2018 Dodge Durango Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Electrical, airbags, brake and powertrain issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

This article was written by Brian Jones, trusted ASE Certified Master Tech and Lemberg Law Expert Automotive Contributor

When it comes to driving a family-friendly SUV, soccer moms everywhere flock to the 2018 Dodge Durango. Aside from maximum space and high-tech amenities, the manufacturer claims that the new models are the “King of SUVs.” Research shows that these models top the charts, but more for defective parts. The service brakes, electrical system, powertrain and air bags all experience unwelcome problems that put owners in danger.

Click on other model year to view more problems: 2019

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Problems with the Brakes

When it comes to stopping, an SUV must be equipped with properly working brakes. This is even more vital when driving around town with a car full of children, yet the Durango isn’t reliable for braking power at all.

Here is one NHTSA complaint that illustrates the annoyance these brakes cause. “My vehicle only has 17,500 miles on it and the brakes are constantly squeaking. I’ve cleaned the rotors, but it still makes this God awful squeak. The brakes should be good for another 25,000 miles, but I don’t think it’s going to make it.”

One of the ways to tell when brakes are bad is to listen for a squeaking sound. If the system is always producing this sound, it becomes difficult to tell when something is wrong, which puts owners in danger. Sadly, Dodge has nothing to say about these problems and has chosen to remain quiet instead. In its silence, it proves that the Durango isn’t worthy of being treated like royalty.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2018 Dodge Durango Brake Problems:

“BREMBO BREAK PADS” I PURCHASED MY VEHICLE IN OCTOBER OF 2018, I WAS QUOTED FOR NEW BRAKE PADS ALL AROUND AT 9000 MILES IN JUNE OF 2019. AFTER FINDING OUT ABOUT THE MANUFACTURE WARRANTY, I WAS TOLD THAT I ONLY NEED REAR BRAKE PADS REPLACED NOW. (NOTE: THERE IS LESS THEN 1MM ON REAR PADS CURRENTLY AND 4MM ON THE FRONT PADS) , I TOLD THE MANAGER AT RYDELL THAT, I BELIEVE THE BRAKING SYSTEM IS DEFECTIVE. I HAVE NEVER HERD OF REPLACING THE BRAKE PADS ON A BRAND NEW VEHICLE THIS SOON. I CALLED THREE DIFFERENT DEALERS AND THEY FIND IT WEIRD THAT I HAVE TO CHANGE THE BRAKES ALREADY WITH ONLY 9000 MILES ON THE CAR. MIND YOU, I AM THE FIRST OWNER OF THIS VEHICLE AND WHEN I PURCHASED IT, IT HAD 300 MILES ON THE CAR ALREADY. THE MANAGER, RICK GUZMAN AT RYDELL IN SAN FERNANDO EVEN WENT AS FAR AS TO ACCUSE ME OF RACING MY VEHICLE. HOWEVER, SHOULDN’T BALDING TIRES COINCIDE WITH THAT ACCUSATION? EVERYTHING ON MY VEHICLE IS THE SAME AS IT WAS WHEN I DROVE OF THEIR LOT IN OCTOBER OF 2018. THERE IS NO WAY, AFTER PUTTING 8,700 MILES ON MY OWN, THAT I SHOULD NEED TO CHANGE ALL FOUR BRAKE PADS ON A BRAND NEW VEHICLE. AND THE DEALER IS NOW FIGHTING ME TO ONLY CHANGE THE BRAKES IN THE REAR. I BELIEVE ALL FOUR PADS SHOULD BE CHANGED OUT. WITH THE REAR PADS AT 1MM AND THE FRONT PADS AT 4MM, SOMETHING SOUNDS REALLY WRONG. THE VEHICLE IS NOT EVEN A YEAR OLD YET !

OUR DODGE DURANGO GT, HAS DEVELOPED A LOUD POP SOUND WHEN COMING TO A FULL STOP. I TOOK IT TO ANCIRA DODGE IN SAN ANTONIO, THEY ADVISED ME THE CALIPERS ARE HITTING BRAKE PADS AND THERE IS NOTHING THEY CAN DO. I FEEL THIS IS A SAFETY ISSUE AND DODGE AGAIN DOES NOT WANT TO HELP. OUR TRUCK HAS BARELY 21,787 MILES AND I?M HAVING SO MANY ISSUES WITH THIS DEFECTIVE VEHICLE.

Problems with the Electrical System

There are just as many problems occurring with the electrical system. With these components in charge of providing power to nearly every part, the electrical system needs to work correctly, but it doesn’t.

Here is an Edmunds review that highlights the troubles. “Glitch in the touchscreen/radio where it shuts down and restarts randomly and repeatedly.  This also means you can’t have a hands free phone call as it drops the call when the system restarts.  Started on the drive home but here I am 60 days later and no repair date in sight.  The dealership just keeps telling me that all the 2018’s have this issue and it will be fixed next week but next week still hasn’t come.  I know new products can have issues but not getting the truth has me frustrated and unhappy with this purchase.  If I could get my money back I would return the vehicle and not buy from this dealer nor Dodge again.”

What’s scarier is NHTSA Campaign Number 18V332000, which talks about a massive recall involving the cruise control. It turns out nearly five million vehicles have cruise control systems that might not cancel. The root cause is a short circuit in the wiring system. There’s even the possibility that the system will accelerate even further instead of turning off. What a scary situation for today’s families. This defect in itself is enough to overthrow the king from its throne and put another model in its place.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2018 Dodge Durango Electrical Problems:

UCONNECT RADIO CONTINUOUSLY HAS WEATHER ALERT POP-UPS THAT ARE A BIG DISTRACTION WHILE DRIVING. A WEATHER ALERT THAT IS PERTINENT TO THE AREA THAT YOU ARE IN WOULD BE ACCEPTABLE, BUT ALERTS FOR COUNTIES THAT ARE 100-400 MILES AWAY CAUSES CONTINUAL SPAMMING OF THE RADIO, WHICH IS A HUGE DISTRACTION TO A DRIVER. CONTACT TO BOTH SIRIUS XM AND FCA HAVE YIELDED NO RESULTS. THERE IS NO WAY IN THE OPTIONS TO DISABLE THIS FEATURE AND NO UPDATE HAS BEEN PROVIDED FROM THE MANUFACTURER.

THE REAR TAIL-LIGHT SYSTEM (COVERS ENTIRE REAR OF CAR) ON MY DODGE DURANGO STARTED TO LEAK DUE TO AN INADEQUATE SEAL AND THE TAILLIGHT SYSTEM BURNED OUT IN VARIOUS SPOTS. ONCE OUT IT BECOMES MUCH HARDER TO SEE THE REAR OF THE VEHICLE AND CREATES A VERY HAZARDOUS SITUATION. THIS HAPPENED IN THE FIRST YEAR OF OWNERSHIP. DODGE WILL NOT COVER THIS AND WANTS JUST UNDER $1,000 TO REPLACE IT. I BELIEVE THIS SHOULD BE CHECKED INTO AS THE DECREASED TAIL LIGHT CAN BE HARD TO SEE ESPECIALLY IN THE SNOWY CLIMATE WE HAVE HERE IN WISCONSIN.

THE VEHICLE AFTER BEING STARTED AND DRIVEN WILL NOT SHUT OFF. THE ENGINE WILL EVENTUALLY TURN OFF BUT THE CAR REMAINS IN ACCESSORY MODE UNTIL COMPLETELY DRAINING THE BATTERY. THE VEHICLE THEN HAS TO HAVE THE BATTERY POWERED UP SEPARATELY AND RESTARTED.

THE ENTIRE 8.4″ SCREEN ON THE DASHBOARD FLASHES ON AND OFF CONTINUALLY WHETHER THE VEHICLE IS RUNNING OR NOT. SEEMS LIKE THERE IS A MAJOR SHORT IN THE ELECTRICAL SYSTEM. WHILE THIS ISSUE IS HAPPENING YOU HAVE NO CONTROL OVER HEATING, VENTILATION, RADIO, NAVIGATION, APPS OR APPLE CAR PLAY. ALSO, WHILE DRIVING AT NIGHT THE FLASHING SCREEN CAUSES A HAZARDOUS DISTRACTION IN AN OTHERWISE DARK VEHICLE.

Problems with the Transmission

When it comes to the powertrain of the Durango, multiple parts must work in harmony for a smooth-shifting and enjoyable drive. But, yet again, it is evident that Dodge didn’t manufacture this SUV the right way at all.

Another Edmunds review states, “The transmission froze in neutral but all four wheels were locked. We tried everything we could think of to put it in Drive to no avail. I had it towed in to the [dealer] where I bought it.They had it one week and when I went to pick it up told me they had replaced the valve body on the transmission and re-flashed the transmission control module. But they told me it was ready. I picked it up and I immediately noticed the quite erratic shifting of the transmission. I took it back to the dealership. They advised me that the valve body would take about one to two weeks to resume normal shifting. So I took it home.  About a week later, I was on my way to the grocery store when I noticed the transmission had frozen on 5th gear and the Active Cruise Control service light had momentarily flashed on. I headed for the dealership, about 35 miles away. As I approached the last red light in Benbrook headed towards Granbury on US 377, the vehicle shifted to neutral on its own and the shifter could not be moved. I let it coast to the side of the road. I turned off the engine, waited a few seconds, and turned it back on. The vehicle began normal operations but the erratic shifting continued. I left it at the dealership. After one week with the vehicle, they had no idea what the problem was. I, in the meantime, had lost total confidence in the vehicle and asked the dealership to buy it back from me. They bought it back from me at a significant loss to me. In short, what I thought was the perfect vehicle for the first 9 months of trouble free ownership, turned out to be the worst vehicle I have ever owned, and I have owned a considerable number of vehicles in my 71 years of living.”

If that’s not enough, take a look at NHTSA Campaign Number 18V280000. This recall describes how some vehicles have the wrong transmission park lock rod installed, which means the Durango might fail to engage in Park. This leaves the SUV susceptible to rolling away. At this point, there are probably tons of owners that wish the Durango would simply roll away so they can purchase a vehicle that works correctly instead.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2018 Dodge Durango Transmission Problems:

TL* THE CONTACT OWNS A 2018 DODGE DURANGO. WHILE ATTEMPTING TO PARK THE VEHICLE, THE GEAR SHIFT BECAME STUCK IN THE NEUTRAL POSITION. THERE WERE NO WARNING INDICATORS ILLUMINATED PRIOR TO THE FAILURE. THE CONTACT MADE MULTIPLE ATTEMPTS TO SHIFT THE VEHICLE OUT OF NEUTRAL, BUT WAS UNSUCCESSFUL. THE CONTACT ASSOCIATED THE FAILURE WITH NHTSA CAMPAIGN NUMBER: 18V280000 (POWER TRAIN), BUT THE VIN WAS EXCLUDED FROM THE RECALL. HELFMAN DODGE WAS NOTIFIED OF THE FAILURE AND INFORMED THE CONTACT THAT THE VEHICLE WAS NOT INCLUDED IN THE RECALL. THE CONTACT WAS REFERRED TO NHTSA TO HAVE THE VEHICLE ADDED TO THE RECALL. THE VEHICLE HAD NOT BEEN REPAIRED. THE MANUFACTURER HAD NOT BEEN NOTIFIED OF THE FAILURE. THE FAILURE MILEAGE WAS 29,080.. 

WITH LESS THAN 4000 MILES ON MY BRAND NEW CAR, THE TRANSMISSION DROPS FROM 8TH GEAR TO NEUTRAL (AND WOULD GO FROM REVERSE TO NEUTRAL) AND LOSE ALL POWER WHILE DRIVING. THE ENGINE WILL REV AND NOTHING HAPPENS. YOU HAVE TO PLACE THE VEHICLE IN PARK, TURN THE CAR OFF AND BACK ON TO GET IT TO WORK AGAIN. IT HAPPENED WHILE MAKING TURNS (LEFT AND RIGHT), DRIVING DOWN THE INTERSTATE, REVERSING, PULLING OUT OF PARKING SPACES, ON CITY STREETS, HIGHWAYS AND INTERSTATES, AND WHILE STATIONARY. THIS IS A SERIOUS SAFETY ISSUE. THIS HAPPENED SEVERAL TIMES (AFTER BEING SERVICED) AND NEARLY CAUSING ACCIDENTS. AT ONE POINT, I WAS DRIVING AT APPROXIMATELY 80MPH ON THE HIGHWAY, IN TRAFFIC, AND THE TRANSMISSION DROPPED TO NEUTRAL WITH THE ENGINE LIGHT COMING ON. THE ENGINE LIGHT DOES NOT STAY ON. I HAVE DONE A LITTLE RESEARCH AND HAVE FOUND WHERE THIS HAS HAPPENED TO MULTIPLE NEW DODGE DURANGO OWNERS.

WHEN COMING TO A SLOW STOP IN A DRIVEWAY AND SHIFTING CAR INTO PARK CAR WILL NOT STAY IN PARK AND SHIFT BACK INTO DRIVE.

A FEW DAYS AFTER THE PURCHASE THE CAR FELT A STRONG BLOW IN THE TRANSMISSION WHEN GOING FROM PARKING TO D OR FROM THE PARKING TO R. I TOOK IT TO THE DEALER WHERE I BOUGHT IT AND AFTER A SIMPLE INSPECTION THEY SAID THEY DID NOT FIND ANYTHING I THINK I’LL TAKE IT WHEN I HAVE THE FIRST MAINTENANCE AND TELL THEM TO GO BACK TO REVIEW SINCE IT IS DOING IT MORE AND MORE FREQUENTLY.

Problems with the Airbags

One of the most essential safety systems on a modern vehicle is the air bags. Again, it is clear that Dodge didn’t know what it was doing while producing this SUV, because even this basic function doesn’t work the way it should.

One NHTSA complaint showcases the problem by saying, “The contact owns a 2018 Dodge Durango. While driving 43 mph over an icy patch in the road, the vehicle crashed into a guardrail, three telephone poles and a tree. The air bags failed to deploy. The contact sustained a shoulder injury and medical attention was provided. A police report was filed. The vehicle was towed to an independent lot. The local dealer was not contacted. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was contacted. A special inspector collected the event date recorded and informed the contact that the front passenger side impact would not cause the air bags to deploy. The failure mileage was 5,000.”

Clearly there is an issue with the air bags if a special inspector got involved in the complaint. Otherwise, there would have been no reason to look into it any further. Again, we see the quality of Dodge isn’t what it is meant to be, and the automaker has nothing further to say about air bags failures. In the meantime, owners around the country are overthrowing the king and making other arrangements to protect their families on the road.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2018 Dodge Durango Airbag Problems:

TL* THE CONTACT OWNS A 2018 DODGE DURANGO. WHILE DRIVING APPROXIMATELY 65 MPH, THE CONTACT’S VEHICLE WAS REAR ENDED BY ANOTHER VEHICLE. THE AIR BAGS DID NOT DEPLOY AND NO ALARM SOUNDED. A POLICE REPORT WAS FILED. THERE WERE NO INJURIES. THE VEHICLE WAS NOT TOWED. THE VEHICLE WAS TAKEN TO DEALER AND REPAIRED, BUT THE REPAIR SPECIFICS WERE NOT DISCLOSED. AFTER THE VEHICLE WAS RETRIEVED, THE SEAT BELT BECAME INOPERABLE AND WOULD NOT RETRACT OR UNLATCH. THE CONTACT WAS NOT PROVIDED ANY FURTHER EXPLANATION. THE MANUFACTURER WAS MADE AWARE OF THE FAILURE AND DID NOT ASSIST. THE VEHICLE WAS NOT REPAIRED. THE FAILURE MILEAGE WAS APPROXIMATELY 6,000.

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