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 »  Home  »  2nd Gen 24V Articles  »  Repair  »  VP-44 Install on a 1999 Dodge Cummins
VP-44 Install on a 1999 Dodge Cummins
By Bent Wings | Published  04/3/2007 | Repair | Rating:
Installing a VP-44 in a 1999 Dodge Cummins Duallie

This article is in 3 parts.


1. What happened and diagnosis

2. Installation of the pump

3. Observations after the install


What happened:

I was simply driving down the street about 40 mph with no load and the motor just quit. There was absolutely no warning, no dead pedal, misfire, or hesitation.  There had been no leadups to this that were noticed. The truck had good power and was responsive. We had been on the new ULSD for about a month and there was full winter fuel in effect. Minn has 2% biodiesel for about a year so there was 2% bio in the tank. No problems related to this so far. The mileage had dropped off about 3-4 mpg but I had considered this normal for winter weather. The night was cold at about 25 deg F.  After pulling over to the side of the road I tried to restart. The motor turned over as normal (see later starter replace) but there was no indication of firing.  The truck had about 163k showing and the pump was the original. One lift pump was replaced at 105k. When the VP-44 failed, it was showing 14 psi after the filter.


My son brought his scanner over and we found 2 codes.  1689 no communication to fuel module, and 336 crankshaft position sensor fault. Both of these codes were repeated twice.  Both of these are pretty much classic VP-44 failure codes.  As it turns out we tried to clear the codes and see if they would reappear during cranking.  The truck system kicked the scanner off line which was the first time my son had seen this. We tried again and the same thing happened.  Can’t explain this.  We easily cleared the codes with the new pump installed however.


I posted on DRT and got immediate help. IE  replace the VP-44. No doubt.


We called about 12 different dealers and truck shops or repair people. All said the crankshaft position sensor was bad. So we agreed on that.  One tech said he had seen a “tone ring” that had fallen off. Most had never heard of it. All 4 of the dealers wanted the truck brought over to run  on their scanner. ($100-120) They all initially though it was the ECM  with exception of one of the tech who agreed that the pump had failed.  Quotes for the repair went from 2850 plus about 400 for the in tank lift pump to just over $3000 plus the lift pump. There would be no warrantee with out the intank pump.  None would remove the new ECM if it turned out not to be the problem. 


The diesel tech and shops were about split on ECM and Injector pump. None offered any additional help as far as diagnosis except bring it in.  One guy did bring his Snap On scanner over and it further broke down the 1689 code to no communication between the ECM and the injector pump module.  A lengthy disagreement on whether this was replaceable or not resulted.  I finally convinced him it was not something that could be bought over the parts counter.  With that he agreed that the only option was to replace the VP-44 even though he felt that it was the electronic module was bad and not the mechanics of the pump.  He was the only one that seemed to know what he was talking about. Perhaps a little too much what was failed and not enough on the repair part.  I would have let him do the job as he said I could get my own pump and as long as the lift pump was good he was ok with it but I couldn’t wait 2 weeks.  I decided to do this myself with my son helping.  As it turned out my son did most of the work while I either watched or chased tools and took pictures. Nice to have a talented son.


As a side note, When we had finished installing the pump, we went to start it and the motor turned over about 1 turn and the starter went up in smoke.  Since I had purchased a Lifetime starter from AZ I did the R & R as noted below.  AZ was very good about replacing the unit. Glad it didn’t happen out in the country however.


Replacing the VP-44

It was about 40 degrees out side so it was a little cool. We gathered the tools according to posts on DTR and laid them out on a big piece of card board.  We went over to Harbor Freight and purchased a set of metric crowfoot line wrenches mostly for the 19mm one.  We also went to Sears and got a combination wrench in stubby style, a - 5/8 line wrench, a 24mm and a 27 mm 12 point in drive sockets.  Then we went over to Auto Zone and got the crankshaft position sensor and a steering wheel puller.


It would not be a bad idea to put a new camshaft sensor in too as they are about $45 -65 but entail removing the injector pump to install.


I got this pump from Midwest Fuel injection. Great to work with.  I had it the next day and  they don’t charge for the core charge for 30 days so you don’t have to front that money. They also pay for return shipping.


I laid out all the tools again:


10mm 12 pt combination wrench

x 5/8 line wrench

12 pt stubby combination wrench

19mm crowfoot line wrench

24 mm 12 pt drive socket

27 mm 12 pt drive socket

set of metric hex drivers 3/8 drive

set of metric Torx drivers

set of  metric sockets 12 pt 3/8 drive

set of metric deep wall sockets 12 pt 3/8 drive

socket set from a serpentine belt tool. These are optional but the sockets are 12 pt and ultra short.  I used one of them to get at the injector pump to front cover nuts

8 inch 3/8 extension, a wobble extension is even better.

3 inch 3/8 wobble extension

3/8 standard ratchet

3/8 “flop head” ratchet

” drive breaker bar.

Phillips screw driver

Standard screw driver medium

Steering wheel puller (straight)

Small mirror

Flash lite





Disconnect both batteries

Remove the dipstick tube bracket from the air horn

Remove the flex hose from the air horn to intercooler. Place a clean rag in it.

Remove the 4 bolts on the air horn and the nuts for the wires to the grid heaters.

Remove the air horn and grid heaters. Be careful of the gaskets so you can reuse them. Place a clean rag in the manifold opening

Remove the fuel line from the pump to the filter.  Be careful of the gaskets.

Remove the fuel return line at the pump. Be careful of the gaskets

Remove the plastic housing over the top of the fuel pump.

Remove the bolts holding the APPS sensor on and swing it over to the fender. Best to tie it off with the dipstick.

Disconnect the 9 pin connector from the pump

Remove the injector lines 1,2,3 from the head. DO NOT REMOVE THE BRACKETS HOLDING THE LINES TOGETHER. Set these aside on your bench

Remove the matching line nuts from the injector pump.

Remove the engine lifting lug from the head.

Remove the injector lines 4,5,6 from the head. Here is where the 19mm crow foot line wrench is needed.


Remove the injector lines 4,5,6 from the pump and set aside.

Remove the bracket at the rear of the pump that attaches to the block.

Remove the breather tube and housing. A strap wrench works well but muscle works too. It just screws into the front cover.

Bar the motor over using the 24 mm socket in the alternator. You can only turn the motor over one way and slowly.  Use the mirror to watch for the line up marks on the pump gear. Align these so they are straight up or 12 o’clock.  The key way must be at 12 o’clock or you will drop the key into the gears. Don’t do this!!!

Loosen the pump drive nut with the 27 mm socket. It’s tight but not impossible

Remove nut and washer from the front of the pump.  We stuck a small magnet against the pump shaft, then slid the nut and washer onto the magnet stem.

Install the small wheel puller using the bolts from the air horn. We had a hard time with these as there is thread sealant on the threads and it felt like the thread pitch was wrong.  I think the gear in the motor had the threads very tight probably from heat treating the gear. Since these are for us mechanics to use and not for production they probably are not checked.  The threads are the same but just tight. We finally used some soft bolts we had laying around. The puller will pop the shaft loose very easily.

Remove the puller

Remove the 4 nuts holding the fuel pump to the front cover. Use the long 3/8 extension on the lower 2

The pump is now loose but you must be very careful of the key in the pump shaft.  Wiggle the pump until it breaks free. It’s mounted on a dowel pin so the pump must go about inch to the rear before you can turn it. Also be careful of the lower bracket so it doesn’t get caught on anything. Slide it to the rear watching for the key. It will remain in the shaft if you don’t bump it.  Once the pump is clear you can set it aside. There is a bit of fuel in the pump so don’t rest it on your lap until it is drained.

Roll the pump over and remove the lower bracket. (150 Torx) Inspect the bracket for cracks and damage. Replace it if necessary.  This bracket is very important so don’t toss it.


Clean everything up and get ready to finish up.

The new pump comes with a new key specific to the pump. It has markings on it so make sure they are in the correct direction.  We removed the key and added some heavy grease to the slot to hold the key in place and some grease on the o-ring to aid in installing the pump. Some use super glue on the key, some use tape. The grease worked for us.



Install the pump being very careful of the key. Use the mirror to get things lined up. The dowel pin will guide the pump in.

Install the 4 pump housing nuts loosely.

Carefully install the washer and nut on the pump and snug them up. Don’t tighten yet

Tighten the 4 pump housing nuts.

Install the support bracket to the pump and the block.  We got at them from below.  The object is to tighten them evenly against the block and pump so there is no binding against the pump.

Now finish tightening the pump drive nut and washer.  These are about 125 ft lbs

Reinstall the breather assembly.


From here it is the reverse of the disassembly.

Leave line 1, 3, and 4 slightly loose so you can bleed the air from the system at startup.

Once everything is installed and tightened up you are ready to go.

Make sure all the tools and other items are secure and out of the way before starting.

Hook up the batteries

Turn the key on and bump the start but do not start it yet. The lift pump should run for about 20-30 seconds.  Do this 2-3 times to purge some of the air out of the system.

Now crank the motor. It should start firing in a couple turns or less.  It will rumble and sound terrible. As it starts running, you will see fuel coming out of the loose lines.  We shut it off at this point and tightened up all the lines.  Upon restart it rattled and rumbled and blew out a dense cloud of smoke then after a minute or so it started smoothing out. With about 5 minutes it was idling fine. We let it run about 20 minutes before hitting the throttle at all.  It responded great so we jumped in and went for a ride.  It was like a new truck!!!



After the motor has warmed up be sure to retighten the injector lines.  I got about 50 miles down the road and washed the motor and entire bottom of the truck in diesel. It took 2 stops before the lines were all sealed back up. A trip through the car wash cleaned up underneath, but there won’t be any rust this year for sure. Be sure to clear the codes at this point.


If you have all the tools ready, you should be able to do this in 4 hours easy even on the ground outside.  A good shop guy could do it in 2 hours and have time for a break.




The truck began running very well immediately after I got on the road again.

I noticed a big improvement in low end torque. Where I used to slip the clutch a little on starting out, it now just moves out by itself.  There is a marked improvement in power from 1200 to 1800 rpm. It always seemed like the turbo was taking its time spooling up in this range but not now.  There were times when it would blow huge clouds of black smoke when accelerating mostly when it was wet and very humid. It doesn’t do this anymore.  The idle down just as you are coming to a stop is only about 100 rpm at most now where it was about 200 rpm before.  Sometimes it is not even there now, usually when it is cold.  It also doesn’t drop rpm as quickly between gears so up shifting is much easier and quicker. Starting is much improved. It was taking about 2-3 turns of the motor to get started, now it doesn’t get 1 turn even at 5 deg F.


Summary of a failing VP-44 according to my observations

Gradually slower starts even with good batteries and starter.

Hard starting when it is below 0 outside.

Gradual loss of power at low rpms

Gradual loss of MPG I had previously always gotten 20+ on trips. It gradually became harder to maintain this, finally getting down to about 16-17 even on easy trips.

Sometimes a gently rolling idle where it was dead smooth before.

Clouds of black smoke when briskly accelerating.  It was very hard even to get a puff at any time when the pump was good.

The motor slowed down sharply when shifting up. Now it is easy to maintain rpm

I never noticed any “dead pedal” or limp mode but I did seem to get less power on occasion. It was so slight and gradual decline that I really didn’t take serious note of it.


Today the truck runs a good as new. It starts instantly even when cold, I’m back up to 20 mpg even with ULSF and winter grade, The idle is dead smooth, the power is way up and is doesn’t knock as much……Plus I have some more tools to carry in the truck and knowledge in the head.




To remove the starter


Disconnect both batteries

Jack the truck up and set on jack stands.  We also put it on 2 sets of 4 x 4 under the front wheels.  Block the rear wheels front and rear.

I slid under it on a piece of cardboard this time.

Remove the big battery wire and the small solenoid wire.

Loosen the 2 lower bolts about a turn.

The top bolt is only accessible with a 10mm 12 pt combination wrench. About 6 inches long.

I go under the truck on the left (driver) side and roll on my side so I’m more or less facing the rear end. Using my right hand I can reach up and over the rear of the starter and get the 12 pt end on the head of the bolt.  I have much more strength and leverage even from this awkward position. It takes a mighty tug to get the bolt loose the first time. I had to wrench it all the way out the first time.  I’ve done the starter R&R 5 times now.  Once it is loose keep after it until it is out. Then return to the bottom 2 bolts and remove the starter.  It’s not real heavy.


The crankshaft position sensor is just ahead and behind the starter and retained by one 10mm bolt.

Remove the wire connection and push aside.

Remove the 10 mm bolt.

Carefully wiggle the sensor until it pops out of the block. I had to pry it a little. Don’t rush it and bust it off in the block.  Also take your mirror and a flash light and take a look in the block. You may be able to see the “tone ring” that the sensor reads.  If the sensor is damaged on the block end…..well I hope your tone ring is good and still tight.

Clean the hole out and put a few drops of oil on the new sensor.

Pop it in the hole and replace the bolt. The bracket will hold it at the correct depth.

Plug in the wire and you are done except for the starter.

Put the starter up in the hole and install the lower 2 bolts. I snug them up a little.

Then roll over facing the rear and wrap your hand around the starter and install the top bolt.

Tighten the top bolt as tight as you can then finish off the bottom 2 bolts.

Install the battery wire and the solenoid wire

Set the truck on the ground

Hook up the battery cables and you are done.

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