Trucks & SUVs

Never Buy a Dodge Durango From This Model Year

The Dodge Durango is a three-row SUV that leans toward the luxury side with some classic styling features. Having some of the same platforms that we see with the Jeep Cherokees, this SUV offers stability, refinement and ride comfort. All in all, it’s considered to be one of the top vehicles in its class.

However, it hasn’t always been that way. The Dodge Durango has many model years under its belt. The earlier ones being some of the worst they produced to date. The one model, though, that should be avoided at all costs, is the one they produced for the 2004 version.

CarComplaints.com shows that particular model to have numerous issues, but there are two that received the most complaints.

2004 Dodge Durango engine problems

The 2004 Dodge Durango became the vehicle to avoid when its HEMI engine started causing owners problems. People reported loud knocking noises in the motor and some of them said rods blew holes in the engine block.

They regularly maintained their Durangos by performing oil changes within expected time frames. Despite taking good care of their vehicles, these owners would face an expensive bill for a new engine replacement. The cost being anywhere from $2,500 to $3,500 for the engine alone, if they went for a new one. A used one could be half the price, but these engines were difficult to get your hands on.

After many reports from owners complaining that these occurrences happened after a hard rain or running through a car wash, they determined the problem fell with a poorly designed windshield wiper cowl. Water would leak down into the engine’s intake, causing it to blow.

To avoid losing the engine, owners can replace the windshield wiper cowl with a newly designed one. But, if the motor’s already gone, you can do anything else except replace it.

Remote key issues

The second most common problem with the 2004 Dodge Durango was with the remote key fob. Owners started complaining that the fob would stop working, or that the Durango wouldn’t recognize it as the key synced to it.

This would trigger the safety system and it wouldn’t start, sometimes setting off the Durango’s alarm. Frustrated owners would use their back up keys only to found out that those, too, would become useless.

They traced the issue back to the internal parts of the key fob. Poor quality materials were used to build these fobs, and they would easily break after some time.

To fix this problem, owners had to replace the keys at a cost of approximately $260, or so, for each key fob. Some drivers, who were handy with a soldering gun, made their own fix by re-soldering the pieces themselves, saving money. Consumer Reports shows that nine recalls were reported for the 2004 model, but none related to the key fob problem.

How does the 2020 Dodge Durango stack up?

Fast forward to the newest Durango model out on the market today. Consumer Reports rates it pretty well, despite its less than stellar history. Reliability, from the 2013 model year and up, has seen some minor engine issues and cooling problems, but otherwise, it’s been fairly solid. Fuel economy isn’t great with only 18 mpg overall. Maneuvering in emergencies still isn’t great, but the handling is still pretty good.

The areas Consumer Reports found pleasing was the transmission, front-seat comfort, and a quiet ride. They felt braking was pretty good, and the interior had some decent quality materials. Cargo and storage space got high ratings as well. Overall, the 2020 model shows a decent amount of improvement from the worst Durango produced in 2004.

The Dodge Durango isn’t too bad of a vehicle, but if you’re considering purchasing one of your own, you may want to look for one of the newer models and steer clear of the older ones, especially the 2004 model year.