Last Updated: 16.03.2022

Are you having some weird issues with your Dodge Ram 1500?

Is the engine acting up, sputtering, and producing crackling, hissing sounds at low RPMs? There’s a big chance you’re dealing with Dodge Ram 1500 sputtering and loss of power. This is a fairly known issue with the engine of Dodge Ram 1500.

A sputtering engine is usually caused by a number of problems that your Ram 1500 is going through. These can include clogged fuel injectors, leaks in exhaust, faulty spark plugs, and worn-out seals among other things.

To address this issue, we will go through all the possible causes of the problem and important maintenance tips. Keep reading to get the details!

What Is Engine Sputtering Loss Power?

dodge ram 1500 parked with lights on

Did you know that Dodge Ram 1500s that are 10 years and older are twice as likely to break down? 

The Dodge Ram 1500 engine starts producing noise (crackling and hissing) and you hope it is just something that will resolve itself. This is likely engine sputtering, which occurs when you try to start the truck. The engine can also sputter when idling. But, when you start driving, the sputtering goes away. 

This is a telltale sign that something in the engine is not functioning properly.

Common Reasons for Dodge Ram 1500 Sputtering Loss Power

Here are the various reasons why the engine of your Dodge Ram 1500 is sputtering:

Faulty Sensors

Your truck has sensors for everything, which help detect problems before they are too big to manage. The issue is that some of these sensors may get dirty or break down and become faulty, causing problems.

mass airflow sensor

A dirty mass airflow sensor is one of the most common causes of engine sputtering in a Dodge Ram 1500. The mass airflow sensor measures the mass air being drawn into the engine. The signal from this sensor is used to calculate injector pulse width. 

A faulty mass airflow sensor will cause drivability problems resulting from incorrect ignition timing and improper air-fuel ratios.

Spark Plugs

spark plugs

The next common problem that normally leads to engine sputter loss of power is worn spark plugs. Spark plugs should be changed at least annually or whenever your truck shows some telltale signs like misfiring, frequent stalls, hard starting, poor fuel mileage, poor acceleration, and engine sputtering.

Worn spark plugs contribute to starting failures, an issue that is compounded by cold or wet weather. A spark plug must be replaced when it is worn to the point that a misfire is likely. A misfire doesn’t mean that the plug doesn’t create a spark. It means that proper ignition of fuel/air mixture fails to occur whether a spark was created or not.

It is recommended to inspect spark plugs closely, noting, in particular, any deposits on the plugs as well as the degree of electrode erosion. A healthy spark plug will have a minimum amount of deposits on it and will be colored gray or light tan.

Fuel System Leaks

fuel system leaks

They are common in older trucks, and they usually occur when gas is leaking from the tank. A fuel leak anywhere in the fuel system, of course, is a complete waste. Fuel system leaks can be very dangerous because of the flammable gases that are being emitted.

To effectively trace leaks from your truck, start your engine, let it idle, and inspect the fuel tank seams, neck seams, fuel filler, fuel fittings at the fuel pump, fuel line from the fuel tank to fuel pump, carburetor intake manifold seam, carburetor assembly bolts, and fuel line fitting at the carburetor.

Tighten fittings and bolts. If this will not stop the leak, then remove the part, replace the gasket, or replace the part. 

Faulty or Leaky Catalytic Converter

catalytic coverter with exhaust pipe

The catalytic converter is a very important part not just for your truck but also for the environment.

The main task of this component is to reduce harmful pollutants generated by your Dodge Ram 1500. With it, nitrogen oxide is broken down into nitrogen and oxygen, and carbon monoxide is turned into carbon dioxide. 

It is a ceramic piece with metal coating in your truck. When the destructive exhausts go through the catalytic converter, the pollutants are significantly reduced in three separate stages.

When this device leaks or becomes faulty, it can leak toxic and harmful gases, such as sulfur, into the air. A failing or faulty catalytic converter can produce a rotten egg smell and cause engine sputtering.

Clogged Fuel Injectors

fuel injector

A fuel injector is a simple device. It is a valve that is opened and closed by a solenoid. Fuel injectors normally fail in one of four ways.

First, they get partially clogged with deposits and end up delivering an uneven mixture. Second, they fail to fire because of an electrical failure. Third, the solenoid stops working and the injector fails to fire. Fourth, the injectors drip after the truck engine is turned off, leading to a flooded no-start condition.

Clogged fuel injectors can not only cause slow acceleration but also engine sputtering. You can either clean or replace your clogged injectors.

Vacuum Leak

vacuum leak

The air is supposed to enter into your truck’s motor through the carburetors where it mixes with fuel. This allows the motor to work properly.

Sometimes you will wind up with a leak that releases air into places where it is not supposed to. In other words, air bypasses the normal engine intake tract. 

When your Dodge Ram 1500 has a vacuum leak, air may find its way into the intake manifold. Meanwhile, the ECU will continue injecting fuel, leading to a lean fuel-air mixture. This causes erratic idling, engine sputtering, and low-speed performance.

You will need an aerosol carburetor cleaner or starter fluid when checking for vacuum leaks. To check for a vacuum leak, spray the fluid on areas where you suspect to have a vacuum leak. If there’s a leak, the motor will ingest a little bit of the carburetor cleaner and the RPMs will change and you will know where the leak is located.

Dirty Air Filter

Your air filter is normally located near the top driver’s side by the engine. The bottom side of the filter is usually the side that drives air into the engine. The bottom side gets dirty over time.

A typical air filter has folds in it to increase surface area for superior air filtration. It’s typically made from some type of cotton, paper, or foam material. Air filters can be disposable or reusable, depending on the type of material.

The air filter prevents abrasive particles and other debris from entering the combustion chambers. It also allows a high volume of air to get into the combustion chambers, which increases the efficiency of the combustion process.

A dirty air filter will cause the engine to run with too much fuel, causing a misfire, sputtering, a loss of power, reduced acceleration, and run rough. The most ideal solution for this problem is to replace the dirty or clogged air filter. You can make the replacement after every 5,000 to 15,000 miles.

Engine Overheating

What you need to know is that there are many parts to your truck’s cooling system and they all have to be working together to cool your Dodge Ram 1500 engine. One or more bad or failing components could cause your engine to overheat.

Overheating is an accumulation of heat in your cooling system, which increases faster than the cooling system can remove from the engine. Most overheats occur around 220 to 240 degrees Fahrenheit. An overheating engine can crack a cylinder head, blow a head gasket, cause leaks in your hoses, blow seals, and more. All these problems could cause Dodge Ram 1500 sputtering and loss of power.

Start by opening your bonnet and inspecting the components of the engine cooling system. To be on the safe side, make sure you regularly check all coolant hoses for cracks. Don’t try to remove the cap of the coolant reservoir right after opening the bonnet. 

At this point, the pressurized coolant is scalding hot and can burn you severely. So, allow the engine to cool for about a quarter of an hour before you attempt to open the cap of the tank. If you’ve got a low coolant level, top it up.

Always use the right type of antifreeze. Also, inspect for a faulty cooling fan and check whether the cooling fan and temperature sensor are properly connected. Be careful when checking the cooling fan as it turns on automatically.

Important Maintenance Tips

The best way to avoid Dodge Ram 1500 sputtering loss power problems is to go through your truck’s maintenance. Here are the most important things to do:

Check Oil Level

Start by opening the bonnet of your Dodge Ram 1500. Then find your engine oil dipstick (it has a label of engine oil at the top side). Gently pull out your dipstick and wipe it off. Then insert it to check the oil level.

The graduated rod has marks indicating the safe zone and the add zone. If your oil level is in the add zone, you need to add to reach the safe zone. That would be around half a quart to one quart. Optimally, the oil level should be anywhere between the top of the safe line and the bottom of the safe line.

Excess oil levels are likely to cause problems like aerated oil, oil pump problems, and potentially causing engine sputtering.

Flush Your Radiator

A radiator flush is an important part of your Dodge Ram 1500 maintenance. The radiator helps cool your engine. So, you must flush it according to the manufacturer-recommended intervals. To do the job yourself you need a radiator cleaner, distilled water, coolant or antifreeze, aluminum pan, disposable gloves, funnel, and eye protection.

Park your truck on a flat surface and allow it to cool before you start the flushing process. You may want to jack the truck up a few inches and place it safely on the jack stand for better access to the underside. Locate the drain coolant, place a disposable drip pan directly underneath, and open it. Then allow the coolant to drain into the pan.

At the top, locate the radiator and twist off the pressure cap. Fill the radiator with distilled water using a funnel and then recap. Start the engine and turn on the heat and let it on for around five minutes. Turn off the truck and let it cool. Place a pan under the petcock and open it to drain and then close.

Follow the same process with a cleaning agent recommended by the manufacturer. Once you have drained the cleaning agent from the system, close the petcock. With the radiator properly flushed, you are ready to replace the coolant.

Change the Air Filter

Check the air filter to confirm that it is not dirty or clogged. If it is, then you have to change it. Start by opening the hood and then locate the air filter housing.

Remove the housing by gently disengaging the clips. Lift the top cover from the lower housing and remove the old air filter. Clear the inside of the lower housing of any debris or leaves. Install the new air filter into the lower housing assembly and ensure the edges are correctly aligned with the housing.

Align the air filter cover with the lower housing assembly. Fasten the air cleaner cover tabs and then close the hood.

Replace Engine Oil in Time

Run the engine until your Dodge Ram 1500 reaches operating temperature. Then park it on a level surface and turn off the engine. You may have to lift and support the front end of your Ram 1500 if necessary.

Go ahead and open the hood and locate the oil filter cap. Then rotate the cap counterclockwise with a 24-mm socket and lift it to remove the old filter from the housing. Pull the filter to disengage it from the cap and use a pick to remove the existing O-ring seal.

Slide a drain pan under the drain plug. Loosen the drain plug with a 13-mm socket and allow the oil pan to drain completely. Do a thorough inspection of the drain plug threads and replace the gasket and plug if it is damaged. Use a towel to wipe down the drain plug as well as the area around the drain itself.

Reinstall the drain plug and tighten it to 20 foot-pounds and lower the front end. To install the new filter, start by oiling the new O-ring seal with clean oil and install it on the filter cap. Press the filter into place in the oil filter cap. Then, lower the cap and filter into the housing and thread it into place by hand.

Then tighten it to 18 foot-pounds. Remove the oil fill cap and add the amount and type of oil recommended by the manufacturer. 

Put the fill cap back on and use a dipstick to check the oil level. Start the engine and check for leaks. Then turn off the engine, recheck the oil level, and close the hood.

Check the Condition of the Spark Plugs

If the spark plugs of your Dodge Ram 1500 are normal, they will have grayish-tan or brown deposits on the electrode side. You can confidently reinstall them after the check.

But some spark plugs may be fouled. Spark plug fouling is considered to be unwanted deposits that accumulate near or on the spark plug electrodes and cause misfiring. 

In most cases, fouling may result from carbon or fuel oil. Regular monitoring provides a valuable means for determining the operating efficiency of individual spark plugs.

Get the Dodge Ram 1500 Serviced in Time

Some maintenance services may be more challenging for DIY. So, you would want to get your truck service every 5,000 to 15,000 miles for a thorough inspection.


Why does the Dodge Ram 1500 transmission fail?

Transmission failure is a common problem with older Dodge Ram 1500s. It is usually caused by a malfunctioning torque converter. You could also experience shifting problems.

How long does a Dodge Ram 1500 last?

The Dodge Ram 1500 is a highly durable truck that can effectively last for 200,000 to 250,000 miles. According to some owners, the truck could last up to 300,000 miles when properly maintained and not pushed beyond its limits.

How do you get Ram 1500 out of limp mode?

To get this truck out of limp mode, you have to stop it and shift to park. Then turn the Dodge Ram 1500 off and wait for 30 seconds before turning it back on. This process should get it out of limp mode.

Why does Dodge Ram 1500 sputter when accelerating?

If your truck engine sputters when you step on the gas, you may have a problem with the fuel system, fouled spark plugs, or a dirty mass airflow sensor, among other possible problems.

Final Thoughts

You are probably wondering if you should still buy a Dodge Ram 1500 if it is likely to suffer engine sputtering loss power.

Don’t shy away from this truck because the latest model is a powerful one and boasts a wide variety of trims, roomy cabin, above-average fuel efficiency, barn door tailgate option, ram box design for additional storage, and an extensive warranty.

All you’ve got to do to avoid sputtering problems is give it proper maintenance and service every 5,000 to 15,000 miles.

Also, find out how to fix Ram 1500 leveling kit problems