It can be very frustrating when a vehicle won’t start. There are many different issues that can cause the problem. This article is written with the assumption that you are looking for a way to get your Dodge Ram started now, and is meant to provide you with practical advice to help aid in the diagnosis.
There are really two main ways that a vehicle will not start. The first and most common is when it won’t turn over. This just means that the engine doesn’t move when you turn the key. The second way that your Ram won’t start is when the engine turns when you engage the starter, but it won’t fire and run on its own. When the engine isn’t turning over at all, that’s a bit easier to diagnose than when it is cranking but not firing. Just use the jump list below to move to your particular situation.
Dodge Ram Won’t Start: Not Cranking
There can be many reasons why your Ram won’t start. But, there are less things to troubleshoot than if it were cranking but will not start. Here are some of the most common issues that cause a vehicle to not crank:
1. Battery Cables
While the battery cables are not necessarily the most likely issue to cause your Ram to not start, they are some of the easiest to diagnose. You can take a look at the battery poles where the cables connect. If there appears to be green or white corrosion all around it, cleaning them may help get you back on the road.
Here’s a good article from Napa on how to clean a battery terminal properly.
2. Battery Charge
If your battery no longer has enough charge to turn the starter, your Ram will not start. As a battery ages, it’s “cranking amps” decrease, leaving it with a diminished capacity for starting the vehicle.
When this happens, you’ll often hear the vehicle crank slowly, but not start.
You can take your battery up to the local parts store, or even Wal-Mart, and have it tested to see if it is still holding a charge.
- Battery is Dead– If it’s dead, but charges back up and tests “good”, it would be time to check the battery terminals or have the alternator tested and see if it is properly charging the battery.
- Battery is Charged– If the battery is charged, then it would still be advisable to take a look at the battery cables and see if there is an issue with corrosion. Otherwise, it may be the starter that you need to look at.
A bad alternator can cause your battery to lose enough charge to start your Ram. It may have had enough energy to get you home, but when you go to start the vehicle, there’s not enough stored energy for the engine to turn over.
The next thing to look at when your Ram isn’t starting would be the starter itself. When the starter isn’t functioning, it is impossible to start the vehicle (unless it’s a manual, then you can pop start it).
If you’ve determined that a fully charged battery without corroded cable is the culprit, then it’s time to question whether or not you need a new starter. When a starter goes bad, they will usually not give you much warning first. Also, if you are stuck somewhere and are trying to start your Ram, the old beat the starter with a hammer trick is not a wives tale. It really can get that one last start out of it.
Dodge Ram: Engine Cranks → Won’t Start
There are a lot of issues that can cause your Ram to crank, but not start. The engine needs air, fuel, and a spark in order to run.
It is highly likely that if the engine is cranking, but not starting that it has thrown an OBDII code. It is definitely worth it to use an OBDII scanner to check and see if the engine has thrown any trouble codes. It is highly likely that if your Ram won’t start that there will be codes. These codes will tell you what the computer is saying is wrong with your engine.
By looking them up on this site, or just Googling them in general will lead you to a detailed diagnosis of that code. Hopefully, once the code has been addressed your Ram’s engine will start again.
1. Fuel Issues
If your Ram isn’t getting enough fuel, or any fuel at all, it may have a bad fuel filter, bad fuel pump, or bad fuel injectors. Without the proper amount of fuel getting into the combustion chamber, the Ram will crank, but not start.
2. Ignition Issues
One of the biggest issues that causes a vehicle to crank but not start is ignition issues. When there is no spark, the engine will not start. You’ll probably have a misfire related code such as P0300, P0301, etc…..
Ignition issues can be caused by many things, including bad spark plugs, bad coil packs, bad plug wires, computer issues, and more.
3. Engine Timing
If the engine’s ability to fire the spark plug at the right time is called “timing”. If the plugs are firing at the wrong time, or something has happened to cause the camshaft to no longer be in sync with the crankshaft, your Ram won’t start.
There will usually be OBDII codes associated with timing related problems, but not always. P0013 is a common camshaft position related code. The crankshaft sensor can go bad as well. When these sensors go bad, it can be impossible for your Ram to start.
Most modern vehicles come with smart keys that have electronic protection built in. This makes it more challenging for thieves to steal them. There are occasions where this security system will cause the Ram to not start. You’ll see a security warning when trying to crank the engine though.
5. Other Issues
There are a lot of issues that can cause your Ram to not start. That’s why it is so important to check everything. Here’s a great diagnostic chart that covers many different variables.
Conclusion: Dodge Ram Not Starting
There are many reasons that your Ram may not start. Tracking them down can be downright challenging. With enough time and patience, you can diagnose exactly what is wrong. Good luck with the diagnosis. If there is anything that you would like to add, please leave a comment below. Thank you.