Notes: The second generation Durango was introduced in 2004 and instantly came under fire for, well, catching on fire.

From 2004-2006 electrical overloading in the driver's side instrument panel caused numerous reports of interior fires. The interior infernos became so commonplace that Chrysler eventually issued a recall.

The problems didn't stop there, however. Owners of the recalled vehicles complained about being treated unfairly and given take-it-or-leave-it low ball settlement offers. "They offered me $2000 under NADA retail as a settlement," said one owner, "and have been rude and hostile to deal with." Nothing says awesome service like treating your customers rudely after their cars have caught on fire.

Have we mentioned all the reports of complete engine failure due to oil sludge?


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
3 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
102,452 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2004 Dodge Durango drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2004 Dodge Durango Owner Comments (Page 1 of 3)

problem #52

Jan 042017


  • 201,000 miles


I have an AWD vehicle. This vehicle has a knob that you can switch to go to 4 lock. My truck has been shifting into this mode all by itself. This is very dangerous as when it does the vehicle kind of locks up and becomes very difficult/impossible to move. I have 4 children and this is our main vehicle that we use. This is ridiculous. When researching this issue, there are a ton of complaints for the same thing. Dodge needs to take responsibility and fix this issue before someone gets hurt. This has happened to me on more than one occasion. Has happened at high speed, low speed, and stationary.

- Turner, ME, USA

problem #51

Dec 242016


  • 221,375 miles
While driving, the 4WD engages on its own and will not get out of position. It is stuck in 4WD. "svc 4WD" light on the dash appears. Tried doing a battery reset and the problem persists.

- St Amant, LA, USA

problem #50

Dec 062016


  • 98,400 miles
Truck svc 4WD light on. Truck goes into 4lo by itself while I'm driving. Later when I went out in truck svc.4WD is off I get to stoplight & I feel a loud thud like I'm being hit from behind. Now svc.4WD light stays on & car is hard to turn.

- Markham, IL, USA

problem #49

Sep 162016


  • miles


AWD truck puts itself into 4 wd for no reason. Causes vehicle to become hard to drive. This is rediculous. Tons of complaints of the exact same issue on forums. Does it while just idling in park and while driving down the road. Very dangerous, especially with my 4 kids in the car!

- Turner, ME, USA

problem #48

Sep 022016


  • 124,000 miles
The transfer case will shift into 4 wheel drive on it's on. This happens when the vehicle is off and I unlock or lock the doors with the key fob. It also happens when the vehicle is in motion. It is unpredictable and happens very frequently. This is not very safe and can also cause very expensive damage to the powertrain.

- Lobelville, TN, USA

problem #47

Jul 182015


  • 150,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Dodge Durango. While driving at approximately 70 mph, the four wheel drive engaged independently. The vehicle shook violently, veered to the right, and the service four wheel drive warning indicator illuminated intermittently. The failure recurred numerous times. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic where it was diagnosed that there was an open short in the electrical system that needed to be repaired. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was approximately 150,000. The VIN was unavailable.

- Orwell, OH, USA

problem #46

Feb 152016


  • 150,000 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Dodge Durango. While driving various speeds while in two wheel drive, the transmission would suddenly switch to neutral, the vehicle would stop, and the four wheel drive sensor light would illuminate. After shutting off and restarting the vehicle, the transmission would make a grinding noise while in four wheel drive. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where it was diagnosed that the transfer case shift motor was faulty and needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not notified. The VIN was not available. The failure mileage was 150,000.

- San Antonio, TX, USA

problem #45

Feb 232016


  • 115,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Dodge Durango. The contact stated that the 4-wheel drive engaged independently without warning. As a result of the failure, the wheels locked and it was extremely hard to make any turns. The failure recurred several times. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 115,000.

- Goddard, KS, USA

problem #44

Nov 272015


  • 80,000 miles
Durango decides to go into 4 wh drive at random without input from the driver to do so. Steering becomes heavy... often this occurs when the driver is making a turn at slow speeds. Depending of the strength of the driver this can easily cause a crash. The motor rpms are pulled down as the driver makes the turn and can cause the car to stall...making the steering very heavy. This is a known problem with the Durango... faulty transfer case motor. This should be replaced by Chrysler.

- Bexley, OH, USA

problem #43

Oct 262015


  • 109,000 miles
My 2004 Dodge Durango 5.7L AWD is engaging in four wheel drive at high speeds on its own on the interstate. It made a very loud grinding and clunking noise, the service 4WD light will come on and then turn off and then the 4WD lo light will come on and turn off. I was forced to pull off the road and it felt like the car was stuck in four wheel drive and will not come out. I tried to put it in gear while just sitting still and it just makes that grinding noise. I had to have the car towed as I am afraid that driving it would cause myself or others physical harm. Please consider looking into this matter because as I am reading on several Dodge forums this is a common problem and can be very serious to drivers and others. I have read that there are several problems with the transfer case in 2004 and 2005 Dodge Durango. A big company such as Dodge should investigate the need for a possible recall since these problems are being addressed on Dodge forums. As far as getting it fixed or trying to figure out how to get it fixed is the next problem.

- Roanoke, VA, USA

problem #42

Sep 152015


  • 158,000 miles


Service 4WD lite came on, truck started jerking and binding on turns. Cycled switch thru AWD, 4lock and 4 lo, seemed to be ok for awhile then locked in 4lock and stayed there until driven a mile down a bumpy dirt road. Repair shop serviced transfer case but now its stuck in 4lock, they suspect shift motor but none are available. Internet complaints seem to point to electrical issue, temporary fix is to unplug shift motor if you can get it into AWD but Dodge needs to come up with a permanent fix for this.

- Los Lunas, NM, USA

problem #41

Aug 042014


  • 102,000 miles
My 2004 Dodge Durango limited 4X4 5.7 hemi has experienced the same transfer case issues that many other owners have experienced. The vehicle will randomly try to shift itself into 4 wheel drive low without the driver changing the switch from the AWD to the 4lo position. Fortunately we were moving slowly when it occurred but this could be very dangerous at higher speeds as all four wheels lock up and the vehicle cannot be turned. After reading all of the complaints about this issue I decided not to attempt to have it repaired as many owners have stated that dealers have replaced very expensive parts such as the transfer case, transfer case shift motor, and transmission control computer without the problem being resolved. I elected to disconnect the transfer case wiring harness as I was 1000 miles away from home on vacation with my family at the time and needed to drive home safely. It has been disconnected ever since then and I am afraid to reconnect it as I am afraid that I will lose control of the vehicle if it occurs at a higher rate of speed. If I could be sure that the dealer could definitely correct the problem I would consider paying to have it fixed, but it is evident that Dodge/Chrysler is really not sure what the cause of the problem really is and is just guessing at the proper repairs. I believe that this should be considered for recall as it poses a serious safety concern. I am not sure if any serious accidents or deaths have resulted from this issue but it should be addressed before a fatality or serious injury occurs.

- Newton, NJ, USA

problem #40

Apr 172015

Durango 4WD 8-cyl

  • 154,780 miles
As I was turning from the light and preceded to accelerate not even doing 5-10 mph, I heard a sound, which I thought was a blown tire. I turned off the truck to see if I had a flat tire. None of the tires where flat. So I called my husband, he looked at it, thinking it was the throttle body, due to the light that flashed on the dash. So he bought a new throttle, that as well as new spark plugs, and still nothing. It seems it wants to start, but isn't starting. So if this is the hydolock that is causing water to flow into the engine, you all need to pay for this. I have heard that you all know about this issue and has done nothing about it. Lawsuit? I hope not. I just want my truck fixed, because I really like. Please get in touch with me as soon as possible.

- Indianapolis , IN, USA

problem #39

Feb 032015


  • 120,000 miles
I was entering interstate 25 North from denver Colorado's 19th street when I heard a bang and my 04 Durango began to shake violently. I believed it was a tire that popped even though I have new ones and so I continued down the ramp to a safe place where I pulled over and stopped. That's when I noticed the vehicle was still shaking and I then believed it to be a serpentine belt until I turned the vehicle off. I opened the hood and found the belt intact. I then looked under the vehicle and could see engine oil dripping off the back of the engine block & onto the ground from some unknown location of the motor. I attempted to pull the dipstick out of the engine but was unable to because it was stuck until I tried cranking the motor once again which allowed me to then pull the dipstick out, but I was never able to get it back in. I had the vehicle towed to my house and then eventually to a dealership after the motor was attempted to be started again. Flame shot out from underneath the hood along with smoke and a lot of white smoke from the tailpipe. The engine is blown it would have to be replaced and I had 12 payments left for about $5000. I was in a negative equity situation with this vehicle now & I didn't have warranties or any ability to get help from Chrysler or Dodge. There have been almost a thousand other people to register complaints for the same problem. The engine hydrolocked because water leaks through the cowling between the windshield and the hood and drains all over the entire engine. It happens at approximately a hundred twenty thousand miles, allowing water to get inside the motor eventually. I took care of this vehicle better than any other vehicle I'd ever owned.

- Westminster , CO, USA

problem #38

Apr 032014

Durango 8-cyl

  • 185,726 miles
Was slowing down to make a right turn and the car shuddered and came to a halt. Then would not move. Looking under the car found that the drive shaft had fallen out of the rear axle area. Had it towed to shop.

- Corpus Christi, TX, USA

problem #37

Jan 192015

Durango 4WD 8-cyl

  • 141,300 miles
Started car for first time after bad rainstorm over weekend. Heard very loud clanging noise. Hole in oil pan, oil leaked out everywhere. After taking apart the motor, service center discovered a rod shaft had sheared in half and shot through the engine block and oil pan. Discovered it was caused by water getting into engine through spark plugs. Because of this, the warranty company won't cover an engine replacement. We have taken in this vehicle to same service station before over the two years we have owned it because it would stall while driving in bad rainstorm. Could never find a problem. Read a lot of articles online attributing all of this to a design flaw in the hood of this vehicle. I know we are not the only owners of a 2004 Dodge Durango who have experienced this. Something needs to be done to resolve the design flaw and compensate us for having to replace an engine that, apart from being in a poorly designed car, is otherwise in great condition.

- Salem, OR, USA

problem #36

Dec 292014


  • 108,400 miles
Noticed the svc 4WD light came on the dash board and then the vehicle's rear wheels locked when making a tight turn into a parking space. The vehicle stopped and was unable to move as if brake had been applied very hard. Unplugged the battery for about a minute to allow the system to reset. The svc 4WD light doesn't come on. However, the vehicle still locks its rear wheels when making a tight turn into a parking space.

- San Jose, CA, USA

problem #35

Aug 282014


  • 154,000 miles
The vehicle goes into random 4 wheel drive at various speeds. The problem is intermittent. This is clearly a safety issue while changing lanes or making turns. The 4 lock, svc 4WD and 4 lo also will randomly flash. Clearly, there are a lot of the same reported issues. Its frustration to know of a potential safety issue and no one will address it. Some type of user advisory should be issued.

- Pittsburgh, PA, USA

problem #34

Jun 032014

Durango 8-cyl

  • 145,000 miles
When turning at low speed the wheels locked up and could not move.

- Parish, NY, USA

problem #33

Jun 252014

Durango 8-cyl

  • 135,000 miles
Vehicle suddenly shifts electronically into four wheel drive mode. This causes loss of driveability at slow speeds and the ability to easily turn corners on dry pavement. If this electronic shift control were to shift the transfer case to neutral, the vehicle would lose all power to the wheels and if it were parked could roll away. The transfer case shift knob includes the following user selectable modes: AWD, fwd high, fwd low, neutral.

- Marshall, TX, USA

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