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Should I Purchase a 2002 Stratus?


Old 02-16-2017, 06:13 PM
Blurrz is offline
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Default Should I Purchase a 2002 Stratus?

Hello All,

I am new to the forums and dodge cars in general. I have been doing a good amount of research but wanted to get some feedback from owners who are not posting reviews on KBB or customer complaints.

I have the opportunity to buy a 2002 Dodge Stratus with 63,000 miles. It is the 2.4L 4 cylinder SE sedan version.

I read that the V6 2.7 engine has many issues with engine sludge but wanted to see if this 2.4 will be able to make it to 200k+ without major repairs. The previous owner is turning 95 and just had his license taken away - so I figure

I have noticed a few things wrong:

- The air only works when it is on level 4
- The shocks make some pretty bad creaking sounds when going over a bump or dip
- Small transmission fluid leak
- There was no coolant in the reservoir

These are all issues I can live with for the price of the car ($1,500) - I figure I can just keep some coolant and transmission fluid on hand and fill it up.

My plan is to commute back and forth to work (30 miles round trip) so I don't put miles on my current car and to travel up to the mountains in the snow (1000 miles round trip). Any guidance would be very much appreciated!
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Old 02-16-2017, 10:22 PM
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Default Hell yeah bro!

Welcome to Dodge, and the Doge forum! The Stratus section has been dead for a while though....

Anyways, I have the 2.4L Stratus, the SXT. Though mine is a 2006, with 196,000 miles on it. They're really nice cars dude (and yes, the 2.7 did have bad oil sludge problems, though that tends to happen when people didn't change their oil for a long time, also using a longer oil filter will help prevent sludge as well).

Before my Stratus, I had an Audi, A6 Quattro 4.2L (V8), and a BMW 330xi before that. And I couldn't be f***ing happier. These cars have been known to last up to 400,000 miles, and that's not really even a rare occurrence.

But... few warnings for you to think about before you make up your mind.

1. 60,000 miles for a 2002 vehicle is very very low. I know most people like low mileage cars, but understand that the lower miles, the longer the car has been sitting. Cars don't like to sit.

2. If the owner left the car outside, I'm willing to bet the car has a fair amount of rust on it. You should check underneath the car and make sure the frame isn't in bad condition.

3. The coolant and tranny leak isn't the end of the world. How bad is the coolant leak though?

4. Probably the most important thing: these cars have timing belts. Unlike most timing belts though, Chrysler suggests replacing this one every 80,000 miles unlike the usual 100,000 miles. So keep that in mind, as that belt will have to be changed sometime in the next two years.

Check to see if you have a non-interference engine though. If you do, and your timing belt breaks while you're driving, you won't need to worry about the engine being done for.

Anyways, I hope that helps! Sorry it's so long! I just love to educate people about these simplistic, yet awesome cars. They're really fun to work on!

Take care,

-Joseph Taylor
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Old 02-17-2017, 01:25 PM
Blurrz is offline
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Default Thank you for the info!

I noticed this place was a little dead after I posted - thank you for taking the time to answer my questions!

I have a 2013 Subaru STI as my fun car but the thing is a fortune to drive and maintain (I just paid $800 for a brembo break job). Plus it keeps getting hit by a-holes who swing open their doors in tight parking lots and parking anywhere close to a shop has been giving me huge amounts of anxiety.

From what I understand this guy would use it to go to the grocery store once a week down the street and would turn it on and run it a lot but just never took it very far. Ive driven it about 75 miles so far and its a smooth comfortable ride and the engine sounds strong.

I noticed the alternator looks shiney so he must of just replaced that not to long ago and the belts look good as well. Honestly if I can keep this thing running for 30k miles at least without major repairs it will of paid for itself a few times over at $1500. I like that this is a proven mitsubishi engine and something I can work on.

This car was garage kept in California in surprisingly good condition with no rust. It does look like it was driven by a 90 year old man though with a few 3-4mph fender benders and tons of scratches.

As far as the coolant / transmission leak goes I am not seeing any puddles - its just what the owner said (and I think he checked it while it was cold and assumed there was a leak since the fluid level was low). The coolant just didn't have anything in the reservoir, not sure if its actually a leak or not.

I just checked and its the DOCH camp 2.4 non-interference engine! That's so cool - I blew a belt on my subaru legacy and it was a $3k fix.

I really appreciate your long response! Whenever I am about to spend money on something that will be with me for a while and relying on in the snow I like to talk about it.

1 other thing I noticed was starting it up is a little odd - I need to have the key turned for a solid second longer than I am used to and sometimes need to turn the key twice for it to start. But again - something I can definitely live with.
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Old 02-17-2017, 01:50 PM
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This whole forum (with the exception of the 2nd gen Ram section) is dying a slow death. Facebook is stealing everybody. lol
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Old 02-17-2017, 06:49 PM
TurboRev is offline
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Seems like a very good buy. Just don't abuse it and stick to regular maintenance intervals and it should last you a very very long time.
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Old 02-18-2017, 12:07 PM
TZFBird is offline
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I don't know about the generation of Stratus you are looking at but the 2000 with the 2.5 I've been working on has just about broke my spirit. It's had nothing but problems from day 1 yet I have to say that it's never left us stranded or not started even with the problems it has.
If you ate looking for something with cheap parts and easy to fix, look elsewhere but this one has been running almost 5 years with low oil pressure and a check engine light for cylinder misfires.
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