So, if you’re looking for Dodge Ram compatible years, then bear in mind that you’re looking at the Dodge Ram trucks from 1980 to 2009. This article does not include the Ram stand alone models that were made from 2010 to date.
General Dodge Ram General Compatibility Principles
Compatibility differs across years and models. Some years and models are compatible in body parts while others are compatible in engine parts, for example.
From 1981 to 1993 the Dodge Ram remained pretty much the same. They belong to the same generation of the Dodge Ram and therefore most of their parts can be interchanged.
The specifics of what can be interchanged may vary within the same generation. For example, the manual and automatic transmission in the 1991 and 1992 model years are exactly compatible and can be interchanged.
From 1994 to 2001, the Dodge Ram retained several compatible parts. For example, the rear windows from 1994 to 1996 models are compatible and can be interchanged. From 1997 to 2001 models, the rear windows are also pretty much the same. The complete window pane from the 1994 to 2001 model years are basically the same and can be interchanged.
Windows and doors in all Dodge Ram 1500 and 2500 models of the same generation are compatible up to 2009. You may already know that the 1500 line of Dodge Ram debuted officially in 1994 as second generation, because they had existed under the 150 series as its first generation. The third generation of the 1500 series debuted in 2002, while the fourth generation debuted in 2009.
The 2500 model also debuted in 1994 and underwent the same generational changes. But the compatibility for windows and doors between the 1500 and 2500 Dodge Ram models ends in 2009 because the Ram split shortly afterwards.
So, as long as you have a 1500 and 2500 from the same generation, then rest assured that you can interchange their doors and windows without problems, until 2009.
When it comes to computer systems compatibility in Dodge Ram, it is important to note that each year has its own unique electronic configurations. Therefore, you cannot interchange electronic modules and parts between any Dodge Ram model years.
Dodge Ram Compatibile Years By Parts
The truck’s engine is arguably the most important and expensive part of the vehicle. So, you want to handle any engine part swaps with extreme care.
Engine differences are not just about the model years, but also about the engine types. And one key indicator of compatibility is the Engine Displacement. The displacement is basically the measure of the cylinder volume, and is represented in litres.
For example, Dodge Ram 1500 from 2003 to 2008 model years have the same 5.7l engines. But you can only interchange engine in 2006 to 2008 model years.
This is because, apart from the displacement, the technologies in the engines vary slightly across those years, and so cannot be interchanged.
Because 2009 marked the start of a new generation for most Dodge Ram models, they usually stand out and so have no compatibility with previous years, especially when it comes to engine, transmission, and suspension.
Suspension compatibility in the Dodge Ram is also not linear; it varies across years and models.
Generally, the 2500 and 3500 lines have basically the same suspension so they are exactly compatible.
For the 1500 line, the compatibility chart is different. For example, you can interchange 1999 to 2001 suspension of the 1500 line. But from 2002, the differences are significant enough to prevent compatibility.
Similarly, the 2002 to 2008 model year suspension of the 1500 line are compatible and interchangeable. Again, the 2009 model year stands out from the previous years and so is not compatible with them.
In terms of inter-model compatibility, you can interchange the suspension between 1994 to 2001 Dodge Ram 1500 with that of 2500 and 3500, as long as they fall in the same generation. However, to make this work, your dealer would have to make a slight adjustment to the 2500 and 3500 engine mount because they are not exactly the same size as in the 1500 model.
The wiring harness is a very delicate part of the Dodge Ram and thus should be treated with due care when it comes to swapping between the truck models.
Wiring harness is a unit that combines and connects all the electrical and electronic components in the car including the batteries, actuators, electronic control units, and sensors. It is the backbone of the electrical and electronic system in the Dodge Ram.
The wiring harness for each Dodge Ram model year is different from the previous and the following years. As such, I recommend that you do not try to swap wiring harness between model years of the Dodge Ram.
This is why, when you change or swap electronic components in the Dodge Ram, you would also have to change the wiring harness to fit the new component that you have just added. And this is likely to cause issues in the truck either immediately or in the long run.
The bottom line is that I recommend that you do not try to swap wiring harness between Dodge Ram model years.
Body parts are the easiest to swap in Dodge Ram. Parts like windows, fenders, doors, and window panels are easily interchangeable as long as the sizes and styles fit.
In the general compatibility principles, I explained the compatibility between the 1994 to 1996, 1996 to 2001, 1994 to 2001, and also the 1500 and 2500 models, for windows, window panes, and doors.
For headlights, there’s pretty much no restrictions. You can even change the underlying lighting technology without issues.
It’s a bit different with the bumpers and grille. Even though the bumpers and grilles belonging to the same generations can be interchanged, there is a little difference between models.. The fenders in the 1500 and 2500 models are pretty much the same and can be interchanged, but the bumpers differ and are not compatible.
The transmission is another flexible part that you can easily interchange between Dodge Ram years.
The rule of thumb is this: if the transmissions have similar mechanical parts and engine types, then you can interchange them.
Transmission can be interchanged between the 1991 and 1992 Dodge Ram models. Also, transmission can be interchanged between the 1994 to 2002 models as long as they have the same transmission mechanism: automatic (electrical) for automatic and manual (hydraulic) for manual controlled transmission.
Transmissions can still be interchanged between other years and models but you would need to make some changes which I do not recommend. You are likely to end up with issues with changing gears, navigation, and electronic functions.
Powertrain Control Module, PCM.
The PCM is the central processing unit of the Dodge Ram’s computer system. It includes the Engine Control Unit (ECU) and the Transmission Control Unit (TCU), among other vital parts.
Just as with the wiring harness, the PCM is unique among all Dodge Ram years and models, and so I strongly recommend against trying to interchange this component.
It is true that you can achieve some compatibility by having your dealer make some changes to the programming, but this can come back to bite you in the short or long run. It is best to simply go for a replacement part that is specifically manufactured for your truck, when it comes to the PCM.
Dodge Ram Interior
Unlike the PCM and wiring harness, compatibility in the interior parts is very flexible. And even if you need to make slight modifications, there are no risks to doing so.
You can interchange the dashboard of the Dodge Ram 1500 from the 1994 to 1997 model years. Same goes for the 1999 to 2001 Ram 1500 models.
The first, second, and third generations of all Dodge Ram models including the 1500, 2500, and 3500 models up till year 2002, have interchangeable overhead consoles and console housings. From 2003, the differences become too significant to be compatible.
For truck axles, the rule is simple: compatibility only works within the same model. So, you can only interchange different years of the same 1500, 2500, or 3500 model.
How Best To Determine Compatibility
The best way to determine compatibility for your Dodge Ram is using the part number. If the part on another Dodge Ram has the same number as the part on yours, then they are definitely compatible.
You can also search for compatibility using your truck’s VIN as it provides configuration, specification, and features details.