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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hey all, new to Intrepids and Dodge altogether for that matter. Always loved Mopar and had my eye on this car since the day it rolled off the showroom floor. It's an 04 SE 2.7L (built in July of 03) that my grandfather bought brand new. It was rarely driven in rain or snow/salt and short of some small dents and scratches, looks virtually new in and out with zero rust; truly looks showroom condition including things like even brake lines and floor pans. Just rolled over 71k miles this week. My grandfather passed years ago and my grandmother, god bless her is in her mid 90's, so finally decided to turn in the keys and pass the car down to me. So it will become my new daily. That said I was hoping for a download on what I should know. Below is what I have learned by reading as much as I can.

What I have read:
-So far it seems like the 03/04's tend to have all the "upgrades" short of the water pump (Although I have read some people say they did get the upgraded pump... can someone confirm?)
-Keep the PCV clean
-Change your oil with a quality synthetic (this particular car usually had oil done every 1500 miles and had a few coolant flushes over the years as well)

Questions:

-What spots on these cars are known to rust? I generally coat all my vehicles in fluid film, but want to pay close attention to anything that is a known issue
-What else should I know? Mechanical or otherwise?
-The car does have some odd issue I noticed. When driving it will cut power. Headlights dim, blower motor slows etc. Car never stalls, but it almost seems like it cuts out for a split second. I have cleaned all battery connections and the nodes, as well as put a new battery in. It seems to have gotten better but still happens.
 

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Congratulations! Low mileage and clean. Was it garage kept?

You said you cleaned the battery and "nods". Maybe that's a typo, but what did you mean by "nods" (nodes?)? The positive jump post connections (three cables join there - main cable from the battery, power cable to the starter, main cable to everything else thru the PDC) have been known to get loose and possibly slightly corroded making their connections relatively high resistance, and intermittently so. It would be a good idea to dis-assemble and clean the positive jump post by removing the nut(s) from one or both ends of the stud, lightly sand the mating surfaces of the cable terminals, wipe or spray them clean, coat with a thin layer of bearing or axle grease (for future corrosion protection), and re-assemble. (Don't worry about the grease preventing good electrical connection. Normal clamping pressure displaces that for solid metal-to-metal contact. The grease keeps moisture, air/oxygen, and corrosion out.)

CAUTION: Before putting a wrench to the jump post, remove the nut (15mm wrench) and top cable from the negative jump post (system ground cable from the battery) so there won't be any arcing and sparking from the wrench when on the pos. jump post nut if it touches nearby grounded metal - which it almost surely will.

Use two wrenches, one on each pos. jump post nut, to loosen, remove, re-assemble, and tighten, otherwise the stud and nut that you don't have a wrench on is likely to spin with the nut with the wrench on it, especially if the threads are rough and binding due to corrosion or internal arcing if they were loose with current flowing thru them. When finally tightening, apply a moderately high torque to them to clamp those terminals well and ensure no future trouble from them.

Give the same treatment to the negative jump post (two cables).

Theres's a good chance that will clear up the apparent intermittent power drop. You could also check the connection of the main cable connecting to the PDC (Power Distribution Center) to make sure it's good and tight.

There's a smaller green wire branching from the positive cable near the battery post. (It is a fusible link that makes the electrical connection between alternator and battery.) Was there or is there white battery acid residue and corrosion on that green cable and where it joins the main positive cable? If so, over the years, that acid residue can do a number on the copper in the fusible link causing high resistance and voltage drop. The white acid residue can creep underneath the tape that covers the two cables and where they join and be a hidden "cancer" on the copper, so you might have to unwrap the tape and investigate heavy loss of copper that may require repair. If there is minor damage, you can clean remaining acid off with baking soda-water paste, thoroughly rinse, let dry, coat with light layer of grease, and re-tape. But, as said, if there's lots of copper missing, it will need repair.

If you didn't already do so, you should remove the two battery post terminals and give them the baking soda treatment and rinse if any signs of acid residue. Keep applying baking soda paste and rinsing until all residue is 100% gone. Tough areas may need some brushing, but be aware that any spattering on your clothes will eat holes in them - not right away, but they'll show up after you wash them - IOW, don't wear good clothes to do this. Clean post ODs and terminal IDs with a battery post cleaning tool (a specialized wire brush tool - under $10 at the parts store), wipe or spray clean of any particles or debris, let dry, coat all surfaces, including post ODs and terminal IDs with a light coating of grease, and reassemble with moderately firm terminal clamping torque.

Consider buying an inexpensive volt meter (Amazon) that plugs into you cigarette lighter so you can monitor system voltage while you're driving. If you cigarette lighter fuse is oriented to keep power to it even with ignition off, you'll have to remove the meter when not driving to prevent extra battery drain, but a better solution would be to re-orient the fuse (Fuse 6 in the Junction Block) to turn off the cigarette lighter jack when ignition is turned off if it's not already like that.
 
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I don't think any of our cars came from the factory with the updated water pumps and gaskets. If any of my older posts said that, there was a period of time where I mistakenly thought that.
 
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Congratulations! Low mileage and clean. Was it garage kept?

You said you cleaned the battery and "nods". Maybe that's a typo, but what did you mean by "nods" (nodes?)? The positive jump post connections (three cables join there - main cable from the battery, power cable to the starter, main cable to everything else thru the PDC) have been known to get loose and possibly slightly corroded making their connections relatively high resistance, and intermittently so. It would be a good idea to dis-assemble and clean the positive jump post by removing the nut(s) from one or both ends of the stud, lightly sand the mating surfaces of the cable terminals, wipe or spray them clean, coat with a thin layer of bearing or axle grease (for future corrosion protection), and re-assemble. (Don't worry about the grease preventing good electrical connection. Normal clamping pressure displaces that for solid metal-to-metal contact. The grease keeps moisture, air/oxygen, and corrosion out.)

CAUTION: Before putting a wrench to the jump post, remove the nut (15mm wrench) and top cable from the negative jump post (system ground cable from the battery) so there won't be any arcing and sparking from the wrench when on the pos. jump post nut if it touches nearby grounded metal - which it almost surely will.

Use two wrenches, one on each pos. jump post nut, to loosen, remove, re-assemble, and tighten, otherwise the stud and nut that you don't have a wrench on is likely to spin with the nut with the wrench on it, especially if the threads are rough and binding due to corrosion or internal arcing if they were loose with current flowing thru them. When finally tightening, apply a moderately high torque to them to clamp those terminals well and ensure no future trouble from them.

Give the same treatment to the negative jump post (two cables).

Theres's a good chance that will clear up the apparent intermittent power drop. You could also check the connection of the main cable connecting to the PDC (Power Distribution Center) to make sure it's good and tight.

There's a smaller green wire branching from the positive cable near the battery post. (It is a fusible link that makes the electrical connection between alternator and battery.) Was there or is there white battery acid residue and corrosion on that green cable and where it joins the main positive cable? If so, over the years, that acid residue can do a number on the copper in the fusible link causing high resistance and voltage drop. The white acid residue can creep underneath the tape that covers the two cables and where they join and be a hidden "cancer" on the copper, so you might have to unwrap the tape and investigate heavy loss of copper that may require repair. If there is minor damage, you can clean remaining acid off with baking soda-water paste, thoroughly rinse, let dry, coat with light layer of grease, and re-tape. But, as said, if there's lots of copper missing, it will need repair.

If you didn't already do so, you should remove the two battery post terminals and give them the baking soda treatment and rinse if any signs of acid residue. Keep applying baking soda paste and rinsing until all residue is 100% gone. Tough areas may need some brushing, but be aware that any spattering on your clothes will eat holes in them - not right away, but they'll show up after you wash them - IOW, don't wear good clothes to do this. Clean post ODs and terminal IDs with a battery post cleaning tool (a specialized wire brush tool - under $10 at the parts store), wipe or spray clean of any particles or debris, let dry, coat all surfaces, including post ODs and terminal IDs with a light coating of grease, and reassemble with moderately firm terminal clamping torque.

Consider buying an inexpensive volt meter (Amazon) that plugs into you cigarette lighter so you can monitor system voltage while you're driving. If you cigarette lighter fuse is oriented to keep power to it even with ignition off, you'll have to remove the meter when not driving to prevent extra battery drain, but a better solution would be to re-orient the fuse (Fuse 6 in the Junction Block) to turn off the cigarette lighter jack when ignition is turned off if it's not already like that.
Yes the car was garage kept since day 1 and is extremely clean. All cables looked pretty good and I didn't see any apparent corrosion, but I did clean and sand all connections anyway. Also yup I missed the "e" on nodes. I already cleaned all of that off and used dielectric on the connections. I cleaned both connections to the block off the negative post too. The only one as you mentioned I have not pulled off is the connection at the alternator itself. After I did all this the power drops did seem to happen less often and not as bad of a drop, so maybe there is another connection somewhere or a bad cable that when I moved it I made it better. On the old battery it read 12.2 volts engine off and 13.7 engine running. I have not checked with the new battery yet, but would assume its the same or better. Interesting thought with the cigarette lighter volt meter though. I didn't know they even made those. Might be a tool I have to add to my box, pretty neat.

Another question... but on the PCV. How do I clean that thing? It looks like it has coolant hoses running to it also? Do I have to pull coolant hoses off to clean/check it?
 

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Yes the car was garage kept since day 1 and is extremely clean. All cables looked pretty good and I didn't see any apparent corrosion, but I did clean and sand all connections anyway. Also yup I missed the "e" on nodes. I already cleaned all of that off and used dielectric on the connections. I cleaned both connections to the block off the negative post too. The only one as you mentioned I have not pulled off is the connection at the alternator itself. After I did all this the power drops did seem to happen less often and not as bad of a drop, so maybe there is another connection somewhere or a bad cable that when I moved it I made it better. On the old battery it read 12.2 volts engine off and 13.7 engine running. I have not checked with the new battery yet, but would assume its the same or better. Interesting thought with the cigarette lighter volt meter though. I didn't know they even made those. Might be a tool I have to add to my box, pretty neat.

Another question... but on the PCV. How do I clean that thing? It looks like it has coolant hoses running to it also? Do I have to pull coolant hoses off to clean/check it?
It would be
Yes the car was garage kept since day 1 and is extremely clean. All cables looked pretty good and I didn't see any apparent corrosion, but I did clean and sand all connections anyway. Also yup I missed the "e" on nodes. I already cleaned all of that off and used dielectric on the connections. I cleaned both connections to the block off the negative post too. The only one as you mentioned I have not pulled off is the connection at the alternator itself. After I did all this the power drops did seem to happen less often and not as bad of a drop, so maybe there is another connection somewhere or a bad cable that when I moved it I made it better. On the old battery it read 12.2 volts engine off and 13.7 engine running. I have not checked with the new battery yet, but would assume its the same or better. Interesting thought with the cigarette lighter volt meter though. I didn't know they even made those. Might be a tool I have to add to my box, pretty neat.

Another question... but on the PCV. How do I clean that thing? It looks like it has coolant hoses running to it also? Do I have to pull coolant hoses off to clean/check it?
Better to just replace it. It's like a couple dollars at the parts store. And no it wouldn't have coolant hoses connected to it since the pcv valve is a ventilation system
 

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Hey all, new to Intrepids and Dodge altogether for that matter. Always loved Mopar and had my eye on this car since the day it rolled off the showroom floor. It's an 04 SE 2.7L (built in July of 03) that my grandfather bought brand new. It was rarely driven in rain or snow/salt and short of some small dents and scratches, looks virtually new in and out with zero rust; truly looks showroom condition including things like even brake lines and floor pans. Just rolled over 71k miles this week. My grandfather passed years ago and my grandmother, god bless her is in her mid 90's, so finally decided to turn in the keys and pass the car down to me. So it will become my new daily. That said I was hoping for a download on what I should know. Below is what I have learned by reading as much as I can.

What I have read:
-So far it seems like the 03/04's tend to have all the "upgrades" short of the water pump (Although I have read some people say they did get the upgraded pump... can someone confirm?)
-Keep the PCV clean
-Change your oil with a quality synthetic (this particular car usually had oil done every 1500 miles and had a few coolant flushes over the years as well)

Questions:

-What spots on these cars are known to rust? I generally coat all my vehicles in fluid film, but want to pay close attention to anything that is a known issue
-What else should I know? Mechanical or otherwise?
-The car does have some odd issue I noticed. When driving it will cut power. Headlights dim, blower motor slows etc. Car never stalls, but it almost seems like it cuts out for a split second. I have cleaned all battery connections and the nodes, as well as put a new battery in. It seems to have gotten better but still happens.
The battery wouldn't affect how your car drives. Its purpose really is just to start your car. After that your alternator handles all the power and charges your battery. That's why you're able to Jumpstart a car with a dead battery. The battery or Jumpstart provides the initial spark the engine needs to get started. That's why the alternator is really important.

Get your alternator checked at autozone or any parts store. They do it for free. I would start with that. And hopefully it's just that cause it'll be a somewhat easy thing to replace. Sound like it tho since you're saying your headlights are dimming. That's a sign your alternator could be going bad
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The battery wouldn't affect how your car drives. Its purpose really is just to start your car. After that your alternator handles all the power and charges your battery. That's why you're able to Jumpstart a car with a dead battery. The battery or Jumpstart provides the initial spark the engine needs to get started. That's why the alternator is really important.

Get your alternator checked at autozone or any parts store. They do it for free. I would start with that. And hopefully it's just that cause it'll be a somewhat easy thing to replace. Sound like it tho since you're saying your headlights are dimming. That's a sign your alternator could be going bad
I tested the voltage and it's outputting 13.7 at idle with a full electrical load (ac on, fans, headlights, radio etc.) 14.2 when revved up. I cleaned every ground I could get to and the positive lead to the alternator as well. It could still be a bad connection somewhere I suppose... I couldn't get to the the drivers side block ground attached on the engine side (I can't even get my hand on that nut never mind a wrench) and didn't pull the alternator to clean the bracket and bolts there, nor did I pull the starter cables off, but I'm starting to think it could be the beginnings of a failing voltage regulator. It only dips for a split second as if the alternator cut completely out and the car is running on battery only. I'm sure a test at autozone would show the alternator as fine unless the issue happened during their test. The car is so utterly clean, I would be pretty surprised if there was corrosion on anything so bad it was losing the electrical connection but I suppose anything is possible.
 

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The batteries can develop internal shorts - and the shorts can be intermittent, but that wouldn't be likely on a new battery.

2.7 alternator is tricky to get in and out. Once it's unbolted, getting it positioned and oriented just right to come out of its space is kind of like working a Rubik's cube. :) It's in a very tight area.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
The batteries can develop internal shorts - and the shorts can be intermittent, but that wouldn't be likely on a new battery.

2.7 alternator is tricky to get in and out. Once it's unbolted, getting it positioned and oriented just right to come out of its space is kind of like working a Rubik's cube. :) It's in a very tight area.
I replaced the battery with new in hopes I would get lucky. No dice. New battery has the same issue. I did this because the battery was 6 years old and went completely dead numerous times over the past few years, since the car did some sitting in the garage. That said I have no reason to just throw parts at the car without knowing what's wrong. The battery I could justify, but the alternator not as much but it may come to that as I really don't know what else to do at this point. These voltage dips aren't good for anything and of course getting stuck on the side of the road is in the back of my mind.

Are these cars known to kill alternators? 70k miles seems pretty young for an alternator to die on a garage kept car.

Oh and if I do have to change it, can it actually come out the bottom of the car, or do I have to go out the top after moving all that out of the way?
 

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I tested the voltage and it's outputting 13.7 at idle with a full electrical load (ac on, fans, headlights, radio etc.) 14.2 when revved up. I cleaned every ground I could get to and the positive lead to the alternator as well. It could still be a bad connection somewhere I suppose... I couldn't get to the the drivers side block ground attached on the engine side (I can't even get my hand on that nut never mind a wrench) and didn't pull the alternator to clean the bracket and bolts there, nor did I pull the starter cables off, but I'm starting to think it could be the beginnings of a failing voltage regulator. It only dips for a split second as if the alternator cut completely out and the car is running on battery only. I'm sure a test at autozone would show the alternator as fine unless the issue happened during their test. The car is so utterly clean, I would be pretty surprised if there was corrosion on anything so bad it was losing the electrical connection but I suppose anything is possible.
There's no regulator per-se. The PCM monitors the system voltage and closes the loop on the firmware's voltage setpoint - one reason it can be affected by the jump post connections and the connection at the PDC - the PCM closes the loop on what it sees coming to it from the PDC. So - if you have a flaky connection, that's going to cause the PCM to goose the alternator to put too much voltage to the battery (not good for Mr. battery, but you could see low system voltage). A severely corroded fusible link will cause periods of low voltage at the battery and system because the alternator is limited in how much voltage it can put out to make up for the drop thru a flaky fusible link. There's a reason we bring up all of those points.

Also, it adjusts the setpoint based on the ambient temperature (from the sensor in between the radiator and grille). The setpoint range is 13.5 to 14.5 volts. Higher at colder ambient, lower at hotter ambient, but those are the limits.
 

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I replaced the battery with new in hopes I would get lucky. No dice. New battery has the same issue. I did this because the battery was 6 years old and went completely dead numerous times over the past few years, since the car did some sitting in the garage. That said I have no reason to just throw parts at the car without knowing what's wrong. The battery I could justify, but the alternator not as much but it may come to that as I really don't know what else to do at this point. These voltage dips aren't good for anything and of course getting stuck on the side of the road is in the back of my mind.

Are these cars known to kill alternators? 70k miles seems pretty young for an alternator to die on a garage kept car.

Oh and if I do have to change it, can it actually come out the bottom of the car, or do I have to go out the top after moving all that out of the way?
On the 2.7, alternator has to come out the bottom. As I said, it's tricky. I didn't have to replace the altenator on my 2.7 until around 275kmiles.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
There's no regulator per-se. The PCM monitors the system voltage and closes the loop on the firmware's voltage setpoint - one reason it can be affected by the jump post connections and the connection at the PDC - the PCM closes the loop on what it sees coming to it from the PDC. So - if you have a flaky connection, that's going to cause the PCM to goose the alternator to put too much voltage to the battery (not good for Mr. battery, but you could see low system voltage). A severely corroded fusible link will cause periods of low voltage at the battery and system because the alternator is limited in how much voltage it can put out to make up for the drop thru a flaky fusible link. There's a reason we bring up all of those points.

Also, it adjusts the setpoint based on the ambient temperature (from the sensor in between the radiator and grille). The setpoint range is 13.5 to 14.5 volts. Higher at colder ambient, lower at hotter ambient, but those are the limits.
Wow awesome! Thanks for the through explanation. So sounds like my alternator is probably fine.

Sorry for the ignorance, but what is the PDC? I have not seen an overvoltage yet, just dips that again, seem to me like the alternator just cuts off for a split second. Is the fusible like the only thing that can cause an undercharge or dip like this? It sounds like a bad cable or bad connection would actually cause an overcharge. Am I correct in thinking this?
 
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