1988 Dodge Raider 2.6 liter Inline 4 cylinder
A tough rock-climber, not at home on the highway
I have had the two most common failures of the vehicle.
Problem 1: a permanently lubricated steering arm (due to the leaking power steering unit). I had a rebuilt power steering unit put in two years ago for $800, and now the rebuilt one is leaking just like the old one did. I figure I have another couple of years on this one before I have to replace it. At this point, I would rather fill the darn thing up before I drive it, than keep swapping out units.
I also seem to have the "secondary carburetor-barrel not holding a vacuum and therefore not opening" problem. I'm still working on being sure the "depression chamber" on the carburetor's second barrel is the cause of the symptoms, which are losing power on the highway, especially when the gas is pushed to the floor, blowing smoke, and hesitating on acceleration. It seems the second barrel doesn't open, so the engine is starved for air, and the gas doesn't burn very completely.
I have had miscellaneous parts fall off, such as the rear door handle, the bars in the windows, three fog lights, the fabric on the ceiling in the rear of the vehicle, the exhaust system (now replaced, but that cut a tire on the highway when it went and that almost killed me!), and various pieces of interior moldings and gizmos. At 90,000 miles I had the catalytic converter's metal covers cut off, because they were rattling so much.
After reading the maintenance others have done to their Raiders I see that I have gotten off very cheaply; just the usual shocks, tires, brakes, and spark plugs. Actually, I should probably do a lot better job at maintenance, and the fact that the truck works as well as it does is testament to its quality design and construction.
This is not a performance car. It accelerates slowly on the highway, and it does not get very good gas mileage on the highway. In town and on the freeway, you can expect 15 to 18 MPG, depending on how well tuned the engine happens to be.
It has a high center of gravity (go easy on the turns), and high winds will push you across the road like a sail, sometimes pulling the doors away from the truck enough that air blows in through the rubber door seals and you briefly see daylight peeking through... but the doors have never blown off yet ;)
What it is made for is driving off-road, and it does that extremely well. For as light as the body is, this truck is one tough bugger. The cargo space (at least the two-door model) is kind of small, but the back seat is easily unbolted and removed for better capacity. The back seat is not very functional anyway; this is really a two-seater for all practical purposes.
I have had multiple offers to buy the Raider, even though it is currently blowing smoke out the tailpipe (from the carburetor problems causing the gas to burn incompletely). It clearly attracts attention on the road, and it is a fun little truck.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 25th June, 2002
2nd Nov 2002, 00:23
Hey, Just to let you know that I also have had a case of the "Slowies" with my Raider. Rebuilt the engine at 180,000
Replaced the head due to a crack at the same time. A local carb shop in my area has found a source for rebuilt secondary vacuum modules. They cost about $40. Recently discovered that if you putz with the electrical connection at the carb while the engine is running, ooops!, it takes out the fuel management brain under the dash and from that point on has no power on any kind of grade. By the way, it actually moved out pretty good after the new engine, pulling a 900 lb. boat at 65mph down the freeway. Good Luck!P.S. It now has 225,000 and still runs great.