Dodge Ram Engine Problems

by Rob Wagner

Dodge Ram engines, particularly the 5.7-liter Hemi and the 6.7-liter Cummins diesels, are durable, rugged motors that usually rise to the demands of severe workhorse duty. The 4.7-liter PowerTech V-8 engine, however, has earned only mixed reviews since its 1999 debut. The reason is due to instances of catastrophic engine failure. Most of its failures come down to a lack of scheduled maintenance.


The 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 was launched in 2004 and Cummins diesels have been a feature in Dodge trucks since 1989. Dodge trucks now feature the Cummins diesel 5.9- and 6.7-liter inline sixes. The 4.7-liter aluminum engine was first introduced in the 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee followed by the Dakota and Ram pickups and the Durango SUV, according to

4.7-liter Failure

The 4.7-liter engine can experience engine failure after 70,000 miles due to poor maintenance. Failure also has been known to be the result of some 4.7-liter versions with unusually thin block walls. This poor wall construction causes overheating, which over time will lead to oil sludge and cracked heads, according to

Live and Die

Drivers often experience instances in which the truck is driving well, but will suddenly die on the road and fail to restart. Following a lengthy rest, the engine may restart only to die again after a few miles. The likely problem is a faulty fuel pump.

Sludge Problems

Oil sludge is a common problem with the 4.7 and is usually caused by a defective positive crankcase ventilation valve. Changing the PCV and switching to high-mileage oil can help solve the problem, according to

Ignition Timing

Engine dieseling, in which the engine continues to run and knock after it's shut off, is an annoying but inexpensive problem that can be remedied. This is accomplished by having the ignition timing, idle speed, and cooling system checked to determine if the engine is close to overheating.

Altitude Changes

Altitude changes in mountain regions can affect the performance of the engine. It is not unusual to see the engine light go on at levels above 14,000 feet. The MAP, or manifold absolute pressure, could be temporarily affected and a computer code check will pinpoint the problem. However, often the only way to be certain if the engine is trouble-free is to have the onboard computer reset and have the codes rechecked, according to


Any Dodge engine approaching 100,000 miles is in danger of engine failure if the operator drives the engine hot over a long period of time. Engine temperatures reaching 235 degrees on flat terrain and up to 250 degrees on hills or pulling a heavy load are a recipe for a blown head gasket. Scheduled maintenance of the water pump, thermostat and radiator will keep the problem at bay.

About the Author

Rob Wagner is a journalist with over 35 years experience reporting and editing for newspapers and magazines. His experience ranges from legal affairs reporting to covering the Middle East. He served stints as a newspaper and magazine editor in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Wagner attended California State University, Los Angeles, and has a degree in journalism.