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Dodge Stratus



  • quakequake Posts: 1
    I am looking at both the 1998 Cirrus and Stratus,wondering if anybody can offer some advice .. first off I wanted to know if the 4cyl is worth getting ... also what common problems I should be looking for .. the cars I have in mind have any where from 50,000 to 100,000km's. I just want to make sure I make a educated investment .. pro's and cons... I can be reached at
  • enetheneth Posts: 285
    If you get a 4-cylinder, make sure the head gasket has been replaced with the redesigned one from DaimlerChrysler. If it hasn't, you will be replacing the original one yourself.
  • sp01sp01 Posts: 81
    is spec'd to be replaced at 105K. It could go longer, but it's a pricey maintenance item.

    Speaking of belts, my '95's accessory belts were just beginning to show a little wear at 75K, so I had 'em replaced during a routine intermediate.

    Sensors: rear upstream o2 sensor is in a relatively inaccessible location and if it has not already been replaced, will be a $150-$200 fix when it goes. Front upstream and the downstream o2 are an easy fix, though the dealer charges $95 for the part.

    Agreed on the four cylinder (two cylinders shy of a REAL engine anyway!), but I believe that only pertains to the 2.0L model and not the 2.4L. The 2.0 was not available on any Cirrus, as far as I know. For the price they fetch now, it would be a mistake to pass up the 2.5L six. Also, the interior in an LXi or an ES is far superior to an LX or an SE.

    At 50K miles, the suspension should be fine; by 100K, new front struts are in order. You can replace them all around with Monroe (an upgrade; believe me!) SensaTracs for about $400, when they're on sale, or go with one of the imports for about $800.

    I love my car!

  • enetheneth Posts: 285
    Both 4-cylinder engines (2.0 and 2.4) are known for faulty head gaskets - the Mitsubishi-built V6 is the engine of choice for these cars where reliability is concerned.
  • sp01sp01 Posts: 81
    lost some posts in here as well...

    In looking at used, the head gasket issue is a non by the '99 model year. eneth's point is well taken though, and my preference is the V6, not only for all of its characteristics, but also the better trim and amenities that accompany it. Of course, if it isn't a 3800, eneth wouldn't like it anyway!...;-P

    Two points:
    1. A 2.4L four with a manual will be about on par with the performance of a 2.5L six with an automatic.

    2. The six is shoe-horned in there pretty tight, so if you enjoy doing your own work, you may be occasionally frustrated.

    loucirrus99: Darned near any mid to upper level replacement strut will be a step up. The major points of definition for the success of this platform vs. the competition were interior space, price/content, styling and HANDLING. The only competitor I ever found out there that had better handling was Contour SVT.

    That being said, ChryCo was never known for premium suspension bits in non-premium rides. Thoroughly adequate, yes, but not superior. The Sensa-Trac rides about the same, maybe a little smoother, but creases, ruts and cracks still feel about the same. Hard cornering (and I do a fair amount) is where I've noticed less body roll, better response, more consistent grip and better absorption of surface irregularities without a loss of communication.

    Now, let's be fair: I just replaced near six-year-old OE struts; it's just possible that I'm feeling new vs. old, and that's clouding my memory a bit. But I don't think so.

    I considered Bilstein and KYB as well. The shops did not have good things to say about KYB, and the cost of Bilsteins was more than this particular car is worth, not to mention that I really don't need to firm it up THAT much!

    Hope some of this helps.

  • patpat Posts: 10,421
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  • Mark,
    Thanks very much for the insight on the Monroe struts. The information you furnished was very helpful.
    Cheers.... Lou
  • boltzboltz Posts: 3
    You three appear quite knowledgable when it comes to cars, so here goes. I am helping my mother search for a used car and I drove a '98 Stratus w/the 2.4L engine. I hadn't been in a Stratus before and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised as I have never really given them much thought. This car has 50,000miles on it and it was tight and handled nicely, but the ride was rather unimpressive. They did seem to skimp on factory struts. My question is: eneth mentioned head gasket problems and that it should be replaced with the Daimler gasket. Was that a factory recall? I doubt it but just curious. At what point should that be done and do you care to venture a guess as to what the failure rate is? What is the approximate cost? And finally, any other areas of concern when it comes to this vehicle? The data in Consumer Reports shows that maybe the electrical components might be troublesome...? Of course, this wouldn't be unique to just Chrysler. I appreciate any input you or others might have. Thanks.
  • enetheneth Posts: 285
    There was never a recall on the head gaskets - Chrysler/DaimlerChrysler seem not to recall anything unless forced to over a safety issue (as with the minivan latches, antilock brakes, etc.). For "annoyance" defects like peeling paint, or for head gaskets and transmission failures, the consumer is left to appeal to DaimlerChrysler - reportedly they'll do the head gasket job for $100 at a DaimlerChrysler dealership without much prompting.

    Don't know if you'll find data on failure percentages, but based on those I know with 2.0 and 2.4L Chrysler engines, it's fairly high - just about everyone I've known or met with one had to replace the head gasket by 40-50,000 miles.
  • sp01sp01 Posts: 81
    was never a recall. Just like GM (or Ford for that matter), unless forced, or facing a major PR issue (as with the control arm on some brand new SUVs I've read about), a recall would not be forthcoming.

    Also like Ford, but not usually GM, a little pushing will get about a 50%-75% co-op on the repair.

    I would set my sights on '99 and up when looking at the 2.0L and the 2.4L, though I'm not aware of the head gasket issue's persistence past '97.

    As I've stated before, if you fancy a used "cloud" car, considering the prices they can be had for, you should really look for either a Cirrus LXi, or a Stratus ES V6. The little 2.5L Mitsu six has proven a reliable little power plant. It also has a fairly satisfying little roar between 4500 and 6600 rpms...

    I have replaced two sensors and the high-side A/C switch in my '95 Stratus ES V6, and other than maintenance items and my own upgrades (like my struts and wheels), that's it after 75K miles.

    BTW, NEVER rely on ONE person's anecdotal experiences with ONE car!

  • boltzboltz Posts: 3
    Thank you. The information you provided has been very helpful. A few more questions and I apologize in advance for my ignorance.
    1)How does one know when a headgasket needs to be replaced?
    2)Is the appeal to DaimlerChrysler to have a non-recall item fixed supposed to take some type of formal procedure or is it determined by one's "power of persuasion" at the dealership?
    3)You mentioned a DaimlerChrysler dealership will usually do the repair, does that include a "regular" Chrysler dealership or are they one of the same?
    Also, I went back to inspect the car a 2nd time and I noticed a leak on the pavement and the dealer said it was coming from the transmission pan, that they plan on replacing the seal or gasket...Not a big leak. Is the fact that it leaked enough to avoid this car, i.e. related to a bigger problem, or is it normal or nothing to get worked up about? I verified the odometer number with CarFax, 54K, and the tranny fluid is a nice bright red and the dealer sez he hasn't replaced the fluid. The previous owner was a company lease. Thanks again!
  • xmannxmann Posts: 19
    Re: Look closely at the oil and water. Look for water on the oil dip stick (beads) or oil in the coolant. Especially easiy if the engine is cold like in the morning before its been run. This problem is not just a Chrysler problem believe me. Hondas are very suseptible also.

    Re: Chrysler dealerships, they are all now Daimler Chrysler but they are not all alike. Stick with a 5 star dealer and you will have "fewer" problems.

    Personally I would avoid used 4 cylinders. My company used to use them in our fleet but they simply do not hold up. If I were in the market for a used car regardless of make I would stick to a 6 cylinder. The lower rpm's they are normally driven at and designed for makes them as an engine class more durable. Japanese engines are designed for high compression, high horse power (normally relatively low torque for the hp). As such they generally are driven harder. Heat and vibration are the mortal enemies of these aluminum block engines.

    Good luck to you in your search. Your wise to spend time before purchasing and to ask questions. Others here may have differing opinions which is good as it gives you more perspective.
  • xmannxmann Posts: 19
    A friend who works in automotive design said that the reason there are so few 6 cylinder engines paired with manual transmissions is due to emission requirements and certifications. Blame it on us Californians and our emission requirements. Since more cars are sold here then perhaps any other single state the companies basically build them to meet Calif requirements to avoid the costs of running duplicate inventory and production. The thinking being if it passes for Calif it will pass for all the others. Most 6 cylinders require automatic transmissions to regulate the rpms the engine runs at and thereby regulate the emissions. Its all factored into the emission control systems now incorporated in all cars. With manual transmissions most of these engines would operate outside of permissible ranges. All drivetrains require Calif emission control certification in order to be sold here. Calif's requirements are getting even stricter in the next few years. So unless they redesign these engines to be even more efficient or they change the fuel I don't see any changes in things soon. But then if you don't think its important visit Houston (its worse then LA and proven so) on a summer day or even better Mexico City. Small price to pay for our health I think.
  • enetheneth Posts: 285
    One of the first signs of a failing head gasket is usually either an oil leak around that area, or disappearing coolant.

    If you are noticing a transaxle leak, and have not yet purchased the car, look elsewhere. 50-60,000 miles is about the lifespan of these DaimlerChrysler 4-speed automatics before they require a rebuild or replacement.
  • I'm just about to buy my first car and I really like the Stratus. Since I'm a college student I'm thinking about getting a 1997 with about 50-60000 miles. Have a few questions though if someone can answer them.

    How long life time does the stratus have? how many miles before I should expect problems? I've read about the head gaskets and the A/C.

    Is 4cyl will manual a better option than automatic?

  • xmannxmann Posts: 19
    When you ask about the life expectancy of the Stratus I assume you are referring to the engine and transmission. In my experience eneth is correct about the average real world life expectancy of the automatic. If serviced properly every 15,000 miles the normal transmission life for 4 cylinder Stratus can be more in the 70 - 80,000 mile range. My company has run them in our motor pool and this is what the service records reflect. But most owners will change their oil every 5-8,000 miles but only service their transmission once every 40,000 if that. This normal neglect is why eneth is correct about his estimate of realistic transmission wear in a used car. If you are going to purchase a car the size and weight of a Stratus and run a 4 cylinder engine, then I would recommend a manual. It will be less stress on both the engine and transmission. If you go to a 6 cylinder then an automatic is generally more reliable. Remember with a manual, depending upon how you drive you will be replacing that clutch in as little as 40,000 or maybe 60,000, if your better then average with using it. I had a Jeep with a 6 cylinder automatic that had 165,000 miles on the transmission and engine without any repairs what so ever on either. My wife had a Plymouth Acclaim with a 6 cylinder engine and automatic that had 85,000 miles on it when we traded it in. It required nothing but normal servicing for both engine and transmission and both were running strong when we gave up the car.

    As I've mentioned in my previous posting, if reliability is a concern then look at the 6 cylinder engined cars (compact/midsize cars). Because of their better power to weight ratios the engine and transmissions are subject to less stress over the same number of miles. This means normally all things being equal, the 6 cylinder compact / midsize cars are mechanically usually in better condition.

    If your concerned about mileage, there isn't that much difference between a 4 and a 6 cylinder engine in a car the size of the Stratus. When you consider repair costs and durability what you save in gas with the 4 you more then lose here. In otherwords the 6 will cost you less to operate in the long run.

    All cars can have problems with head gaskets and AC. I've had a few Hondas and my family and company have had several. Head gasket failure was very common with them also. Fords also have had their share of those problems. Be careful when people talk about things like AC, etc. I would guess that the vast majority of problems are due to improper or poor maintenance, broken lines, etc. Many times the fix is relatively simple. When people start talking compressor failure I have to wonder. That sounds more like a mechanic looking to make big money out of a small problem. I've had 11 cars in my life and my company has has had a few hundred over the past few years. I have never had a compressor failure and my company has only had 2 maybe 3 which works out to less then 1%.

    If you are dead set on a 4 cylinder car look at the Saturns. They have what is perhaps the best automatic for a 4 cylinder engine of any company. Their engines are low horsepower high torque which means they tend to operate at lower rpm's. This translates into less wear and tear per miles driven. These cars have a well earned reputation for reliability and durability.

    Good luck to you in your search.
  • sp01sp01 Posts: 81
    xmann said.

    Especially about the V6 and the A/C compressor. It's amazing what you can accomplish when someone tells you the compressor needs replacing, and you get a second opinion.

    Having owned a '93 Saturn SL2 automatic, I have to agree with xmann on that one too. GM may have no clue when it comes to switchgear or interior presentation (except maybe Caddy), but their A/Ts are beyond reproach...

    Best of luck!
  • mary1gmary1g Posts: 1
    Recently, I rented a 2001 Status AS for 4 days and put about just under 1000 miles on it. I was very please with it's look and performance and am considering buying one next month. Anybody know of major problems with this vehicle? (Other than normal things that are averted by regular maintenance.) I'd like to know the positives about it as well. (( In case it matters at all, I am moving back to the U.S.A. where I will be making my car purchase. ))
  • enetheneth Posts: 285
    It's too new to have any reliability history, though given the old one, waiting until the 2002 model year (at least) would be wise, just to give DaimlerChrysler (Mitsubishi in the case of the coupes) a chance to work out the initial-model bugs.
  • nn4nn4 Posts: 1
    I have a 99 Stratus with the 2.4L engine, with only 40,000 km on it. Since day one we have been having problems with the AC.
    There is an intermittent bad smell - they've sprayed it with the spray, they've replaced some hoses, even replaced the evaporator etc - been in the shop at least 6 times for AC problems - only had the car 2 years!
    Apart from that its a solid car.
    I spoke to the chrysler rep and they said that chrysler did have problems with the AC on several of their cars.
    So be warned about the AC on these cars - and for those of you who say that an AC problem is a case of bad maintenance - gimme a break!! Exactly what maintenance do you do for your AC on a car with onyl 40,000km? There is NO scheduled maintenance for an AC system - either it works or it doesn't ...period!
    If you go through posts on Chrysler/Dodge boards you will note that many owners have an AC problem.
  • yurakmyurakm Posts: 1,345
    A/C not working is one problem, bad smell is another.

    Bad smell means there is mold / mildew in A/C system. It grows if the system is always wet. Either because the drain is plugged, or because you are using the recirculate mode too much, or both (mildew plugs the drain itself).

    Given the car was at shop several times, the recirculation reason is much more probable. A/C is not designed to be run is this mode continousely, only for several minutes when starting (or when driving behind a diesel).

    Teo from Impala forum explained what to do with the mildew last summer. It have to be "roasted", i.e. killed by high temperature. This takes about 30-40 minutes. If I remember it right:

    With engine already hot (e.g. after returning from work), put car on park, with engine idling. Open all windows. Than put A/C on recirculation mode, maximal hot. Walk around for 20-30 minutes. The mold will be killed.

    Than, with A/C still on maximal hot, turn it to the normal mode and run for another 5-10 minutes. This is to blow out the remains of killed mold from the system.

    In case of a stubborn mold, or just to be sure, repeat the same two or three times, with interval of a week to month. If there is a mold in system, it will grow - so repeat this every year, or twice a year.

    Of course, it is possible to do the same while driving - if you do not mind the heat torture.
  • nmchopnmchop Posts: 27
    I am in the process tonight of buying the 2000
    Dodge Stratus ES. I started out looking for
    Dodge Dakota Trucks but after gas prices jumped, I opted for a car instead.

    I was going to buy a Dodge Stratus SE 4 cylinder, but happened across this board and decided to take a look at the ES 6 cylinder.

    The 2000 SE 4-cylinder was going to be $10,995. I got the 2000 ES with 18,000 miles for $12,200 and took the 7 year, 100,000 mile warranty for $1300 after reading about some concerns about reliability, I thought maybe it'd be a good idea. I hope I keep the car that long and enjoy it.

    This one has the autostick which i will admit i know nothing about. I enjoyed it on the test drive. Does anyone have this feature? What real world use is there besides fun? I guess it'd be good like in snow, etc because you can control the power etc.

    I wanted to thank all of your for your posts and for taking the time to let others know your experiences. It sure helps...I'll contribue once i get possesion of the car (it's dark green, i'd of preferred maroon and it doesn't have a sunroof). I sure wouldn't mind one but oh well.

    Thanks again,
  • enetheneth Posts: 285
    By 2000, the Cirrus/Stratus had a decent repair record - DaimlerChrysler had solved the head gasket problems with the 4-cylinder (2.0 and 2.4) engines. And in this model line, the 4-speed automatic hasn't been as troublesome as it has in the other, larger models (leading one to perhaps conclude that it's underengineered for duty in large vehicles like minivans and Intrepids, but OK for smaller ones where it's under a lot less stress).
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    in the reviews section of is a Road Test of the 2001 Dodge Stratus. Here is an excerpt from editor Liz Kim's report:

      "Dodge has created a highly likeable alternative to the mega-powers who control the family sedan segment ... It's roomier and more powerful than its American brethren, and thousands less than comparatively equipped Japanese sedans."
    Read the entire review by following the link in the Additional Resources box on the left sidebar of this page. Let us know what you think.

    Sedans and Women's Auto Center Message Boards
  • vlisvlis Posts: 28
    A rather lukewarm review, sad to say. Too bad about the source of all those rattles. With nearly 6K on the clock, my '01 Sebring LXi sedan has been blessedly free of such annoyances. These cars deserve better.
  • nmchopnmchop Posts: 27
    I've now got the 2000 stratus ES, i picked it up yesterday. I do miss my truck but this is a good ride. I don't have creaks and rattles which have been eluded too in that review. They also kind of layed into the radio a little, for a factory radio, i like it. I was going to get an aftermarket radio, but i've decided against it.

    I am having a litte buyer's remorse, not with the car so much as with the extended warranty for some reason. Maybe because I have no idea if i'll keep the car that long? I got that mixed in with the car loan at the point of sale, i'm not sure if that was smart or not. Time will tell.

    A couple of minor things to note, my windshield mister isn't working (this is a used vehicle) so i need to get that fixed. Certainly no biggy.

    Everything else is in good order it seems. ES comes in leather (I got it for the V6 engine). I live in NM, leather isn't going to work for me in the hot summer, so i'm off to an auto parts store to get a cloth seat cover, at least until fall.

    My back has been sore the last couple of days, i've noticed the lumbar support seems to be bothering me on the drivers side seat and doesn't seem to have an adjustment...I think my chevy truck had no to very little lumbar support and i got used to that. I've been playing with the power seat trying to get comfy.

    Overall, this car is a looker. I like the way it performs. My issues with it have nothing to do with the car, but the fact i'm coming out of a truck and used to the view up there haha. It's going to take some time getting used to the view. I wish somehow, i could've gotten cloth interior with the V6 but i'll fix that with a $30 seat cover I guess at Autozone. Any advice on that front?

    One other thing...on moving from a truck to the stratus. I drove it today and the gas needle never moved! YESSSSS. goal #1 accomplished.
  • sp01sp01 Posts: 81
    years and 76K miles on my ES V6, and never had an A/C stink.

    I had an issue with my '87 Acura Legend, but that's the only car I've ever had with an A/C odor.

    Kind of funny you mention A/Cs and extended warranties. My high-side switch went out at 72K miles. Not an expensive repair, but an annoying one timing-wise. Went out on the very day I had to make a six-hour round trip to the central valley in 100+ heat! Of course! My co-worker's Accord A/C quit at 82K, and his wife's Camry A/C went at 89K, while my sister's Accord lost it at 68K. My father's XJ6 A/C lasted 'til 124K (miracles DO happen).

    I think it's reasonable to assume repairs will be necessary to most vehicles approching the 100K mark. Just make sure that your "warranty" doesn't exclude parts of the HVAC system!!!
  • jrypkajrypka Posts: 2
    OK, so I've seen lots of people with head gasket problems, and I think mine may be going out too. People have also seemed to have some luck getting the dealership or chrysler to pay for part of the repairs. My question is, how do you go about that? I have called two dealerships, and both say that unless I have extended warranty, they won't/can't reduce the cost. What can I do?
  • phatride01phatride01 Posts: 23
    Once you call a 5-star dealer, they should know, and if the car is within that model year, for which they "knew" about the head gaskets, they will replace it for free. A friend of mine recently had this done, after I told him about that.

    Seems to work, lemme know what happens after calling them. Otherwise, I will ask my friend what he did to have his car's situation resolved.

  • jrypkajrypka Posts: 2
    The first dealership I called was a 5-star. I guess I might try to find another, although I may have to travel just to get it fixed. But if it'll save me a few hundred, it'll be worth it. what did your friend do to get his resolved?

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