I just bought this 2001 Dodge Stratus w/2.4L 4-cyl engine. Unfortunately I was not able to run the engine before I purchased it, and was disappointed to find it ran very poorly once I got it. After a number of other tests and replaced parts I was still unable to locate the issue, so I decided to rent a cylinder compression tester and do a compression test.
On cylinder 1 and cylinder 4, both with and without adding oil to the cylinder, I get a reading of about 150-160. On the center two cylinders, I was getting 60-90 dry and 150-155 wet. My limited understanding is this is likely piston rings. It does not smoke out of the exhaust and none of the fluids appear to be contaminated.
Am I interpreting the test results correctly? This car was sitting for a year or two before I purchased it. Is it possible the rings are "stuck" or not seating properly? I have not changed the oil yet, but it still looks decent. Could that cause this issue?
I have read in a few forums that I might be able to improve the situation somewhat by allowing something like Seafoam or regular transmission fluid to "soak" in the cylinders for a while. I've also read I might be able to temporarily resolve the issue by using an extremely heavy weight oil.
What kind of reliability or life span should I expect out of this vehicle if I continue to run it as-is or with one of these "quick fixes"? Will it fail catastrophically or will it just begin to perform worse and worse?
It actually seems to run at least somewhat decently and I'm getting about 22mpg out of it. Pulling the engine is not an option, but I'm willing to try just about anything else. My big concern is fuel inefficiency, as I bought this car solely to replace my minivan for very long (3000-5000 mile) trips.
Sunday, February 10th, 2013 AT 5:48 PM