CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

1996 Dodge Ram Van B2500 stalling, loses power, backfire

Trying to figure out what the heck is going on with my 1996 Dodge Ram Van B2500. I purchased it a year ago, and for the past several months, its been acting up. Starts right up first start of the day. As day goes on, has difficulty starting, and stalls intermittently, also loses power with the gas pedal at higher speeds. It surges and big big backfires come out of the tail pipe. This has gotten worse and worse, particularly the past 3 days. New computer put in it a few months ago, new battery, alternator, ignition coil, plugs, wires & distributer cap, oil filter, radiator and yesterday put in a new air filter, replaced both oxygen sensors AND the idle air control…alas, the same problems exist. Check engine light came on, but off today. Its so intermittent, and rarely GEN light would come on for a minute. Van would go for a couple weeks with no probs, but now its gotten real BAD! Fingers crossed I can make it to the auto parts store! Anyone? Much appreciate the advice!

Check for a worn timing chain.

Tester

Who told you it needed a new PCM computer? The PCM has rarely been the cause of a problem, in my experience.
The ignition stuff was a good starting point, especially if it was in need of a tune-up.
Have your codes read and post them, please.
What is your charging voltage at idle? Hook up a voltmeter across the battery terminals at idle.
Any audible vacuum leaks?
Has anyone checked fuel pressure?
You might have a plugged catalytic converter if it’s been missing for awhile.

I had similar problems with my 2000 Dodge Ram Van B2500 except no backfiring. Just died, stalled or wouldn’t start intermittently. After replacing the fuel pump, crankcase sensor, etc. The check engine light never came on so no help with diagnosis from my mechanic’s computer. It was the ECM. Happened again 7 months later. Rebuilt computer was still under 1 year warranty. Great service from Autoecms.com. Good luck.

I had a problem with a '95 Bronco, starts but no power and the catalytic converter heats up. I sold the thing as is. The buyer solved the problem when he put in a new distributor.

well I had a 1996 Dodge 2500 van for 15 years. Around 100k miles, it developed the same symptoms as your’s. Some times I could drive 200 miles ok and then it would do the same thing again. It turned out to be the fuel pump. The pump still worked but it was like a can inside another can that would rize and fall with the fuel level. It was hanging up and would not always fall down. Does your’s still have the original fuel pump? Or a OEM replacement? The replacement I bought at Carquest was different.
It dosen’t act like a plugged converter.

Have you found the problem yet?