2005 Dodge Stratus...engine problems?

I have a 2005 Dodge Stratus that broke down on me on the way home from work last night (I live less than a mile from work). The car started fine and I was able to drive it a little while before it accelerated on it’s own (without my adding any pressure to the gas pedal). I stopped at a red light and after the light turned green, I tried getting the car to move, but it wouldn’t. I just had the oil changed back in November, so it’s not due for another oil change until January, and it doesn’t sound like it’s the battery since it started. The tow truck guy said it sounded like it was the timing belt in the engine. Is he right? If so, what kind of repair and cost am I looking at?

It’s not likely the timing belt. You need to try another mechanic, other than the tow truck driver.
We need more clues. When you “tried getting the car to move, but, it wouldn’t move”, what did it do? Did the engine spin and the car not move, or what?

The tow truck company towed it to the dealership where I got the car from. When I put my foot on the gas in drive, the engine would rev up, but it wouldn’t move. A couple of guys stopped by and helped me push the car off the road, and then they checked the oil and it was fine. If it’s not the timing belt, what else could it be?

If you can rev the engine, then I would suspect the engine is OK and that the transmission or transmission linkage is the culpert responsible for your not being able to move. I’m presuming this is an automatic.

I am, however, puzzled by your earlier statement about the car accelerating on its own. Can you elaborate? Are you simply experiencing “fast idle” with a cold engine, since you had driven less than a mile? Or was it something more dramatic?

Yes, you’re right. It’s an automatic.

I was driving at about 45 mph when the rpm gauge suddenly revved for an instant and then dropped back down to where it originally was. It was after that when the car started having problems. It began slowing down and it wouldn’t accelerate when I put my foot on the gas pedal. By the time I had gotten to the stoplight, it had gone from 45 mph to 20 mph (with my foot on the gas the entire time). After the light turned green and I tried to go, the engine would rev, but the car itself wouldn’t move. I didn’t have any problem starting the car or driving it until I got about a half a mile from home. One other thing. I shut off the engine while I was at the stoplight. When I tried to start it again, it wouldn’t turn over. I could see my engine light, etc on my dashboard, but the engine just made sort of a scraping noise.

It does sound like the transmission is slipping badly, in adddition to your engine problem. A qualified mechanic should examine it in detail.

Sounds 'spensive. I hope your car is still under warranty. I believe that this car should still be under Chrysler’s drive train warranty if you bought it new. Good luck.