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I own a 2011 Dodge Durango. I had an oil change, inspection (standard 72 point inspection), and my A/C filter replaced on Wednesday March 5, 2014. After I left the Auto Shop I drove the car to the store then home. I drove the Durango for about 15 minutes on Thursday but noticed a new whirling sound that was loud and high pitched, which I would have taken in to be investigated the following day, and then it sat until Friday morning. Friday the Durango would not start, the key FOB would not unlock the doors, no lights, no horn, no internal power and turning the key in the ignition did nothing. The key FOB was then stuck in the ignition. My first thought was battery, so I hooked jumper cables to the Durango and another vehicle. The negative side of the Durango battery is (should be) grounded so there is a grounding rod for the (-) jumper cable in the Durango. I was able to jump start the Durango and let it run for 5 minutes before disconnecting the jumper cables. The very second I disconnected the negative clamp from the negative grounding rod the Durango shut off completely (no lights, horn, etc). I then checked fluids just to be thorough and found that the Power Steering tank was completely empty, but no signs of leak. We had it towed using our roadside assistance program through our insurance company. Unfortunately they only tow to the nearest shop, which is the same one we had the oil change. Once there, the repair shop informed us that our rack and pinion is completely broken and needs to be replaced. They did tell us that there was "some power steering fluid collecting in a reservoir" but they did not elaborate on that. They said that the failure of the power steering rack caused the Alternator to malfunction which caused the battery to lose charge. They alleged that when they charged the battery for 6 hours, the battery failed to hold a charge. The final verdict on that day was that the Power Steering Rack, Alternator, and Battery needed to be replaced. I went in the next day to speak with them again. This time, they said the bellows of the power steering rack were collecting the power steering fluid (as opposed to the broader term of "reservoir"). They identified the leak to the bellows to be from the passenger side seal inside the rack and pinion. They then said that the alternator and battery are separate problems from the power steering rack and just coincidentally went bad on the same day. The alternator is allegedly bad, for whatever reason, and caused the battery to lose all charge (understandable) but could no longer hold a charge at all, which they claimed to have proved from testing the battery before and after charging it.
So my Durango has 38,800 miles on it and the mechanics at the shop admitted that they have never seen this problem on such a low mileage vehicle. I have only owned this Durango for 10 months. (bought used with 27,999 miles on it)
Is it just a coincidence that these parts all broke on the same day? Is my battery really dead or was something unplugged (like one of the many negative links between the battery in the vehicle and the +/- terminals under the hood)? Is there potential that during an oil change the mechanic could have done something very wrong?
From preliminary searching and looking under the hood, there are elements of the rack and pinion that are very close to the location of the oil filter, such as a fluid line, which could have been removed or knocked out during the oil change causing the fluid to leak out. Additionally, if the shop did the "inspection" shouldn't they have caught any problems? The whirling sound was obvious and was evident at the shop after the oil change. They did admit to me several times that they missed or didn't look at all at the power steering fluid.
I have checked with the dealer (Dodge certified) I bought the vehicle from, and of course 38,800 is too far outside the 36,000 mile warranty for them to do anything. We bought the car used with 28,000 miles on it last May (10 months ago). The vehicle is "Certified Pre-Owned" which includes an intensive inspection and documentation (which I have no record of).
After calling my dealership I contacted Dodge corporate by email and, after waiting 2 days, by phone. I explained everything I wrote above and asked about the 36,000 mile warranty as well as the 3 month/3,000 mile warranty issued to vehicles under the "Certified Pre-Owned" category as an extension to the 3 year/36,000 mile warranty. We are 100%, for certain, within the range of that extension but Dodge corporate said no, no warranties can replace these issues that are intact for us. My point of calling them was to check to see if any known problems with the 2011 Durango existed so that I could begin to narrow down the causes of these random sudden failures. They specifically said that NO known problems exist and that I should speak with the dealership to have everything repaired, paid for by me and only me.
So with little trust in any Auto Shops or dealerships I began investigating the issue myself. I removed the alternator and battery for testing at Autozone. Once there, they told me Chrysler has not sent them the appropriate piece to test the alternator because it was too new. They did test the battery and the results showed that the battery was fine but needed a charge. They charged it for 1 hour and tested it again, resulting in a 100% fully operational battery according to the test. I then went home and put the alternator and battery back into the Durango and drove the Durango to Autozone (battery light flashing, wipers going crazy on their own, climate control turning on and off, and a range of other weird issues). They tested the alternator which was putting out 12v. Too little for this alternator and it would need to be replaced. So with a good battery and bad alternator I headed home and replaced the alternator with a new one.
Driving the Durango the next day, battery light came on, things went crazy, and then the vehicle stalled out and died. We were able to push the Durango to a different auto store who tested the battery, tested great but needed to be charged. Goodness gracious, my battery is not getting charged, could it be the alternator? They charged the battery and came out to test the alternator but the machine would not test the battery or alternator while in the Durango because the machine claimed that there could be a "grounding issue" or "could not test because engine was running". The engine was not running and we could not do a bench test because again, the store did not have the piece needed to test that alternator. Then we had a diagnostics check and were given the result, a bad camshaft sensor placement. Oh good Lord!
Feeling defeated and angry at Dodge, my dealership, and the oil change place who lied to me about the battery and possibly the alternator, I did one last google search to find out why in the name of all that is sacred these issues keep piling up. I found through car complaints.com that many people who drive 2011 Durangos are having issues with their TIPM that causes very similar problems to mine. Could this be the cause?
I have no idea. What I do know is that this Durango cannot by any means be considered "Certified Pre-Owned" because either the alternator, battery, power steering rack, and camshaft sensor position are all bad (and probably would have shown signs of that) or the TIPM is faulty.
If the TIPM is faulty, there should have been a replacement done before the vehicle was "Certified Pre-Owned". The only thing I have been able to certify about this "Certified Pre-Owned" vehicle is that it was, in fact, pre-owned. The known issues with the TIPM started to appear in 2012, and a class action suit was filed in November of 2013. So, even if they did not know about the issues when the car was "certified", they should have mentioned it on the phone when I asked if there are any known issues with 2011 Durangos that would cause this problem.
There is still a chance that the oil change place is at fault here because, after all, they lied about the battery and so far from what I can tell they lied about the power steering rack, and admitted negligence during their inspection. However, there is also clear negligence to both Dodge/Chrysler and the dealership I went through to purchase the Durango.
Was my alternator actually bad? Who knows but I likely voided my right to return the new one by installing it on the Durango. I have spent a very significant amount of money and time so far trying to diagnose these issues. I have no rental car and I work 30 minutes from home which I have to load my family (wife and two kids) into the car at 5:00 a.m. to drive to work so that my wife can take the car from me for the day, and then pick me up after work.
At some point, there has to be a limit to how much a consumer can be screwed. God help us all if I would have just allowed the Auto Shop to replace those things (at least $3000) and the issues were still not fixed!
I will go ahead and create a separate post for every problem I have listed in this complaint by pasting this exact block of information. If you see my username, save yourself some time and be assured that each complaint will have this exact text so there is no need to read all of them, unless you area lawyer looking to get my money back, then by all means read all of them.
Sorry for the long post, but there are many details and many unanswered questions here. I appreciate the forum and possibility of getting answers.
- John T.,
Troy, OH, US