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Old 04-08-2006, 10:57 AM   #1
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A weird thing happened while towing to Texas

My apology for the long post.

I have a Dodge RAM 1500 with a 5.7L Hemi. I tow a 27 foot ultra-lite trailer that has a GVWR of 5700 lbs. The truck came equipped with the heavy duty towing package, so I'm pretty sure I'm well within limits. To try to improve gas mileage and performance, I recently had a cool-air intake and throttle body spacer installed. I also bought a Superchips flashpaq tuner.

In February, I towed the trailer 1930 miles one-way to the RGV in Texas. For the first 3+ days, I got exactly what I was looking for: Good performance and was averaging 10 to 10.5 miles per gallon while towing. I was even able to use cruise control. On the fourth day, I was South of Houston on the last stretch to my destination when suddenly the truck seemed to get behind the power curve and my mileage dropped to 6.9 MPG. There was no change in engine temperature and no check engine warning came on, but this condition continued for the rest of the day. I should add that there were black speckles on the propane cover of the trailer indicating probably that the engine was running rich.

After getting set up at the RV park, I inquired of a good mechanic to find out what happened. I was afraid to go to the Dodge dealer, since I wasn't sure what would be said about the Superchips settings (warranty voider?). Plus, I didn't have the tuner with me and if the Dealer were to flash the computer without putting the factory settings back in first, I would be screwed. The local mechanic couldn't find anything wrong. I was still getting poor gas mileage even though I wasn't towing.

I had my son send the flashpaq tuner to me and I put the factory settings back in. The rest of our stay in the RGV, gas mileage seemed to be in the normal range. I thought maybe the problem was a malfunction with the Superchips so left the stock settings in when I started towing back home.

For the first hour and a half heading North from the RGV, everything seemed normal, good performance and about 10 MPG. We stopped for lunch and when we headed out again, the power and fuel mileage problems came back. The problem came and went the rest of that day. The next two days, everything ran pretty good again. Finally on the fourth day, I stopped for fuel near Baltimore and the poor performance came back and stayed with us for the last 2 hours to home. Again, the black speckles showed up on the propane cover.

I have since had the truck to my local Dodge dealer and they can't find anything wrong. The truck seems to be running normal with average gas mileage, 13.5 to 14 MPG for everyday driving. I haven't put the Superchips settings back in yet as I want to find out what is causing the problem first. I am planning to tow to California and back in July and would like to find out what is causing the problem first as it will be a long tow (5 to 6 days) which will seem even longer if the problem shows up again, not to mention the added cost of fuel for the trip when the gas mileage is poor.

Anyone have any thoughts on what my problem might be?
Bryan & Lee Anne Richardson
Fire captain/Eagle Scout
Us Coast Guard 1970-1974
Vietnam Era Veteran
Proud parents of a US Marine
Retiring in 2007 and planning to go full-time
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