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Dodge Repair/Question on 2000 Intrepid

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Question
My son recently purchased a 2000 Dodge Intrepid with the 3.2 L engine.  The car has 119,000 miles on it and is in fairly good condition.

My question is about the timing belt.  When should it be changed?  I am worried that if the belt breaks his investment will be lost but he has little money at this time to get the belt changed.

If the belt does break, will the valves be damaged and the engine ruined?   

If it doesn't ruin the engine, he might 'chance it'.
Thanks in advance - Bill

Answer
Hi Bill,
The manual suggests that the timing belt be changed at 105,000 miles.  I don't have any statistics that tell the mileage of these engines when the belt breaks. If he has a good idea about the previous ownwer(s) and what sort of speed distributions they subjected the engine to, then that would be helpful. Unfortunately there is no quick way to gain access to see the belt to inspect it. If the belt breaks while driving the likelihood is that the valves will come into contact with the tops of the pistons and be damaged. I would not call it ruined but there would be parts to replace as the result.
On the other hand, if he purchased it recently presumably the amount of money that is invested in it may not be significantly greater than the cost of the job to replace the timing belt.
I haven't owned an engine which has this sort of risk so I can't speak from persoinal experience. I do know that the odds of it breaking at around 100,000 miles is quite low, but at what point it becomes highly likely is unknown.
So it gets down to comparing the cost of replacing the belt, with the cost of the vehicle investment and how much more it might be worth at resale if the belt has been replaced in comparison to not and taking the chance that it breaks while he still owns it.
If by chance it was owned by conservative drivers who treated it gently then I would not be averse to continuing to drive it as it is. The resale value of it sometime in the near future may not be increased significantly enough to warrant investing in the belt replacement.
So those are some of the ways I would think of to decide what to do.
Roland

PS: the upper right (engine right) belt cover on the front of the engine is made of stamped metal. One idea might be to remove the bolts around the upper section and loosen the lower section ones sufficiently to allow you to gently flex the cover outward to inspect the timing belt. It has a silicone rubber adhesive sealant around the edge of the cover which if you are careful may not need to be replaced at all (but you can use that compound to patch any problem when you reposition it back in place). The smallesr bolts are tightened to 105 inch pounds, the medium size to 250 inch pounds, and the largest (if any) are to 40 foor pounds of torque. Let me know if you give this a try and how it works out to inspect the belt for any signs of cracking/fraying/layer separation. You can turn the engine by hand using the bolt on the crank pulley to visualize the entire belt. That inspection process, if successful, would be a way to get a warning of the need to replace it.
Thanks for the kind remarks.

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Roland Finston

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Get a Free Fast answer to your repair question about a Chrysler/Dodge/Plymouth car, minivan, SUV, or truck. Problems with electronically controlled engines and transmissions as well as body wiring problems are my specialty. This free troubleshoot advice forum helps you diagnose faults, minimize repair costs or do-it-yourself.

I answer questions seven days a week and respond to you in about 30 minutes. "Maxed Out" means I am answering another question or asleep overnight so try again later.

I have do-it-yourself experience (50+ years) and a library of 100 1982-2012 Chrysler factory shop manuals and 20 multi-manual Chrysler Corp. CD's.

I was voted "Top expert" from 2010-2015 here at AllExperts, and have answered 20,000+ questions.

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Five decades as a 'do-it-yourselfer' on domestic and imported cars

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Yahoo Autos Group called The Chrysler Lebaron Club (co-moderator)

Education/Credentials
Degrees in Physics/bruised knuckles.

Awards and Honors
"Top expert" of 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 here at Allexperts. Quickest "average response time" at Allexperts (currently no. 1).

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