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I am looking at buying a 2000 Durango R/T. It has 120K miles and has been garage kept. I have always liked these vehicles but I have heard varying opinions about them. I love the power and AWD but I have heard they can be maintenance nightmares. I really would like to buy one but if they are just money pits, I will probably look at something else. I thought I would ask here before I bought one. Thanks.
 

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I think like any used vehicle it comes down to the previous owner or owners and how they performed maintenance. If it has been negleted, expect a money pit trying to get it right. If its been taken care off and issues addressed before they became problems, then you'll probably have a good vehicle with little issues.
The only weak area with the R/T seems to be the transmission. It seems they tend to only last about 100K before they need an overhaul. That is from what I've read, but I do not have experience with the transmission, so hopefully other R/T owners can point you right. I know the 5.9L, aka 360 is pretty much bulletproof.
 

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/\ Exactly,
unless you know how the previous owner drove it, you really won't know, you can get a fairly reasonable guess by how clean she looks inside and out on how the previous owner treated her.
 

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Here goes:
Maintenance records will go a LONG way. My '00 R/T has been great with very minor problems. I had to replace a power steering line and I had a Hughes plenum installed which ran me total about $300. I had the labour covered for the Hughes plenum installation with an aftermarket warranty; I just purchased parts.

Be sure to check the gas cap out as well. If it says "premium fuel" you'll have to fork out a couple hundred dollars more every year in fuel costs, so it's an option to consider. If it is premium fuel only, make sure you question the owner about this as it can damage the engine unless you baby it ALL THE TIME running 87 octane instead of the 91 as recommended. I'd ask them straight out what fuel they've been running in it, then check out the fuel cap. If you can manage a test drive by yourself, find an open road and put the pedal down, if you hear any ticking (ping/engine knock), stay away. If there isn't any and the vehicle feels tight and smooth I'd take it.

If maintenance records cannot be had, be sure to ask when the last services were performed, such as transmission, transfer case, differentials & even power steering fluid. If they are unsure, I'd be wary as they might not have ever been done. At least that's what I would assume, which can help you negotiate a much lower price.

Be sure to try everything out in the cab, right down to the horn, parking brake, and side mirrors. Depending on your area, a simple electrical gremlin can stop you from passing a safety inspection and set you back hundreds of dollars to get it fixed.

As far as maintenance goes, if you have basic tools and consider yourself to be relatively 'handy' you can do quite a bit of the regular maintenance. Things I've gone through have been brake pads & rotors, rear drum shoes, fluid changes and one set of tires. I put the operating cost around 29 cents a mile running 91 octane fuel and including related wear, such as tires, fluid changes, etc, all factored in (mods aren't factored in). I'm nearing 100K and have no transmission problems to report. I also tow frequently during the summer months and change the fluid religiously every 25K or 40,000kms. To put the cost/mile into perspective; a Honda Fit (as example only) will cost around 12 cents a mile providing you pay cash for the vehicle.

You can also visit http:\\autos.msn.com www.edmunds.com and several others to get personal vehicle reviews. Something else to keep in mind while reading reviews: Someone who claims that their transmission blew at 90K probably never had it serviced, and didn't take it to the dealer for anything, just drove it until it died, and neglectful owners will write a review stating that the vehicle is horribly unreliable. If you put the time into it, it'll take care of you.
 

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I have an 01 RT AWD with 95k miles and I can verify the transmission claim. Mine blew up at 88k miles. The overdrive pretty much exploded. I had to replace the whole overdrive section and while I was doing it I just went ahead and did a total performance rebuild. I replaced EVERYTHING and it cost me about $1200 in parts and I did all the labor. I would definitely try to find out if the trans has been replaced/rebuilt and, if it has been replaced, find out if they put in a used trans or a rebuilt one. If it hasn't been rebuilt I wouldn't buy it unless they give it to you for extremely cheap. I think if you have someone else rebuild the trans and install it for you, you would be looking at like $2,500-$3,000. Anyway, good luck

Dan
 
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