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Blown heads in 04 Durango

My durango overheated and the dealer said the heads were warped and he need to take it down to the block to replace. The care is an 04 in good condition with 93k miles. They say it will cost 4000 to fix which includes a timing chain as it is due. Questions: Is this a honest price?

Should I do it?

Or is it time to buy a new car?

I would not spend this kind of money on a cylinder head repair. If this engine was overheated badly enough to warp the heads then odds are the piston rings are damaged also.
This means that 4 grand later you will have an engine that burns oil anyway.

If the engine oil was diluted by coolant due to a head gasket breach then there’s also the possibility the engine’s lower end is washed out. This means low oil pressure or knocks, etc.
A ring or lower end problem essentially means a complete engine rebuild. Your best bet is to find a good used engine and swap it out.

Thanks for the feedback, wish it was better news. Would replacing the engine be the same price or more? the Car’s book is roughly 8K in good condition, with 93K miles on it. I use the car for towing in the summer and I do a lot of highway driving, think it pays to do the work or get another car?

Let me think about this one a bit.

A timing chain rarely needs to be replaced. A belt is a different story.

For $4000 you can get a decent engine from a salvage yard and get it installed. A much better idea I think. There are tons of these vehicles out there and many engines to be had fairly cheap I would think. If you like the vehicle and it meets your needs, and it doesn’t need much else in the way of repair, you may as well fix it. You’d be hard pressed to find a decent used vehicle for $4000, and if you could, you wouldn’t know its history like you do with your current one.

But I would also get a second opinion before replacing anything.

A timing chain is not really due unless it’s worn out and if a chain is worn out this usually means the rest of the engine is right behind it.

I’m in agreement that another opinion might be needed and possibly another complete engine would be the way to go.
Just offhand, the 4 grand seems high to me for a pair of heads and a chain. If I assume this is not a Hemi a pair of reman heads should be about a grand. This would mean 3 grand for everything else and that seems a bit much but without the minute details (including locale) it’s hard to say.

I would take the heads off and have them checked for cracks then machined flat if they pass.

Thanks for all the great feedback, other than the engine issue the car is in great cosmetic shape, so it does make sense to put the money in. Regarding the last post, the dealer said the heads are aluminum and can’t be machined, is this true?

So what I am hearing from you guys is… if I want to put big dollars in I should go with a rebuilt engine. And if I want to go for a cheap solution, get a pair of re-manufactured heads and skip the chain.

Well, you’re already being led down the wrong path. What the dealer told you about the heads not being machined because they’re aluminum is absolute bunk.
Any head, aluminum or cast iron, can be safely machined. The general rule of thumb is that if warpage does not exceed .002 per linear foot the head can be reinstalled as is.
Call any automotive machine shop (where heads are actually surfaced) and ask them if aluminum heads can be machined. They will tell you the same thing I did.

While not true of all dealers, there has been a trend over the last 10 or 20 years for some dealers to go with a shop full of younger, and naive, guys. Many of these younger mechanics are fresh out of technical school where they have been fed all kinds of BS and much of this BS is passed on to the customers.

Since it sounds like they’re wanting to install a new set of factory heads because of their misguided logic my suggestion is to get the vehicle out of there and take it to a good independent shop.

Based on what you were told about the heads I think you’re being seriously yanked around due to ignorance rather than outright fraud.
One thing to keep in mind at a dealership is that you NEVER EVER rely on anything a service writer or service manager says. Very very few of these people have ever been mechanics and most have very limited or no mechanical knowledge or abilities at all.

I would move the car but it broke-down out of state and I had to leave the car and thought it safest to leave at a dealer. Normally I might take it to a new mechanic but I am kind of stuck with these guys at the dealer. I did get them to re-quote the job just replacing the heads and using all existing parts which according to the service manager will knock off $1,200 and also told them not do the timing chain. The service manager said Dodge won’t warranty machined heads and that is why they don’t want to do it.

Should they just use all existing parts and push them to machine the heads? Would it effect the car’s performance or cause more problems down the road? Or is it better to go with new parts?

Wait a minute, your car is a 2004 and Dodge is way out of the warranty picture here. It is the Dealer that will not warranty the machined heads, not Dodge.

I am suprised your Durango books at 8K, that is a pretty good blue book price.

Rent a U-Haul dolly, tow the car to your area. Then, check local wreckers for a warranty replacement engine, have it installed, problem solved. Agree that replacing or milling heads will only mask or postpone future problems with rings and/or bearings undoubtedly damaged by overheating. Then, you’ll be faced with a similar problem but worse.

I don’t think you’re being steered straight here. The only way any Dodge warranty would play a part in this would be if new from Dodge cylinder heads had a parts defect. The odds of that really are about zero.

What would I do? I’d either find a way to get the Durango closer to home for a repair or have the install a set of reman cylinder heads from a local parts house.
The odds of anyone including them standing behind any alleged warranty is also pretty close to zero.

Reman heads or machined (surfaced) heads will not have any noticeable affect on engine performance.
If they install a set of reman heads from AutoZone or some other parts house there should be no problem if it’s done correctly.

The one unknown here is piston ring and lower end condition which I mentioned earlier. Since overheating was involved I’d want a proper compression test done before tearing anything apart.