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· Registered
13 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
OKay Great forum

My truck
1996 1500 2wd 5.9 ext. cab with factory towing package
250,427 miles

It has a few problems that all of a sudden came up.

1-Today I overheated. Odd spot.. front drivers side of radiator around the housing or piece that holds the radiator core/tank.
I am figuring that it must have had a crack and blew. I am going to
check on getting a new radiator and doing it myself. It has a tranmission cooler but I dont know what size. How can I find out?

2- How do you check DTCs? How do you hook it up? Autozone told me I could check out one of the code readers and check for the error code.
My check engine light is on. Truck is at home not driveable until I get the radiator changed. Hopefully by tuesday but I figure I will go by and get the reader and see what comes up. I have never used one before.

3- A couple months ago my fuel guage quit working..... Possible causes? solutions?

4- I would like to change out my distr. cap and rotor --- How hard of
a DIY job is that. Never changed one before and I noticed it was in a tough to reach spot.

With 250,000 + miles on it I dont want to sink alot of money in it but it has been a very good truck until recently.

Any help is greatly appreciated. I am a noob so if I break a rule or need to
change something let me know.
I am about a 5-6 on the mechanical end and can do most DIY jobs with a little help and some good advice/instructions.
I am glad I foudn this forum and think that over tha next 1-2 I will be able to
to get some great advice from here.

· The Green Machine
3,187 Posts
Welcome to the site Frank. You're correct, there is plenty of good info and helpful people here :rck:

To answer your questions, we may need some more info on a few:

1 - Were you looking at a brand new radiator or junkyard replacement? If new, from a dealer or aftermarket? The dealer should be able to get one with the proper integral tranny cooler - if aftermarket, you can pick up an auxiliary cooler and plub it in to the existing lines (search for transmission coolers at or - they have many varieties). I'm not sure of the stock size.

2 - I'm not sure if it works on '96s, but you could try the key trick. Turn the key ON-OFF-ON-OFF-ON. On the newer trucks, the codes show in the electronic odometer - I think it blinks the check engine light in the trucks with mechanical odometers (but I'm not positive).

3 - The sending unit is in the tank (with the fuel pump). Best to replace the whole unit. You can either drop the tank or remove the bed for access.

4 - Replacing the cap and rotor is no big deal - it just requires some preparation. It also helps to have the shop manual or Haynes/Chiltons manual around for firing order/wire placement. I always attach the wires to the cap prior to installing and separate the wires based on the side on which they belong (if you're installing new wires, which is probably a good idea too - if you're not, just pull one at a time and place it in the same location on the new cap).

Now, pull the airbox assembly off, remove the cap and rotor, install the new rotor and work the cap and wires back there. Route the wires, install new plugs (if you're going to) and hook up the wires. Don't forget the coil wire :D Use some dielectric grease on both ends of the wires and some anti-seize on the plugs, for easier removal next time.

Check out the Technical Service Bulletin on wire routing, so you don't have any problems later on:

Also, if you haven't seen it at the top of the page, there's a handy search function that can assist in finding many of the various fixes that have been posted on DT over the years.

Good Luck - let us know what you find and how it worked out. :)

· Registered
13 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
EdGlock21 --

I believe I have decided to go with a new radiator and got what I believe is
a good price for it and installation.
$149 for the radiator and $78 for the labor which includes
taking out old and replacing with the new
checking the system and thermostat
check for leaks etc

For $78 I think I should choose the PRO rather than me.

I am going to change the plugs, cap & rotor, and wires myself.

I dont have much of a budget to work with so I am hoping the radiator and the cap/rotor/plugs and wires helps for now.
There are other little things that I would like to do over the next couple of months as well.
I just that the cap and rotor were not so far back and behind :D

After getting the radiator replaced (tomorrow) I am going to turn towards the check engine light.
Could it be from the radiator issue?

thanks again

1996 Dodge Ram 1500 2WD 5.9 360 AT w/towing package
250,427 miles
Its been coast to coast and everywhere in between
Its seen 48 states and wants to see them again
Its old and needs attention now and again but who doesn't

· Registered
170 Posts
1. For $78 bucks I'd let the pros do it.
2. Read this thread for details on doing a tune-up: I did my first throttle body (TB) cleaning, plugs, wires, cap and rotor. It was a piece of cake. I used Valvoline synthetic cleaner for the throttle body and sensors. It should not take long but it is worth it to know the job was done right. You'll wonder why you ever paid someone else to do it. If you have a digital camera take pictures for reference. I replaced my plugs, wires, cap and rotor while I had the TB off just to have more room.

Good luck - I hope this helps.

· What a ride...
1,190 Posts
A leaking/blown radiator will not through any codes. At least mine did not when mine started leaking.
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