Home How-to Articles Moses Ludel’s 4WD Mechanix Magazine – How-to: Dodge Ram Truck Oil Change

Moses Ludel’s 4WD Mechanix Magazine – How-to: Dodge Ram Truck Oil Change

by Moses Ludel
How-to: Routine Engine Oil & Filter Change on Your Dodge Ram Truck!

Dodge Ram Cummins engine will take 12 quarts of fresh oil with an oil and filter change.

    Engine oil deteriorates and becomes contaminated over time. Quality synthetic oils and some alternative fuels like propane can reduce engine oil breakdown. Regardless of the oil type, however, every Dodge Ram truck engine requires periodic oil and oil filter changes to remove contaminants.

     If not changed in time, the oil filter can clog. Excessive contaminants or stretching too far between oil changes will clog an oil filter and compromise engine oiling. 

     On modern engines, a “bypass valve” will open in the event of a clogged oil filter. This allows vital oil to bypass the clogged filter and continue oiling parts. The by-pass system protects bearings and other critical parts from oil starvation and risk of immediate failure. However, the by-pass function comes with a price: contaminants and damaging debris course through sensitive parts of the engine.

     Engine damage from by-passing is visible on teardown as bearing etching. Debris, embedded in the soft insert bearing surfaces, reflects the lack of filtration. Dirty, fuel-diluted oil also shortens engine life.

New Mopar oil filter is specifically designed for the Cummins turbo-diesel engine.

     For this reason, routine oil and oil filter changes help maintain a cleaner engine, reduce the buildup of contaminants and assure that oil gets filtered.

     This ‘how-to’ covers a routine oil change on the 5.9L Cummins inline six-cylinder turbo diesel. The steps apply to the Dodge-Ram gasoline engines as well.

   Note: If you perform your own truck maintenance and service work, use the lubricant and service specifications found in a Dodge-Ram (official Chrysler Group) Service Manual for your truck. For quality, professional results, invest in the ‘Service Manual’ for your year and model Ram. See the Mopar TechAuthority II section for information on how to access manuals and other official Dodge-Ram truck technical information.

Changing the Engine’s Oil and Oil Filter

  This ‘how-to’ outlines the steps for a professional oil and filter change. The tools required for this work are minimal.

This is the Cummins 5.9L drain plug, mounted at the bottom of the oil pan with a convenient 3/8-inch square inset for your rachet.

1.  An oil changed begins with draining the old oil. Hot oil can cause severe burns and injury. The oil should be warm, not hot, for draining. Warm oil permits immediate flow and likelihood that more contaminants will end up in the drain pan.

The large drain pan catches all drain oil and reaches beneath the oil filter as well. 

  Caution: Use nitrile mechanic’s gloves to protect against the harmful contaminants in old oil. Note the use of a large drain pan to prevent oil from splashing onto the shop floor or driveway. This drain pan is a cement mixing trough, made of durable plastic.

By design, the oil filter on a 5.9L Cummins diesel is awkward to access. Use of a filter cap tool with a socket extension will spin the filter loose.

2. A notched filter cap wrench is advisable. Here, the cap tool fits snugly on the bottom (end) of the filter. The diesel 5.9L’s oil filter mounts vertically, which is helpful. Note wiring beneath the filter. Carefully lower the filter past this wiring. Avoid tilting or spilling oil from the filter. Several oil changes into the process, this gets easier!

A long extension helps access the oil filter cap wrench.


  Caution: To prevent oil spillage and splash, keep the drain pan beneath the filter during filter removal. On slant or horizontally mounted filters, loosen the filter slightly and let oil drain out before removing the oil filter…After oil drains, clean and inspect the drain plug for gasket damage. Install the drain plug by hand, then torque the plug to specification. Never leave the drain plug finger-tight with plans to torque it later. Many drain plugs have fallen out on the road from failure to follow-up with this step!

Use a torque wrench and factory tightening specifications when tightening the drain plug.

Tighten the drain plug using the torque specified in your Dodge-Ram or Cummins service data or owners manual. A torque wrench assures the proper setting. Wipe off any oil spillage to avoid drips.
   Note: The 2005 5.9L Cummins drain plug torque is 37 ft-lbs.

We use Mopar's Cummins rated oil filters on the turbo diesel.

3. A filter might fit an engine but not have the proper micron filtration, pressure drop across the filter or bypass valve setting. This Mopar-Cummins filter is your assurance that the oil filter meets the stringent engineering requirements set by Cummins and Chrysler.

Vertical mount oil filter allows pre-filling with fresh, clean oil to prevent oil flow lag on first startup.

4. This Mopar oil filter mounts vertically on the Cummins diesel. Pre-priming before installation is possible. Fill the oil filter to near full. (Allow for slight tilting of the filter during installation.) Make sure oil entering the filter is spotlessly clean. Spread a film of fresh oil on the gasket surface.

     Note: Pre-filling the filter with fresh, clean oil will reduce the time to fill the new filter when the engine starts. The highest wear to crankshaft bearings occurs during engine start-up. Oil change start-ups are even greater risk to bearings. Minimize wear by pre-priming the filter. Oil pressure will pick up quicker, preserving your engine’s bearings.
  Caution: Make sure the old oil filter’s gasket came off with the filter! A common and disastrous issue is “double gasketing” a filter at the engine mount. Make sure the oil filter mount is clear and clean. When bringing the filter to the engine mount, prevent debris from falling into the open oil filter. Keep the new filter gasket clean.
  Advice: The oil filter or its box furnishes directions on how to tighten the filter. With a thin film of fresh oil applied to the gasket, a good rule is to grasp the new filter shell with both hands and cinch it down. Some use a filter cap wrench to confirm a snug fit.
  Warning: Surely, nobody wants a filter to loosen, leak or fall off! However, an overly tight filter can be very difficult to remove after the engine has run at operating temperature. In service, the filter’s gasket swells, which tightens the fit. Typical Dodge-Ram Truck service manual recommendations suggest threading the Cummins oil filter onto the adapter by hand until the filter gasket contacts the stand—then turn the filter one-half turn beyond this point. (See the added “Suggestion” below.) 
  Suggestion: I approach filter tightening in a different way: First, I tighten the filter by the specified method (1/2-turn or whatever recommended on the oil filter canister). Beyond that, I perform a “two-hands-snug” test to confirm that the filter is secure…In my experience, the “two-hands-snug” (past the minimum “1/2-turn” or recommended point) is a better approach, reducing risk of a false setting and nuisance leak—or worse…Always check for leaks after start-up!—Moses Ludel

Mopar's 15W-40 diesel oil is our product of choice for engine longevity and optimal performance.

5. Mopar’s MaxPro® 15W-40 oil is specified for the Cummins turbo-diesel. Properly maintained Cummins inline six-cylinder engines are legend. Some run a half-million miles without a major teardown. This is only possible with regular oil and filter changes. Mopar® offers a full line of engine-specified lubricants for your gasoline or diesel Dodge-Ram truck. See your local Ram Truck dealer!

Gallon bottles and a 5-quart filler can speed fill of the three gallon capacity 5.9L diesel with a new filter.

5. A five-quart oil container with flex spout helps reduce risk of spilling oil during the crankcase fill. Set the can and spout on a stable base that will support the weight. Make sure the fill can is clean before pouring fresh oil into the can and engine.

This filler can is fast and neat, reducing risk of spillage during the 12-quart fill. For the typical Dodge-Ram gasoline V-8 or V-10, the can works well for 5-quart fills.

6. The Cummins inline six takes 12 quarts of oil when a new filter is installed. This is the third gallon of Mopar MaxPro® oil poured into the 5.9L turbo diesel. (One quart from the first gallon went into the new oil filter before installing the filter. Install the filter before filling the crankcase.)

Allow the can to drain completely. You can curl the flex spout upward to avoid drip and spill.

7. The flex spout helps reduce risk of spill. After all oil drains from the can, simply swing the flex spout upward to stop the oil drip. Quality oil can be expensive. Make sure all of the oil ends up in the engine! Install and secure the oil fill-cap.

  Note: After installing the oil filter, filling the crankcase and installing the oil fill cap, you can start the engine. Start at an idle without opening the throttle. Make sure oil pressure picks up immediately. Circulate oil for a few minutes, checking for leaks at the filter and drain plug areas. Shut the engine off and allow several minutes for oil to fully drain into the oil pan. Check the oil level and top off oil if necessary—do not overfill the crankcase!

Mopar oil change with a Mopar-Cummins rated filter assures a long life and maximum performance from this turbo diesel.

  An effective, quality oil change begins with the best products. This is the oil and filter recommended by Mopar® for the Cummins turbo-diesel. Make Mopar® your source for original equipment quality and engineering…See your local Chrysler Group or Ram Truck dealer for lubricants, filters and service parts!

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