Dodge Caliber with many problems

So I own a Dodge Caliber 2007 and it has about 170K miles. This car has been through a lot of trips from IN to PA and many other long trips. A few months ago it started to sound very odd. It’s a four cylinder and it sounds like it is only running on three. I don’t know too much about cars but the problems that it’s facing is that sound for one, it is stuttering in a kind of way, like it’s about to die. Also when I accelerate and make a sharp right turn it will start to die and will die on most occasions. This is very dangerous considering it has power steering and I can’t maneuver when it does die. Also, I’m not sure if this is related at all, but the front left turn signal and the back right turn signal does not work. It isn’t the lights as I have changed them 2 other times, I have been told it might be the computer module but I’m not sure. If someone could help me that would be great as I need this car to get to and from school and work. The reason I come here instead of a mechanic is that a mechanic will tell me that it COULD be one thing and make me pay hundreds of dollars to fix that problem and then turn out that, what he fixed actually isn’t the main issue. So please if you could give me any suggestions that would be great.

How long has the Check Engine Light been lit up?

Not sure tbh

Hmmm…How did I know that the CEL was lit up?


Is the light lit up steadily, or is it blinking?
If it is the former, you can get the stored trouble codes read–gratis–at most auto parts stores, and then you can come back to this thread to post the codes. They will be in a format similar to “P0123”.

If the light is blinking, continuing to drive the car will lead to even more expensive repairs.
If the light is blinking, have the car towed to a qualified mechanic.

It is blinking. :frowning:

After 8 years and 170k miles, I think that your car has already exceeded its design life, but if it had been carefully maintained, it might still have had…a little bit…of life left in it. However, if you have driven it for more than a few hours with the CEL blinking, I suspect that the needed repairs will now exceed the book value of the car.

For the future…Try to bear in mind that “Check Engine” is a message that you should take very seriously if you want to limit the damage and the cost of repairs.

Well I know that the car has been driven very many miles with the blinking light. So thanks anyways for the help!

Stop at a parts store and get the code read, post the code here, many will help. Not a caliber but 166k on my vehicle and planning many more. So take a minute, read the manual and see if there are any service items you are overdue on, spark plugs etc.

"Stop at a parts store and get the code read"

Are you seriously urging the OP to continue to drive a car that has had the CEL blinking for…what sounds like…an extended period of time?


Somehow or the other, you need to come up with any codes that are present. Maybe investing in a cheap code reader is a viable start. Pulling the codes is easy even for a novice and can provide a starting point for repairs.

Offhand, I might wonder about the spark plugs and indirectly, the ignition coils. How long have those plugs been in there? I’m almost dead certain the replacement interval is 30k miles. If they’re originals then it’s a major league miracle the vehicle is running at all.

Regarding your comment about spending money and not having the issue fixed, I will only say that you should not be surprised if there is more than one issue. Driving a car with a flashing CEL can easily mean that one minor fault has now turned into multiple faults due to motoring around in that condition.

@VDCdriver It is obvious the flashing cel has not stopped the driver yet, Perhaps your advice will convince him to leave the car in the drive and get a taxi, but I doubt it. Given that presumption was the reason for my suggestion. Sure a cel is a stop it and tow it situation, so let me revise by saying if you wish to avoid major potential for major damage, get it towed to a shop for analysis, but if you insist on driving the car in spite of potential meltdown, at least stop and get the codes read. Nice catch mr vdc driver.

Thanks everyone! I will have the car towed and taken to a shop to be checked out. Will there be a cost for this code check?

Depending on the shop you could expect an analysis fee that may be deducted from the repair bill in the end. Guestimate 65 to $100.

“After 8 years and 170k miles, I think that your car has already exceeded its design life.”

Actually…you exceeded the design life by about 30K miles. My brother-in-law’s Caliber died at around 140K even with meticulous maintenance. Tow the car in and have the codes read. You may be able to drive this vehicle again sometime in the future. My brother-in-law wasn’t so lucky.

On most Chrysler vehicles from the early 90s to the present, you can retrieve the codes by turning the ignition on-off-on-off-on. (don’t start the car) Google the procedure if you need to. This will save you a trip to the parts store and more driving the car in its current state. Post back the codes. How long has it been since the car has had a basic tune up, with new spark plugs, filters, etc?

A lot of folks are apparently prejudiced against Chrysler products. (I’m a bit that way about Fords myself) I would ignore all the doomsayers and just try to assess the situation and go from there. If you have been driving the car for a while with the check engine light blinking though, you may have damaged the car’s catalytic converter(s), which can be a pretty expensive repair. Or you may have gotten lucky–the engine controller’s strategy may have disabled the fuel injectors upon detecting a persistent misfire and saved it.

After a 170k quite likely neglected miles I’d have to say the Caliber has held up pretty well if it’s taken this long for problems to surface.

My oldest son bought a new '07 Caliber and drove it for about 7 years with no problems at all; not even any squeaks and rattles.

170 K miles is a pretty good accomplishment for the Caliber in any event. It sounds like the engine may be missing. Problems with spark, fuel, or compression would be the most likely causes. I wouldn’t assume the worse, it could be something fairly simple to fix. The diagnostic codes stored in the computer memory will provide a clue what is wrong. I agree with the others, that’s the place to start.

My guess is – assuming this isn’t caused by deferring normally scheduled maintenance too long – is there’s an ignition system problem of some kind. If the codes confirm this, a shop can swap stuff around, for example switch coils to cylinders 2 and 3, and see if the cylinder that misfires follows the parts swap or not. Or it may be something non cylinder specific, like a crank or cam sensor. Those are pretty common parts to fail.

One side note. You may have damaged the catalytic converter by continuing to drive the car with the CEL blinking. Whether that will prove an expensive problem for you or not depends in part on your state’s laws regarding cats.

I’ll go a little off topic . . .

We have tons of triton 3 valve Ford trucks and vans with the mile long plugs . . . the ones that tend to break when you want to remove them

anways . . .

The plug replacement interval for severe service . . . which is how our fleet vehicles are driven . . . appears to be 60k. I’ve noticed that if you exceed that by even, say 10K or 12K, the engines start missing like crazy, and the check engine light starts flashing

I guess my point is that some designs are not at all forgiving of lax maintenance

Unfortunately, the 6.8 V10 is usually installed in pretty heavy vehicles. And if you have even 1 single misfire, the truck can’t get out of its own way and can’t keep up with the flow of traffic, which is a hazard, in my opinion. I’ve experienced this more than once. Obviously, when I’ve got a truck which is missing on only 1 cylinder, and it’s due for plugs by mileage, or is close, it gets all of the plugs replaced

The GM V8 engines . . . small block and big block, actually . . . seem to be more forgiving of misfires. Meaning that even in a large truck, if 1 cylinder is missing, the engine’s got sufficient power that the truck can still keep up with traffic acceptably well.

I’m not implying that it’s okay to keep driving with a miss


“The GM V8 engines . . . small block and big block, actually . . . seem to be more forgiving of misfires.”

I wonder if that is due to differences between the brands, like firing order and manifold runner arrangement.
It seems possible that a misfiring cylinder could interfere with the “good” cylinders that are next to it in the firing order.