The car had been terribly neglected before I bought it. The guy even said he just used it to get back and forth to work, and that was it, so as a result the car needed a good bath and some TLC.
The motor was worn so mileage wasn't up to snuff, and on some mornings when I started it, it would send up a blue smokescreen. The 2.5, a derivative of the ol' 2.2, made lots of knocking sounds, but these engines were famous for it, so it never concerned me. Piston slap I hear is a major cause of the noise. Also, because of the 2.5's long stroke (4.09 inches) it didn't like a lot of revving, these engines never need to be revved past 4500 rpm, even though horsepower peaks at 4800, and the rev limiter is set to 6000. I had mine once at 5500, and it sounded like it was screaming.
I think the biggest problem with these cars is the head gasket. The head being aluminum, and the block being iron, they expand at different rates while warming up, and over the years the head gasket just wears out. Chrysler put cheap gaskets in these cars when they were built. When you go to replace a head gasket, go to a Mopar dealer and ask for the Mopar high performance head gasket. You may feel silly saying 'high performance' and 'Dodge Spirit/Plymouth Acclaim' in the same sentence, but the fact is the high performance head gaskets were of a much higher quality than the cheap OEM units. If you got skillz, you can change one in a little over an hour, but I'd prefer taking my time. While you have the head off, replace the valve seals too if you feel like it.
NOTE for people who have the 4 speed A604 automatic... DON'T USE DEXRON FLUID IN THESE UNITS!!! Even though it says on the stick to use it, DON'T. Dexron kills the A604's. Use ATF+3, it's a little harder to find and a little most costly, but it's well worth the price.
Now, with all that said, if you find one of these cars that's been well maintained, go for it. These cars are quiet, comfortable, fairly roomy cars that are easy to drive and service. My old 89, even with the worn engine, would cruise at 60-70 mph or higher without fuss. Mileage for these cars, assuming it's not worn out, is pretty good. 30 or so mpg on the highway is easily achievable.
Here's a tip for people with the 2.5, when you change your oil or have it changed for you, ask for a Ford V8 oil filter. Tell them it's a Fram PH8A, and have them cross-check the number for another brand if you don't like Fram filters. One small thing though, there's a bolt on the alternator that may have to be trimmed a little in order to give the larger filter enough room. Trust me, you will want to trim this bolt, or bend it up out of the way, I killed a battery one time when the larger filter made contact with this bolt. About a half inch off this bolt will do, and 10-20 seconds with a grinder will take care of it.
Ahh, the trials and tribulations of owning an EEK. Feel like rapping about your EEK? Email me email@example.com.