1995 Dakota won't stay running

Tiny
SLEDOGZ
  • MEMBER
  • 1995 DODGE DAKOTA
  • V8
  • 4WD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 110,000 MILES
I've been having problems with the truck, which I originally thought was water in the fuel tank. I decided to use the manual method of checking for fault codes, and discovered that when I turn the key to on, the check engine light clicks and flickers randomly sometimes so fast it's just fluttering. It is supposed to blink a number of times to indicate the code numers, hesitating between numbers). Any clue as to where to begin? The wiring all looks good, nothing worn, and 95% of it is still neatly wrapped in the original protective tape. No fuses are blown.
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Sunday, February 6th, 2011 AT 6:48 PM

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Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Start by measuring battery voltage with an inexpensive digital voltmeter. If you find around 11.0 volts, suspect a shorted cell in the battery. Another clue is the Check Engine light will stay on nice and bright for a few seconds after starting the engine because the Engine Computer is getting full voltage from the alternator.

Caradiodoc
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Sunday, February 6th, 2011 AT 9:00 PM
Tiny
SLEDOGZ
  • MEMBER
The battery is an Optima Red Top and is about 6 months old. It has endured many attempts to get it restarted. It still has plenty of cranking power, but I will get a voltmeter and check it before proceeding any further.
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Sunday, February 6th, 2011 AT 9:57 PM
Tiny
SLEDOGZ
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Okay, according to my battery charger, the battery is around 12.2 volts. Waht now?
At this time it will crank, and attempt to start, but can't get it to stay running. In the past week, I've gotten it to run, warmed it up, took it out and it ran fine. Still thinking that it might be condensation in the tank, I decided to take it slowly up a steep hill. The way it acted, I thought it had sucked up water from the bottom of the tank. I had a heck of a time keeping it running enough to get it home. Now that I've discovered the flickering check engine light, I'm not so sure it's a fuel thing. I will keep in touch, and let you know if and when I get this resolved. I see a lot of people asking questions, but don't see a lot of those coming back with how they were able to fix the problem.
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Sunday, February 6th, 2011 AT 10:31 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
A battery charger's voltmeter is nowhere near accurate enough, but it sounds like that isn't the problem anyway. Do I understand the Check Engine light is flickering even when you're driving the truck? If so, look for loose or dirty battery cables including the small black negative wire that bolts to the inner fender. About by '95 - '97 there is a red positive cable bolted to the under-hood fuse box. Be sure that nut is tight. Look for any bullet connectors in the larger cables behind the battery to be sure they aren't loose or corroded. You can also try wiggling on the wiring harnesses while a helper watches the Check Engine light for you.

Normally when the Check Engine light turns on while driving, there will be a diagnostic fault code stored in the Engine Computer. Cycle the ignition switch from "off" to "run" three times within five seconds, then count the flashes of the Check Engine light. You might see a single flash, a short pause, then two flashes and a longer pause. That's code 12 which can be disregarded. The last one will be code 55 which means "end of message". It's the code(s) in between that are important. If there are no other codes, the Check Engine light shouldn't be on at all after the initial few seconds for a bulb check when you turn on the ignition switch. That would imply the bulb driver circuit in the Engine Computer has a problem. That would be very unusual.

Caradiodoc
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Sunday, February 6th, 2011 AT 10:47 PM
Tiny
SLEDOGZ
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As mentioned in my first message I was attempting to "Cycle the ignition switch from off to run." When I discovered the flickering light that clicks pretty loud while it flickers. At this time the truck will crank and stumble, but it will not start enough to stay running, so I can't tell if the flickering happens while driving. If I could drive it, I'd take it to a mechanic.

Back to the battery. My Smart Battery Charger, was hooked up to trickle charge. I went out to check it an hour later, and it showed Fault code F03 (Internal open cell/ Sulfated condition - have battery checked by certified auto service center)
The charger may not be entirely accurate, but it IS telling me something is wrong with the battery. Will let you know after I have it checked and replaced.
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Monday, February 7th, 2011 AT 3:50 PM
Tiny
SLEDOGZ
  • MEMBER
I replaced the battery, and the flickering check engine light is resolved, but I still can't get it to start.

I don't want to start blindly replacing parts, so I'll read through some of your other posts, and take it from there. I'll keep you posted if I get it resolved.
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Wednesday, February 9th, 2011 AT 4:49 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Be aware that when the battery is disconnected, the Engine Computer loses its memory. It will have to relearn "minimum throttle" before it will know when to be in control of idle speed. Until that happens, you won't get the nice idle flare-up to 1500 rpm at start-up, and you might have to hold the gas pedal down 1/4" to get it started and to keep it running when you pull up to a stop sign. To meet the conditions for it to relearn minimum throttle, drive at highway speed with the engine warmed up, then coast for at least seven seconds without touching the bake or gas pedals.

Caradiodoc
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Wednesday, February 9th, 2011 AT 7:38 PM

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