Diagnotic Help on a '12 Dodge GC

The other day I drove my van on the highway and everything was fine. On the way home though, the steering wheel started shaking terribly, almost making me release the wheel. It did this at 70 MPH, but lessened almost to nothing when I slowed to 60. I drove 55-60 the rest of the way home. As I got to my exit, I smelled an awful odor that reminded me of burning oil. Upon opening the hood, we found torn up foam and leaves under the hood resting on the engine. Back in October our other car was totaled because of a rat that moved into it, so this raised red flags and we called the insurance company.
They towed it to a repair place of their choosing an hour away. The repair shop says that there is no damage other than the “cosmetic” noise-reduction foam, which they assume is what caused the burning smell as well.
They say they cannot reproduce the shaking, and dont want to replace the “cosmetic” noise reduction foam, and are trying to say they are done with the process. However, the shaking, burning smell, and rat nest all being there suddenly cannot be a coincidence.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to approach this? Can the noise reduction foam smell like burning oil? What should I ask the repair place to look for that could cause the violent shaking? I am at the end of my rope with this and would greatly appreciate help.

(They also claim that the foam, which they call the “engine pad” can only be purchased by a dealer. We found the part here, but cannot find information on how to install it.)

Take it to a shop of you choosing and have them take a look at the front suspension. Rats will not cause the vibration you describe. Losing a wheel weight might. A sticking caliper might. Expect to pay the shop for their time. This was not likely an insurance issue, not sure why you called them in advance.


I stated why we called them in advance, if you read the entire post. The first car was totaled and the damage happened very quickly.
We recently got a new brake system and new tires/rotation/etc, and have no problems with the brakes, so it did not enter my mind that it would be the problem. I will tell them to look at the suspension.

I found the underhood blanket at an auto recycler and installed it in my basic 2007 Town and Country.

Unfortunately its not the blanket, but thank you for looking into it!

I did and was still left wondering…

Or so you think… But you came here looking for advice. What you describe, is why I posted what I did… I still think this even AFTER you tell me you had the brakes serviced.

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When I apply pressure to the brakes, it feels smooth and quiet and stops properly. The vibrating that I was feeling was not when I was applying the brakes, but when I was driving down the highway , and as I am not exceptionally car savvy, I would not automatically connect a driving problem with a brake problem.

There may be a worn strut in the front.

A worn strut can cause what’s called tire bounce at certain speeds.


I will ask them to take a look, thank you

just some thoughts. if you ever ran over a plastic bag that got stuck to your catalytic converter and melted on it. you would know it smells really bad for a week or more until it melts off. it is possible that is what you are smelling. I am not sure what your hood foam is made of, but it is possible it is still on your exhaust manifolds, melting and making the smell.
as far as the shaking try taking your front tires and rims and switch them with the rear and see if the shaking follows to the back. I would also have the steering and suspension looked at for worn parts.

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Thank you, and no I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen, but plastic does smell nasty when it burns. I will pass this to the mechanic.

And I am car savvy, hopefully that’s why you came here…

A caliper can stick, the slides can stick or a brake hose can start to internally fail (especially 10 year old hoses) and act like a check valve holding the pads against the rotor enough to overheat the pad and rotor. Hence the smell and the hot, warped rotor causing a vibration at the natural frequency of the bouncing wheel.

I’ve had it happen to me. Brakes worked fine… one wheel got hot as blazes, the others just warm. That is a hint as to the problem.

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It’d be great if you could avoid being condescending in your replies, as that is NOT why I came here. I came for clear advice and specific things to talk to the mechanic about, not to be talked down to.

It would be great if you would not be argumentative and dismissive in our advice and not get in a twist when we try to explain something to you when you describe yourself as “not exceptionally car savvy.” Maybe this explains your exchange with the first shop…

I hope the discussions with your second shop goes better than the first. Good Luck solving your problem(s).


I am not being dismissive. I have stated to everyone that I would mention all of this to the mechanic to help him diagnose the problem. I’m not sure what you are referring to about problems with the first mechanic, as we only have the one and haven’t had problems with him. He can’t find the problem, so I came here for advice from people who might have experience with a similar problem. Me stating that I assumed the brakes were fine is not being dismissive, it’s stating a fact as to why I would not have thought of that as a source of the problem. You however, have been condescending since your first post, when you commented on whether you thought I should have gotten my insurance involved. That has nothing to do with the problem we are having and should not be your concern.

I will no longer be replying to you, have a great day. Helpful, kind advice is wonderful when you are talking to people, which everyone else has given.

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Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t see anything condescending about @Mustangman’s first post. Frankly, I agree with him, even after having read your entire first post (and subsequent posts) on the insurance portion.


I agree completely.


If everyone is done giving actual advice I will be unfollowing this topic. Commenting on whether they thought I should report it to my insurance is unnecessary for the actual conversation.

Your best bet is to simply describe the symptoms rather than try to tell the mechanic what to look for. They often don’t take kindly to that unless they know you well enough to trust your automotive knowledge.


Just so you know this is Mustangman;s background… Retired automotive engineer and racer. My specialty was chassis development - that means shocks, brakes control arms, springs and the like. I worked in R&D for most of that the time in the auto industry and hold a bunch of patents. I later managed R&D at a material handling company.

As you can see he knows what he is talking about. I have never seen him other than trying to be helpful.
As far as the the reason why the insurance is brought up is because most people do not call their insurance for auto repairs unless they have been in an accident.
Now if you have a separate auto repair insurance like Car Shield or something similar than that is a different story.