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2004 Intrepid yeah or nay?

Looking at buying a 2004 Dodge Intrepid SXT with the 3.5L H.O V6. Car has roughly 130,000 miles on it and appears to be in nice overall condition. I know all the horror stories about oil sludge on the infamous 2.7L intrepids but does anybody have experience with this 3.5L? Price is right at $1000 so even if I spend another $1000 making it ship shape I figure that’s not a bad deal.


I Had An Older Intrepid With A 3.5L And A Newer One With A 2.7L. Both Were Great Cars. The 2.7 Intrepid Was My Wife’s And She Loved Driving It (For Many Years).

The earlier 2.7s did have sludge issues for people lacking maintenance sense. Mine didn’t. Some also had problems with timing chain guides. Mine didn’t (probably a maintenance issue, also).

The 3.5s were nearly bulletproof, smooth and powerful. No bad habits (one exception - earlier ones did have intake gasket issues - easy minor repair) Great motor. I don’t know if the newer ones (2004) are basically the same engine or not. Check that out.

The 2.7L has a timing chain. My 3.5L had a timing belt that I replaced twice while I had the car. I believe Chrysler recommends 120,000 mile intervals for changing it. A neglected belt breaking can practically destroy an engine. The water pump, tensioner and idler pulley should be replaced with the timing belt and possibly the crank seal.

The car you’re looking at is overdue for a t-belt change if it’s got one and has never been changed. I did my timing belts myself after purchasing a couple of special tools and making a couple (one was for crank seal).

It scares me a bit that the selling price is only $1000 unless you’re getting a deal from a relative or somebody you know personally. The car should fetch more money.


Take the vehicle to a good, independent mechanic and have it checked out. Make sure the engine is actually a 3.5 engine as well. The 2.7 came in over 80% of new 2004 Intrepids. If it checks out then $1,000 is not a bad price. I would make sure to keep the vehicle properly maintained and oil changes at the 5K interval.

I had a 96 trep with 3.5. Funny how that motor was not prone to poor oiling and self destruction. It had 215hp? I test drove several 01-02 3.5 ho cars and never felt much more oomph. I have heard the newer 3.5 still had some issues but not as bad as the 2.7. What does the car need?

According to the seller car really needs little to nothing to certify. Frankly I never believe such stories so I’m assuming I’ll spend money for the little things owners tend to put off especially if they are close to selling the vehicle.


Is anyone else having trouble with the edit feature? My comment has 3.5 listed twice but the edit screen shows only one. When I save comment all I get is: Failed to find discussion for commenting.

The car is worth about $2700 in clean condition from a private seller. You have $1700 for repairs and maintenance to bring it up to an average value. Here’s a list of known problems with the car:

If you like it after your inspection and test drive, get a mechanic to do a prepurchase inspection for $100 or so. Then you will know what it needs to bring it up to a clean condition.

I had an Intreped circa '99 as a company car. After 60K miles I turned it over to a family member. Issues with the auto transmission linkage (cables), and electrical problems (all the cooling fans for the radiator went out one by one over a few months), and interior trim switches for seats and windows acted up. The family member wasn’t happy with the repairs and sold the car in less than a year.

I think the motor is pretty good. Transmission, so so. But the little stuff and accessories can be problematic. If you can do smaller repair jobs yourself, it could work for you. At that price it is worth a good look.

@Proacfan In my opinion, the seller wants to be rid of the car because he knows or senses something that he’s not disclosing. It sounds fishy.

db4690, Good point, but I have gotten a few great deals in the past like this because the car was owned by an older person who either passed away or was no longer able to drive and none of the relatives wanted the car. If that is the case her, I say go for it.

The car should be looked over very closely. The price sounds cheap to me so like db, it sounds a bit fishy to me also. Better safe than sorry.

@keith Good for you. But I’ve also known several people who bought cheap cars which turned out to be bottomless money pits.

I know people who have been burned by a good deal too, I’m one of them. I can think of two cars that looked good when I bought them only to blow the engine in a few weeks. But the 4 best used cars I bought all came from an elderly driver whose family did not want to keep the car and sold it cheap.

IMHO, the worst enemy of a car is rust. Take a good look under the floor mats to be sure the floor pans aren’t rusted. If there is rust, take a pass. If there is no rust, the engine runs without missing out, the transmission shifts as it should, then have a good mechanic check out the car for other problems–ball joints, tie rods, etc.
Put a limit on what you want to spend after consulting with the mechanic. Tires and brake pads and a change of fluids are in order. I don’t know whether or not the Dodge has an interference engine with a timing belt, so check this out as well.
My first car I bought for the handsome sum of $75–it was a 1947 Pontiac that I purchased in 1962. The body was in great shape–absolutely no rust. The transmission had a worn cluster gear, so the transmission was very noisy in first gear. I solved that problem by shifting to second as soon as possible. The engine burned a quart of oil every 250-300 miles, so I bought re-refined oil for 10 cents a quart. I found out that the block was cracked, but a $3.50 can of K & W seal took care of the problem. I put on a pair of recap tires and used the car for a year. Two years later after I sold it, it was still running the streets. The point is, at $1000, you are buying basic transportation at today’s prices. If you don’t have to put a lot into the car, you may have good transportation for a couple of years.

My wife inherited her “bottomless pit” vehicle. It was a 2001 Mercury Sable and had been in the repair shop over 20 times in a 3 year period. The shop owner showed me all of the original work orders for the car. Most of them had to do with transmission problems. We never knew about the previous problems until the shop sent a letter to my mother-in-law that was forwarded to my wife.

The transmission died at around the 60K mark even though it had been serviced at least 3 times since new. The shop owner told me that he never believed it would make it that far. I bought a used transmission for the Sable and took it to auction. It brought about half of the book value which disappointed me until I watched similar vehicles fetch even less.

I go not recall what years the intrepid were, but my friend bought one for him and one for his wife, problems started popping up, rack and pinion as I recall was the biggie, and was told these are disposable not repairable cars.