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Ask Dodgerench Your Own Question
Dodgerench, ASE Certified Technician
Category: Dodge
Satisfied Customers: 3401
Experience:  30+ years Dodge/Chrysler exp., ASE Master with L1 certification. Driveability/ combustion specialist
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Suggestion to start a 2001 Dodge Dakota. Sitting days while

Customer Question

Suggestion to start a 2001 Dodge Dakota. Sitting for 60 days while trying to trouble shoot?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dodge
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Please review the description of the troubleshooting I have already done.
Expert:  Dodgerench replied 1 year ago.

Hi, my name is Ed. Welcome to JustAnswer!.

It sounds like what you might be lacking is spark -- or at least strong spark. Ignition coils from this time period had an exposed multi-layer stamped steel core that tended to rust and expand, sometimes cracking the coil. This cracking can lead to damage to the primary OR secondary side of the coil, so either way it may reduce spark output. I'll shoot you a picture of an actual 2001 coil I took off of a Dodge van, with a new coil for comparison.

What I'd like you to do would be to check for maximum coil output, preferably at the plug wire end of the circuit. If you can't generate at least 1/2" of spark out there, go right to the coil and try again. If better, check your coil wire, which does have a habit of burning out at either one of the ends (it'll likely disintegrate in your hands if it's burned out bad enough to prevent engine start). Tested with an ohmmeter, I'd give a pass to anything below 20K ohms. If the coil wire is routed to the outside of the valve cover, it may have gotten too close to the exhaust manifold and burned a bit, so keep that in mind.

At this point (since you can smell fuel), you probably should treat the engine as flooded, so don't spare the use of throttle when trying to start it. It may become necessary to pull the fuel pump relay to unload the engine, since the wide-open unloader function doesn't work too well on these units.

Check 'er out and let me know if we need to keep looking.

Good luck!


Expert:  Dodgerench replied 1 year ago.

Be on the lookout for signs of critter damage as well. I always get suspicious when a vehicle comes in for a no-start problem when it's been sitting for a long period, especially outdoors. All it takes sometimes is one night!

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hey Ed, poring rain here today. Will try checking out the coil wire tomorrow just to be safe, truck is in the driveway. One of the things I already replaced was the coil, so I am hoping the problem is the wire itself. Jack
Expert:  Dodgerench replied 1 year ago.

By all means, stay dry and we'll try again later, Jack. See you in a bit.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Worked late today and did not have a chance to test the spark or test the readings. I was able to check out the wires and they look really good, no burn marks or critter chewing. They were changed out a year ago when we did a tune up on the truck, same with the plugs (only about 5000 miles on them since changing). I tried turning the truck on again, it turned over but did not catch, gave off a couple of puffs of smoke through the carb , not flame. Will check the spark tomorrow and measure ohm will also confirm I have the wires in correct position since changing cap and will also take out pump relay to confirm not flooding.Hope you do not mind waiting another day for rating. Not sure if any farther ahead till do the readings and check spark.
Expert:  Dodgerench replied 1 year ago.

No problemo, Jack. I understand that thing called life intrudes. As it so happens, I'm blessed with an abundance of personal time because I'm off regular work as I wait for my wrist to heal, so if there's one thing we have, it's time.

I'm not liking that puff of smoke from the intake-thing. Is it a regular puff (happens pretty much like a clock as you crank) or is it more sporadic? Any POP with the puff?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Crazy eh. Am logging more hours now than before I retired from the Navy in 2011. Only thing is now I am working for myself, for less money!The puff of smoke was not regular it was more like a build up and release. If I did not know better I might think the plug wires are not hooked up correctly. Am going to recheck that tomorrow. Has got me thinking now that I might also have installed the Crankshaft sensor wrong. I am thinking focus on ignition first. Spark, Ohm, distributor cap. Then fuel relay for flooding, then if still not working pull the crankshaft sensor and check it out.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
There were a couple of pops not overly loud and no flame showing.
Expert:  Dodgerench replied 1 year ago.

Funny, but I was working a problem recently on a truck that had been running fine until sitting and it wound up being a blocked exhaust. There was almost certainly more to the story, but I'd expect the exhaust system to wake up in pretty much the same shape as when it was parked, but we did eventually find the problem by taking an upstream oxygen sensor out to let the exhaust breathe a bit. Of course, you might have a nest in your tailpipe for all we know... =/

Yup, by all means check your plug wires again, just because. The cap should have a "1" cast into it to give you a starting point and rotation is clockwise. 165432 I believe.

There really isn't a way to put the crank sensor in wrong on these units, so we should be good on the installation at least.

Did the distributor ever get removed or rotated, Jack?