2000 Dodge Durango 5.2L V8 (318) from North America
Comfortable and not a gas hog
Purchased for $1700 with overheated engine (yes, I did this on purpose!)
Purchased junkyard 318 from 2000 Durango for $700.
Labor to install engine at local mechanic, $550.
The transmission shifts too quickly from 1st to 2nd to 3rd, but this will be remedied by a band adjustment. This is a common problem with the 42RE and 904 and 518 transmissions, and isn't a problem, we accelerate to 15mph, let off the gas a bit, let it shift into 3rd, then accelerate normally from there.
This truck was bought with many other issues; spare tire/jack/lug wrench were missing (since purchased from junkyard $45), radiator was leaking (replaced with new $220), driver's seat doesn't recline (still shopping junkyards for a matching charcoal knit cloth non-power seat), AC is weak and works but will not hold more than a 25lb charge, so it's cool but not cold.
Possibly attributed to a prior rear-end collision, the fuel filler doesn't let you fill up quickly and you have to modulate the gas pump handle just right or it will click off, and this is a rollover valve that needs replacement, but it requires dropping the tank, so we are waiting until the fuel pump fails to tackle that.
The only other repair we have made on the truck to date is someone STOLE the brake light switch off the brake pedal arm. $10 part, took me 30 seconds to install it.
The truck rides and drives BEAUTIFULLY for a ten-year-old truck with close to 200K on it. It acts like a 2003 Durango with 55K I test drove prior to getting this one. The 318 engine we pulled was probably rebuildable, and we expect to get good use out of this one since its compression tested strong, and the truck it came out of only had 124K on it.
This truck is rated by the EPA to get 13mpg city and 17mpg highway. We average anywhere from 17 to 19mpg in mixed driving. Can't complain about that and it is equal to the POS '99 Taurus this truck replaced, and also the same as my minivan. My wife LOVES this truck and wouldn't trade it for anything except another 2WD V8 Durango, 99-03.
Everything wrong with this truck can be attributed to the abuses and neglect of the previous owners, who it was repossessed from after the engine blew. It is solid, reliable, comfortable, fits our family well, and isn't a bear to park like a couple Suburbans we have previously owned.
I have heard horror stories about 4.7L Durangos and I am glad we got one of the last LA-engined models, the 318 is and has always been a mainstay of Chrysler products and I wish they had continued to produce it. In the meantime while everyone is dumping their 318/360 powered Durangos I'll keep my eye out for good deals and snatch them up as I see fit. As you can tell, I don't mind swapping out engines if need be, and if you want to blow yours up and sell it cheap, it's a deal!
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 6th September, 2009
3rd Feb 2010, 11:31
Transmission shifting issue was due to my mechanic never attaching the cable from the transmission. I attached it to the throttle and it drives FINE now. No more babying it to 17 mph.
Radiator has now been replaced twice. Once for the original failure, once when the water pump failed and stressed it. Take my advice, buy a GOOD radiator if you have to change it at all. The cheap little Spectra ones at AutoZone are GARBAGE!
Heater core was plugged up, but after two radiator changes and a water pump, the three cooling system flush/fills needed have opened it up quite nicely.
The AC system has a leak right at the charging port on the low side. I tried changing out the little valve core thing, it didn't help. There may be another leak in the system, it can't hold above 20lbs for more than a few days.
I changed the spark plugs to find the gap had doubled on most of them. Throttle response is improved as well as mileage. We were averaging 17-19 mpg, actual number before the plug change was 17.7 mpg. After the change, 8 tanks later, we are averaging 19.3 mpg and I expect this to increase slightly when we put add new tires, shocks, and alignment later this month.
Mileage is currently 195860.
13th Aug 2010, 13:36
OP here again. Mileage has leveled off around 18.8mpg since purchase, but current tanks are still 19.2-19.4 or so.
We had the system recharged; that AC hose was leaking right at the port, and putting it through the vacuum and charging process took care of cleaning it out and making it work right. The truck still has a heater problem, though. I believe it is leaking coolant out of the heater core slightly, even with the heat turned off. This causes the truck to run hotter because the cooling system isn't holding as much pressure as it should. This may be the reason the previous owner was able to blow the first engine.
Other than that, we're approaching 202000 miles and we're about to install a third row seat setup from a junkyard Durango, and proceed to get the heater core fixed before it gets too cold. Then only cosmetic bits (cracked tail light, loose rear bumper cover, cloudy headlight lenses) and convenience items (ashtray, lighter, 12V plug on dash, driver seat recliner handle) will remain to be repaired.