Erratic fuel gauge

Tiny
DAN REAMS
  • MEMBER
  • 2003 DODGE RAM
  • 6 CYL
  • 4WD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 177,000 MILES
Hello, I Have been searching online and working on this for some time. I first noticed the problem when the fuel gauge would drop to empty and would hear the "ding". As I have watched this now for several months, these are the symptoms. Gauges will drop to the bottom, some or all, and come back up, usually right away or a second or two. All gauges including tach and speedo quit, when this happens the red indicator for the security SKIM will come on but it is delayed. When this happens they have never come back on without turning the key completely to off and restarting. The engine will also die occasionally (not sure if gauges also go at the same time or not, I do need to watch the road while driving) and will restart immediately. I can shift into neutral, turn the key back one click and restart without stopping. Occasionally I need to cycle the key more than once. When all the gauges quit I have tried wiggling the key and when I actually turn it far enough to kill the engine it will not restart until I turn the key completely to the removal position, so I have to stop and shift into Park to get it to restart.
I have checked all grounds I can find in the engine compartment (loosen, clean and retighten) as well as the ground between the ECM mounting plate and the block on the cummins. Have checked the braided ground strap that goes from the back of the head to the cab, looks okay but really hard to get to so added a ground wire from the head to a fender ground location. One forum poster said his braided ground strap had "sawed" into a wire loom and caused the problem. This is what a dealer told him, not his observation, they also replaced the gauge cluster, they said because the voltage spikes had taken out the cluster. His description of symptoms sounded exactly like mine. They also got $1000 of his money. I can only see this strap with a mirror and flashlight but I'm sure it has not worn through any wires. I have checked connectors at the PCM (disconnect and reconnect) and have visually inspected lots of other connections. Many are very difficult to get at to re and re without removing lots of stuff. I have spent a lot of time both on the computer and on the truck. I don't mind fixing things just would like to have an idea what to fix. (The first thing I did was the grounds in the engine compartment which included the connections on the battery terminals. I know that the gauges will go to the bottom if they do not receive signals from the communication bus for 3? Seconds and the SKIM light will come on if it doesn't receive signals for 10? Seconds. This makes sense with what I see, but why intermittent signals? A loose connection? But which one? Or maybe a bad or intermittent electrical component? I would appreciate any help you can suggest. I have not had this into a dealer. Nearest one is 5 hours away, and I don't want to pay them for hours of troubleshooting. No DTC codes and one C code "AA" pcm messages not received. This also makes sense with what I am able to observe.
Thank you,
Dan Reams
Edit: Also removed the gauge cluster on the weekend, re and re the connectors, everything looks good. Also checked the 1 grounding location I could get at without removing the whole dash. No change.
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Saturday, June 5th, 2010 AT 5:16 PM

8 Replies

Tiny
DOCFIXIT
  • EXPERT
Hi
With OHM meter check continuity from INST. Cluster connector 3 terminal #21 to Data Link Connector term #2. Also check grounds OHM from connector to body ground C1 term #13, C3 term # 11-12
Let me know result Thanks
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Saturday, June 12th, 2010 AT 11:01 AM
Tiny
DAN REAMS
  • MEMBER
Hello,
The day after I posted this question I found the problem. Not a problem with the cluster. I had installed an ipod adapter that plugged into the connector on the stereo for a remote CD changer. I did not connect this at all to the problem, but saw on a forum just after I asked for help here that someone else had installed the same brand of ipod adapter and had the same problem. I removed the adapter and the truck has been fine ever since. I sure am glad I found that, I would have kept barking up the wrong tree. Thank you for your response, though.

Dan Reams
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Saturday, June 12th, 2010 AT 1:20 PM
Tiny
DOCFIXIT
  • EXPERT
Thanks for that info will come in handy in future
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Saturday, June 12th, 2010 AT 1:27 PM
Tiny
DAN REAMS
  • MEMBER
Thank you for the site

Dan
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Monday, June 14th, 2010 AT 5:19 PM
Tiny
2CARPROS-ARCHIVES
  • MEMBER
  • 2003 DODGE RAM
  • 108,000 MILES
When the gas guage warning light comes on how much gas is left
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Tuesday, November 20th, 2018 AT 9:54 AM (Merged)
Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
IF I recall, it is 2 gal.
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Tuesday, November 20th, 2018 AT 9:54 AM (Merged)
Tiny
TIMMAY
  • MEMBER
  • 2004 DODGE RAM
I have a Ram 1500 and when I go to put fuel in it it shuts off like it is full. My fuel gauge is reading empty or a half a tank. It takes forever to put fuel in because it keeps shutting off. When I finally get it full the fuel gauge reads correctly.

Any help would gratefully appreciated.
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Tuesday, November 20th, 2018 AT 9:54 AM (Merged)
Tiny
KOBY
  • MEMBER
You have an electric fuel pump which has a sensor that indicates only as the float goes up. As you are fueling up the float maybe stuck or sticky until it is full it may loosen up. May have to drop your gas task, take out the electric fuel pump and check all the rubber peices on it. Probably just the float and may just need to be wiped off. For preventive measure, turn you ignition switch to the first position without starting the car and listen for the fuel pump loading up the lines. If it is super loud your fuel pump is probably going to go out sooner or later.
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Tuesday, November 20th, 2018 AT 9:54 AM (Merged)

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