April 27

How Reliable Are Chrysler Cars?



Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local, we’re here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive, talking cars. We're going to talk how reliable Chrysler cars are this morning. How are you doing Bernie?

Bernie: Doing pretty well.

Mark: How reliable are Chryslers?

Bernie: Well, overall I don't really recommend them. You can often pick up a Chrysler car pretty cheap for a used one. There's a lot of issues from Chrysler Pacificas with rusting frame cradles, to Seabrings with oil sludging engines. They're just a lot of issues with a variety of Chrysler cars that I would just avoid, but we can talk a little more in depth about them.

Mark: All right. Well, let's start with the Pacifica. What's going on with this vehicle?

Bernie: Chrysler just re-release the Pacifica in 2016 so we won't talk about those because to be honest I've never looked at one and our experience comes when the car gets a few years old. We'll look at the older Pacificas 2004 to 2009. A very nice car when it was brought out, but a lot of problems with these cars. Oil leaks, fluid leaks, rusted engine cradles are a big issue. I've actually never seen one, but I think we're in the West Coast in Vancouver there's not a lot of road salt. Back east it's a very common problem on this vehicle. Very expensive to repair because the engine could actually drop out of the vehicle so it needs to be fixed. There's a lot of electrical issues with the vehicles.

My overall impression of the Pacifica it's a really nice vehicle and it was created when Mercedes owned Chrysler. It was a really ill fated marriage, just a bad combination of a lower end car manufacturer with a high end car manufacturer, and they tried upscale the Pacifica, but they did it on the cheap. That's really the impression I get of the car. Things just break and wear out way too fast. If it was a Mercedes you wouldn't have many of these problems if any at all.

Mark: All right. What about the Seabring?

Bernie: There's another lemon. I'll have to say that the convertibles when they came out they were a really nice car. The one engine in the Seabring that's really problematic the 2.7 litre V6. It was a nice engine, runs well, but prone to oil sludging. This is an engine if you went 100 kilometres over the 5,000 kilometre oil change interval you're asking for problems. Of course, a lot of people don't know that. People get lazy, they don't change their oil, there's just a number of problems with the engine oil sludging and complete engine failures. Even those people who would maintain the engine well, the water pump is located inside the engine. It's driven by the timing change. It’s the only vehicle out there that has that. When the water pump starts leaking it costs a lot of money to fix. It's well over $1,000, a $1,000 or $1,500. You have to take the timing chain cover off to get it out so it's not really a smart design for a longevity of repair. Knock on wood, I own a 2001 Subaru Outback with a six cylinder. It's got an internal water pump. I've got almost close to 300,000 kilometres the water pump has never been replaced. I say knock on wood because it will go sooner or later. That's a reliable system. The Seabring wasn't so reliable.

Other things with some Chrysler products, Seabring it's the only one. The batteries are located under the fender. They're hard to get out so it costs a little more money to fix. Again, that's not the only car that has a hard to get at battery. For an average American car, people have an expectation things are going to be simpler and a little less expensive to fix. Seabring is definitely not one of those vehicles.

Mark: All right. That brings us to maybe the more luxurious 300 series. You see quite a few of these around. How are they?

Bernie: Again, they're not the most reliable, but I think they're a step up from the Seabring and the Pacifica. They've got a unique styling that people like. Again, we don't work on a lot of them. The ones we have worked on have been pretty reliable. A few front end steering issues, but overall the cars have been pretty good.

Mark: All right. We could talk about the Crossfire. It's a pretty unique vehicle. How are they?

Bernie: I'd say these are pretty decent. They're not very common. If you look at it, this vehicle is actually based on a Mercedes. It's similar to an SLK 320. It uses the same engine, same drive train. The reliability is pretty much the same, which they're a pretty good car. Yeah, they're good. The only issue I've seen ... I haven't actually seen personally, but just doing a little research is the rear windows apparently fall out of these cars. That seems to be the major complaint. Otherwise, a little more reliable. I got to thinking too, if you own a Crossfire where do you take it to get service? You could go to the dealer, but this car is really more like a Mercedes than a Chrysler. A lot of times I think you're best to seek out a good independent auto repair shop. A shop that's going to look for the best source for parts. If you buy things from the dealer they're often way over priced. I've seen this with so many of these marriages between different car companies. Ford and Mazda, Chrysler, Mercedes, often if you go to a Mercedes dealer you can get the parts for a lot cheaper than you can actually buy them from the Chrysler dealer. Just a little tip if you own one of these cars. Not saying ... Of course, we want your business, but find a good independent shop that can take care of it because they can look around for better options than the dealership. Quite frankly, a lot of dealers don't really know how to fix these things. Even the Jeep diesels their level of expertise is not as high as some other shops.

Mark: What about some of the older vehicles that are going to be on the used market like the Intrepid or the Neon?

Bernie: Definitely vehicles I wouldn't recommend. The Intrepid had a lot of issues with coolant leaks, steering, parts wearing out, electrical issues. They weren't fantastic vehicles. Neons, there used to be a lot of those cars on the road. We rarely ever see one. We had a client a couple of months ago that wanted, we did a bunch of work on it. The car is still chugging along pretty good, but certainly they're the kind of car they lose their value so much by the time they need some sort of major repair it's better just to scrap the car than fix it. With the PT Cruiser, now that's another. It's a little flashier of a car. That's basically based on a Neon. Again, same sort of level of problems. If you have a PT Cruiser convertible maybe you might want to fix that because it's a little more special of a car. Yeah, those are a couple of vehicles I would avoid.

Mark: Overall, Chrysler is not really doing all that great of a job?

Bernie: No. It makes me sad to say so because I'm a mopart guy at heart. My first car was a 69 Dodge Dart 340. I had a lot of friends who had fast Chrysler products from the late 60's, early 70's. They were awesome cars, pretty reliable, and fast, and fun, good looking cars. Even the Dodge Slant Six was a super reliable vehicle. I've owned Dodge vans with 318's they're bulletproof. Again, not fantastic performance, but good well-built, reliable cars. I think, unfortunately, Chrysler cars have just really gone downhill. I think they've really struggled to find who they are. They merged with Mercedes and that's gone. Now Fiat owns them. Their styling department and marketing department they've done some pretty amazing things, but the vehicles are really not great.

Mark: There you go. If you have a Chrysler vehicle in Vancouver the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. They might not think the reliability is that great, but they'll be doing a great job fixing them.

Bernie: Very happy to fix them.

Mark: These are the guys to see. They fix lots of them. You can call them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment or check out their website PawlikAutomotive.com. Thanks a lot Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks Mark

About the author 

Bernie Pawlik

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