What's Next for my 2001 Dodge Intrepid?

Hi Tom and Ray, I love your column but haven’t ever written before.

I have a 2001 V6 Dodge Intrepid with 122,000 miles on it. I was hoping this would be the last car I’d own that burned fossil fuel. 3 weeks ago the head gasket “went” and the water in the oil took out the cam sensor. The mechanic looked it over and decided to rebuild the top side of the motor. 2 weeks and $2400 later I got the car back. Right off the bat I noticed the car was down on power and running about 20% hotter than before. Less than 100 miles of driving and before I could phone the mechanic and ask about these issues, the engine just died again. I had the car towed back to the same shop where he says 4 of the 6 rod bearings spun and now I need a new bottom end. He says he thinks we should pay for parts and he should cover the labour to put in a new crank case. What I’d like to know is what you think is the right thing to do. Is the mechanic really not responsible for this new damage? Is it a good idea to just replace the crank case at this point?

Tom and Ray don’t respond to questions posted here. You’re stuck with us mere mortals.

The bad headgasket (there are two in a V6, BTW) wouldn’t have caused the cam sensor to fail. Something is amiss here.

Anyway, whenever there is a mixing of coolant with the oil, the bottom end of the engine needs to be carefully inspected, at the very least, IMHO. If not, you risk exactly what happened to you. At least the mechanic is offering to give you a break on the labor, which seems to be a reasonable compromise to me. The other alternative is a salvage yard engine.

Which engine do you have, BTW?

Your mechanic has screwed up here by not realizing that coolant diluted engine oil is going to finish off the 122k miles crankshaft bearings. This falls into the Mechanics 101 category.

Exactly how is this guy defining “new crankcase”? A crankshaft KIT or a short block? They’re different things and in this situation probably neither is acceptable; the former due to other things in the engine also no doubt being damaged and the latter due to sheer expense.

If your mechanic feels bad. ask him if you buy a complete engine from auto store would he put it in free. I would not play around with fix over fixs. the rebuilt engine will have a warr for two years. you could get by with just a few hundred dollars for bearings but remember this if crank is bad the new bearings might only last 50 miles. think twice.

Personally pay for the parts and cross your fingers. I would immediately sell it hopefully for the $2400+bottom end parts and forgot about this mess. It was worthless before the repair so your no further ahead or behind.

Forget salvage yard engine.

Parts are cheap compared with the labor for this repair. The question is whether the mechanic has the skills to do the job properly. The cam sensor story sounds like BS.