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Dodge Durango 5.7 Hemi Engine Failure



  • I've been following this line for some time now. I'm sure glad I decided to build an old Ind. 331 and NOT go with the Gen3 for my current Hot-Rod. I looked at a blown-up 5.7 with it's internals spread on a bench all neat and clean. Total carnage. Rods are made from WHAT? They look like powdered metal. Piston skirts have cracks near the pin boss. Top ring groove almost gone. Crank "BENT"??? What I have seen is possibly NOT internal failure but maybe, MAYBE, a fuel/air ratio problem. It looks for all I can tell that the engine grew metal-mites from a lean burn, took out the top ring on 6 of 8 pistons, then devoured the piston down to the pin and decided it had overstuffed and puked. Total feed time, maybe 10-15 seconds. I saw this in the early '70's with a 426. THAT engine was a pro-built by a shop with a color in its name, and needless to say these guys knew what they were doing. The problem arose when a piece of road debris got stuck under the secondary's linkage and leaned the engine out to the point of destruction. a lean-burn diet did $12,000 damage to a perfect engine. Just something to consider b-4 you go dropping the trap door on an engine line. It may be the fault of the computer code writer or just a faulty fuel delivery system. I hope someone has been checking the computer ground wire, the source of MANY problems. Just some points to ponder, I know I have missed some of these things in 50 years of Hot-Rodding, I hope it helps.
  • This guy broke down a defective HEMI, I am sure this relates to all of us and the reasons why we had a connecting rod failure resulting in a hole in the engine block.
  • " I saw this in the early '70's with a 426. THAT engine was a pro-built by a shop with a color in its name, and needless to say these guys knew what they were doing. "

    Lemme guess; Keith Black? :)

    Had a buddy that raced Chevys with 409s in the old days. Keith Black built his engines; made over 500hp.

    Yeah, I did the same exploration since I have been building MoPar engines for over 20 years. I was shocked at the cheap internals of the 3rd gen Hemi.
    Before the 3rd gen hit the market I did a lot of reading on it's design aspects and on paper it was a win-win. A real game changer. Until they decided to stuff it full of cracker jack prize internal parts. There are several theories why these fail. Keep it mind it is mainly DURANGOs that suffer from this which makes it all the more mysterious. Why since this same engine went in trucks and cars is a mystery. One theory is concerning an issue with the design of the '04 cowl that can allow water to leak on top of the engine and somehow this water is getting inside the intake.
    I noticed this issue with mine. And I would get a "ignition misfire" code sometimes. But if water gets on the ignition coil or wires that could easy ground the spark, or cause an arc that would register as a misfire.
    As far as water getting into the engine it would have operating with a massive vacuum leak in the intake track. This would mean very poor running and a code for a lean condition. I never hear of this happening so water getting into the engine while running sounds pretty far fetched if it is leaking form the cowl.
    The conclusion I came to was just bad metallurgy. Very poor quality control when they produced the powered metal rods.
    All manufactures use these now with low failure rates; so you can't really claim this technique of making rods is inferior. I just think there are some batches of rods made that didn't get checked for quality.
    Are they as good as old fashion forged rods?? Not by a long shot. But powered steel rods are much lighter and cheaper to make. A must for smaller displacement engines since it is important they reach the high "power band" quickly. This new generation of small displacement high power (greater than 1HP per cubic inch) likely could not make the same power number without the lightweight powered steel rods. Example. My current project is a '02 Chrysler Sebring with a 2.7L v6. It measures 165 in displacement at makes 200hp AT THE WHEELS. That is amazing.

    You touched on an issues I think might have something to do with these failures.
    There are several recalls on '04 Durango for transmission controller firmware updates. One of the main problems is engine lugging because the transmission controller does not downshift when it should in certain situations. For instance where you encounter a steep hill and you are going less than 30 mph. Engine lugging is very hard on connecting rods.
  • I have recently dealt with two of these blown 5.7l Hemi engines in Durangos at my shop. One was an early 2005, the other a 2004. On the 2005, the engine ran fine the night before. The next morning it was tight. The customer took it to another garage where it was diagnosed as a starter. When the tech put a new starter in it proceeded to throw #7 rod through the block and pan. The 2004 also bent a rod after sitting overnight. Again the #7 rod. However, this one did not break the rod completely. I did not investigate further on the 2005 Durango as the engine was sent back as a core. After pulling the head on the 2004 it appears as if there was some "steam cleaning" of the combustion chamber. Are these problems possibly due to leaking head gaskets causing hydrolocking? I would like to hear from anyone who knows which cylinder failed on their Hemi. Have they all been on the rear 2 cylinders? A Toyota tech friend informed me that they have a similar issue on some of their V6's in the 4Runners. "Weeping" of coolant into the rear two cylinders. I would like to somehow pin point a cause of all this. Maybe it is just bad metallurgy.
  • I had the same problem with my 5.7 2006 I took the engine apart and found the valve seat came loose and dropped down under the valve then the piston hit the valve then sent rod thru block 72,000 miles and of course the dealer NEVER saw anything like this, how do you wish to pay for your new engine check, cash or credit card on this $40.000 dollar ride that the engine failed on before it was even paided for.
  • I originally posted on November 12 about my blown 2004 hemi. I opted to have a new engine installed (a 2005 hemi--with 86 k) to the tune of about 4.8k. The guy who installed said that it was indeed a rod that did the damage-rod no 7 to be exact-in the back of the engine which "starved' the engine of oil. I did file a complaint with Chrysler and have received the typical run around. They said it was a 'dealer" call as to whether to offer assistance. Not surprisingly, the dealer has never called. I will be avoiding Chrysler like the plague when it comes time to purchase my next vehicle.
  • I had a warranty replacement motor installed in March 2012. I still had 1000 dollars out of pocket expense. I was told when I purchased the extended warranty that it covered all costs at a price of 2500. I had the #7 rod to blow thru the motor while it was idling with no previous problems. I had to take the Durango back a couple of times to Landers Mclarty in Huntsville AL. due to oil leaks in the rear main seal and the head gasket. Now it is 8 months into this motor and it has spun a bearing. It was fine when I parked it the night before but when I started it the next morning it sounded like a wrench beating the motor. I immediately shut it off. Now I still owe 5000 on the hunk of junk with another screwed up motor. SHOULD HAVE KEPT MY CHEVY BLAZER!!!!

    I'm getting sick of hearing this.
    A class action lawsuit will get you NOTHING.
    They are designed to enrich LAWYERS not the plaintiffs. There is typically a settlement between the defendant and the LAWYERS for $XXX dollars. The lawyer fees will consume the MAJORITY of it and the money left will be divided among the actual injured parties. And it will likely be a few dollars.
    You would get almost NOTHING; the case you had against Chrysler is now settled, they got off cheap and the lawyers are laughing their [non-permissible content removed] off because another group of suckers fell for their scam.

    I understand you feel ripped off. I understand you feel powerless.
    My best advise for those who are not in a position to administer the repair of their vehicle themselves would be to SELL IT, trade it in etc, etc.
    Don't ever buy a Chrysler again.
  • Dodge will never admit to this problem. Furthermore Chrysler changed hands (remember Diamler Benz bought them) then the bail out. There is nothing they will ever do unless the media decides to turn its viral eye on this subject. The only thing we can do is NEVER BUY A CHRYSLER PRODUCT AGAIN AND TELL EVERYONE YOU KNOW ABOUT THIS SO THEY WONT SUPPORT THIS SCAM OF A COMPANY. Nowadays the slick add campaigns and sleek styling is hooking consumers once more on their products. They are making a comeback they they do not deserve to have.
  • Just wondering what came of the 04 Durango. My 04 just started doing something similar. So my wife cranked it and it started vibrating real bad and making a clunking noise. She immediately killed it. I got home from work and she told me what had happened. so i went out to crank it so see what was goin on and i immediately shut it off cuz it sounded something awful. i was just wondering what u did with the 2004 and if it was salvagable. i just need to know if i have to completely replace the engine or if a rebuild is possible. i believe that it hasnt thrown the rod through the oil pan or block, but i dont know for sure. i would appreciate any help. i dont have much more info cuz it just happened today.
  • My 04 hemi blew a piston drivers side 3rd one back... The biggest piece of the piston that was left was 2 inches... The rest ended up in my oil pan. I'm having to put a long block in mine because the damage to the head and valve wall are too severe for just a short block. Have you drained your oil pan? Is there anti freeze in your oil if you have? Hope this helps!
  • I left a complaint on NHTSA just last week. Here is a copy of it.

    Search Results

    Report Date : December 21, 2012 at 12:21 AM
    ODI Numbers Searched: 10489071

    Results : 1 | All records displayed

    Make : DODGE Model : DURANGO Year : 2004
    Manufacturer : Chrysler Group LLC
    Crash : No Fire : No Number of Injuries: 0
    ODI ID Number : 10489071 Number of Deaths: 0
    Date Complaint Filed: December 17, 2012 Date of Incident: September 19, 2012
    VIN : Not Available
    Component: ENGINE

    Of course it is the only complaint even though the only difference with the complaint I made in the fall is I did not put the VIN # in. Maybe if more people complain or question why no one is doing anything maybe that will make someone take notice. If anyone else wants to leave a message like this please do. When I left my first complaint the count was around 450. Last time I looked it is in the 700's.
  • If your engine has not failed in a major way (big hole in the side) likely it is repairable.
    First you need to find out what is the extent of the damage. A common failure is a broken valve spring and this will cause no compression on one cylinder and. This causes the engine to be out of balance and it will run very rough. If you hear a bang-bang-bang-bang-bang while it is running this is a rod bearing failure. But if the noise is loud clang, banging,and thumping, this could be a broken rod. I would suggest DO NOT START IT again. Have it evaluated by a GOOD mechanic. If the engine still runs it should be fixable as long as there isn't a big hole in it.
  • rnjtrnjt Posts: 1
    I had a bent rod at 53000 miles. I was lucky it was under warranty. The same scenario as everyone else, was running fine then started it up and that clunking sound started. I put on 25000 since the repair drove from NY to SC and back no problem so far. If it dies now so be it, get something else with better gas mileage not a Dodge that's for sure.
  • Wow! I feel for you guys who have problems with your 2004 model 5.7 engines. I had one 2005 limited with a Hemi, towed a trailer with a race car sometimes, and a Corvette at other times. I put 84K on the first one without issues, never, ever a trip back to the dealer after purchase. I changed oil myself and used mobil 1, 5w20 as reccommended, changed every 5K or so. I sold it 4 years ago and the new owner has over 100K, still pulling a trailer and race car.

    I purchased a used 2006 with 35K miles on it, Limited model, same engine...Used it in the same manner, and put over 95K miles on it, again with no issues. It was still running great, looked and smelled new, and I received top trade in value for it when I traded it in on a new 2011 Citadel with Hemi. I don't drive as much as before, but still tow a race car on an open aluminum trailer and the new car has been flawless after 15K... I have absolutely no problem recommending these SUVs and pickup trucks, 2005 and newer...YMMV....
  • Thanks for the info. I have a 2005 Dodge Hemi with 94,000 miles. It is still running great after a transmission issue at around 75,000. I was a bit reluctant about keeping it much longer because of the problems with the 2004 models. I love the truck, so will keep it as long as I can.
  • Yeah, here is the issue. There is still no concrete answer WHY these engines are failing. There are theories bandied about but that is about all.
    The only answer I can come up with is just bad metallurgy; a lot of rods failed to get checked and went into engines destined for Durangos.
    But does that really make sense? This is the same engine that went into pickups and the Jeep vehicles with Hemis, they do not have the same issues. Only Durangos. It gets more murky the closer you look instead of more clear.
  • I'm strongly supporting the cowl panel leaking ontop of the engine theory. The last two customers I had with these both claim there was a rainstorm the night before they threw rod #7 on their 04 and 05 Durangos. I decided since this was the case in both scenarios, that I would dribble some water around the back of the intake to simulate the cowl panel leaking in a bad rainstorm. Sure enough the water drained right through the worn intake gasket and into the cylinders. One would think that an intake leak that would allow water through would also allow air through and create a mix issue and and a poorly performing engine. Perhaps the vacuum that is applied on start up pulls the gasket to the point of sealing enough. Either way, upon tearing the engine down the intake gaskets were in very poor condition on both vehicles. The amount of water being let through could easily accumulate to enough of a volume to hydrolock the engine and bend a rod. Can anyone else remember a rain storm before their engine failed? I would highly recommend that anyone who owns one of these to get the revised cowl panel (they were updated in 06, which ads to the theory of why the 04-05 models have this issue) and having the intake gaskets checked out. Cheap insurance in my opinion since the average cost of engine replacement is around $5500-$6500. I know I'm not the only mechanic trying seriously to figure this out. Any input would be greatly appreciated. Especially if others have had failure after a rain storm.
  • I have an 04 Ram 1500 that has had the same problem as all of these Durangos, I'm wondering what the connection is as well.
  • I have a 2004 Durango and have had issues after heavy rain with hydro lock. found water in the #1 cyinder. The cowel leaks water on top of engine. Next step for me is to remove the intake and check gaskets. :sick:
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