How to Test a No Start Condition
(Dodge 3.9L, 5.2L, 5.9L)

How to Troubleshoot a No Start Problem (Dodge 3.9L, 5.2L, 5.9L)

A lot of different things can cause your Dodge 3.9L, 5.2L, or 5.9L pick up, van, SUV not to start. You might be wondering, “Is it the fuel pump?”, or “Is it the ignition coil?”... and the list goes on.

Well, in this article, I'll offer you my take on testing a cranks but does not start condition that has helped me nail them down with a lot of success and I think this diagnostic strategy will help you too.

Besides, knowing where to starting testing, before replacing parts, will save you time and money and in this economy, who needs the frustration of throwing money away.

Here are the contents of this article at a quick glance:

  1. Important Tips and Suggestions.
  2. No Start Condition Basics.
  3. No Start 1: Checking for Spark.
  4. No Start 2: Checking for Fuel.
  5. No Start 3: Checking Engine Mechanical Condition.
  6. No Start Summary.
  7. Related Test Articles.

Important Tips and Suggestions

TIP 1:   This may sound too obvious... but just in case it's not clear... a no crank and a no start condition are not the same thing. This article only concentrates on testing a no start condition.

The difference is that in a no start condition the starter motor in your vehicle does crank the engine but the engine does not start. In a no crank condition, the starter motor does not turn over the engine when you turn the key to start your vehicle.

If your Dodge pickup (SUV, van) is suffering a no crank condition and you suspect the starter motor, the following tutorial may be of help:

  1. How to Test the Starter Motor (Dodge 3.9L, 5.2L, 5.9L).

No Start Condition Basics

As you're already aware, your Dodge 3.9L, 5.2L, 5.9L pick up (van, SUV) needs three very important things to start: air, fuel and spark.

When your Dodge vehicle cranks but does not start...it's because one of these three components is missing from the mix. Knowing this is the key to successfully diagnosing the problem. Why?

Well, because now you can do some basic tests to isolate the problem in one of three main areas where the problem could reside in. Let's go into some detail about these three areas:

1.) Ignition System

  1. The ignition system, on your Dodge 3.9L, 5.2L, or 5.9L is a distributor type system and is the one responsible for creating and delivering spark. Without spark, the engine will crank but not start.
  2. In this type of ignition system, the major components are:
    1. The crank sensor, which is located on the transmission bell housing.
    2. Ignition coil, located on the front of the engine (passenger side).
    3. The ignition control module function is handled by the PCM (Powertrain Control Module = Fuel Injection Computer) so there's no ignition module mounted externally.
  3. In my experience, the most common component failures, of the ignition system that cause a no start no spark condition are:
    1. Ignition coil.
    2. Crank sensor.
    3. Distributor cap.
  4. All of the above ignition system components can be tested.

2.) Fuel System

  1. Without fuel being injected into the engine cylinders... you can spend all day cranking the engine and it's not gonna' start.
  2. The fuel system component that causes the majority of no start no fuel problems:
    1. Fuel pump.
  3. Like any other electrical component on your Dodge vehicle, the fuel pump can be tested to make sure it has really fried.

3.) Engine Mechanical System

  1. The engine pistons and valves (and all the other related components like: timing chain. camshaft, etc.) are the ones that get the air into the cylinders to mix with the fuel (and then explode in combustion when the spark hits this mix).
  2. Although rare, internal engine mechanical problems can and do cause no start conditions (especially after severe overheating or running the engine with no oil).
  3. Possible internal engine problems are:
    1. Blown head gasket.
    2. Blown engine.

OK, the list of possible things that can go wrong looks pretty long... but it is rare to see (or have) two different components go BAD from two separate systems at the same time.

The cool thing is, is that there is a diagnostic strategy that you can use to figure out exactly what's wrong with your particular no start problem. Let's find out more about it in the next subheading...

Dodge Vehicles:

  • B1500, B2500, B3500 3.9L, 5.2L, 5.9L
    • 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998
  • Dakota 3.9L, 5.2L, 5.9L
    • 1997, 1998, 1999
  • Durango 3.2L, 5.2L, 5.9L
    • 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003

Dodge Vehicles:

  • Ram 1500, 2500, 3500 3.9L, 5.2L, 5.9L
    • 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003
  • Ram Van 1500, 2500, 3500 3.9L, 5.2L, 5.9L
    • 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003

Jeep Vehicles:

  • Grand Cherokee 5.2L, 5.9L
    • 1997, 1998