CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

2003 2.7L Dodge Stratus 120K miles stalling at idle, engine suddenly drops RPM when hot

I have a 2.7L flex fuel Dodge Stratus with 120K+ miles on it and a problem local mechanics and the Dodge dealership cannot seem to locate. When the engine is hot, and only when it’s hot, the car will jerk suddenly while driving for a split second, then resume normal operations. It feels almost like you hit something and is scaring the bejeesus out of my wife. It also sometimes stalls out when at a light after sitting at idle for a few seconds. It idles down from 600 RPM like the air conditioning compressor is cutting on and then dies completely. The car shows no error codes and the check engine light does not come on when this happens. I have replaced the spark plugs, and the transmission solenoid, which is what the Dodge dealer said “fixed” the car for almost $900, and it did it again on the way home from the dealership. My next idea was to change the fuel filter, or maybe the cam position sensor or timing belt or chain. I wonder if I am just trowing money down a hole at this point though, since Kelly Blue Book on this car is under 2K anyway. Help!

One thing that can cause these conditions without always tripping a fault code is a flakey (failing) fuel pump.

I too thought of the CPS, but I’d expect a code from that.

Allow me to suggest with respect that the reason you feel like you’re throwing money down a hole is because parts are being replaced without a solid diagnosis of the cause. The shop should have an “event recorder” that can monitor and record specific signals as you drive and “nail down” the cause when the problem repeats.

By he way, it’s a highly personal decision, but my feeling is that as long as the powertrain is solid and the body isn’t rotted a car is always worth fixing. Of course, an excuse to trade it and get that new Scion FRS is always acceptable…

I would suggest contacting the dealership and getting some of that money back because their “fix” didn’t work.
They took a lot of your money and the original problem remains.
Time to contact the service manager.
Tell him you believe they didn’t resolve your original complaint.