1987 Dodge Ram Van - engine rebuilt but has issues

I have a brand new engine in my van- it’s an 87 Dodge Ram van- I just picked up from the shop and it sputtered as if it was running out of gas. Filled it up and stared up fine, drove 10 feet for it to sputter, died and wouldn’t start. Finally got it to run and drove 5 miles home. There it sat for 3 days. I was going out and it was a hard start. I drove maybe 5 miles and it started to sputter again as if it was out of gas even though it had half a tank. It didn’t die and kept going. Then it made a huge bang from inside the doghouse but nothing else. I got turned around and headed home. As I was heading home it started to sputter again and almost died, but it didn’t. I got home and parked it. Now I’m here wondering what the heck is wrong with my van I just got from the auto shop.

What the heck . . . ?!

The first thing you should have done is have it towed right back to the shop . . . not go home

When you went to the shop to pick it up after getting the new engine . . . did it even start normally, in their parking lot?

If it didn’t, why on earth did you accept delivery of the vehicle?


Well first off; they told us that the starter was “wearing out” so it starts hard and secondly when we called from the gas station they said “it was probably low on fuel and then was having some problems with the carburetor and need some carb cleaner” but they also said they put in a new carburetor also. They also said that “it could be vapor locked if it doesn’t start if the carburetor cleaner didn’t work.”
Thirdly you didn’t answer my question. Four- it’s sunday and they’re closed so now what, huh!?

I’m sure they’re filling me full of s—t but what can I do about that!? I need to know what’s wrong or an idea of what’s wrong with my van for a preemptive strike.

No, you don’t. You are not expected to be the mechanic, the shop that put the engine IN is expected to be the mechanic. If you go in and tell them to fix what @db4690 suggest what might be wrong, they will fix that and charge you. It may not fix the truck because you haven’t described the problem well enough for someone as knowledgeable as @db4690 to diagnose with certainty over the internet.

There is a problem with the van you just had a new engine installed into. The engine you just paid to be installed. This shop OWES you a properly running vehicle. Take it back and insist upon it.


I am skeptical hat the shop put a brand new engine in your 87 van. The cost of doing that would far exceed the value of your van. The answers they gave you over the phone were also the kind of answers I would expect from Pep Boys, not an actual mechanic.
Since there could be a lot of things causing this behavior I can only make a wild guess, It could be the fuel filter needs to be replaced.
What did they charge you for this engine and where did it come from?

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I’m also curious about the engine. Some (many actually…) often refer to a used salvage yard engine as new or brand new when the only thing new is the fact that it’s new to the vehicle it’s installed in.

No way this van should have been delivered to you in that condition and no way should you have even left their lot.
When you leave their premises it opens you up to potential finger pointing by the shop.

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I think they put a junkyard engine in your van and the engine may have been the reason the vehicle was junked. Without knowing a lot more, nobody can diagnose it. Did you get a warranty? Everything you have told us they said is pure bs.

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Out of curiosity, why was the engine replaced in the first place?

As others have said, you paid for a properly running engine and so far they haven’t delivered that, so take it back.

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The big unknown is whether or not the engine is a boneyard unit and IF the shop guarantees it or their policy is that you wanted salvage you got salvage. The warranty is up the minute the hood goes down.

Some shops will guarantee salvage yard engines. Me? In my shop I NEVER guaranteed an engine or transmission that I have not seen and heard run. The history of problematic salvage engines and transmissions is pretty lengthy.


We bought a crate engine from Jaspers so yeah just because I’m a girl I do know what I’m talking about

We bought a crate engine from Jaspers so yeah just because I’m a girl I do know what I’m talking about and it was a new engine

I’m not going back to that mechanic pure and simple. I’m just taking it in myself to fix my van and I wanted some information about what the problem might be

Ok the engine WAS A NEW ENGINE- from Jasper Engines. Secondly I’m well aware he’s full of it. Anyways; I’m just going to fix my van. I want some idea of what I’m looking at. This jerk says he put in a new fuel pump and a bunch of other stuff (would you like a picture to see the full list!?) and now he’s thinking it’s the carburetor. I know he’s money hunting because yesterday when I called him he spent nearly 30 minuets of trying to get me to tow my van back to his shop. Besides a bunch of drama I would actually like some insight on this. Thanks again

The engine was from Jaspers. The engine isn’t the problem

Since this is a reman engine poor running will likely be in the fuel or ignition system. There’s no way of any of us knowing without van in hand.
A sizeable vacuum leak can also cause issues like this. I’d check for a vacuum leak first. It’s quick and easy.

I’m not denigrating you for being a girl with the subject being engines. Many women know more about that engines than some men. My daughter is one of them. She’s more proficient with automotive mechanicals than her worthless ex-husband.


Why was the engine replaced ?

I’m wondering if the original reason for replacement is still the problem, fuel system or ignition system or exhaust?

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Not a new engine, a remanufactured engine. There are no new Dodge engines from 1987 anywhere. Not Jasper, not at Chrysler.

From the what you describe it is a fuel delivery problem. chase that. Fuel vent, fuel pump, 41 year old fuel lines, pinched lines, bad fuel pump, does an 87 still have a carburetor?? Rebuild that, if it has one. If not, dirty fuel injectors. Have cash and spare time, it will take time to find 41 year old parts if you can find them at all.

But first, I’d do a compression check on your Jasper rebuilt engine to see if they screwed something up. I’d also check to see if its getting spark and if it is timed correctly.

Go to it, get to work and report back.

The symptoms sound like it is running overly lean, and the bang you heard is probably a backfire into the carburetor, which can happen if the air fuel mixture is incorrect. I think if you can get the air/fuel mixture correct, the bang problem will probably go away. I expect you have a particularly complicated carburetor, as non-fuel injected engines of that era often used carbs with electric control solenoids in order to pass emissions. I expect that’s where the problem lies, something with the carburetor is out of whack. Checking the fuel delivery rate from the fuel pump is within spec and the fuel level in the bowl of the carb is correct is what I’d do first with that problem. Severe vacuum leaks can cause this too, so double check the vacuum system.

I own an early 70’s Ford truck, so if mine runs ok, your van should be able to run well also. I’ve had vacuum leak, carb problems, ignition system problems, vacuum advance/retard problems, egr problems, pcv problems, all sorts of things over the years. Fixed them as they come up is all. One step at a time.

Cute dogs btw :wink:

A Jasper engine is a rebuilt engine. They seem to have a good reputation, but my daughter had a Jasper engine put in her Toyota Rav4 and jasper had to replace that engine two more times with long delays and much anxiety because Jasper would not pay for the labor to remove it or shipping costs until the inspected the engine and agreed it was defective and the third engine had a vibration that the original engine didn’t have so she traded in the car.

I am sorry for your troubles but you have probably learned by now that investing that much money in a 31 year old vehicle that is not a collectible is almost never a good idea.

I have been involved in 4 engine transplants, one a slant six from a wrecking yard ant he other 3 were bought by buying cars that were drive-able but were otherwise on the way to the junkyard because of rust. All 4 engines outlasted the vehicles. I much prefer a good running engine I can drive and examine to paying an arm and leg for a rebuild. Rebuilders buy engines from wrecking yards or rebuild shot engines that are taken in as cores and rebuild them with not highly paid workers as fast as possible. One of the Jasper engines my daughter got came with a cracked head that was leaking oil. How can you miss that?