Engine Pinging & Oil Consumption


Asked by Oct 19, 2009 at 12:38 PM about the 1999 Dodge Ram 1500 2 Dr Laramie SLT 4WD Standard Cab LB

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

I have a 1999 dodge ram 4x4 with a 5.9L engine. This truck came from nevada and I live in the northeast. I must run super enleaded fuel or the engine pings something terrible. It also consumes a qt of oil every 150 miles. Doesnt smoke or leak. The truck has a 130K miles and was used for towing, I say this because it has the 5th wheel hitch. Someone has suggested that the computer may need to be reprogramed due to the climate difference between the midwest and new england? Does anyone else have any suggestions.

9 Answers


try getting some heartland oil stop leak. that stuff works miracles.


A few things come to mind, but the very first thing is... 1) Is the check engine light on? It's a OBD2 vehicle which should have fair degree of diagnostic ability, use it if possible... 2) Because it's an OBD vehicle you almost certainly don't have to deal with reprogramming the computer as the stock setup should self correct for variations in climate. Unless the P.O. flashed the device or has a standalone, that eliminated the functionality of the system. 3) If it's pinging with anything but premium and you're sure of the gas quality it may be a timing issue. I'm not familiar with the engine so I don't know if it's electronically controlled or distributor controlled. If it's the later take it to a shop and have them check the timing. It may have gotten advanced somehow. 4) It's either burning oil or leaking it somewhere, try to figure out which one as it may be the source of some of the problems. If it's not leaking I'd pull each spark plug one at a time and see if any of them look substantially fouled. --- Well that's what jumps to mind immediately ---

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Don't know what your oil consuption problem is, but the spark knock is simply Dodge. I had a 2000 Dakota with a 3.7 was the same way, had to run supreme fuel or it knocked. Friend of mine had a late 90's Ram with the 5.2, had to run supreme as well or it knocked. I have a 2005 Ram now with the Hemi and even that works better with a better grade of fuel. Dodge's need good fuel simple as that.

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My 05 300C hemi runs best on shell v-power(93 octane). I get about .5 mpg worse with 89 octane. Yours the same?


I don't remember exactly what it was now, was a noticable difference though on mpg. Even before I figured it out I could tell a difference between regular and supreme. Even just usin the middle grade of fuel made a noticable difference. Was like 1-2 mpg better on the highway at 80 mph

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the computer will relearn its environment in about 300 miles its not the computer causing it, now dont ask me how the ping works but i know why it goes away when you use the higher octane gas, 93 octane burns cooler than 87 octane fuel your engine is timed to run at a specific octane of fuel 87-93 is the norm, now being that its from the hotter climate the truck may be timed to run with a cooler burning octane to keep excessive engine heat down thus running the low grade gas will make the engine ping knock and if ran for too long eventually detonate. now the fact the the vehicle is using excessive oil is because the rings are shot, most likely from 130k miles of towing with high RPMs in the high heat out west.

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I heard there was a technical service bulletin regarding that same description. Ping + oil consumption = intake manifold gasket.

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Plenum Gasket blown. I had the same problem. Burned a quart every 150 miles but no smoke.

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Having had many of these vehicles...my current one is a 2001 ram 1500 5.2 v8 (292k miles). The pinging and oil consumption is from the intake plenum pan gasket. Its a bit of an odd plenum as when you remove it and flip it upside down, you will see there is a flat "pan" or plate on the underside held on with about 10 bolts and a gasket. so the gasket on all of these, eventually will start to slide in and create a vacuum leak. this vacuum leak causes it to lean out too much and ping. it also pulls in oil vapor from the lifter galley below and burns it through the intake (youll see oil in the intake, looking through throttle body with flashlight) so this is where your oil goes. seems to consume more oil if you use synthetic. so here's the deal, Ive had a couple trucks that I never fixed it (consumed about 1qt oil every 750 miles) so I just added conventional 10-30 every 2nd tank and I think that little extra lube going in the motor actually helped because I changed the oil every 7500 miles (since it had so much new oil constantly added. these engines lasted 300,00 (extremely hard) miles where on the ones I fixed, made it to only about 200k before they were worn out and I tow 5k lbs daily with these vehicles from new in my firewood delivery business. If you are consuming more than 1 qt every 750 miles with conventional, then that intake leak is probably too large and should be repaired. If you do decide not to fix your plenum leak, then you can switch to a champion copper truck plug, 1 or 2 heat ranges cooler (stock is a champion rc12yc - I use a champion truck plug #3344 or regular champion rc11yc) and use super unleaded and should be fine. 1 other thing, that extra oil will definitely cause carbon build up on pistons which is why your pinging has gotten worse, most likely that gasket has been leaking since 20-30k miles from new and it will generally only get so bad but the carbon build up will make you start using better gas for awhile so you will need to do a seafoam treatment or 2 through the intake directly to clean that out...youll literally see chunks of carbon shoot out the exhaust on first try. this will get me back to using mid grade or even regular gas if not towing without pinging...after the treatment, let it cool and pull the plugs and install your new champions (Set gap no less than .035(stock) and no more than .040 whichever you choose, make sure they are all exacly the same) and youll be a happy camper again (never use any platinums, autolite anything or any other plug than the Champions or youll have more pinging...ive tried them all! if it still pings then you need to replace the gasket (about 2 hr job at a shop). They have upgraded plates and gaskets that should not have the same problem. if you just replace the stock gasket and keep the thin plate that warps, you will be in the same boat in under 30k miles and maybe much less. The coil on these engines has been a problem for me also, so I always put new, quality coil (not racing coil just a stocker like borg warner or delco), MSD wires( routed properly) and (new cap and rotor every 30k when I change my plugs) You will notice a big increase in response and mpg when you makes these changes. these are great motors and trucks in general when you know their little quirks they are the best trucks Ive ever owned for many reasons so do the work and dial it in! Other things common on these trucks: 1 start eating front brakes. -solution, your rear brakes are drum and out of adjustment...drive forward hit brakes...back up fast and hit brakes hard...repeat 10 times without the police seeing you. my rear brake pads last over 100k and fronts were about 20k until I learned to do this every 5-10k and then I also switched to vented front rotors and put new shoes on the back every 50k whether they are worn or not...they get hard and need adjusters lubed to work right. 2) dash crack. put on new dash or dash cap if there is still anything left...but you will need to change heater core at the same time. 3) Heater core. crap design...get an all brass one if possible, aluminum is junk, make sure your coolant is always correct and changed every 2 years to prevent premature radiator, water pump and heater core replacement) 4) Rear end differential - replace fluid every 50k miles or you WILL have a pinion bearing go out and create a low speed growl and vibration. use the proper fluid for your differential. 5) Transmission - if automatic, get a new filter and fluid every 50k, if manual, change it yourself with penzoil syncromesh every 30-50k and clean off the magnet, don't be shocked but it will have a lot of metal on it....really fine particles is ok...chunks...not ok. My 5 speed manual transmission is still going strong and surprisingly still has the stock clutch! It still feels like new but when getting close to time to change trans oil, it will get a little notchy in the shifts... clears up with fresh oil. 6) rear suspension a little soft for my excessive loads (1000lb in bed and 5000 on trailer (includes weight of trailer)...above weight rating I know!) - fix is to install a $70 pair of Monroe air shocks. I put these on all my vehicles and they actually last about 6 years 100K miles and are cheap and easy to install/replace vs air bags. 7) o2 sensors (probably because they are getting oil burnt on them) but I replace both every 70k miles with bosch units. cheaper ones ran crappy, lowered gas mpg and made the motor surge and jerk when cold. I also changed my rear gear ratio (when pinion bearing went out from lack of fluid change) to a 3:73 from the 3:21 that it came stock with and itll pull a house down in first gear with very little noticeable decrease in mileage unloaded but actually I noticed an increase in mpg while towing under 70mph. (I also have 265/70/17 wranglers for the muddy conditions I work in so the gear change helped it be a little lower than stock with the small tires it came with. my speedo is about 4mph under now.

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