How To Test The Fuel Pump (1997, 1998, 1999 Dodge Dakota And Durango)

This tutorial will show you how to test the fuel pump on the 1997, 1998, 1999 Dodge Dakota and Durango equipped with the 5.2L and 5.9L V8.

You'll need a fuel pressure test gauge to test the fuel pump's fuel pressure. If you don't have one, I'll show you where to buy one.

Contents of this tutorial at a quick glance:

  1. Symptoms Of A BAD Fuel Pump.
  2. TEST 1: Using Starting Fluid.
  3. TEST 2: Fuel Pressure Test With Gauge.
  4. Where To Buy A Fuel Pressure Gauge.
  5. Related Test Articles.

IMPORTANT: Gasoline and starting fluid are extremely flammable! Be very careful. Take all necessary safety precautions and stay alert. You'll be able to accomplish both tests, indicated in this article, without any unhappy consequences, if you're careful and use common sense.

Symptoms Of A BAD Fuel Pump

The fuel pump, on your Dodge Dakota or Durango, will fail in one of two ways. Usually it'll stop working completely and the engine won't start.

Or it'll work, but not supply enough fuel to the engine. In some cases it's enough fuel to start the engine, but not enough to keep it running under load.

Here are some of the symptoms you'll see with a defective fuel pump:

When the fuel pump is not supplying enough fuel for the engine to run optimally under load, you'll see:

  1. Backfire and explosions coming out of the throttle body.
  2. Lean fuel trim trouble codes lighting up the check engine light.

Although the above list is a not a very complete list of symptoms, a defective fuel pump will either cause the engine to not start or run very badly.

TEST 1: Using Starting Fluid

How To Test The Fuel Pump (1997, 1998, 1999 Dodge Dakota)

This of the oldest tests to find out if the ‘no start’ problem is due to a lack of fuel. This test harks back to when cars were equipped with carburaters.

I remember learning this test early on in my career as an automotive technician.

NOTE: If you have a fuel pressure test gauge, you can skip this test since this only a general test that only checks to see if fuel is missing when cranking the engine.

These are the test steps:

  1. 1

    Remove the intake air duct from the throttle body. You don't have to completely remove it, since you'll have to reconnect it in one of the next steps.

  2. 2

    Open the throttle, manually, and spray starting fluid down the bore. When you have sprayed a good squirt of starting fluid, quickly reconnect the air duct to the throttle body (you don't have to tighten the hose clamp).

    Reconnecting the intake air duct is important as a safety precaution.

  3. 3

    Have your assistant, inside the vehicle, crank the engine.

  4. 4

    You'll get one of two results with this test:

    1.) The engine will start momentarily and after a few seconds will die or.

    2.) The engine will only crank but not start at all.

Let's interpret your test result:

CASE 1: The engine started and ran for a few seconds. This test result confirms that the engine is not starting due to a lack of fuel.

Usually, this also means that the fuel pump is BAD. To make sure, I suggest testing the fuel pumps pressure output with a test gauge. For this test go to: FUEL PUMP TEST 2: Fuel Pressure Test With Gauge.

CASE 2: The engine did not start, not even momentarily. This usually means that a lack of fuel IS NOT the reason your car is not starting.

Now, the starting fluid test is not the most accurate way of testing a defective fuel pump so I suggest you do one more test. And this is to use a fuel pressure test gauge to test the fuel pump: FUEL PUMP TEST 2: Fuel Pressure Test With Gauge.