Dodge Presents Latest Chassis News

THE latest chassis news from Dodge Truck Engineering was recently presented by spokesmen and engineers during a seminar at an industry convention.

In 1993, Dodge had 6.8% of the market for full-size pickup trucks, said Mike Coughlin of Dodge Truck Engineering in Detroit, Michigan. In 1997, a year that saw a one-month halt in production because of a strike at an engine plant, Dodge increased its share to 21.4% of the full-size pickup truck market.

The new Dodge Dakota pushed Chrysler's share of the small-truck market to an all-time high of 13.7%, Coughlin said. In the full-size van market, Chrysler has a 20% share.

"As we get our production up on the new Dakota, our share of the small-truck market seems to be increasing," Coughlin said. "We have about 20% of the overall market for trucks."

Dodge is holding 50 meetings this year with dealers throughout the United States to launch a new program called On the Job, which will focus on the commercial truck business, Coughlin said. The first phase of Chrysler's On the Job program is to provide financing for buyers of commercial trucks.

Changes in Engineering In the 1998 model year, very little has changed for Dodge trucks with respect to snowplow use and pickup box removal, said Larry Williams, a supervisor in the modified vehicles engineering department at Dodge Truck Engineering. The Dodge quad-cab 3500 chassis with a 155-inch wheelbase was added to the pickup box removal program.

Dodge mailed a survey asking distributors if they prefer a body builders book or a body builders manual on compact disc. A body builders manual on CD was displayed in the Dodge trucks booth in the exhibit hall. Whether the manual is published as a book or on CD will be based on input from distributors, Williams said.

Electrical changes on 1998 model year Dodge trucks were reviewed by Ray Rathore, senior product engineer at Chrysler Corporation. In the engine compartment, electrical relays are now contained in a power distribution center (PDC). Other electrical changes in the engine compartment include the following:

An improved ground system.

The addition of dual horns.

A new underhood, non-mercury lamp that provides better illumination.

Stamped battery terminals on chassis and pickup trucks with gasoline engines only.

The PTO circuit was relocated.

Additional Dodge Changes Other changes to 1998 model Dodge trucks include:

Additional fuse protection.

Electrical connector upgrades for the trailer tow connector; air-conditioning high- and low-pressure switches; automatic transmission; high- and low-note horn; underhood lamp; ambient-temperature sensor; ABS/RWAL module; and the DPA switch.

Inside the cab, connectors were upgraded in the instrument panel for the foglamp switch, cigar lighter, power outlet, airbag module, overdrive switch, and instrument cluster lighting.

On the electrical system of the chassis and cab, additions include a center-high-mounted-stop-lamp auxiliary circuit, a trailer-tow direct-connection system, an eight-way trailer-tow connector, and a new heavy-duty electronic combination flasher.

Inside the cab is a new passenger-side airbag with a disable switch operated by the vehicle ignition key, Rathore said.

A new overdrive switch is mounted on the steering column.

New Cummins Diesel A new 24-valve, 5.9-liter, turbocharged Cummins diesel engine is available in Dodge truck and cab chassis, according to John Bush of the Cummins Engine Company. The first Cummins diesel engine was offered in Ram pickup trucks in the 1988 model.

When Cummins changed its latest pickup engine, the company focused on acceleration, top-end power, driveability, lower emissions, fuel economy, and lower noise levels, Bush said. Highlights of the 24-valve diesel engine were reviewed by Bush including:

A Bosch electronic VP44 fuel system. The VP44 system controls the timing independent of speed, which is key to meeting the 1998 emissions levels. The Bosch system is electronically integrated with the electronic control module (ECM) of the Cummins engine. The ECM controls the Bosch system fuel pump.

The 24-valve cylinder head was a key design challenge in maintaining low weight and durability. With this design, Cummins gained advantages with central intake providing better airflow and breathing for the engine.

The 24-valve diesel has an extended power and speed range. In the 1998 model, the 24-valve engine will develop 235 horsepower at 2700 rpm with 460 ft-lb of peak torque. A 24-valve engine in a Ram pickup with an automatic transmission has an extended range of 215 horsepower and 420 ft-lb of torque at 2700 rpm. The truck's useful power is extended to 3200 rpm with this engine configuration, which greatly improves driving performance.

A new pilot-valve thermostat prevents temperature-gauge cycling and is easier to service. The thermostat housing is cast in the right front corner of the cylinder head.

An integrated fuel rail.

A single die-cast aluminum valve cover with raised, red lettering and a Ram-head logo.

Increased coolant flow with openings in the cylinder head gasket.

A head and engine block that are powder-coated before being machined.

The overhead 24-valve system is adjustment-free up to 150,000 miles. This technology, borrowed from larger over-the-road diesel engines built by Cummins, is compatible with a 60-psi exhaust brake.

This engine has direct fuel injection and has never used glow plugs. The engine has a heater controlled by the ECM that measures manifold and ambient temperatures. Advanced engine plug-in diagnostics can be performed with a Dodge DRVIII or a Cummins Insight electronic service tool.

The engine is backed by a five-year, 100,000-mile warranty from Cummins and Dodge. Based on recent studies, it can be driven 400,000 miles before an overhaul. o

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