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Dodge Repair/loss of power: '01 ram 3.8L engine


I have a 2001 dodge ram van 1500 with a 318,a few months back it would not start. I went to replace the cap and rotor one of the screws broke in the cap at that time I was going to replace the whole thing. From that day I had to move the destribort to get it started then move it again to stay running. I had the timing set at a shop that work for a week. Now if I press on the gas it shuts off. What can I do ?

Hi Nickey,
Try turning the ignition key: "on-off-on-off-on and leave on" doing that in 5 seconds or less elapsed time, then watch the odometer window to see if the mileage reading is replaced by a 4-digit number preceded by a P. Let me know what it is and we'll go from there. It may have detected the cause of the problem and the number is a fault code that will tell us what is wrong.
Was the cap and rotor replaced and then the timing set? Or are you still working with a compromised set up at the distributor?
Do you have a friend with a timing light who could reset the timing? If not then try loosening the bolt at the base of the distributor and try turning it about 2 degrees clockwise. then re-tighten the bolt and see if that helps; and if that doesn't then try turning 2 degrees counter clockwise from the present position and see if that helps.
I don't have the manual for the '01 year so I don't know the specs about timing the spark.
Soon after that year the systems became non-adjustable but evidentally your is so.
PS: Another possibility is that a valve called the exhaust gas recirculation valve may be stuck slightly ajar (open) rather than being tightly closed when you are idling. That will cause a too lean mixture that then makes the engine die or very poorly powering when you step on the gas. Look at the right side of the engine's exhaust manifold and find a small diameter pipe that branched off from the middle of it and goes toward the throttle body.
Follow that pipe to where you should find the valve which is attached to the pipe. It has a round top piece with a small rubber tube attached to it. Let me know if you find it and we'll go from there.

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Roland Finston


Free fast answer to your repair question about a Chrysler/Dodge/Plymouth car, minivan, SUV, or truck. Problems with electronically controlled engines and transmissions as well as body wiring problems are my specialty. This free troubleshoot advice forum helps you diagnose faults, minimize repair costs or do-it-yourself.

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