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Dodge Durango 5.7 Hemi Engine Failure



  • How can a rod get bent sitting still? I have a 2004 Durango with the 5.7 Hemi. Well maintained, runs great, no problems. Parked it yesterday and went out the next morning and it wouldn't turn over. The starter bendix kicks into the teeth on the flex plate, but it's like the motor is siezed. I have not tried turning the crank with a wrench back and forth to see if the starter or the timing chain are wedged, but even with the battery fully charged, the starter hits hard and nothing. If there is a bent rod, I'd sure like to know how it got that way without any warnings or anything.
  • There is a debate on how this actually happens. But the fact is much of these failures happen or are preceded by a no-start on a cold engine.
    This happened in the cause of our '04 Durango a couple days before it slung a rod.
    Many believe water is getting into the cylinder via a KNOWN defect in the plastic intake.
    Usually you will experience rough running and a cylinder misfire code when it rains or in the car wash etc. The factory plastic cowl is known to dump water directly on top of the engine.
    Normally this wouldn't harm anything, but if the intake is leaking it will suck water directly into a cylinder; it will flash steam in the hot engine and on compression the rod cannot hold up to this kind of cylinder pressure and can damage the rod.
    If your Durango gets rained on and the intake leak is present, water can run directly into the cylinder so the engine hydrolock on startup. The starter motor produces tremendous torque can literally bend a rod. When the engines runs, the rod breaks, kiss it goodbye.
    The weak connecting rods, cracking intake manifolds and leaky cowl are all KNOWN ISSUES with Chrysler and they did nothing to fix them or knowledge responsibility.
    Keep in mind with the 04 Durango was produced Chrysler was owned by Daimler Chrysler.
    Daimler was intent on running Chrysler into the ground and pillaging Chrysler assets to prop up it's own Mercedes brand that was languishing because of poor quality.
    The 5.7L Hemi design is brilliant. A real triumph in power and efficiency. The same can be said for many of the new ".7" design engines of this era. All made a lot of power with small displacement with good fuel economy.
    But cost cutting drove quality down and all these engines suffered. The worst being the 2.7L v6 powering many of the mid size cars. The lower end of the engine isn't designed with enough "beef" to hold up to poor quality gasoline (any gas with ethanol). So at 100K miles these engines are usually done.
  • privatepilot83privatepilot83 Posts: 13
    edited October 2013
    The Durango does sit outside and last night there was very heavy rain with localized flooding. To test the hydrolock theory, I could pull the plugs and try turning the motor over. If it rotates, the water would be pumped from the cylinder and indicate the leaking intake as you suggest. If it still fails to rotate, something else is mechanically blocking the engine's rods, valves or pistons. I did check for any codes (ODB) that might indicate low voltage, cam position sensor error or other electrical failures like misfires, etc. and nothing.
  • privatepilot83privatepilot83 Posts: 13
    edited October 2013
    Just an update; After pulling all the cowlings and the coil & plug wire tray from the intake manifold, I found a lot of water underneath in amost every pocket, as well as the appearance of a rather large mouse nest. I can easily see how, if that water froze any time over the past 9 years, it could crack the plastic. I was able to remove the front 4 plugs, but the rear 4 will be difficult. I will finish removing them this evening. I tried turning the crank manually with a wrench and was able to turn it backwards, but then when going forwards again, it stopped at the same point. It could still be hydrolock in one of the remaining 4 cylinders or still be a rod, timing chain, valve or something else mechanical at this point. Once all the plugs are removed, I'll know better what I'm dealing with.
  • drrighteousdrrighteous Posts: 49
    edited October 2013
    Good work; but likely the damage may already be done.

    If there is water in the engine the effect is one of the piston hit a "brick" on the compression stroke. This kind of stress will usually weaken the rod.
    Ours quit 2 days after a no-start morning. It rained that night if I recall.

    If indeed you do have a bent rod (check the valvetrain first just in case) it is possible to fix it.
    The last time I checked a replacement OEM rod/piston was $60 each.
    It is possible to fix this without the expensive of a replacement engine.

    The common sequence of events in these failures looks like this usually.

    Won't start-
    After a while starts and then immediately throws a rod, hole in the block. Engine is scrap
    Won't start-
    After a while starts and seems to run fine. Short time thereafter throws a rod, hole in block. Engine is scrap.
  • The truck does have 140K miles on it, so the rods could have weakened over the years, but still have doubts that just the starter could put that much additional stress on them. Regardless, I may just go the full route to keep the block intact. Can the connecting rods be replaced with the engine in the car, simply by lowering the pan?
  • You would have to extract the pistons from the top after removing the heads. I do not think there is enough room to remove the heads while it is still in the car.
    BUT, removing the engine, repairing it and re-installing it is cheaper than removing, replacing, installing.
    Street price on a running used engine is usually $1500-3000.
  • No need to remove the pistons through the cylinder tops if all you are removing are the Rods. Connecting Rods can be removed from the crank and from the pistons at the wrist pins. The other issue is, if removal of the heads are required, you'll need a full gasket kit, new timing chains & grears, along with other assorted gaskets and parts. It might be easier (labor costs) to just replace the short block, which may be too much for the value of the truck.
  • From what I have seen it is impossible to remove the rod/piston without removing the crank first.
    The lower end is pretty narrow, the crank fits into the journals with little clearance to spare.
    To remove the crank you have to unbolt it from the flex plate and you cannot get to that unless you remove the transmission.
    The piston will have to come out the top if you are to attempt this in vehicle.
  • Just an update, I was able to remove the remaining 4 plugs and when I turned the motor over with a wrench, water sprayed from the rear two cylinders on the right bank, so deffinitly hydrolock. I visually inspected the intake and found the two center bolts on the right side (in pockets where water collected) had their tops rusted completely off, allowing the water to come in along their shanks and possibly along the edge between the manifold and the head. I applied gasket seal to all three areas generously and reassembled everything with new parts. She runs great again. BTW, I also took silicone to the wiper tray to prevent water from coming on the manifold in the future. I don't believe the starter has sufficient power to put any undo stress on the connecting rods, so will not be bothering with the bottom end. Thanks for all your help and suggestions.
  • Excellent!
    I'm glad you got it going!
  • I had an AAA Extended service contract after they tried for a couple of weeks to get out of it they paid for the replacement motor from Powertrain Products a rebuilder that addresses all known problems and gives an optional 4 year nofault warranty. The AAA weasels are almost as bad as MOPAR since there was less than a month on the contract when the engine went
  • We'll my nightmare with my Durango now continues with Promar Engines. After just 4 months in the truck the engine failed! Promar's warranty is not worth the paper it's printed on. The first words out of them when I called is it's not under warranty.

    My engine was running badly right from Day 1. I took it into several mechanics including my local Dodge dealership several times. Just 4 months after the install I have a massive antifreeze loss with no leaks from the system. My mechanic found a blown head gasket! Promar Engines warranty was a complete joke. Any excuse at all not to cover repairs for their inferior workmanship. My local machine shop looked at the head gasket and said they are using inferior parts!

    BS Reason #1 I was I didn't return the core in time. Complete garbage since they knew I'm in Canada and I had to drive the block over the border to ship as they wouldn't ship the return from Canada. I was in constant contact with them and they knew exactly then the block would ship. Not once did they say that I was late with shipping the block and warranty would not be covered.

    BS Reason #2 was that the block overheated. Complete garbage again since it was a head gasket that failed due to their crappy workmanship and parts. Without any pics of the heat tabs they installed he said they were melted. Even if they were melted it was because of loss of coolant from the blown head gasket.

    I have been in touch with another Durango owner from this message board that has also had problems with a ticking lifter from Promar. These guys are complete scammers. Warranty is non-existent.

    Email me if you want more details about these crooks.
  • I read through a lot of these posts, and there is one key factor causing almost all of these engine failures: valve springs. Daimler sourced out a lot of items overseas from China to get super cheap sensors, cheap weak plastic cowls and inferior valve springs, which affected mostly 03-04 Ram trucks and 04 Durangos (and some 2005s built in 2004 as they used up the engines with the problematic springs).

    Look at it this way: the spring breaks thus not pushing up the valve. The valve slams into the piston head a few hundred or thousand times not letting it go all the way up, sometimes twisting the piston just a little with each contact. After a few hundred or thousand times, it twists or breaks the piston rod which then slams into the side of the block a few dozen times until it breaks through.

    Those of us that have had these Durangos for a while and are enthusiasts are familiar with this problem, and recommend taking the still running Hemis (03-04 Rams and 04-05 Durangos) to the shop and replace the stock springs AND RETAINERS with some quality springs/retainers (like from COMP cam). Order some online and have a local shop install them (NOT A DEALERSHIP) since many times the parts that the shops/dealerships get are OEM factory or cheap overseas parts, and prone to failure just like the original parts were. Quality brands like COMPcam do not have these weaknesses as they are designed for heavier use, tracks, racecars, drag strips, and so on.
  • Well I joined the club today. my Durango made it 3 houses down the street then " Boom, Bang, clunk"" I now have a hole bigger than a softball in the side of the block 3rd cylinder back on the right. guess there is no need in crawling to Chrysler for help after reading the posts on here. I am amazed at how thin the block 5 inches above the oil pan. Anybody got a good block ?? hate to get rid of truck because it's still in great shape but I think here in Kentucky, its going to be quite pricey to find a short block.

    Glad I changed my plans for travelling for thanksgiving.
  • I had trouble with my 2005 dodge Durango and I have found that I need to make sure the gas cap is on tight and it has helped with the issue!
  • I changed my plugs out last night and noticed that 3,5,7,6 & 8 were bad rusty. I was wondering where the water was coming from and figured it had to be as described above. I also noticed water in the oil fill cap which is directly under the cowl. The plugs were tricky to remove due to the rust so be careful and work them in and out until broken loose.
    I have had the Durango for 3 years now and have had no trouble at all from it other than all the door and window gaskets are deteriorating. Overall it is one of the best vehicles I have owned.
  • hemisuckhemisuck Posts: 1
    2013 dodge Durango 5.7 hemi sputtering...... with only 643 miles.......yes 643....! Chrysler won't do a thing about it......! SAID THATS JUST A HEMI.....! Hahahahaha SHAME ON THEM......! The government should tell them next time you need money dodge......fix the hemi 5.7 first! Or go back into bankruptcy like you should be..... or out of business.....! Run before you buy a dodge! Or I told you so!
  • canmorcanmor Posts: 1

    Add my 2004 Durango to the list. We'll maintain, never raced. Threw a rod doing less than 25 mph. About 85,000 miles ( aprox. 128000 km). If I known there was an issue maybe could avoided the pain and inconvenience. My Durango 5.2 1999 had double the mileage, no problems. Obviously, not my driving or maintenance. The manufacture needs to take ownership of the problem, or risk future clients.

  • I recently purchased an 04 Durango limited with the 5.7hemi May of 2013, for $8K. It had 113K miles the guy told me he got the car from a dealer friend and it had a noise in the engine so he replaced it with a used engine with 109K miles. I was happy the guy was honest with me and said no problem checked it out it ran and drove perfect with lots of power. He was able to sell me a used car warranty (thank god). We drove it that summer and pulled our pop up which we used an 01' Blazer for in the past. This Durango pulled like a dream no problems. We had a rain storm on the way home on the one camping trip and I remember opening the hood at the gas station just to check the oil. I noticed a steady flow of water running onto the center of the engine, I even showed my wife saying that does not seem right but still we had no problems so I ignored it. Early December my wife went to start it in the morning and it sounded like a jack hammer. I made arrangements with the warranty co and had it towed to my local garage. They said a rod was through the block the warranty paid for a reman long block and we have it back running great I still get the water dripping on the engine and have tried to stop it with weather stripping but it still leaks were the windshield wipers go through. The garage said they seen no signs of water in the engine but I really think it was hydolocked. How else would rod break under no load?

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