doors closed and switch on
  Check Map light switches
  Glove compartment light - on when door open
  Glove compartment light - Make certain that it shuts off when glove box door is closed
  Bed (cargo) light - Turn on and off with switch
  Temporarily Engage Transmission reverse gear and check backup lights

       Radio & speaker test - Turn Radio on

  Tune an station AM
  balance speakers
  seek new station
  Tune an station FM
  balance speakers
  seek new station
  Play a tape
  Play a CD

       Mirror Tests

  Vanity Mirror Left, Right
  Rearview Mirror - adjust, flip day/night
  Outside Mirror - Adjust Left, Right, Up Down, Check heating functionality
  Look for Mirror Vibration at idle

       Steering Wheel

  Blow Horn (should require an easy push, not a great deal of force - common problem)
  Turn wheel to lock in both directions - should not bind
  Adjust tilt to fit

       Overhead Console

  Check temperature - make sure all display segments light properly
  Check Compass - make sure all display segments light properly
  Check Map Lights - make sure all display segments light properly

       Power options

  Lock and Unlock Doors
  Raise and lower windows

       Windshield Wipers

  Wash & Wipe
  Check All Speeds

       Heat and Air Conditioner system

  Check for blower motor squeak
  cycle through all heat positions - vents should change as expected
  Check Fan on all speeds
  AC runs in Defrost positions
  Temperature knob turns smoothly - note: cold engine may not produce heat


Road Test - Ready for a drive??    Check Seat and Mirror Adjustments




Test reverse gear

  Parking Brake should hold in 1st gear
  Release parking brake and run through the gears - listen for noise
  Feel for scratchy synchronizers (manual)
  Torque Converter Lockup should stay locked, not hunting (auto)
  Sloppy shifts - 2-3 shift should not be at 3800 RPM) (auto)
  Listen for noises while running straight, turning, and when stopping
  Can you hear the turn signals?
  Listen for valve tappet noises
  Feel for a Steering wheel clunk over bumps or when stopping
  Push/pull top of steering wheel to check for play
  LSD shudder, dead stop, right turn - apply TSB if it's present (additive)
  Check alignment - no pulling left or right
  Braking - no pulling left or right
  Cruise Control - check function of   Set, Coast, Accelerate, Resume, Cancel
  Check mirrors for vibration at speed


If vehicle is still OK at this point, it can be accepted.


  Finalize the paperwork and leave the dealer
  Fill up the fuel tank if the dealer did not do it.
  Drive the truck on expressway
  Test speedometer accuracy with stopwatch & mile markers
  Retest cruise control functions
  Listen for noises
  Feel for vibrations
  Watch for steering problems
  Admit it - You're Looking Good!


Useful tools and materials to take with you:  

Small jar of Vaseline to check the air cleaner seal.
4-in-1 Screwdriver
Ground sheet or a creeper borrowed from the dealer (you might verify beforehand)

Rags or paper towels

Hand cleaner
Tire pressure gauge
Cassette and/or CD to test radio
Verify with Dealer beforehand that simple tools can be borrowed, or bring your own

This inspection list was origianlly compiled by Tim Butterfield
starting with an inspection list written by Bob Brand.
Mike Stovall suggested the tools and materials.

Revision is constantly in progress.
For suggestions, additions, or corrections to this list, please email me.



Last update May 4, 2001