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Truck won't start, Shakes and smokes

My 2000 dodge ram 1500 Laramie Won’t start, Here’s what happened.

The truck started just fine the day before, No problem. But when i went to start it today it continuously cranked and when releasing the key It shook as if it tried to start and started to smoke a bit from the engine. I popped the hood and looked around, Seeing smoke coming from the engine, there was also smoke Inside the air cleaner box.
Does anyone have any idea what this could be, And how to fix it? This is a big problem as I’m moving in two days!!!
Any help would be much appreciated

Maybe the engine jumped the timing chain?


Thank you for the quick response. Sorry, I know a little about a lot. What would be the fixing process?

Edit: Would that cause the smoke as well?

Thanks again.

If the timing chain jumps time, the piston, valve , and ignition timing is off.

And the engine will barely run, with a lot of smoke.


Alright, is this something i could fix at home? Or would i be better off taking it in? If its something i could do at home, What are the steps I’d need to take to fix this?

Side note, The truck will not start at all besides the shaking.

Smoke could get in the air cleaner box if the engine backfired a little back through the throttle body. That could happen if the valve timing was a tad askew, so the timing chain as mentioned above is a suspect . But weird things like that can happen when the engine isn’t firing in a step-by-step repeatable manner like it should, when some cylinders just aren’t firing for some reason. So that’s another idea, something is causing a misfire problem. Bad gas in the tank, or just lack of gas for example could cause it. A faulty ignition system, crank sensor not sensing the angular position of the crank shaft accurately maybe is another possibility. Faulty cam sensor another idea.

You might could get a clue by cranking the engine while somebody back near the tailpipe smells for a gasoline odor. If so, that could mean the ignition system isn’t producing the sparks needed to ignite the mixture in the cylinders.

Edit: Asking a shop to read out the computer’s diagnostic codes is probably where to start.

Good idea’s, Thank you for your input. I was originally worried to crank it more after it smoked (Had a car many years ago go up in flames while my father was driving it) So there’s some ptsd from that, Hahah.

There is some risk in cranking until the timing chain problem is ruled out. Valve damage can occur in some engines.

Are there any ways i can find out if its the timing chain at home that you know of?

Thank you for being such a great help.

Yes, it is possible for a diy’er to determine that. But it may be quite a difficult & time consuming job. It’s not something simple like doing an oil change in other words. It depends on your particular engine configuration what all is involved. Hopefully somebody here can provide some useful ideas.

I really hope so! Thanks for your help.

At this point, you’re in a hurry, not sure what the problem is, so just tow it to a shop. If its the timing chain, you aren’t going to want to mess with it so best to get in line at the shop so you can get it back.

Yeah, As much as i don’t have the money that’s what I’m thinking as well, Unless a hero comes along and knows what the problem is…

Timing chain replacement is about a 4 hour job on this truck, if you were to try to do it yourself, about 2 weeks.

If you could post a video of the engine cranking it might show some indication of the problem, timing chain failure is speculation.

I could get a video up of the cranking tomorrow.

Plan on getting a fuel pressure gauge also, fuel pump failures are common.

Would that cause the smoke?

The intake smoke was caused by a backfire, what caused the backfire is uncertain. Some of these old Magnums developed problems with the distributor shaft bushing. This would throw the distributor out of sync. That would be a challenging repair. If you are lucky it will be something simple.

To check for a stretched timing chain, remove the distributor cap.

Have someone turn the engine over in the normal direction by hand at the crankshaft bolt while watching the rotor in the distributor.

Now have that person turn the engine in the opposite direction while watching the rotor in the distributor.

If the engine can be rotated more than a couple of degrees before the rotor in the distributor begins to move, the timing chain is stretched and what caused it to jump time.


Was it a rainy wet day? could be ignition wire related if so.