26th May 2008, 08:00
I've been reading everyone's posts and hope I can contribute something useful. I own a 2001 Dodge Intrepid SE 2.7 liter engine. I am also an amateur mechanic, do most of my own work including oil changes, etc. I purchased the service manual for this car early in my ownership. I got the car new as a leased company car, and observed the leasing-company required 7500 mile change routine. My employer went out of business and sold me the car to get out from under the lease. This was in late 2003-early 2004. Googling the car to see value, I also came across many posts on the 2.7 engine sludge/failure problem.
Knowing what I know about cars in general, and reading up on the issue,
MY NUMBER ONE ADVICE FOR ALL CHRYSLER 2.7 LITER ENGINE OWNERS IS TO USE SYNTHETIC OIL. IMMEDIATELY. TODAY. CHANGE IT EVERY 3000 MILES, EVEN THOUGH IT'S EXPENSIVE. It's not a costly as total engine failure on a cold winter day on the expressway with your child in the car!
1. The engine has a design defect. You can see it in their own drawings in their service manual. The coolant pump, which is an exterior, fan-belt driven part on most cars, cheap to buy and easy to replace, is located INTERNALLY in the Chrysler 2.7 liter engine. Significant disassembly of the front components of the car, and engine are necessary to replace it. That's why it's so expensive to replace. It is located so that drips and other escaping coolant (water) can mix with engine oil because it is internal. Water + hot oil= sludge. Sludge clogs the narrow passage for the hydraulic (engine oil pressure) cam chain tensioner, the cam chain jumps on the sprocket, and you've just put a valve (s) through a piston crown (s). Ruined engine.
2. Synthetic oil resists sludging from both overheating, and from mixing with water. Use it. Change it frequently. Cheaper than any other alternative.*
3. I also had the flickering oil pressure light. Near heart-attack! There is a problem with some oil pressure sensors, that when oil pressure is low (but not dangerously low), pressure builds on the BACK side of the sensor's diaphragm, which does not allow for a normal pressure reading, causing the light to flicker at low engine speed. There is a Chrysler repair part designed to fix this problem. It is a rear-vented oil pressure sensor, called an oil pressure "vent kit", Part No. 05017800AA. It has a vent tube that looks like the plastic corrugated wire conduit which is run up along the wire harness to vent the sensor at a high point, I guess so any oil that leaks past the sensor will be retained in the tube and not drip in your garage. Relatively cheap and easy fix. My light has not flickered since I replaced this part. If your oil pressure light comes on at higher speeds, it's probably something else.
4. My "check-engine" light came on relatively early in the car's life, around 35,000 miles. It was the hose for the MAP or similar vacuum-related emissions control component. The hose (and others like it) was located in the left side (passenger's) side, not too far from the battery. The hoses run near the exhaust manifold and the heat doesn't take long to deteriorate the rubber hoses. If you remove the air cleaner, and ducts leading up to the manifold, you'll find these hoses beneath it. That is where I'd recommend anyone check first when the "check engine" light comes on. Also try a new gas cap, relatively cheap and easy.
5. My car has also begun leaking around the coolant bleed valve "dome", which many mistake for the "thermostat housing". (By the way, I have also replaced the thermostat, which is located on the low side of the engine, driver's side, very hard to get to, and a pain.) BTW, the coolant bleed valve seized up on me and rotated the whole thing, brass molded into plastic, what great engineering! But that's not what's leaking. It appears the whole intake manifold will have to come off to replace the bleed valve cover and gasket--not sure it's worth it--small amount of leakage.
If you get a small dental mirror (or similar mechanic's mirror), and open up the oil filler cap, using a flashlight, you can kind of inspect the cam gallery from the oil filler hole. If you see sludge, start saving your money and making plans to dump the car ASAP. Maybe you can rehab it if you use an engine flush and start using synthetic oil, but who knows? If there is no sludge,--say a prayer of thanks, and change your oil today using synthetic oil. (Synthetic oil may cause some drips--for some reason it likes to slide by old gaskets that stop regular oil, but frankly, I'm willing to clean up a few drips in exchange for (hopefully) avoiding total engine failure.)
Although my car has given me good service, and few complaints, it will be the last Chrysler product I buy:
1. The engine was obviously designed and built with absolutely no thought to serviceability, or to consequences of routine, common failures like wearing-out of water pumps. I've never had a vehicle that didn't eventually need a water pump replaced, and to design an engine with such an internal pump is very, very poor engineering. Ditto having to remove the intake manifold to replace a simple plastic (which should have been metal) bleeder valve cap. Poor engineering, no thought for service ease/cost.
2. Daimer-Chrysler's stonewalling of consumers who have had problems with their engines. DCX can make all the excuses they want about customer failure to maintain, but the relative ratio of complaints to engines built is high, clearly something's going on here, and I will not buy such an expensive vehicle from a manufacturer who won't back its product. Especially galling that the the company took good care of Mercedes customers in Germany when Mercedes engines were built with sludge-producing flaws. (Extended warranties) I'll probably go back to GM. I hope the new owners of Chrysler do a better job of standing behind their products, time will tell.
BOTTOM LINE, FOR ME:
Even running synthetic oil, especially if you bought your 2.7 liter Chrysler used, common sense tells you it would be better to drive a vehicle that does not have a known design defect that can cause catastrophic failure. You should probably think about getting another car as soon as you can. That's what I'm in the process of doing.
*I have no stock, ownership, or other financial interest in any synthetic oil company.
16th Sep 2008, 19:55
I also am experiencing similar problems with my 2002 Dodge Intrepid SE with the 2.7 liter motor.
I seem to be in the same pinch as all of you, unfortunately, if there is a class action suit please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for all the input, all you fellow Dodge Intrepid owners.
15th Oct 2008, 18:52
At 69K miles, my '02 Dodge Intrepid (six cylinder etc.) has been diagnosed as needing: (1) replace the water pump with a new one and a timing cover set, and (2) remove and replace oil pressure sender or switch. I've read other remarks over the past few years and I fall into the problem areas as others have reported.
Is there any class action suit (s) pending against Dodge auto mannufacture? Please let me know. Volensky@qis.net