February 26

2016 Ram Diesel, Intake Manifold

Dodge Trucks


Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert. I'm here with Bernie Pawlik. Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience. 25 time winners of best auto repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. We're talking trucks. How you doing Bernie? 

Bernie: Doing very well. 

Mark: So today's victim is a 2016 Ram V6 Diesel. I refuse to call it an EcoDiesel. Had an, I don't blame you, intake manifold problem. What was going on with this vehicle?  

Bernie: Yeah. It's funny, the names these companies use, like the GM Ecotech, the Dodge EcoDiesel, Honda Earth Dreams. It's like, you know I don't know. 

Mark: Marketing people writing everything. 

Bernie: Marketing, yeah, the marketing department. Anyways so what was going on with this vehicle, it came to our shop with a check engine light on. It wasn't performing quite up to snuff. Basically the check engine light was on. So the customer wanted to have us look at it and do some repairs. 

Mark: So what's the process of testing and diagnosis you go through with the truck?

Bernie: Road testing the vehicle first to see how it's operating and just, you know, having a visual inspection, of course, of the dash. Which warning lights are on. Then a complete vehicle code scan. Which we did. And found in the engine module there's two codes related to the intake runner system performance.

So what the intake runner is, is basically inside the intake manifold there's a valve, they called a swirl valve. It'll affect the way the air flows through the intake valve. It'll close under certain conditions and open under others. So there's like two passageways through the intake manifold to change the airflow.

And so what happens is over time. Something will go wrong with either the motors or the valves will get plugged up or something will break. It's pretty common on many diesels to use this kind of system. So that's basically what we're looking at. The intake manifold swirl valve was the issue.

Mark: So how did you get to know that it was the swirl valve? The computer's not telling you that that's the problem. It just says there's something wrong in the intake system. 

Bernie: There isn't. So from there we use our experience, knowledge. We have databases of repair information for certain trouble codes, and we have lots of resources that we can look at before we tear anything apart.

Because you know, at some point where you're thinking, well, something's got to be replaced. So we do a little research before we take things apart and pretty much determined the swirl valves were probably either, you know, carboned up or something was affecting the operation of their movement.

So, the computer will sometimes monitor the movement of the valve, sometimes it'll monitor performance related to it, maybe the motors aren't operating properly. So from that, we determined we need to remove the intake manifold, inspect it, and then go from there. 

Mark: So, would you normally expect that to, like, if it's a carbon issue, to be happening on this young of a vehicle? It's only 2016. 

Bernie: Well, it does have 171,000 kilometres, so it's a good question. And 2016 is actually 8 years old at this point, so I know it seems like yesterday for old guys like you and I. But it's like, it is actually, so this vehicle did actually have a fair bit of mileage on it. And so that's probably not unexpectable to have that.

And you know, even with lower mileage though, after eight years, if you're just doing like really short trips. You're going to get a lot more carbon deposits just based on cold operation, because the engine doesn't warm up enough. So maybe a little soon, but probably not. It's probably in the right range. 

Mark: You've started to determine this, you've got to tear some things apart. What's involved in that? 

Bernie: Yeah. So what we figured we would be doing is replacing the intake manifold. At least removing it to inspect it first. So we proceeded to do that. Removed the intake manifold. We ordered up another one, you know, because based on the codes and what our past experience, usually the manifold will need to be replaced because there's too many carbon deposits on the swirl valves to actually operate. So we can look at some pictures right now, actually, cause it's always good to see pictures. 

Mark: And you need to replace that because you can't get inside the manifold. It's all manufactured and buttoned up and not really repairable to change those valves.

Bernie: Well, you can let's just, we'll just look at some pictures. You can actually get at them and you could clean them, but in this case, the design of the manifold, it's made of plastic. And of course, plastic wears. 

So this is a picture with the cab of the truck removed. We happen to have another Eco Diesel in the next bay with some other repairs that might be in next week's podcast for a completely different issue. But we did remove the cab to do this job. It's not necessarily required, but there were some seized bolts at the very back of the engine.

2016 Ram Diesel, Intake Manifold

And so we ended up having to remove the cab to get it off. And the cabs are not that difficult to remove. And these vehicles are actually designed for easy removal. I mean, it's a few hours work to take it on and off, but it's not as complicated as it seems of course, with our expertise.

Mark: Don't try this at home. 

Bernie: Don't try this at home, in other words. 

There's a view of the engine kind of reassembled you know, ready for the cab to go back on. So you can see the engine. These are some of the electrical plugs that we have to remove and things that are kind of kept in place when the cab is removed.

2016 Ram Diesel, Intake Manifold

Mark: I'll take your word for it. It looks like a big schmozzle of spaghetti. 

Bernie: It's a lot, but you know, the great thing with removing a cab from a vehicle like this is once you have it off, it's like working on an engine on an engine stand. And so the amount of work is, the pain you have to go through to remove the cab, it gives you the pleasure of doing the repairs in a much easier manner.

So let's have a look at this manifold. Okay. So this is the really ugly side of the intake manifold. This is the passageway. You can see it's basically just full of carbon deposits. I mean, if you look at this one, I'm moving my mouse pointer around here. If you look at this passageway, I mean, there's less than half of the amount of airflow capacity that you would have.

2016 Ram Diesel, Intake Manifold

And I actually didn't take a picture of the new one. It's a V engine. So there's different sides of this manifold. This is the other side. There's much less deposit here because the way the EGR valve is located. It flows more on one side of the intake than the other.

2016 Ram Diesel, Intake Manifold

You can see there's an awful lot of deposits here, but you can actually see the valve here. So these move and I mean, you could scrape the carbon out, but again, being a plastic manifold with a metal rod going through it. These develop play over time. And then you have the motor that's being strained by trying to move it with all that guck on it.

It just doesn't make any sense to try to repair it. If you're at home and you actually attempted to do it, you could try it. Probably not worth doing. 

There's another view of items removed where the intake manifold is located. EGR valve sits in this area here. So this is where the worst deposits start to come in on this bank of the intake system. 

2016 Ram Diesel, Intake Manifold

So the other thing, of course, there's a lot of carbon deposits that get deposited. And I actually got a little too late when my when my tech was working on it, we did the walnut shell blasting for the intake port. So the intake valves are located just beyond where you can see here where I'm moving my mouse pointer.

2016 Ram Diesel, Intake Manifold

But there's a lot of carbon in these passageways as well on the back of the intake valves. So we did a walnut shell blast cleaning on this. This is before the cleaning. 

And this is after. So you can see much cleaner, not perfect that the carbon was on there so hard, but I mean, it's pretty much 98% clean and you can actually just see a tip of the valve back there. So, again, the valves cleaned off. So, yeah, that was the other part of the job that we ended up doing as well. And I think that's our picture show for the day. 

2016 Ram Diesel, Intake Manifold

Mark: So you mentioned the EGR valve, and I know from previous podcasts we've done, that's perhaps the problem cause area of all this carbon buildup. Would replacing the EGR valve on a more regular basis, sort of give you some more mileage out of it? Is it worth doing something like that? Or is that just crazy? 

Bernie: I don't think so, because the EGR valve just allows the gases to flow in. It's not actually creating the carbon, it's just doing its thing. Now I will say that there are people who remove these things or they disable them. It's not legal, it's not even ethical in my opinion because the pollutants from diesel are so disgusting and dangerous. But you know if you own a vehicle, you can do what you want with it.

But if you disable the EGR system, you won't have these carbon deposits. So, I'm just saying there's a plus to simplicity. The old diesels never had EGRs in them way back when, where they rattled and knocked and sounded horrible and got really good gas mileage and lasted forever.

But you know, they put a lot of soot and particles and crap in the air and you can't stand nearby and breathe from them, but, you know, there's beauty in simplicity. But anyways, short of disabling the EGR valve, replacing it wouldn't make any difference.

Mark: So, this is really the hidden cost of running a fuel that if you just had the unfiltered exhaust in your garage with the garage closed, you couldn't live in that garage for probably more than half an hour. It would kill you. 

Bernie: Yeah, probably even faster. Your eyes would probably pop out of your eye sockets.

Mark: So, amazingly technology is advanced so much to create that these things are fairly clean with all the pollution control equipment on it. But the cost is the vehicles don't last as long and they don't get as good mileage. 

Bernie: Yeah. And you've got to do, you know, much more expensive repairs over the time of the vehicle. If you look at our library of podcasts, from our thousand podcasts or so, that we've done, you'll see a lot of diesel podcasts on different diesels. Where a lot of the issues like Mercedes three litre diesels, there's so many issues and they're all related to the exhaust treatment or the EGR system.

And, you know, same with so many different ones. So it's just trying to make a dirty technology clean. We've done brilliantly at it and it costs a lot of money to repair it when it goes bad. 

Mark: So I'm going to assume this is a pretty labour intensive job to change this plastic part.

Bernie: Yeah, it's a fair bit of work. I mean, taking a cab on and off in and of itself is a fair time commitment. And you know, it's technically not necessary to do it. But there's some certain bolts at the back of the engine that had to be removed and they were seized on. They were Allen head bolts and there's no way to remove them short of taking the cab off. These are things you sometimes have to deal with.

Mark: How did the truck run after the repairs? 

Bernie: Yeah, really nice. Really nice. And I mean, I didn't drive it before or after, but I would imagine the power would be immensely better.

You know, not only will the check engine light be off of course, because everything's functioning, but I mean, the amount of power should be immensely better, especially under load because of the amount of airflow that's going through the engine. 

Mark: And what did the customer tell you about the, sort of the history of this vehicle? Did you get any of that information? 

Bernie: I didn't really get any information on this one, no. I didn't actually deal with it myself. But I imagine, you know, 170,000 kilometres, it's a pretty fair run. It's if we put that into miles, it's probably what, 120,000 miles or something a bit over 110,000 miles. It's a pretty good amount of driving. It's not unacceptable to have this level of kind of carbon deposit and stuff in the engine for that kind of mileage. I imagine it's probably had a fair bit of highway usage.

Mark: Yeah, diesels, again, we'll reiterate, diesels are meant to be worked hard, carrying loads, and driven for long periods of time so they heat up properly. So you don't get as much carbon buildup in the vehicle. So how reliable are these V6 diesel, I refuse to call it eco, V6 diesel engines? 

Bernie: I'll say it, the Dodge Eco. You know what, I have to say that we're getting more and more of them coming into our shop all the time. And they've definitely got some problems and issues. So I would say that, you know, in my opinion, they're not the, let's put it this way. If I was going to be buying a truck with a diesel, I wouldn't be buying one of these. But we love fixing them. We're happy to fix them. I mean, there are a lot of pluses. I mean, it's a nice amount of power in a small package and there's a lot of benefits and I don't think they're the toughest deals out there.

I can go on with a list of a few things, but I won't here. This one here though, I will chalk up and say not necessarily a bad design. This is the maintenance that you need to do on a diesel as it ages. 

Mark: Absolutely. If you're looking for service for your Ram diesel vehicles or any Dodge, or Chrysler, diesel vehicles, the guys to see in Vancouver are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them on their website pawlikautomotive.com. You can book right online there. They'll get a hold of you. They'll find out what's going on. They'll get ready for your appointment. Or you can call them at (604) 327-7112 to book your appointment. You got to book ahead. They're always busy. Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, BC, Canada. Thanks so much for watching and listening. Thanks Bernie. 

Bernie: Thank you, Mark. Thanks for watching.

About the author 

Bernie Pawlik

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