HELP my dodge is dying.

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Sep 30, 2005
Hello to all,

    I have a 1998 Dodge diesel 24 value automatic. I bought it used when we started RV'ing (it's just my mom and myself being 2 girls not so much up on auto mechanics). I have no power towing up hill ( I pull a 30ft 5th wheel) I can barley get to 30 miles an hour. I have taken it to several Dodge dealers who never test drive it they just simply repair something (which I'm not sure was broken) and then tell me it's all fixed. Over this past summer I replace the fuel transfer pump twice, once by the dealer and once by someone private the truck will run great lot's of power for about 7 days then back to zero on power. has anyone out there ever had this problem I like the truck and really don't want to trade it in. I have also had the air filter and fuel filter changed several times with no luck on fixing the problem, I would appreciate any input from anyone who might have a thought on what could be wrong.

                              THANKS, Taz
Sorry to hear about your truck problem.  It certainly sounds like a fuel problem to me and I would first look at fuel filters, then fuel pump and maybe the fuel itself (crud in the fuel tank, e.g. water or a jelly like mold that can grow in diesel fuel).  But crud in the fuel usually shows up in the filter(s), so look there first.  The fact that it runs OK for awhile and then goes sour again makes me think there is an ongoing source of whatver it is that causes the problem.  Clogged filters act exactly that way.

I don't have personal experience with the Cummins 5.9 diesel in your Dodge, so I can't offer any specifics.
There are several posibilities some of these include

Clogged filter, either fuel or air,  or Clogged catallic converter,  The filters are generally easily replaced, the CAT will generally make itself known by other means, if your truck even has one (many trucks do not)

Next, disconnect the fuel line at the engine (Carb if it has one, otherwise you are on your own, I've never worked on a injectd engine)

Check fuel flow while someone cranks the engine.. NOTE: you should also check fuel pressure while the engine is running (Requires putting a "T" fitting and a special meter in the line)  I once had a car where when I did this I got a trickle of fuel but with the fuel line xtension down near the puddle there was evidence of a great amount of air flow... I had a religous fuel line, Yup, it was Holy, or is that HolEy... (Full of holes)  In any case a new fuel line sure helped

These are just starting points, there are many other things that can cause the problem as well
Are you sure it's the truck and not the trailer??? Dragging brakes on the trailer will make you think you have no power.  Maybe you're riding the brake pedal??? When it's giving you fits, try dropping the trailer somewhere and just drive the truck up some steep hill and see how it works. If still no power and the engine seems to be running properly, it could be the tranny fluid is contaminated or not at the proper level, causing foaming. If that's not the problem, have the service guys drop the pan and replace the tranny filter and fluid. Have them check all line pressures. Could be the tranny cooler is blocked (leaves, crud, etc.) You do have a tranny cooler (part of a towing package) installed, don't you? Lastly, the torque converter may have gone south - unlikely, but possible.

Right now you don't know if it's the horse or the cart - hope this helps :)

I had a F350 one time that had similar symptoms to what you are describing.

Turned out to be a collapsed muffler. Took the mechanic several hours to figure that one out. With all the other good suggestions you've gotten here is another one.

Try asking your questions here: The Turbo Diesel Register.
This site is all about the Cummins/Dodge.
Do not remove a fuel line to check for fuel flow. You have two fuel pumps on this engine. The injector pump pressurizes the fuel to high pressure to allow it to be injected into the engine and the other pump is referred to as the boost pump. Its job is to get fuel to the injector pump from the tank. In order to maintain a positive fuel flow, the boost pump pushes more fuel to the injector pump than it can use and the excess fuel is returned to the tank via a second line. Most diesel highway engines use some form of recirculating fuel system.
Crushed mufflers, clogged catalytic converters (which you don't have) and other exhaust restrictions are very rarely intermittent and are easily diagnosed if the tech knows what to look for. On a gasoline engine, check manifold vacuum at idle, 1500 rpm and at 2500 rpm. If the vacuum goes away at higher rpm's, 99.99% of the time it is an exhaust restriction. Because diesel highway engines do not generally have vacuum at the intake manifold, this isn't a good test for them. Since you have a turbocharged engine, your manifold will operate at positive pressure, not vacuum.
Another culprit could be the engine control system. The computer can do some strange things and there have been several updates to the code the your truck uses. There was a system change at the 1998.5 mark so you could have either truck. The engine diagnostics codes need to be checked and the version of the operating system needs to be upgraded.? My suggestion is to avoid the local Dodge dealer and find the nearest Cummins dealer that services the Dodge motor and take it to them. PM me with your current location and I'll run down a reputable engine shop. This type of problem can't be diagnosed from long distance. Too many things it could be and we'd just be like the "parts replacers" you've already run into. My advice to repair techs was always, "test, don't guess."
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