Play the odds?- 2004 Chrysler Sebring

I have 2004 Chrysler Sebring base model 4 cylinder with 90,000 miles. Paid off long ago. The schedule says its time to change the timing belt but no symptoms. No other issues and have kept up the maintenance. The cost is around $1000. I need the car to last 2 more years until our new car is paid off. Should I do the repair or play the odds that it won’t break down?

I have no idea whether or not your Chrysler has an interference engine where damage is done if the timing belt breaks, but if the car is in good shape, I think its worth $1000 for a timing belt. You can’t get a car to replace the Chrysler for $1000. At just 90,000 miles, you might even get 5 more years from the car. You would then come out way ahead.

Replace the timing belt now.

If it breaks, the cost to repair might far exceed $1000

I suggest you get some quotes from good independent shops. Ask them what’s included (timing belt, tensioner, seals, water pump, etc.)

If you are not putting many miles on it, and intend to sell it in two years, you might like to know that the timing belt interval on my 4 cylinder 1996 Plymouth Breeze was 105,000. But I agree with Triedaq that a $1000 investment might well get you 5 years. And 5 years of no car payments makes $1000 - or less, if you shop around, a bargain.

Your Chrysler does have an interference engine. Nine years has probably aged the belt, If the belt breaks, the engine is ruined and the car is junk. The belt is due to be changed. I had two vehicles that were due for scheduled maintenance servicing at the same time. I spent about $1000 for the scheduled maintenance on both vehicles (one vehicle may have needed brake pads–I don’t remember). I considered the $1000 a good investment to keep the vehicles going. Our son bought a 2001 Chevrolet S-10 last summer. After a couple of months, he had to replace the starter to get the vehicle to start reliably and he had a complete brake job. The work cost him $800, but he has reliable transportation. I just spent $800 for new tires for my 2011 Sienna. It costs money to keep a vehicle in service. However the alternative for being a cheapskate is even more costly in the long run.

Replacing The Timing Belt Is Necessary Scheduled Maintenance, Not A Repair. Do That Maintenance Now, Including A New Water Pump, Belt Tensioner, And Idler/Tensioner Pulley(s). Change The Coolant With The Water Pump.

Then Drive The Car. It Should Easily Go The Distance.


JUST DO IT! YOU CAN PAY ME NOW OR PAY ME LATER ITS ALL UP TO YOU . it will break when you don’t want it to. you know murphy’s law stuff happens like its 20 below out and the cell phone is dead.

Thanks for all the responses. All the comments seem to favor doing the repair. It is true that I am not putting many miles on it but I am fairly certain the schedule says 90,000 on the timing belt for this model.

I get the sense the group is saying this is a good investment and the car should exceed the two years. I had another high mileage vehicle (a Ford Tempo while in school) that I ended up sinking a lot of money into at the end. So, I am a little afraid of chasing good money after bad.

I misspoke when I said “repair.” I understand its scheduled maintenance, per my post. I usually favor getting it done. Its just the first really large expense on this vehicle, which made me seek other opinions. On the one hand, the car is not worth much. On the other hand, it is paid for and cheaper than a new car.

My intent is to get another car in two years, at year 11. I keep cars around 10 years. I need the two years now so our other vehicle will be paid off. I want just one car a time. It appears though that it is not worth the gamble on the old belt.

I would think the Sebring is a much nicer car than the Tempo.

This car is worth spending some money on.

No offense to Temp owners.

The schedule says its time to change the timing belt but no symptoms.

The thing is, there won’t be any symptoms. The engine will be running just fine one minute, and the next it will be completely destroyed. Replacing the engine or scrapping the car will be your only remedy at that point. There will be no warning. That’s why everyone is saying do the work. $1000 / 24 is $41 a month. It’s far cheaper to keep the car running than to replace it.

Isn’t $1000 sort of out of line for changing a timing belt? Or is there something about the procedure or parts cost on this particular car that makes it more expensive than other cars?

I think OP – if they decide to replace the belt – should get more than one bid.

In 2004, the recommended interval was 4 years or 60k miles. In 2005, it was changed to 7 years or 105k miles. If it has the original belt, it is way over due.

@GeorgeSanJose I strongly suspect that estimate includes the waterpump, tensioner, and all the seals.

I believe because of design, changing the belt will also include a new water pump and some other items. So of the earlier comments mention the additional work. When I checked before, I think I got two quotes around $1000. I will definitely shop it around and get multiple bids.

So, I will pose the questions: what all is required with the belt change and what is the range of costs? I am in Texas in a mid-sized city.

I checked the original book that came with the car last night and the interval is 90,000. I believe Chrysler had multiple outside companies making cars for them at the time, so there could variation among them.

Fix the car and drive till payments are done and trade it ASAP soon after. Personally, I would trade it now if you can for a Toyota or Honda…or anything that has a fighting chance of going 200k miles. There are reasons. Chrysler corp. keeps changing the names of some of their vehicles. I have heard of no one personally who has kept their Sebring very long…small sample though. Have you shopped around for a better deal ?

It really boils down to: Can you live with the consequences if you don’t replace the belt?

If you don’t replace the belt and it breaks, can you afford a replacement engine or vehicle?
Or will you be able to handle the car in any situation when the belt breaks - perhaps on the interstate on a dark rainy night in the 3rd lane between two tractor trailers?

I can live with the consequences of the former, not the latter.

You NEVER wait for…’‘SYMPTOMS’’ when it comes to a timing belt.
The very first ‘‘symptom’’ may be kablewey ! as the belt lets go and the valves smash into the piston heads .
What a symptom !

“You NEVER wait for…’‘SYMPTOMS’’ when it comes to a timing belt.”

Waiting for “symptoms” before you change a timing belt is the automotive equivalent of waiting until you have lung cancer before you decide to stop smoking. In both cases, the catastrophic symptoms could have been prevented by taking action in a timely manner.

And, to reiterate what was already said, the timing belt on this car is at least a couple of years overdue, on the basis of elapsed time. No matter how few miles the car may have accumulated in 9 years, the rubber components in that belt have dried out and could snap–with no warning or “symptoms”–at any time.

The OP needs to re-read the maintenance schedule and see that there is an elapsed time value, as well as an odometer mileage value, for this maintenance.

Update. Good news. Got the belt and water pump done. Shopped it and went back to my mechanic at a chain store, price $784. Bad news- brakes all around with rotors and cylinders replaced, $500. Brakes checked regularly just time. But first big brake job on it. Car is paid for though. So how did I do?