Buying 2000 Ram 1500 P.U.--What to Check Out?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Aries Rising, Dec 31, 2016.

  1. Aries Rising

    Aries Rising Junior Member

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    Hi all, (Dodge) Noob here,

    I'm a longtime Ford truck fan, but I can't get behind anything they've offered since they killed the 4.9L/300 cu. in. "Big Six" back in 1996, allegedly because it wouldn't fit under the new "aero-style" hoods of the 1997 F-150.

    That said, I'm going to look at a friend-of-a-friend's (unadvertised) 2000 Dodge Ram pickup truck, which he might consider taking about $2,500. for. It's just over 100K miles, a 4x2, V-8, and supposedly in pretty good shape.

    Here Are My Questions:

    1. Are there any known issues or weak points in the 2ns Gen. gas-powered trucks? (like Ford's spark plug problem) that I should watch out for, generally?


    2. Re: front suspension. The (potential) Seller says he thinks it may need shocks. This makes me concerned that things like ball joints, tie rod ends, the "track bar," etc...might be prematurely worn.

    I plan to jack up the truck, under the "A-arms" and wiggle the above parts, and look for telltale, unwanted movement.

    a). But does anyone else have a specific ways they'd like to suggest I test these components?


    3. Does anyone have a GENERAL CHECKLIST of things to go over, in the 2nd Generation Ram 1500 pickups?


    Here are a few videos I found helpful:

    What's a Track Bar???
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45pphLDR2js


    How to Tell if Your Tie Rod is Bad
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=brI2feYiEi8#t=61.701854

    I'm hoping someone can save themselves a lot of typing, and simply direct me to links, and save themselves a lot of typing.

    Thanks, in advance,

    Aries Rising
     
  2. Yeret

    Yeret Senior Member

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    For starters, two words: plenum gasket. Read this. Everything that you need to know regarding this issue.

    Second, transmission. If it's a Dodge overdrive and hasn't blown up yet, it will and will cost you. I was lucky enough to get mine with a rebuilt tranny and still have the receipt. The rebuild was almost $2,000.

    I have read that the factory heads are very prone to cracking between the intake/exhaust valves. How much this affects things is totally a case-by-case thing. Mine had at least two such cracks each but the cylinders still had okay to good compression. I never performed a leak-down test, however. Aftermarket heads with improved castings are readily available however and can be had for around $600 a pair.

    This only applies if you want more performance. Pretty much every OBD2 second gen carries Chrysler's ECU software update, also known as the "death flash." It retards the ignition timing across the board and significantly reduces heavy throttle acceleration. It was created as a half-assed attempt to fix the spark knock issues that the engines are known for which is 95% caused by failure of the intake plenum gasket. Personally, when my intake gasket was blown, my truck would still knock like hell under heavy throttle even with the death flash, so really it just kills your power for nothing. The only way to truly be rid of the death flash is with an SCT tune of which there are plenty of people that can write a tune for our engines. I opted for a Flyin' Ryan tune and I among several others here highly recommend him. If you don't have a tuner, you'll need to purchase it with the tune. It'll run ~$400, but in my opinion is the best bang for the buck performance upgrade that you can buy for these engines.

    In regards to your front suspension concerns, consider that it is an older truck and the second gen Rams aren't known for precision handling to begin with. I would plan on replacing the ball joints, tie rod, track bar and shocks soon. I do believe that the steering box can be adjusted to tighten the steering further but if you're unlucky like me, it's too far gone to fiddle with and will need replacing in the future.

    As long as we're on the matter of it being an older truck, NEVER fall into the trap of thinking that you'll ever be done putting money into it. Short of a full-on rotisserie restoration, there will always be something that needs attention. This applies if it's a Dodge, Ford, Chevy, Toyota, Daihatsu, Yugo, Whatever.

    All that being said, the second generation Dodge Ram has been my dream truck ever since I saw the movie "Twister" long long ago. As such, mine has a certain personal value to me and I have no problem maintaining it. If you really like your vehicle, it always hurts less when you have to pony up the cash for the next part. You're also more likely to research the vehicle and learn about it and the next thing you know, you know more about it than most people who own one.
     
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  3. BBartow

    BBartow Senior Member

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    Well 2wd saves you from the usual dodge suspension issues.
     
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  4. Aries Rising

    Aries Rising Junior Member

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    Yeret,

    Thank you, very much, for your thoughtful and comprehensive response--and the suggested reading on the intake plenum gasket is much appreciated! (First I've heard of it--going to read it now.)

    Not having access to the TSB's (okay, plus I'm lazy/pressed for time): can anyone suggest a reliable point at which to tap into a convenient, rubber hose, to pull a vacuum reading, at idle?)

    Oh! And I should have specified--it's a five speed MANUAL trans. Were your comments about autos or standard shifts?

    Also, thanks (to you and BBartow--and whoever else may contribute) for how prompt you were in responding. I'm probably seeing this truck Mon., and sleeping/packing/traveling, for hours, prior, so I'll have little time to "bone up."
    (But I'll have time, at both ends of my trip, prior to seeing the truck, to check back, and incorporate any additional advice/experience anyone cares to share.)


    Also appreciate the heads-up on the potential head cracking. Two questions re: head cracking:

    1. If I understand you correctly, you could visually see these cracks? Is it a PITA for you to post them? I'd love to know what what they look like, so I know what I'm looking for--and sorry to hear about yours, but glad they seem stable and non-problematic.

    2. Is that at all mileage-specific, or could it hit even a (relatively) low-miles 318.

    And I totally agree with your feelings on spending money on needed maintenance/repairs, on a vehicle you believe and/or have a special affinity for, is significantly less painful than the alternatives....
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    Believe it or not, that was very intentional on my part, having experienced a small taste one of the Ford 4x4 suspension issues. Being from a snow belt, I've found 4x2 with studded, aggressive (i.e., real) snow tires, to be more than adequate in most cases, for more than 30 years, and we have an AWD SUV on studded snows, already, so I'm hoping I won't even need to get them for the Dodge.

    It seems to escape many people's notice, but even AWD and the most aggressive "mudders" sold will be worth ZERO on ICE. Whereas, even a "lowly" 4x2, with studded snows all around can do TWO THINGS vehicles with non-studded tires cannot, namely:

    1. TURN on ICE, and;

    2. STOP on ICE.

    Of course, the experts do recommend ONLY using studded snows on ALL FOUR WHEELS, or none at all. (Though I've found just studding the rears on a 4x2 to be very helpful--it just leaves you dynamically unbalanced, in terms of friction, fore and aft, and doesn't help much with stopping and steering, if the fronts aren't studded, as well.)

    Anyway, for the reason you mention, I specifically searched out a 4x2 (which is not as easy as it sounds, in this market) because I wanted le$$ complexity, le$$ (and easier!) maintenance. And any increased fuel mileage wouldn't upset me much, either. :)

    Thanks again, and in advance....

    Aries Rising
     
  5. BBartow

    BBartow Senior Member

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    Well a 5 speed saves you from the usual dodge transmission issues as well. :crazy:
     
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  6. BBartow

    BBartow Senior Member

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    As for the heads hairline cracks are common between intake and exhaust valve seats since the casting is thin. I'd suspect a lot of these trucks driving around have them. Normally you will burn off a very little bit of coolant over time. You won't smell it out the pipe nor will you see it in the oil.
     
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  7. dapepper9

    dapepper9 Senior Member

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    As said earlier:
    Plenum

    5spd is great for a stock or mildly built 318 but blows up on big 360 builds

    Suspension issues aren't bad with 2wd

    Death flash sucks but if your engine is pinging like Yeret mentioned you pretty much have another problem. Even without death flash it shouldn't ping without reason

    Cracks in heads, we'll let's say you have about a 1/20 chance of pulling your heads and not finding a crack. Very vast majority of engines have them and 99% notice zero difference. Unless you're pulling the heads for a headgasket job or performance or something, i wouldn't even worry about it
     
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  8. Yeret

    Yeret Senior Member

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    Hope it all works out for you. Sounds like you know a thing or two about winter driving and that's great. Knowing how to handle these elements is far more valuable than simply thinking that you can throw it into 4x4 and everything will be fine. There are way too many idiots around here that don't respect winter elements and end up burying their vehicle off the road in multiple feet of snow. Personally, where I live, four wheel drive is an absolute necessity as I live on about two miles of hilly gravel road that very happily fills with snow whenever a polar vortex or whatever decides to punt a blizzard my way. I have never seen or driven a 2WD vehicle short of a tractor that can scramble it's way through several inches of powdery snow (by far the easiest type of snow to drive in). Hell, my automatic '93 Accord way back in the day with brand new tires would get stuck in a single damned inch of snow.

    Ice ****ing sucks. Period. There are fewer quicker ways to reveal the limitations of 4x4 then having to traverse a road that is totally slick with ice. Locking the tranny into first gear and just crawling is about the only thing that you can do. Studs should certainly help, however. Of course, whenever I decide to take it easy on icy roads, there will always be some jackass that decides to ride my bumper the whole way down. A few years back, I was tailed by some dipstick that actually flashed their high beams at me every couple hundred feet because I wasn't driving fast enough. Are you ****ing kidding me? And when we finally reached town, I went left, he went right and had the gall to give me a dirty look. Some people, man, LOL.
     
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