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Unusual Stratus Issue

Hello. My daughter’s 2005 Dodge Stratus (2.7 I think) is giving an unusual problem on an intermittent basis. Sometimes when she cranks the car, the check engine and oil lights will stay on. She can put the car in gear and the car will move but the steering wheel will not turn. It’s like it’s in a locked position - it’s not just being hard to turn, it won’t turn at all. There’s a sufficient amount of power steering fluid in the pump reservoir. Anyone got a clue? I appreciate any help.


Sounds like the serpentine belt may be slipping. The cause could be overdue maintenance or, in this case, she might have a seizing power steering pump bearing. She needs to get this looked at ASAP. It’s a safety issue. You don’t want her to end up stranded on a busy highway or a bad area, especially late on a cold dark rainy night.

Thanks for the info. I’ll have that checked out.

Sounds like the engine didn’t really start. If the belt was slipping it would be very noticeable, the neighbors would complain about the noise and that has no affect on the oil pressure light. How does she overcome this intermittent problem?

Nevada_545> It does sound as if the engines hasn’t started except that she can put the car in gear, press the accelerator, and the car will go. The steering wheel just won’t turn. To rectify, she just switches the car off, waits a few minutes and tries it again. So far, it hasn’t done it twice in a row. When she re-cranks, it usually is fine. Happens once or twice a week. I can’t get up there anytime soon so I want to find a reliable mechanic to refer her to. But, I’'d like to have some idea of what it might be. Thanks for the response.

If the ignition switch is not directly in the “run” position it is possible for the engine to run, some circuits will be inoperative and warning light will be on. If this is the condition the variable assist solenoid in the rack and pinion gear may be off, the steering will be stiff during parking lot type driving but not locked. Perhaps if you drive the vehicle for a week you can get a better assessment.

Nevada - Interesting idea on the switch. So, if maybe she wiggled the ignition a bit when this happened would it possibly get it to engage, if that is the problem? I do want to get up there and drive the car or maybe swap with her and bring hers back home with me so I can check it. I may have to just take a day off and do that. The other option is to find a mechanic up there that I feel is trustworthy to send her to. I’ve been checking the mechanics files on the site here based on a couple of people pointing me to it and I may have found someone. Thanks for the helpful suggestions.

I found out today that the '05 Stratus 4-cyl has a separate power steering belt. So, I’m thinking the belt may be slipping. I’ll update for reference when I know for sure.

My guess, at least another theory to consider, when the steering wheel seems to be locked, that might be caused by a faulty ignition lock. The ignition key turns a mechanism that not only changes the electrical contacts for the various positions – off, acc, on, start – but it usually also locks and unlocks the steering wheel. If that lock/unlock mechanism for the steering wheel is broken, this could result.

Thanks George. That is a possibility and could explain why she can switch it off and then back on and it work.