Dodge Journey Problems

Dodge Journey Problems: Are They Really That Bad?

Michigan-based American automobile manufacturer Dodge has established quite a name for itself in the market for sports cars and trucks. What many people might not know is that the brand also makes other vehicles. Though not as well known, those still exist and are ready to take you for a spin. One such offering is the Dodge Journey. The Dodge Journey faced its fair share of criticism in its runtime. Owners found that the Dodge Journey problems were too severe to ignore.

The mid-size crossover SUV was made and marketed in 2008 by Chrysler. Despite the many problems that plagued the lineup, the Dodge Journey had thousands in sales annually until the company decided to pull the plug on the manufacturing after the 2020 model.

During its production run, the Dodge Journey received criticism for its lackluster handling, poor reliability, and sub-par safety features.

You must conduct some research before purchasing any car as it is a huge investment. We have done the research part for you. The Dodge Journey problems may be a deal-breaker, so read carefully before finalizing anything.

General Dodge Journey Problems

A large number of complaints have been registered about the electrical problems of Dodge Journeys. As of July 2021, 795 complaints have been made about the 2009 model year while 620 complaints have been made about the 2010 model year. The situation improved significantly for model years 2011 and onward.

Ignition Issues

Many users claimed that the engine would not start randomly on the 2009 and 2010 Dodge Journey. A small click is emitted from the engine as if the battery were dead. Note: Always check your battery first if problems like this appear, as an old and deteriorated battery can be the root of many severe electrical problems. For many owners, the solution was starting the vehicle in Neutral with the brakes applied, and if it started, there was an issue with the shifter cable or the transmission range.

Why would a car start in Neutral but not Park? Users mentioned that it is best to check the control wire terminal near the starter since it might be corroded or loose. Corrosion can develop on the battery terminals too so they must be checked as well.

One owner stated that the problem was solved after a mechanic removed all the dirt and debris from the electrical connections to the starter motor from the battery – ground cable connection included. For others, the starter motor needed to be changed.

The owner’s manual says that if the fob battery does not have power and thus the system cannot recognize the key, you can open the car by positioning the fob against the Start/Stop button. Push it to kick start the ignition.

What Did Dodge Do To Solve This?

Fiat Chrysler announced multiple recalls to address these serious concerns, including R03 / NHTSA 14V-373 for the keys (FOBIKs) and the wireless ignition node (WIN) module that can force an engine to shut down. Numerous software updates followed. You can look up recalls on the NHTSA website.

Many other electrical problems have been reported, like with the power locks and windows, radio, Bluetooth, horn, and excessive battery drainage; primarily with the earlier model years.

In the Dodge Journeys manufactured between 2009 to 2010, a tapping, ticking, or knocking sound would come from below the valve cover. Turned out, it was the bad rocker arms in the 3.5L SOHC V6. You have to pay about $1,000 on average to have a rocker arm assembly replaced in a repair shop. That being said, this kind of noise can be a result of other problems and proper diagnosis must be conducted before any repair.

3.6L V6 Tapping Noise

The tapping noises from the 3.5L SOHC V6 could also be heard in the 3.6L Pentastar V6 (2011-and-later Dodge Journey). If the camshaft is working fine, the repair is not too costly. But, if you continue to drive the vehicle with faulty rocker arms, it might cause damage to the camshaft(s). That will be a much pricier repair. Hearing a ticking noise from the top of your engine? Get it checked as soon as possible.

Left Cylinder Head

In the early models of the 3.6L Pentastar V6, problems were noticed with the left cylinder head. This led the engine to misfire. Chrysler extended the warranty on those cylinder heads for some of the 2011 to 2013 Journeys. The warranty now covered 150,000 miles or 10 years, whichever occurred first, from the SUV’s in-service date. As it was not a recall, the warranty applied only if the vehicle had that defect.

Oil Filter Housing

The oil filter housing may have to be replaced for some of the Pentastar 3.6L V6 engines. A good sign for that is oil leakage or a broken oil by-pass valve. This Dodge Journey problem existed in the 2011-2013 model years.

The FCA bulletin 18-034-14 mentions that if the oil pressure sensor malfunctions, it can trigger the Check Engine Light. The oil pressure sensor has to be replaced (watch here) to solve this issue. If the vehicle’s warranty is over, no need to worry. The parts can be found online for about $30 to $60.

Blend Door Actuator

Owners soon realized that riding the Dodge Journey was more hassle than convenient. One side of the A/C or heater gave up and clicking noise came from under the dash. A faulty blend actuator in the HVAC system causes this issue. The actual repair for this problem is not that costly. In fact, this is a part prone to failure in many cars.

Several owners also pointed out that axle seals in the rear differential, transmission, and transfer case were leaking. Symptoms include droplets of oil under the car after it has been parked for a while and a burnt oil smell. A lack of oil/fluid can cause the vehicle to fail so be mindful of that.

Timing Chain Or Timing Belt

Timing belts were added to 3.5L SOHC V6 engines. The owner’s manual of a 2009 Dodge Journey says that the component has to be replaced every 102 months or 102,000 miles, whichever came first. On the other hand, the 3.6L Pentastar V6 and the 2.4L World Gas Engine were equipped with timing chains. Timing chains do not require replacements unless there is something wrong with them.

Other reported issues revolved around bad key fobs, poor TPMS sensors, numerous wiring, electrical issues, shuddering of transmission, and harsh shifting.

The Dodge Journey also tended to produce noise when turning or going over bumps. Service bulletin 02-001-13 concluded that this issue can be a result of poor front strut bearings/mounts. Replacing a strut bearing at a mechanics’ should cost you no more than $150 to $240 aside.

Earlier model years also suffered from premature brake wear, as many reports on CarComplaints.com claimed. A poor wheel bearing can cause a rumbling or humming sound that gets louder in turns and with speed. You can change a wheel bearing for $220 to $460.

The Worst Dodge Journey Ever Made

Similar to many other vehicles, Dodge’s first attempt at the Journey wasn’t the best. The first model year (2009) was filled with so many errors that Car Complaints termed it as the worst model year.

739 complaints were registered about the electrical system, 350 about the brakes, and 271 about the airbags and seat belt systems in the 2009 Dodge Journey. It goes without saying that this is where the Dodge Journey problems truly started.

The worst part is that the problems were overlapping frequently with expensive repairs trailing behind. Car Complaints gave the 2009 Journey the badge of “Avoid Like the Plague.” The most common complaints involved problems with electronics. While the electrical system tended to fail now and then, owners claimed that the worst issue of all was with the ignition system.

The car would simply not start. Unfortunately, the average mileage on the model year was not that high either, averaging at 46,000 to 60,000 miles. However, due to the severity and widespread existence of the issues, Dodge was forced to issue a recall for more than 700,000 units. About $600 is needed on average to solve the issue. Car Complaints mentions that 11 injuries, 11 crashes, and 11 fires were caused by this.

2009 Dodge Journey Problems: Brakes

Premature rotor and brake wear, calipers locking automatically while in use, noisy brakes, missing bracket hardware, and brake pedal staying depressed after being used were some of the typical complaints regarding the 2009 model. The ABS light would stay on, the brakes would get stuck, and the brake brackets were susceptible to snapping.

According to the complaints, the most prevalent issue was the premature rotor and brake wear, with repair costs totaling $400 on average. 353 complaints were made regarding this issue that occurred at around 32,000 miles. The only way to solve this issue is by replacing the rotors and pads, the machined rotors, and all the brakes.

On average, replacing a brake pad costs around $150 an axle, but it can range between $100 to $300 depending on the make of the car and parts availability. Brake rotors are a somewhat expensive repair; replacing these parts will run between $406 and $559 plus labor costs of $158 to $200. The parts themselves are within $248 to $350.

Replacing brakes is an expensive affair, coming in at more than $700 on the high end. This includes calipers, brake pads, and rotors.

Owners have expressed their frustration regarding this because according to them, a major Dodge Journey problem is that the brakes have to be replaced numerous times in a short span of time. Moreover, the braking system is said to be too weak to support the bulk of the car, and the vehicle itself is too heavy for the rotors and pads. As a result, they are worn out faster.

2009 Dodge Journey Problems: Electrical

Main complaints about the electrical system of the Journey revolve around multiple electrical failures, engine not starting, car not turning over, a bad TIPM, electrical system shut down while the car is being driven, premature battery failure, ignition recall, power locks, and the wireless ignition node module malfunctioning.

If your Dodge Journey is not turning over, you have to spend at least $620 to get that repaired. This problem usually starts at around 60,000 miles on average. Typically, replacing the key fobs as well as the starter motor does the trick. Users mentioned that the car has a mind of its own – it sometimes starts just fine while other times it plays dead. The horn goes off automatically and the neutral safety switch loses connection to the shifter.

2009 Dodge Journey Problems: Engines

Some of the engine problems with the Dodge Journey 2009 include:

  • Engine dies while driving
  • CEL keeps coming on
  • Ticking sound from the engine
  • Car not starting even though the engine is running
  • Engine consuming oil without the warning light

Engine issues with the Dodge Journey generally start after the car has at least 44,000 miles on it. When that happens, the car simply cuts off while in use, the power steering disconnects, brakes stop working, RPMs skyrocket suddenly, and a clunking sound comes from the engine.

2009 Dodge Journey Recalls

In terms of user reliability or reputation, the 2009 Dodge Journey is not the best. It failed to get the confidence of the market so naturally, Dodge had to step up multiple times to handle the seemingly endless list of complaints. Eight recalls were issued regarding the 2009 Journey – proving once again that this is the worst car from the Journey lineup.

1st Recall

The first recall took place in June 2008 and affected almost 7,000 vehicles. It was made to address the issues about the engine wiring harness as damage to it increases the risks of engine compartment fire. Vehicles equipped with the 3.5L engine were affected since on these cars, the wiring harness could communicate with the left transaxle mount unintentionally.

2nd Recall

The next recall came in October of the same year but it was significantly less severe. With about 800 vehicles on the line, Dodge had to deal with the failure of the fuel pump relay and the powertrain control module.

When these components failed, the engine would stall without warning. The Dodge Avenger, Caliber, Patrol, Compass, and Journey were all under recall as the new glue in the powertrain control module ended up being the reason the circuit board would break.

3rd Recall

In March 2009, Dodge announced the third recall to address the electrical connected issues. Affecting nearly 17,000 vehicles, the problem involved the fuse for the circuit failing to light properly, overheating the connector till it caught on fire.

The Journeys without the 115-volt auxiliary power outlet (which was optional) corroded over time.

4th Recall

The fourth recall came sooner than expected – in April 2009. It was announced to deal with the reverse wiring steering column driver airbag problem. It was found that in the event of an accident, the airbag on the driver’s side would not inflate properly and be able to provide the required protection to the driver. Airbags are a crucial part of car safety.

5th Recall

The front door wiring became a main area of concern and Dodge had to address it through a fifth recall, announced in late 2010. More than 65,000 vehicles were reported to suffer from the problem.

The wiring in the front door wire harness deprecated prematurely, growing into an interruption in the side impact sensors’ circuits. Combined with the airbags deployment failure, door wiring issues would result in a loss of senses on the sides of the vehicle as well as an airbag warning light illumination.

6th Recall

The sixth recall came at the right time because the problem had taken over 722,000 vehicles. When complaints started pouring in about the ignition switch turning off while the car was in use, Dodge had to take action fast.

When the ignition key turns off or shift into accessory mode, the engine turns off. The turn depowers the safety system of the car, which includes the airbags, power braking, and power steering.

If even one of these systems turn off, that increases the chance of a crash. When multiple of them lose functionality, the consequences can be catastrophic. To solve this problem, the key fob has to be taken out of the keyring.

7th Recall

The next recall for the 2009 Dodge Journey worked with corrosion of the airbag control unit power supply. If the control unit malfunctions, the airbag might not deploy in time to protect the riders and driver in the event of a crash. Furthermore, the airbags could deploy suddenly, blocking the view of the driver and again, raising the risks of an accident. This was a major Dodge Journey problem that had to be addressed.

Last Recall

The last recall for the 2009 Journey dealt with the power steering return hose cracking with use, affecting around 9,000 vehicles. As a result, more effort was required to turn the wheel, particularly at lower speeds.

2010 Dodge Journey Problems

In comparison to the 2009 model year, the 2010 Dodge Journey did not give the users as many chances to complain. However, some issues from the previous model persisted. For instance:

  • Brake problems
  • Poor interior accessories
  • Electrical system failure

Dodge Journey Problems

Near 500 complaints were registered by the NHTSA about the electrical system of this model year.

The engine was hard to turn over in the 2009 Dodge Journey and 2010 was no different. A defective TIP, the battery dying, horn blowing on its own, and the car turning off while in use were other complaints. If an engine does not turn around, it can be fixed by dropping around $550 at the local mechanic. The issue starts at 65,000 miles on average.

The Last Dodge Journey

Since its inception in 2009, the Dodge Journey has improved significantly. From the model year 2011 to 2020, issues were much less noticeable and severe.  A total of 58 complaints were registered from 2016 to 2020. In contrast to that, the 2009 model alone gathered 1000 complaints.

The last few user complaints were made in 2018 – a meager number of 3. Transmission issues became a small concern for the users but the NHTSA did still filed 18 complaints. Despite that, the Dodge Journey problems decreased with time. Before Dodge halted production in 2020, it was a decent car to buy, given you were buying the more recent models.

If you plan on purchasing a secondhand Journey, avoid the 2009 and 2010 model years no matter what. Make sure to have a look at how much mileage it has on it because that will indicate how long before an impending repair.

Pros Of The Dodge Journey

  • Roomy and practical interior
  • Good looks
  • Tons of storage compartments
  • Easy to drive
  • Powerful optional V6
  • Good handling
  • 8.4” screen available
  • Comfortable ride
  • Third-row seating

Cons Of The Dodge Journey

  • Not the best value for money
  • Poor reliability
  • Interior plastic needs work
  • Poor fuel economy
  • Inadequate cargo space once the third seat is up
  • Problematic electronics

Final Thoughts

When you compare reliability against the price of the Dodge Journey, the judgment is not in favor of the Journey. As of 2020, it has much lower reliability and quality score than similar vehicles. You can find mixed reviews online for the vehicle. Some owners loved the interior and the driving experience while others were too occupied with the Dodge Journey problems springing up one after the other.

On the plus side, the good-looking, stylish vehicle does offer a roomy interior. The Uconnect equipped in the 8.4” screen is definitely a top-notch one in the industry in terms of features and design. The Journey provides a smooth riding experience and has good handling for a crossover. Additionally, the 3.6L V6 packs plenty of power.

You can get a Dodge Journey for much cheaper than let’s say, a Toyota Highlander in the used car market. However, the latter is one of the best in the CUV segment.

We still strongly think you should avoid the earlier models. It is easier to own a 2014 and later Journey. We also recommend getting a good extended warranty on the powertrain at the very least. There is nothing that bad about this vehicle but let’s face it: in a market that competitive, the Dodge Journey simply does not cut it.

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