I have a 1999 Dodge Ram 2500 Cummins diesel, 162,000 miles. I keep taking it to the mechanic and it fails a week or two after being fixed. I use it to haul hay and horses and it goes up a steep winding grade and down every time I return and leave my house.
Older known problems: small transmission leak and the device that runs the ABS breaks doesn’t work and they don’t make new ones so the break light and ABS light are always on.
To describe what I’m running into, a little history of what I’ve had worked on the last year, especially during the last six months.
The “check gauges” light kept coming on and off. The RPMs waivered around when I drove between 30 and 40 mph. The speedometer would sit at zero and then randomly work again while driving. The same for the oil-ometer. Then it completely died on the interstate and it slowly coasted since the breaks didn’t work once the engine stopped working. Battery still worked.
Mechanic’s solution: a sensor that the engine uses to communicate between the two sides of the engine stopped working and so it automatically shut the engine off. (No, I don’t know what it is. I have absolutely no clue.) Once installed the engine worked alright, but that “check gauges” came right back on again.
More than a month later the engine started to sound weird, sort of a sound as if the cabin fans were on full blast. It sounded like it was coming from just beyond the dash. Also it had no pull or acceleration. Yup, that “check gauges” wouldn’t give up. I put a fuel additive in the gas tank in case there was gunk buildup in the fuel line. Gave up and I asked for a complete review of the truck to get an entire list of what is wrong.
Mechanic solution: Several things were wrong. It needed a new oil filter (the current one had “imploded”), the air filter was awful. It needed a new belt and the turbo was stuck in the on position and was sent out to be repaired. Also a new radiator. (To be honest, I drive the truck a few times a week, which I need to do, but I just don’t go far. I’ve driven the truck about 11,500 miles in 4 years so I probably have been behind on upkeep and had wrongly assumed that those things would be cleaned/checked during an oil change.) This seemed to fix it, although as soon as I turned it on when leaving the mechanic the “check gauges” light still made an appearance and I just started to assume it might be because of the ABS problem. The shop said they checked everything and there are no more issues.
- About two weeks after getting it back and making one long trip with it, the speedometer started it’s trick again. It is just suck at zero. The “check gauges” light is staying on more frequently rather than just popping up when I start the engine. And now the “air bags” sign is on. At this point I’m at my wit’s and wallet’s end. I’m desperate for this thing to work because I need to use it. My brother can help me a little since I am clueless. I might as well be looking at the portal to Narnia when I peek under the hood. I’m too terrified to drive it down the hill to have it checked in case the engine turns off again and I have virtually no brakes on this steep,windy mountain with no guard rails.
What does this light really mean? Is there a comprehensive list of gauges I can go through to check each on? How do I just make this thing work? I’m willing to research and learn something new if someone has a jumping off point for me.