Buying a used Dacia Duster: problems and failures
Buying a used Dacia Duster: problems and failures

Buying a used Dacia Duster: problems and failures

This SUV has perfectly recommended itself in Europe as a reliable, inexpensive, unpretentious car for everyday use. Dacia Duster with a mileage of 100 thousand km and today is in demand at the secondary market. However, when choosing a specific instance, it is worth to look closely at the experience of ownership and characteristic failures, kinks and inborn diseases. At least, not to buy frank garbage.

Dacia Duster body. Where to look


It is unfair to criticize the crossover based on the Logan platform for a weak body. It is not a frame SUV, but it would be nice to add some rigidity to the body. That, in fact, was done after the restyling of the first generation in 2015. 

Renault Duster 2015
Even if it is a crossover car, but Renault Duster can also cope with light off-road

However, even this did not completely save the body’s power structure from excessive brittleness at the seams. Especially with torsional loads. When we take the rear wheel off-road, it is not excluded that the power structure of the body is skewed. This is fraught with several troubles. Firstly, the trunk door frame is tilted, and it results in the sprawling of welds.

The body often tilts if the wheel is out of alignment on a bump. Since 2015, this sore has been partially eliminated.

You can see it very clearly at the seam that connects the roof panel to the quarter, rear sidewall. If you find a crack in the paint surface in this area, the body has been tortured off-road, unequivocally.

Second, the sign of played bodywork can be even more unpleasant. The windshield frame loses geometry, which leads to the appearance of sprawling cracks on the windshield. Thus, if you see a crack on Duster’s windshield without any obvious break from falling a stone, we deal with the damaged bodywork. Yes, it is not critical, but the body has lost its nominal rigidity. Unfortunately, a rare sample of Dacia Duster with mileage over 120-140 thousand boasts with the absence of cracks on the seams and glass.

Renault Duster арки
Puffy wheel arches on gravel can play a nasty trick

After the restyling, and later after the generational change, the body has become somewhat stiffer. But it hasn’t eliminated another inherent flaw. The wide, puffy wheel arches look chic. But they have one disadvantage – road sandblasting from under front wheels tends to erase paint on sills and rear fenders.

To avoid this, you need to hide the regular front mudguards and install a normal, wide, that would protect the body from sand and dust.

брызговики Renault Duster
The only chance to avoid chipping on the rear fender is to install wide mudguards

The only saving grace is that the body of the Dacia Duster is galvanized. If the paint is chipped, the driver has some time to prime and paint the chip before the rust appears. If you procrastinate, the appearance of bugs on a body is inevitable. The same, by the way, concerns a hood.

True, to a lesser extent, as the front edge of the hood panel is located rather high, all the charm of road dust, sand and small stones are forced to feel the grille and the lower bumper trim, making it look as if it is made of aluminum. As for the bottom lining, nothing but the loss of aesthetic appeal will not bring the silver trim from the plastic.

What cannot be said about the grille. There is a danger to catch a pair of small stones by a radiator. The matter is that cells of a lattice are rather large; at adverse circumstances, a small pebble can easily damage a radiator honeycomb. Unpleasant situation, especially far from civilization. It is possible to solve this problem by installing a fine mesh on the back of a radiator grille. Many owners of Dusters do so.



Another trouble of the Dacia Duster body is hidden corrosion. In most cases, it appears under the decorative trunk door linings, on the sills, under the seals in the door connector. The most pesky thing is that we learn about the appearance of rust when the center of corrosion has expanded and left the limits of decorative linings or seals. And it happens at a stage when there is no trace of zinc. There is only one way out – to remove the trunk liner, clean and treat the corroded areas.


And to further this ugly thing is not repeated, under the decorative plate on the trunk door put a rubber seal or self-adhesive foam. To do this, first remove the plastic interior panel of the fifth door (held by 8 clips).

Then unscrew the five nuts of the decorative liner itself and remove it by gently pulling it toward you, overcoming the resistance of four more plastic plugs. Treat the damage, paint and varnish. After that, we put between the door and the chrome trim rubber seal in those places where the trim had contact with the metal door. We will no longer be bothered by this problem.

The situation is similar with scuffs on the sills, in the doorways. When you drive, the door plays a little in the door opening, so sand and dust that gets under the seal work as an abrasive. They quickly erase the varnish and paint to the zinc. If you miss this point and do not paint over the damage in time, rusty streaks along the sill are guaranteed.


And, of course, regardless of the mileage is better immediately after purchase to treat the hidden cavities of the spars, sills, power ducts under the bottom with an anti-corrosion agent. Mauville is an inexpensive and effective helper in this case. After these modifications to the body will hardly have any complaints about its resistance to corrosion.

And one more remark, partly concerning the body. Be sure to pay attention to such a seemingly small detail as the tightness of the washer nozzles. On the restyled Duster, after the 2015 model year, the washer nozzle is sealed in a more civilized way.


A common problem on the pre-styled versions is that the washer fluid leaks under the hood, onto the engine. And it would be nice if it was just on the engine, but the nozzle is located right above the ignition coils. The chain of faults turns out to be quite interesting. 

The fluid drips on the coil, the coil fails, the engine fails, the ECU is not accustomed to disconnect a non-working cylinder, so all the gasoline from this cylinder goes straight to the catalytic converter. And the catalytic converter does not like it and soon dies. As a result, the driver gets $250-300 for such trifle.

Renault Duster
A leaking washer nozzle may well cause the catalytic converter to malfunction

Transmission and chassis problems in Dacia Duster


No matter what engine is installed under the hood of the Duster, the clutch requires close attention. By the mileage of 100 thousand, most likely, the clutch disc has already been replaced. Though the main problem is not even in friction pads, but in springs, dampers on a disk and clutches in a basket. At the first opportunity it is better to replace them with something more worthy. 

сцепление Renault Duster

At over 100,000 km on the Dacia Duster, the release bearing must have been changed as well. The peculiarity of the Duster is that according to the Renault/Nissan scheme there is a release bearing in one body with a hydraulic cylinder of the clutch actuator.

It is a controversial decision in terms of reliability, but there is no choice. The clutch bearing, as a rule, dies already by 60-70 thousand, though some drivers manage to keep it up to 120 thousand km mileage. 

If we are going to at least occasionally leave the asphalt, we need to think about a system of protection of the driveshaft, transfer case, gearboxes and the braid of wires to engage the clutch in the Duster 4×4 version. Regular protection is no good. Of course, we do not forget about the protection of the engine crankcase.

There are no special questions to the running gear, as well as to the transmission. Thanks to the modifications of 2013 practically all childish illnesses of both all-wheel drive version and front-wheel drive one have been eliminated. With the exception of the clutch, which we have already mentioned. 

Even the automatic gearbox DP0 behaves very well. The automatic transmission is durable and has no problems, and its service life is estimated in the range of 250-300 thousand km before overhaul. True, the automatic transmission does not like to work in cold weather, so in winter it needs to be pre-heated. And every 90-100 thousand km one should completely change the oil.

In the first versions of the Renault Duster, the manual gearbox was hectic and tended to dump all the oil. This happened, as a rule, because of low-quality standard oil seals. Later, engineers took measures, and after 2013 and 2015 restyling, the manual box started to work well.

кпп Renault Duster
The manual transmission in the first series of Duster behaved badly. Later on, it got better.

On the Renault Duster, which often jumps off-road, it is mandatory to pay attention to the condition of the driveshaft and crosses. Of course, this applies to the four-wheel drive version. The standard cross is not distinguished by endurance, and when replacing it, many craftsmen do not balance the driveshaft. This leads to vibrations and the risk of destruction of the PTO shaft crosses right on the move.

PTO shaft crosses need to be monitored

The best way out is reinforced PTO shaft crosses with grease nipples for greasing and balancing. Then the propshaft will work for more than 120-150 thousand km.

There are no questions about the four-wheel drive clutch. But this applies to cars manufactured after 2013. Before that, the 4×4 malfunctioned quite often. The problem was buried deep in the electronic control unit. Only after engineering revision of the firmware did the clutch start working almost perfectly.

The owner’s manual for the Duster does not mention that it is necessary to change the oil in the transfer case and rear axle gearbox. And that’s for nothing. Because the cars were often shipped from the factory with crappy oil and low level. It is necessary to change transmission oil at once after purchasing and then every 75-80 thousand. In this case the transfer gearbox and reduction gearbox will work perfectly.

There are no questions to the suspension and its reliability. Moreover, a rare modern car can boast such a frequency of element replacement: 

  1. Sway bar rods will be replaced after 70 thousand miles, as well as bushings and ball sockets.
  2. Rear shock absorbers, sway bar, bushings and silent-blocks will serve all 100-110 thousand km.
  3. Front struts, hub bearings, silent blocks will easily go over 120 thousand.

подвеска Renault Duster

This is the minimum mileage. History knows such Dusters, which had 150-170 thousand km on the original suspension without any replacement. Actually, the price of suspension parts for Dacia Duster is within reasonable limits, so it is not necessary to rearrange the ball bearings on the old levers, it is more rational to buy new assemblies.

How Dacia Duster Engines Work


They work quite well. Although problems have been noticed on the old 1.5L turbodiesels. The first one is the passionate love of this engine for high-quality fuel. If you fill it with any trash, piezo injectors will give up their life at ridiculous run of about 30-40 thousand. Also, this engine does not like dirty grease, so you should accustom yourself to changing oil and filters every 7 thousand km. Otherwise the turbocharger cartridge will fail, and its service life is not less than 200 thousand.

On the restyled 109 hp diesel, in principle, the problems are the same. However, this engine looks more attractive, because it has variable turbine geometry and exhaust filter.  The particulate filter will last up to 200 thousand km without repair, and the injectors in this motor are not as delicate as in the restyling one. It is better to buy a diesel Duster with mileage with this engine.

Gasoline engines are not as popular, but they have proven themselves quite well. First of all, there are plenty of spare parts, because K4-M and F4-R engines are installed on many Renault, Nissan and Dacia models. Both motors, however, bend the valves when the timing belt breaks, but people trust the 2,0-liter gasoline engine more. When buying a Duster with this engine, it is necessary to pay attention to the phase change system. 

With cheap oils the phase shifter runs out by 80 thousandths. You can define its condition by its sound – there is a diesel chirp, the phasor is in trouble, you can drop the price. With careless use the 2-liter engine can become ill with oil consumption. The cause is the oil rings. If they will get stuck, the oil consumption will increase by 160 thousand mileage. Moreover, the cylinders in the old cast iron blocks could be reamed (500 thousand km), in the new aluminum blocks it can be only lined after 300 thousand.

блок Renault Duster
The old blocks could be bored out. New aluminum blocks could only be sleeved.

There are common problems with both gasoline engines:

  1. Air filter too small, often clogged, as well as the crankcase ventilation system.
  2. Unreliable alternator, power steering, and air conditioner drive belt pulleys.
  3. Valve cover can sweat oil due to improperly tightened or squeezed gaskets.
  4. Weak throttle body gaskets.

Since 2015, Dacia Duster is equipped with the Nissan H4-M engine, and these troubles seem to have been forgotten. The timing gear in this motor is chain, more reliable, there are no hydro-compensators, so this engine is valued more.

Renault Duster

The minimum of electronics, a strong and reliable platform from Logan, a good choice of motors, two types of drive, and two gearboxes – what else is needed to buy an inexpensive used car for every day. The prices for used Renault Duster start from 4,5 thousand dollars for good ones from 2008-2013.

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