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Ask Dodgerench Your Own Question
Dodgerench, ASE Certified Technician
Category: Dodge
Satisfied Customers: 3404
Experience:  30+ years Dodge/Chrysler exp., ASE Master with L1 certification. Driveability/ combustion specialist
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I have a 2003 dodge ram. I can't get the ignition to turn

Customer Question

I have a 2003 dodge ram . I can't get the ignition to turn on . I have tried to reset it by putting the key in the door and turning the lock and the keyless button, but the red light inside the truck will not go off
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dodge
Expert:  Dodgerench replied 1 year ago.

Goood morning, welcome to JustAnswer!. This is Ed.

Your 2003 Ram was in a transition state between one engine system to another in 2003, so I'll need to bother you with a few questions.

First off, which engine do you have? If you're not sure, just send me the last 8 digits of your VIN and I'll be able to decode it from here.

Next, does the engine crank at all? By that, I'm wondering if the starter engages and spins the engine over.

Did it start first, then die?

Did you have to jump start the truck before this began? Have you jumped it since?

Do you have a spare key? I'm guessing that with the red light flashing in the dash, your truck is equipped with the immobilizer system we call "SKIM". It requires a grey-colored ignition key, one that 's been chipped, so if your key is anything but grey in color, try to find that spare one. You can't start a SKIM-equipped vehicle with a black key.

Talk shortly,


Customer: replied 1 year ago.
To answer your questions, I do have a grey key. Nothing comes on when I turn the ignition. I thought it was the battery so I did try to jump it off. No power at all and it is a red light that stays on where the gages are. The last 8 numbers on the Vin is 3J555644. It never started for me, I came out one afternoon to start it and it didn't do anything.
Expert:  Dodgerench replied 1 year ago.

Thanks... now more questions.

There are circuits on your truck that have to be switched on to work and others that are always "hot". Have you lost even the hot circuits like dome light, horn, headlamps?

And there are several switched circuits that come off the ignition key. Have you tried about everything with the key on to see what happens?

Just to be clear, nothing changed at all with a jump start attempt? Do you trust the cables? We may need to break out a voltmeter or test light some point.

Your VIN shows that it's a 4.7 engine in your truck. Unfortunately, it's not known which engine controller it uses and that does complicate the no-crank issue. If it's the JTEC controller, your engine should crank even if you have a SKIM lock-down. The NGC controller will take away the starter, however, if it's not conscious. It might take a visual inspection to tell which one it is that your truck has.

PCMs (engine controllers) are secured to the firewall near the passenger side hood hinge. Count the number of connectors on the unit and let me know. It'll have either 3 or 4 connectors (JTEC has 3).

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I see 4 , a yellow red blue and black
Expert:  Dodgerench replied 1 year ago.

Thanks again. That's an NGC controller, the one that has to be awake for the starter to work.

Did you do a quick inventory of how many systems actually work on your truck, key on and off?

If it's pretty much all dead, check the battery cable clamps. If they're extremely corroded or if they've had the original ends cut off due to corrosion, chances are good that there may be an electrical break at the place where the old cables meet the new clamps. Original equipment cable end clamps can become corroded to the point where the copper inside the cable itself can be attacked and eaten away. Voltmeter or test light testing will normally expose a problem like this pretty fast, but you do need to apply an electrical load to the truck first. Just turn the headlights on and begin by testing from center-post to center-post of the battery. This voltage (or test lamp illumination brightness) should follow as you move the tests farther away from the battery. If, at some point, you find diminished returns, your problem appears to be just upstream of there.

Loss of power to everything but that little red light can't be blamed on the PCM, but it could be caused by loss of power OR ground. Be sure to check both sides of the battery and if a phone call would help, I'll be available for a little while this morning.

Expert:  Dodgerench replied 1 year ago.

And, while I don't know how long your truck had been sitting, there is always the possibility of rodent damage to underhood wiring. Squirrels and rabbits can cut whole wire bundles in short order if given as little as one night to do their work. Be sure to examine the underhood area for signs of activity.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you
Expert:  Dodgerench replied 1 year ago.

No problemo. Just write if you have news or a question.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks will do.
Expert:  Dodgerench replied 1 year ago.

Just checking in.

How much of your truck continues to be kaput? Or have you had a chance to look at things?