Truck lost power while driving, now won't stay running


My 97 Dodge Ram 1500 lost power today. I was driving a few miles with power cutting out off and on and then it completely died. For while it would start and run and drive a bit before losing power again and sputtering until it cut out. After trying that a few times it will now turn over and fire but die immediately. The longer I seem to wait to start the engine, the longer it will run before it dies again, though even if I get it started it will idle and then run real rough and die again. Stepping on the gas to try to keep it going does nothing. When I was able to drive it I would step on the gas and periodically it would just do nothing (no rev no nothing).

I accidentally cleared a check engine code because I had the battery unplugged, but I had it scanned a month ago and code P0449 came up because my charcoal canister is busted and the line would get clogged (I cleared it and meant to replace it but didn’t get to it yet). Could this have something to do with it? Could that gunk up the O2 sensor or something? I unhooked the canister completely to see if it would run but no difference.

I imagine this is a fuel problem, but I don’t even know where to begin. With these symptoms, what would you try first? Something you would replace first? Or a way to test something? Thanks much for any and all help!

Fuel pump failure is common on these trucks as they age so is catalytic converter failure.

On the fuel rail you will find a service valve, you can purchase or rent a fuel pressure gauge to measure the fuel pressure.

It certainly does sound like a fuel problem

Crack open the air cleaner housing and spray some ether into the air intake

Now try to start the engine

If it starts rather easily, that confirms you have a fuel problem

It might all be caused by the canister problem. A faulty canister can cause a vacuum to develop in the gas tank, preventing fuel from flowing freely to the engine. It can also cause the gas tank to collapse, resulting in other problems. I’ve never heard of this next one happening, but it is at least theoretically possible for bits of charcoal from a damaged canister to get sucked into the fuel stream during the purge operation, which could clog the injectors.

I’m having the same issue I check the fuel pressure at 75 lb one thing is really weird I checked the timing belt and on the compression stroke top dead center The mark lined up at TDC but the cans are 180 out they’re the marks on the cans of pointing down there not pointing at 12 position I’m at a loss here you know I got 75 lb fuel pressure I just changed cam sensor and getting ready to change the crank sensor and it still runs like exactly the same way it dies in an idle press the gas and just like no power no nothing really stinks funny rich

hmmm … If the camshaft is exactly 180 degrees from where it should be with the crankshaft at tdc, wouldn’t turning the crankshaft another 360 degrees bring the camshaft back to spot on? Then both the crank and cam marks would line up correctly. That wouldn’t explain why it was on the compression stroke though. What did you do that makes you think it was on the compression stroke?

A Dodge Ram doesn’t have a timing belt. It seems that you have a Charger with the 3.5 L engine.

Just a wild guess here, with a broken valve spring the engine will misfire of course but without a mass air flow sensor the computer relies on the MAP sensor for an engine load input and it will be nearly impossible for the engine to run with poor vacuum. Connect a vacuum gauge, check for a rapid fluctuation in vacuum. Remove and inspect the spark plugs, perform a compression test.