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Dan, ASE Certified Technician
Category: Dodge
Satisfied Customers: 1687
Experience:  Auto Technician
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Ok Here goes. 2002 Dodge Ram 1500 with 5.9L. A few weeks ago

Customer Question

Ok Here goes. 2002 Dodge Ram 1500 with 5.9L. A few weeks ago truck wouldn't fire up. (Engine Rotates). Seemed like cap/rotor/plugs issue. Removed the neg. cable to try to reset anything to get it started. It did but was running terrible. Drove about a mile and was sputtering when I gave it any gas. Pulled in a lot and looked under the hood and coolant was spraying everywhere from blown out timing cover gasket. OK so went home and replaced the timing gears and chain. I lined up the dots on the gears and put everything back together with a new gaskets, water pump and stat. Truck wouldn't start. Just turns over. Lined up timing lines and rotor is facing #1. When I let off the key it backfires out of the TB. So I replace cap and rotor and crank sensor. Still the same. It has spark so next is fuel. Check the fuel pressure and that is not good. Well before all of this I had to crank a bit before it would stert so it all added up that the fuel pump was bad. New fuel pump. Nothing.
JA: When it comes to this particular vehicle, have flat tires been a problem in the past?
Customer: Sorry wasnt done. New plugs and hey it started and ran failry well. Just backfired when I gave it a bit of gas
JA: Are you fixing your Ram 1500 yourself? What have you tried so far?
Customer: Sorry keep hitting enter. Worked for a week and seemed to get worse during the week. Saturday morning it would not start again. Replaced the 3 sensors on the throttle body and still nothing. Yes I am working on it myself. It has not given me any codes either
JA: Anything else you want the mechanic to know before I connect you?
Customer: I did replace the distributor as well. Only thing left is compression test I guess?
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Dodge
Expert:  Dan replied 9 months ago.

Hello my name is***** am an ASE Master Technician and I am glad to help you with your question.

Expert:  Dan replied 9 months ago.

If it backfired through the TB then the timing is 180 degrees off.

Expert:  Dan replied 9 months ago.

Please reply to this if you need more help and we can continue this conversation at no extra charge. This does not have to be my only answer. If you are satisfied with my service, please rate at the top of the screen. Rating does not close out your question. Remember, sometimes it is difficult to completely diagnose your vehicle without being there, but I will try to give you the best answer I can. Hoping to be giving you 5 star service.


Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Ok, thought about that, but how did it run for a week after installing fuel pump?
Expert:  Dan replied 9 months ago.

Spray some starting fluid in the TB and see if it will stay running.

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Nothing. Just chugs/backfires out of TB. I read on a thread about the 180 deg thing and tried changing the wires 180 as well that didnt work. It was running with everything in correct position but gradually worsened during the week.
Expert:  Dan replied 9 months ago.

Not changing the wires 180. I am talking about the distributor to crank being off 180 degrees. Meaning you don't have the dist pointing at number 1 on the compression stroke but on the exhaust stroke.

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Yep I understand. I read that a fix to that is to rotate the wires so #1 is at #6 on the dist. instead. That didn't seem to be it anyways since it started in the correct order anyways. If I line up marks on balancer, #1 cyl. is at TDC and rotor points to #1.
Expert:  Dan replied 9 months ago.

Have you verified all of your plug wires are correct and you have the right firing order?

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Yep about 50 times.
Expert:  Dan replied 9 months ago.

Usually if you have a backfire through the TB your timing is off.

Expert:  Dan replied 9 months ago.

Do you have the service manual for setting the timing and installing the distributor?

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
but the timing is electronically controlled. When I installed the dist. I marked it but since its in the back of the engine its a pain to really get it marked correctly. Today I did this which I found on a forum. Didn't make a difference:The ignition timing on your truck is electronically controlled by the engine controller. Turning the distributor does not change ignition timing, but getting it in the right spot is very important. With the timing controlled by the engine control module, you can't set the timing on these engines with a timing light. It's just all over the place.
Putting the distributor in the right position on these is called "setting sync". This is best done with a dealer scan tool, but can be done with a voltmeter. You are setting the rotation so the cam sensor (inside the distributor) toggles its signal voltage at the perfect time. It needs to be within 10 degrees of 0 (preferred is 0), if its closer to 20 degrees it will set a code for intermittent loss of cam or crank signal, and if its far enough out it will actually send spark to the wrong pole on the distributor cap, or it will fire to two wires at once. Here is the procedure to set the distributor on your truck without using a dealer scan tool.
Connect a voltmeter to the distributor sensor connector by removing the end seal and carefully back probing the connector. Connect the positive lead to the sensor output pin (pin 3, either a tan wire with a yellow tracer or a gray wire, depending on vehicle application). Connect the negative lead to battery ground.
Rotate the engine clockwise as viewed from the front, until the number one mark piston Top (TDC) compression on the vibration damper should line up with the zero degree (TDC) mark on the timing chain case cover.
Continue to rotate the engine slowly clockwise until the V6 or V8 mark on the damper(depending on engine type) lines up with the zero degree (TDC) mark on the timing chain case cover. The V8 mark is 17.5°after TDC and the V6 mark is 147° after TDC.
With the distributor clamp bolt loose and the ignition switch in the ON position, rotate the distributor slightly in either direction until the voltmeter switches between the sensor transition point of 0 and 5 volts.
Adjust the distributor as close as possible to either side of this transition point and tighten the distributor clamp bolt
Expert:  Dan replied 9 months ago.

Was the engine rotated after the distributor was removed?

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Expert:  Dan replied 9 months ago.

Remove dist., turn crank 180 degrees. Then reinstall the distributor. Or remove number one spark plug. Place thumb over spark plug hole, turn engine over to tdc mark, make sure you feel air pressure build when coming up to the mark.