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Dodge Stratus -- RELIABILITY???

knockout99knockout99 Posts: 1
edited April 2014 in Dodge
I'm looking into buying a 1996 Dodge Stratus, and was currious if anybody out there had info on this. I've heard really good things about the car, but nothing in particular about it's maintenance and reliability. I don't want to put 8 grand into buying this car, if it's going to cost more to keep it running. Any information or stories wanted!!! Thanks to all who help! :)


  • enetheneth Posts: 285
    The later years (98-2000) were much better than the earlier ones. If it's a 4-cylinder, chances are it will need a head gasket sometime before 50,000 miles; DaimlerChrysler will sometimes cover the cost, or otherwise, figure on $700 or so.

    The 4-speed automatic is DC's trouble-prone 41TE unit; make sure it's been maintained properly or you will have trouble with it. It seems to have caused less trouble with the Stratus than with the heavier minivans, though.

    All told - get an extended warranty at least on the powertrain. Chances are good you will need it for one or another known problem.
  • mwaddomwaddo Posts: 30
    Unfortunately, I cannot give you any good news based on my experience. I bought a 1996 Stratus ES new, and it gave me problems from the very beginning. At about 3,000 miles it began leaking oil. Dealer took 3 visits to notice the oil pan gasket was leaking (brand new car! engine was clean). I did have the head gasket replaced at 45,000 ($900), and at 62,000 (Dec 2000) the transmission needed to be replaced. At this point, I traded it in for a 2001 Accord (they gave me $3,000 for the trade).

    Hope this helps.

  • tason67tason67 Posts: 36
    I purchased a 1996 Dodge Stratus, new, with the 150 hp 2.4 cylinder motor. Since then I have had a power steering hose replaced (warranty) and a head gasket and cam seal replacement at 24,000 miles. After the warranty expired, I had another oil leak and head gasket replacement at 48,000 miles, which I complained about until DaimlierChrysler paid for it. Now, at 55,000 miles, I had to have a new air conditioner compressor ($750) and new tie rods on the left and right front wheels ($400), new belts ($105) plus an alignment ($50) because of the new tie rods. I also need new pads and rotors ($400), after having them replaced at 27,000 miles and an as yet undiagnosed oil leak, which may be another head gasket. My advice? Run, don't walk, away from a 1996 Stratus. I plan to purchase a Honda or Toyota next time. This car has become a money pit.
  • jmaterojmatero Posts: 253
    I had a 1998 ES V6 and it was very reliable... I thought... until an old lady ran a stop sign and when I tried to stop, by brakes failed. I hit her broadside at 45mph and NEITHER airbag went off. I'm lucky to be alive. Then 2 weeks after getting the car back from the shop and the "OK" from chrysler that the brakes and airbags were fine, a drunk driver pulled onto the parkway in the wrong direction with NO LIGHTS ON. I came around a corner and again, the brakes failed and head-on. And, Again, NO AIRBAGS. So, at the advice of a friend, I checked out the consumer complaints area of and there are zillions of complaints about failed brakes and airbags not going off... even in 2000 models. My advice, don't waste your money. And I wouldn't buy a new one until they are crash tested... Chryslers are the worst in that regard.
  • enetheneth Posts: 285
    A 45-mph impact would likely have totaled your car - if it was repairable, it's more likely you hit at well under 30 mph (even a 30 mph impact would likely have damaged your car beyond repair).

    It's unfortunate the brakes failed, but the airbags may simply have done their job - they're not designed to deploy other than in a very serious frontal collision (one that would likely destroy your car).
  • I now own a 96 Stratus ES, which I bought used so I don't really know about previous problems. I bought the car with 57,000miles, and now one year later have 74,500 miles on it and have yet to have a problem. I must admit, I have started to feel the transmission slipping, but the dealership claims that there is nothing wrong, I decided that I will drive it till it goes and than complain till I'm blue in the face. At least I was smart and bought a warrenty that covers the powertrain and tranny til about 96,000 miles. I have had 5 cars in the past year and a half, this is the first one that I have had no problems with, I've had this car 1 year. I would advise you to have the car checked out by a mechanic you trust and go from there.
  • I have a 96 Status and had oil leak problems at about 70k miles. Had the front seal, timing belt, etc replaced for about $900. Now at 79k miles, I've had the iginition coil replaced for $300. It left me on the side of the road twice in 2 weeks. Once before the coil was replaced, and once after. They ran diagnostics for 2 days, and can't find the problem. Seems to happen when I go over 30-40 mile trip...Anyone else had this problem? It's missing & then won't run. Like it's not getting fuel...
  • In answer to message posted by agourdon on Feb. 1, 2001 I can understand where you are coming from. I had the same problem with my Stratus but my problems started at 114,000k. After driving for about 10 minutes it would start choking and missing and I would just cross my fingers until I got home. It started out gradually but finally it just quit altogether. I got stuck 3 times. The ran diagnostic for 4 days finding nothing. Then out of the blue they discovered the crank position sensor defective. They repaired it and it has been running smoothly since then. Hope this helps you.
  • rr44rr44 Posts: 1
    My 96 Stratus has stayed pretty reliable with no unscheduled mainatainace problems till about a couple of weeks ago -- when the tie rod failed -- almost causing an accident. Since I read another user having this problem -- was wondering if this is common for Dodge Stratus. Is this something that DC should recall the car for -- if could easily cause an accident
  • Thanks Itrecartin for you response to my post.

    If you don't mind me asking, what was the approx repair amount? How long ago / mileage wise did you have it done? Are you still satisfied with your Status? With 4 more months to pay on it, I don't want to give it up now.
  • I had the work done on January 8, 2001. The cost was 340.69$ canadian. I have'nt accrued any signficant mileage since then but so far so good. It seems to be running smoothly. I also had tie rod problems, head gasket problems and my brake shoes seem to wear fast. I think I probably have had everything go wrong that could go wrong with it. I bought it second hand and believe me I won`t go that route again.
  • I've had my share of problems with the 1996 Stratus, too. Power steering hose replacement, new rack and pinion, six inches of water in the spare tire well, two dead batteries due to a trunk light that stayed on, timing belt and pulley replaced and a leaking head gasket. Luckily they were all covered. I now have a new problem-a rattle in the steering wheel when the car is in drive with the brake applied. Anyone else have this problem??
  • There is a TSB issued for this problem #19-02-99A and was issued Oct.99 for clunking or rattle in steering wheel or column.There is also a TSB for a popping in front end which is for defective tie rods #02-05-98 issued in May 98. Have the dealer check these out and don't let them tell you these are not problems.

  • I had an earlier post about the shoddy quality of my 1996 Dodge Stratus. In addition to TWO head gasket repairs before 50,000 miles (the first at 24,000 miles!!!!), I also had a power steering hose around 20,000 miles. I had new pads, rotors and new tie rods at 55,000 miles. This was my second set of pads and rotors. The dealer told me my tie rods were so chewed up that I was in danger to drive the car with having them repaired. $395.00 plus $50 for an alignment. If I didn't have but another 6 months to pay on it, it would be history.
  • I just read my first post and I already had listed all my problems with my Stratus. I guess spending all that jack on a 1996 has me so P---ed off, that I can complain often enough.
  • I have a 1997 Stratus ES and the mad cow disease
    is about the only thing that hasn't happened to
    it yet. Good thing I had the added care extended
    warranty, but I am usually in for the $100 deductibel once a month. I had the head gasket
    replaced, rotors too - except that this time they
    had me. The first time around they tell me -
    oh we have to resurface your rotors. OK. Next time
    (60K mi) - they tell me: rotors need to be
    resurfaced again, but
    they are below specs so we can't do it - you
    have to replace them. Warranty - nope - not
    covered. I also had power steering pump, exhaust
    manifold, front shocks - all replaced. For the
    power steering hose they said the added care
    extended warranty did not cover it and had me
    pay $700 for it. Do you think I can get some
    of it back by yelling at Chrysler? The steering
    wheel rattles alright and yes, they did tell me
    it's normal.
  • mwaddomwaddo Posts: 30
    It's worth a try. I HAD a 96 Stratus ES, I went though many repair bills also (no extended warranty). When the tranny went at 62K, so did my patience, and I traded it in on a 2001 Accord.

    A local, independent mechanic (who was recently putting a new tranny in my Dodge Caravan), told me that Chrysler would pay for all (or at least part) of my head gasket replacement (at 50K miles!). Apparently, they extended the warranty on the head gasket to 100K mikes, but of course, they aren't advertising it (it could make them look bad).

    I have just begun my yelling to get this paid for. Has anyone had any experiences with this?


  • I have a 1996 Stratus ES. Over the past six months, I've replaced a tie rod, head gasket, catalytic convertor (which, of course, included the rest of the exhaust), wheel cylinder, drum, and brakes. The car has 62,000 miles!

    I did not pay the full amount for the head gasket & catalytic convertor/exhaust (these repairs were performed at the same visit). It is my understanding that emissions parts are to be warranted for 10 years. They did not admit any type of extended warranty for the head gasket--but replaced it and only charged for a scheduled maintenance visit. I hope this info helps somebody!

    Did I mention I was car shopping? I wish I came here before I bought this car!
  • imkrzimkrz Posts: 1
    I feel lucky I just had to replace my first head gasket at 58000 miles ...what a good run I had.
    Luckily I have the extended warranty to 60000. However, that did not help me on the two complete brake jobs I have had so far. Did somebody say tierods? I thought so/ I have new ones as well. It is nice to have this Stratus support group(not for the car but for the poor souls who own one) so we can vent. I have 2000 miles left and then I will get really nervous. Who can tell me what will go wrong next? Stay strong ...
  • If you read my earlier posts, you will see that doing the head gasket at 55,000 miles is pretty good. That's when I had my THIRD done. The dealer has had my car since Feb.12 and said maybe it'll be done on Tuesday. They are replacing my head as well as a new gasket, etc. Cal and write to customer service. Chrysler will pay for it if you shout loud enough. Give them credit, they know that they built a lot of crappy cars and are helping us poor Crapus owners. I am looking at a 2001 Civic or Accord.
  • I own a 96 Stratus. I have 237,000 miles on it. The problems that occurred were: a head gasket blew at 104,000 miles and I had to replace the transmission at 136,000 miles, just replaced the fuel pump at 234,000 miles. Overall, I have been satisfied with the car. I had a tow truck smack into the side of the car at 30,000 miles. I wonder if that might have impacted on other systems.
  • It's Feb 20 and the dealer still has my car. Now they said that the "galley plug" was bad and they are putting on a new head. This is the WORST car I have ever had.
  • I know this is a stratus post, but since the breeze is esentially the same thing I thought I'd post it here. I have a 1998 Breeze w/ approx. 53,000 miles on it. It is the 2.4 liter engine and recently I've noticed an oil leak. I've taken it to a mechanic and it wasn't discenable to him what the cause was (I'm assuming the head gasket) There is no coolant in the oil and the leak has coveread a large portion of the underside of the car in oil. The leak is about a quart per 1.5 weeks. It is not the drain plug, oil sensor, or anyhting else immediately visible. Has anyone had an oil leak on a 2.4 that wasn't the head gasket? Also, if it is indeed the head gasket, will Chrysler pony up the $600 or so to have it replaced? Should I just contact them directly by phone? I like the car, no problems ever until this, and I'm glad i caught it in time as my oil was way low when I noticed it. One more thing, does the tie rod problem affect the 98's as well? I'd like to know so i can keep an eye on it. Thanks
  • i also have the 96 stratus with the 2.4L. head gasket leaked at 48K. chrysler paid for all but parts. then the o2 censor went out. yesterday i had to have the front right side bearing fixed. my wife for sure wants to sell and get a camry or accord!!!!
  • Had the typical problems with the car most others have had:
    '96, 70K, On my 3rd set of rotors and pads. I've resigned myself to the fact that I have to replace them every 20K or so. Whoever was the genius who designed the Stratus' braking system should be sent to bed without dinner for a month.

    Had to replace head gasket like most others here. Car stereo started flipping out about 30K ago and now won't work. No biggee. I'm hoping for another 5 years and 50K out of it.

    Would I buy one again? Probably not. It's been an O.K. car with some nice features for the money. If they had solved the head gasket and brake problems, I would have been much happier and virtually problem free.
  • My earlier posts contain more info, but the cam seals or valve seals may also be leaking. If it is a head gasket, call Chrysler customer service and complain to the cows come home. Chrysler has padi for all three, that's right, THREE head gaskets on my 96 stratus with 55,000 miles on it. There is a townhall just about Breeze oil leaks that you may want to check also
  • I owned one with 2.4L. Bought it when it had 56K, and traded it when it had 93K with a private owner of a 96 Toyota Camry XLE V-6 with 43K miles, and paid her $6500.

    I loved the Stratus. As some people have said, I also had trouble with head gasket at 63K. It cost $550 at the dealer to replace it. No transmission problem. Had the fluid and filter changed as soon as I bought it at Dodge dealer. They say any fluid but Mopar brand will give the transmission excuse to act up!!!

    I changed the rotors and brake pads myself, and it cost $93. Never had rotor or pad problems that some people have been experiencing. the 2.4L is strong, and easily cruises at 75-80. I got 31mpg to 35mpg on highway. The suspension could have been better. The engine is rough and growls a little. There is plenty of leg room in the back seat. MUCH more than Accord or Camry. Very comfortable front seats.

    Well kept Startus is a good used car buy.
  • Rooba10, I must inquire, what color is the sun on your world? Here on Earth we consider head gasket failure, early wear on pads and rotors, short lived tie rods and bad transmissions reasons to avoid cars. Yes, the Stratus, or Crapus as I like to call it, is a nice looking car with a spacious interior, but the longevity and quality are very suspect. I'm glad you enjoyed your Stratus ownership. I believe that you are one of the lucky few.
  • Does anyone have information on any problems starting to surface with the 99 Stratus with a 2.4? My mom has one with about 24,000 trouble free miles and I would like to know what is going wrong with other 99s.
  • I know a lot people have had problems with Stratus, and have voiced their concerns here. BUT, I feel it is just fair to speak up, if the car has been good. I know I had head gasket problem, but that was it.

    I changed the rotors with new ones, since I knew it would have cost me more than $93, if I had gone to Midas for rotor turning and new pads. Changing rotors, and brake pads on Chrysler products is very easy.

    We also own a '97 Dodge GC LE. we bought it new, and it now has 73K miles. I have spent about $400 of unexpected repairs ( Leaky Transmission selenoid pack, and belt tensioner.

    I feel bad for all the folks here with Chrysler problems. I paid $6900 for it in May 99, and sold it for $6200 in Dec 00. I put 38K miles on the car.
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