Dodge Repair Questions? Ask a Mechanic for Answers ASAP
bikerteddybeard42, welcome to Just Answer!.
If you're not seeing a malfunction indicator lamp (MIL, or the yellow engine icon) illumination while driving, I wouldn't expect it to be a problem with a critical sensor. You will be looking for something not necessarily monitored by the PCM.
Start at the ignition coil. It's located on the engine's right bank, near the engine front. The coil wire (hi-tension lead to the distributor) may be burned out. When they get bad enough to prevent engine start they're usually all-but dust at the connector end(s). Give the cable a tug and see if it falls apart in your hand. Both ends are prone to this type of failure, so check at the distributor if the coil end seems OK. A final test would be to measure resistance through the cable. I set my ohmmeter on the 20K scale. Anything inside that range checks OK.
The coil could also have low output. A short in the primary windings or a break in the high-tension tower will result in less voltage being available for starting. You might pull the coil wire off and use a jumper wire (connected to ground) to test spark output from the coil directly. If it's good, pull a plug wire and check the same way. A good secondary ignition system will get the spark from one end (coil) to the plugs with a minimum of loss. Any time you have less than 1/2" of available spark, something is wrong.
See how that works out,Customer Write back if we need to keep working at it or you have questions.
Is it still in a no-start condition?
If so, try using wide-open throttle while cranking the engine. That shuts the fuel pump off and will stop adding fuel to the mess in case it's flooded.
Continue cranking for about 15 seconds straight. Each time you cycle the key it will allow the pump to repressurize the system.
With fuel and spark it should be running. Have you checked for spark at the plug wire ends? It might be escaping along the way.
What's the temperature there now?
Is it still damp? Do you see condensation on underhood components?
Go ahead and check for spark at the plug wire ends. I'm pretty sure you won't see any. Let me know what you find.
Now that's a surprise...
Spark.. fuel.. should run. Two ideas, but they keep getting weaker with time (lol).
Hop into the truck and turn the key on. Check the temperature gauge. If it shows anything other than dead cold right now, you've got a problem with the engine coolant temperature sense circuit. Not something I'd expect, but can and does happen. The same sensor provides information for both the engine and the instrument cluster.
I know you said you only had 1/4 tank of fuel in the truck, but did you add fuel within a day of parking it? My guess is that you got some diesel mixed in with the remaining gas. Diesel doesn't run TOO bad in a gas engine as long as the engine is warm and there is enough gasoline to dilute it. My test for this is primitive, but works.
Go to the injector rail test port on the left side. Remove the cap and press the shraeder valve to dispense a little fuel on your fingers. Blow on it, smell it. Does it have any odor other than gasoline? Diesel is masked by gas, but can be picked out. Eventually all the gasoline will evaporate. If you're left with an oily substance, it's going to be diesel.
Water is another possbility. Note that water has surface tension and will form bubbles since it won't mix with fuel. I discount this possibility, but needs to be checked.
I'm afraid it probably will.
There's still an underlying problem here. A couple more questions..
Do me a favor. Let's check to see if there are any codes stored in PCM memory. On your year truck, it's easy.
Turn the key from off to on three times. When you hit the proper cadence the odometer window will switch from displaying miles to dashes. Then you will see "P-codes" appear. If no codes are present you will see simply P-done.
It seems to help to turn the key all the way to the OFF/LOCK position between cycles. Give it a try and let me know what you see.
I think I may finally have a solution. You may have nothing worse than a dirty throttle body. I'll explain..
Your throttle body has a feature known as minimum airflow. This describes any and all air that can get past the throttle body without any active input from you or the idle air control (IAC) motor. It's basically a built-in air leak.
Its job is to relieve some of the idle control burden on the IAC system. By having a certain amount of always-there air being drawn in at all times, the idle system can make a mistake from time to time and get away with it.
The heavy, wet air you have right now isn't conducive to engine starting. It's actually a little oxygen starved. Water vapor displaces some of the 02 you would normally draw in, replacing it with something that doesn't burn and can damp combustion.
There's also an incorrect assumption (started by Ford people) that implies so much as touching your accelerator during an engine start will flood it to death. Nothing could be further from the truth on a Dodge. Opening the throttle a bit when it's cold or damp like this improves your chances of getting the engine started without flooding. You're adding AIR, not fuel.
The loss of minimum airflow means the whole onus of getting enough air for combustion comes from the IAC. In conditions like yours, it can sometimes be insufficient.
To get your minimum airflow back, it only involves cleaning the throttle bore and blades. Use carb or throttle body cleaner. Spray the area, wetting all the black crud that accumulates in the bore/ blade interface areas. These are the places that need to be cleaned. The crud indicates areas of (relatively) high airflow.
Open the blades and clean below to remove the ring that builds around the throttle blade areas. Use a wetted rag or a brush to get it all off, then rinse with the cleaner. The engine will be a bit loaded up after this, so you may have to use some throttle to clear it out.
Doing a battery disconnect is also recommended now. This causes the PCM to relearn its IAC step count upon reconnection. Your IAC count may be off substantially if your battery has shown signs of weakness during cranking or just from long-term attrition.
Upon reconnection of the battery, don't start it immediately. Roll the key to the on position and count five. This gives the PCM time to seat and retract the IAC motor and count steps. Then fire it up.
I don't expect you to do this service tonight. You don't have to. Just use a little throttle when you begin cranking. The extra air will do wonders to getting you going. I believe the reason you became so flooded was the lack of airflow and continued addition of fuel during cold start cranking with no hope for unloading. The truck runs too well otherwise. With good fuel, no codes... I'm quite confident this will work for you.
Make sure to write back!