Does your Dodge RAM 3500 have a leak?
Dodge RAM trucks are known for their ability to perform heavy-duty work and reliability.
When the 3500 debuted in 1994, the one-ton truck was a big-time truck with big capacity. It was powerful and had an eight-foot bed.
Despite all of that power and durability, it’s not totally invincible. It can get leaks just like any other vehicle.
Most oil leaks are minor, but some can do serious damage to your truck’s engine. You’ll want to diagnose and repair it as soon as possible.
Keep reading to learn how you can diagnose and repair an oil leak in your Dodge RAM 3500.
How to Diagnose an Oil Leak
The first thing you want to do is figure out what type of oil is leaking from your truck. This is easy enough to do by checking the color of the oil.
If it’s hard to tell on the ground, put white paper or cloth under your car. That will pick up the color much better than the ground.
If the oil is black, you have an engine oil leak. Transmission and power engine fluids tend to be red. If you haven’t changed those fluids in a while, they could be brown or so dark you can’t tell the difference between that and engine oil.
Antifreeze could be a number of colors, depending on the supplier.
If you still can’t tell, pull the various dipsticks and see if any of the oils are low.
If the oil does have a hint of red to it, check the power steering first. If that’s full, check the transmission lines, especially in spots where there are clamps. If you suspect a leak around the hoses, clean and dry the area and put powder on the area to confirm your suspicions.
The location of the leak can be a guide, too. If you see oil on the driver’s side of your Dodge RAM 3500, it’s probably power steering related.
If the oil is black and you know that it’s engine oil, you still have to pinpoint the root cause of the leak. That can be a huge challenge.
There are gaskets that could be the cause, or it could be something else completely.
You can resort to diagnosing the oil leak the way the professionals do it. Use tracer fluid and an ultraviolet (UV) light.
You can get an oil tracer kit from an auto parts store for a few bucks. Some kits do come with UV lights, but they’ll be a bit more, around $60.
Tracer fluid a fluorescent dye that you can add to your oil. It’s safe to use on any car or truck engine.
Drive your truck around for a little while and then put newspaper under the truck to catch the oil. Then shine your light on the oil. If it glows in the light, you confirmed the problem.
Now, shine the light on the truck to find the path the oil took. Pinpoint the highest point in the path and that will be the source of the leak.
What’s the Engine in Your Dodge RAM 3500
RAM truck owners usually had a choice in the type of engine for their truck. They could choose between a Cummins diesel engine or a Magnum gas powered engine.
Each engine has its own options, too. For example, you could get a Cummins Turbo Diesel engine that has 900 lbs.-ft. of torque. This is the choice for about 75% of Heavy Duty RAM owners.
The other option is a gas-powered Magnum. Depending on the year of the truck, you could get a V-8 engine or a V-10.
Repairing Your Oil Leak
Now that you know what kind of oil leak you have, it’s time to take care of it. You don’t want to wait to take care of oil leaks.
If you keep driving with a leak, it can cause problems and could leave you with a broken-down truck on the side of a highway.
If you’re doing the repair yourself, you’ll want to make sure you have the right service manual for the job.
You can find service manuals for Dodge RAMs here. If you’re working with an early model Dodge RAM 3500, you’re covered.
The service repair manuals from for all Dodge RAMs from 1989-1996 are listed here.
The service manual is an invaluable resource as it will give you step by step instructions to do the repairs yourself. This will take most of the guesswork out of the repair for you.
Let’s say you have a Cummins engine and you traced your engine oil leak to the point where the power steering pump shaft meets the vacuum pump.
It’s a common issue with Dodge RAM 3500 trucks. The pump is lubricated by the engine, and if the shaft seal isn’t working, you have an oil leak.
You can save yourself a lot of money by spending less than $30 for the Cummins Vacuum Pump Reseal Kit.
You’ll have to take off the intake manifold, and loosen the line that provides lubrication to the vacuum pump.
Before you replace the rings and seals, give the parts a good cleaning to remove dirt. That will ensure the sealing areas are secure and free of debris.
You’ll remove the vacuum pump housing, not the pump itself and locate the shaft seal that was the cause of the leak.
You’ll have to remove the old seal and then install the new one. Again, you’re going to want to clean the area good to keep the integrity of the seal.
Keep Your Dodge RAM 3500 Running Smooth
You rely on your truck for everyday tasks. Your 3500 is a powerful beast and can handle just about anything, just as long as it is maintained properly.
When you have an oil leak, it’s important to take the time to make sure it’s diagnosed properly and take care of it right away. It will save you from a damaged engine down the road.
If you need help repairing your Dodge RAM 3500, check out our blog for the top auto repair tips.