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I have a 2009 Dodge Journey SXT 3.5 L. And yes I know I bought a piece of garbage.

When I purchased it everything was fine. The only issue it had was it had 1 engine code for the catalytic converter. And then all the issues came in. My car overheated with visible fuming, gauge going all the way to high and all. I’ve taken it to 5 different mechanics and this is what we’ve done

  • Mechanic 1

    Radiator fan fuse was burned out. Fan wasn’t spinning (repaired, fan turns on and off throughout day)

    Issue continued...

  • Mechanic 2

    • Visit 1 - burped system, got rid of some air. Cleared debris from thermostat

      Issue continued...

    • Visit 2 - coolant tank hose that goes to back of modem was loose and leaking anti freeze (fixed)

    Car gauge didn’t show overheating after last visit to 2nd Mechanic but was still running super hot. So hot that while sitting in driver's seat and sticking hand out window I could feel the heat.

    At this point the car would start nice and normal when cold, but after a short 10-15 minute drive and 45 minute supermarket trip the car wouldn’t start. I would crank and crank and then the starter burned out. No crank at all.

  • Mechanic 3

    Replaced starter for Autozone starter.

    No overheating, car still running hot, new starter means I can drive the car out of the supermarket parking lot it got stuck in. While cold first thing in the morning car is great. Can’t be turned off if not it would crank very very slow and eventually turn on.

  • Mechanic 4

    Replaced the battery. Car had wrong battery according to Autozone. Got correct battery.

    You would thing that now everything is working. New starter, new battery, thermostat working, coolant tank and hoses all secured.

    But issue remained. Short drive and car would fight to turn on after running for at least 15 minutes.

  • Mechanic 5

    Most expensive one yet, “Bosch service” provider. They installed a pressure gauge on the coolant tank and found it had a leak. Why in the world did the other ones miss it? Had the tank replaced.

    I kept playing around with the car. Drove the same distance as before when it wouldn’t turn on, this time it did. Drove 2-3 hours car turns on. Turned off and on after driving for 6 hours (I do Uber and Lyft) and here it was: to turn on the car it took 4 very slow cranks compared to just 1 in the morning.

Which leads to my question. Should a car start the same every single time hot or cold?

If not, what else can I do?


Response to @yollooool:

Hey, Thanks for your comment. I would have a mechanic check what you recommended. I am noticing and remembering that I normally let the car run down to almost empty on gas. I don't drive the car daily and only on weekends. I fuel once a week on Fridays while doing Uber and I come home right when I used up the $ 30-40 gas I spent.

But then on Saturday I make a supermarket run (8 blocks or so from home) and here I notice the issue. The thing is, I've had plenty of other cars like Mazda 3, Nissan Altima and Honda Accord. Old habits die hard and although I wasn't doing Uber on those cars I would drive the car to empty. I never had an issue with the cars struggling to start. I don't understand why in this car low gas (reserve) low gas would play an issue on the car starting perfectly fine (1 crank) in the morning vs 3-4 very slow cranks and eventually turning on.

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tnx for all the help. I finally have found the issue to my problem. it turns out that the coil boots were melting onto the plugs. I replaced all the plugs and coil boots. also it turns out I had a bad cam shaft sensor. once those 3 things were replaced the issue never came back. lets not jinx it now. but yeh, no issues

  • Thanks for updating the post with your resolution. You can mark your own answer as accepted if it answers your question (which I believe it does). – Zaid Feb 26 '18 at 16:08
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Whoohpppphhhffhh, that's a loooong array of problems you've suffered; Better you than me! :P

You have said the engine overheated at one point. This can be a cause of the hard starting when warm. It can also be down to the engine heating up the injectors. It doesn't stop it from starting altogether, but it can cause difficulty in some cases. In theory, the injectors should always have a high amount of fuel pressure, but when the fuel pressure drops, the heat will cause the fuel to vaporise. That's the same reason why if you leave a can of fuel in the garage for a long time in direct sunlight, it will sometimes have less inside, and will usually degrade to the point that it has poor combustion.

However, everything you've said makes me feel like you have compression problems. Namely, piston rings and/or headgasket. Once the engine heats up, all the components expand. This means that the engine block would gain a very, very, very tiny size increase. For instance, F1 car engines are so finely tuned that they have to be heated up before they can be started.

Piston rings are designed to seal the cylinder and the piston to stop the explosive gases in the combustion chamber from escaping. The tighter the fit, the better the efficiency, due to the fact it's sealing more of the expanding gases to better use it to push the piston down in the cylinder. If this doesn't have a proper seal, it can be harder to push the pistons down with the expanding gases because it's escaping through the sides of the piston into the crank case.

Open the oil cap and smell for any signs of fuel or exhaust gases. Also do the same for the coolant. If the coolant smells of fuel/gases, it could be a head gasket leak. If the engine oil smells the same, it could be piston rings. If the oil looks like the head of a cappuccino or a yellow-ish cream colour, that can also indicate a headgasket problem.

I've personally never come across a hot-start problem as usually, this is where it's easiest for a car to start. However, I suppose the original non-start was due to the wrong battery and an already-dying starter from said incorrect battery. I'd recommend asking a mechanic to check the fuel pressure at the manifold/injectors to see if the pressure drops. If so, there may be a seal problem at the injectors, or a failing fuel pump. Also check for problems with the sensors for timing, this can sometimes be a cause for it, too.

Good luck, and those cars aren't as bad as some people make out! :P

  • i edited my post with an answer to you @yollooool – Miguel Dec 4 '17 at 1:46
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Yollooool's answer is excellent and sounds like a very real possibility given the history you describe.

Another thing that could potentially cause problems starting when the engine is warm is the coolant temperature sensor - I had very similar symptoms when mine failed.

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    +1. yollooool's answer (although excellent otherwise so I gave it +1 too) failed to mention the trivial, namely the coolant temperature sensor failing. – juhist Dec 4 '17 at 16:40
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Some thoughts on the slow cranking. I have a truck with a Small Block Chevy which is notorious for slow cranking due to the starter being so close to the exhaust.

1 - Make sure your matter terminals / clamps are clean and tight.

2 - Make sure battery voltage is good. >12.5v with the car off, 13.5-14.5v with the car running.

3 - Ground wires. These are the black wires off your battery. One should at least go to the body, and possibly the block. Make sure these connections are clean and tight.

4 - Make sure all heat shields are in place. A hot starter has a hard time turning.

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