Driving vehicles powered by the Dodge 4.7 engine on the 13-lane, 180-ft Florida Turnpike is indeed an incredible experience. However, the engine comes with issues, some of which arise from flaws in its design.
Interestingly, the Dodge engines do not come down easily with typical issues affecting many engines, including transmission failure, worn valve guides, and stalling problems.
The most common Dodge 4.7 engine problems include:
- Cooling SystemHead Gasket
- Valve Cover Leak
- Valve Seat Failure
The good news is that these problems are resolvable if you find a modest mechanic and affordable components. Alternatively, a Do-It-Yourself procedure I followed to fix the valve seat failure of my Dodge-powered vehicle recently worked perfectly and was cost-effective.
What Are The Most Common Dodge 4.7 Engine Issues?
1. Cooling SystemHead Gasket
Before we blow things out of proportion, I must remind you that all engines are prone to cooling system failure, at least a few times in their lifetime.
The automobile cooling system houses a wide range of components, including the coolant radiator, gasket, coolant pump, expansion tank, thermostat, water pump, various seals, temperature sensor, cooling fans, and many others.
Each of these components is designed to perform one function and the failure of any of them could lead to serious malfunctioning of the entire cooling system. Again, the symptoms you experience will depend on the faulty part and the extent of the damage.
A cracked coolant hose, for instance, can cause a coolant leak which in turn reduces the level of the coolant in your engine. A damaged thermostat can lead to overheating, prompting the temperature gauge to rise above the normal level.
In sum, while there are different reasons the cooling system may start to malfunction, the symptoms I notice in the performance of my car engine often will tell me what action to take.
Overall, you should pull over and switch off the engine when you notice the inside of the car is giving off some above-the-normal heat.
Now that you have an idea of how the cooling system works and the causes of its failure, let’s take a look at some of the symptoms you should watch out for.
Signs Of A Failing Cooling System
If you notice these signs, then the cooling system of your Dodge 4.7 engine is giving way:
- Overheating: Of course by now, you’re aware that the cooling system is responsible for keeping the engine under standard room temperature. Ok, so if the system fails, then one of the easiest and earliest signs is overheating. It’s inconceivable that damage to the water pump, temperature sensor, coolant pump, coolant radiator, or gasket, won’t lead to your engine overheating. When the car overheats, therefore, the temperature gauge on the dash rises.
- Coolant Leak: Of course, the direct consequence of a defective coolant radiator or coolant pump is the visible coolant leak. It’s a routine exercise for me to inspect the floor of my garage every morning before I drive off. If I find any puddle, then I suspect my coolant radiator or pump is leaking.
- Low Coolant: Let me say this for the sake of emphasis: low coolant is damaging to your engine. Don’t take the unnecessary risk of driving with a pretty low coolant in your engine. By the time I find out that the coolant level has dropped, I swing into action quickly. Normally, you shouldn’t allow the reservoir to go empty; however, if it happens, you can refill or top the coolant level by mixing the coolant with water in the ratio of 50:50.
- Underhood Steam: Coolant can also find its way into the combustion chamber. When this happens, you’ll notice some sweet-smelling smoke, black or white. The white smoke is due to a wide range of reasons which can include that a coolant or antifreeze is leaking away into the combustion chamber. A black smoke smells of gas.
How To Replace Cooling System
Naturally, I’d expect such a question. But let me start this way: the Dodge 4.7 V8 engine is built with a lasting cooling system.
Typically, the cooling system of this engine can last up to about 10 years if you can be consistent with a few maintenance procedures, including inspecting the radiator’s health every two years. In addition, you can also flush the cooling system every 100,000 miles or so.
The good thing is that fixing a failed cooling system is pretty easy and affordable, whether you use a Do-It-Yourself method or opt for the service of a professional mechanic.
But again, the cost may vary depending on the mechanic, the extent of the damage, the standard of the replacement parts you’re buying and where you’re buying them from.
Overall, you may be looking at something in the region of $500-$700 if you hire a mechanic. You can save up to $300 in labor cost if you choose DIY thing.
Overall, the procedure for fixing some of the causes I’ve highlighted above is pretty straightforward. Guess what? Why not prevent some of these issues and expenses to save yourself the extra budget on car repair?
Head Gasket Issue
I am doubly sure those of us who used the first-generation models of the Dodge 4.7 won’t long for it again. They often came down with a fundamental head gasket issue.
But after those early years, things have improved significantly in this regard. But let’s talk about it because occasionally the head gasket issue of the Dodge 4.7 V8 engine is still largely attributed to the engine’s design flaw, and rightly so.
However, most times, the failure of the head gasket is due to age and mileage, and almost all engines will experience this problem at one time over their lifetime. Other factors may also trigger the blowing of the gasket and its eventual malfunction.
The main cause of the head gasket failure is overheating. When you allow your engine to overheat for too long, the head gasket will burn. Overheating is primarily caused by the fundamental failure of some sensitive components of the cooling system, including gasket, water pump, or coolant radiator.
In virtue of its design, the Dodge 4.7 head gasket is quite a strong seal made out of stainless steel material. Some manufacturers prefer using granite or composite materials to make the gasket head.
By function, the head gasket links the cylinder heads to the engine block to prevent coolant or oil from getting into the engine cylinder. And you must do everything to prevent coolant from leaking into the cylinders.
By design, the head gasket of the Dodge 4.7 is vulnerable to giving out. Besides, the Dodge 4.7L V8 engine itself has a low level of tolerance to overheating- and I think most engines too.
The riskier thing to do is to continue driving your vehicle when it overheats. The head gaskets could burn in the process. Think of the cost as well as the further damage it may cause the engine.
Signs Of A Defective Head Gasket
Once the gasket breaks, or to use the proper terminology, ‘if the gasket blows, the engine is the first victim, with a few symptoms.
Here are a few of the signs of a blown gasket.
- Overheating: Once the gasket head blows, your Dodge vehicle engine will overheat due to an extreme rise in temperature. You may notice a rise in the temperature gauge on the dash.
- Coolant Loss: A blown gasket seal will result in a visible loss of coolant. The coolant will escape into different parts of the engine. You shouldn’t allow the coolant level to drop to avoid further damaging issues.
- Loss Of Compression: While normal engine wear and tear resulting from old age or mileage can be responsible, loss of compression is mostly traced to a blown gasket head. This sign causes poor engine performance, a decrease in power, and engine misfiring.
- White Smoke From The Tailpipe: One of the natural signs of a burnt gasket is white smoke from the exhaust of your car. Back in the day as a new car owner, the first time I noticed a white smoke oozing out from my car’s tailpipe, I’d thought some strange thing had happened to the car. The scare was so intense that I felt it was time to pack up the engine and order a new one. A cracked engine block or a damaged cylinder can also be responsible. A proper diagnosis will reveal which of these sources is causing the white smoke.
- Bubble In The Antifreeze Reservoir: Since my knowledge of car issues has improved, I can say accurately that a bubble in the coolant reservoir is an effect of a blown gasket. This in turn is a defect in the cooling system. You can notice this bubble in the radiator as well. Either way, escaping air clogs the passage of liquid necessary for the proper functioning of the engine. Don’t mistake the bubble for boiling.
How To Replace Blown Gaskets
My simple advice: avoid allowing your head gasket to blow; the cost of replacing a defective gasket is both crazily tedious and expensive.
On average, you may have to budget something in the region of $1,850-$2,000 or a little less. That sum can buy you a couple of new models of iPhones or make a down payment on some car models!
The labor cost ranges between $1,000 and $1,200 while the associated cost range of the components is between $750 and $900.
If you’re not experienced in a DIY method for replacing the head gasket, it’s best left in the hands of the professional service of a mechanic. Even if you have a lot of money to burn, you could channel it to some charity fundraiser.
2. Valve Cover Leak
If you’re familiar with the first-generation modes of the Dodge 4.7 engine problems, you’d have known that a valve cover leak is a common phenomenon. While it can occur at any mileage, valve cover leaks are noticeable when your car is north of 100,000 miles.
It goes hand in hand with a cover gasket oil leak. Age, mileage, and wear and tear are the main factors that cause the hardening and cracking of the plastic valve cover gasket.
You can arrest the problem at the earliest possible time once you notice that the gasket is starting to crack or harden. It requires an urgent fix and the longer it lingers, the worse the situation becomes. You’ll be risking fire hazards if you leave the problem unattended.
Signs Of A Cracked Valve Cover
If the valve cover of the gasket is leaking oil, the following signs pop up:
- Visible Oil: This is a no-brainer. When a valve seal cracks, it leaves a passage for oil to pass and leak away from its reservoir. At the peak of the engine bay close to the valve covers, you may notice this escaping oil. This naturally causes a drop in the oil level. The danger is better imagined, you know.
- Burning Oil Smell: Another visible sign of a leaky gasket or valve cover is a terrible smell coming from an oil burn.
- Smoke: smoke starts to come off the exhaust as the situation gets worse and unattended for an extended period.
Fixing Valve Cover Leak
It’s cheering to hear that replacing a valve cover doesn’t require any expertise or special skill. An experienced DIYer can handle it pretty well.
It’ll definitely take some hours of intensive labor, the procedure isn’t complicated. If you opt for a hired service of technician, be ready to cough out between $450 and $600.
3. Valve Seat Failure
Let’s put the record straight: a valve seat failure can happen in any car and it’ll be unfair and amount to demeaning its value if we tie this problem exclusively around the Dodge 4.7. The valve seats are essentially designed in your car to help cover the exhaust valve and intake valve when they are closed.
These valves become vulnerable once the seat fails, resulting in a wide range of issues that include compression loss.
The mechanism is that during the compression stroke, the compression air leaks out as the cylinder tries to compress the air. Most times, the valve seat can fail due to overheating. Regardless, the issue with a failed valve seat requires an urgent fix.
Signs Of A Failed Valve Seat
- Loss Of Compression: This is the earliest and most prominent sign of a defective valve seat. Once the intake valve and exhaust valve can’t seal properly, it leaves some holes for compression air to escape because the cylinder won’t be able to complete the compression process.
- Power Loss: As a direct consequence of loss of compression, the engine will also experience a loss in power, however minimal.
- Misfires: The engine may start to misfire if the problem is left unfixed. You shouldn’t allow things to degenerate to a misfire level.
How To Fix Valve Seat Failure
Fixing this issue isn’t simple as you might think. Start by carrying out a leak-down or compression test, you can easily identify which of your cylinder is faulty and preventing a complete compression process.
The result of the test will show whether the fix will need a complete replacement of the cylinder head or just a head rebuild. Either way, the process is not a job for the DIYer.
The tools and expertise required will have to hire a certified technician. Be prepared, however, to shell out between $750 and$1000 for the cost of labour and parts purchase.
1. How Does The Dodge 4.7 Engine Fare?
Really, without sounding defensive or appearing callous to your question, it depends on the parameters you’re using to appraise the Dodge 4.7L V8 gasoline engine.
Truth be told, this guy is an amazing engine on the road. Yes, it may not be your go-to option when it comes to torque, size, or towing large loads, the Dodge surpasses a lot of guys out there in many ways. With amazing improvement on the second and third generations, there’s little to worry about this engine.
2. Is The Dodge 4.7 Engine Reliable?
Absolutely! From its excellent fuel economy to longevity, to high power output relative to truck size, the Dodge 4.7 creates an aura around itself to dwarf its apparent downsides. If you’re in for carrying small loads, this is the right engine for the job.
But hey, just like our body system, the Doge also needs regular maintenance. There are times when you may need to shut down to allow the engine to rest; make sure you don’t skip the scheduled servicing.
Let me send this warning as we wrap up our discussion: Opting for after-market parts to replace the head gasket, valve cover, or valve seat could be the most dangerous attempt to shut down your car engine.
Unless you’re doubly sure of the power and effectiveness of the aftermarket components, the OEM parts are always the best bet to fix the dodge 4.7 engine problems.
Guess what’s most important? You should pay attention to the issues as they constantly send out signals to inform you about the condition of your engine. I’m sure you wouldn’t want to have the same experience I had the last time out en route to Morro Bay. It was awful.
On a final note, the problems don’t define all the amazing features the Dodge 4.7 engine boasts. It is an incredible motor, thanks to its massive power output and torque ranges of 157-236 kilowatts and 235-334 per foot respectively.