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Every car company under the sun has made a lousy engine at some point in its life. Few can say, however, that they’ve made one of the worst engines in history. Chrysler carries that torch for the 2.7-liter V6. An underpowered slag, the 2.7-liter went into Dodge Chargers, Avengers, Chrysler Sebrings, and other unfortunate souls. It had a few positive attributes, but as a whole, it succeeded to fail spectacularly unless it was met with meticulous maintenance

What Chrysler did right

2006 Dodge Charger on display in Detroit
2006 Dodge Charger on display in Detroit | STAN HONDA/AFP via Getty Images

Fitting six cylinders into a small displacement V6 was an intelligent move. It’s more compact and can fit closer to the firewall for a lower center of gravity. The block and cylinder heads were aluminum, with chain-driven dual overhead camshafts and a forged steel crankshaft. At its most potent, the 2.7-liter made 200 horsepower, which is a respectable number. Simplicity was on the Chrysler 2.7’s side, but unfortunately, that’s where the positives stop. 

What Chrysler did wrong

For starters, the 2.7 was too weak for the cars it went into. At their lightest, Dodge Chargers from 2006 weighed over 3,800 pounds. Chrysler Sebrings from 2001 fared slightly better, weighing as little as 3,100 pounds, but either way, 200 horsepower wasn’t enough. The Charger got even less at 170. The negatives don’t stop there either. These engines are notorious for failing well before 100,000 miles. 

The biggest problem that faced the Chrysler 2.7 was its oil sludge problem. The water pump gasket would leak, allowing coolant to dilute the engine oil. It would seep into the oil constantly and turn it into sludge. The only way around this was to constantly check the oil and change it every few thousand miles. It’s an expensive engine even before it needs a rebuild. 

The 2.7 can be fixed if you catch it in time

Catching the oil sludge problem in time is paramount. If it’s left alone, the engine will gum up and stall. Fortunately, there is a fix. The water pump gasket used a metal separator plate that was supposed to seal but didn’t. Chrysler issued a conventional gasket to fix the issue, according to Allpar. If you don’t catch it in time, you’re looking at a rebuild or replacement. Either way will cost thousands of dollars. It’s a lot to dump on an underpowered engine.

Consider an engine swap

Chrysler logo on a car
Chrysler logo on a car | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

If you own a Dodge Charger or Chrysler Sebring from this era, or any other car that used the Chrysler 2.7, including the Dodge Intrepid, consider replacing it with the 3.5-liter V6. It came in the same vehicles from the same era Charger and newer Sebrings and Chrysler cars from the mid-90s. The 3.5 was capable of more power (300 horsepower in some cases) and was more reliable. It won’t break records, but it’ll last longer than 40,000 miles. The swap itself may cost a lot of money, but you can find them anywhere for about $1,000. 


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