2004 Dodge Durango Windshield Cowl
Sorry for my wordiness. Scroll down to the "***" if you don't need background info.
I am in the process of buying a 2004 Dodge Durango SLT with around 140K that is in
"exceptional" condition, according to my mechanic. Pre-purchase inspection suggests
everything is in order, the only thing is that the spark plugs are "long overdue", but shows
no sign of misfire and are undamaged, just old. The mechanic said that they were "factory
plugs" so I don't know if that just means it hadn't been tuned up since the warranty
expired, or if it had never been tuned up ever.
Given the reputation of the Dodge Durango 5.7 Hemi, I figure the old plugs is a good sign,
actually, and indicates that there hasn't been prolonged, ignored problems.
There was no audible knock, no codes, chassis clean, solid straight and rust free, The
transmission was "damp" - which is common with older cars- but does not slip and is
otherwise ok. All four brakes have been recently been maintained, and this seemed to
stand out to the mechanic.
Interior is like-new, not a speck of damage to the upholstery. Even if the plugs had never
been changed, it seems the previous two owners did take some degree of pride in this
vehicle (though, the plugs thing does worry me, and should, but the drive train appears to
be in working order). I know that the vehicle engine "fail without notice" but aside from
severe and sudden hydrolocking, I do have a hard time really believing this.
The infamous windshield cowl seal is warped, and I *do* plan to replace it with the
updated cowl as soon as I purchase the car. I play to have my installation inspected by my
mechanic, if not professionally installed, So I am aware of this issue.
It seems that the problem with this particular vehicle is the hydrolocking. If I replace the
cowl, will the engine be as reliable as any other of similar milage? I have heard of inherent
flaws to the lifter design and materials used, but this does not seem to be a widely
accepted position, and the issue with the Durango seems to be mostly with the cowl
design - and frankly, this assessment always seems a bit like fanboy BS, especially since
other vehicles with this engine don't seem to have such a reputation for failure. (and as
such, if you just 'don't like' dodge, please refrain from answering, thank you)
So just to recap, provided that the engine is in good working order at present, can I expect
the most problematic issues with this vehicle to be remedied by installing the improved
cowl, or are there other inherent problems with this engine?
Also, what is the prospect of codes being present when leaks are presented to the intake?
Certainly a misfire resulting from water in the engine would be recorded, right?
I will admit, I am not a newer Doge fan, and I can't answer all your questions, BUT what you have explained this sounds like a nice vehicle and worth the investment, as long as you take care of the issues with the motor. Sounds like the motor is ok. Give it what it needs and you should be ok.
The only problem with the Durango is the people that buy them and then don't take care of them. I had 2 customers that both had the same year of Durangos, 1 customer was in at every service interval and if something was found they fixed right then, the other customer would service when he thought of it, if something was wrong he asked how long before I have to fix it, never did want to put anything but the bare requirements too keep driving it, any ways customer number 1 drove his over 150k miles then traded it off on a new rig even thought it didn't have any problems, customer number 2 ran his engine without oil at 80K and then put in a wrecking yard motor just to unload it later. So maintenance is the key, if it was serviced properly then it should last a long time.
I'd definitely change those plugs as part of a complete tune up. If your mechanic says that they're "factory" what he's saying is that the truck has never been tuned up. So your about 40,000 miles overdue for that. The good news is for the plugs to last that long the previous owner(s) didn't beat on it and used, at least, half decent gasoline. Good job on having it professionally inspected and doing your homework!! Sounds to me like a reasonably well taken care of truck with some minor issues that can be expected given it's age. Personally, if the price tag is in line with similar vehicles and Kelley Blue Book pricing, I'd say buy it. Fix the cowl issue, tune it up and tend to any other minor issues it may have and enjoy it. HTH. -Jim
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