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Dealer can't find why truck is losing power . . frustrated !!!

Posted by kitchencrazychris (My Page) on
Thu, Aug 17, 06 at 10:27

My son has a 2004 Dodge Dakota, bought last year from a reputable dealer, certified pre-owned. He has had way too many problems with it, and is so fed up with it. Latest problem has to do with power, or lack of . . .
Started last week on his way home from work. Couldn't get it much past 40 mph . . pedal to the metal, and not much of anything . . . Drove it a couple of times over the weekend . . did okay on a straight stretch, but put any bit of incline into it, and the power was gone. We took it to the service dept. of a Dodge dealership, where it's been way too many times already !! The service rep called me yesterday afternoon saying nothing was wrong with it, that they'd hooked it up to all the diagnostic tests or whatever, and it all checked out fine. I asked if they'd driven it on the freeway, on hills, etc. The guy said that they had. I told him that SOMETHING was wrong with it, that I didn't feel safe with my son driving it until they figured out what was wrong . I asked him if they checked the fuel lines, etc. .. they had. He said they could keep it another day, and drive it when it was cold (which I can't imagine how they didn't do that yesterday !!) . . I told him that every time my son had driven the truck since he first noticed the problem, that the problem had happened. I'd been with him on one of the occasions, and from the passenger side, was aware of a problem. We're VERY frustrated at this point. Does anyone have any idea what might be wrong?? something I could tell the service reps to look for??? I posted on this forum before when there were major brake squeak problems, and got some really good advice, so am hoping that someone might be able to shed some light on this !!

My son is to the point that he is ready to cut his losses, and get a new Tacoma . . although he really does like the Dakota . . . It's just a crummy situation . . . first truck, half of it being paid for my my son . .
I feel so bad for him . . . he's such a responsible kid, money-wise and everything else . . . I hate to see him losing money . . . but it seems like that's going to happen no matter what we decide to do with the Dakota . .

He needs a truck . . for school and work, so the truck has to be reliable . . .

Anyway, appreciate so much any advice you might have re: the saga of the truck !!!!

TIA !!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Dealer can't find why truck is losing power . . frustrated !

The throttle cable must be checked for proper free play and operation.But a malfunction here would be very rare, nevertheless, this must be examined..
Some details would not hurt, either.
Miles ?
4 or 6 cylinder ?
Automatic or manual shift ?
What were the previous problems and were they repaired successfully ??


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RE: Dealer can't find why truck is losing power . . frustrated !

Earthworm,
Thanks for responding to my post . .

Details: Miles when purchased . . app. 22,00
(which in hindsight, seems to be like a lot of miles for a year old truck !!! )
Current miles . . .26,6600 app.

6 cylinder . . automatic shift

Prior problems:
1. Terribly squeaky brakes. Actually the brakes did squeak slightly at purchase time. We brought this up to the dealer, they checked with their maintenance crew, said the brakes had been checked thoroughly, said squeaking was normal in that type of brake. We stupidly "bought" this excuse. After several weeks, the brakes were awful -
took the truck to a friend of ours who has a car repair place, rather than a Dodge dealership. Basically, I was going for the safety issue, and I totally trust this guy's opinion. We were assured the brakes were just fine safety wise, -- some type of anti-squeal fluid was put in, which made it worse !!!! Eventually had the front brake pads replaced. Problem solved. Temporarily !! When the brakes started squealing again, we took it to Dodge dealership. They said the brake pads were after market, and that was the problem. (Which I really don't believe, but was willing to try anything !!! the brake pads put on at the other place were top of the line, and again, I totally trust this guy !!) Only way it could be solved would be to put Dodge pads on, and they guaranteed they would not squeal. Still squealed. Took the truck back . . . Now, they determined that it wasn't the front brakes, but the back brakes !!!!!!!!!! New brake pads on the back . . And . . .knock on wood !! . .no squealing brakes. So, lots of frustration with this problem before being solved, not to mention the $$$$$$$ !!!!!

2. Problem with gas gauge . . didn't register properly.
Registerd 1/4 tank, when there was actually much more there. A new part installed, and I can't remember the name of it now. That was under warranty, so that was good !! And, problem taken care of.

3. Temperature gauge sometimes shoots up to Hot when truck first turned on. When truck is turned off, then turned back on, problem is not there. However, this does concern my son because Dodge can't figure out what the problem is. Yesterday the service rep said that they couldn't duplicate the problem even idling the truck for an hour and a half !!!!!!!! I re-iterated to him that it was not when the truck was running, just when it was first turned on . . . so, that problem is not resolved.

4. Truck shifting into another gear, or out of gear . . .
Took into Dodge. They said that was due to transmission fluid bubbling up and causing the truck to shift into another gear or out of gear . .. Told my son that he should check his transmission fluid very regularly, like whenever he got gas !!! Just one more thing with this truck to make him furious !!!!!!! Said he shouldn't have to check the transmission fluid every time, that it should be fine. So, whether this problem was taken care of or not, not sure on that !!!!

And I think that about covers it !! Way too much stuff for a now two year old truck.

Thanks in advance for any more light you can shed on this.
I'm going to call the service rep not and tell him to check the throttle cable . . .

Will update with anything I find out !!


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RE: Dealer can't find why truck is losing power . . frustrated !

After reading your posts, 2 things come to mind:

1. The engine is being fuel starved - Ok at idle and low load, but increase the load and RPMS and the engine bogs. Look for fuel restrictions such as pinched fuel lines, water logged fuel filter, or low fuel pump output. First, look at the fuel filter. It may be clogged with water.

If the engine operates ok when first started, but slowly develops the problem, check the air valve in the gas cap. This valve is suppposed to admit air to the fuel tank, but block outflow. When the cap is plugged, it may not show on a hot day, but then appear when the fuel tank is cooled, for example, while climbing a mountain. In severe cases, the fuel tank can be collasped.

2. Clogged exahust system, maybe the catalytic converter has been posioned or otherwise compromised. A restriction here will cause increased back pressure when loaded and reduced vacuum, which can mess up the engine mamagement system. Opening the throttle with accompaning too much loss of vacuum will initiate a downshift. Typically, the PCV will not work well. If the problem is severe enough, engine crankcase fumes will backflow up the fresh air tube and into the airbox holding the air filter. Look for oil wetted air filter and/or air box surfaces.


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RE: Dealer can't find why truck is losing power . . frustrated !

jemdandy,
Thanks so much for your post.
We picked up the truck yesterday, and took it to our friend that runs a repair shop. I'd spoken with him earlier in the day, relating the situation, and he said that definitely there's something wrong with the truck and to bring it in. On the way from the Dodge service center to this other place, the truck did the exact same thing that we'd been complaining about and that Dodge could find nothing wrong !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My son has really had it !!

I'm going to call Brian with everything you mentioned . .
Hopefully, he'll be able to figure out what's going on !!

Thanks so much again for taking the time to post !!

Chris


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RE: Dealer can't find why truck is losing power . . frustrated !

Clogged exhaust will also show up in higher heat in the engine (mild to excessive over-heating) and harder starting.
Did anyone check the throttle cable ?
Another thing, is the vehicle shifting correctly ?

JemDandy has made some good points, these must be explored thoroughly.

On squeaky brakes - a little rant...
IMO, this is no big deal, if it only occurs sometimes, I would ignore it. Important thing - do the brakes function well, does the vehicle stop straight and true ??
More rant - American automotive repair and service is in dire need of reform and improvement...
Here I agree with John G.
Much, much more time for the diagnosisic work is necessary - and this is but one thing. The auto makers must make the vehicle easy to diagnose and repair, this means larger( and heavier) cars and reduced performance ? or lower gas economy.
IMO, performance is at too high a level anyway....


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RE: Dealer can't find why truck is losing power . . frustrated !

Earthworm said" More rant - American automotive repair and service is in dire need of reform and improvement...
Here I agree with John G."

A friend of mine Greg McConiga has a quote" Money broke the auto repair business, and it's going to take money to fix it."

I'll let you think about that and see how it applies to this thread.

I started a response a couple days ago to this one, but ended up deciding against it. This thread outlines a typical situation where eventually a first time customer ends up at my door. Many times it does not matter what I do, they get their vehicle repaired by me, but they don't end up as permanent customers. Which quite ironically creates the situation where guys like me have to ask ourselves, why should we even bother to make the investment that we do in order to do this work at this level. First and foremost someone else will be cheaper, simply because they are not making the same investement in time, tools, equipment and training that we do, and they will quickly gain the lions share of the market. Then to top it off being the hero today means nothing tomorrow.

It's frustrating, even more so than what she is going through with her son's truck.


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RE: Dealer can't find why truck is losing power . . frustrated !

john g you have gotten yourself stuck on the wrong area with your business. You have to show people something besides good work and here it is. People dont care how much you know until they know how much you care. Customer service good listening skills and lots of empathy man, now get on it and get that business growing as it should. Good Luck note: As if you could not tell I have of course been listening to some motivational tapes a man named Brian Tracy interesting stuff in theory lol. On the Dodge truck stop by your favoprite muffler shop and have them replace the catalytic converter and drive happy man. I got one the other day 229 bones installed ole truck now runs like a scalded dog had exact same symptons you described


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RE: Dealer can't find why truck is losing power . . frustrated !

dnt1 said" john g you have gotten yourself stuck on the wrong area with your business. You have to show people something besides good work and here it is. People dont care how much you know until they know how much you care. Customer service good listening skills and lots of empathy man, now get on it and get that business growing as it should."

Well if it was really only that easy.

I repaired a Jeep Cherokee that had bounced around between 5 shops/techs. The problem surfaced alledgedly right after a major transmission replacement. The symptom was a surging/high idle speed, missfire/cutout when driving. The AC was inoperative, the clutch would not engage. The customer had already tried adding refrigerant with sealer himself, without gages. Plus the 4WD display was blank.

The soultion was the computer had failed, but before the computer could be replaced, every possible reason that something on the car could be causing the computers microprocessor to continually reset had to be explored, and proven to NOT exist. Plus I also had to be sure that something else on the data bus on the car was not causing the reset to occur. There are no training manuals anywhere, nor is there service information/repair manuals written at this level. Guys like me are totally on our own with this stuff, and we often spend two times as much time studying the system at home to make each diagnostic move faster, and in analyzing the results to make sure we haven't overlooked something which would result in a customer potentially buying a part they do not need. I had well over eight hours time in this car, and ultimately billed three. The result had everything working, and I did notice some belt squeal, it was a newer, and properly tightened (within tension specs) serpentine belt.

Now do you think this guy appreciated what I did? I did not sell any unneeded parts or service and I even cut him a significant break on the real amount of time required to do that. For my trouble I can tell you that I have 80% of the fuel injection wiring diagram memorized for a 97 Jeep Grand Cherokee. That's how close I had to study this system to be positive I was making the correct call.

He went out to the Jeep after paying his bill, five minutes later he came back in and wanted me to go outside and hear something. He was concerned about the belt "chirping" when the AC was turned on. He was complaining that it did not do it before, well of course it didn't, the AC had not worked in the month and a half they had been fighting this. I told him shut the engine off, and went inside and got my laptop, and my belt tension gage. I showed him the spec, then I measured the tension on the belt and showed him it was in spec. The I showed him how the belt that was on the Jeep was one of the discount aftermarket replacement ones, that does not actually fit the pulleys correctly. He still insisted that I do something, and at that point I said fine, I'll take it to the maximum tension allowed on the spec, for a fee.

At that point he balked, and said it's not adjustable, it has a spring tensioner, which I really got a laugh out of, because I asked him to show it to me. Then I showed him how the belt adjusted with the idler that is just below and inside of the power steering pump. I then asked him, who put this belt on? He said it was another shop he had dealt with recently, and I asked him why not go back to them and have them deal with it? His reply? Because he didn't pay them for it. I didn't press him for details at this point, but one way or another he managed to coerce them into doing it for free, or flat out managed to rip them off somehow.

In the end, he paid me to adjust the belt. I refused to touch the rest of the AC system at all, because the sealers that he added have the potential of damaging my AC recovery/recharge equipment, and I'm not ready to have to spend another $4,000 on a new one. I also told him to the best that I could be sure, the transmission shop had nothing to do with the failure of the computer.

Three days later the transmission shop involved called me up. He had not seen this guy and was glad that I had straightened his Jeep out. He was having trouble with a Ford tranny he had rebuilt and needed me to help him figure out what was wrong. He had one dissapointing thing to say. No matter what the outcome was, this guy with the Jeep would bad mouth me about fixing his car. It's just the way the guy is..........


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RE: Dealer can't find why truck is losing power . . frustrated !

Dang interesting reading enjoyed it, every word. What comes to mind is that I forgot to mention that you have to have a spot to bury the bodies of the ones that don't cooperate and follow the new system. LOL


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