Frustrated... 1999 Dodge Ram 1500 5.9L "Missing"

Discussion in 'Engine & Performance' started by James Tiberous, Dec 4, 2018.

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  1. James Tiberous

    James Tiberous Junior Member

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    Ram Year:
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    Engine:
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    New to the board, this is my first post. Thanks in advance for any feedback that you can provide to help my situation. Full disclosure... I am a Realtor (a member of the National Association of Realtors) and I am in no way am attempting portray or to pretend to be a mechanic. I am not "Mechanically Challenged" but would not call myself anything but an amateur wrench turner.

    With that being said, in the words of the great American poet Brian Wilson.... "Help me Rhonda, help, help me Rhonda".

    My boss's fathers 1999 Dodge 1500 with a 5.9L engine with only 222,085 miles has been having intermittent starting issues for a couple of years. You could drive someplace and when you went to start the truck again...it would just crank, no start. After 10 to 120 minutes it would start up like there was never anything wrong. It would go sometimes a month in between pulling this not so funny stunt. The other day it wouldn't start for me ...or the next day, or the next so I decided it was time to finally put this to rest.

    After doing some research I learned that the probable cause is the sensor under the distributor rotor... so I replaced the cap, rotor and sensor to the tune of $75. It started right up but it had a miss in it... which was not there prior to the not starting issue. Never step I replaced all of the plug wires thinking that all the yanking and pulling on them I had done might have broken a wire inside one of the wires... nope, still had a heavy miss. When I get up to 50'ish MPH the truck starts "Shaking and Shuddering" (okay, you can't tell me that the scene from Airplane didn't just pop in your head) and "backing down".

    I used a spark tester and went to all 8 cylinders and all had good spark... but it still has a miss. Could I have defective sensor in the distributor causing the timing not to advance?

    Again... thanks in advance for any/all help helping me figure out what is wrong here.
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2018
  2. Patrol Pilot 98

    Patrol Pilot 98 Junior Member

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    Have you checked to see if your injector for that cylinder is functional? Had a miss on cylinder 4 couple users back and it turned out to be a clogged fuel injector. Just a thought.
     
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  3. James Tiberous

    James Tiberous Junior Member

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    I had not delved into the fuel system, nor even thought of it as a cause because the truck ran great right up to the minute it ... well, didn't. That issue was fixed by the cam sensor, rotor and cap (assuming the main culprit was the cam sensor) being replaced but 100% sure that issue was electrical. When restarting after the maintenance it fired right up but with a miss. My assumption (and we all know what "assume" means) is that I possibly received a flawed cam sensor that isn't "advancing the timing" as the RPM's rise? ...or am I using the wrong terminology? I read that the cam sensor is what set the timing on the Dodge trucks and "not to twist the distributors" ... so I didn't :) I am not even sure that the information I have is 100% valid.

    I did the next best thing I knew to do which was replace the spark plug wires... which made no difference. I have a fuel injector pressure tester that I have never used... I purchased the absolute highest quality fuel injector tester sold.... by Harbor Freight :) This would be as good a time as any to break it in. Thanks for the suggestion.
     
  4. jessyj

    jessyj Member

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    Are you sure you got the plug wires on right?
     
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  5. James Tiberous

    James Tiberous Junior Member

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    Funny you should say that... I had the owners son in law helping me and he connected the wires to the distributor... we/he triple checked them, but honestly now that you say that, I am not positive. I am going to pop the cap off and make sure #1 is going to the #1 on the cap this afternoon. There is only one way for the sensor and cap to go on, correct?

    Thanks for the suggestion.
     
  6. jessyj

    jessyj Member

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    You need the firing order to get it right. Its on the intake manifold. And the cylinders #s are also on there.
     
  7. James Tiberous

    James Tiberous Junior Member

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    I finally had the chance to pull the cap and verify that the wires were installed correctly... they are and it still runs really rough... so I am in the same boat as I was when I wrote the post.
     
  8. JohnnyMac

    JohnnyMac Hold my beer and watch this..... Military Member

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    Did you actually pull the distributor out of the motor? If so, it might be put back 180 degrees out (although I'm not sure if it would even run that way). Also, did you set TDC (compression stroke) on cylinder #1 and line up the rotor with the notch on the cam sensor? If that's not lined up correctly your timing/fuel sync will be off and cause similar symptoms to what you are describing. If you didn't have the miss prior to working on the distributor, and now you do......seems logical that that is probably where the issue lies. Good luck and I'd be interested to know what you finally figure out, so please report back with you findings.

    **EDIT** On another note. Certainly not insulting you intelligence here, but just to make sure that the plug wires are in the firing order (1-8-4-3-6-5-7-2) and not just starting at cylinder one and continuing around the cap (2-3-4-5-6-7-8... ) right? Just making sure.
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2018 at 7:37 AM
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  9. James Tiberous

    James Tiberous Junior Member

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    Thank you for your wisdom...

    1. Yes, first I found a small broken wire that comes off the alternator and appears to go to the fuel injector to cylinder #3. I spliced the wire together and started the truck, it still ran rough.
    2. Next I took the cap off and made sure that the #1 cylinder was going to the #1 on the cap (it was). I tried to put it back on Saturday evening but it got cold and dark (working outside) plus my back was killing me from contorting to reach the cap. I tower at an amazing 5' 7" so I have to stand on a set of ramps with a 2x6 on top to give me enough height to reach the distributor.
    3. I did not put the engine at TDC since I thought the sensor has a square end and a round end so it can't go on backwards plus the distributor has a notch for the sensor to sit down in. I thought that was self explanatory and correct but think that could be my issue. I assume I should turn the engine to TDC and then put it all back together?
    4. Yes Sir... I had the firing order correct as I pulled it up online and ran the wires exactly like we were supposed to. No insult taken... I know people do dumb things and you have no idea of my ability or skill level. Thank you for mentioning that on the off chance I did wire it up wrong.

    A quick story on a different situation. 30 years ago I had a friend who was a Toyota mechanic. He found a Toyota for sale in the District (Washington, DC... 20 miles north of me) that the owner had spent 3 years rebuilding the motor and trans but couldn't get it running for the life of him... so he put it in the classifieds. The guy has spent a LOT of time, energy, effort and money rebuilding the car to brand new condition and was VERY frustrated the car wouldn't run. He listed the car at $500 because he thought he did something wrong deep inside the motor and was just "done" with it. My buddy showed up, looked at the car, gave the guy $500 and received a Bill of Sale and the signed title. The seller asked "Are you going to get a tow truck?". My buddy respectfully declined and said "I don't think I need one"... and proceeded to change the plug wires around, turned the key and drove the car off. The seller was PISSED... so I have known the importance of the correct firing order since I was in high school.
     
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  10. James Tiberous

    James Tiberous Junior Member

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    Ram Year:
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    Engine:
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    I didn't see your quote until after I sent the message... LOVE the analogy. Here is my signature on Twitter...
    "When all the guns have been banned. When all the words have been censored. When all the history has been erased. When all the freedom has been taken. Only then will you discover why our right to bear arms was so high on the list."
     

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