Dec 10th 2009
          Winter has arrived. I have to say though, that the D does an excellent job in the snow, slush and whatever else could possibly accumulate on the roads. After a drive up to Mar, ON, and back, plus about 100km of straight city driving I managed to average a respectable 16.1L/100km over 491km. The fuel light just came on and I squeezed in a touch under 80L. The MagnaFlow exhaust is great. Engine is well toned, and there is a huge difference in interior sound quality. I've also ordered some more Amsoil HD oil spray to go around the doors and trim, and some silicone spray for the weather stripping so I don't have to yank on the doors to open them after a freezing rain storm.
Dec 5th 2009
          MagnaFlow exhaust is installed! It took me about an hour and a half. I managed to wedge a screwdriver in to tap and tear out the old muffler that just didn't want to budge from the cat converter pipe. The resonance is finally gone from the broken stock exhaust. So far it's an excellent upgrade from another stock exhaust. Mileage will get checked tomorrow on a drive to Wiarton, ON and back.
Nov 19th 2009
          Battery terminals are badly corroded already. I sprayed them again a month ago and they're covered in the cakey blue/white gunk. The positive terminal is the worst, and has a rubber cover. The negative terminal isn't even half as corroded, but was still bad. I need this CarQuest battery to last another year, so I'll have to do a thorough clean with some baking soda solution and reinstall using dielectric grease. With any luck the terminals will still look decent come the spring.
Nov 19th 2009
          Well, the power steering noise has offfically left. I'm sure it'll come back but during the last week or so of solid 10-15C temperature changes each day the noise is gone. I did however, decide to order Magnaflow exhaust #15659 for my Durango. I ordered it through a Canadian source only because it works out to be a few bucks cheaper than ordering it through a US source. I also get it a couple weeks sooner. Hopefully I'll be able to install it myself with no problems. I estimate a solid $50-100 install time at a nearby shop. All told, with taxes (free shipping!), it came to just over $800. It seems a bit steep, but I decided to get it only because it comes with a lifetime warranty. Two local muffler shops wanted $580-720 to fix it with no name brand parts. One shop even mentioned they could 'most likely' save the muffler (it had NO metal left on the rear edge where the pipe would exit and where the original had rusted off) - I walked out.
Nov 10th 2009
          My new truck plans are on hold. I was about to get the family loaded up into the D, when I was walking up to it and noticed the exhaust tip was hiding inside the bumper a bit. There had been an exhaust leak for a while but I haven't been able to find the cause, until recently. It turned out that the exhaust pipe, from behind the muffler, had rusted off along with the bolt. The metal is too thin to weld it back together, and if it was, I'm sure it'd just rust off in the middle of winter. I've been having a hard time finding the exhaust system (cat-back) that I want, a Magnaflow #15659. At least the current value of my D for a private sale would be in the $6-7K range, due to the excellent maintenance. I'm a bit leery on the engine oil. I've never seen it as black as it is and not changed it out. Still, the Amsoil 0W30 is rated at 40,000kms, along with the filter. I've added one half quart already and I just went over the 7,000km mark and I'm ready to add another half quart. Next month I think I'll order an oil analysis kit and see what's really going on in there. I've also ordered some valve cover gaskets. No, the current ones aren't giving me any problems, but I just want to see what the top of the engine looks like, and plan to replace the old gaskets with new ones instead of reusing 10 year old gaskets. This spring I'll most likely do a thorough maintenance project on the D, from changing out coolant hoses, to a coolant flush to backflushing the heater core so it shouldn't give me any problems. I'll most likely go with Amsoil coolant, for the addional rust protection. I might get the D undercoated after I get the new exhaust installed. HEADERS? Hmmm, tempting. On a side note, I picked up a Lawnboy silver series with the DuraForce engine for $50 in great shape!
Sept 13th 2009
          It's official. I'm thinking of going all-out and expanding my currently, small, landscaping business into a full time endeavour. However, the Durango cannot plow, although it can do everything else. I did the inevetable and priced out a 2009 Ram 2500 Quad Cab 4x4 ST with a few options that are required to do the work I'll be asking of the truck. With a current incentive program the total cost before taxes (including delivery plus options), works out to a rather nice $32,345. Yes, that's with the HEMI engine, as the diesel is a bit overkill at this point. Plus, the cost of a Boss V plow and a tailgate salter will run close to $5K with installation. For a ready to work, work truck, I estimate $44K total cost. Of course, this also means that I'd have to trade in my Durango, which runs flawless and should fetch a good price on the private market. The pulley noise on the Durango comes and goes. It's more noticeable until the D gets up to operating temp for a good twenty minutes, then it fades away. Mileage was also a respectable 17.61L/100km. Not bad considering it did a fair amount of hauling this last week and a bit.
Sept 6th 2009
          Mileage seems to be more into the mid-teens with the SCT installed. Last tank was 14mpg, with mostly city driving and a few perpetual pedal-to-the-floor runs. I've narrowed down what I had thought was an exhaust leak, to a squeaky power steering pulley. I'll see if some spray lube can cure it. It's only noticeable with the windows down, and the noise goes away at any speed but idle. My exhaust is still holding up, and will suffice for this winter yet. I imagine once spring comes, it will have some small holes through it as the metal is very thin, and badly rusted in areas. I also had some hope in the resale department, too. I saw a black 2000 R/T advertised with $6,990 on the front window. I checked out autotrader.ca and found that with slightly higher mileage than my own R/T, these vehicles are back to selling upwards of $8K! On the used market, I could easily get $7 for mine. Last year, it was worth closer to low $6K. Now that's progress, until fuel jumps again.
August 22nd 2009
          SCT tuner has been installed! I have my Superchips 3715 up for sale. Right after removing the Superchip tune, I installed the SCT 93 octane tune. I noticed an immediate improvement in throttle response both around town and on the highway. My last tank of fuel included some city driving, and a short highway jaunt to Hamilton, ON, and back. I drove 516km and burned through 81.979L of 91 octane. It worked out to just under $0.17/km with 91 octane hovering over the dollar per liter mark. Some 401 highway driving was included at 70mph. Cruise control was hardly used and the weather was fairly decent, but very humid. The SCT is customized to fit the needs of my Durango's modifications. When I add more mods, I can send away for a new tune and then I download it into my programmer and put it into the truck! Sweet.
July 12st 2009
          I managed to do a quick vacuum. The trunk area was starting to get overwhelmed with dirt/grass and other crap. I also decided to wash down the wheels and apply some tire gel, just to brighten up the appearance a bit. One of the window visors has started to peel off slightly, so automated carwashes are NO more. The line up for the coin-op DIY carwash was down onto the street again. My baby hasn't had a wash and wax in a YEAR! Ick!
July 1st 2009
          Oil has been changed with Amsoil 5W30. Axles have been serviced as well, both had 75W90 installed. It was a pain putting RTV sealant on the front axle due to the limited clearance, but once again, it's done and should be good for a few years. The dealer was the last to do a 4x4 service and they really poured on the RTV sealant. Most of it came off with minimal scraping as I was lucky enough to pull it off in two large pieces! I put in five quarts of 0W30 and noticed that the engine oil mark was showing overfilled. I find this interesting as in my cars, adding the recommended fluid puts the level right between the full and add mark on the dipstick. As I had the spare tire removed, I found it fit to spray on a rubberized undercoating. I bought four cans last week and sprayed on two full cans on the chassis and frame. I remembered to brush off a lot of the rust chunks and clean it off with a rag. It turned out relatively good, but the true test will be to see how it performs during the winter. The 0W30 oil allows up to 40,000kms driving, so I shouldn't have to change it until next July. On the last change I had put on 10,400kms or roughly 6,500miles. Due to the bad weather today, I was unable to get any photos.
June 20th 2009
          I'll soon be due for an oil change. I'm starting to appreciate the Amsoil extended drain oils. I've put nearly 9,000kms on this change of Amsoil XL 5W30. It's rated for up to 12,500km in 'normal' service. The oil is at the point where the level is almost at the add mark on the dipstick. I have the trailer hooked up for the weekend to cart some furniture up to Owen Sound, ON, tomorrow. This Wednesday I'll change the oil with Amsoil signature series 0W30. It has a super long drain interval, up to 56,000kms if I drove all highway. The Amsoil EO42 filter is warranted for up to 40,000kms. I'll probably change it then. Put a regular (proper) oil change at $29.99 and change it at 5,000kms, and it works out to $0.006km. The Amsoil 0W30, 5 quarts at $10.60, plus $18.90 for the filter, equals $71.90. With the 40,000kms I could easily put on the oil it works out to $0.0018/km, or roughly a 66% savings. Add in two quarts for top ups and you could extend the drain interval even more. Either way you work it, Amsoil still saves at least 55%, and up to 66% if I didn't have to add any oil. Amsoil pricing shown is dealer cost by the way. Retail price it would be closer to $100. This also isn't factoring in any mileage benefit, which over 40,000kms, my Durango will easily eat 7,200L of 91 octane. I assume if I ran regulr oil, it would cost me a few extra hundred liters of fuel over the course of the oil change. In heinsight, I save running Amsoil in more ways than one! Next year I'm going to be adding the Jr JROD Trans Go shift kit, and installing some of the new Low Viscosity Amsoil ATF, as its rated to help reduce friction.
May 29th 2009
          Mileage is holding at a decent rate - 17.75L/100km in mostly city driving. After my usual landscape rounds I squeezed in 90.1L of fuel into the tank. Max capacity is 95L! I noticed that the engine had some hesitation at idle. It turned out that I didn't replace the gas cap properly, allowing air to get sucked into the tank. I'm sure mileage would've been slightly improved if it wasn't for this incident. I also surpassed 50,000kms on my BFG Long Trail T/A tires! Wear looks negligible, and I should easily get 60,000kms more out of these tires before I consider replacement. I'm waiting for the American dollar to drop, so I can purchase a set of M/T tires with aftermarket alloy wheels at the Tire Rack. Can't wait!
May 13th 2009
          I managed to do a light polishing to my headlights. They are clearer than before. I wet sanded both lights a few times with 600 grit sandpaper. They still don't look like stock of course; nor did I polish the outer edges around the light. At least now, when I look into the headlight I can make out a partial light bulb in there!
May 10th 2009
          Fuel mileage has seemed to be improving more than usual. Last tank, averaging between 50-60mph with approx 30% city driving netted me a nice 15.39L/100km! The tank before netted me 17.44L/100km but included more of a 60/40; city/hwy driving. Still, not that bad! The weather has been terrible the last two weeks. I haven't had the need to run my headlights yet, as the sun is still up til 8:20pm! I checked my battery terminals and found that the Battery spray I bought at Canadian Tire, works GREAT at getting rid of white/blue corrosion buildup on the terminals. Two weeks after I had sprayed them, they look like new! I didn't remove the terminals for a more thorough cleaning as I should have done, but so far they look GREAT. It was a well spent $2.99 (on sale). I ordered some Amsoil 0W30, their top of the line full snythetic oil that can last up to 56,000kms. However, I haul and tow on weekends for my landscaping business which puts the oil change interval into the 'severe' category. I'll keep the oil in for 20,000kms. I'll get an oil analysis done at 12,000kms which will better inform me on how long the oil should last, even if I top up the crankcase with a quart every 5,000kms. If the oil holds true to at least 20,000kms, it will have saved me $95 in oil change costs after the initial cost of the oil and filter! Sweet!
April 29th 2009
          I found my camera! I also purchased some 9007 Silvania Silverstar headlamp bulbs. The originals are still good but I was also going to pick up a sanding kit to get the yellow tint that has built up over the years off the headlights for a 'like new' appearance. The store had no kits in stock, so, I might head down to the hardware store as I've been told that a dremel tool can also help in sanding...if one is careful. I'm happy to report that mileage is hovering around the 17.4L/100km. This is the SAME average mileage I achieved with my C1500 extended cab 5.0L V8 Sierra (175hp stock). It'll be interesting to see (har, har) once I get the headlights cleaned off, how well they will perform now at night. These Silverstar bulbs claim a 30% better increase in light and sight direction, so we'll see!
April 17th 2009
          I've postponed the wash and wax again, until Apr 19th if all goes OK! The D now has 5300km on the oil and total I've added one quart to bring it up to par. The oil is still rather clear I might add, undoubtedly due to the 90% highway mileage during this oil change period. I'm going to order some Amsoil 5W30, full synthetic. Last two years I ran the XL 5W30, which is a blended oil that allows 7500mile change intervals. I probably won't change this oil for at least another month, as it still looks great and consumption has been average. I'm debating on replacing the valve cover gaskets just as a maintenance item. I'm more curious to see how the rockers look and to get an idea of how 'clean' the engine is. I've also misplaced my camera!!!
April 12th 2009
          I siliconed all the weatherstripping around the doors and hatch. Once the weather warms up a bit more I'll give it a full wash and wax. I was going to do it today, but now I want to undercoat the wheelwells with a rubber spary on bedliner coating for a different look. I might get two cans and spray some onto the frame, but before that happens, I have to wire brush off all the loose rust. Once I do get a nice day, it'll be time to change out the axle fluid. I'll get updated photos yet!!!
April 10th 2009
          DAMN, is fuel ever cheap! 93 octane was on average $2.10-2.15/gal which works out to approx $0.692/L Canadian even with factoring in the exchange. Current local prices are $0.92/L for 91, NOT 93!
          The wife and I went down to Destin, FL to be guests in her friends wedding, then decided to travel up to Memphis, then back home for a quick, mini holiday. The first nine hours of driving were through rain, but was dry for the remainder of the trip.
          Anyway, after nearly 11 tanks of fuel burned through 7 states this week, while keeping speed in the 65-72mph range where possible, I'm proud to report a netted 14.2mpg (worst)-16.9mpg (best). RPM at 70mph is approx 2250rpm which is a busy but comfortable cruising speed. Locally, I rarely drive over 65mph. One tank with 30% city driving around Memphis turned out a lower 14.2mpg. Returning home through Cincinnati during rush hour cost me a bit in mileage and overheated the front brakes a touch, but I still averaged 15.3mpg for that tank. For us metric folks; that works out to 14L/100km to 17L/100km. Roughly 95% of the miles were highway.
          I believe the local terrain had a lot to do with mileage. Rolling hills seemed to have netted me the best mileage as the overhead fuel reading constantly showed 22-24mpg going downhill under light throttle with cruise control engaged. Hand calculating proved that this was also true. Kentucky and Ohio gave me the best overall mileage, Mississippi was the worst (like really, stop signs on the highway! #45). I'm sure if I had set the cruise at 65 instead of around 70 mileage would have been improved, but when driving for 14.5hours I just want to get there so I have more time to do other things than cruise down the interstate.
          I'm sure if I had the 3.55 gears my mileage would have been substantially better, but then again, I generally drive in the 50-60mph range, which makes the 3.92 gears shine.
          Overall, the D performed flawlessly and required a half a quart of oil top up every 2000kms. I added roughly 1oz of power steering fluid before I left for Florida and the level hasn't dropped much over the 4,706kms! Time to get the bugs off, rinse out the rads and give'r a wash & wax!
March 29th 2009
          I purchased some more replacement light bulbs for the D. I've replaced the signals and running lights so far on the front and back except for the rear tail light. To save any problems I might have with the DOT as I travel through the US I'll also replace my licence plate bulb as well. I've decided not to do an axle service before the trip as I can stil drive 32,000kms safely on the current oil. I will be doing a full detail in a few days, at which time I'll update the pictures!
March 26th 2009
          The D's back from the shop. It turned out that the small A/C leak at the refrigerant pipe entering into the B pillar couldn't be heated up enough to seperate the 'o' ring. Needless to say the dealer said the rear expansion valve was on its way out due to heavy corrosion and filth buildup (it was, I saw) so I decided to no longer plumb refrigerant to the rear A/C unit. I rarely use it anyway. The dealer also mentioned that installing a new line may require a new rear evaporator core which wouldn't be worth the time or money to replace, especially as I rarely use it. I had a new front A/C line ordered as the previous one came out of the compressor and split into a "Y" that couldn't be capped due to the refrigerant pressure as it would eventually burst. I'll have to wait for a warmer day to fully test the power of the functioning A/C system. I noticed over the last couple years the performance has slowly degraded and I knew it would only be a matter of time before I'd have to get it repaired anyway. I installed a new PCV valve and the rear brakes have been fixed. I did notice some longer braking distances with the machined drums. Not so much as it's bad, but the pedal just felt a bit mushy after driving my non-ABS Taurus for four days. The majority of the time was waiting for the A/C line to come in as a nearby dealer had one in stock. I had an oil change with Amsoil XL 5W30 and I decided to use one of my older filters, a Fram XG16 thats been sitting here for over a year. The transmission doesn't 'hum' like it did in neutral before I had the oil changed. It's nice and quiet. All that's left for me to do is a front and rear axle fluid change which will be done early next week before I take the D to Destin FL.
March 23rd 2009
          I've held off on building another set of ramps for the time being. I'm working out better designs that will utilize all the wood I purchase so there's no wasted product. This way I can make a set off of half the amount of wood and charge a bit less in the process. The D is back in at the dealer for some routine maintenance items. I was told that the front end noise were the upper ball joints going out. I had them replaced under a warranty recall back in Feb 2005. The recall was issued around 2003/2004. The sales manager at the Dealership I bring my D to for serivice phoned his Chrysler representative and he was told that I could get a new set of upper ball joints installed AT NO COST! This is four years after the last set was replaced and the vehicle is now nine years old - still covered under warranty! However, I've also learned that my rear brake shoes were peeling away and the drums require some machining. My A/C leak might be a simple fix if the dealer can manage to separate the hoses. Due to corrosion it might not be possible and I may have to order new lines...ick. I've also asked the dealer to put on a new PCV valve for better piece of mind as the last one was installed over two years and 50,000kms ago. I'll get the final verdict later on once everything is said and done and I get my D back; I suspect a $1000 invoice.
March 4th 2009
          Mileage test is in. Over two top ups I've achieved 524km from a total of 105L netting me an average of 20L/100km which is decent considering the drastic temperature changes that have occured over the last couple weeks. I also managed to get the D in for an emission test. It passed better than I had expected. I left all my engine mods intact including the Superchips tune on 91 octane. It turns out that my engine is now more efficient running under load than it is at idle! Previously, in 2007 my HC ppm was 8 at 2500rpm and 7 at idle. After adding my mods last year and my current 2009 e-test states that my HC ppm is now 13 at 2500rpm and 18 at idle. I would guess the higher number is due to the Superchips programming. Again, the engine operates more efficently at speed than at idle. I was alos slightly low on oil for this test as I'm due for an oil change. The squeak hasn't been as pronounced that I mentioned in my last post. I have heard it on occasion but nothing as bad as a couple weeks ago. Perhaps this had something to do with when I had the truck on my ramps, which raise the front end 9". I still find it tight if I use a crawler to get around under the vehicle so I might sell my current ramps and build a 12" set out of 12"x12'x2" lumber and have them cut in half.
February 20th 2009
          As I've come down with my first cold of the year I haven't had the time to do a mileage test. The front end squeak is getting annoying, however. Once the snow melts that has fallen over the last couple days I'll be able to better diagnose and perhaps even fix, the problem.
February 15th 2009
          I'm enjoying my new home-made ramps a bit too much. I drove the D back up top and decided to see what other problems I can find. I was going to do an oil change as well, but my oil storage cannister has disappeared! I've come to the conclusion that my rear U joints definitely need replacing. There is some play when I move the drive-shaft but absolutely no play when I move the front shaft.
February 14th 2009
          O2 sensors are installed! I purchased an O2 sensor kit from Canadian Tire that included some sockets that can fit around the wires making the install much easier. I'll know in the next couple weeks if I installed them correctly if the D doesn't throw any codes. With any luck, fuel economy should improve slightly. In the midst of the install I first used a 2.25ton jack with axle stands. The hydraulic jack was originally purchased back when I still owned my Dodge Spirit to make maintenance easier. Anyway, the jack only lifts my D up far enough to do tire changes and brake jobs. It won't lift up enough for me to get underneath and have room to work. So, I went to the local hardware store and picked up five 2"x10"x10' boards and had them ripped in half. I picked up twelve galvanized bolts along with nuts and washers. I cut each board on a slight angle with about 18" flat for a spot to rest the tires on. The original plan was to have 6' long ramps but that would have been a bit much as the other family cars can utilize these 5' ramps without scraping any front end components. I bolted five boards together to make one ramp. The boards only measured 9.25" high and 1.6" deep which meant I had to purchase 10" bolts as the 8" didn't give me enough clearance to install the washer and nut. They are standard spruce lumber and quite strong. I'd put one ramp around 35-40lbs. Total cost was $84.44 with taxes. The ramps at Canadian Tire for instance, are only 6" high and a foot and a half long making them useless for smaller cars. However, the CT ramps weren't even close to being wide enough to properly support my Durango which made them dangerous to use. They could however support the weight, rated up to 5,000lbs. For the extra $20 and hour it took me to cut the wood and assemble the ramps they work GREAT!
February 12th 2009
          O2 sensors are in. I ordered one of each upstream & downstream sensor. I went with the 'premium' sensors by Bosch. With any luck I'll be able to install them this weekend as it's going to hover just below freezing. Out the door with taxes for both sensors ran $218.18. It's a bit steep, but the lessor 'no-name brand' sensors ran only $24 less a peice. Mileage has been somewhat decent considering the constant -15C to +10C temp changes that have been occuring every day for the last week. 12mpg (US) or around 20L/100km has been the average over the last couple tanks of 91 octane. After I remove the OE O2 sensors and get these babies installed, I'm hoping it'll improve. Once my tax refund comes in I plan to get the u-joints replaced! I'll also attempt a front and rear differential service once the temps warm up. Save myself a good $150 in labour costs!
January 30th 2009
          O2 sensors are on order. I've been busy at work over the last couple weeks so my Durango has been a bit more neglected than usual. Fuel consumption is averaging out around 19-19.5L/100km over the last two fill-ups, which have been only 50-60L at a time. PS fluid and coolant haven't required a top up and the levels are holding steady. I will now be taking the Durango to Destin, FL this April instead of the Pontiac G6. Some small annoying problems have surfaced and after a four hour drive to Kingston, ON and another four hours back, the seats aren't the greatest for long distance travelling. Still, the additional space the Durango will provide will be an added bonus. After I calculated the fuel between both vehicles taking the same route to Destin FL, the Durango will only require an additional couple hundred dollars...if that. I figure it'll be more worth while to take my beast - due to the better seats, larger mirrors and more space. Since I drive it more than the G6 anyway, I'm used to the driving dynamics as well. Once the weather clears up I'm hoping to get a few mechanical things fixed up and get'r squared away for the trip. It'll be approximately 4500km give or take a couple hundred clicks, as I'll be returning along the East Coast and crossing in Buffalo. Going down, I'll cross in Detroit and grab a hotel south of Nashville for the night and drive the remaining distance the next day. Total time down is approx 19 hours without stopping and 24hours return along the east coast. As I drove commercially, I can easily drive 11-13 hours straight...except this time I'll have to stop for fuel as I don't have the pleasure of sitting atop 300 gallons of diesel!
January 10th 2009
          Haven't got around to Canadian Tire yet. But will pop in tomorrow to get a price on the O2 sensors. The engine light has been intermittantly flashing on & off over the last few days. I reset the code with my Superchips programmer tonight as I'm heading up to Owen Sound tomorrow and driving at night with the engine light on is just annoying! The wife and I are planning a trip to Destin, Fl for her friends wedding. I was originally going to take the Durango but will take the Pontiac G6 GT. This will save me a few hundred dollars in fuel and I won't have to rush and get my u-joints replaced as well as pinpoint a very very slow power steering fluid leak as well as a very small coolant leak. The coolant reservoir never totally empties, the level never drops down below the stick that you can pull out. I'll put a few ounces in the reservoir and a month later the fluid I added won't be visible on the stick, putting it below the 'add' mark. I figure I have a leak around the steering rack and a possibly water pump problem. I'll have to wait til spring when I can do a proper engine clean up and diagnosis.
January 4th 2009
          Engine light came on yet again for the forward O2 sensor. I'm pricing around for both a forward and back O2 sensor. Online prices are around $119 for both, plus applicable taxes with free shipping. I'll see what Canadian Tire wants for them tomorrow. The ones online are Denso brand. With any luck, two new sensors should increase fuel economy by a small margin as well.

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