1996 Dodge Ram 1500 Problem Reports

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On the 3.9L V6 and 5.2L V8, rerouting the ignition coil wire and spark plug wires can help solve a misfire and/or surge problem that occurs at approximately 45 mph. A service bulletin was published that outlines the specifics of the repair. It states the rerouting procedure should be performed before other repairs are done for misfires, surging or spark knock.

A surging or bucking during acceleration can be caused if the distributor is moved or mis-indexed. This is a result of the cam and crank position sensors being out of synchronization. Wear of the oil pump drive gear can cause similar symptoms because it allows excessive free play in the distributor drive. The distributor drive gear and bushing should be replaced if the rotor tip moves back-and-forth more than 3/16th of an inch when checking drive gear free play.

The AC/heater (HVAC) system may unexpectedly switch to the defrost mode when accelerating. This system is operated by engine vacuum and should be inspected for any vacuum leaks if this problem develops.  There is also a revised vacuum check valve available to address this concern.

On the 3.9L V6 and 5.9L V8 the engine oil leaks at the distributor can be misdiagnosed as leaks from the intake manifold seal, oil pan gasket, or rear crankshaft (rear main) seal. A revised distributor is available if oil is found inside the distributor.

On 3.9L V6 and 5.9L V8 engines, the intake manifold gasket may leak and cause increased oil consumption and a spark knock during acceleration; the gasket should be replaced.

Some models could have a severe drift or pull to one side when the brakes were applied. If this is not caused by a dragging brake caliper, there is a service bulletin describing the step-by-step diagnosis and many possible solutions. Our technicians note the most common solutions are performing a four wheel alignment, checking torque on suspension components, installing shims between the wheels and hubs, and replacing the suspension arms.

If a Check Engine Light illuminates indicating leak detection pump (LDP) failure, the cause is often pinched or disconnected vacuum lines to the pump. Vacuum lines should be inspected before replacing the leak detection pump. Contamination (carbon or debris) in the pump can cause failure and any hoses should be cleared before a new pump is installed.

Engine overheating can result from coolant leaks which are commonly found at the thermostat housing gasket, water pump, heater return tube O-ring at the water pump, intake manifold gasket, and timing cover gasket. Our technicians recommend a complete inspection of the cooling system after any repairs are made to be sure there are no other leaks.


A loud buzzing or whining when the transmission is in reverse may be caused by a regulator valve in the transmission valve body. A revised valve was released that does not resonate. Careful diagnosis should be performed because other causes can create the noise.

If the engine will not crank when the key is turned to "Start," check for a loose connection on the starter solenoid before replacing the starter or battery cable.

Battery acid can leak on, and deteriorate a vacuum hose for the speed (cruise) control system. If the hose becomes loose or leaks vacuum, the speed (cruise) control will not function.

Installing a foam pad between the inner door panel and the door can repair a buzzing caused by the door speaker.

One the 3.9L V6 and 5.9L V8 the carbon buildup on the top of the piston is common. As the buildup increases with mileage and over time, symptoms may vary from light ticking, to ticking/hammering, to hammering/knocking noises. Fuel injector cleaner often solves the problem.

On the 3.9L V6 and 5.2L V8, an intermittent connection in the crank position sensor wire connector can cause poor engine performance or the engine may crank but not start.

On the 3.9L V6, 5.2L V8 and 5.9L V8 the Oil leaks commonly from the valve cover gaskets, intake manifold gaskets (front and rear), timing cover gaskets, distributor O-ring, and the rear main seal area. Using fluorescent engine oil dye can be helpful in determining the source(s) of the oil leak.