2014 Ram 1500 Ecodiesel: Abrupt Stall While Moving
February 19, 2015
Everything seemed normal as I was driving my daughter to school in our 2014 Ram 1500 Ecodiesel. Well, almost normal. Five minutes earlier it had cranked an unusually long time (3 or 4 seconds) when I'd started it at home. That rather innocuous incident marked the third such occurrence in three consecutive days, so I made a mental note to tell the dealer about it at the next oil change before I backed out of my driveway and set off.
That plan abruptly changed as I rolled up to a green light and began a right-hand turn. A single-note chime resonated through the cabin, and I glanced down to find a brand new check-engine light glowing on the dash. Ten seconds later the engine died abruptly as I was slowing for the next red light.
I was gently brushing the brakes going no more than 20 mph when it happened, but the sudden loss of power brought me to a stop three truck-lengths short of the line. It was as good a spot as any for something like this to happen. This was a little-used shortcut with almost no traffic. But I was out in the second lane. I needed to move on or move over. So I pushed the start button and attempted a restart.
It was no good. The starter simply cranked and cranked until it timed-out after 25 seconds. I tried again and got the same result.
A prominent "oil pressure low" warning light was now on, along with others that read "service electronic throttle control" and "service airbag system." There was another that said something about an electronic power steering fault, too.
All of these were probably knock-on effects of the stall itself, the sudden loss of motive power and alternator output that none of these systems expected while the vehicle was moving. Still, the possibility of low oil pressure is nothing to dismiss, so I clicked on the four-way flashers, raised the hood, and called a tow truck even though the dipstick read full.
After a few minutes I tried one last time, and after a 10-second crank it came to life. But I was in no mood to resume driving and risk another stall in a more dangerous spot. My only destination was the nearby curb. Once there I shut it down gain.
The AAA tow truck finally arrived 53 minutes after I called, and we set out for McPeek's Dodge/Ram/etc. some 4 miles away. The driver expertly backed the stricken Ram into the service drive, and I got on with the paperwork.
The towing operation added ABS and stability control warnings to the mix that confused the issue, but I knew they didn't have any bearing on my problem. They were a mere result of the rear wheels turning while the fronts were stationary on the hook.
The engine started for the service writer, of course. You knew that it would before you read it. That's how it always goes. But at least he had to wait through an extended crank of some 5-6 seconds. And the check-engine light was still on.
I was told a mechanic should be able to get to it this afternoon. Stay tuned.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 25,561 miles