Description and operation. Diagnosis and testing

Description and operation

Body components


Exterior sheet metal components make up the exterior of the vehicle. Some exterior metal systems are welded assemblies, such as doors and hoods.

Some exterior trim items are made of composite.


The exterior is finished in various metal stampings and composite moldings. These assemblies give the vehicle a finished appearance and protect the occupants from the elements. Some components are part of the energy absorbing system used to protect the occupants in collisions. The exterior sheet metal is repairable and adjustable for fit and finish. Welded and bonded component systems are adjustable as a system. Trim components made of composite are stamped with the type of material used. Daimler- Chrysler uses various fasteners to retain trim items.

At times, it is not possible to remove trim items without damaging the fastener. If it is not possible to remove an item without damaging a component, cut or break the fasteners and use new ones when installing the component.

Interior trim panels

CAUTION: Do not attempt to remove interior trim panels/moldings without first removing the necessary adjacent panels

To avoid damaging the panels, ensure that all the screws and clips are removed before attempting to remove an interior trim panel/molding. Trim panels are somewhat flexible but can be damaged if handled improperly.

Diagnosis and testing


Water leaks can be caused by poor sealing, improper body component alignment, body seam porosity, missing plugs, or blocked drain holes. Centrifugal and gravitational force can cause water to drip from a location away from the actual leak point, making leak detection difficult. All body sealing points should be water tight in normal wet-driving conditions. Water flowing downward from the front of the vehicle should not enter the passenger or luggage compartment. Moving sealing surfaces will not always seal water tight under all conditions. At times, side glass or door seals will allow water to enter the passenger compartment during high pressure washing or hard driving rain (severe) conditions.

Overcompensating on door or glass adjustments to stop a water leak that occurs under severe conditions can cause premature seal wear and excessive closing or latching effort. After completing a repair, water test vehicle to verify leak has stopped before returning vehicle to use.


Verify that floor and body plugs are in place, body drains are clear, and body components are properly aligned and sealed. If component alignment or sealing is necessary, refer to the appropriate section of this group for proper procedures.



When the conditions causing a water leak have been determined, simulate the conditions as closely as possible.

  • If a leak occurs with the vehicle parked in a steady light rain, flood the leak area with an openended garden hose.
  • If a leak occurs while driving at highway speeds in a steady rain, test the leak area with a reasonable velocity stream or fan spray of water. Direct the spray in a direction comparable to actual conditions.
  • If a leak occurs when the vehicle is parked on an incline, hoist the end or side of the vehicle to simulate this condition. This method can be used when the leak occurs when the vehicle accelerates, stops or turns. If the leak occurs on acceleration, hoist the front of the vehicle. If the leak occurs when braking, hoist the back of the vehicle. If the leak occurs on left turns, hoist the left side of the vehicle. If the leak occurs on right turns, hoist the right side of the vehicle.

    For hoisting recommendations refer to Group 0, Lubrication and Maintenance, General Information section.


To detect a water leak point-of-entry, do a water test and watch for water tracks or droplets forming on the inside of the vehicle. If necessary, remove interior trim covers or panels to gain visual access to the leak area. If the hose cannot be positioned without being held, have someone help do the water test.

Some water leaks must be tested for a considerable length of time to become apparent. When a leak appears, find the highest point of the water track or drop. The highest point usually will show the point of entry. After leak point has been found, repair the leak and water test to verify that the leak has stopped.

Locating the entry point of water that is leaking into a cavity between panels can be difficult. The trapped water may splash or run from the cavity, often at a distance from the entry point. Most water leaks of this type become apparent after accelerating, stopping, turning, or when on an incline.


When a leak point area is visually obstructed, use a suitable mirror to gain visual access. A mirror can also be used to deflect light to a limited-access area to assist in locating a leak point.


Some water leaks in the luggage compartment can be detected without water testing. Position the vehicle in a brightly lit area. From inside the darkened luggage compartment inspect around seals and body seams. If necessary, have a helper direct a drop light over the suspected leak areas around the luggage compartment. If light is visible through a normally sealed location, water could enter through the opening.


When a water leak into the passenger compartment cannot be detected by water testing, pressurize the passenger compartment and soap test exterior of the vehicle. To pressurize the passenger compartment, close all doors and windows, start engine, and set heater control to high blower in HEAT position. If engine can not be started, connect a charger to the battery to ensure adequate voltage to the blower.

With interior pressurized, apply dish detergent solution to suspected leak area on the exterior of the vehicle. Apply detergent solution with spray device or soft bristle brush. If soap bubbles occur at a body seam, joint, seal or gasket, the leak entry point could be at that location.

    Dodge Durango (DN) 1998-2003 Service Manual


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