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Dr. Hamman
Dr. Hamman, Automotive Engineer
Category: Car
Satisfied Customers: 5976
Experience:  30 years experience, Repairing, building, & designing, automobiles.
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1984 Dodge: it wont start..air intake..driveway..stalled

Customer Question

My 1984 Dodge Mini Ramvan with 2.6L engine stopped running. It won't start even though I have replaced the fuel pump, and seem to be getting good fuel flow. (I started it initially after replacing the pump by pouring a small amount of fuel in the top of the carburator through the air intake by loosening the nut on the housing)
It started and remained running in the driveway several times, but stalled less than 100 feet from my home when I attempted to drive away, and won't restart. I checked for spark delivery from the distrubitor - nothing. I checked the coil - it seems okay. I don't know how or where any possible sensors are to check, and the ***hole mechanic at the dealership want's $2000 to work on it and doesn't even know what's wrong with it. His diagnosis was vapor lock, due to low fuel pump pressure.
If this vehicle has a Spark Control Computer, then I think it may be getting shutdown info from sensors, and that is why I have no spark from the distributor. But I need to know how to check for that.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Car
Expert:  Dr. Hamman replied 4 years ago.

Hi, I will do my best to assist you. When you are finished please click on accept. I don't get paid unless you do. I don't know if you are a pro or a novice so we may have to fine tune the answer. I only know as much about your problem as you have told me in your post, so my answer will be based on what you have posted. Feel free to add any additional info you feel is needed.

Wow $2K and he doesn't know what is going on, ...run from there. Also your problem is no spark, and vapor-lock couldn't possibly be the problem. Vapor lock is what lots of mechanics guess when they don't have the slightest clue what is going on. Also vapor lock can only happen on a super hot day when the engine has been run for an hour or so.

The real problem is most likely the ignition module, in the distributor. These modules were $500 when they first came out. But because the demand has dropped off because of the fact that it is for a 26 year old vehicle, the parts suppliers have humbled themselves, and are dumping them cheap if you know where to go. Click on this link HERE, and you can get one for $35.99. What I think is, it may have started in spite of the fact you poured gas into it, and not because you poured gas into it. Coincidences like this happen all the time in diagnostics on vehicles, and it is important to recognize the patterns. I would turn on the ignition and check the positive side of the coil for power with a test light or a volt meter. If you have power to the positive side of the coil, and the plugs are not firing, I would say there is a 90%+ chance the ignition module in the distributor is bad. There is no sensor that will shut the ignition down. Of course there are other potential problems you could have but not having special training on diagnostics makes it difficult to get into these other potential issues. Odds are the problem is the ignition module, and it is an inexpensive gamble at the worst. I do also highly recommend spending $20 and getting a repair manual for the vehicle. These manuals have tons of repair info, and can walk you through tough fixes. If you have any more questions I am here to help. Good luck, and Thanks for using Just Answer.


I hope this helps, 100% satisfaction is my goal. If the answer is not clear, please reply and I will assist you more. When you're satisfied, click on accept. I don't get paid unless you do. A bonus and positive feedback are always appreciated, good luck and Thanks.




Edited by Dr. Hamman on 7/24/2010 at 9:19 PM EST
Dr. Hamman, Automotive Engineer
Category: Car
Satisfied Customers: 5976
Experience: 30 years experience, Repairing, building, & designing, automobiles.
Dr. Hamman and 8 other Car Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Well, you were right. I changed out the ignition control module and it fired right up and ran fine - for a few minutes. I drove about two blocks, and it started acting like it was flooding out when I stepped on teh accelerator. If I let it sit for a few minutes it starts up again, but won't pull a load or even keep running if I step on the accelerator. At first I thought that the mechanic who spent five hours doing the "vapor lock" diagnosis may have tinkered with the carburator and messed something up. But now I'm thinking that when the engine warmed up the timing stopped advancing properly for some reason, and I'm wondering if there is a sensor that could be malfunctioning. What do you think?
Expert:  Dr. Hamman replied 4 years ago.

Hi, I will do my best to assist you. When you are finished please click on accept. I don't get paid unless you do. I don't know if you are a pro or a novice so we may have to fine tune the answer. I only know as much about your problem as you have told me in your post, so my answer will be based on what you have posted. Feel free to add any additional info you feel is needed.

I bet the problem is something the mechanic screwed with, it is obvious he was lost from what you have told me. Not likely to be a sensor. It would be a good idea to talk to him and let him know you found the problem, and find out what he tinkered with. If it is running to rich, you can tell by pulling a spark plug, it will be dark and possibly wet with gas, also you should see some light black smoke out the tail pipe if it is running to rich. If the timing wasn't advancing you would see a small power loss and it would drive pretty normal. I would get with the mechanic and see if he can shed some light on what he did. Odds are if you could undo what he did it would run good. If you have any more questions I am here to help. Good luck, and Thanks for using Just Answer.


I hope this helps, 100% satisfaction is my goal. If the answer is not clear, please reply and I will assist you more. When you're satisfied, click on accept. I don't get paid unless you do. A bonus and positive feedback are always appreciated, good luck and Thanks.


Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thank you for that information, as well. After thinking about it for a while i realized that I might have caused another problem. I mentioned that I had replaced the fuel pump. The connections were different, and the hose from the PVC canister to the fuel pump was not long enough, so it was somewhat kinked at the connection. I bought a new length of hose, put it on, and the engine runs fine now.
Expert:  Dr. Hamman replied 4 years ago.
Great, these hard to find problems can really be a pain, I am glad I could help. Good lick and thanks for using Just Answer.

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