When the transmission in my 2009 Dodge Journey suffered a heart attack two days ago, the Dodge mechanic told me there was WATER in the AWD unit! I was rendered speechless - I have never driven it in water. I bought it used a year ago. Carfax was clean. He says the car wouldn’t have lasted that long with water in the AWD unit. Does this make any sense at all?
From afar, nobody knows, but unfortunately your first mistake was to trust one of those Carfax reports.
Between missing information and mistaken information, those reports cannot be trusted. In other words, that car could have been in a wreck and the wreck may well have escaped the attention of the Carfax folks. Or it could have been poorly maintained, or it could have been a salvage vehicle, or…
In addition to the problematic nature of Carfax reports, just driving this vehicle in a heavy rainstorm could have led to this problem if the gaskets on the AWD unit are not pristine. When you drive through heavy rain and the resulting deep puddles, water can be thrown into many areas–including the engine air intake. You wouldn’t believe how many folks have destroyed engines as a result of driving into a puddle that was just a bit deeper than they thought it was.
In this case, I suspect that a sketchy gasket, combined with driving in a heavy rainstorm may have caused your problem, but as with any used car–whatever the previous owner did or didn’t do could also have led to this problem.