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Dodgerench, ASE Certified Technician
Category: Dodge
Satisfied Customers: 3407
Experience:  30+ years Dodge/Chrysler exp., ASE Master with L1 certification. Driveability/ combustion specialist
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97 ram 2500 with 5.9l gas motor. customer complains the

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97 ram 2500 with 5.9l gas motor. customer complains the trucks is hard to start and spits and sputters under throttle. I went out to start it to bring in the shop and it wouldn't start (cold engine). replaced cap and rotor and it fired right up and ran awesome. revved it up a few times with no problems. brought it in to do front shocks on it. started it up let it idle for a few mins. backed it out and took off easy and it ran good. tried to get into it a little and it started to backfire and spit and spudder. now even in park I cant rev it up unless I do it slowly. any fast hit of the throttle it does not like. I have 46psi of fuel pressure at idle and when I hit the gas. new cap rotor plugs wires and idle air control valve. while it was running I unplugged the other sensors around the throttle body and had a response from the motor. cut the exhaust before the converterand that also was not the cause. truck starts right up now, went into the scanner and checked the degree of the distributor and it was at about 5*

Hi, welcome to JustAnswer!. This is Ed.

You've covered this pretty well, but I do have a few concerns and we'll press on from there if needed.

To start with, let's check spark strength at any of the plug wire ends. You've got entirely new secondary ignition now (except plugs and coil) and putting the cap and rotor seemed to have a good effect for a short while. If spark is weak from the coil, it might explain why you're being made to suffer.

Next would be the engine coolant temp (ECT) sensor, located down between the alternator and compressor. They sometimes leak internally, creating a mound of coolant kak around the connector and at that point they're not very accurate. If your sensor has any signs of discharge buildup or a connector that doesn't sit straight up, it might mean that the sensor is lying its butt off at times. The actual ECT sensor is the 2-wire unit, don't be fooled by the single-wire sensor as that one is used just for the gauge.

And then there's the actual fuel in the tank. If the customer happened to pump a contaminated batch just before this problem began, you might be seeing the effects of water as it migrates to the injector rail. Taking a fuel sample from the pressure test port in a clear plastic bottle will tell you if it's anything but the clear, pilsner-colored stuff that you want. Also note whether the fuel that gets on your fingers evaporates completely within 60 seconds... diesel fuel will leave a residue behind.

These are just a few thoughts to get us started. I expect that spark will be the problem -- you should see at least 3/4" at the plug wire ends -- but with your help and a little patience, I'm sure we'll crack the case.

The 5 degrees of cam-crank offset is plenty-good by the way. I'm glad your scanner can check that.

Talk shortly,


Customer: replied 2 years ago.

how do I check spark strength. I have an in line tester the lights up with spark.

Good morning!

I like to just stuff a paper clip or screwdriver into the spark plug end to bring spark out, then hold it near a ground source with the engine cranking or running to see what sort of spark I can coax. Spark testers seem to tell you only if you have spark or not... i prefer the old fashioned way. A half-inch spark is sufficient, but these coils are capable of producing a bit more than that when healthy.

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