By Chris Chase; photos by
Greg Wilson, Autos.ca
Chrysler, it seems, is perpetually in financial trouble, a strange thing for a company that has been capable of producing successful vehicles. Take the ubiquitous Grand Caravan minivan, or the LH sedans (Intrepid, Concorde, New Yorker, 300 M, Eagle Vision and LHS, sold at various times from 1993 through 2004), both vehicles that brought something new to their respective market segments (or were instrumental in creating them, in the case of the original Caravan).
In 2005, Chrysler took advantage of its alliance with Mercedes-Benz (during which the company was known as DaimlerChrysler) to once again bring something a bit different to its showrooms. The car was the Chrysler 300, a full-size rear-drive sedan built on a platform based on Mercedes-Benz technology. Its front-engine, rear-drive layout was unique as rear-wheel drive had become rare in mid-priced cars, being limited largely to performance-oriented vehicles and trucks. The 300 shared its architecture with the Dodge Charger and Magnum sedan and wagon, introduced in 2006, and later, the Challenger coupe.
At first glance though, the 300′s biggest drawing card was its ostentatious styling, with a huge grille and chunky styling that brought to mind a Bentley or Rolls-Royce more than an upscale domestic family car.
The base model 300 got a 3.5-litre V6 (250 horsepower) that provided adequate performance, but the highlight was the 300C’s 5.7-litre Hemi V8 that churned out 340 hp, and if that wasn’t enough, the 300C SRT8 got a 6.1-litre version of the Hemi motor making 425 horsepower. Transmission choices were a four-speed automatic that came with V6 models, and a five-speed auto that served as the only gearbox in V8-powered cars. All-wheel drive was an option in 3.5- and 5.7-litre cars.
For 2006, the five-speed auto was made an option in six-cylinder cars. Other changes were mostly limited to trim and feature updates, and the 2007 model got more of the same. In 2008, designers massaged the 300′s exterior styling and added new wheel designs. The big update for 2009 was a new Hemi “Eagle” V8 engine that made 359 hp, and for 2010, side curtain airbags were made standard in all models, but the front seat side airbags that were optional in 2009 disappeared altogether.
Fuel consumption was rated 12.2/8.1 L/100 km (city/highway) for V6, RWD cars, but those numbers ballooned to 13.9/9.0 when AWD was added, numbers that were virtually identical to those for V8 models, AWD or not. The SRT8 was rated at 16.5/10.9 L/100km. By 2009, V6/AWD consumption figures were down to 12.6/8.6 L/100 km, and the new Eagle V8 earned improved ratings of 13.5/8.0 in RWD form, and the SRT8 had improved too, to 16.0/10.6 L/100 km.
Consumer Reports gives the 300 (and its LX platform mates) an average to below-average reliability rating.
The transmission in LX cars is known for fluid leaks from an electric connector, and a shifter that won’t move out of Park thanks to a plastic clip that breaks easily. Here’s a thread detailing the latter, along with a DIY fix.
A pair of rubber couplers in the driveshaft assembly, designed to reduce the likelihood of driveline damage, is prone to wear and eventual failure itself, which in turn wrecks the driveshaft and can take other rear end components with it. See this thread and this one for information. Apparently, this is a problem on the Mercedes-Benz E-Class platform, from which some of the LX’s suspension and drivetrain is derived.
Front suspension noise is common; if CR’s data is to be believed, bad tie rods (a component of the steering system) are the cause. Here’s a thread on the problem, , and here’s another on how to replace tie rods.
These cars are apparently very sensitive to low battery voltage. If a 300 (or Magnum, or Charger) won’t start, a weak battery is possible, a simple and relatively inexpensive solution. Another cause for a no-start 300 is a bad key fob battery.
In V8 cars, a noisy cooling fan is caused by the fan blades hitting the fan housing/radiator shroud.
The 300 scored “good” in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) frontal offset crash test, but cars with front-seat side airbags managed no better than “marginal” in side impact tests, due to a high likelihood of torso injury. Cars without the optional side airbags scored “poor.”
As an excellent illustration of the differences between the IIHS’ tests and those of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the 300 scored five stars in front-seat occupant protection in frontal impact tests, and four and five stars for front and rear seat protection in side crash tests.
According to Canadian Black Book, used 300 values are higher than those for its Charger platform mate, starting at $10,775 for 2005 base model, and ranging up to $29,450 for a 2010 300C with all-wheel drive. SRT8 values range from $21,525 for a 2006 (CBB doesn’t have values for 2005 models) to $36,625 for a 2010 version. Significant depreciation makes later model cars a great deal, particularly if any of the factory warranty remains: a 2009 Chrysler 300C, with the upgraded Hemi motor, is worth $23,450, a more than $20,000 discount compared to its MSRP.
Look past Consumer Reports’ ratings for this car and you’ll find that few of the problems are major in nature, but I’d recommend looking for a car that has had the driveshaft problem looked after. I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of annoying electrical and mechanical problems as the car ages, but if you want a large car with some serious personality, you won’t do better than the Chrysler 300 for the money.
Black Book Pricing (avg. retail) March, 2011:
|Year||Model||Price today||Price new|
|2010||300 Limited (V6)||$24,550||$36,645|
|2009||300 Limited (V6)||$20,900||$35,695|
|2008||300 Limited (V6)||$17,825||$35,295|
|2007||300 Limited (V6)||$15,675||$37,085|
|2006||300 base (V6)||$12,225||$29,995|
|2005||300 base (V6)||$10,925||$29,995|
Transport Canada Recall Number: 2004225; Units affected: 2
2007: On certain vehicles, a spot welding operation for the rear floor pan reinforcement may not have been performed. This could cause the rear seat belt anchors and the child seat anchors to separate in certain crash conditions, which can increase the risk of injury to rear seat passengers. Correction: Dealers will inspect for the presence of floor pan reinforcement bracket welds and, as necessary, repair using structural rivers.
Transport Canada Recall Number: 2004226; Units affected: 2,539 (Also affects other models)
2007: On certain vehicles, the fasteners that secure the battery positive cable to the bulkhead pass-through stud may be missing or not tightened to the appropriate specifications. This could result in a potential instrument panel fire. Correction: Dealers will visually inspect and re-torque the fastener on both sides of the bulkhead pass-through stud. Any fasteners found to be missing or damaged will be replaced.
Transport Canada Recall Number: 2004227; Units affected: 1,452 (Also affects other models)
2007: On certain vehicles, the bolt that secures the front shoulder belt Adjustable Turning Loop (ATL) D-ring to the ATL bracket may not be tightened to the appropriate torque level. This may result in the front seat occupants being improperly restrained in the event of a vehicle crash. Correction: Dealers will inspect the ATL bolt, and tighten as necessary to the specified torque level.
Transport Canada Recall Number: 2005299; Units affected: 19,747 (Also affects other models)
2007: On certain vehicles, the cup plug which retains the park pawl anchor shaft in the 42RLE automatic transmission could be missing or not properly staked in its bore, potentially allowing the shaft to move out of position and preventing the transmission from being placed in the PARK position. If this occurs and the parking brake is not applied, the vehicle may roll away and cause an accident without warning. Correction: Dealers will install a bracket to ensure that the park pawl anchor shaft is retained in the proper position.
Transport Canada Recall Number: 2006218; Units affected: 345 (Also affects other models)
2007: On certain vehicles equipped with the 42RLE automatic transmission, the Powertrain Control Module (PCM) may cause a momentary lock up of the drive wheels if the vehicle is travelling over 65 km/h and the operator shifts from drive to neutral and back to drive. Correction: Dealers will reprogram the PCM.
Transport Canada Recall Number: 2006373; Units affected: 5,886 (Also affects other models)
2007: On certain vehicles, the Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) control module software may cause the rear brakes to lock-up during certain braking conditions. This could result in a loss of vehicle control and cause a crash without warning. Correction: Dealers will reprogram the ABS electronic control unit.
Transport Canada Recall Number: 2008233; Units affected: 374 (Also affects other models)
2008: On certain vehicles, incorrectly manufactured rear axle hub nuts could, in time, loosen, and allow the halfshaft to disengage from the wheel hub assembly. This could cause the vehicle to lose propulsion which, in conjunction with traffic and road conditions, and the driver’s reactions, could increase the risk of a crash. Correction: Dealers will replace the rear axle hub nuts.
Transport Canada Recall Number: 2008402; Units affected: 728 (Also affects other models)
2006-2009: On certain vehicles, the gearshift cable may become disengaged from the steering column mounting bracket and cause an incorrect transmission gearshift position display. This could allow the vehicle to move inadvertently, resulting in a crash causing property damages and personal injuries. Correction: Dealers will install a redundant locking mechanism to ensure proper retention and shift linkage function.
Transport Canada Recall Number: 2008402; Units affected: 16 (Also affects other models)
2009: On certain vehicles, the tire pressure monitor (TPM) sensors may not transmit the actual tire pressure. This could result in the driver not being aware of low tire pressure. Correction: Dealers will replace the TPM sensors.
Transport Canada Recall Number: 2009323; Units affected: 1,172 (Also affects other models)
2009-2010: On certain vehicles, the front wheel spindle nut – which retains the hub, rotor, and wheel assembly – may have been omitted during vehicle assembly. This could allow the wheel assembly to separate from the vehicle while driving, which could result in a vehicle crash causing property damage, personal injury or death. Correction: Dealers will inspect for presence of the front wheel spindle nut, and repair any vehicle missing the nut.
Transport Canada Recall Number: 2010151; Units affected: 8,902 (Also affects other models)
2010: Certain vehicles equipped with automatic transmission may have been built with a Wireless Ignition Node (WIN) module exhibiting a binding condition of the solenoid latch. This may result in a condition where the FOBIK (Ignition key) can be removed from the WIN module prior to placing the shifter in PARK. This could result in unintended vehicle movement, which may cause property damage, personal injury or death. Correction: Dealers will inspect and, if necessary, replace the WIN module.
Transport Canada Recall Number: 2010151; Units affected: 2,611 (Also affects other models)
2010: Certain vehicles may experience a separation at the crimped end of the power steering pressure hose assembly resulting in power steering fluid leak which could result in a fire. Correction: Dealers will inspect and, if necessary, replace the power steering pressure hoses.
Crash test results
Used vehicle prices vary depending on factors such as general condition, odometer reading, usage history and options fitted. Always have a used vehicle checked by an experienced auto technician before you buy.
For information on vehicle service bulletins issued by the manufacturer, visit www.nhtsa.dot.gov.
For information on consumer complaints about specific models, see www.lemonaidcars.com.