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Questions and Answers

Dodge Ram 1500 Running Rough

Q. First, here's the information on the truck:

  • 1996 Dodge Ram 1500 2WD
  • 5.2 liter MFI engine V-8 VIN "Y"
  • Automatic transmission
  • 121,000 miles
  • ABS brakes
  • P/S, A/C, cruise control

Dodge Ram 1500 Running Rough

Let me give you a little history. On Feb 22, I changed the spark plugs, Bosch Platinum, spark plug wires,Bosch, and PCV valve. I also performed a compression test, where the range of pressure was 130 to 160 psi.

On Feb 29, I found a coolant leak and thought it may have been coming from around the thermostat. Up to this point, the truck had been running fine. In the process of replacing the thermostat, I had to move the alternator. Of course, I forgot to drop the negative lead off the battery, so when I touched the hot lead to the alternator to the frame, it arced.

After changing the thermostat and flushing the radiator, the battery died and I realized the fuse on the alternator had blown. So I replaced the fuse and the battery. After that, the truck wouldn't run right, rough, hesitating, no power. After three or four days, I realized the ECT sensor had gotten unplugged in the process of replacing the thermostat. I plugged it in and the truck ran fine.

On Mar 15, early in the morning on the way to work, out of the blue the truck started running REAL rough, approximately five miles from home. It felt like it was firing on three cylinders. I got the DTC, Code 43, ignition coil circuit failure, according to Chilton's. That night, I replaced the ignition coil, and it ran fine all the way home.

The next morning, Mar 16, it ran fine all the way to work, about 9 miles. I even went to the gym at lunch, about 2 miles each way. After work, about half way home at 2:30 am Mar 17, the engine did the same thing as the day before, ran really rough like it wasn't firing on all cylinders. But from work to the half way point, it ran fine. I had it towed home.

The DTC code 43 had popped back up. I started it up 6 or 7 hours later and it ran fine, so I took it around the block, no problems. I replaced the distributor cap and rotor, cold engine. I took it around the block with no problems.

The next day, Mar 18, it did the same thing to me a little less than half way to work, this time with no DTC. I used one of those spark plug wire testers, the one you hold over the wire and the light flickers if there's current), and I thought maybe my new wires weren't good. So I exchanged them (lifetime warranty). This took about 2 to 2½ hours due to the early morning and getting my wife to come drive me around town.

The truck ran fine the rest of the way to work. That night, less than halfway home, it did the same thing to me, again with no DTC. About three hours later, I tried to come back and drive it home, with a new Intake air temperature sensor in my pocket, I had tested the resistance across the terminals earlier, and it read 2,000 ohms, whereas Chilton's said it should be less than 1,350 ohms.

It started up fine, ran great UNTIL THE ENGINE STARTED WARMING UP. Once the engine got close to running temperature, it did the same thing, ran really rough. I immediately replaced the intake temperature sensor, and it didn't do a bit of good, and I had to leave the truck about 4 miles from home.

This morning (Mar 19), I tried to drive the truck home, and as soon as the temperature gauge started warming up, the engine started running rough and quickly got worse. Again, no DTC.

Please help me. I'm going out of my mind with this thing, I'm without a vehicle to get to and from work, and I'm getting ready to pitch it all in and go buy something new, which I can't even do without a vehicle to get to the dealerships, my wife works really long hours far away during the week, and she's gone this weekend. Hello, bicycle!

A.

You are correct in that the ignition wires are your problem. But they are not bad, they are just routed incorrectly. Whenever you change the ignition wires on a Chrysler V-8, the new wires MUST be installed EXACTLY the same way they were. There was a TSB on this problem and since I get so many complaints like yours, I will post the complete TSBs here.
Ignition System - Cross Fire/Ignition Wire Induction

NO: 18-48-98
GROUP: Vehicle Performance
DATE: Dec. 30, 1998

SUBJECT:
Ignition System
Cross Fire/Secondary
Ignition Wire Induction

MODELS:

  • 1994 - 1999 Dakota
  • 1994 - 1999 Ram Truck
  • 1998 - 1999 Durango
  • 1995 - 1998 Grand Cherokee
  • 1994 - 1998 Grand Cherokee
NOTE: This information applies to vehicles equipped with a 3.9 liter, 5.2 liter, or 5.9 liter engine. AB models will be added later (new parts required).

SYMPTOM/CONDITION:
Some vehicles may exhibit one or more of the following:

  • Spark knock complaints when the vehicle is under load.
  • Various single cylinder misfire (1, 3, 7), especially 5 and or 8.
  • Surge in 4th gear with the Electronically Modulated Converter Clutch (EMCC) engaged (around 45 mph).
  • Perceived torque converter EMCC engagement/disengagement around 45 mph.

DIAGNOSIS:
Using the Mopar Diagnostic System (MDS/MDS 2) or the Diagnostic Scan Tool (DRB III(R)) with the appropriate Diagnostic Procedures Manual, verify all engine/transmission systems are functioning as designed. If other than mentioned Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTC's) are present, record them on the repair order and repair as necessary before proceeding further with this bulletin. If no DTC's are present or if the above symptoms/conditions have been described by the customer, perform the Repair Procedure.

NOTE: This rerouting procedure should be performed before any other misfire, surge, or spark knock repairs are attempted.

PARTS REQUIRED:

  • 3 56028186 Clip, Single Wire
  • 2 06503441 Clip, Wire To Hose (5.2L & 5.9L)
  • 1 04364375 Convolute, 10 ft Roll
5.2 Liter and 5.9 Liter Engine Procedures

Dodge Ram 1500 Running Rough

Dodge Ram 1500 Running Rough

1. Coil Wire Routing (Figure 1 and 2)
A. Remove the coil wire from the distributor cap coil wire tower terminal.
B. Remove the coil wire from the rear five-wire clip, the center three-wire clip, and the front one-wire clip located along the lower side of the right valve cover.
C. Install three (3) one-wire clips p/n 56028186 along the top and front of the valve cover. Use the studs of the valve cover retaining bolts (Figure 1).

NOTE: Some applications may only have stud locations for three of the one-wire clips.

D. Route the coil wire starting from the ignition coil toward the distributor. Any excess wire should end up at the distributor end.
E. Install the coil wire into the one-wire clips. This procedure may be easier to perform while the coil wire is loose from the valve cover (before the one-wire clips are attached to the valve cover studs).
F. Cut the ignition wire convolute p/n 04364375 into three lengths 8", 4", and 3.25".
G. Slit and install the three sections of convolute onto the coil wire between the one-wire clips. Install the 3.25" section at the front of the right valve cover. Install the 8" and the 4" sections along the top side of the right valve cover. This procedure may be easier to perform while the coil wire is loose from the valve cover (before the clips are attached to the valve cover studs).
H. Route the distributor end of the coil wire down and behind the intake manifold, in front of the oil pressure switch (Figure 2).

NOTE: The coil wire must be a minimum of one (1) inch away from any other ignition wires. This may require that the coil wire be routed under vacuum and/or wire harnesses in the right rear corner of the intake manifold.

I. Route the distributor end of the coil wire up the side of the distributor cap and onto the coil wire tower terminal.
J. Position the original piece of coil wire convolute so it protects the wire against chafing with components at the rear of the engine.

Dodge Ram 1500 Running Rough

2. No. 8 Cylinder Plug Wire Routing (Figure 3)
A. Remove the No. 8 cylinder plug wire from the distributor cap tower terminal.
B. Remove the No. 8 cylinder plug wire from the five-wire clip located at the lower rear of the valve cover.
C. Route the No. 8 cylinder plug wire over the rear quarter of the right valve cover (Figure 3).
D. Position the original piece convolute from the No. 8 cylinder plug wire to prevent chafing at the right valve cover and with other engine components.
E. Secure the No. 8 cylinder plug wire and its convolute in place with the hose to wire clip p/n 06503441. The small end of the clip is positioned over the convolute. The large end of the clip is fastened to a heater hose (A/C line on ZJ models).

NOTE: make sure the No. 8 cylinder plug wire is secure and away from the coil wire and the no. 4 cylinder plug wire. Make certain it will not fall down and contact the cylinder head and or exhaust components.

F. Install the No. 8 cylinder plug wire to its distributor cap terminal.

Dodge Ram 1500 Running Rough

Dodge Ram 1500 Running Rough

3. No. 4 Cylinder Plug Wire Routing (Figure 4 and 5)
A. Remove the No. 4 cylinder plug wire from the distributor cap terminal.
B. At the three-wire clip (located at the center of the lower side of the right valve cover), keep the two wires from crossing and chafing each other. Position the No. 2 cylinder plug wire in the top wire slot and the No. 4 cylinder plug wire in the bottom wire slot. Leave the middle wire slot empty (Figure 5).

Dodge Ram 1500 Running Rough

C. At the five-wire clip (located at the right rear lower side of the valve cover), keep the plug wires from crossing and chafing each other. Position the No. 4 cylinder plug wire in a slot that will obtain the maximum amount of distance allowable from the No. 8 cylinder plug wire (Figure 6). Remove any slack in the No. 4 cylinder plug wire between the three-wire and the five-wire clips.

NOTE: Earlier model five-wire clips look slightly different but the same wiring layout applies.

D. Route the No. 4 cylinder plug wire behind the transmission dipstick tube and heater hoses. On ZJ models this may not be possible due to the location of the bulkhead.

NOTE: Make sure that the No. 4 cylinder plug wire is, at least one inch away from the No. 8 cylinder plug wire.

Dodge Ram 1500 Running Rough

E. Install the No. 4 cylinder plug wire to its distributor cap terminal (Figure 7).

Dodge Ram 1500 Running Rough

Dodge Ram 1500 Running Rough

4. No. 7 Cylinder Plug Wire Routing (Figure 8 and 9)
A. Verify that the No. 7 cylinder plug wire crosses over the distributor cap and leaves the distributor cap between the No. 3 and the No. 6 tower terminals (Figure 8). This is the original wire routing for 1998 and prior model years.
B. For 1999 M.Y. vehicles the No. 7 cylinder plug wire was shortened. Reroute the No. 7 cylinder plug wire so that it crosses the distributor cap and leaves the distributor cap between the No. 6 and the No. 5 tower terminals (Figure 9).

NOTE: Make sure the No. 7 cylinder plug wire is, at least one inch, away from the No. 5 cylinder plug wire.

Dodge Ram 1500 Running Rough

5. No. 5 Cylinder Plug Wire Routing (Figure 10)
A. Remove the No. 5 cylinder plug wire from its distributor cap terminal.
B. Remove the No. 5 cylinder plug wire from the five-wire clip located at the lower rear of the left valve cover.
C. Route the No. 5 cylinder plug wire over the left valve cover and in front of the breather tube elbow.
D. Position the original convolute from the No. 5 cylinder plug wire to prevent chafing against the valve cover and any engine components. Secure the small end of the hose to wire clip p/n 06503441 over the convolute. Secure the large end of the hose to wire clip to the breather hose.

NOTE: make sure the No. 5 cylinder plug wire is secure and away from the No. 7 cylinder plug wire. Make certain it will not fall down and contact the cylinder head and/or exhaust components.

3.9 Liter Engine Procedures

Dodge Ram 1500 Running Rough

Dodge Ram 1500 Running Rough

1. Coil Wire Routing (Figure 11 and 12)
A. Remove the coil wire from the distributor cap tower terminal.
B. Remove the coil wire from the right rear five-wire clip, the center three wire clip and the front one-wire clip on the right valve cover.
C. Install three (3) one-wire clips p/n 56028186 along the top and front of the valve cover studs (Figure 11).
D. Route the coil wire starting from the ignition coil toward the distributor. Any excess wire should end up at the distributor end.
E. Install the coil wire into the one-wire clips. This procedure may be easier to perform while the coil wire is loose from the valve cover (before the one-wire clips are attached to the valve cover studs).
F. Cut the ignition wire convolute p/n 04364375 into three lengths. Two (2) at 4" and one (1) at 3¼ .
G. Slit and install the three sections of convolute onto the coil wire between the one-wire clips. Install the 3¼ section at the front of the right valve cover. Install the two 4" sections along the top side of the right valve cover. This procedure may be easier to perform while the coil wire is loose from the valve cover (before the clips are attached to the valve cover studs).
H. Route the distributor end of the coil wire down and behind the intake manifold, in front of the oil pressure switch (Figure 12).
I. Route the distributor end of the coil wire up the side of the distributor cap and onto the coil wire tower terminal.
J. Position the original piece of coil wire convolute so it protects the wire against chafing with components at the rear of the engine.

NOTE: The coil wire must be a minimum of one (1) inch away from any other ignition wires. This may require that the coil wire be routed under vacuum and or wire harnesses in the right rear corner of the intake manifold.

Additional Information provided courtesy of AllDATA

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