It's not official but keep your eyes open.
Chrysler had been kicking aroundthe idea of offering two diesel engines for its half-ton Ram pickup since before2007. Cummins, Chrysler’s right-hand-engine manufacturer since 1989, thatbreathes diesel, designed the two options but ultimately was not involved withthe end result: the ecodiesel, which was released in 2014.However instead of the brand “Cummins” stamped on the engine block it was VMMotori, an Italian engine manufacturer that Chrysler acquired back in 2013. Theproduct was a 3.0-liter V6 diesel that spits out 240 horsepower.
It also shakes the ground at 420 lb ft of torque, boasts 28 mpg and tows over 9,000 pounds. It sounds good on paper, but there could be trouble lurking ahead for prospective ecodiesel owners. There have been reports on several forums of engine failure at low miles due to cam gear slippage, and indeed ecodiesel owners have recognized it as a serious problem. While it's a controversial subject, not every owner has experienced it. Nonetheless, new owners should still take heed. Some problems that have been reported with the Ram are panic inducing, such as the car coming out of park by itself and charging towards its owner. Several people are reporting violent shaking, as if they're losing control at legal freeway speeds.
This cam gear problem, if it is indeed a problem among all ecodiesel engines, is detrimental. An engine has what’s called a timing chain, which is driven off of the crankshaft and wraps around cam sprockets, so the camshafts can open and close the valves when they're supposed to. That’s why it is called a timing chain, as it ensures the timing of the valves opening and closing stays where it should. If the timing chain slips, the cams mistime, and if it happens to a harsh enough degree the engine simply won’t start anymore, because valves are (or will soon) be hitting pistons at that point. A mechanic will then charge thousands to rip apart the engine and reset the timing, or replace the timing chain altogether.
It’s been reported that when this cam gear slipping occurs it's on engines with around 70k miles, which to the average driver is about seven years (give or take). There doesn’t seem to be any acknowledgement from Chrysler that this is a problem. Suffice it to say the cause of the cam gear slipping hasn’t been confirmed, but there is speculation. Irate ecodiesel owners have pointed their fingers at various potential catalysts. However this user on a forum, who experienced cam gear slip in his own ecodiesel Ram, made a video showing the innards of his engine and described the culprit as the singular bolt that holds the cam gear and high pressure fuel pump gear.
This seems to serve as the only real evidence against VM’s design, but other users report simply that the high-pressure fuel pump side of the engine will start to slip its timing.
Again, Chrysler hasn’t acknowledged this issue as an official problem that requires a recall, so the jury is still out on these ecodiesel engines. However owners who have experienced it have traveled to as far as Utah to specialty shops that claim to permanently fix this problem. Not enough is known about this problem as it currently stands, but if you’re in the market for a brand new ecodiesel, consider this a cautionary tale.