1986 Dodge Ramcharger Royal SE 150 318 from North America


A tough beast that won't run right


Help anyone, I bought this truck for 1400. I've spent 4000.00 at the dealership and a muffler shop and other car repair shop near Atl, GA. The dealer wants to put the fifth carburetor on it, and a local shop wants to do the fifth carbon flush with seafoam. Ugh. Any suggestons?

General Comments:

This utility vehicle spits and splutters once warm if hit a bump.

However, it's as tough as nails; I tried to switch lanes going 75 mph, and a Ford F150 2006 decided to get beside me and also not use the empty lane. I struck him, he bounced off me, hit a concrete wall and the mighty Ford disintegrated. The wrecker came towed off the Ford in pieces; I tied off the bumper on one side and drove to the job site. It bruised a fender. Tough 4x4.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 15th December, 2007

16th Dec 2007, 14:37

I had a 1985 Dodge Ramcharger Royal SE that had 260,000 miles on it when I sold it to a guy who wanted a plow truck. It's still going.

So, let me tell you a secret about these Ramchargers. The wires that run to the distributor for the magnetic pickup plug into a big rubber plug to connect to the wires from the electronic control module, the "black box" bolted to the fender (on your '86, this may be up underneath the fender by the battery). The rubber plug had rested on the hot intake manifold for 20 years, and had become corroded and damaged by heat. What I noticed was that sometimes it wouldn't start, and wouldn't have spark; or maybe at the end of a long drive on a warm day, I hit a bump and it started running choppy and losing power. That is because the rubber connector plug has expanded and is causing a poor circuit due to the heat (rubber and metal expand when hot), so the distributor is getting weak spark and can't fire the cylinders. You can test this with a resistance meter. If you unplug the plug, clean the contacts with steel wool, reconnect it, and then tie the plug up away from touching the engine, it may take care of it.

Also, consider replacing the magnetic pickup, which is the little plastic ring in the distributor that the shaft reads the magnetic field from. It's a thin plastic disc with two wires coming out of it, and those wires plug into the big rubber plug I was talking about. When they get hot, they short out and you get no spark, and the engine dies or sputters.

For both of those problems I described, it's typical for the engine to start missing or even quit when it warms up to operating temperature, because the engine heat messes with the electrical connection. Also, the engine may not start afterward until it totally cools down the next morning. The problem may fool you into thinking it just has a really sensitive choke -- my experience was the Ramcharger always started very easily, and if it didn't start on the second turn of the key, maybe it just flooded easily, but in fact it wasn't the carburetor, it was no spark.

I'm afraid you have wasted a lot of money on carburetors and carbon cleaning. There might be things I forgot if you read my review "Low maintenance dependability in a rugged 4WD" under the 1985 Ramcharger. Good luck!

12th Feb 2008, 19:39

Well what a crapper; I guess I'll sell it since there are no good mechanics in this town. It looks like even the dealership is nothing but a bunch of dummies when it comes to their own products. Yep, I've given up on this Ram Charger.

The dealership; what a joke, couldn't fix that vehicle if their life depended on it. They unplugged a wire of the back of the alternator so the battery lost all charge while I was driving at night with a 2 year old. They also knocked a capacitor off that should have been bolted to the block. It was connected to the coil. They charged me a 1000.00 dollars to replace. Yes that's right, 1000 dollars to replace a 35 dollar coil.

21st Jan 2009, 10:48

I had the same problems... at first, the Ram would lunge after giving it the gas, almost a timed delay effect. I unplugged the choke and solved all problems, it even starts better, along with smooth acceleration.

1986 Dodge Ramcharger 5.9 from North America


Great all around vehicle


The catalytic converter has been replaced twice, most recently to pass emissions test. Minor oil leaks and replaced transfer case seal. Replaced distributor, but it always ran. The ongoing problem occurs mostly in 3rd gear at 35 mph and not at all times. Only at running temp. It seems electrical, but could be the carburator. It never dies out completely and will recuperate at lower rpm. It runs great when cold and always starts up. Otherwise it's a very strong truck, and I like it very much.But, it drives me!

General Comments:

This truck handles very well and is very roomy. This vehicle doesn't get great gas mileage, but was purchased for specific reasons such as 4 wheel drive and hauling.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 1st October, 2006

2nd Oct 2006, 16:14

Regarding your ongoing problem at 35 mph, I know you weren't too specific, but I might have some thoughts. I also have an '85 Royal SE Ramcharger, and have experienced some engine stuttering in past years when the engine was warmed up and had been running for a long while. I ended up looking at two things: 1) the magnetic pickup in the distributor can short out when the engine gets hot. Usually once it sits for a while and cools down, it will start again; 2) I found that the plug from the distributor to the wiring harness rests loose on the intake manifold, and after getting hot, the inside wires would expand, and then when the engine would cool off, the wires/plug would contract and make an incomplete circuit. This happened even after I had the magnetic pickup replaced. I found it by using a multi-tester with a Hayne's Manual, which showed that there was too much resistance in the wire from the electronic control module to the big rubber plug-in on the distributor, and the engine didn't have spark. I tied the big plug-in up away from resting on the engine, and it has been good for nearly two years with no more stuttering or non-starting. Of course I also have the usual doggy Holley 2-barrel carburetor, that acts like it wants to stall when you slow down and then step on the gas again. It helps to recover to take your foot off the gas and let it speed up gradually, like the accelerator pump isn't supplying enough gas.