1978 Chrysler LeBaron LE 318 lean burn from North America


A good car for cars produced during that time period


I had this car in Germany 81 - 84. I learned how to work on cars over there in my spare time. I am kind of a geek, so I liked finding out why parts failed.

The first problem I had when I bought the car in the US was that the rear tail light covers kept falling off. I had to buy some sealant to fix this problem.

Also, in the states, I found out that the ring gear was missing a few teeth -- when that section of the ring gear came up to the starter, you could not start the car. I carried a long breaker bar and socket to turn the engine a little bit to bring up a different section of the ring gear, until I was able to have the ring gear replaced.

In Germany:

One front parking light went out. I found out that somehow water got into a wiring harness junction, turning the copper to blue powder.

The car made ticking noise, which sounded like it was coming from the transmission. I found that the U-joint would not move in one plane. Upon disassembly, found that the bearings causing that problem had disintegrated into powder.

Radio made a screeching sound when I hit a bump sometimes. Found a hairline crack between the radio PCB and the chassis ground. Fixed it with a soldering iron.

The car went into the limp-home mode. This was a problem with the ECM. I tried to repair the ECM, but this is potted inside. I wired two blocks around the outside to put pressure on it until I could replace the module.

The car backfired when cold. Found this was a problem with the valve controlling the heated-air intake. Put a piece of tape over the end of the valve until I could buy another one.

This year was a bad year for rubber hoses. All the radiator hoses failed, plus at least one of the other ones.

One day, the car wouldn't start. Found out that one of the ballast resistors had failed.

Found the following problems while doing engine work:

The EGR gas system was obviously not functioning. The EGR passageways were completely blocked with hard carbon or graphite. I had to chisel this material out.

Some of the freeze plugs were almost eroded completely through.

The timing chain had a LOT of stretch to it, but still functioned OK.

General Comments:

I bought this car used from a car rental dealer. It seemed fairly reliable at first. After a few years of ownership, I started having more problems. In Germany, it would go 100 mph on the autobahns, but didn't have a lot more power when going faster than that. Seemed to do well on gas usage. A/C worked pretty well. My car had a wheel vibration issue at 60 - 70 mph, that would go away at higher speeds. I could never find the cause.

I think the reliability was fairly good for cars of that error, but does not compare to today's cars.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 22nd October, 2014

1978 Chrysler LeBaron Medallion 318 2BBL from North America


Comfortable luxury/Chrysler quality


Fan clutch failed almost immediately after buying the vehicle... the bearings in the unit were making a loud "squeeling" noise, particularly during acceleration, etc.

A relatively easy fix for 40.00 and an hour and a half...

This has been the only mechanical failure thus far... this car seems to have been engineered quite well.

General Comments:

The 1978 Chrysler Lebaron was a mid-size sedan complete with luxurious touches and fine engineering we had come to expect with the Chrysler name.

My Lebaron is a "Medallion" edition, which is simply a "fancier" version of the standard sedan... vinyl top, A/C, tilt steering and side molding were a few of the options offered with the series. The sedan I purchased has velour upholstery and a "stock" working (!!!) am radio; not the luxury package here but quite functional indeed.

The car is powered by a 318 engine, which I have found to be a workhorse when it comes to Chrysler products... with only 79,000 original miles it will be interesting to see what kind of use I can get out of this car. I also have the "Lean Burn" version of the 318 2 bbl, which has its share of critics out there... it is Chrysler's initial use of a computer (the electronic spark module) along with a number of other emission control items to produce a "clean and lean" engine; the only question, which I am sure I'll see over time, is whether of not I will want to change to a standard ignition.

It has great power and acceleration, but is also a dependable vehicle to commute around town. I am, however, a little disappointed with the gas mileage I've been averaging (10 to 12 miles per gallon)... it may be in need of a tune up and timing adjustment pretty soon.

This car is simply a delight to run out on the highway.. the suspension is just perfect for cruising at highway speeds and seems to be in great shape for its age... (it is like taking a ride in your recliner chair)... what a nice change of pace from a 1996 Saturn SL!!!! Haha

All of the other systems in the car appear to be in good working order... no complaints at all

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 1st December, 2009

1978 Chrysler LeBaron Town and Country wagon 5.9 V8 from North America


Luxury, but at a price


Electrical issues.. power windows failed three times in two years, and the lean burn electronic system was a nightmare.

General Comments:

Was a poor college student when I picked this car up cheap from family friends. It could climb a wall as far as power was concerned, and the comfort of the ride with those Corinthian leather seats was great.

Of course this was a used car with high mileage, so you are going to expect issues with it, but the electrical system was definitely a problem area on this car, and the previous original owner had experienced them also.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 7th February, 2008

10th Mar 2013, 18:27

Yeah, I bought a 78 LeBaron 4 barrel 318, and this car is a beast after I eliminated the spark control module and the charcoal canister. The car sat for 4 years, and started right up and everything works. I had a Jeep before this, and will always remain loyal to Chrysler. Next I will try a Dodge ha ha.