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How to Replace Freeze Plug 94-02 Dodge RAM 1500

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Hey, friends. It's Len here at 1A Auto. Today I'm going to be working on our 1996 Dodge Ram 1500. I want to show you something fairly basic, removing and installing a freeze plug. As always, if you need any parts, check us out, 1aauto.com. Thanks.

So now that we're underneath the hood, one of the first things we have to do is remove our radiator cap. You do that by pressing down and turning counterclockwise. We're going to lift it up away from us. Take a peek. Make sure that it's not cracked or deformed in any way. This one looks perfectly fine and I would say it's reusable. We'll set that aside and we can continue. So right up here is where the drain is or the petcock. I'll just show you with this hose right up here. Okay? It's got a little flat twist where you just grab right onto it and you can turn it counter clockwise and it'll loosen up. I grabbed myself a short piece of hose. If you can find one that's softer than this, it might work out better for you.

But essentially we're just going to go over the end of that petcock and we're going to make it so this has a nice drain and it's going to go into our catch bucket so we can recycle the coolant properly. We'll get this up on here and then we'll open it up. There we go. That's fairly secured at this point. Now I'm going to grab my bucket, a set of pliers. We'll get up in there. So I'm going to carefully take my pliers. I'm just going to give this a little wiggle side to side. I'm going to turn it to the left once I feel like it starts wanting to break free. I've got my safety glasses on of course, and my hand protection because I'm dealing with a chemical here. There we are. Okay. We've got coolant draining. We're just going to give this a couple of minutes to finish doing its thing and then we can continue. Okay, so now that we're underneath the hood, what we want to do first is disconnect the negative battery cable.

I'm going to take off this nut right here or at least loosen it to the point that I can twist this a little bit and we'll be able to move along. It feels pretty loose. I'm just going to lift this up. There we go. We'll set this aside so we know that it can not make contact with that negative terminal. At this point, our truck has no power going to it. So you don't have to worry about any of the wires touching when you get down underneath. Let's move along. All right, so we have our starter right here. You have your power wires go into it. We know we disconnected the battery. If you skipped that step and you didn't disconnect the battery, you need to go up and do that now. Assuming that you've disconnected the battery, you can move along. We're going to take out this mounting bolt right here and then there's going to be a bolt the exact same right up on top. We'll get both of those out and we can continue.

So now before we get that one all the way completely out, I'm going to go ahead and start doing the top one now. Just get an extension, a swivel socket. I'm using a 17. So here we go. Let's get this top one loose. So there's our bolt. Get the lower one out and we can get the starter down. Its getting pretty loose. Starter's going to be ready to fall down. You want to make sure you don't let it bounce down on those cables. There we are. Bring that down. We've got our bolt. We've got a clear view of our cables right here. Cool. If yours look like this, you're probably going to want to replace your starter because it's a pretty good chance that this is going to break off. Okay. This is just plain old coming right apart here.

Yeah, well, generally speaking, this is nut will come off of here and you'll have this wire be able to come off and then this one right here, that's that nut will come off and then that'll come off all this one piece. As you can tell, this one's not thinking what I'm thinking. It's going to do something a little different. So we'll have to figure it out from here. I'm just going to try to hold this with pliers just so I can get it off of here. We're just going to get a new starter. So I'm not worried about it. But I do need to get the cable off. Get this right off of there. There's that. We're going to take this one off right here.

By the look of it, this might even be the original starter or it was replaced quite a while ago. I'd say it's definitely time for a new one in this bad boy. So I'm just putting a 14 millimeter onto the drain right here for the coolant jacket. We're going to make sure we drain this. Otherwise we're going to have a lot of coolant sitting up behind here waiting for us. Now that I got that on there. I'm going to grab my extension and a ratchet. I've got my eye protection on of course. So just going to try to break this free. All right. It seems like it's moving. Get our bucket ready. We don't want any of this coolant getting on the ground, right? There we go.

All right, so that's what our little drain plug looks like there. Still looks like it's in pretty good condition. I'm just going to clean it up with a wire wheel. I'll use a little bit of thread sealant on there and then when it's time to re-install, we'll be ready to go. So we're just going to ... Ooh, pull that big old flake off of there. That's a giant flake, used to be a piece of the metal for the freeze plug. I'm going to set that aside, a little memento. That's pretty thin. I'm just going to try to clean up the area all around here along the block and whatnot where the freeze plug's going to go in. Hopefully it will make it want to come out easier for us. So I'm just going to use a pry bar and my hammer and I'm going to try and go up along an edge here.

Wow, that's right into the freeze plug there. That was ready to give it right out. So there's the inside of your engine in case you were wondering what it looks like in there. That's it. So that was very close to being ready to give out. I'm going to see if I can get the rest of this out of here. I'm just going to try and get this so I can grab it. You can use pliers in case there's any sharp metal here. Pull that right out of there and there is our freeze plug. Phenomenal. So now I'm just going to use something that has a little magnet on it. For me, it's just this pocket screwdriver and I'm going to try to just see if I have any metal floating around inside here. Oh yeah. Oh, it's not very deep. So that's nice.

I can literally touch the bottom with my finger and I can also get out all sorts of smegma. Of course you want to make sure you're wearing gloves when you're doing this. Safety first. That's the number one concern at 1A Auto. Last thing we want is anybody getting hurt for any reason. Looks like we've got the majority of it out actually already. That's kind of nice. I'm just running my finger along there, trying to put it all into a pile and then I'm going to see if I can grab said pile with the magnet. I don't have to go too crazy because I still have to clean up around the edge, which is of course going to make a little bit more in there. Just some little stuff here. The more you can get out the better obviously. The less stuff you have running around inside your engine that shouldn't be there, the better off you'll be in the long run. I'm just going to try to clean this up now along the engine block where the new freeze plug's going to go in and then we'll be able to continue.

Okay, so I'm just to use a little bit of sandpaper here. I'm just going to take it along the inside of this hole. Just try to make a nice smooth surface for when we go to install our brand new freeze plug. That actually feels remarkably good. I'm going to clean it up and I'll get any last bit of metal that I might find inside there out and we can continue. Okay, so we're just going to go with some fine grit sandpaper now. We're going to continue cleaning up this hole. Try to make sure we got any crud off of there, also any big scores that might've been made by the more gritty sandpaper that we were using. I just want to try to get it as smooth as possible. Take your time on this. It doesn't make sense to try to rush through it because last thing you want is coolant getting past this and then you have to do it all over again.

So just take a peak. Make sure that along where the freeze plug's going to ride inside the block is nice and smooth. Doesn't have to look very smooth on the outside of the block because, well, it really doesn't matter. It's mostly just right where the freeze plug is going to ride you got to worry about. So I would say that looks pretty great. We'll wipe it down, double check it and we can continue. Trying to get this wiped out the best I can. Just feel around. That feels really great.

Okay, so here's our freeze plug. This is our original, as you can tell, it was very thin and it just kind of peeled right away as we were trying to take it out. We got ourselves a new one. This is 1-5/8. That's the size you need for your engine block. Okay? Different vehicles require different sizes. But for our application, the '96 Dodge Ram 1500 with a five nine it's 1-5/8. You can get them made in USA, why not? Anyway, this is quality. You can tell the thickness of it just by right where my finger is, especially in comparison to the original one. The sidewalls of this thing is just so thin and maybe, who knows? Maybe it did look like this in the beginning and it just kind of rotted away. It's very possible. How am I to say?

But as you could tell it needed to be done. So with that said, now it's going to be time to install this into the vehicle. To install it, you can use something like this. All right? The way that this works, it just kind of has a little catch right there that just kind of holds the freeze plug for you so it doesn't fall off. I'm going to go on into the engine. It's got this right here. Then we've got this nice long shaft with a balled end. This is going to go right inside there. You're going to put this end into your engine block after you put on a little bit of thread sealer or not thread sealer but gasket sealer and then you're going to give this end down here a couple little bonks. Try to get it to drive in straight and then this lip right here is going to go flat up against the engine.

Okay? So you're just going to keep trying to put it in as straight as possible until the lip on the tool all the way around is flat up against the engine block. If you don't have access to this tool, you can use something as simple as a 30 millimeter socket. We want it to just ride right along the lip. The only problem with using a tool like this is only the fact that, well, you can't really angle it. So if it's a tight area and you don't have much room to get into, you're going to have this whole socket sticking out and then of course you have to also swing the hammer, bonk, bonk, bonk, to try to drive this in. Not just that, but there also isn't a lip to stop up against the engine. So you could see where a tool like this would come in handy.

Does it make sense to go out and buy a tool like this just so you can do your freeze plugs one time? I don't know. Maybe you can go someplace and rent one or borrow one from a buddy. But something like this would be optimal. Like I said, you can also use your 30 millimeter socket. Just rides right along the lip and you can install it right into the engine block. That said, let's get ready for an install. Okay, so we're just going to use a little bit of our gasket maker here. This stuff is a some real goo. All right? So obviously make sure you don't get it in your eyes or on your clothes. If you get it on your clothes, you might just have to recycle them because this stuff is something else. Looks like I'm filling in the hole just by using this. There we go. I'm just going to go around a little bit here. Give it a couple of rounds. Awesome. Just want to make sure it's definitely on all the way around. That feels pretty good.

We've got our freeze plug. We can you use the socket like I said if you wanted to and you could try to bonk it in there. Generally speaking, there should be pretty much plenty of room if you're working on the same truck as I am. So when you go to start it you just want to try to get it in as level as possible. Then you would just put your socket on there. You can even use the backside if you wanted to. It might just be a little harder to hammer on it this way, however you need to do it. I'm going to actually use the physical tool. But essentially if you had to use the 30 millimeter socket, put just like this, bonk, bonk, bonk, until it's pretty much level with the engine block and then that would be it. Let's grab this tool. See if we can get it to want to do its job. Okay, it's getting a little crooked. Get these things in level. Still crooked. Okay. They're rarely easy. I'm going try to push it in on that upper side now. Come on. Okay.

It's definitely flush right along here. Coming along, start feeling a little bit of an edge. So that tells me that I'm just going to go a little bit more. I'm going to try and get down along the bottom. Still looks like a little bit more on the bottom. Okay now I definitely don't want to go anymore. All right, that's it right there. Awesome. So we've got our little blocked drain plug here. This is what we use to drain the coolant. I'm just going to use a little bit of thread sealer. You can use the tape or the goo, whatever you want to do.

Just put a little bit on there. Let me close this up. I'm just going to help it find its way around the threads here. It might've been a little excessive. All right, so let's get our plug back into its little hole it came from. So I felt it get snug and then I went just a teeny bit more. As you'll notice, not all the threads go all the way into the engine block. It kind of just seats in and then that's it just like that. We've got our thread sealer on there so we don't have to worry about it. So we're just going to clean these up. This is where it's going to make connection to the starter. So you want to make sure you have it nice and clean so you can make a great connection. This tool is at 1aauto.com by the way. As you can tell, it works amazingly.

So now taking a look at this, this is the positive lead. As you can tell, there's plenty of bare copper showing. I don't like that very much. So we're just going to put it on a little bit of shrink wrap, try to cover the majority of that so it won't make any spots where it can touch up against anything and ground out. So we'll just try to clean this up right up along here, down along the bare wires. If you happen to see a lot of green, like this one has very minimal green, which isn't a very big deal, but if there was a lot and you had some broken wires that looked like they were fraying, like you go like this and wires are breaking, you need to go ahead and replace this. This one looks like it's perfectly reusable. Let me take some of my shrink wrap here. I had to get a big one because obviously it's got to go over this ear and bring it right up over part of the cable.

Just go right around it. Make sure you got it as shrunk down as it's going to go. Obviously we don't want to catch it on fire. So you don't stay in one spot very long. So I'm just going to go over this with some electrical tape just because I want to be sure that the shrink wrap is as tight as possible. The size that we had to use was a little bit bigger than what we would normally like to use for this wire only because of this ear. So I want to make sure that no moisture can make its way in there and corrode our wire. Okay. That's as far as we're going to go. Use up the rest of it. Why not? Since I'm here anyway. All right, so I've got this end cleaned up a little bit. We're just going to do the same to this end. Need a little bit more heat shrink. Just go right up here. Make sure it goes up onto where the wire is. I still got plenty of metal area for where I'm going to connect to my starter. That's melted.

All right, so we know that we have our battery disconnected still, right? As long as it's not reconnected for any reason, you didn't go up there and connect it, we're going to get our starter hooked up onto these and then we'll put it up into the vehicle. When the starter goes in, it's going to go in just like this. So here's where our terminal ends are going to be. As you can tell, there'll be fairly hard to get to while they're up there. So that's why we're doing it while it's right here. I'm just going to get that right on there. We have a new starter. So we're going to use our new nut. Snug it up.

Feels pretty good. Just give it a little wiggle. Nice. Get our other wire on there, little itty bitty nut on there. Sometimes these small ones are super hard to do with gloves on. This is a very small stud. So you definitely do not want to break it off into the starter. That feels good. Make sure that this and this are not touching anywhere where they're metal. Okay? That looks pretty great. If they are touching, your starter's just going to remain constantly on and it's going to cause a major issue obviously. Probably don't have to explain that too much. You can take this right up in here. Just line right up. Awesome. Try and get it started in a little bit. Cool. Grab my other one. See if I can get my hand ... All right, let's grab the tool to start tightening these down. So we're going to use our 16 millimeter socket with an extension. Definitely want to make sure that these are nice and snug. Okay.

That one's tight for sure. Same thing for this one. All right. It's bottomed out. Let's give it a little bit more. That's nice and snug as well. Now you just want to pay attention to where your wires are. If yours is hanging down like this one is, it couldn't hurt to use a couple of wire ties and just try to wire tie it up so it can't hang down. Last thing you want is this getting caught on something and give it a nice yank. So we'll wire tie it up, make it look nice and pretty. All right, so now it's time to reconnect the battery. We make sure we've got our safety glasses on. That's super important, hand protection. Just going to connect that right on just like that. I'm going to use my socket. Snug this right up.

Hold down my wires so they don't come up on me while I'm doing this of course. Just make sure it's nice and snug. Get my socket off of there of course. Just grab the terminal. Give it a nice little wiggle. If it still wobbles around, you need to go ahead and tighten this up some more. This feels really great. I'd say we're good to go. All right, so we've got our vacuum tool here. Just has a couple of hoses. One's for letting the air out. As the air rushes past, it creates vacuum, which is going to vacuum our system, create negative pressure. You're going to notice that this gauge is going to go all the way up. It needs to go up to where 25 or anywhere past the 25 and the green is. Once it's up there and it seems like it's holding steady, we're going to turn it off and we're going to let it sit and then hope it doesn't go down below the 25 into 20, 15, 10. If it starts dropping like that, then you know that you have a leak someplace.

Here's our 25. We're going to keep going until the needle stop. All right, I'd say that's just about it right there. You can close this off. Turn off our air and now we can get our coolant ready and when we come back in approximately five to 10 minutes, we're going to make sure that this needle has not dropped below the 25 mark. Okay, friends, it's been holding for a good five to 10 minutes here. So I'm just going to grab our coolant that we're going to be using. We've got our hose down in there. We're going to let the vacuum fill the system. All right. So we're on gallon number three here. Just kind of holding it up because the pressure's getting ... It's kind of evening out a little bit here. We don't have as much negative pressure in there to create vacuum. Just hold it up high like I said and that is it. So we'll let that drain back out of there real quick.

All right, so if you don't have one of those vacuums for filling your cooling system, you can go with something like this. This is available 1aauto.com. It's a little funnel buddy and it's got pretty much every single adapter you're ever going to need for pretty much any cooling system. All right? So what we'll do is we'll find the ones that'll work for this. I've already figured out which one it is. It's the black one with the big cap on it. We also have the little cap. We've got the screw ons for a Volkswagen or a Volvo. You got a Ford over here, all sorts of neat things in there. I'm going to put all of these aside. We'll grab the pieces that we do need. I'm going to put this right on here. Push it down. Give it a twist to the right until it's bottomed out. Put this on there just like that. This right here, it's just a little stopper. That's going to come in super handy a little later and I'll show you why.

Now we're going to carefully put some coolant in this just like that. I'm just going to use whatever coolants left in all these jugs that I might've left in there. I hate to waste anything and I definitely don't want to contaminate any landfills. So now what you can do is you can either let this sit like this for a little while. You could also come over to one of your hoses, give it a little squeeze. You'll notice that I'm getting out some pretty good air bubbles there. After you notice that there isn't any more air bubbles coming out, you can go ahead and run the vehicle for a little while. Once you run the vehicle and it starts to heat up, the water pump's going to be circulating the coolant. It's going to flush out any air that's in there. The air is going to work its way up to here, which is the highest point. As the air comes up, something's going to need to fill that void. That's going to be this coolant.

It's going to work its way down in there. Once you've run it, you know it's nice and hot. All you do, take this. Push it right in there like that. You lift up your little funnel buddy like this and then you go ahead and you put it right inside your reservoir. All right? If you end up needing more coolant, you're just going to add. The way you know if you need more coolant is by looking at the side of this. You have a minimum right there and a maximum right there. You need to have it somewhere between the minimum and the maximum. Anywhere above that is semi dangerous only because once the coolant heats up, it has to expand. It's going to go somewhere. Last thing you want is it to come out of here and then pour all over the ground, so I'm going to leave this right in here for now. I'm going to run the vehicle and we'll finish up what we're doing. All right, so we're going to top off our coolant reservoir. You've got your low line and your max line. Let's get it anywhere in between here and here.

Check it. Maybe a little bit more. If you go a little bit over the max, it's okay. But you don't want to go very much over the max because you need room for when the coolant expands. When it gets warm, it needs to be able to come up in here and not come out of here. If it starts coming out of here, obviously it's going to contaminate the ground and it's going to cause issues. That looks great. Down the road you go.

Thanks for watching. Visit 1aauto.com for quality auto parts shipped to your door, the place for DIY auto repair and if you enjoyed this video, please click the subscribe button.

Tools needed for replacement:

    General Tools

  • Hammer
  • Jack Stands
  • Drain Pan
  • Floor Jack

  • Materials, Fluids, and Supplies

  • Sandpaper
  • Gasket Adhesive
  • Cloth Rags
  • Pipe Thread Sealer

  • Pliers, Cutters & misc Wrenches

  • Pliers

  • Ratchets & Related

  • Socket Extensions
  • Ratchet

  • Screwdrivers & Related

  • Pry Bar
  • Pocket Screwdriver

  • Sockets - Metric

  • 12mm Socket
  • 13mm Socket
  • 17mm Socket
  • 14mm Deep Socket
  • 10mm Socket


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