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Dodgerench
Dodgerench, ASE Certified Technician
Category: Dodge
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Experience:  30+ years Dodge/Chrysler exp., ASE Master with L1 certification. Driveability/ combustion specialist
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2001 Dodge ram 2500 V8 wont start. Turns over but wont fire.

Customer Question

2001 Dodge ram 2500 V8 won't start. Turns over but won't fire. Has good spark, and i tried priming with gas. Still won;t start. It did the same thing the other day. It finally started and ran fine the rest of the day. next day, started right up. Today. won't start at all.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Dodge
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

2001 Dodge Ram V8 360


Already Tried:
Checked all wires to and from distributor. Checked spark at plug, good spark. Poured a little gas into intake. Checked relays (fuel system relay, ADS? relay). Checked wires to coil.
Expert:  Dodgerench replied 5 years ago.
Hi mensaman, welcome to Just Answer!.

It sounds like you have everything needed to get the van running, yet it won't fire. There's only a couple of things that come to mind... let's check 'em.

With spark and fuel added directly to the engine, I'd expect it to start and run, if only until it burned the added fuel off unless the engine was flooded. You might remove the fuel pump relay and try cranking the engine using wide-open throttle for a minute or so to see if it will clear out and start up. You may have an injector (or 8) that are leaking and flooding the engine as it sits. You'll find the relay in the left-dash junction block area or under the hood in the Power Distribution Center (pretty sure it's in the JB).

Next would be spark... you may not have enough. I've been bit by the "weak 2001 Ram Van coil trick" a time or two, something that is a no-start one day, starts right up the next. No codes are set.

If you hadn't done a maximum spark test, this would be the time to do so. Spark will appear OK up until about the 1/4" point, then disappear completely. It's shorting to ground within the coil (or elsewhere) if you see something like this. The coil wire, distributor cap or rotor could also be the source of the spark breakdown, so work your way from the spark plug boot ends of the wires back to the coil if needed. If spark increases dramatically as one component is bypassed, that would be your boy.

But my first guess is still the coil. They're constructed with a stamped sheet metal core that's painted, but exposed to the elements. Road salt breaks through the paint and begins corroding the sheets, causing them to spread and crack the coil housing. You may notice the expoxy sealant on the bottom (connector) side of the coil is cracked.

Check it out and let me know what you find. Don't hesitate to write back if you have any questions.

Good luck,
Ed
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I went ahead and replaced the coil, to no avail. It is getting dark now, so in the morning I will remove the distributor cap and check the rotor, etc. As I'm sure you know, that is no picnic on the Dodge Ram P/U!
Expert:  Dodgerench replied 5 years ago.
Did you see low spark like I suspected? If you can get better than 1/2" of spark at the plug wire boots, don't subject yourself to the distributor cap torture... it's probably OK.

Instead, pull a spark plug to see what might be on it. It's not likely, but I suppose it's possible that you could have coolant getting into the system somehow.

Are you having damp/ rainy weather where you are?

Ed
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Yes on the damp, rainy weather. I will check the plugs again, but the other day the plugs looked fine. Light brown/ tan color and dry. When you say "1/2" of spark" do you mean the spark jumps that far? How do you check that?

Bill

Expert:  Dodgerench replied 5 years ago.
Light brown/ tan and dry is about as good as you get!
The spark test does refer to how much total length you can coax out of the ignition system. It's a test of both coil output and secondary ignition system integrity, getting the spark all the way out to the plugs. A burned-out coil wire or a spark "leak" along the way will reduce available spark at the end.

First off, I'm no fan of voltage. Getting hit with several thousand volts doesn't seem to bother a few guys I know in the business, but it's not my idea of a good time. For that reason, I'll describe my sissy-method for spark testing.

Select an easy plug wire, pull it off the spark plug and insert a small pocket screwdriver into the open end, wedging it between the metal clasp and the outer boot. This holds the tool in place and extends the circuit outside the boot area.

Place the screwdriver within an inch or so of a good ground source (not wiring) and start the engine if it'll cooperate today. If not, an assistant may be needed to crank the engine while you proceed...

The idle will be a bit rough and might shake the plug wire around, so pick it up about four inches above boot and move it around the ground source to get an idea what the system is capable of. A half-inch is bare minimum... this should do something better than that; maybe 3/4 inch.

If it doesn't look good, try another plug wire. This one might be burned out or there could be a carbon track in the cap that limits voltage at the firing end.

If spark seems weak, you might snoop around and check to see if there are visible spark leaks along the way... things like a coil wire that's rubbed through.   Consistently weak spark would have me checking the coil directly, using a test light connected to ground as my ground source. Someone else will have to crank the engine for this test.

If you have a digital ohmmeter, set it to 20K if you need to test the coil wire or any plug wires. Any continuity shown on the 20K scale checks OK, an open circuit does not.

If spark looks OK through the whole system, I think we need to revisit the fuel system. Your description of a dry spark plug surprises me a bit... I was expecting to see at least a little fuel dampness. Try a bit MORE fuel down the throttle body to see if it makes a difference. The way the intake plenum is set up on this engine makes it just about impossible to pick up liquid fuel when dropped down the throat. Fuel is gonna crash on the plenum floor and will have to evaporate before it can be drawn into the cylinders, not an easy task on cold, damp days. Air can hold only so much stuff in suspension and if it's already loaded with water, most of the space is already used up.

Starting fluid gets around that problem due to its much greater volatility, but it carries the burden of false results. Ether can ignite by compression only (like a diesel), so it can actually fire an engine without spark.

If your fuel pump is to blame, it sounds like it might be in a state that we can revive it, if only briefly.

Have someone crank the engine while you pound on the bottom-center of the tank. Consistent power is supplied to the pump only when the PCM sees a rotation signal, which is why you have to have the starter grinding at the time. Worn out fuel pumps can often be persuaded to work ONE MORE TIME by using this method, but it can't be used for anything much more than diagnostic purposes... that pump can never be trusted to get you anywhere again.

OK, that should keep you busy for a bit! I'd actually try the pump-thump first if possible at this point. It's quick, easy and doesn't straighten your hair!

I hope this post comes out OK... JA has been having problems with HTML code coming through in the text and I won't have time to edit it right away if it does. My apologies if you have to slog through gibberish before I get back...

Talk later,
Ed
Dodgerench, ASE Certified Technician
Category: Dodge
Satisfied Customers: 3131
Experience: 30+ years Dodge/Chrysler exp., ASE Master with L1 certification. Driveability/ combustion specialist
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Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thanks, XXXXX XXXXX will try the "pump thump" and check the spark output IF IT HAPPENS AGAIN! Yeah, it started right up this morning! I don't know... buy a Chevy I guess!
Expert:  Dodgerench replied 5 years ago.
Some guys have all the luck!

I'm not really leaning one way or the other concerning spark or fuel right now. Your damp weather can be an ignition killer, but I'd expect the plugs to be a bit wet with all the cranking without starting. At any rate, don't hesitate to write back if there's anything I could help with.

Thanks!
Ed

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