March 8

2005 Dodge Ram 3500, Cummins Diesel Engine Rebuilt

Dodge Trucks


Mark: Hi, it’s Mark from Top Local, we’re here with Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive, Vancouver’s best auto service experience, 17 time winners, just won another award as voted by their customers; winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver. How’re you doing Bernie?

Bernie: Doing really well.

Mark: So we’re going to talk about a Dodge Ram 3500, 2005; you had to rebuild the Cummins Turbo Diesel on this vehicle, why was that?

Bernie: Well the engine, a couple issues, the engine was leaking some oil on the ground. It was coming out of the breather tube, this thing believe it or not actually has a breather tube that the crankcase, the blow by gas is actually going onto the road which is surprising because for a modern diesel they abandoned those in cars about in the mid-sixties because they’re so toxic but I guess diesels are theoretically not so bad but anyways this had a road draft tube. There was some oil dripping out of there, there’s a lot of, a bit of smoke coming out of there and the exhaust was just extremely smoky. Now we had replaced the fuel injectors a while ago in this vehicle because they were old and worn out, some 220,000 kilometers, kind of the age of, age to replace them but the smoke persisted in fact according to the owner was even a little worse. I would have attributed it that to the fact the injectors we’re not actually delivering enough fuel to the engine and now with the proper amount of fuel being delivered the engine was actually smoking worse which was unfortunate.

Mark: So what tests did you do to get the bottom of this?

Bernie: So we figured there must have been a cylinder problem because the other issue was that engine was running a bit rough, when it was hot the smoke pretty much went away and the engine ran quite smoothly but when it was cold to cool there was a distinct roughness like a misfiring of the engine so there’s some interesting tests we can do and I’ll share a photo here, one of our pretty cool tests. What you’re looking at here, this is actually on a lab skill that we have, it’s a wave form of the starter draw of the engine, so the starter motor turns the engine over and there’s six cylinders in the engine and every time it comes to a compression stroke there’s a, there’s an extra draw of power because it takes extra energy to push the, for the starter motor to push the engine through that cycle so if you look here you can see one hump, two humps, three humps, four humps, five and then where number six is supposed to be its flat. Now that basically indicates that one cylinder is really doing nothing. Now if everything was perfect they should all be six nice even humps but again there’s one missing here so that is the, that’s what was going on with that particular, so that was the first test we did. So we determined one cylinder was bad in compression, from there we did a compression test in the engine; now this is a really involved job, most diesels it takes a lot of work to do a compression test. In the case of the one we had to remove all the fuel injectors to install a compression tester and what we found this one cylinder had about 50 pounds of compression which is extremely low and all the others had 450 which is really healthy which explains again why the engine ran like a 5 cylinder, so from there we, from there we did a leak down test. Now a leak down test we blow air into the cylinder, number one cylinder that had the bad compression and with the cylinder top dead centre we can determine is it a valve problem, is it a piston ring or a piston problem and they’re only by the amount of air escaping, if there’s a lot of air escaping it was all going down through the piston rings, through the pistons so we knew we had to remove the head and investigate further; so the problems basically a piston ring problem not a valve problem.

Mark: So that sounds pretty severe, what else was damaged, was anything else damaged?

Bernie: Really when we took the engine out, we took it apart, uh basically what we found is that we when we took number one cylinder piston out there’s two compression rings on the engine, on the piston and they were both broken, they were actually broken into pieces, they all came out in eight different pieces and the other cylinders we took out, two of them had broken top compression rings so even though the compression was good they were definitely on their way out; also the cylinder wall had some pretty bad damage especially number one cylinder because the broken rings it causes a strange wear pattern in the cylinder so it required reboring the cylinder, makes for the engine block fitting with new pistons. I can share some photos, we’ve got lots of interesting things to look at here, so let’s have a look at some pictures. So here’s our, you can see this o.k. Mark?

Mark: Yep

Bernie: So we’re looking at this is the piston from number one cylinder, that, where the right here that’s where the number one, the top compression ring sits and this is where the lower compression ring sits. This bottom ring is the oil control ring which just basically prevents too much oil from, wipes the oil off the cylinder so you don’t get a lot of oil burning but basically these rings are both broken, you can see a lot of black carbon deposits along here, I mean this shouldn’t look like this. One of the cylinders that wasn’t, had good rings it had very little carbon deposits certainly none, it’s o.k. to have it above here because that’s normal but anything below that it’s you know, abnormal so that’s our, this is our bad piston, few other pictures of the engine just to go over some stuff. These are the timing gears so this is the crankshaft gear, the camshaft gear, the gear that drives the high pressure fuel pump and then the oil engine pump gears, really heavy duty stuff, I mean these are straight cuts just really solid big gears, you know it’s a Cummins diesel, this is kind of what you expect in this engine. This stuff is kind of bullet proof, not much can go wrong with it. A couple other interesting things, here’s, here’s our new piston with the, with the rings in place, you can see how clean and shiny it is, there’s the upper ring, the lower ring and the oil control ring, the uh and what else have we got to look at here that’s interesting. The other thing interesting on these engines is the connecting rods, usually it’s a fractured connecting rod instead of cutting these nice and smooth when they make the connecting rod it’s a big round circle basically, instead that bolts together, instead of cutting it and machining it they actually have a cool way of actually stress fracturing and cracking it and makes for a very precise fit and very solid structure so its commonly used in a lot of engines nowadays especially if its diesel, so if you look at it you can see the ripply lines there, it can only ever be fitted one way you can never mix them up, so uh yeah, so that’s basically a few photos from the engine, just going to get out of here so I can see myself again. I’m back.

Mark: So did you do any other engine repairs?

Bernie: Basically all the bearing were in pretty good shape and the connecting rod and the main bearings were in good shape, we replaced them anyways while you’re in there, you got to take them all out anyways, it’s not a lot of extra, you know it’s an extra couple hundred dollars to make sure that nothing’s going to wear in the future but everything was in good shape so basically the block was bored, a new piston, the only thing we did was we had the cylinder head redone. What can happen on these engines is the valve seats can suddenly drop out of the valves which causes the valve to jam open and the piston can hit the valve and can cause catastrophic engine damage so we’ve never seen that happen but apparently, it’s, it’s somewhat common so, so we had the head done at the same time even though technically we could have bolted the head back on and the engine would run fine but you just never know when, when that failure might occur so it makes sense to do it now.

Mark: Sure, renew the whole motor.

Bernie: Sorry?

Mark: Renew the whole engine.

Bernie: Yeah, basically it’s a complete engine rebuild; the cam shaft was in great shape, the tappits, those are other things that can wear, the rocker arm, those are all in fantastic shape so with the new injectors this will be basically a brand new, a brand new engine.

Mark: So we haven’t talked about engine repairs in these truck very much; people have the impression they’re bullet proof.

Bernie: Yeah, you know we rarely get any engine work on these engines, there’s really not a lot that goes wrong with them, they are really well built and I’m not really sure what, what happened with this engine, why, why it occurred like this. The owner’s you know, very big on maintenance, you know it’s not like its chipped or any high performance modifications, I mean those kinds of things will really can shorten the life of the diesel pretty quickly when you over boost the turbo or you know, hauling super heavy loads up a hill, you can see some of the burnt pistons from you know trying to fly up the hill with a heavy trailer on the back and an over boost to the turbo so you’ve got to be careful with it but with good maintenance it’s kind of surprising and they’re generally bullet proof but like anything they do have their problems.

Mark: Any guesses why it failed?

Bernie: Not really, you know I, yeah, really not certain, you know and it could be that the owner wasn’t the original owner so it could be that the previous owner you know, in its early days may not have maintained the truck as well as they should have, they may not have changed the oil often enough that caused enough wear in the engine early on that you know, contributed to damage. It’s hard to say and sometimes you know it’s like human health, I mean you can, you can do all the right things, you can eat good food, you can exercise properly, you can still drop dead of a heart attack at 40 and other people live a crappy life and live to a hundred and same with cars, I mean you get somewhere people maintain them badly they last forever and others where you know, you just miss a couple oil changes and it takes a good engine out or even its maintained well, something happens anyway, so.

Mark: If you’re looking for service for your diesel in Vancouver, diesel car or truck these are the guys to go see Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, they’re 17 times voted best auto repair in Vancouver, give them a call 604-327-7112, you have to book ahead, they’re always busy or check out their website Thanks Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks Mark.

About the author 

Bernie Pawlik

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