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Thread: Auto Help

  1. #1
    I've got a magic window! elgecko's Avatar
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    Auto Help

    I have a 98 Dodge Stratus that decided to blow the main rear seal in the engine. It has 131,000. Both front quarter panels are a little banged up. Thanks to ice + guardrail, wife decided to get a closer look at a few years ago. The other from a hit and run.
    Anyway I doubt I'd get much in trade if I went for a new car, and selling outright would most likely not go well either because of the seal.
    My garage told me around $500.00 to change the seal, and if he does them all while itís apart around $900.00.
    Iím not sure I want to drop that kind of money in this car anymore.
    So Iím starting to think, what do I have to lose? I may try this myself.
    This would be the biggest home auto job that Iíve done before, have to drop the transmission.
    Anyway enough rambling, I need to get an auto book for the car. I have used Chilton books before and doing a search I see there is a Haynes book also. Iíve never seen any of these.
    If I recall correctly these books are usually sealed so you cannot look at them. Anyone have experience with both books and which do you like best. Iím going ask the auto store after work today to see what they recommend.

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  2. #2
    Av8tor1's Avatar
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    just something you should think about upfront... first the seal failure is probably a symptom of a problem and not the problem itself. Most likely the main bearings have excessive wear, this causes uneven contact pressure on the seal, dramatically increases seal wear and the tendency to leak.

    If you replace the seal, it prob wont last long... chances are the front seal is already leaking as well, very rarely will one fail without the other being almost as bad.. unless the seal has suffered mechanical damage

    just something to ponder on, Im not saying dont do it, just letting you know what to expect once you are done

    one of the classes i teach is lubrication theory and im a certified machine lubricant analyst


  3. #3
    scottychaos's Avatar
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    If it were my car, I would say "this is the end"..

    American cars still arent good for much over 100,000 miles..
    maybe 150k if you are really lucky.

    My wife has a '97 Chevy Cavalier that is on its last legs..
    about 120k..oil leaks, coolant leaks, gas tank about to rust through..
    we are looking at new Pontiac Vibes..but we are going to try to limp the Cavailier through the winter,
    because I might lose my job in the spring..
    if I dont, the Cavalier is toast..
    We will be lucky to get $500 for it..we might just give it away to one of those "kidney cars" type places..

    its been a great car! (she bought it new in '97) but like a 100 year old person in a nursing home,
    things begin to deteriorate rapidly, and the end can come quickly.

    So...IMO its not worth doing this kind of fix on a 10 year old Dodge..
    the car is dead already, it just doesnt know it yet..


  4. #4
    Admin- I'm growing CPs in the Desert of Tucson, Az. adnedarn's Avatar
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    In the past I've referred to both those books and they were both good. Then I became an automotive tech (did it for 5 years) and they have the more technical version of Chilton and a thing called alldata. To this day I still use alldata (online) and it's great. I'm not sure how it is for step by step for people not mechanically inclined but for me it's no problem. You can check out the demo vehicles here (an accord or tahoe) and look through to see what they're all about. The ability to search it is awesome saves lots of time from looking and the index and flipping pages to get where you need to be

    As far as the vehicle itself going by the info you gave it seems that vehicle is worth about $1645 if you try to sell it. Remember repairing it will likely not raise the value so don't expect to put the money into it and be able to get your money worth next year. If the vehicle is overall reliable and you like it- I would absolutely tear into it and repair the leak. But again, that's me and I do all my own stuff I probably wouldn't pay someone to preform that task though on that vehicle.

    I'm not sure I agree with Av8tor1 on the seal showing cause of a more major problem. Seals get old and no longer bend as they used to so instead they crack and stretch and leak. We replaced plenty of seals (the one you need and others) on customers cars and I can't think of any that returned for the same leak. If the main bearings/rod bearings are going bad in a vehicle in short order you end up with rod knock and major things like that. If it's just a leak- I'd place money on a new seal fixing the problem for the long run.

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  5. #5
    RL7836's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by adnedarn View Post
    As far as the vehicle itself going by the info you gave it seems that vehicle is worth about $1645 if you try to sell it.
    If that's Bluebook, probably plan on less due to current economic duress. I didn't see you mention how much the parts cost for the repair. If they're cheap as I suspect, go for the diy and look at it as tuition. When I could create the 'free time', I often tried repairs on my own. Beyond the inevitable short-term frustrations, I always felt that these times were well spent.

    However, I wouldn't get my hopes up that any repair at this age is for the 'long term'. There are plenty of other seals, rubber & plastic parts as well as moving parts that are due to wear out any time. I finally sold my 1994 Honda Civic Vx for a song last year. While it was a great car for the 1st 12 years, the last 2 years saw a cascading number of issues that ultimately caused me to give up...
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