I hope it's not the fuel pump but here is the scenario:
My engine stopped while idling in the drive-thru. Initially, I thought it was nothing, but it then died 4 or 5 times over the next two weeks. Each time it occurred I was at idle or switching from reverse to drive. The weather was fair, not too hot or cold. No check engine light.
I searched the threads after the problem became more consistent and I found that the idle air control valve may need a good cleaning. My truck was idling at a little over 600 rpm. After I cleaned it I believe that it was closer to 800. The truck started fine, ran well on the 4 mile trip to work and back home. It didn't stall.
I went to start the truck the next morning and the engine cranked but would not start. No check engine light appeared. Checked to see if the fuel pump relay was faulty, but it worked fine. I can also hear the fuel pump or line make that buzz noise whenever I turn the key over two clicks so the connection of the relay is fine also.
The guy at autozone told me it may either be a bad pressure regulator or the fuel pump.
My dad's friend is a really good DIYer/mechanic, however he is 60 miles away from me and I would prefer to not have the truck towed to a garage nearby if possible. He told me one test to do would be to take a pair of vice grips to the return line coming from the regulator, try starting it, and see if the pressure builds up. It also just snowed 12 inches so I have no way of getting out to autozone to get a pressure reader for the fuel line.
I read a post somewhere else that said '96 may not have a return line, but everyone on the post was going back and forth on whether or not there is one.
So, my question. Is there a return line? If not, I assume that means taking the truck into a shop to take out the fuel pump?
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You didn't state what engine you have in the truck.
93-down had return line fuel system for all engines.
94-up had returnless (NO return line) fuel system for the V6 and V8, the 4cly still had the return system.
Assuming you have the V6 as in your title page you have no return line.
As for your problem, yes test your fuel pressure. If you can't get one to test you can try spraying starter fluid or carb cleaner or pour a little gas into the Throttle Body. Then try to start it. If it starts or kinda starts then you have a fuel problem. If it does absolutely nothing to try to start you have an ignition problem. If it is an ignition problem check the notorious splice, the FAQ in this section has a great write up with pictures.
Just tested fuel pressure with the OEM rental from autozone. First try, it read only 20 psi. I bled the line on the gauge and tried it again. 2nd try, it read about 40 psi. I took the gauge off the test valve and tried it again (figured the first two runs were a little off). It read 42-44 psi on three different tries after that. I downloaded the service manual and I believe that it says psi should be around 44-53 psi. I assume that this indicates that the pump is fine? I will go ahead and check the splice. Thanks!
I'd say there is a problem in the pump, its not holding pressure. A new assembly is like $180 though so make sure thats the case. I got a killer deal on reman fuel pump on rock auto a couple months ago for $27! Replacing the pump isn't hard. Remove the 8 bed bolts and prop it up with a 2x4, disconnect the lines and wires, unscrew the top. Done. My trucks a 96 by the way.
If it is an ignition problem, what else could I check? The spline looks fine. My dad's friend recommended testing the spark plugs to make sure they are all fine, so I am currently doing that (and dealing with a very difficult #4 and #6 that are stuck). His next idea was to check the distributor. Any other suggestions?
I also had this type of issue in the past. '96 Dak, 4 cyl. I (stupid me) couldn't imagine a solder joint going bad. After replacing the distributor, checking and tracing all elec line, replacing the coil, I finally decided to take the advice of most experienced on here. I opened the wire bundle, and as you said, everything looked fine. I still cut the solder joint out and re-soldered. (please note, this was after the 3rd time being towed $100 a pop) Truck started right up, never had the pro again. I hope this helps, better to learn from others mistakes.