Auto writer’s test drive ends early when $54,335 Ram truck goes up in smoke

Dallas Morning News auto writer Terry Box took a “tall, broad and powerful” 2013 Ram 1500 Longhorn Edition on a test drive a week ago.

Terry Box

Terry Box

The experience was “flawless,” he says, until the truck started losing power and speed.

“I headed for the exit, figuring I had some sort of bizarre computer problem and just needed to turn the engine off and reboot everything,” he writes. “As I unbuckled my seat belt, I noticed a gray Ford Explorer a lane over with a young woman gesturing at me from the passenger seat.”

The 24-year-old nurse was trying to tell him that the Ram was on fire — “a fact I discovered as soon as I opened the door and saw flames snaking out of the left front wheel well.”

Box says $54,335 worth of truck was gone in about three minutes. He writes:

Ram 1500 Longhorn Edition

Ram 1500 Longhorn Edition

Fred Diaz, CEO of Ram, was profusely apologetic about the fire — but certainly didn’t have to be. I couldn’t find anything to suggest that this was anything other than an extremely rare occurrence.

“We take these things very, very seriously,” Diaz said. “I’ve got to believe this is a one-in-a-billion situation. But we’ve got a team of engineers working on it, and we’ll figure out what happened.”

I’ve asked Box if he has “after” photos of the truck to share. UPDATE — Box writes: “I don’t have anything. I’m not a big cellphone person and for the first 20 minutes after I got out of the truck, I thought I had left my old flip-top on the console. I later discovered it in my laptop bag. The young couple who picked me up got a shot of the truck from behind a retaining wall where we were waiting for the cops and fire department, but all it shows is a large plume of smoke. You really can’t see anything of the Ram.”

* Freak pickup fire on test drive shows that vehicles don’t burn like they used to (

(Note: The column is behind a pay wall, but I was able to read with a “Terry Box test drive” Google search.)