Dodge Durango with oil sludge

Old 08-05-03, 03:56 PM
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Dodge Durango with oil sludge

I recently came across an item about Durango 318 ci V-8s having an oil sludge problem and experiencing premature failure. My wife has a 2000 2WD that I noticed yesterday had a fluctuating oil pressure. I really don't want to have to invest in a new engine when the vehicle only has 48,000 miles (out of warranty). The oil has been changed regularly and below the recommended 7500 mile interval.

I can remember using kerosene to clean an engine on an old sports car I used to have years ago. I drained the oil and added an equal amount of kerosene to the system. I disconnected the high voltage lead and cranked the engine a few times. I then drained the kerosene, put on a new filter and added oil. I ran that for about 5 minutes and then changed the filter and oil again.

Can you still do this with the newer vehicles? Will it clear out the oil sludge and prolong the life of the engine or am I asking for trouble?
Old 08-05-03, 04:24 PM
darrell McCoy
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Forget the kerosene/deisel fuel treatment. If it were me, and I was determined to use something I would start using shaler rislone as per directions for a while. However Since you change oil regularly, I cant understand the sludge problem. A good oil/filter at regular intervals should be all you really need. Try changes at a 2000 mile interval.
Old 08-05-03, 04:56 PM
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Whoa Nelley. First things first.

1) I would not use Kerosene in an emission controlled vehicle. You could wipe out some of the evaporative and/or emission controls by doing so. You'll then REALLY have no chance of a warranty.

2) How do you know you have an actual oil pressure problem? Unless you've measured the ACTUAL oil pressure with a hand held, calibrated gauge, you don't.

Dashboard gauges are novelties mostly, most aren't accurate and SURELY don't read actual oil pressure.

3) 7500 miles----WAY too long for oil changes. Every 3k or 3000 miles on the dot, not a mile beyond that.

If you suspect a problem, measure the actual oil pressure with a hand held gauge and tell us what you find.
Old 08-05-03, 07:55 PM
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DO NOT flush your engine with kerosene, period.

do durangos sludge up---yes

does every durango sludge up---no

does every engine have a sludge problem--possibly

i work in a dodge dealer, i've seen every type of engine that they make sludge up. we are also paired up with isuzu and i've seen my share of sludged isuzu engines

what is the common factor? the customer letting the oil go to 7500+ miles.

why durangos more so? they are leased more, the customer tries to make it to the end of the lease without doing one ounce of maintenence. more than once i've heard them say 'can't you just do something so i can make it another month, then my lease is up' sure, we can replace the engine, that's the least it needs, usually front tires are completely bald, clogged solid air filter, brakes worn out, interior trashed and full of garbage.

a well maintained engine will last almost indefinitely.

every blown up engine that comes in is all sludged up. standard procedure is to ask them for oil change receipts, every time it's a different excuse to sometimes even fake receipts. we look under the car and sometimes we luck out--the filter is still stamped "factory installed" at 33,000 miles----no warranty!

i had a 2002 durango with 23,000 miles on the factory oil filter last week, words can't describe the sludge that was inside that thing, i pulled the oil drain plug and the oil wouldn't come out, i could see it, but it wouldn't budge---it was like asphalt sealer.

my brother's dakota (same engine, same frame/chassis, different body than a durango) has almost 80,000 miles on it and when i pulled the intake for a leak, the inside of the engine was spotless, because i do the oil changes every 3,000 miles without exception

the owner's manual says 7500 miles for light duty vehicles, nodody falls into that category. change it 3000 miles and you will never ever have a problem with sludge. the purpose of any manufacturer writing that in the owner's manual is so they can keep the 'maintenance cost per mile' down for the 20 people in america that compare maintenance costs when contemplating which vehicle they should buy. that is what we were told by instructors at training school! the oil's additives are completely worn out by 3000 miles.

if the oil pressure guage is reading low, but the light is off(check guages light i think), you may try a sending unit, or you might try a manual oil pressure guage to diagnose it properly. if the light comes on and the guage drops to zero after a few minutes of driving(when the oil pick-up gets fully clogged) you might have a serious problem. it is normal for the oil pressure guage to read high on a cold engine or at high rpm, it is normal for it to drop low on a fully hot engine and at idle, hopefully this is the case.

ps. where/what did you read about durangos sludging up, i'm curious
Old 08-06-03, 04:10 AM
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There is a class action lawsuit in PA.

There is a class action lawsuit in Pennsylvania covering Durangos. It has not gone nationwide yet.

I've owned many different vehicles over the years. Friends and relatives many other models. A bro-in-law really abused his chevy truck, he never changed the oil in the 7+ years he owned it. My durango is the only one that had a sludge problem. Its something to do with the engine, not the type of financing.

I switched to synthetic oil at 10k miles. Synthetics do not contribute to sludge. My previous truck was a Toyota pu. I used synthetic oil in it, changing the filter once a year and the oil @ 25K. After 50k miles, the engine was very clean - no hint of sludge at all. What makes the dodge engine different? Where are the contaminates coming from?

My wife drives a Camry. While we haven't had a problem with it, we did get a letter from Toyota saying that they would cover any damage caused by oil problems. Why can't Dodge do the same?

If you own a Dodge, do change the oil every 3K, regardless of your type of driving. You need to drain out the contaminates that cause the sludge.
Old 08-06-03, 05:39 AM
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If you own ANY vehicle, change the oil every 3k or 3 months.

Most people drive in the severe service category and don't even realize it. Then they proceed to change their oil every 7500 miles.

Those are the cars that contribute fairly good junkyard parts to my projects . LOL. In other words, cars like that generally don't last a long time.

Said it once, say it 1000 times: Regular maintenance is the best thing you can do for any vehicle. Far superior to throwing money at the vehicle with high dollar stuff like synthetic motor oil. A waste in any vehicle other than a high end premium vehicle.

Toyota hid the oil sludging problem for years, no secret there. A woman in California started the whole thing by leaving her 2 year old Sienna rotting in her driveway as proof that Toyota gave her a bad rap---she had oil change receipts showing regular maintenance.

You can't tell how clean engine is by the oil per se. Your oil may have looked clean but the engine a mess. Only an inspection/teardown analysis reveals that.

Changing the oil normally with good quality stuff is the key---it also gives you ample time to check everything else while under the hood. I drive 200+ miles a week, I surely don't want a breakdown .

The Durango with the 5.2 was pretty reliable. I believe the 2000 has a 4.7 V8 though. The 5.2 engine is Chrysler's old main line of V8's, they are pretty hearty engines and run for quite a bit of time.

The rest of the vehicle is bottom barrel quality though. My sister had a 1999 Durango, total piece of junk, in and out of the dealer more times in a year than I go under the hood of ANY of my cars in a given year.

My sister pitched it for a 2002 Tahoe which has been flawless ever since and far superior in every way. She told the Dodge dealer if they wanted her try another Durango, they'd have to give a steep discount on the lease payment. Of course they refused and she's been driving the Tahoe ever since.

Chrysler ate the lease payment more than once on that Durango .
Old 08-06-03, 07:12 AM
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I'm amazed at reading Mikes post at seeing cars come through the dealership with 30,000+ miles with the factory oil filter still on it. I can't understand why people would purchase a new car for 20/30 thousand dollars or more and immediately go out and trash it. I have people coming up to me all the time asking about how to maintain their cars. I usually give explicite advice and later when asking about what they did they usually don't even remember the conversation. Now gone into nasty mode. I ask people for $5. ask them their inertnet name and give them this site. I tell them when I see a post by them they will get their money back. Most people just walk, however 2 people have given me the money and I've yet to see a post. The money goes to the aspca. Same thing about posters asking questions on the board and never acknowledging or replying. People just want to hear "sure it's ok to leave your oil in forever"
Old 08-06-03, 07:56 AM
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If you lease a car, you don't care. It's not yours after 3 years, so why care? Some people will try anything to get away with a few bucks like that. That's their thinking.

We had a woman that brought in a 1990 Taurus. I don't think she EVER changed her oil. My neighbor shot a photo of his hand scooping out sludge like mudcakes from the oil pan!

I own my cars. I want them to be mine, not the property of the bank.

Since you live in NYC, you probably see burned out SUV's all over the place---most of which are insurance jobs where people can't afford them anymore.
Old 08-06-03, 10:38 PM
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ok, i guess i didn't understand before, now that lawyers have jumped on the situation, it's clearly obvious. the 5.2L that's been out since 1967 is all of the sudden a bad engine in durangos only.

i guess the isuzu trooper 3.2L must get sludged because they are in the same building as the durangos.

how about the dodge van (5.2L) on our lot up until last week, one oil change in it's life, five quarts of molasses in the pan(which is off), a pencil stands up straight when you put it in there, 27,000 miles on it, our chrysler rep came out and laughed at it when he saw it. how do you explain the 2002 i spoke about, it's a 4.7L, it was disgusting inside(the customer owned two dodges and 'forgot' to change this one's oil) i guess there will be another class action lawsuit on 4.7L pretty soon. then after that comes the neon 2.0L sludge suit, then the dodge van with 3.9L V6 suits too.

it's just a funny coincidence that not ONE of these customers has ever had their receipts from anywhere that they changed their oil. (it's over a hundred now--sludged up engines we've seen)

the durango and dakota are identical vehicles, one has a pick-up body, one has a suv body, everything else is the same. people own dakotas and maintain them, people lease durangos and don't give one sh*t about them.

everybody is responsible for me---except me! (where have i heard that before?)

looking back, i realize everything that goes on inside a courtroom is settled for the right reasons, large corporations 'never' settle out of court for financial reasons(mcdonalds--hot coffee). lawyers(ambulance chasers) would never jump on a class action suit if they thought it was frivilous, would they?
Old 08-07-03, 03:33 AM
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The engine itself was OK. Everything else was another story.

The truck rode hard, had the assembly quality of an '86 Yugo and had more problems than cars 20 years old would have. Not only that, Chrysler's handling of the problem was piss poor. (not the dealer so much as Chrysler).

I drove the truck many times. I was duly unimpressed with it. The Tahoe drives 10 times better, has just as much power (but weighs more), is roomier and has been much more reliable. It hasn't gone back to the dealer once for any problems I know of.

And even though it's leased/financed, the oil gets changed every 3k by me .
Old 08-07-03, 10:49 AM
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Sorry it has taken a while but I've been out of pocket for a while. I never expected so many replies.

I friend had mentioned he had heard about an investigation into Durango front end problems. I did a search to find it and came upon or .org, don't remember which. Anyway, there was a link to durango oil sludge problems. There were numerous people who had complaints and swore they changed their oil every 3k and experienced seized engines due to sludge. They all reported fluctuating oil pressures for a few days just before it happened. I've been driving the wife's durango for a few days while she and the kids have been visiting grandparents. I noticed the oil fluctuating high and then back to mid range. It never left the normal range, just fluctuated back and forth with engine speed. It had never done it before that I had noticed and I know my Dakota never does it. It is almost always rock steady. I probably just jumped to a conclusion without investigating the problem completely. I will put a direct reading gage on it to see what is really happening.

I am a Dodge fan; Durango, Dakota, and a Neon presently. The Neon has 100+K on it and my daughter drives it back and forth to home on the weekends from college. It blew a head gasket at 48k but Chrysler covered the parts for me and I provided the labor at home. I had bought it new at my local dealer and they agreed it should not have happened. Helped they had a technical bulletin on the problem. I replaced it with a layered gasket they gave me and have never had another problem with it.

The longest I go between oil changes is about 4k. I will make sure it is done at a 3k max. I also bought a quart of the risone to try in it.

The durango does have a reoccuring problem with the drivers window regulator. It has been changed once and it going bad again.

I got into the front end problem because the front left bearing went bad. Takes a $158 hub assembly because it has to be changed as an assembly. Changed it and the noise went away but still had some vibration when braking. Changed the rotors and it works like a charm, now. Don't feel like this is Dodge's fault because a drunk hit the car on the wheel on that side when it only had 3k on it. Body shop replaced doors, fender, panels, wheels, etc. on that side but I feel sure the rotor was probably also warped by the blow and that's what made the bearings go prematurely. Rotor on left side was okay but replaced them as a set.

Only problem I have ever had with the dakota, 57k, is the catalytic converter. It rattled and the warranty covered it.

Thanks for all the replies.
Old 08-07-03, 10:56 AM
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Don't waste your money on Rislone, it's snake oil like most of the additives out there. Most of those product have never proven their merit.

Simply change the oil 3k/3mo and you should be fine.

Again, if you suspect an oil pressure switch problem, check it with a reliable hand-held, calibrated gauge. The dash gauge doesn't tell you anything of value.
Old 08-07-03, 11:25 AM
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sounds like you're pretty handy around the auto

Why not drop the oil pan and see for yourself.

My D always did have some flucuation on the gauge after the engine warmed up. I knew there was a problem when it was always at the bottom of the "normal" range.

A big problem for many people is interpreting the manual. According to my manual, normal oil changes should occur at 5k, not 3k. Hard use (to warrant 3K oil changes) is defined as traveling less than 5 miles at a time or traveling in dusty conditions. This isn't meant to cause any tirades or comments about how to read a manual. I fall into the hard use category and I know it. I drive 4 miles to the bus stop. The D rarely gets sustained highway use. In all of the cases I've read, Dodge has claimed that those people fall into the hard use category. Who's to really say?

It also seems to me(totally unscientific) that those without problems tend to drive longer distances (much longer than 5 miles) at a time. This helps burn up the contaminates that contribute to the sludge.

I will throw out this question - why is it that the only vehicles with oil problems are Dodge and recent Toyotas? Lots of Tahoes and Explorers and others are also leased. They don't get any better care than the Durangos. Why don't they suffer sludge problems?
Old 08-07-03, 11:41 AM
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I can tell you that my sister's 2002 Tahoe sets the oil service light EVERY 3k and she drives it easy back and forth around town/highway in NJ where she lives.

So, if the OEM monitor turns on every 3k, shouldn't that tell you something? .

Again, most folks drive the severe category and don't even realize it .
Old 08-07-03, 12:42 PM
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I have a 2000 Durrango, 40K miles, the only problem I have is what I call premature brake changes. I change the oil every 3K. I have seen complaints and have the same thing, in the spring, fall, and winter, foam appears under the oil fill cap. Moisture? I just clean it off. Never see water in the oil. Other than that, she runs well.
Old 08-08-03, 08:25 PM
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joe---my reply was for bob F

bob f--i can't answer your question about other makes, i can only call it how i see it. in my little corner of the world, there are a small percentage of non-leased 'cars' that sludge up, and as i said--they can't produce receipts(real ones anyway). you were correct when you said the 'highway miles' vehicles do burn out the contaminants, but the oil additives eventually wears out, rendering the oil useless.

motor oil is a sponge, it absorbs as much junk as it can and then carries it out the drain plug when it's time for a change, once it becomes saturated, it starts to turn to sludge--to a point of it becoming solid!! i've taken oil pans down, with 5 quarts in it, turn the pan sideways, count to 10, and slowly watch it make it's way toward spilling---same consistency of cold chocolate syrup.

pulling the pan on a durango is no easy job without air tools, i've never seen a 2wd yet. axle must be dropped, then usually both motor mounts(which are big). an easier task is to pull the intake, on every blown up engine, the sludge layer stuck to the bottom of the intake was an easy 3/8 inch thick and you couldn't see the lifters(it was thicker there) just a smooth shape of the bottom of the valley with pushrods sticking out. maybe next time i'll take some pictures and post them somewhere if anybody is interested.

joel50---there's no need to buy any engine flush, there are enough detergents in fresh motor oil to do the job gradually. if you jarred all the sediments loose at once, you run the risk of clogging the oil pickup--which can be an expensive problem.

i think enough has been said here, i'm not defending dodge or bashing anyone, i make my money replacing engines(amongst other things) my professional advice to everyone is to simply change your oil at 3-4000 miles. i changed mine at 4000 miles yesterday and i noticed a distinct burn't odor. always at 3000 miles it never had that smell and was always somewhat see-through, now it was jet black, so based on that i can say that something happened in that last 1000 miles.

more professional advice to the 'dodge products' owners---change your rear axle fluid at least every 30,000 miles(seen pinion bearings go) and change transfer case fluid, it always comes out dark, simply drain and refill with 2-3 quarts of atf.

last paragraph( i promise) durango/dakota owners, keep an eye on your front ball joints, jack under the lower control arm to compress the suspension and give the wheel a good tug, book spec is .030" (of an inch)--BS, i replace them with any play, most are more than .100" i've seen more than normal wear on these and one got towed in last week with the upper popped out. there are no grease fittings, and in my humble opinion a very poor design, just keep an eye on them.

kklukas---that is normal on the 4.7L, the plastic oil fill cap is sticking far outside the 'hot' part of the engine and that is where the moisture condenses, you can wipe it clean today and it will be back soon, it won't harm anything (just keep changing your oil often please, 4.7 parts are expensive) the 2002 i mentioned earlier in this post where the guy forgot to change the oil was a 4.7, and i do mean "solid" sludge.

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