Dodge Ram Starts Then Dies/Shuts Off Problem – Common Problems & Easy Fixes

Has it ever happened to you that the Dodge Ram starts and then dies? Well, it is among common engine problems and a lot of people because they have also experienced the same.

The shutting off of the dodge ram can be very frustrating, confusing and some people may even end up panicking.

As soon as the ignition is turned on, the doge ram starts for a slight period and then shuts off. This means that there is something that prevents the engine from running consistently. So, let’s figure it out!

Drivers who have never faced this issue before must first understand how the vehicle runs. Once they know the functioning, they will be able to figure out a diagnosis. The diagnosis will then lead to the solution of the problem.


What does the engine need to run smoothly?

There are three key requirements of the engine:

  • Gasoline or Fuel
  • Air
  • Spark

The electrical system of a vehicle consists of a battery along with a starter. The battery and starter combine to create an electrical system which basically gives power to the engine. One the engine is running it requires gasoline, air, and spark.

Gasoline: The flow or provision of the gasoline or fuel to the engine must be consistent at all times.

Spark: The spark must also be consistently provided to the engine.

Air: The air and fuel mixture must be appropriate in order for the engine to work efficiently.

When even one of the requirements or needs of the engine including gasoline, air, or spark is not enough or is not efficient then the engine will certainly not work.

The starting of the dodge ram and then dying means that there is something that prevents the engine from running smoothly.

Reasons of Why Dodge Ram Starts Then Dies

2003 dodge Ram starts then dies

Bad Mass Airflow Sensor

In order to determine the air and fuel mixture, the Dodge Ram uses the Mass Airflow Sensor. Between the air filter and the throttle body, the mass airflow sensor can be found.

On the meter, this sensor provides the reading. The reading basically represents the amount of air entering the Dodge Ram.

Now, if the Mass Airflow Sensor is bad, or if it is not giving the true reading, the Dodge Ram won’t function properly. This is because the sensor provides information to the computer of the Dodge Ram.

The vehicle then uses the provided information to give out a certain amount of fuel. A sensor that is bad or failed, will lead to the computer generating error code. Due to this error, the engine will not function.

Inconsistent Flow of Fuel

The engines require a consistent pressure of fuel or gasoline in order to be functioning properly. However, a bad fuel pump can lead to an inconsistent flow of fuel.

At first, the fuel pump may provide the engine with the needed fuel pressure so that it starts. However, it may fail to ensure consistency.

Due to this reason, the Dodge Ram may start at first but then shut off. Hence, a consistent flow of fuel is essential in order to keep the engine running.

Inconsistent Spark

Most vehicles have coils for spark. A bad coil is only able to provide sufficient spark to start the vehicle. It does not have the capability to provide a consistent spark to the vehicle.

Lack of Properly Functioning Ignition

There are times when the lock of the ignition has gone bad over time. This worn-out results in the starting of the vehicle but then shutting off. This may be caused due to an older key.

The Dodge Ram that starts and then dies may have one of the above-mentioned problems. But, how is the driver going to diagnose the problem?


Following are the steps that need to be followed for the diagnosis:

Step 1: Plugging a code reader to the Dodge Ram’s Computer

The first step of the diagnosis or to find out the information regarding the cause of the problem is to plug the code reader. The code reader or a scanner is plugged into the computer. It then gets the desired information for the driver.

Step 2: Check out the suspect issue

The driver or the mechanic can then take the necessary steps which are suitable for a specific problem.

How to Fix Dodge Ram 1500 Starts Then Dies Problem

Once the suspect issue has been identified, the driver or mechanic can then follow the necessary steps to solve the problem. Here, we will look at the steps to follow for each problem, separately.

Suspect Issue: Bad Mass Airflow Sensor

Step 1: Find the sensor

The first step of fixing the problem of a bad mass airflow sensor is to find out the sensor. It can be found at the bay of the engine.

Step 2: Check the wiring

The wiring harness or the wire harness should be connected tightly. All the wires must be plugged in tightly. If the wires are not tight, they will not give the right reading. Hence, the driver or the mechanic needs to make sure that the wiring is in place.

Step 3: Look for burned or damaged wires

At times, it is possible that the wires may be damaged or end up getting burnt. So, the burnt or damaged wires may be causing the issues. If any burnt or damaged wires are found, they must be replaced.

Step 4: Clean the sensor

The sensor must be cleaned because dirt and unwanted impurities can also mess with the functioning. Make sure that you get a cleaner that is specifically made for the sensor.

Lastly, if the sensor seems faulty, then it must be replaced with a new one. This will help in running the vehicle smoothly.

Suspect Issue: Inconsistent flow of fuel

Step 1: Find the fuel pump

The first step to fix the issue of the inconsistent flow of fuel is to find the fuel pump. The fuel pump can be found in the gas tank. However, most engines come with a port.

Step 2: Check fuel pressure

The second step is checking the fuel pressure. The port that comes with the engine allows you to check the fuel pressure with the help of a gauge.

The great thing is that the driver or the vehicle owner doesn’t necessarily have to buy the gauge. The gauge can be rented from an auto shop.

So, the fuel pressure can be found out. Make sure that you check the reading of the fuel pressure on the gauge when the key is turned on. After this, you must start the engine.

There are now two conditions possible that are:

Condition 1: The pressure drop to 0 and stays there, it doesn’t come back.

Condition 2: The pressure first drops lower and then it comes back.

Condition 1 is the indication of a properly functioning fuel pump while Condition 2 indicates that the fuel pump has failed.

In the case, where the fuel pump has failed, it must be replaced and the Dodge Ram will start running smoothly again.

Lack of Properly Functioning Ignition

Step 1: Try a different key

Whenever the driver or the user may face the issue of a lack of properly functioning ignition, then the best option is to try another key that you may have.

It is usually said that a newer key can make the older ignition work. This way, the engine can be started. However, it is best to have the ignition replaced.

Step 2: Check out the warning lights

In case, the driver or the owner of the Dodge Ram doesn’t have another key then the best option is to try the warning lights.

If the warning lights turn on when the key is in the position then the ignition may not be actual. On the contrary, if the warning lights only turn on when you are starting the engine then this indicates that there is definitely a need to replace the ignition.

There is definitely a possibility that even after trying out all the above issues, you may still not be able to figure out the actual issue.

Even after trying everything, the problem may not be solved because it is not always the above-mentioned issues that cause the Dodge Ram to shut off.

After you have tested the common issues, you must then take the vehicle to an auto workshop where the professionals can figure out the actual problem for you.

Inconsistent Spark

2003 dodge Ram starts then dies wires

Step 1: Disconnect Battery

If it is figured out that there is some fault in the ignition coil then, first of all, the battery must be disconnected.

Step 2: Disconnect Wires

After disconnecting the battery, the next step is to disconnect the wires. The wires must be removed from the coil.

Step 3: Installation of the new coil

In order to ensure consistent spark, a new coil must be installed. Here, one thing should be kept in mind and that is, all the wired must be connected properly.

They should be tight and good to go. Otherwise, it will end up being troublesome.

Step 4: Reconnecting the new battery

Then, the mechanic can reconnect the battery in order to test out the new coil. After the replacement of the coil, the spark should be consistent to run the engine smoothly and efficiently.

FAQ’s of Dodge Ram Starts Then Shuts Off

Can I diagnose the problem of Dodge Ram starting and shutting off myself?

Figuring out the diagnosis of a Dodge Ram 1500 that starts and then shuts off can be slightly tricky. However, attaching a scanner to the computer gives information regarding the issue.

After that, you can check for the most common reasons and try out their solutions. In case, the problem is not solved even then, then, you will need help from professionals.

What are the dangers of unmanaged issues?

As soon as the vehicle starts having the issues of starting and shutting off, it is essential to check for common causes or have the vehicle checked in general.

This is because the issues related to fuel and electrical system can end up causing long term damage to the vehicle.

Also, the engine can be badly damaged as well. This will add to the cost of repair. So, the better option is to put some effort to check for issues or to pay a small price and have them checked.

This way, long term damage, and huge repairing costs will be avoided.

Why is it easier to diagnose problems in modern vehicles?

It is easier to diagnose problems in modern vehicles because they are equipped with computers that are technologically advanced.

So, when a scanner is attached to them, they can immediately identify the issue so there is no need of using manual methods at first.

The benefit of modern vehicles is that you save yourself from wasting time to figure out the problem. Most of the time, OBD2 codes are there for the rescue.

What major things are needed in proportion to keep the vehicle running?

In order to have the vehicle running smoothly, it must have air, gasoline, and spark in a specific proportion. These three ensure the smooth running of the vehicle, without any obstacles in between.


The Dodge Ram 1500 starts and then shuts off for a lot of people. It is a common issue faced by a number of people however, the reasons for this may vary from vehicle to vehicle.

The vehicles that are more modern have modern computers and they detect the issues through error codes.

However, if the issue is not identified then the driver or the owner of the vehicle can try out multiple methods manually to diagnose the problem.

After the diagnosis, different procedures can help in overcoming the problem. Even then, if the issue and its solution is not figured out, then professional help comes in handy because not all the time the users are able to figure out the cause.