Indiana Police’s New Dodge Durangos Already Sidelined by Mass Engine Failures

Broken oil coolers are leading to the dreaded "milkshake" mix of oil and coolant in the Indiana State Police's new Durango fleet.
Indiana State Police Dodge Durango
Indiana State Police

Indiana State Troopers are running into widespread issues with their new Dodge Durangos. Just over one year into their service life, several of the department’s Dodge Durango Pursuit vehicles are suffering from defective oil coolers that are allowing engine oil to mix with coolant, leading to catastrophic breakdowns requiring either major repairs or—in some cases—new engines altogether, as Automotive News reports.

The defective oil coolers have sidelined nearly 20 percent of the new Durangos, which the Indiana State Police bought last year to replace its aging fleet of Dodge Chargers, whose service life dated back to 2010. The police agency ordered 519 Durango Pursuit models from Dodge at a total cost of $25.8 million, and has taken delivery of 219 of their new SUVs. But, so far, 39 Durangos have had oil cooler problems, and some troopers have reported the dreaded “chocolate milkshake”—the tell-talle sign of oil and coolant mixing commonly caused by head-gasket failure. Either way, the milkshake is one of the most feared symptoms in the world of mechanical failures, as it normally points to major engine repairs ahead.

Sergeant Carey Huls tells WDRB other symptoms have also been observed, saying, “Basically, you start noticing an odor that doesn’t seem right […] You see some smoke coming out of the tailpipe, and then, eventually, the car just stops running and it will ruin the engine.” Some Indiana State Troopers are now resorting to checking their Durangos for signs of a bad oil cooler every time they stop for gas, seemingly, in an attempt to mitigate issues because engine repairs and replacements can take anywhere from four to eight weeks. The ISP did not specify whether this issue only affects models with the Durango Pursuit’s standard 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 or those with the available 5.7-liter Hemi V8.

ISP Superintendent Doug Carter says he has reached out to Stellantis, but the automaker and parent company of Dodge has failed to give the agency a timeline “to resolve the matter.” In the meantime, troopers are losing trust in their Durangos and going so far as to label them a “safety risk.” The agency says it’s anticipating another 40 Durangos to run into oil cooler issues given the rate of failure (18%) they’ve seen up until now, possibly resulting in 79 out of the 519 Durangos being defective. The ISP notes that a fully-equipped model costs approximately $50,000, which seems to indicate that the issue is affecting V8 Durangos. If so, the agency projects that more than $3.9 million of police equipment “may not be available for its intended use.” Superintendent Carter adds that this is money paid for by the citizens and taxpayers of Indiana.

In a statement, Stellantis said that it will pay for any related repairs required by the ISP’s fleet even if the Durangos go out of warranty. Stellantis went on to say the Dodge Durango Pursuit has been in use by police agencies across the U.S. since 2018, receiving “exemplary feedback” overall. The big police cruiser, however, has been subject to at least one recall: in 2023, it was recalled due to a risk of column-mounted shifters not fully seating, which could lead to them coming out of gear while driving, thereby causing a sudden loss of power. In other words, the Durango Pursuit has not been immune to defects prior to these oil coolers causing major engine work. After WDRB reported on the ISP Durangos failing, a handful of other agencies reached out to the news outlet, saying they have observed similar failures in their own Durango fleets.

Indiana State Police

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