Hemi Horror Story

The other day, I ran into a guy I know who owns a late model Dodge Ram pick-up with the 5.7 Hemi V8. The truck has just over 100k on the clock. Guy tells me he was pulling out onto the main road, glanced in the rearview and noticed a car coming up behind him fast, so he hit the gas … so the other guy wouldn’t need to hit the brakes.

And blew his engine.

The Hemi suffered a catastrophic failure of Broken Connecting Rod magnitude. He will need a new engine.

Apparently, this sort of thing is not uncommon (see here and here) with Hemi V8s, particularly those made circa early-mid 2000s. Valvetrain-oiling-related issues, supposedly since corrected on the line. Something to do with the cylinder deactivation (Multi-Displacement/MDS) system, or the variable valve timing system (which uses engine oil) or the lifters… something like that.

But this won’t help my friend, because his truck is no longer covered by the warranty.

The guy is not a hot rodder. Doesn’t abuse his vehicles. Maintains them regularly, by the book. But now he’s looking at a heavyweight repair bill.

Or else a useless truck.

This is an example of a vehicular Black Swan event. In general, modern cars (and trucks) can be counted on for 200,000 miles or more of reliable operation before expensive failures occur or obvious tiredness manifests.

But, stuff does happen.

Even if you don’t beat on the thing. Even though you’ve always changed the oil on schedule.

Sometimes, it happens when the vehicle is not old – but the warranty’s expired. As here. To say this sucks is an understatement on par with saying the Titanic suffered some damage when it hit the iceberg.

Probably, the dealer – and the manufacturer – will deny responsibility. If they don’t have to pay, they generally won’t pay.

But not necessarily.

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