Monthly Archives: May 2010

APA Alert!

  • 2.0L Mitsubishi engine: change the timing belt and the balancer shaft belt every 80,000 km. Inspect the tensioner and replace if necessary.
  • If the compressor is the problem with the air suspension, a three-way bypass valve can be installed for about $50 per pair to pump up either the front or rear pair of struts from an external source.

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Chrysler LeBaron LeBaron Coupe/Convertible Dodge Spirit Plymouth Acclaim (1993-1995)

The air suspension is unreliable and it is no longer possible to modify it; replacement of the air suspension with four standard struts costs around $500 to $600 for parts ($25 to $50 each for used struts, and $100 each for shock absorbers). Small internal leaks in capacitors inside the onboard computer may cause stalling and unstable deceleration that is difficult to diagnose.

What to check: Cylinder heads (excessive oil consumption after 80,000 km if oil is not changed regularly), radiator (antifreeze leaks at hose connections), A/C compressor (noisy), heat riser valve on the exhaust manifold (seized), manual window winders (stiff), exhaust heat shield (noisy).

Rust: Welded seams on the rocker panels and front door hinges.

Safety: Airbags were not offered and ABS was an option. The similar 1993 Mitsubishi Galant sedan received a two-star rating for the front-seat passenger when crash tested by the NHTSA.

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2000 GTX model

Chrysler’s Eagle Division had somewhat murky origins, as it sprang from the dilemma of how to brand the then-ready Renault Premier. Renault had met its North American Waterloo in Wisconsin, sold AMC to Chrysler, and boogied back to Billancourt. Chrysler chose a daring strategy to combat the Japanese in the mid-size auto market. It removed the kimono from the Mitsubishi Galant, draped it in the American flag, and renamed it the Eagle 2000 GTX, selling Japanese technology under an American banner in the newly created Jeep/Eagle dealerships. While the Japanese technology inside the American wrapper was interesting, it wasn’t Chrysler’s technology, and Eagle dealers never really understood the cars. The Eagle dealer network was like a marriage between Sylvester Stallone and Catherine Deneuve – exciting initially, but doomed in the long run. The Eagle franchise became a repository for all manner of vehicles that Chrysler did not know what to do with.

The 2000 GTX was first sold in Canada in 1989 and lasted until the end of the 1993 model year, when its owners became the guardians of automotive orphans. Compared to the U.S., in Canada the 2000 GTX model range was limited. There was only one engine, a 135-hp 2.0L 16-valve in-line four-cylinder that could be linked with either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission. A few exotic U.S. specification models with turbo engines and all-wheel drive made it into Canada. You can occasionally find one of these cars on the used-car market.  And yet it was no Raptor STS nor a new Ford Mustang.

As a styling job, the 2000 GTX is a qualified success; its envelope provides for a roomy interior for four and enough trunk space for their luggage. Front passengers sit well off the floor on comfortable seats that are upholstered in an attractive textured cloth. The rear seats are almost equally comfortable, with ample room and good padding. Headroom is at a premium for tall occupants. The interior styling is easy on the eye – the exception being a somewhat overstyled dashboard – and nicely assembled, using quality components.

On the road the 2000 GTX accelerates well enough and handles with confidence. The four-speed automatic works unobtrusively, but the five-speed manual has a balky gearbox. The Eagle equals the competition when it comes to interior noise levels.  Yet it may be a long drive looking for a good vintage Eagle – especially if you live in frigid Winnipeg and the cold winters have taken a toll on these vehicles.

The eagle 2000 GTX is a risky used-vehicle purchase because of a limited supply of astronomically priced parts.

Reliability: U.S. owners reported automatic transmission failures and premature exhaust replacement. T

 

Wpg Auto

Winnipeg classic auto calendar



Coupe and Convertible

Body styles: 2-door convertible . 2-door sedan . 4-door sedan

Engines: 2.5L 4-cylinder . 3.0L V6

Transmissions: 5-speed manual . 3-speed automatic . 4-speed automatic/front-wheel drive

Fuel consumption: 1993 LeBaron convertible: 2.5L 4-cylinder with 3-speed automatic: 10.7 L/100km (26 mpg) . 3.0L V6 with 5-speed manual: 12.4L/100km (23 mpg); with 4-speed automatic: 10.5L/100km (27mpg) . 3.0L V6 with 3-speed automatic: 11.1L/100km (25 mpg)

The LeBaron name stems from the New York custom coach-building firm founded in 1920 and purchased by Chrysler in the late 1940s. The name was appended to so many disparate vehicles that the public became confused as to what a LeBaron was, and it was eventually withdrawn.

The LeBaron that emerged in 1987 spawned an attractive convertible that was produced until 1995, two years after the coupe had been retired. The LeBaron coupe was replaced by the Sebring coupe in 1995, and the convertible LeBaron was superseded by the Sebring convertible in 1996.

The LeBaron coupe and convertible could be propelled by a 100-hp 2.5L four-cylinder engine or a 3.0L V6 with 141 horsepower. Transmissions offered for 1993 and 1994 included a five-speed manual and three-or four-speed automatics. In 1993 the V6 LeBaron two-door models were offered with either a five-speed manual transmission or an automatic with four speeds. The 2.5L four-cylinder engine was available only with a three-speed automatic in 1993. Convertibles sold in 1994 and 1995 were delivered exclusively with the V6.

The LeBaron two-door was a very attractive car that was updated skillfully and whose lines aged well. The interior of the two-door is pleasantly styled and upholstered in attractive fabrics or leather. The seats are comfortable and there is sufficient room in the car for four adults, but those in the front will be happier. The rear passenger quarters can become claustrophobic because of the wide C-pillar of both coupe and convertible. A few examples of late LeBaron convertibles can still be found in good condition, and they provide a cheap entry into the world of top-down motoring. If you have the money, early examples of the chic Sebring convertible are worth the extra dollars.

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Sedans

The LeBaron sedan of 1993-1994 was not related to the coupe and convertible. The spirit ran concurrently with the new Dodge Stratus in 1995, and the Acclaim made way for the Plymouth Breeze in 1996.

The exterior of the Spirit/Acclaim/LeBaron sedans is bland to the point of anonymity. At one time, they became the unofficial hit car of Quebec’s biker gangs, as they were so invisible that no one could remember what kind of car they saw speeding away from the scene. The LeBaron sedan is the gilded lily of the four-door range, with layers of glitzy vinyl trim applied to the exterior to differentiate it from the cheaper – and visually more sober – Spirit and Acclaim. The interior of the LeBaron sedan is a riot of fusty velour, chromed plastic, and wood that never grew on trees. The internal dimensions that the LeBaron shares with the Spirit and Acclaim reflect good space efficiency, with enough room to keep four people happy; more people can fit, but width is a limiting factor. The seats themselves are comfortable enough, but it is not that easy for the driver to get comfortable because of the odd spatial relationships between the seats, steering wheel and pedals. The Spirit and Acclaim are quite tasteful inside and have fittings of reasonable quality that are assembled with more care than on their K-car predecessors.

In 1993 and 1994 the Spirit and Acclaim were available with the 2.5L four cylinder or 3.0L V6 engine coupled with a three-speed automatic. A five speed manual was also offered with the 2.5L motor, and a four-speed automatic with the 3.0L V6. The LeBaron sedan offered either a three-speed or four-speed automatic transmission, depending on the engine. Both engines were available on the 1995 Spirit/Acclaim, but only with a three-speed automatic transmission.

Spirited is not a word to use to describe these cars on the road. On smooth roads they are smooth, on rough roads they’re rough, and in emergency manoeuvres, forget it – the cars are very sloppy. The brakes grab and the nose plunges in panic stops. Interior noise in the Spirit is not bothersome, but there is less of it and the quality of the noise is much more pleasant with the V6.  The three-speed automatic shifts well, but forego the four-speed autobox, which shifts erratically until it loses its spirit and turns into a ghost, its internals having lost the will to live. The Spirit and Acclaim were offered with a rare five-speed manual gearbox whose operation constitutes an antidote to driving pleasure.

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Chrysler Sebring (2001-2002)

Rating: Not Rated

Body styles: 4-door sedan . 2-door convertible . 2-door coupe (2001 only)

Engines: 2.4L 4-cylinder . 2.7L V6

Transmissions: 4-speed automatic . 4-speed automatic with Auto Stick . 5-speed manual/front-wheel drive

Fuel Consumption: 2001 model: 2.4L 4-cylinder with 4-speed automatic: 11.7L/100 km (24 mpg); 2.7L V6 with 4-speed Auto Stick automatic: 11.8L/100 km (24 mpg)

When Chrysler renewed its mid-size line in 2001, the sedan adopted the Sebring name already used on the coupe and convertible. The coupe sold poorly in Canada and was withdrawn after 2001.

Two Chrysler engines, the 150-hp 2.4L  twin-cam four seen in the PT Cruiser and the 200-hp 2.7L twin-cam V6 introduced on the 1998 Intrepid, were offered on the sedan and convertible.

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APA Alert!

  • Have the four-speed automatic transmission checked every year for electronic trouble that could cause a major breakdown. If the vehicle’s mileage isn’t too high and the transmission fluid is not burnt, changing the fluid every two years should prevent or delay transmission failure. Also have the charging system checked – the transmission requires a stable power supply to work properly.
  • Early 1990s models delivered without a factory exhaust-gas recirculation valve will likely fail their emissions inspections, even if all systems are working correctly. To pass the test, it may be necessary to put the automatic transmission in second gear instead of Drive. This will reduce NOx (oxides of nitrogen) readings.
  • Recall covering 1994 models: the seat-belt anchors on vehicles equipped with bucket seats may not meet the federal standard governing seat anchorages. Replace seat-belt anchor assemblies.

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Compact and Mid-size Cars

Reliability: The V6 can suffer from high oil consumption due to worn valve stems and guides. Engine oil leaks are common. The four-speed automatic transmission is unreliable. If you detect a burnt smell in the transmission fluid or a slight shudder while changing speeds, these are signs of a problem. Transmission failures occur between 70,000 km and 100,000 km. The cars you are looking at now will likely be on their second or possibly third transmission. A/C components often fail after three years.

What to check: V6 engine: excessive oil consumption (blue exhaust smoke leaky gaskets, low compression), cam seals (oil leaks). Four-cylinder engines: cylinder head gaskets (leaks), emissions system air pump (seized), ignition system, oxygen sensor (defective), electronic transmission controls (defective circuits), CV joints (excessive play, worn), original-equipment radiator (inefficient, corroded), original-equipment front struts (worn), rack-and-pinion steering (leaks), inner tie-rod ends and ball joints (excessive play), brake discs (overheated or warped), front brake calipers (seized), parking break (seized or out of adjustment), engine mounts (excessive play), A/C (insufficient cooling; black dust deposits on the condenser are a sign of a leak), leaking or excessively noisy compressor, front wheel bearings (worn, excessive play).

Rust: Places to check: door bottoms and rocker panels. The right rear brake line near the fuel tank is vulnerable to advanced corrosion. Check and replace if necessary. Mediocre paint adhesion on lower body panels, particularly blue, silver and burgundy.

Safety: The sedans had a driver-side airbag in 1993, 1994 and 1995. The coupe and convertible had a driver-side airbag in 1993 and the convertible had dual airbags. ABS was optional in all years on all models. The cruise control button placement, low on the steering-wheel hub, is hazardous. The 1995 Dodge Spirit received a four-start rating for driver protection and a three-star rating for the passenger when crash tested by the NHTSA.

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