Dodge Ram 1500 Starts But Won’t Stay Running – What Could Be The Problem?


A Dodge Ram can sometimes experience problems starting. That’s quite normal, as it affects all motor vehicles. However, it can be confusing when the truck starts but won’t stay running. So, what could be the problem here?

A Dodge Ram 1500 that starts but won’t stay running is likely suffering from a failed alternator. However, a lack of air can also be the root cause. For example, a dirty throttle body or clogged air intake components can restrict airflow into the engine. Besides, a new battery requires a reset to work correctly, and the fuel pump might have failed.

This guide will help you understand why your truck can start but fails to stay running. You’ll discover the root causes for this problem and their matching solutions.

Why Will My Dodge Ram Start But Not Stay Running?

When you find that your Dodge Ram can start but won’t stay on, you can first rule out the battery. Remember that the battery is only necessary to crank the engine before other components work to keep it running.

So, with the battery out of the way, here are the other issues your truck is probably experiencing and how you can resolve the issue:

Failed Alternator

The first thing you’ll want to consider when troubleshooting this problem is an alternator failure.

Remember: the alternator is a part of your vehicle’s electrical system that keeps the battery charged. On top of that, it also helps power to power your trucks accessories, both inside the cabin and throughout the body.

The battery is only responsible for starting the engine. Then, the alternator keeps the engine running by supplying the necessary electrical power.

Suppose your alternator has already been in use for several years. In that case, it’s safe to assume that the alternator has failed due to excess wear and tear.

However, alternators can also fail when their bearings wear out, their other components get too dirty, or from a fluid leak nearby.

Whatever the reason, a failed alternator will prevent your Dodge Ram from staying running.

How to fix it: Depending on the damage, you can rebuild your alternator and get it working correctly once more. However, you must weigh that option against the cost of replacing it with a new alternator.

If rebuilding it costs the same or more than a new alternator, you’re better off purchasing a brand-new replacement.

Read: Dodge Ram 1500 Has No Heat – How To Diagnose Problem?

Dirty Throttle Body

Another potential reason for your Dodge Ram failing to stay running is a dirty throttle body.

The throttle body is connected to your gas pedal. When you press down on that pedal, the throttle body’s valve opens to allow more air into the engine. Doing so increases the engine’s power output and accelerates the vehicle.

Unfortunately, all that air intake can cause build ups around the moving valve. When that happens, the valve won’t open to let air in, essentially suffocating your engine.

Remember: an engine needs three things to run, which are fuel, sparks, and of course, air. Without any air, the engine will stop running.

How to fix it: Thankfully, there’s no need to replace the throttle body when it gets dirty. Instead, you’ll want to clean it thoroughly and restore its functionality.

You can do that by spraying throttle body cleaner into the component to dissolve any buildup causing problems. Then, after a few moments, wipe the fluid away along with any other dirt in that area.

This task is incredibly straightforward, so you can do it yourself in your garage or hire your preferred mechanic to do it for you.

Read: Dodge Ram 1500 Noise In the Front End – How To Diagnose? What’s The Cause Of the Problem?

Clogged Air Intake Components

Aside from the throttle body, the engine also relies on other air intake components like the air filter, manifold, and air control valve.

Unfortunately, there’s dust and other contaminants wherever there’s air. The air filter is designed to remove those contaminants from the air, but it gradually becomes saturated and restricts airflow into the engine.

When the saturation becomes severe, no air can flow into the engine, causing it to stall and shut off.

Meanwhile, a damaged air filter will allow contaminants to form buildups within the manifold. That will also stop the engine from getting the air it needs.

How to fix it:  First and foremost, you must change out your air filter and do that again regularly. Maintaining a clean air filter will not only solve this problem but also prevent airflow-related problems from happening in the future.

Suppose the clog is somewhere deeper inside the air intake components. In that case, you’ll have no choice but to dismantle everything and clean the airflow restriction. Doing so will restore smooth airflow, allowing your engine to breathe again and stay running.

Read: How to Program a Key Fob (For All Cars)

Battery Requires A Reset

Suppose you recently replaced the battery in your Dodge Ram. In that case, your engine won’t stay running because the battery requires a reset.

More specifically, you’ll need to reset your truck’s computer system to recognize the new battery. That way, the vehicle’s electrical system can function normally, and the engine can continue running as expected.

How to fix it: Here’s how you can perform a reset after changing the battery in your Dodge Ram 1500:

  • Firstly, disconnect the negative cable on your battery.
  • Then, turn the key to the Start position and hold it for 30 seconds. Simultaneously, you must push the gas pedal down to the floor. Release both after 30 seconds have passed.
  • Next, reconnect the cable to your battery’s negative terminal.
  • Lastly, restart your engine like you normally would.

After you start the engine, take the truck for a test drive to ensure the engine stays running as it should.

Read: Jeep Cherokee vs Renegade

Failed Fuel Pump

Lastly, you must also consider the possibility that you have a failed fuel pump in your Dodge Ram.

As you read earlier, the engine requires a few different things to run, including fuel. That fuel is stored in your tank, but it needs a little help to go from there to the engine.

That’s where the fuel pump comes into play. When you start the truck, the pump will drive fuel from the tank through the fuel lines and into the engine’s chambers. That process continually supplies the engine and keeps the combustion process going.

Unfortunately, when the pump fails, the fuel in the tank has no way of reaching the engine.

It won’t take long for a running engine to stall and die out when it no longer has any fuel being supplied to it.

How to fix it: Fuel pumps rarely fail, as they have an expected lifespan of about 100,000 miles or more. However, everything can fail at some point, and a part like the fuel pump must be replaced immediately.

Getting a new one will allow your Dodge Ram to run smoothly without any worries on your part.

Read: How To Track a Car Location Online?

Final Thoughts

While it’s common for people to experience starting problems, it’s also possible for one to start but can’t stay running. That can certainly happen to your Dodge Ram 1500. When the truck starts but then dies out, that rules out the battery. Instead, you should focus on troubleshooting the alternator, throttle body, and clogged air intake components. Besides that, a new battery requires a reset to function correctly, and a failed fuel pump will prevent fuel from keeping your engine running.

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