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The Durango was marketed as a sturdy truck-based SUV designed to hold up to seven passengers and tow up to 7,500 lb (3,400 kg) when properly equipped.

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Is this my transmission or my timing?

About a year ago, my kids and I were on a road trip from california to missouri. When I got through SLC, Utah the truck rpms shot up to around 5000 and the temperature gauge was showing hot. I quickly got off the road at my first opportunity to check it out. This is going uphill, btw. When I couldn't find anything, I gave the key a few turns to see if I could pull up any codes, nothing. I basically nursed the truck the rest of the way without getting on the throttle for fear of messing something up. Ever since that incident, it's been sluggish getting up to speed, feeling like it's not shifting when it should and causing it to hit around 3000 rpms just to get up to highway speeds (65 mph here) but even then, it's only wanting to level out around 55-60. Took it to a transmission place, they couldnt pull up any codes. They say “its driving and shifting” fine. I disagree. Today, I had to push it to 4000 rpms just so I could get up to 55 and merge before the lane ended. And after that, it didnt want to go below 2000 rpms. It usually settles on 18-1900 rpms at 65-70 mph. This is a 2001 4.7 4×4. Can someone please help me narrow down the issues I'm having here?

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If there’s no codes being thrown up then start with the obvious things first as there’s that many sensors in cars now something should have thrown a code up, check for routine service parts like air filter plugs oil filter, check EGR and DPF if its diesel, just to rule out any blockages that may be causing it before you start taking apart your engine or transmission. also if the temperature shot up double check the thermostat, I know this wouldn’t cause high idle but check its in good condition as there cheap to replace.

bad timing issues would cause lower than normal MPG, burn oil, loss of performance, noisier engine especially if its got a timing chain, it may struggle to start or randomly stall, misfire, rough idling high or low or fluctuating.

if its your transmission the your issues would include loud whining and clunking noises, lack or response, maybe a burning smell from overheating fluid or leaking fluid, transmission is noisier than usual in neutral.

I think your car has a timing chain rather than belt so there usually isn’t a service interval for replacement but would be worth checking with a garage to see if they can check the condition of it anyway as its a costly repair if it goes wrong, if its stretched or jumped a tooth then it could cause some of these issues but not usually revving  high as that. guessing its an automatic transmission, check for any common issues or see if owners are having to service parts around the same time.

try taking it to another garage and get a second opinion if you still think it may be the transmission, by the sound of the symptoms your explaining I would be swaying more towards gearbox/clutch issues as this is what’s happened to me in the past and its always turned out to be them. not sure about the temperature spike though, has that only happened the once when the revs shot up that high? is the clutch slipping at all?

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Yes, the temp shooting up as well as the rpms almost redlining happened the one time. As far as the clutch slipping, u have no idea. This us the first car I've had in 20 yrs. Been on a motorcycle most of the time before I got this. Oil filter, air filter (k&n) are changed or cleaned regularly, when this happened it has fresh oil, the thermostat was 3 months old, and the air filter has fresh oil on it. It's the main things I take care of before departing on any kind of trip. I do need to check the plugs, those are still the original plugs when I bought it. Gearbox never even occurred to me. And the biggest issues with these 4.7 L engines are the smaller than needed oil lines running through the block as well as the transmission. But considering the low mileage on it, I basically ruled it out, especially since I'm adamant about the oil changes being on time. And yeah, I've seen the cost of a timing chain repair/replacement. Could buy a used car for that.

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@pestilence2007 if you service it well then that's a good start as it would probably rule out any parts going wrong which fail if not serviced and will prolong the timing chain life although if you can check the condition of the timing chain and components then that's always good as it'll probably cost you 3x more than the replacement cost for them if they do snap. , if your clutch was slipping then the revs would randomly spike whilst your trying to accelerate, like it was shifting into neutral then back into gear and the car would judder under acceleration.

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if the engine is turbocharged especially then you could check for a vacuum leak although it would have to be an extremely large one for the issue you've got. give the engine a good check all over from the air intake to the exhaust end, make sure everything is tight and no misting or any oil or coolant anywhere and check all the electrical connecters and clipped in place especially related to the coolant system if it keeps getting hot.

I would still be leaning towards the gearbox and clutch issues if there's still no codes being thrown up.

if you turn the car on in neutral and leave it to idle do you still get the same issues or is it only once you start driving it and do you have any issues starting the car?

if it is doing it sat still idling the you can spray carb cleaner to check for vacuum leaks (for a very short time) around seals and gaskets on the air intake side and if any are failing then when you spay it on the affected part you should hear the engine idle change or even stall.

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@jay92 it doesn't do any of that. I did change the spark plugs on friday, and found the #2 plug was e.xtremely loose. I turned it out with my fingers on the socket extension. Also found d that the air intake collar was also loose leading into the throttle body. Took it for a test drive, 40 miles on backroads and interstate. Throttle response was better, rpms stayed within normal range, barely hit 3000 when taking it up to 70 mph on acceleration. We'll see how the rest plays out this week as far as fuel consumption goes, but I think it should show a little improvement. Hopefully, this is the only thing i need to do.

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@jay92 also, I WISH this thing was turbocharged! It would make it a little more fun. But, I do have plans of putting a 5.7L hemi in later on down the road. Looking at getting a 2005 crate engine for this with 4 wheel drive, as I dont want to lose that. As well as a rear end swap with a 2003 durango for the disc brakes.

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Check coolant system, such as the thermostat mentioned above. The thermostat wouldn't cause high rpms directly but it will cause high internal temperatures and high engine temps can cause the motor to work extra hard to perform the way it supposed to.

Check for proper compression. Check each cylinder for proper compression. Check for leaks in the air intake, air filter housing, vacuum lines, and exhaust.

Check the timing. Belt/chain, spark plug gaps, distributor if you have one, possibly the trucks computer. I've seen cars run poorly just because the computer hadn't been reset after a battery change. The computer was stopping the ignition sequence because it thought the battery was still bad. Reset the code and the car started up.

Get a second, third, fourth opinion. Go to a Dodge certified mechanic. Pick a shop that deals with these trucks all the time. They'll know these engines and it's systems better then they know their wives. Good luck.

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Shawn T Stoddard さん、ありがとうございました!
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