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1998-2003 Dodge Durango safety and environmental features

Driver Air Bag System*

The standard driver air bag is similar to that used on Dakota. It isan important element in a restraint system that includes the steering wheel,steering column, a seat belt system (which must always be worn). Instrumentpanel knee blocker and the vehicle structure. These elements combine tomanage crash energy. Combined, they provide the driver with the maximumavailable crash protection.

The driver air bag has a conventional pyrotechnic inflation system usingthe newest technology to produce a smaller, lighter module than prior systems.To reduce deployment noise, the inflator's size is consistent with the cab'sinterior volume. The module's lightweight aluminum housing has a multi-layerfilter system to help contain any particulate matter that may be a by-productof the combustion process.

The bag and inflator are concealed beneath a molded steering wheel cover.The cover tears along a hidden seam as the bag deploys. It is made fromcontrolled-porosity fabric that provides a smooth, even decompression ofthe bag after deployment by allowing the inflating gasses to disperse throughits surface. The porous fabric is less bulky than the coated fabric usedin some prior systems to facilitate a compact steering wheel cover.

When the driver contacts the air bag, the steering wheel absorbs anddistributes the load to the steering column. Subtle variations in cross-sectionalshape and material thickness of the Dakota wheel's die-cast aluminum armature,developed through the use of computerized finite element analysis, ensureefficient load distribution. The steering column reacts with the body structure,deforming to absorb some energy, transferring some in the process. A telescopingintermediate steering shaft assembly collapses during impact to avoid transmittingimpact forces from the frame to the steering column.

The knee blocker is also the steering column lower cover. It derivesits impact-absorbing characteristics from an intensively developed honeycombstructure molded into the back of the polycarbonate-ABS blend cover - thesame material from which the panel structure is formed.

Passenger Air Bag System*

The standard passenger air bag is similar to that used on Dakota. Theair bag system uses a hybrid inflator containing a small amount of pyrotechnicmaterial to trigger the release of compressed nitrogen which is the primaryinflator. As with the driver air bag, the passenger air bag is made of controlled-porosityfabric.

The passenger air bag module is mounted directly on the instrument panel'smolded plastic structural retainer. It is concealed by a molded door thatfollows a character line in the panel surface. The door is made of TEO (thermoelasticolefin) with a "living" hinge along the top edge and a tear seamat the bottom to allow air bag deployment. An SRS logo molded into the coverindicates the air bag's presence.

The passenger air bag works in conjunction with a knee blocker and theUnibelt active restraint system, which must always be worn, to provide addedcollision protection for the front seat passenger. The knee blocker is alsothe glove compartment door. It derives its impact-absorbing characteristicsfrom the same type of lightweight honeycomb structure as the steering columnlower cover. The loads are transferred from the door to the structural retainer by steel brackets at the sides of the glove compartment opening.

Air Bag Electronic Module

A centrally located electronic module controls and monitors the driver and front passenger air bags. Both air bags deploy simultaneously during a severe frontal impact. The electronic module includes operating electronics, a collision detection sensor and system diagnostics.

A single piezo-capacitive accelerometer in the electronic module discriminates between collisions of sufficient magnitude to warrant air bag deployment and minor bumps or normal operating conditions. The control system and sensors have been tested under severe conditions including off-highway operation to ensure deployment of the air bag when needed and prevent inadvertent deployment when not. The module is mounted on the floor pan tunnel for easy service access.

The diagnostic module activates the instrument cluster AIR BAG warning indicator in the event of a system malfunction and stores diagnostic codes for access by a scan tool. The module transmits the warning indicator signal and diagnostic codes over the multiplex wiring network. Diagnostic codes are accessed through the central data link connector.

For reliability, the air bag system is powered by two dedicated electrical circuits, each of which has sufficient capacity to operate the system alone if the other fails. As on other Chrysler vehicles, air bag circuits include gold-plated terminals for maximum reliability.

Belt Systems

All outboard seating positions have self-adjusting low-tension three-point Unibelt active restraints. Center seating positions have manually adjustable lap belts.

All unibelt latch plates have a free-running feature to ensure that webbing retracts fully when the wearer unbuckles. Except for the driver's belt, the latch plates also include a cinching capability to secure child seats. The free-running feature of each latch plate ensures that the belt will retract fully when not in use, sliding through the latch plate if it reaches the turning loop. A button on the webbing prevents the latch plate from sliding down below the cushion. Low-tension retractors without tension relievers provide comfort while ensuring that the belts are properly positioned when needed.

For easy operation, all belts have end-release buckles. Pushing down anywhere on the end of the buckle releases the latch plate. When buckling up, the concave shape of the release button guides the latch plate into place.

For a neat appearance, all outboard seat belt retractors are concealed by the trim panels. Also for neatness, the belts pass from the retractor to the turning loops through small molded slits.

Adjustable Turning Loops

Durango's belt systems include adjustable turning loops - the upper anchorages for the shoulder belts - for both front and second-seat outboard occupants. Turning loop locations provide optimal wearing comfort for children, small adults and large adults with requisite collision protection. The turning loops slide in tracks on the door lock pillars. Pushing up or pulling down on a short lever unlatches the mechanism and simultaneously moves the turning loop in the direction of pressure. The turning loop automatically locks in place when pressure is removed. Range of adjustment is 3.9 inches (100 mm) at 0.8-inch (20-mm) intervals for both front and second-seat systems. Tracks for the front seat turning loops are curved to increase head clearance and further enhance wearer comfort. The tracks are concealed by opposed brushes.

Traveling Belt Anchors

Driver and outboard front-passenger seat belts feature traveling anchors and buckles - the first traveling outboard anchors on a domestic SUV. Outboard seat tracks are reinforced to accept belt loads. Buckles for these occupants also travel with the seat. The combination of traveling buckles and anchors allows the seats to be adjusted after buckling with comfort - lap belt adjustment remains constant. Traveling buckles are easy to reach because they are always in the same location regardless of seat track adjustment. The buckles attach to high-strength inboard seat tracks.

Third-Seat Belts

Third-seat belt retractors and turning loops mount on the liftgate pillars. Buckles are hinged to lay flat when the third seat is folded and automatically lifted up when returning the seat to the upright position. For the safety of third-seat occupants, a warning label attached to the underside of each second-seat outboard section reminds them that they must not ride in the third seat with the second-seat outboard sections folded and/or tumbled.

Rearward-Facing Child Seats

Rearward-facing child seats must never be placed in an air bag seating position. Therefore, a rearward-facing child seat may not be used in the front seat. Use of rearward-facing child seats in outboard rear seating positions is acceptable.

Head Restraints

Standard head restraints are provided at all outboard seating positions. Front-seat head restraints are fixed; rears are adjustable. Rear-seat head restraints do not have to be removed when folding the seats.

Child-Protection Rear Door Locks

Durango rear door latches include a manual "child safety" feature that prevents the doors from being opened from the inside, if desired. As on other Chrysler vehicles, the child safety feature is selected by moving a lever on the latch that protrudes through the door inner panel.

Collision Resistant Structure

Frontal-Impact Protection

The frame and body structure are designed to provide collision energy management for occupant protection.

Side-Guard Door Beams

Stamped, one-piece, high-strength, low-alloy door beams meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 214. Durango meets dynamic as well as static side-impact protection safety standards even though the latter is not legally required. The beams conform to the shape of the outer panel to minimize intrusion.

Rear Impact Resistant Front Seats

Like Dakota, Durango front seats are designed to absorb energy from rear impacts for occupant protection. This protection is provided over and above Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. All front seats have sturdy high-back construction that deforms to absorb impact forces. Both bucket and 40-20-40 seatbacks have recliner mechanisms on both sides that distribute impact loads to ensure ample strength.

Enhanced Accident Response System

Durango models with the available illuminated entry feature offer the same Enhanced Accident Response System as Dakota to aid passengers after a collision severe enough to deploy the air bags. As long as the electrical system remains intact after the collision, the Enhanced Accident Response System automatically unlocks the doors and turns on the interior courtesy lamps. Illumination of the courtesy lamps is delayed until 10 seconds after the vehicle stops (vehicle speed sensor output is zero or inactive) to avoid distracting the driver. The lamps remain on until the ignition is switched off if battery power is available. The Enhanced Accident Response System is normally enabled but may be disabled by the dealer using a DRB III scan tool.

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Security Systems

Remote Keyless Entry System

A remote keyless entry (RKE) system is available with all equipment levels. Two transmitters, programmed to operate the system during vehicle assembly, are supplied with each vehicle. Each transmitter has three buttons that control lock, unlock and panic features. System operation includes the following features:

See also Interior Lighting under Body Interior in the Body section.

As with other Chrysler remote keyless entry systems, the transmitter communicates with the on-board receiver located in the central timing module (CTM) via a radio signal. The transmitter has a range of approximately 23 feet (7 m). It is powered by replaceable batteries.

Vehicle Theft Alarm

Durango offers a vehicle theft alarm (VTA) with SLT and SLT+ equipment. It discourages unauthorized entry, deters theft of the vehicle, and may reduce insurance premiums.

VTA works with the RKE system. It continuously monitors door, liftgate and ignition switches. If any of these switches is disturbed, VTA issues a warning to deter unauthorized entry and disables the ignition system to prevent the vehicle from being driven. VTA is enabled at the assembly plant. The VTA system operates in the following manner:

See also Illuminated Entry System under Body Electrical and Electronics.

"Intelligent" Power Door Locks

As on Dakota, the Central Timer Module (CTM) can be programmed to operate available power door locks automatically. This secures the doors against unwanted entry and reduces the possibility of their opening in a collision.

CTM logic initiates automatic locking when both doors are closed and vehicle speed exceeds 15 mph (24 km/h) propelled by the engine, not coasting. If a door is opened, automatic locking will repeat when all required conditions are restored. Automatic locking will be disabled at the assembly plant but may be enabled by the dealer using a DRB III scan tool.

Door locking signals from the door lock switches will not lock the doors if the key is in the ignition or the headlamps are on when the driver's door is open. (The doors can still be locked with the RKE transmitter.) In addition, the key in ignition and headlamp warning tones operate continuously as long as the door is open. CTM logic prevents transmission of the locking signal and triggers the warning under these conditions.

Theft Deterrence

Like Dakota, the Durango door locks have seven tumblers, the same number as provided by the ignition key, to discourage theft and illegal entry. This reduces the possibility of theft through use of substitute keys and the possibility of unlocking the wrong vehicle.

In the locked position, manual door locking knobs are recessed below the top surface of their surrounding bezels, making attempted entry by hooking the tabs more difficult. As an alternative to extending above the tops of the bezels in the unlocked position, bright red arrows on the inboard sides of the lock knobs are visible when the doors are unlocked.

The spare tire is secured against theft because the winch used to lift the tire into its stored position is accessible only from inside the vehicle.

Environmental Features


Recyclability is designed into many Durango parts. Features designed specifically to aid recyclability of Durango parts include the following items:

Emissions Controls - Exhaust and Evaporative

Exhaust Emissions Control System

Durango uses state-of-the-art equipment to meet applicable Federal and California truck exhaust emissions control standards for 1998. These include internal engine modifications, electronic sequential, multipoint fuel injection with dual oxygen sensor control and a catalytic converter. The Durango catalytic converter uses a cylindrical metal substrate and is placed closer to the engine than the Dakota converter for quicker response on start-up.

Onboard Diagnostics

1998 Durango engine emissions control systems comply with Federal and California diagnostic requirements known as OBD II (Onboard Diagnostics, second phase). The OBD II system incorporates software to detect a wide-range of malfunctions during more engine operating conditions. The customer will not be aware of the system unless a malfunction occurs. However, it is sensitive enough to detect some malfunctions and turn on the CHECK ENGINE warning lamp before the driver senses the conditions. A malfunction turns on the warning lamp in the instrument cluster and records a diagnostic test code in the PCM memory that can be accessed via a scan tool through the central data link connector.

Fuel Vapor Emissions Control System

To meet stringent fuel vapor emissions control standards currently being phased in on all vehicles, Durango uses an enhanced fuel vapor control system. Added to the returnless fuel supply system already used on all Dodge trucks, Durango has the following new or revised equipment:

The fuel vapor canister is attached to the left frame side rail near the fuel tank. A vent hose leading from the engine compartment to the ambient air inlet port on the canister prevents road splash from entering the canister.

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