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'04 Chrysler Pacifica needs new cradle

This is an '04 Chrysler Pacifica AWD, I bought it 4.5 years ago at 50K miles for $10,000 and now it has 80K miles. This past winter, the right front shock popped through the hood and the mechanic said the strut broke, probably from running a pothole. After repair, it happened again shortly after and the mechanic replaced the strut and shock again at no charge. Otherwise, the car has never had any other mechanical issues and runs nicely. The interior is still in beautiful shape and the mechanic said it has no leaks and everything looks good.

When doing some research as to why this happened twice, I saw Pacifica owners were complaining about rust in the subframe (engine cradle, or suspension cross-member K-frame). I took my car to the shop and voila, the subframe in the car is rusted. It is still safe to drive, but there are already sizable corroded holes in the cradle and it will not survive another high-salt NY winter. Chrysler had issued a warranty for 10 years or 150,000 miles but this being an '04 they refused to honor it anymore, so I am looking at footing the bill myself.

I can get a salvage cradle at about $900, and labor costs to replace the cradle plus replacing the motor mounts and inner tie rods (routine maintenance, nothing broken but needs replacing) come out to about $1800. In addition, I want to put in a backup camera/MP3 radio unit in the console, this will run another $600 for parts and labor, total = $2500.

My husband thinks it doesn’t make sense to invest that much money in a 10-year old car, we should trade it in or sell it and buy a new car or lease. He believes that at 100K miles the car is likely to develop major issues like engine or transmission problems. The car’s trade-in value is at best $3000-4000, not accounting for the rusted subframe.

Is this repair a worthwhile investment or should we sell for whatever we can get and good riddance?

There was another person who had a Pacifica with a rusted subframe that came to the board asking what they should do. The suggestion was to bring it to shop and have steel plates welded in to cover/reinforce the rusted areas.

That’s what they decided to do and I think they were charged a couple hundred bucks.


As a stop-gap solution it is fine, but I’m not sure if this is a good idea long term. Is patching a rusted piece that is no longer structurally sound going to hold up?

That’s the whole idea of welding in new steel.

To make the subframe structurally sound again.

The shop that did the welding told the owner that the rest of the vehicle will rust out before the subframe rusts out again.


Thanks for that, I’ll ask the shop if they can do this.

If the rust is too pervasive or in areas that cannot be patched, should I replace the subframe?

The Pacifica is just not a good vehicle. I won’t put more $$ into it. Time to move on.

I’d weld some plates in to fix the subframe for a few hundred bucks per Tester’s suggestion, then sell it and move on to something better.

UncleTurbo, why is the Pacifica just not a good vehicle?

Mine has performed pretty faithfully and I really like the car, other than the tiny trunk.

I’m with your hubby on this one. Time to start looking for another car.

I say get the cradle welded for a few hundred bucks, if possible

The van only has 80K, hopefully it’ll last a few more years with good maintenance

Provided the rest of the vehicle isn’t also rusted out

No, the rest of the vehicle is in very good shape. No rust, no leaks, everything works and the car performs predictably well.

Dammit, I like this car! It actually has pretty good reviews, not sure why you guys think it’s such a lemon. Perhaps I lucked out - I’ve read of various issues early Pacifica owners encountered but I never had any of those. I never tow anything, so the underperforming engine meets my needs, and I get 15 MPG in the city and about 20-25 MPG on the highway, which is better or the same as hubby’s 2012 Honda Odyssey.

Well, you’re the ultimate decider. Maybe you got a good one that’s worth keeping. If you really like it that much, go ahead and fix it and do your upgrades. You could get lucky and get another 100k miles out of it and prove hubby wrong. :wink: