Question about 1998 Dodge Dakota

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1998 Dodge Dakota Pickup Hesitates When Starting Then Stumbles

I own a 1998 3.9 L V6, Automatic Transmission Dodge Dakota, 2WD, 12 gallon fuel tank with 72,000 miles on it.

I drove two hours one day from my parents house to my own, parked it and when I went to start it the next day, it would only turn over and over.

The battery charge was fine, starter motor seemed to sound normal, engine would crank at normal speed (to the best of my knowledge). I couldn't figure out what had changed / failed.

So I looked at the three major components: Air, fuel, and spark. I could not get a spark (but I could smell fuel from the cylinder with the removed spark plug) so I tested the ignition coil for resistance and it checked out okay. I also attached a spark plug to the wire leading from the ignition coil and got sparks. From that information, I replaced the distributor cap, and rotor (the old ones looked okay as I did wires, cap, and rotor maintenance a year ago, but I figured it was worth a try). After doing so, the vehicle would start, but it hesitates and sometimes takes 5 to 15 seconds before it begins to run. Normally when the truck starts to fire, it stumbles until it reaches idling speed at which everything seems normal. I would say this happens 80% of the time. The other 20% the truck starts like it should.

Once running, I have no issues in performance, fuel mileage, or anything else that would make me think something was wrong. It's only when I start it and it's more relevant when the motor is warm and is started briefly after a quick stop (such as fueling up at a gas station, or running into a store for a gallon of milk).

Your help would be greatly appreciated.

Westley

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  • kernwt Jan 21, 2009

    From a cold start, I keep it at a 50/50 ratio. Half the time, no problem, the other half it stumbles.

  • kernwt Jan 21, 2009

    Response to motor1258:

    Once I turn the key, the starter engages, the motor begins to turn, and depending on the given instance, the truck will begin to fire / run. Sometimes this is within the first two or three seconds (I consider that normal), More often than not it takes an an extended amount of time to fire / run. If it takes more than 15 seconds, I normally quite, wait a minute and try again. Once the truck begins to fire / run, it stumbles (whether it starts instantly or I have to crank it for a bit) while it climbs to idling RPM and then seems to be fine. It doesn't stall out, doesn't hesitate, or stumble once idling is achieved. If I turn it off, the whole process begins again.

    Hopefully that helps.


  • kernwt Jan 21, 2009

    The only time I pumped the gas was after replacing the Distributor Cap and Rotor. Since then, I haven't had to pump the gas at all, just turn the key and wait.

  • kernwt Jan 21, 2009

    Thanks for the suggestion! I actually ordered a fuel pressure gauge off of Amazon this morning to see in fact if I am in fact loosing fuel pressure while the truck sits in the off position. Your suggestion seems logical to me and I'll check it once I get the gauge in.

    As for codes, I did borrow a computer scanner from Auto Zone, and it came back with no error codes. The gentleman at the desk warned me though that if my check engine light didn't come on, the scanner probably wouldn't register any codes.

    I also ran some injector cleaner through it when the problem was at its worse. It made it better but didn't solve the problem, perhaps I'll try another bottle.

    Thanks for all your insight, I'll let you know if it is in fact the injectors.


  • kernwt Jan 21, 2009

    Thanks, I find that interesting that the fuel injector cleaner can do just as much harm as good. I'll keep you posted, I won't have the fuel pressure gauge in until Monday.

  • kernwt Feb 08, 2009

    Sorry about the delay, Amazon took a bit longer than expected to ship the fuel pressure gauge.

    So I tested the fuel system. The fuel pump pressure reads at 48 psi when the ignition key is on (should fall between 44 and 52). When the truck is running the needle fluctuates between 46 and 50 (normal, I'm assuming, if its vacuum driven, which I think it is). After I turn the truck off, it maintains pressure dropping only 3 psi in 10 minutes (I feel that's acceptable).

    I should also mention that while I was out of town this past week I had the check engine light come on (right after making a quick stop off the highway). I quickly made my way down to Auto Zone to scope it out. The borrowed scanner said that the error code said a misfire in cylinders 2, 4, and 6 (I later checked, all the right side of the motor). It also said a transmission sensor, but I haven't noticed any weird shifting mannerisms. After a day, the check engine light went off, and I haven't felt any more misfires, but the warm hard starts continue.

    I plan on pulling the spark plugs from that side of the motor to see if they look okay. Not sure as to why only one side of the motor registered misfires.

    Any ideas?


  • kernwt Feb 18, 2009

    I went through and changed the 3 spark plugs in cylinders 2, 4, and 6. The old spark plugs didn't show abnormal wear, but when I went to start up the truck with the new spark plugs it ran worse.

    The only thing I could think of at that point were the wires. My logic was that I hadn't touched anything else but them when switching out the spark plugs.

    I ran down to NAPA, bought new wires (the old ones were Duralast) and "Walla" the truck is running like a champ! I haven't had any issues with warm or cold starts.

    I want to thank you for your help, and although it was not a fuel issue (It gave me an excuse to buy a new toy), I was able to fix the problem cheaper than what it would have cost to take it to the dealer.

    Keep up the good work!




  • Mike Butler
    Mike Butler May 11, 2010

    How does it start first thing in the morning? First start of the day?

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Do not

Posted on Jan 21, 2009

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  • Cesar Bikic
    Cesar Bikic Jan 23, 2009

    i didd not understand your hesitate,I do not understand what finally perhaps i do not know as much as You, please keep going wit the gurus, do not judge the wiz

  • Cesar Bikic
    Cesar Bikic Feb 08, 2009

    I will get a new car, if I was You or spend money on a mechanic, leave the work for the professionals and blame my self for buying a lemon

  • Cesar Bikic
    Cesar Bikic Feb 08, 2009

    I will get a new car, if I was You or spend money on a mechanic, leave the work for the professionals and blame my self for buying a lemon

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Hey Dakota people out there. My 98 Dakota would die while I was driving

Posted on Feb 09, 2011

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98 dodge dakota 3.9v6 runs rough all the time but everytime it rains it is hard to start and doesn't run good at all have put on new wires, rotr button, dis. cap and idle air control valve. what else can I do

Posted on Mar 29, 2010

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  • Dodge Master
  • 6,674 Answers

What does it do though , if you just start it & don't touch gas pedal,at all, will it start and idle good by itself, or stall out?

Posted on Jan 21, 2009

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  • Mike Butler
    Mike Butler Jan 21, 2009

    The reason I'm asking is I had a Dodge Caravan with almost identical symptoms & it ended up being injectors leaking down while sitting. It was basically flooding itself in 3 cylinders, due to leaky injectors. What I did was run it until warm when it would be the hardest starting, then shut it off, let it cool for a while, then pulled all the plugs & had a look at them. The 3 that were wet with fuel, pointed me to the 3 bad injectors. Perhaps an injector flush/clean might help. Have you had it scanned for any codes ? (autozone will do it for free.)

  • Mike Butler
    Mike Butler Jan 21, 2009

    Good idea on the fuel pressure gauge, that way you can test it at all scenarios, I wanted to suggest that but most people don't have access, or know how, so your one up on em. One thing I will tell you though is that injector cleaner can be a hit & miss, even though I feel why not for $5, the guy who rebuilt mine swears that the over the counter stuff actually does more harm than good to them. He said if anything, the STP that screws right on to your rail, and you pull fuel pump fuse, is what he recommended.

  • Mike Butler
    Mike Butler Feb 08, 2009

    Any difference after changing/checking those 3 plugs?

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5 Suggested Answers

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Did you check earth connection of electric system?

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SOURCE: 97 nissan maxima

throttle position sensor,or egr valve,also check your air filter,if this helps please gine me a fix ya vote

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Not to be rude, but, if you already know what's broke, fix it!!! Usually, if it's just the plastic line, just slip a piece of rubber hose over it. I use fish tank air hose for this, sometimes securing both ends with thin tie-wire.

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USfalcon
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SOURCE: 2001 chevy monte carlo hesitates or stumble on acceleration

try to clean the MAF which locat on the throtel and check the spark plugs from miss fire

Posted on Mar 14, 2009

Molson02536
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SOURCE: engine chugging the cutting out

Hard to say, it could be a dirty injector to and bad fuel pressure relay or the vacuume line to the fuel pressure relay. After that you could change the fuel filter, it may be dirty and causeing your pump pressure to drop when on demand. good luck and hope this helps

Posted on Apr 08, 2009

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