Blog Car Care Advice Ram Check Engine Light: 8 Key Triggers + Can You Drive with It?
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Ram Check Engine Light: 8 Key Triggers + Can You Drive with It?

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Your Ram was offering hassle-free rides until the Check Engine Light came on, leaving you puzzled.

What could have brought up this warning light?
Is it safe to drive now?

Keep reading as we answer these and help you deal better with a Ram Check Engine Light.

This Article Contains:

Let’s go!

8 Common Causes for an Active Ram Check Engine Light

The Ram Check Engine Light (CEL) is a yellow light that usually appears when the Engine Control Unit (ECU) detects an engine or emission problem. A Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC) gets stored on your truck’s computer, indicating what went wrong with the vehicle.

There can be different issues activating a Ram 1500 Check Engine Light or that on other models:

1. Loose Gas Cap

A loose gas cap allows fuel vapors to leak from the gas tank. The EVAP system detects this, triggering the Check Engine Light. Contaminants can also enter the fuel tank through a gas cap and damage the fuel injectors.

Remember, a loose gas cap can activate the CEL even on new vehicles without any malfunctioning parts otherwise.

2. Faulty Spark Plugs

Spark plugs fouled with engine oil, coolant, or carbon deposits won’t provide the required spark for igniting the air-fuel mixture. This can lead to engine misfires, causing the CEL to come on and relevant Check Engine Light codes to get registered.

3. Damaged Spark Plug Wires

An older vehicle, like a Dodge Ram, uses spark plug wires to deliver the high-voltage current to the spark plugs. Damaged spark plug wires will keep the spark plugs from firing properly and cause engine misfires, activating the Check Engine Light.

4. Ignition Coil Issues

A bad ignition coil won’t generate the correct voltage the spark plugs need to function effectively. This can again cause engine misfires and bring on the Check Engine Light.

In modern Ram trucks, a defective ignition coil pack will affect only the concerned cylinders. However, older models such as the Dodge Ram use a single ignition coil serving all the cylinders through a distributor and spark plug wires. This means all the cylinders will misfire.

5. Bad Mass Airflow Sensor (MAF Sensor)

A malfunctioning MAF sensor can incorrectly read how much air enters the engine, disturbing the air-fuel ratio. This can lead to engine misfires, triggering the Check Engine Light and affecting the fuel economy.

6. Defective Oxygen Sensor (O2 Sensor)

The oxygen sensor upstream of the catalytic converter checks the engine’s combustion efficiency. The downstream O2 sensor monitors the working of the catalytic converter. A faulty O2 sensor, either upstream or downstream, can provide an irrational reading, prompting the ECU to activate the CEL.

7. Catalytic Converter Problems

A catalytic converter can get clogged due to carbon deposits from the engine running rich on fuel. This restricts the flow of exhaust gasses, affecting combustion and activating the Check Engine Light on Ram trucks. You may also experience poor fuel economy.

Though they are designed to last long, catalytic converters can sometimes get damaged on new vehicles from rapid engine misfires.

Note: If you have a damaged catalytic converter, check whether your truck is covered by a vehicle protection plan to get a free replacement.

8. Vacuum Leaks

Vacuum leaks occur when unmetered air enters the engine through a damaged vacuum hose or intake manifold gasket. This excess air can throw the air-fuel ratio out of balance and result in engine misfires, illuminating the Check Engine Light.

Next, we’ll see how to address a Check Engine Light on your truck.

What to Do if Your Ram Check Engine Light Turns On?

How you deal with an illuminated Check Engine Light will depend on whether you have a:

A. Steady Check Engine Light

You can still drive with a steady Check Engine Light, but it’d be best to get it inspected by a mechanic soon to avoid further damage. If you’re unsure whether your auto repair shop will be open today, you could hire a mobile mechanic

B. Steady Check Engine Light with Other Lights

Driving when a Ram Check Engine Light appears along with other dashboard lights, such as an engine temperature light, oil pressure light, or brake light, can cause engine damage or compromise your safety. In this case, your truck may require an urgent coolant top-up, oil change, brake pads, etc.

Get roadside assistance or have your vehicle towed to a service center for inspection by a certified technician.

C. Flashing Check Engine Light

You shouldn’t drive with a blinking Check Engine Light as it indicates serious trouble with your vehicle. Generally, this flashing yellow light results when frequent engine misfires are detected. These misfires can cause unburnt fuel to enter and ignite inside the catalytic converter, damaging it.

Get your truck towed to a workshop for inspection if it has a flashing Check Engine Light on its dashboard.

After fixing the issues with your Ram, the mechanic will reset its diagnostics system. Let’s see how they’ll go about it.

How to Reset the Ram Check Engine Light

Here are the steps a certified technician will take to reset your Ram 1500 Check Engine Light (or that on other models):

A. Using an OBD-II Scanner

  1. Turn off the engine.
  1. Locate the OBD port and connect the OBD scanner to it.
  1. Turn the ignition key to the “on” position.
  1. Press the “read” button on the scanner to access the Check Engine Light codes.
  1. Press the “erase” or “clear” button on the scanner to reset the Check Engine Light.
  1. Turn the ignition key to the “off” position.
  1. Disconnect the scanner.
  1. Start the engine and see if the Check Engine Light has disappeared.

B. Disconnecting the Battery

If you own an older Dodge Ram truck without an OBD-II system, your mechanic may reset the Check Engine Light by disconnecting the battery’s negative cable.

  1. Open the hood.
  1. Locate the negative battery terminal and disconnect the cable at it.
  1. Reconnect the negative cable after about 15 minutes.
  1. Start the engine to ensure that the Check Engine Light has disappeared.

Next, we’ll see how much you may have to spend as a diagnostic charge.

How Much Does a Ram Check Engine Light Diagnosis Cost?

A Ram Check Engine Light diagnostic test, whether for a Ram 2500, 1500, or any other Ram chassis cab, can run between $88 and $209, depending on your truck’s model, manufacturing year, and labor charges. You may also need to bear additional charges for the required repairs. 

Pro tip: Part replacements are common in older or certified pre-owned vehicles. That’s why it’s best to look at certified pre-owned inventory and service specials the dealer offers when buying used cars. Certified pre-owned inventory is refurbished to a “like new” condition.

Wrapping Up

An illuminated Check Engine Light on your Ram 1500 or 2500 chassis cab signals an issue with its engine or emissions control system. It’d be best to get your truck inspected by a qualified mechanic soon to avoid further damage.

Looking for a convenient way to address your Ram’s Check Engine Light?

Try AutoNation Mobile Service — we are a mobile auto repair service that can cater to your Ram truck’s Check Engine Light and other problems right in your driveway. What’s more — whether you need to change your brake pads or engine oil,  we offer a 12-month | 12,000-mile warranty on repairs with no additional charges.

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