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Stratus Engine Compression and Oil Issues

04-26-2011, 10:57 AM
My car stopped running. Its a 2000 Dodge Stratus, 2.4L 4Cylinder. It has around 153k miles. It just died one day and wouldn't start again. I checked the battery and replaced because there was battery acid all over the old battery but that did nothing. It did have a bad oil cap and was leaking but that was replaced about 2 months before the car died. There is dried oil all over the engine still. Oil doesn't seem to look like there is water in it. There is a oil in 2 of the cylinders where the spark plug boot goes. It seems like it might have been leaking out the side of the engine, but again there is oil on the top of the engine as well as in the cylinder where the spark plug boots go as well. Also, no compression seems to be there when trying to start the engine, but it does crank. It never overheated or put out gray or black smoke from what I saw either. The accessory belt spins when you crank it, and I pulled the spark plug boots out to check for a spark and didn't notice a spark. One time starting it with all spark plugs in it gave a pop, and one time starting it to check the sparks it also popped. It seemed it was coming from around where the air filter is, but I'm not sure. Only has happened twice though.

I was just wondering what I should start doing first, and figured I'd ask where people may know a bit more. I don't really have the money to go to a mechanic, and don't want to waste tons of money guessing by myself.

04-26-2011, 01:01 PM
The first thing I would check is the timing belt. From the symptoms you are describing they all point to the timing belt being broken.


04-26-2011, 01:18 PM
How hard, in opinion, would this be to do myself with only some experience in working on cars?

04-26-2011, 02:23 PM
To check the timing belt, all you have to do is take a bolt or two out of the timing cover so you can pry it apart to where you can see the timing belt. Then have someone turn the key to the start position and watch to see if the belt moves. I am betting it wont.

Even if it moves it does not rule it out. It is possible it has skipped some teeth or possibly sheared some teeth off and it will still possibly move.

As far as changing the belt yourself, it is quite a job and you might possibly need some special tools to actually do it. If you are adventurous, do a lot of research on the internet of the steps to perform and the timing marks on the crank and cam or cams.

Good luck.


04-26-2011, 06:40 PM
I have another related question. A friend of mine had similar issues with his car, and it ended up being that he did have a slow oil leak to where it was leaking into the cylinders where his spark plug boots go, and got a few spark plug shrouds (sorry if spelling is wrong), because the oil was splashing up to high to the spark plug and burning oil on them, which would in turn somehow not have his engine start with no compression. Its worked up to 40k miles so far. Guess what I'm asking is is it a possibility and something I should try, or something that is highly unlikely and I shouldn't bother with? I've never heard of a car not starting because of spark plugs, but again I'm not that experienced and my pal said it worked for him in what sounded like a similar situation.

Also, I can't seem to find where the timing cover is on this car, and I can't find anything saying where it is. If anyone knows and wouldn't mind telling me.

04-27-2011, 12:02 PM
Spark plugs raised, new plugs and wires didn't change anything, so I guess I'm still asking if anyone knows where the timing belt and cover are on this vehicle.

04-28-2011, 08:01 AM
I dont know if you have the DOHC or SOHC engine but here is a picture of the DOHC engine. I have added an arrow pointing to the Timing Belt Cover. If you have the SOHC engine, the cover will be in the same location it will just look a little different.

Locate the bolts that hold the two halves together and remove one or two of them so you can pry the cover apart to reveal the timing belt then have someone turn the engine over while you watch to see if it moves. If it does move the next step would be to remove the cover and check the timing marks to see if it has jumped out of time.

I hope this helps!


05-03-2011, 10:32 AM
Appreciate that. Its definitely not moving, unless they move at unviewable speeds. :) Time to get to a shop, not going to try this on my own since the wheel well is right there. Appreciate all your help!

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