My superb little "Tow Beast"
By Bilgemaster Bill on Thursday, February 11, 2016
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 180,000
overall rating 9 of 10rating details
- Overall Rating
Pros: "Cheap to buy. Fun to drive. Tug Power!"
Cons: "Not exactly the most fuel efficient vehicle."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I needed a nice solid old no-frills V8 to tug my new sailboat around, preferably with 4-wheel drive for slippery boat ramps, and I found this one on craigslist with a jot shy of 180,000 miles on her clock for just $1,500. Frankly, the owner, who turned out to be some sort of software tycoon living on ten acres overlooking the Potomac River in something that looked like a Russian Orthodox Cathedral probably didn't care too much what I paid. I understand that rehabbing old junkers is just sort of a hobby for him, and that already having proceeded on to his next project, resurrecting some super-high-end wrecked Beemer SUV already in his garage, which was about the size of our split-level home, and full of other wondrous vehicles, he wanted to let loose of the Durango. While in his care, he had put in all new suspension parts (like ball joints, shocks and whatnot), treated it to a high-end Flowmaster exhaust system, headers and a cool-air intake (so it "breathes" really well), and did lots of other random this and that throughout. In short, six months later and I like it enough that I tend to use it as my "daily driver" instead of our old sensible Honda Accord. With gas less than $2/gallon, The Beast's average 12 mpg aren't really a deal breaker for just getting me up the hill to the bus stop or to the supermarket. The Uniroyal tires it came with, though still legal enough, were a bit too "Ghetto Fabulous" for my taste, down to about 3/32nds tread in spots, so I treated it to a fresh set of those Walmart "Dextero" tires (which, by the way turn out to be pretty damned decent for the price!), and on those Durango got us sure-footed through the recent blizzards like a trooper. And yes, that 5.9 liter (360 c.i.) V8 tugs that 26 foot 3,000+ lb. sailboat almost like it's not even back there. I've heard lots of folks have had issues with the Durango's engine "sludging up" or its tranny getting wonky (especially its various sensors), but I wonder how much of that may have to do with owners neglecting to change the engine oil regularly or putting the wrong type ATF in (No Dextron, folks! Use Chrysler-Dodge-Plymouth type ATF-4! Naturally, I changed the filter and oil to full synthetic 10W30 just as soon as I got my hands on it, and as a sort of preventive measure I pumped out about half of the ATF right out of the filler/dipstick tube, and replaced that with nice fresh ATF-4 and a bottle of Lucas Transmission Conditioner (which really works the charm with my old Plymouth Voyager). No seal-busting pressure flushes for this old fellow's tranny! Since then about 5 or 6 ounces of Marvel Mystery Oil in the fuel with each fillup, with maybe a pint in the oil, along with 3,000 mile oil and filter changes, and that will gently clean and soothe those old innards nice and proper."
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