Where would you start?

Hello: I have a 1989 Dodge Ram utility truck, V-6. It has been stalling out randomly. First: The bottom radiator hose slips off, I have reconnected and placed a death grip on the clamp, I am hoping that is the fix for that. The battery is draining, I am going to replace the battery. I disconnected the battery and the truck stays on. I believe this may eliminate the alternator, but not sure. The last time it cranked on, I turned it off. I let it sit for a few minutes, I go to crank it back on and only a clicking noise. The battery shows 88% and that is from an overnight charge from 100%. Is that a possible cause for the truck to stall out? I’m not sure about the Amps, but I believe it to be about 600 Amps which may or may not be enough to crank the truck on. The truck will stall and after a certain amount of time crank back up. It sounds great while it’s running. No oders, no white smoke from the tail pipe, nothing leaking. I am trying to figure out a way to test the spark plugs but I’m still researching that. I’m no mechanic and blind as a bat with this now, any help would be great. What to do bext? I am wanting to fix this myself as I am on a tight budget. I have no special tools just some good ole wrenches and muscle. I gratefuly accept any tips, tricks, suggestions or any feedback at all.

First, with engine cold, remove radiator cap. Then start the engine and look for bubbles in the coolant. Then do a wet\dry compression test. If both of these tests pass, you can then move on to the separate electrical issue.

Hey tcmichnorth: Thank you. I have removed the cap. I did crank it up, It’s hard to tell if it warmed up to normal temp, but it did start bubling and even overflowing the radiator. I’ll have to look into a wet/dry compression test, I never have done that. I believe along with that I need to check the spark plugs/wires. When it’s running, it sounds great, no leaks, no smoke smooth idle, then it stalls and all I get a click and right now, I’m not even getting that. I will work that wet/dry compression test and keep you up to date. Thanks for the help. :smiley: Cheers.

Bubbles in the coolant? That’s not good and would indicate a possible head gasket failure. Do the chemical test for that before spending any more time or money. That wouldn’t cause stalling though but a poor battery could.

Hey Bing: I did not describe that correctly. sorry. The water was more than just warm, it was moving and overflowing over the radiator, No bubbles. Again, my mistake. The idea of a poor battery causing a stall is actually and hopeful thought. I have no problem with replacing the battery and I am going to do that as soon as I am able to get to a parts store. Having no transport and living where I do, well, it about a 2 hour walk to the nearest store and that really slows progress down. LOL! So, right now it looks like the next, is the chemical test and replace the battery. Thanks for any help.

You can’t perform a compression test with a dead battery, sounds like you need a new battery and not a compression test. Monitor the battery voltage with the engine off, while cranking the engine and while running.

When operating the engine with the radiator cap off the coolant will expand and spill over, that is normal, you don’t need a chemical test.

Just how old is that battery?

If it’s more than 5yrs old, it might be wiser to just replace it and be done with it

It might be unable to hold a charge . . . or you might have a parasitic drain

Google “parasitic drain test” . . . I’m sure there are plenty of guys that have posted the procedure. This is something you can perform quickly and cheaply. 50 milliamps is the limit, by the way

what do you mean when you say the radiator hose slips off . . . ?

Can I presume you have a plastic/aluminum radiator?

If so, are you sure, the plastic neck isn’t damaged, and that’s why the radiator hose is slipping off?

Nevada_545 Thanks.

Hey db4690: The battery is at least 5 years old. So, yes I am replacing it. I believe the first time I installed the hose, I did not place the clamp on correctly, or I did not tighten it enough; and after driving a few miles it simply slipped off. The radiator is aluminum, with a plastic top and plastic connecting ports. Other than improper install, I have no idea of what could have caused the bottom hose to disconnect on it’s own. When I installed it again this time. I muscled and checked to make sure the hose could go no further against the connection port and I tightened the clamp till I could no longer turn the screw. I am hoping that is a fix as I have not yet been able to test drive. I’ll google the “parasitic drain test.” Thanks for the response.

OK, bubbling versus bubbles? Over-flowing no bubbles? I stand corrected. No need to check for combustion in the coolant at this point.

Hey Bing: Yeah, sometimes I’m not good at describing details, but it is correct that over-flowing with no bubbles. I’m glad it does not need a combustion check, but I have made a note of that for future reference. I appreciate all responses. So, thanks.

The reason we were looking for bubbles in the radiator was to see if compressed air from a cylinder was being pushed into the cooling system through the head gasket. If the head gasket was leaking you would have seen air bubbles very shortly after starting it. The reason we went down this road was blowing hoses are a symptom of blown head gasket. The compression test would be to confirm or deny the results. These are two quick and easy tests to eliminate the possibility of a bad head or gasket. Seeing as it passed the bubbles test, @Nevada_545 is right. You need to bypass the compression test and get a new battery. I would be sure to clean battery cables at battery and where the battery grounds and starter and alternator connectors. That may resolve your problems but some good insurance would be to do a parasitic draw test as @db4690 suggested.

Do you hav an Autozone in your area? My understanding is that they will now make home deliveries. Even batteries.

Tricks? We got tricks. This won’t help but open the hood at night and look for sparks jumping off the plug wires. A 63 Ford would put on a really good show. If you see a light show, change the wires.

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Don’t do that again! Never disconnect the battery while a vehicle is running. I know there isn’t much in the way of electronics on an 89 Ram, but in a new vehicle, there’s a good chance you’d fry something expensive.