- The Dodge Journey 2009 and 2010 editions have potential electrical issues that can be hard to diagnose
- Brake issues have an effect on early Dodge Journeys, but are helped by keeping an eye and ear on your brake pads and braking ability
- The Journey has had small issues with water leaking into the cabin.
- More recent years of Journey have some far better mechanically.
- The Journey is a budget SUV that works well for families
Do Dodge Journey's problems make it worth considering buying? Let’s explore what is happening with the SUV so you know what to expect.
The Dodge Journey is a fairly young vehicle and started with some problems. In 2009 and 2010, the Journey had some problems with brakes wearing out too quickly. The family crossover has also had problems with electrical components inside the car.
We use information from places like CarComplaints.com as well as government resources that receive reports on vehicle issues. Having worked at a dealership for years, we like to communicate what is happening with the Dodge Journey and give our opinion about whether or not you should buy one.
Table of Contents
Problems with the Dodge Journey
Dodge Journey Brake Problems in 2009 models
2009 was the first year of the Dodge Journey hitting the road as a crossover SUV. Initial vehicle models can rack up some complaints, and the Journey is no exception. Hundreds of people reported issues with premature brake wear on CarComplaints – exceeding 400 reported instances of brakes not lasting long. Multiple drivers reported replacing the brakes every year, with no particular report as to how many miles they put in. Still, putting new brakes on every year is not normal, and a sign that the brake system is not tuned correctly for the weight of the vehicle.
The big picture issue here is that people normally expect their brakes to last at least several years. While a brake pad is also designed to create some obvious signs that the brakes are wearing out, including a high-pitched squealing nose, and a lesser ability to slow down or stop.
While researching recalls for the Dodge Journey, we learned that this issue was never subject to recall. One possible solution is to have a different, heavier-duty set of brake pads available for the vehicle if they fit.
A single instance of replacing brakes isn't overly costly, but with the way the Journey wears down brakes, having to potentially replace rotors and brakes every year makes it a less wallet-friendly vehicle to drive.
Dodge Journey Electrical Issues in 2009 and 2010 models
We are talking about the 2009 and 2010 models again! This time, we found odd issues with the electrical and starter system. Multiple reports indicate that some Dodge Journey owners have to do weird things. One owner learned that the best way to start their vehicle was to attempt to shift it into neutral, then back to park, in order to engage an otherwise loose shifter cable. Another found that pulling and jostling the wiring harness made for an easier start.
These stories paint a broad issue: There isn't a single reason why Dodge Journeys of those models years are having a problem. It's not often the battery and could be a wiring harness, or apparently even a CD player that stays on when the keys are out of the ignition and the door closed. Unfortunately, we have experienced these same kinds of parasitic issues with the battery being drained or disconnected in another brand of vehicle, and can confirm that they are hard to diagnose.
Dodge Journey Coolant issues in 2009 and 2010
This seems to be focused heavily on a couple of years: the cylinder head port can be blocked with debris, preventing the flow or air and the communication of a need for coolant. This can result in overheating, though the problem is generally caught by vehicle warning systems. The problem is fixed by cleaning out the port head.
Dodge Journey Internal Water Leaks for Multiple Years
RepairPal isn't specific about which years are most affected by this problem, but we are guessing many of them. Most vehicles have rubber seals around the edges of the doors, in addition to the trunk, where the roof meets the side of the vehicle, and around the sunroof if it has one. These seals generally work well – at least for a while, and in most cases, you'll never have a wet interior unless you leave the window open.
There are a couple of hundred reports through RepairPal of leaks from the front floorboards of the vehicle, where water has been stored after rain or snow, and found its way into the vehicle.
Note that in a handful of reports, the drivers had been to a dealership or service center to have the air conditioning and heater worked on, and later learned that a mechanic had accidentally pinched a hose which caused an eventual leak. Still, the liquid shouldn't be able to get through.
Engine problems in the 2012 Dodge Journey
Most people read engine problems dreadfully. Fortunately, this one is rather rare but is still the most commonly reported problem in a 2012 Dodge Journey with just 9 reports – consider that a net positive.
The issue seems to be with a sudden oil leak within the Dodge Journey's engine. Oil leaks, especially sudden or unknown ones are the worst because the engine needs oil to keep running with proper lubrication. An engine without oil will soon be destroyed, and a very expensive fix.
Again, this problem is not very common!
Remote start not working on the Dodge Journey
RepairPal doesn't indicate which year, but this is mostly a minor inconvenience. Sometimes the remote keyless entry and remote start feature on a Dodge Journey might fail to work. So far, technicians have diagnosed the issue within the vehicle as a software problem that needs an update. We find this message a little confusing as most drivers have their original key FOB and are incapable of updating the vehicle, but as long as technicians can fix the problem, that's good.
Radio issues with the 2012 Dodge Journey
Dodge uses the UCONNECT system to run their radio, which includes Bluetooth, phone calls, and other communication equipment. The largest issue that has come of the UCONNECT system is actually while the radio tries to update. While we can appreciate that UCONNECT can attempt to update itself, it's not great that the radio can hang while trying to update and leave you without a radio.
Do these issues make the Dodge Journey worth buying?
Sure! Especially in model years 2013 or newer, Dodge has done a better job with build quality. There are far fewer complaints about more recent vehicles, which is a great sign that in the decade since Dodge built the Journey, they've taken care of business.
To be fair, you never see a lot of issues with vehicles built within the last couple of years because they haven't had time to get past their break-in period so problems could be coming, but we are hopeful.
Here is some reality too: The Dodge Journey represents a budget crossover SUV that could hold one, two, or a couple of kids too. Dodge tends to push more heavily for performance – which sometimes pushes quality control away. While Dodge has a relatively low customer satisfaction rate, it is worth noting that some vehicles like Toyota, Lexus, and Acura generally top those lists and cost significantly more.
You should also take a close look at the vehicle's service history, assuming you are buying a used Journey, especially in the 2009 range. Some of the above-mentioned issues might have already popped up and been fixed, though the brake issue isn't something a mechanic can necessarily do anything about besides replacing them.
In short, the chances of a catastrophic failure with a Dodge Journey are pretty low, especially in years after 2013.
About The Author
Working as a restoration tech on exclusively Mopar offerings of the late 60’s and early 70’s honed the skills to build what I consider the most prestigious make of American cars of that era. The iconic slant six, behemoth 426 Hemi and everything in between shaped my view on the automotive world. I’ve translated those skills towards vehicles that “everyman” has access to enjoy and Mopar influence still plays a significant role.Read More About Tyler Herndon