Best and sharpest-looking sedan ever!!
Blown head gasket at 110,000 miles.
Left & right lower control arms replaced.
Left & right outer tie-rods replaced.
Left CV drive axle replaced.
Oxygen sensor replaced.
Timing belt replaced at 102,000 miles.
Windshield washer pump replaced.
AC-blower resistor replaced.
Right front door latch replaced.
Left door check assembly replaced.
Total re-paint (base coat and clear coat).
My 1998 Dodge Stratus 2.4L Base is the GREATEST car I've ever had, despite some repair problems.
Bought it new in 1998. The first FIVE YEARS saw only the most routine of maintenance, and NO PROBLEMS whatsoever in any area. In fact my first expense over $200 was my first set of new tires in 2003.
The following year saw a routine front-and-rear alignment, new spark plugs and ignition wires and a fuel-system cleaning.
Through late 2005, still only routine maintenance and normal wear-and-tear! Then it was time for a major brake job. (Still considered a wear-and-tear item, I know). Finally got new ceramic brake pads and quality rotors. Flushed the brake system and cleaned/adjusted rear brakes. Total cost at my trusted repair shop: $450. Haven't had any brake problems since.
First problems didn't start until early 2006, when the expected OIL LEAKS finally came. This is eight years and about 70,000 miles before my first issues arose, folks! Car still ran great, so decided to delay fixing this.
Paint started cracking and peeling off. A couple of months later my door check assembly went bad and this was my first minor repair item!!
Replaced my serpentine belt, and then my front passenger power lock motor had to be replaced for $370.
Then in 2007, the battery was replaced for the first time in nine years. Other than those bothersome oil-leaks (had to watch the oil level weekly and buy a lot of quarts of 5W-30) I went through only oil changes and minor-wear items through 2008!!
Then in spring 2009, after 11 years and no breakdowns, my first costly year of major repairs had arrived. After my latest round of fluid-flushes at 100,000 miles, (coolant/power steering/transmission flushes at the same time) my timing belt sheared off and had to be replaced. Water pump was done at the same time.
Then, steering/suspension problems, as I had to have both lower control arms and both outer-tie rods replaced. The grinding and squeaking noises were finally gone.
My CV drive axle went bad at about the same time, as did my windshield-washer pump, and I fixed the AC-blower resistor that was only blowing on high, and had my headlights buffed as the moisture was getting so bad I couldn't see at night.
Then decided to get a brand-new paint job ($1100) with my original color, and the car looked brand-new for the first time in years!! Needed another 4 new tires, and then my OEM head gasket finally blew (after leaking oil for 4 years) at 110,000 miles. Replaced the head gasket as well as the valve cover gasket, intake gasket, exhaust manifold, tensioner pulley, timing belt again, thermostat and whatever seals are replaced when the head gasket blows. Cost me over $1000 for this, but the oil leaks are now gone.
My last item was the oxygen sensor going bad and being replaced after the OBD check. That's about $6000+ in the last year, but this car is now 12 years old and has treated me well over the years, and now it's in great shape and in top-running condition at 111,000 miles with the original engine, transmission and exhaust system.
All of this has been WELL worth it. I've taken some great long trips in it, and it drives, rides and handles tremendously. Great, comfortable interior. It's also arguably the best-looking car of the last two decades, and I refuse to part with it. Its sharp styling gets stares on the road to this day.
I do not like ANY of the new bland and generic sedans being sold now (including the latest Chryslers), and I want to keep this Stratus at least another decade and know I can get it there. I know I've been far luckier than most, but I've taken care of this car religiously ever since I bought it, and I've got a great repair shop that I go to.
All in all, why buy a new car?
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 8th February, 2010