Reader Question Hi Austin,
I bought your book just to get access to your e-mail address so I cross my fingers you can help me here. Although I’m sure your book has some great information.
I have a 1997 two wheel drive Dodge Dakota. I trust my mechanic entirely. So much because they turned me a way because they couldn’t figure out what was wrong with it and didn’t wan to just start replacing parts. They even waived the $80 diagnostic fee because they couldn’t find the issue. So here are the symptoms:
-Truck will stall out randomly.
-Truck will not start randomly.
-When driving for short or long distance, all a sudden I might get an intense draw back on the gas and then it fires up again. (meaning even though the pedals down, the gas disappears and then shoots out again) I know this because I start to coast and then basically pop back in to action) (As if I’m driving with the break on…it’s like the gas shuts on and off)
After these symptoms occurred for a few weeks, I took the truck to the mechanic when it wouldn’t start one day. The tow truck dropped it off and then my sales rep at the Dodge dealer checked it out. It wouldn’t start for him either. By the time the mechanic got it, it started. They drove it, ran their tests, and had no problems. They kept it for a week sitting there intermittently starting it up to see if it would stop working again. Nothing would happen. Finally I picked it up in an effort to drive around the block until it started acting up again. For 90 minutes it did not. So finally I drove it home.
I’ve had it now for a few weeks again and I don’t drive too far to work. It ran smooth for about a week and now the symptoms are occurring once again. Of course tonight I sat stranded in an intersection for about 15 minutes as I tried to get it to start after a stall. I pick up the phone to call a tow truck again and by the time they are about to come pick me up, it starts up again! and I get home.
This is not safe and the dealer doesn’t even know what to do. They say if I can get it in there not working, then they should be able to figure it out. I think you see my dilemma though. Please help!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What could this possibly be??????
Thank for your email and the book purchase. Hummm, I can feel your frustration, and have been in your shoes many times….not getting the problem to duplicate itself while the mechanic has some test equipment hooked up to it. The first thing that comes to my mind when reading your email is a weak fuel pump. Lack of proper fuel pressure could definitely cause the problems you are experiencing.
Checking the fuel pressure is easy, but if the engine is running properly the fuel pressure will be normal. So, the fuel pressure will have to be checked while the issue is taking place, which is NOT convenient. Intermittent lack of fuel pressure probably won’t cause the check engine light to come on, which you did not mention. If the fuel pump is original, it is probably a good guess…BUT JUST A GUESS. You can remove the mounting bolts for the bed of the truck and slide the bed back just enough to gain access to the fuel pump. This is easier and safer than dropping the fuel tank.
The second thing that comes to mind is the EGR valve. I remember at one point the Dakota had a problem with the EGR valves and would cause somewhat similar complaints as you are experiencing. The EGR is a cheaper and easier GUESS, and your mechanic can probably take a look at it and make sure it is working and that there is proper vacuum to it.
I’m afraid you will either have to take a guess and start replacing parts….or wait until the problem gets worse. Worse usually means, leaving you stranded somewhere because the part finally gave out completely. Good thing is, when that happens the problem is MUCH easier to find.
Keep me posted as to what happens.