So November was not the best month I’ve ever had.  My work truck, a 2013 Ram 2500 diesel truck caught on fire on November, leaving me without my mobile vet clinic.  My truck is still under warranty and has been regularly maintained.  It has 68,000 miles on it. I’ve driven diesel work trucks for twenty years and have never had anything like this happen.  All I can say is thank God my children weren’t in the truck with me!

Here’s what happened.  On Wednesday, November 2nd, I was on my way to a meeting when I noticed a burning smell in the air, like a laptop computer was on fire.  I thought that it was coming from another vehicle on the road.  Soon, I noticed smoke in the cab of my truck and could see smoke coming from underneath my hood.

I got off of the road and pulled into a Starbucks parking lot, as it was the closest place to stop.  When I opened the hood, I could see smoke and flames coming from the alternator.  Someone in the parking lot came over to see what was going on and panicked when they saw the flames.  They ran into the Starbucks to get help and an employee ran out with a fire extinguisher and a pitcher of water and was able to put the fire out.

My truck was towed to the dealer and the nightmare began.  First they were too busy to look at it, and by Thursday, November 3rd, I’d called Ram directly and been assigned a case number.  I still hadn’t heard anything by Friday, November 4th, as after calling Ram again, I was told that the case had been transferred to a “special investigator” who would be calling me directly.  Meanwhile the dealer was instructed by Ram not to touch my truck.  At the end of the business day, I received a call from the investigator’s office, letting me know that he’d be calling me on Monday to arrange an appointment to see the truck.

Sigh.  So much for a quick repair and getting me back on the road and back to work.  Why a mobile vet might need her work truck is anyone’s guess.  By now I was pretty darn mad.

Getting good and mad makes you an effective researcher, and by golly, I had all weekend to see what I could learn about Ram trucks and alternator fires.  And looky what I found.  There is an active recall on Ram Trucks, including the 2013 2500 for, wait for it, faulty alternators which catch on fire while driving!  Here I thought the situation was going to be put nicely to bed except for one thing.  My VIN number was not included in this recall!

By Monday, November 7, the inspector called, only to tell me that he couldn’t get up to Steamboat until November 15.  Now I’m really mad, but have officially entered Ram Limbo, and there’s nothing I can do about it except wait.  So I go to activate my service contract on my warranty which will cover a rental vehicle so I can get back to work.

Nope.

Because there’s no diagnosis on the truck, guess what.  No service contract.  I’m now out of pocket for a rental.  Thank God I have business insurance and they’ll cover the rental cost.

The inspector completed his report and the dealer told me he took pictures and notes but didn’t take the alternator apart or look at anything in depth.  Does anyone know how one could diagnose the cause of an alternator catching on fire without taking it apart?  Maybe he had an x-ray camera, I don’t know.  Regardless, after keeping me in limbo for another two weeks, I finally heard from Ram on the 3rd of December in the form of a…FORM LETTER with a printed signature!

It read,”Naturally we were sorry to learn of the incident described to us during the initial contact.  However we have had the opportunity to review the inspection report and must inform you that we are not led to believe that the incident was due to a manufacturing responsibility.  We found no indication that this incident was related to any recall affecting your vehicle.  Therefore we must respectfully decline any assistance associated with this incident.”  The printed signature read, “Tony Morris, Special Investigations, 586-274-8164”.  I gave Tony a call to see if he’d be willing to shed some light on the subject, but strangely it went right to voice mail and he didn’t return the call.

So apparently Ram can tell that the alternator wasn’t faulty from a few pictures.  interestingly the dealer has never seen an alternator spontaneously catch fire and when I asked them what the cause of the fire was, they figured that the alternator was probably faulty.

So Ram won’t pay to repair the truck.  My insurance won’t cover the cost of the part either as they feel it is the manufacturer’s responsibility.  While these two corporate conglomerates battle this one out, my truck still sits in limbo and my business is crippled.  Yes I could go have the truck towed to a non-warranty approved mechanic and pay out of pocket to repair it, but as we don’t know the extent of the fire damage, I may be on the hook for a lot more than an alternator.

Plus it’s the principle of the thing.  If Ram is going to build trucks that catch on fire, than Ram needs to be held accountable.  I was lucky and escaped without injury, but the next Ram owner may not be so fortunate.

#Ram  #astheRam2500burns  #Ramgivesthanks