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Electrical 2nd Gen Dodge Ram Electrical Problems and Questions.


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  #1  
Old 02-17-2011, 07:45 PM
gwtaz gwtaz is offline
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Question Multiple electrical and Mechanical problems Log - 1998 Ram 1500

List of Problems

1. No running lights. 10a fuse in Junction box blows 2-5 minutes after replacing.
2. No continuity on 15a fuse (O2 sensor) in PDC (Power Distribution Center).
3. MPG dropped to 8-10 mpg. (O2 sensor issue)
4. One headlight dimmer than the other. (Ground/short issue.)
5. O2 sensors (pre-cat) oily and throwing codes. (Related to No.6?)
6. Oil leak from valve covers. (Loose nuts.)
7. Power Steering pump leaking. (Steering shaft wet)
8. Power Steering gearbox leaking. (3 inch puddle overnight)
9. Oil on bell/clutch housing (bottom/sides). Very small but present.
10. Oil leaking from bottom of harmonic balancer. Very small but present.
11. Engine using oil. (1 quart per 3000 mile interval.)

OBD II Codes

P0133 - O2 Sensor CKT Slow Response (Bank 1 - Sensor 1)
P0141 - O2 Sensor Heater Circuit Malfunction (Bank 1 - Sensor 2)
P0171 - System too lean. (Bank 1)
P0138 - O2 Sensor Circuit High Voltage. (Bank 1 - Sensor 2)

What I've done so far.

Problem #1 - Changed headlight switch and dimmed interior/instument lights in an attempt to reduce current going into the lines. This worked for a few months then recently smelled burning wire and was pulled over for not having running lights. Inpected dash/engine wiring harnes and used line sniffer to find break in continuity and location. The Blk/Yel coming from the dash thru firewall to driver side headlight had heated up so much that the insulating jacket was completely melted off thru the entire length. The bare wire also melted adjacent wires in the harness and shorted them. One was burnt so bad it broke in two (blk/yel splice in harness routed under battery). As a test, I twisted the broke wire together and my running lights worked. Disconnected them immediately.

<Progress> - Bought 40 foot of 18g wire and butt connectors and will try splicing the runs and labeling them with original colors.

Problem #2 - Used a DMM to check fuse contacts for continuity (none), unbolted PDC and checked continuity at the points underneath (none). Fuse was good. Performed checks with battery removed.

<Progress> - Now, I'm stuck and need suggestions.

Problem #3 - Figure it's related to the O2 sensor problems.

Problem #4 - Removed, wire brushed contacts, replaced ground wires near battery. (Front fender under batt. and screw ground near hood.)

<Progress> - Seems to have worked since lights appear equal in brightness.

Problem #5 - Getting OBDII codes listed above, rough idle and drop in MPG from 16.5 avg to 10 avg. The worst of this corresponded with a cold weather spell. Low temps were 25-31 F for 3 days. (I'm in Houston so that's record cold for us.) When it got warmer the idle cleared up a bit but MPG still low.

<Progress> - None so far. Plan on seafoaming engine/oil/gas then oil change. But what sensors do I have, 2 or 4, and which do I change, all or just what's coded? 155,000 miles on truck.

Problem #6 - After noticing oil sludge under the valve cover gaskets I checked the bolts and found 90% were almost off their threads and could be finger tightened. This may have been what contaminated the O2 sensor which resides below and back from the leak.

<Progress> - I tightened them to snug with fingers then 1/4 to 1/2 turn with socket like I do with the spark plugs. Will keep an eye on it and replace gaskets if leak continues.

Problem #7 & Problem #8 - Pwr Steering fluid leaking on the steering shaft making a mess.

<Progress> - Tried two bottles of Lucas Leak Stop that slowed it but did not stop it. Might just try and live with this until it gets worse enough to replace the pump and/or the gearbox.

Problem #9 - Not sure what is considered acceptable in this regard. It doesn't leave a noticable puddle overnight but there is gunk on the housing. Every time I check there is a small dot of oil on the bottom bolt.

Problem #10 - Same as above

<Progress> - I'm wondering if the rear seal is bad. Not sure about the plenum b/c the throttle body looked dry. Checked and gaped the plugs. They were completely black with dry soot (O2 fuel mixture) but not oily. I will replace those after I determine the leak on the O2 sensor has stopped and used the seafoam.

I have a good mechanical aptitude but not much hands on experience doing repairs. I have a Haynes manual from O'Really's and the 2001 service manual in .pdf. The past two weeks have been a crash course in auto repair.

I bought this truck from my little brother who lives on a red dirt road in the East Texas sticks. He drives 40mph on roads that make the manufacturer's torture tests look tame which explains why the valve cover gaskets were all loose and the front bumper assembly and grill are held together with baling wire, wood screws and wood blocks. That and a run in with a whitetail deer.

I drive it like a granny and use it to deliver olive oil and olives around town and need to keep it running for another year or so. I hope this was clear enough for everyone to follow and not too wordy.

Your help, comments and suggestions are appreciated.
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  #2  
Old 02-17-2011, 08:17 PM
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#1 - Check the plug on the switch end. The connection is known to come loose, causing high resistene which can melt the wire.

#2 - Check for power with key on.

#3 - You're probably right.

#4 - I'd call it fixed.

#5 - Oily on the outside? This can definately kill a sensor.

#6 - Will need a new gasket if tightening doesn't stop the leak.

#7 & 8 - Clean off fluid and add leak detection dye to p/s fluid to determine exact source of leak. No sense in replacing the pump if it isn't leaking.

#9 - Oil pan, rear main or reside from leaking valve cover?

#10 - Front seal leaking behind balancer.

#11 - Could be a plenum pan but hard to say for sure without diagnosing as directed here - http://www.ramforumz.com/showthread....t=belly+gasket
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  #3  
Old 02-18-2011, 05:55 PM
gwtaz gwtaz is offline
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Thanks for the quick response. I'm starting to thin that my #1 problem is more than I can handle. Even if I successfully repaired the wire and checked the others for damage there might be others. Additionally, how hard is it going to be to inspect the length. I'll have to remove the harness to do this.

On the other hand a local junkyard will sell me one for $75 and I could just switch them out. It looked alright but it came off a 1998 V8 and mine is a V6. Don't know if that matters but it's just the headlight harness.

If I replace the harness I also have to replace the PDC with it, correct?
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Old 02-18-2011, 06:15 PM
gwtaz gwtaz is offline
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Called Dodge. It's the dash to headlight harness and they want $1800! Wow.
The local electrical reair guy wants $150 to replace/repair damaged wires.
The junkyard wants $75 for the harness. I install myself.

The PDC has to be replaced with the harness. Maybe I should uninstall it myself and attempt a repair knowing I have a back-up plan in the junk yard IF it's OK to replace a 1998 V6 harness with a 1998 V8 harness. Then again it may be best to let the electrical have a go at it. I'm clueless.

Last edited by gwtaz; 02-18-2011 at 06:52 PM.
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  #5  
Old 02-18-2011, 11:55 PM
gwtaz gwtaz is offline
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Found the source of my leak that fouled my O2 sensors. The gear shifter. One of the four bolts that fasten it to the transmission had come loose and stripped the top half of the threads on the transmission housing and elongated the hole. There was a puddle of gear oil around the seal and running down the sides. The O2 sensor wires run up and over this area, straddling the shifter seal as they go.

Does this mean I have to buy a tap and rethread the hole?
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  #6  
Old 02-19-2011, 10:51 AM
gwtaz gwtaz is offline
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Pulled an all nighter. Pulled the dash. Pulled the harness thru the firewall. Pulled the burnt wire. Inspected harness. Spliced and diced. put everything backk together by 7:45 this morning. I've got tail lights and saved a bunch of cash doing it myself. better still I found my leak and now know this truck better than I ever wanted to. Dang. Time to go help someone.
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  #7  
Old 02-28-2011, 10:22 PM
gwtaz gwtaz is offline
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So far

1. Tightented the valve covers. Haven't noticed a leak yet.
2. Rewired, spliced and retaped the dash-to-headlight wire harness. I have tailights.
3. Tapped the shift tower bolts in the transmission. No more oil leaking on O2 sensors.
4. Installed pre and post O2 sensors.
5. Gap'd and installed 6 new spark plugs and oil change.
6. Paid for a new windshield. Didn't want to do that one myself.

Result? My truck is running smooth and feels like a new truck. Especially for 150,000 miles. Some more to do but I'm real pleased with the results so far. I filled up today and will be glad to see how much my milage improves from the 7-8 mpg I had before the fix.
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Old 03-01-2011, 01:19 PM
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Replacing the O2 sensors and fresh plugs should be a big help. I wouldn't be surprised to see a 3-4 mpg increase. Good work!
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