2014 Ram 1500 Ecodiesel: Oil Service, Phantom Sounds and More About the Stall Problem
April 28, 2015
The oil life monitor counted down towards zero, indicating that it was once again time for us to take our 2014 Ram 1500 Ecodiesel in for a routine inspection and an oil/filter change. But there was another item on the service menu this time. The Ram regional service representative asked that we time our visit so he could rendezvous with us at the dealership and see how our truck was doing after its fuel system service in late February.
We expected this. It was something he requested when it was released back to us after the work was completed. His plan was to follow-up with a visual inspection and plug in his laptop to see if any of the codes had returned.
And there was one more thing on the menu. A couple of us, including yours truly, had heard an odd, sporadic ticking sound at low speeds a few weeks back. That sound ceased after a few days and hasn't been heard by anyone for a couple weeks. It's pretty much impossible to diagnose a sound that isn't there, but we planned to mention it anyway.
The dealer mechanics started things off by replacing the oil with 11 quarts of fresh 5W30 synthetic and swapping in a new $60 oil filter. The cost: $170.70, minus 10 percent for my AAA member discount. Sales tax brought the total to $165.80.
After they finished, the Ram regional rep swooped in and inspected all the areas where the fuel system work had been done. He plugged in his laptop. Nothing was amiss, there were no codes. It all checked out and he was satisfied.
Neither of us heard any sort of tick, which wasn't surprising because I had only heard it briefly during my DEF rundown trip and hadn't heard it since. A thorough visual inspection turned up nothing. Perhaps it had somehow been debris-related and the culprit was gone.
With no noise, no witness marks and a strong-running truck, about all we could do was table the issue and endeavor to make notes in a logbook if it ever happens again.
After that the dealer mechanics went ahead and performed their usual inspection. Everything checked out and got a green "Checked and OK" rating, including the brake pads. The only items that received a yellow "Will Need Future Attention" rating were the air filter and the tires, neither much of a surprise as we turn over 30,000 miles.
The dealer's note says that all four tires still have 6/32" of tread remaining, which could well translate into another 10,000 miles. After all, summer is approaching and the prospect of rain over the next six months is diminishing fast.
At this point you may be asking, "But Dan, what was the verdict on the fuel system stalling problem?"
Ram has told me a few things: The Bosch high pressure injection pump under the hood checked out fine. There were no problems there.
The trouble apparently started inside the canister that sits on the bottom of the tank. Somehow the in-tank pump's intake orifice had become obstructed, which interrupted the supply of fuel and starved the underhood injector pump. Essentially, the truck abruptly ran out of fuel even though there was fuel in the tank.
The item that plugged the orifice has proven hard to identify. It's too large to have made it through the intake strainer screen, which is designed to catch anything that could obstruct the intake orifice. Whatever it was would have had a very hard time making it there from the tank.
I'm told the item is plastic, but they have not yet identified its source. It could be a stray remnant of the pump manufacturing or installation process, a shaving of some sort. The leading theory says it didn't get past the strainer screen because it was inside all along. I'm still awaiting a final determination, though.
For its part, the pump is a common design that the supplier customizes for the specific needs of a wide range of vehicles, both gasoline and diesel, made by numerous brands. What happened seems to have been a very low-probability fluke. I'll add further updates as I learn more.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing