Once again the quality of the North American car comes into question in the form of the Dodge Stratus. Our Dodge, purchased used from the Chrysler dealership with ~25,000 km has been a myriad of strange problems. To date the car has only 125,000 km and may be one major repair from appearing in the used car lot once more.
The car is a reasonably nice looking vehicle, the smooth contours typical of mid '90s cars, and a broad range of colours available. It's very spacious, with comfortable front and rear seating and a well laid out front console.
Our Dodge has the base 2.0L 4 cylinder engine that has run fairly well over time. The car has enough pep for the average family driver that comprises the target demographic.
It looks decent and drives well, so where's my beef? It's the anomalies in the performance that drive me crazy. As an amateur mechanic I'm capable of doing basic maintenance and some more routine repair / replacement work. Throw a Hanes manual my way and I don't do to badly. This car frustrates me to no end with the "tick" or the "rattle" that never seems to lead anywhere.
Example: only months after purchasing the vehicle, the steering column began vibrating when the car idles. If you leave your hands on the wheel they start to tingle, the keys rattle in the ignition. Two trips to the dealership revealed nothing.
Example: repeated electrical components wearing out, only to discover that the main computer has been at fault all along. Apparently the 2.0L engine is rare enough that the computers are not readily available, and are pretty costly. We were lucky enough to discover that our faulty computer was covered under an extend manufacturer's warranty due to a design flaw I guess. Thank you Chrysler for not writing to tell us, I'm sure you thought it would just be a bother. After replacing the ignition switch, O2 sensors and fuel sensors the check engine light would come on and off daily, the engine idled rough or stalled and the lights wouldn't go on.
The fact that repairs such as these are beyond my scope of knowledge (and, considering that it took years to diagnose some of these issues, the scope of the dealer mechanics as well) makes it all the more aggravating. If you want a decent car that's easy to maintain, run away from the Stratus and don't look back.
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