Water Pump Replacement in a Chrysler 2.7L Engine

I recently helped my sister-in-law by replacing the leaking water pump in her 1998 Dodge Intrepid with the 2.7L engine. It’s a terribly designed engine in that when the water pump shaft seal goes (as they are prone to do), the leak dumps coolant into the crankcase and fouls the oil. Chrysler seams to think that a simple weep hole is sufficient to catch any leakage and dump it outside, but, I’ve read too many stories about that being inadequate. BTW — the weep hole location is on the left side of the engine block, near the front, about half way up the block. It’s easiest to locate when looking from underneath the car.

The following is not meant to be a complete step-by-step on how to do the job. I intend it to be informational with things that I learned along the way that might help others. I would not attempt this without some kind of service manual(s). I have omitted many important details that are covered in a service manual (like torque procedures). If nothing else, after reading this you should get a good sense for the amount of work involved and why a mechanic is going to charge you north of $500 in labor to do the job.

Tools that you absolutely must have that might not be in the average tool box:

  • 12 mm allen wrench
  • 3/8″ breaker bar — for cam shaft positioning. DO NOT use a socket ratchet!
  • 3-jaw puller
  • Set of Torx bits (for the coil-over-plug removal)
  • Torque wrench (duh!)

Recommend, but, I managed without them:

  • Chain style locking “pliers” to hold crankshaft pulley when removing/installing crankshaft pulley bolt.
  • Crankshaft pulley installer

Enough lead in, let’s get started with the tear down:

  1. Remove the intake Plenum — Disconnect all wires and hoses to the plenum, including the EGR tube. Disconnect the throttle cable(s). Unbolt and remove the plenum with the throttle body attached. Stuff rags into the intake ports to prevent anything from getting dropped in. Use a couple of zip ties to hold the wire bundles over the center of the engine
  2. Valve covers offRemove the valve covers — Remove the coil-over-plug assemblies. I used a sharpened putty knife to carefully slip between the head and the cover to loosen it enough to pop it free without damaging the cover gasket. The cover gaskets are rubberized and reusable if care is taken.
  3. Remove the cross-member above the radiator.
  4. Drain the cooling system and remove the upper radiator hose.
  5. Remove the fan assembly.
  6. Remove the drive belts.
  7. Remove the power steering pump — There’s no need to disconnect any hoses or drain the system. It simply has to be pulled aside. Take note that there are only 3 bolts holding the pump in place and ALL of them are accessible with a socket wrench through the holes in the pump pulley. If you are struggling to get at one of the bolts, most likely the bolt is holding only the bracket and not the pump. The farthest inside bolt has a spacer that is pressed through the bracket and against the pump. This spacer needs to be pried away from the pump in order to free the pump enough to remove it from the bracket.
  8. Now that the pump is out of the way, all the power steering pump idler bracket bolts are a cinch to get at. Remove the bracket.
  9. Remove the bolt in the crankshaft holding the main pulley in place. If you don’t have a proper tool to hold the pulley, you can manage by using the tab at the bottom of the timing chain cover as a prop for a screwdriver through the pulley spoke.Crankshaft bolt cheat
  10. Remove the crankshaft pulley using a 3-jaw puller.
  11. Remove the timing chain cover.
  12. Remove the spark plugs to ease rotating the crankshaft.
  13. Rotate the crankshaft around until “colored” links of the timing chain are oriented with the respective sprockets as shown in the photo’s below. Additionally, align the crankshaft position with the arrow on the crank case (it’s actually the oil pump housing) on the left side of the engine. I found the “dark colored” links to be very difficult to see. Also note that if the timing marks do not line up, keep spinning the engine around and eventually, they will. Or, the lazy way is to simply count that each sprocket is offset by the same number of teeth and the same direction to confirm that you’ve properly identified the alignment links.
    Right Cam Alignment
    Left Cam Chain Alignment
    Note that the crank position does not look correct in this picture — partly due to the camera angle, and partly because it really is off by a little bit…

    Crankshaft Timing Chain Alignment
  14. With everything in alignment, remove the timing chain tensioner. Take note of the extension of the timing chain tensioner before removing it. This will be useful for gauging the wear of the cam chain later.

    Cam Chain Tensioner Travel Limit
  15. Remove all the timing chain guides. Note that this requires removing the large plugs in the front of the heads using a 12mm allen key. I did not have one and my local hardware store was conveniently out of stock when I needed it, so, I made one from a long coupling nut as shown on the right. The coupling nut was 1/2″ wrench size with a little work on the grinder reduce it down to make it ~12MM. No sir, I’m not too proud to admit any of this!
  16. Remove the cam shaft sprockets. Be warned: I had a problem with the cams not staying in the exact location once freed of the chain. Use caution when removing the bolts since the cams may spring violently once the sprocket bolts are removed (ask me why I know about this)! Use a 3/8″ ‘breaker bar’ that has a non-ratchet head so you can ease the spring pressure in either direction after removing the cam sprocket bolts. Do NOT hold the cam shaft with a standard 3/8″ ratchet since it can only apply torque in one direction!
  17. Remove the cam chain enough to clear the water pump.
  18. Finally, the water pump can be removed. Once I got it free, I found that the gasket was disintegrating. The rubber material was literally crumbling into pieces upon removal. Arielle was very lucky that the gasket had not started leaking coolant into the crankcase.Old Rotten Water Pump Seal
  19. I urge you to drain the oil at this point since, undoubtedly, coolant dribbled down into the oil pan upon removing the water pump.

Inspection

Take a close look at the wear on the cam chain guides. Arielle’s engine had been replaced and we don’t know how many miles it has on it. The deepest wear on the worst cam chain guide was only ~0.020″ deep. We decided not to replace the guides.

Next came the cam chain itself. The tensioner was roughly 3/4″ extended with tension on the chain. The tensioner extends ~1.5″ at the wear limit indicator, and a bit further past that as shown in the picture to the right. Since it had over half of the travel remaining, we decided to keep the old cam chain in service as well.
Installation

  1. Even after reading the procedure in the manual, one of the most confusing things to do was to “reset” the cam chain tensioner before installing it. There’s a special tool that might help you with this, but it is not really required. The trick is to release the check valve ball while compressing the tensioner so that the trapped oil can escape. I used a tiny allen wrench to apply a small amount of pressure on the ball while firmly applying compression to the tensioner body. It’s moderately tricky and you are not done until the tensioner wants to spring back on its own after being released from compression (see Updates). If it does not do this, the problem is most assuredly because it has yet to be compressed enough to fully drain the oil out.   This is confusing because once all the oil is removed, it will actually “click” into a fully compressed state and not spring back. However after applying compression again, it should then spring back into the extended position. I’d be wary of using a vise for compression due to the difficult in gauging the force applied (it can easily be done by hand). It’s also very messy and the oils squirts all over — wear eye protection!

    UPDATE: after completely draining the oil from the tensioner (as called for in the service manual I was using), I think this later caused a problem — the timing chain would lose tension at idle when the oil was up to temp. So, I likely screwed something up (also, there was a commenter below that seams to have the same problem). My theory is that releasing the tensioner after installation fills it with air, and that air gets trapped, ruining the hydraulic lock that is probably needed at lower oil pressures during idle. Commenter Dennis did the job and suggested only compressing the tensioner just enough to reinstall it, thus, leaving nearly all the oil in the tensioner. He reports this has worked great thus far. Thank you, Dennis, for reporting back on this.

    More UPDATES: Commenter Ralph describes the following details about the tensioner: Upon examining the tensioner closely I found that it has a tiny bleed hole in the piston, opposite end of where the ball valve is. THE FUNCTION OF THIS BLEED HOLE IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT, because if the air cannot bleed ot of the tensioner it will cause persistent chain rattle issues upon starting and at hot idle!! I tested the tesioner by putting it in a vise and very lightly tightened it. If the tensioner is OK then after a minute or so oil will start oozing lightly from the bleed hole in the piston opposite from the hole with the ball check valve.If no oil oozes out, discard the tensioner and get new one, the bleed hole is blocked. — Thank you, Ralph, for this helpful info!

  2. Install the water pump. Follow the torque procedure in the manual.
  3. Install the cam chain and cam shaft sprockets. Get the chain alignment with in a tooth or two, but, don’t sweat it just yet.
  4. Now the really fun part — aligning the cam chain to the sprockets while installing the guides. Start installing the cam chain guides one at a time. For better or worse, I started with the one on the right side of the engine (i.e. the side with the tensioner), then the two around the water pump, and finally the left side. I knew the crankshaft was very close to the correct position, so, I correctly aligned the right-side cam to the chain and found a spot that it would rest at without constantly holding the cam. After installing the guides around the water pump, it took a bit of cam positioning to get the chain aligned with the left-side cam shaft. This one did not want to stay in position on its own and I had to use the 3/8″ breaker bar (as mentioned above, do NOT use a normal 3/8″ ratchet for this!) to hold the cam in the correct position while also positioning the chain around the crank shaft sprocket and also installing the final guide on the left of the engine. It really helped to have an extra set of hands for this operation.
  5. Once the chain and sprockets are aligned, install the cam chain tensioner. Once installed, compress it with a small pry bar and it should spring out against the guide.
  6. I then took the opportunity to spin the crankshaft around by hand for several revolutions to make sure nothing clanged.
  7. Install the timing chain cover and torque appropriately.
  8. Install the crankshaft pulley. The correct way to do this is with a special tool that threads into the crankshaft and then pushes the pulley onto the shaft. I tried getting one from the local auto parts store, but, they didn’t have one with the correct threads for the crankshaft. Naturally, the bolt that holds the pulley on the crank is too short to be of any help for the task. I wound up heating the pulley in the oven to ~250 degrees and then tapped it onto the shaft using baby sledge hammer. Not exactly elegant, but I was out of options on a Sunday afternoon and had to proceed. Before you scream at me, remember that this is done in very cramped space and I could only get about a 3 inch swing of the hammer, so, there was no heavy pounding involved — even though it was a 3 lb hammer. I used a backing board against the radiator to prevent damaging it during the backward swing.
  9. The rest of the installation is the reverse of the the tear down.
  10. Don’t forget to connect the hood latch release cable when installing the radiator cross member — yeah, that was an “ohh sh!t” for me (managed to connect it in place, but, twas a pain).
  11. Also, don’t forget to refill all the fluids — engine oil (you did drain it, didn’t you!?!) and coolant.

When it’s time to start the engine the first time, be prepared for quite a racket until the oil pressure comes up — the cam chain tensioner needs to be “pumped up” with oil before it will hold the correct slack on the chain.

If you found this helpful, please leave a comment saying so. Enjoy!

216 comments to Water Pump Replacement in a Chrysler 2.7L Engine

  • Paul T

    Not replacing the chain / guides is how these engines end up jumping time, and later its called a POS and gets a bad rep. Yes, the tensioner had extra travel remaining in it, but I find that the ratchet mechanism inside the tensioner,only works up to the wear indicator. To further explain this, if you release the tensioner all the way, and compress it to re-set it (don’t forget to unseat the check ball on the bottom of it as its being compressed), you can slowly release the tensioner and try re-compressing it before its fully extended and realize that it is impossible. Release a little further, and you’ll catch another of the ratchet mechanisms, a little further, and another ratchet mechanism until you get to a point right around that wear indicator where you no longer get bites on the ratchet mechanism. This is where mechanics go wrong. Say the tensioner gets way towards the end of its travel due to timing component wear, its still working, except if it bleeds down while the engine sits for a week or so. Its free to bleed down towards its nearest ratchet mechanism, which gives the chain enough slack to allow it to jump time. Owner goes to start it up, and WHAM pistons meet the valves. Or if it gets way towards the end, any compressing it will initiate the re-set procedure of the tensioner, compress it to a certain point where hydraulic pressure inside will not push it back out, and same thing happens. Replace the necessary components if that wear indicator on the tensioner is showing.

    The water pump weep hole is plenty sufficient to allow coolant to drain. The cause of coolant getting into the oil is like you mentioned; the gasket deteriorating. Every new gasket I install now I spread RTV on the metal surfaces of the gasket to help seal it.

    As for the reason these engines have rod bearing issues? Too much oil in the cylinder heads. Read other internet sources that say this and that, and I find them all to be untrue even with some water pump gasket leakage. With all the oil in the heads, it doesn’t give the crankcase enough when the oil is neglected. Try running one with the front cover removed and watch the oil level in the pan drop as RPMs go up! Almost every single overhead cam engine I’ve had apart has some kind of oil supply restrictor to the cylinder heads. The 2.7 does not. Yes, you can change it all you want but if it consumes 3 quarts in 3000 miles and you never check oil level in between, you have a problem. Maintain the oil with quality oil and they won’t sludge, and most of all, maintain the oil level. These things will run forever if you do that. Oil is cheap. Engines are expensive. You can replace whichever you want.

  • Derek

    Driving home from work, near the end of my first semester of college, I came up to a stop and lost heat in my vehicle. Just down at an idle I experienced no heat, but at cruising speeds heat returned. Next morning I checked it out, was a half gallon low on coolant. Damn. Fired it up and noticed it was leaking coolant. Found out it was the weep hole.

    Finished up school and knew the first big project for the summer was going to by changing the water pump in my gold old intrep. I purchased the vehicle from my father at 110,000 miles, and the pump went around 144,000. The vehicle has never let either of us down in the past, so I figured I’d fix it right, and see how long the thing lasts me.

    I work at NAPA, so I purchased a new water pump, timing cover gasket, valve cover gaskets, and a chilton’s manual to aid me in the project. I know a few mechanics, and one of the local garages was nice enough to loan me a low profile harmonic balancer puller made just for Chryslers.

    (This was over three months ago, so it is somewhat fuzzy in my head)Tear down was easy. Lined up the timing marks, took the guides out, and only the passenger side cam sprocket. Was able to remove the chain, and take the pump out. The old pump gasket was still in great condition. Every piece of rubber molded on the metal gasket was still there, not all rotted like the picture above. The design on the pump gasket must have changed slightly… quality of material wise… when Chrysler introduced the different chain tensioner in 2002. On older 2.7l models… from 98-01 they used a tensioner that threaded directly into the head. From what I read online they redesigned the tensioner “under the radar” so to speak to the one that is held on with the plate on the side of the head. The older design on the primary chain tensioner was prone to failure… great when you break the chain running down the highway.

    I’ll spare my story.
    Here is what I found useful.

    Use a threadlocker when you install the water pump, it reeks of loctite when you take the bolts out. So install the old bolts with some sort of threadlocking compound on them, they came that way from the factory for a reason.

    Instead of reusing the old chain tensioner, buy a new one. I went to two chrysler garages and asked for their opinion on the best way to reset it. They told me to toss it and buy a new one. Whenever they change a pump on a 2.7l they always install a new primary tensioner. Thankfully aftermarket makes it, I got one through work(NAPA) with my employee discount for $90 or so.

    When installing the primary tensioner into the head, use a few dabs of grease to hold the o-ring in the groove on the retaining plate. I used a white lithium grease. I failed to do this first time around, pinched the O-ring, and blew a quart of oil all over the front of my motor. Great for those new drive belts. :( Anyways, I had to rip the valve cover off, and take the retaining plate for the tensioner off the head, and try again.

    After getting the tensioner installed correctly, use a pry bar to force the chain guide into the new tensioner, this will spring the plunger out against the guide, putting the tension on the chain.

    I changed oil after I changed my pump before initial startup, and for the first oil change in my life I filled the filter with oil prior to installation. By doing so, you will not have to wait the extra few seconds for the engine to get proper oil pressure.

    It seems a lot of people are worried about the engine skipping time in this crucial first start up stage. By the time I turned my key and the motor cranked over a few revolutions before it fired, my “dry” or not primed tensioner seemed already filled up. Before I could even get out of the vehicle the chain quit slapping. That was a matter of two seconds.

    Like what Paul T said in a previous post, use a high quality oil and oil filter. My father owned my intrepid from 30,000 miles to 110,000 and he always took it in for oil changes. I knew he never checked the oil, but he always got in changed between 3-4 thousand. Since I bought the vehicle from him, I have been running full synthetic Pennzoil with a NAPA Gold (WIX) filter. After 144,000 miles, beneath the valve covers and timing cover, everything was very… very clean to my surprise. Check the oil once a week, and adjust it accordingly. These engines are not cheap!

    4000 miles after my water pump replacement everything is running smoothly. And with the new tensioner, I am not experiencing a chain rattle at a hot idle like some have.

    This was an extremely frustrating project for myself, but it was well worth it. The satisfaction of doing everything right yourself and saving hundreds in labor did it for me. :)

  • I recently replaced the water pump on my GF’s Intrepid w/2.7. After 5 mechanics declined the job I decided to do it myself (some mechanical experience)…long story boring…finally finished…ran well for the afternoon and the next morning. Thought, wow “you da man”…so I decided to wash the engine. OOPS! Would not start. Disconnected all the electrical connections dried the best I could…used ether to help dry them. I let everything stand open for about two hours…put it all back together and it started but ran like sh*t…two days later still like sh*t…paid two mechanics 100.00 each to tell me “it runs like sh*t..”lol. One cleared all the codes(7) and three came back. He said it was running on 3 cylinders. Both said the computer was fine…one said it had jumped time. Took it all back apart to check the timing and it was/is dead on………My question…does anyone have any clue as to what could have happened…where did water get that it should not have gotten? Coincidence? 2 weeks later everything should be dry. Any ideas?

  • Tom Jecha

    Thank you for a thorough, well documented procedure. The pictures are very good and clear. Please DO BE Proud of making your own tools when it is necessary. I find that some of my home made tools may not be pretty, but work better than store bought tools ! And thank you for explaining the reasons behind your procedures.

  • steve

    thanks so much for this post and your thorough details and pics. we’ll try to get firestone to do the job, but im kinda thinking it’d be better to do it myself to make sure all the crucial steps are followed. i unfortunately have no confidence or trust in any other mechanic(and i used to be one).

  • Bill Wamhoff

    HELP. I replaced the water pump on my 2000 Dodge Intrepid. Now trying to start it, it just turns over and does not even try to fire. HELP< HELP< HELP !!!!!!

  • andy

    When setting the chain on the sprockets, have the cam sprockets loose on the camshafts (no bolts in them) Once all your marks are lined up, adjust the cams by rotating them to the cam sprockets bolt holes and instal. Cam timing is a breeze this way! The sprockets will “float” on the cam shaft hubs until bolted in.

  • andy

    ANyone find a water pump nwith metal fins or impeller on it? mine keep exploding, not fun to do multiple times

  • hemipower

    instead of removing the entire power steering pump it is only required that you remove the pumps pulley and only one side of the timing chain sprockets needs to be removed to perform a new water pump install, but overall this was very informative, thanks

  • ASE master tech

    If you remove the P/S adjuster bolt you can rotate the pump out of the way and remove the bracket and the pump together. +1 on leaving the cam sprockets loose on the cams. The BOSCH pump has a steel impeller. and good luck to anyone trying this job on a transverse mount motor vehicle (ie. Stratus) The differences are:

    1) The radiator support does not need to be removed
    2) The right side motor mount bolts directly to the timing cover and must be removed prior to cover removal (support the motor with a floor jack while removing the mount bolts. Slowly lower the motor until it is hanging by the other mounts (it will only drop about 1.5″)
    3) Be ready to have an intimate relationship with the right side wheel well
    4)I do not waist time removing the spark plugs (the crank rotates easily enough with a 1/2″ drive breaker bar)
    5)I cannot imagine attempting one of these laying on the floor (it is difficult enough to reach the P/S pump and tensioner with the car on a lift)

    Good luck to anyone attempting this job

    -AF

    • Carl

      Well AF this is my second time around on a sebring of the same set up. First time sucked did it in the dirt out back the house. This time on concrete drive way. So far so good. Certified Diesel Tech

    • Good Ol' Dad

      Your advice on the P/S pump was very helpful. Got that far last night. Tonight I’ll take off the mount on the timing chain cover and lower the engine which should expose the spring tensioner cover a little bit better.
      I am doing this on a 2004 Sebring convertible and boy am I a good friend of that right side wheel well by now. I am also doing this on the floor where the front end of the car is on ramps. That REALLY Sux.
      The hardest part so far has been loosening the draincock on the radiator. There was absolutely no way to get to it, so I had to build a “special tool” which fit in through the horn-hole in the lower bumper. Total time to drain the radiator? – 4 hours. I will have to build a mirror-image “special tool” to tighten it back up.

  • mike g

    Hey i just buttoned up the new water pump outlet housing and new thermostat. Now its leaking from the weep hole again, any ideas? Everything was sealed correctly with new gaskets and sealant.

  • Mike G

    I used to work for Chrysler and have done hundreds of timing chains and water pumps on the 2.7L engine and it is not and easy engine for the back yard mechanic to work on, it is a ZERO clearance engine and if you are out by even one tooth in the chain or you stop cranking before the engine is running after you have replaced the chain or water pump, the engine will kick back and jump two or three teeth and the valve damage will occur (that is experience speak) cause I have done it. So the price that the repair shop is worth it unless you have lots of spare $$ to spend on a valve job!!

  • Pretty good post. I hope you create more in the future..

  • justun

    Darn, I didn’t know there was a timing chain mark on the oil pump. I lined up the cam sockets and the cutout on the crank gear. Wish I would have known about the mark before I put all together. Would have reassured me it was put together right. It isles fine in my garage, but I didn’t drive it yet.

  • justun

    Ps. Your dodge dealer has an update for these engines. It comes with new sockets, chain, water pump and guides. This is a good deal at only $250. Don’t forget you will need new plenum, valve cover, spark plug hole and timing cover gaskets/seals. Also, the chain tensioner is a must. I did min myself and still had $873 in the project. There are also quite a few specialty tools that will shave hours off the total time. Just keep that all in mind. If your local shop will do it for $1000 and stick to that estimate you might be better off.

  • TPuck

    Tell me why water would be leaking through the weep hole after the h2o pump has been replaced?

  • TPuck

    Sorry but I was talking about on a 2004 dodge intrepid 2.7

  • kevin

    Thanks for this page it was a huge help couldnt have done it with out it man what was dodge thinking this is a crazy pump never sen anything like it its easier to work on a acura anyway she back together running great

  • donna drake

    ok just completely rebuilt the 2.7 engine not knowing it was the water pump. all new started fine, ran great and then the coolant poured out…..freezer plugs are good…hoses are good…no clue where it is coming from…please help!

  • versatility. that’s what a chrysler engine can bring to the table, it has lots of ways to be repaired and one can be shown right here

  • Tom

    I am in the process of replacing the water pump/timing chain in a 2002 Stratus.

    While reviewing the discussion on the tensioner I was debating whether to use the old one or go with a new. I was checking out the mechanism. I had released the check ball and drained the oil and was just exploring the mechanism. I noticed that the check ball did not seat when I compressed the tensioner. I became suspicious that if the ball would not seat, the tensioner could never hold its extended place and self adjust. So I drilled out the ball to see what was holding it up. During the drilling I lost the ball but found other parts. There is a cap into which fits the ball. The cap is held in place with 3 tabs and sits atop a spring. There is a plunger or spacer in the spring but I’m not sure of its purpose.

    Anyhow it’s possible to push the ball in-between the tabs on the cap. Once this happens the ball no longer seats and there is no way to release it and the tensioner is toast.

    So I would suspect that if care is not taken to release the check ball it could very easily get stuck in-between the cap tabs. If you were not aware of this you would be installing a defective part. Maybe the special tool is designed to prevent this. I just used a nail, grinding a flat surface. But apparently at some point applied too much pressure and jammed the ball into the cap, rendering the tensioner useless.

    This could explain why others have mentioned a problem when re using the tensioner?

    http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y53/Godzilla1/1.jpg

    Some further discussion on TDC as it pertains to the 2.7. Typically TDC refers to peak position of the piston on compression stroke. This is usually for ignition timing, in other words so many degrees advanced before TDC.

    The reference to TDC in the manual for the 2.7 is for the valve timing and it is actually on exhaust stroke and beginning intake. The TDC mark on the crankshaft gear is at true TDC (just after exhaust) when it is in the position of about two o’clock. When it is lined up with the mark on the oil pump, the manual says it is about 60° from TDC. But it doesn’t tell you that it is on intake stroke and the inlet valves should be beginning to open and applying spring pressure to the cam shaft. This position I would say is roughly at four-five o’clock.

    With the primary timing chain removed the camshafts seem to find a neutral position without any cam lobes engaging the valves.

    This discussion had me confused a little bit since I was thinking in terms of conventional TDC used for ignition timing and valve timing on older cars but not so on this vehicle.

    To actually determine TDC I used a flexible shaft which was about a 10 inch piece of speedometer cable which allowed me to put the shaft into the number one cylinder which is under the Cowling and would be difficult to do without a flexible shaft.

  • Tom

    When water gets in the oil from a faulty designed water pump, the agitation of the engine turns the mixture into an emulsion. I thought that over time the water would eventually separate from the oil but no. It eventually cakes into a hard crust, I suspect. And then the engine blows. So if you are losing coolant, and don’t know where it’s going check your oil. If it looks anything like what’s in the picture your water pump is leaking.

    http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y53/Godzilla1/HPIM3300.jpg

    After completing the repairs with the help of this web page, the car is running but any mechanic who works on these engines, I’m sure has blown his flat rate. I worked as a Chrysler service tech (mechanic). And thank God I never got one of these. I would guess that Chrysler must be paying for some of these repairs. I called for an estimate and was told 1100 to replace the pump. Unless you have someone who specifically does 2.7s on a routine basis, no mechanic would want to touch this. It would bust your flat rate and you would be working for free. Now maybe Chrysler has a fund, for this, to keep repair costs to the consumer reasonable, but after completing this, all I can say is what a piece of flawed engineering design or to be more succinct what a piece of shit engine.

  • jed

    Short and simple.. BUY A NEW TENSIONER ANS MAKE SURE IT IS PRE-SET WHEN YOU BUY IT. Meaning look at it before you leave the store to make sure it is not already discharged. For those of you experincing slack in your chain after you put it together and turn the engine because the book says to do this DONT. Its already set where it needs to be as long as your cam and crank marks are in the correct postion with the marks on the chain. I experinced not once but twice the tensioner retracting on me because i discharged it and left it over night. DONT DO THAT. Discharge that thing as late as possiable. After i got all my timing set i stuffed a rag down to hold the chain in tension. Then I put everything on that i could changed the oil and at the last moment possiable i pulled the rag and discharged the tensioner. 15 min later i started the engine and had no problem. Hope this helps

  • xs29L

    GREAT INFO !!

    I/my wife put on 120,000 miles on my 02 Sebring 2.7 and the car never missed a beat,until the waterpump went I thought it was better because of a timing chain and no timing belt,but the way it is designed its just as problematic,or more so !!I had a 94 Intrepid 3.5 before with a timing belt and the belt went,and said never again buy a car with a timing belt,now its no timing belt and no 2.7 !!Anyways,I changed the pump and boom,timing was set perfect and the water in the oil (changed the oil,flushed it) and the engine still failed !!

    I sure miss the old cars,waterpumps were easy to change,they had nothing to do with the timing ect..they were mounted on the block,not inside !1 hour tops from start to finish(just changed my 69 Charger 440 summer daily driver since 1992)I bought a mid 70′s RamCharger for my daily ride several years ago,300,000 miles I put on so far and runs better than anew 2.7 Chrysler or any import !

    I will keep my old 440 Mopar forever,easy to work on and extremely reliable,beter than any new vehicle ! Will buy a new car every 3 years for the wife(she now drives 10k a year) just to avoid the problems of being totally screwed by being forced to take the car to the shop for common wearout problems..I really miss the reliable cars of the past,now they are expensive and complicated to repair,done soto get rid of the backyard mechanic,now you have to be highly skilled to work on most cars,that aint good for people like me who like to turn wrenches to save money,as I am not a rich man,just a working stiff !!

  • joe curry

    thanks for the info very helpfull.project a success replacing cam ten. time saving must.far as timing marks lined up rh. side and used screw driver in crank slot to line up mark then only had to mess with one cam wanting to turn. adjusted left cam one tooth at a time workin slak over sprocket wile keeping pressure on breaker bar.marks never lined up again after rotating but were always same amount of teeth off . low budget job reused gaskets .not recomended but lucky no leaks. replaced radiator water pump and cam tensioner for about 350 . wouldnt do another!!! thanks again for ur advice

  • Nehat

    hallo I’ve bought a 2010 2.7 liter chrysller. Is there improvement in motor or makin it has the same problem in the engine I would like to know thank you for your understanding

  • Jimmy J.

    Thank you very much for this post it was the best information I could find on this very poorly designed engine. One thing I would add is that if you depress the tensioner into a bowl with enough oil to be above the bottom half inch of the tensoiner,this will keep any air from displacing the oil and also be very careful depressing the ball as not to damage the seat that the ball mates with if damaged it will leak off and you don,t want to go there.Use something flat on the end and only depress it enough to let the oil out.I only let enough oil out to get the tensioner to install against the new timing chain and this worked very well for me.Also I would recomend replacing the tensioner with a new one as well as the timming chains,gears and all the guides and also a new thermostat and seal.This will allways be a cheaper route than rebuilding or replacing the motor.After working on this 2003 Dodge Intrepid 2.7 and just finishing putting all new injectors in my sons 2006 Dodge Diesel 5.9 at 75,000 I came promise I will never own another Dodge-Chrysler product of any kind.You think the 2.7 cost alot to repair-the six new injectors ran $625.00 each for my sons 06 Dodge diesel 5.9 and were no fun to install.Thanks again, Jimmy J. in Central Texas

  • Roberta

    John
    I have a 2002 Sebring After reading all these entries I see that my water pump needs to be replaced
    the car has 120,000 miles on it. How can I know if there is damage to the engine. I don’t know if it is worth fixing or buying anything but another sebring… So glad I read your article.

    • Pull the dip stick out. If the oil is whitish or foamy, then, you may have other problems.

      If the oil looks like oil, light or dark brown, then, you will probably be just fine.

      Good luck!

  • Becky

    I just had my water pump, tensioner, and guides all replaced, and the mechanic dropped the oil pan and cleaned it all out, we used all Mopar parts from the dealership, and hopefully wont have anymore problems, YEAH RIGHT, does anyone have any ideas on why I would have NO power, I can barely get it up to 45 mph, what could be causing this? Any suggestions would be so helpful at this point..
    Thanks

  • donnie

    Hi, i found this site in the middle of replacing the water pump on my 2001 sebring convt. My question is when i took my pump off it had the rubber and metal gasket on it, but when i bought the new one it came with a fibre one. which one is better to use, can I even buy a metal and rubber one. I dont even know if you look on here anymore but if you do any input would be greatly appreciated donniesteiner@yahoo.com

  • Mark, aka Papa

    Becky, sorry to hear you’re still having problems with low power now. I don’t really have any answers for ya on the lack of power issue. I too just finished the job on my wife’s Sebring. I used aftermarket parts in an effort to keep the cost down to a minimum. Replaced the spark plugs, waterpump, & chain tensioner. I missed on the timing the first time, ran like crap!! Took apart again, & got the timing dead on the money, ran great but was clacking away, really loud! That’s when I realized that the new chain tensioner that I had already read from previous posts in this thread was probably money well spent. Replaced the tensioner, (after priming it first) and finally, it runs fantastic!! I couldn’t be happier with the job. This engines now runs smoother, quieter, & with more power than I’ve ever heard it since we bought the car. 205,000 miles & it runs like a little hot-rod!

    John thank you so much for posting this build thread, it was very nicely done with lots of good info. I referred to it alot during this job. I had my tech manual & laptop My Wife’s a happy camper again & she loves her little car. Says it fruns like a new one now, & that’s pretty good for an engine with 205k on it!

  • Mark, aka Papa

    Donny I too was worried about the gasket difference. Showed it a friend who is a real mechanic & he told me the new style gasket was just fine, In fact he said it was a really good one. I just finished mine on Sunday but so far so good, runs great, & no leaks!!

  • donnie

    Thanks for the info Mark. will now be able to finish the job without worry. :)

  • kiffin

    Just wanted to thank everyone for the post. I was going to try to replace the water pump on my wife’s 2004 2.7 intrepid and have decided to pay the 738.38 for the repair. Just to much for me. I would advise anyone needing this repair to take the time to call around. I got 6 quotes ranging from 1200.00 to 650.00, (the lower one’s is alittle scary). So thanks to you all again.

  • Becky

    I am still waiting to get my car back from the mechanic, he said he figured out why my car was running sluggish and not having any get up and go, we will see what happens, i think the timing was off, and Kiffin, I totally agree I am already in this car over 2k and I still cant drive it, so for sure shop around!! Any suggestions as so why it would run so sluggish, could the timing been off, and I used ALL Mopar parts.. Thanks

  • Destiny

    That is it I do not have a car for the now!!!!(My dodge 2.7 engine has finally crippled me) or how do one use the 3 jaw puller??? I have been doing this for two days now and I just stuck some screw in the pulley bolt hole.

    Is there any help please??????

  • steve

    just want to say thanks for all the tips contained here, and to several of the commenters who added their experiences.

    i just finished replacing the water pump on a 2001 intrepid and it purrrr-z like a kitten.

    changed the hoses, belts, oil, anti-freeze and spark plugs while i was at it.

    total parts were just north of $300 as i needed to buy a few misc. sockets to properly pull this off.

    that hydraulic tensioner was quite a trick to reset, but after about :15 seconds following intial start up, i haven’t heard a peep out of the timing chain.

    again, thanks to all.

    • Chandler

      @Steve – Where did you find the parts for that cheap? Looking to fix our 2001 Dodge Intrepid (2.7L) water pump & timing chain. But I thought it’d be $900 for parts…thinking of junking it instead.

      • Murphauto

        Dude, don’t junk that car. Once you get it apart, you will see how it works. Just be patient and call Advance. If you use their web site to order the parts, they will give you up 25% off. Parts for that job should be around 300 to 400.

  • Josh

    Thanks man – I could have never done it without this guide!

  • Garrett

    In the middle of this job. Have a 2001 Stratus ES with over 140,000 Miles. Have it all apart and waiting on the water pump to get in. Replacing Chain, Tensioner, Water Pump, T-Stat, Plugs, and a bunch of gaskets. Definitely drain your oil when you do this job. When I took off the pump dumped a half quart in the pan so I’ll drain it before I put it back together. Also go to Auto Parts store and rent a 3 jaw puller if you don’t have one. I made the mistake of attempting it without one and chipped the edge of the inside of the pulley. The pulley is on back order until end of October. Just got the new chain today (order most parts from RockAuto), Looks like old chain had over an inch of stretch in it. Wish me luck :)

  • Garrett

    Well got most of the parts (still waiting on crankshaft pulley) Attempted to put Tstat and Water Pump on. Side bolt on Tstat ended up stripping the housing threads. Got a Helicoil Kit and tapped out that one. Put it back together and the bottom bolts threads strip (pratically the entire thread came out with the bolt) Using the tap and it snaps off in the engine block. Now I am trying to figure out the best way to get it out. Decided to do water pump while I was at it and ended up snapping 1 of the bolts at 15′lbs (spec is 17′ though I think I will not go that far next time) Heading out to see if I can find some new bolts for it and a new tap.

  • BK Martin

    Yep, did the water pump on our 2000 intrepid. My hands are finally healed and I got off with a warning from the Sheriff about the loud profanity in public. I have a question for all who have suffered through this same ordeal; does anyone know the name of the design engineer who thought it would be a good idea to put a water pump inside the engine block? I would like him or her to say hello to my lil friend…

  • donald fairbrother

    your photos say left side and right side but are the photos backwards? should it not be the other way?

  • Jackson

    I replaced my water pump in my 02 sebring. I bought the car for 700 and found this to be very helpful in my pulling the job off. its been about 3 months now and it still purrs like a kitten. For any one reading this thinking about attempting it, if you do not know how to use a three jaw puller then this may be a bit much don’t attempt it. as for people complaining about it jumping time when you put it back together well that’s just the nature of the beast. I implore you to spin the motor by hand once you have put the timing chain on. it will jump weather you use a new tensioner or the old one it just happens. So if it does jump once you’ve spun it by hand then just count the teeth and if everything is off by the same number of teeth then just put it together you are good to go. I only took off one camshaft.

  • erik granath

    about tensioner now completely understand how it went wrong …..the deal is that the tentioner has mechanisms inside it so it will release and what not well after it has released completely it has a little more than a 1/2 inch of spring action……but once it has been realesed wich is what happens automatically when it is removed from the engine. the tentioner once in the released state can be pushed back in. and then it will release again only if you completely depress it…..the problem that accours is not depressing it enough….so ooooo once you have your chain on the marks and tentioner guides in and you are putting your tensioner in the hole if it is used the tentioner will be in the released state note if its not seeming to have any spring action on it that means you have not depressed it fully it requires force and feels thumpy going in note once you have depressed it fully it will want to open back up completly then should have that spring action but as you push it back in it loses the spring action. so the deal is you want to take your already sprung tentioner and depress it some but not all the way so it is short and no spring action occours then gently push the little ball valve in on the end of it to let the air out the best way to do this is to submerge it in oil and go in and out with it pushing in the ball valve while it is still in oil…and while still submerged get it in the shortest position you can without it releasing then take your oil soaked tentioner and set it aside …and by the way the tention guides have a plastic wear guide that is fragile and prying on it will certainly break it if it breaks it crap no good.any way the trick is to keep the chain tight and in time then put your tentioner in its hole….make sure the tentioner has an oring around it too..and start your 2 10mm bolts on the cover and tighten them! now somehow you need to completly depress the tentioner so it will pop while keeping the chain tight and in time.figure it out.

  • Doug Fearing

    I have an ’02 Stratus so the 2.7 is transvertly mounted. The car is immaculate and has 60k on it. I purchased it with the engine partially dissassembled. The previous owner had it two weeks when the engine started making a lot of noise so he shut it down. Had a mechanic pull the inside the valve cover and found almost everything topside on the head was fried. Cam journals (one broken in half), a few of the rockers broken and laying lose-a real mess. The engine is not sludged up at all-very clean, but the right side upper end obviously got seriously starved for oil and burned up. I got the car cheap so I can afford to put some money in it, but after reading all the entries in this blog, I have decided to sell it once it is running rather than give it to my grand daughter as originally planned. The only thing I have done so far is pull the other valve cover and some cam journal caps and everything there looks fine. The oil is full and clean. Does anyone have any idea why the top side of one head would not get oiled? By the way, found a rebuilt head at a place called Clearwater Cylinder Head Inc. in Florida for $225 complete with new cams and rockers. $25 bucks shipping, good guarantee and they pay return shipping on the core. Great outfit to deal with!!! Will probably get my parts through Northern Auto Parts-usually have the best deals. Great blog-like reading a book that answers all the questions I have before I even have them. Thanks to John and all who contributed. Appreciate any help with this-need to know what caused it so it doesn’t happen again before I can get it sold. Doug

  • axel

    so i went to do the water pump in my 99 intrepid had a buddy helping me got it all stripped down to the timming cover before i gad to go to work. i come home and my buddy had the new pump on , the chain off and rotated everything to what he thought was TDC i really need help figuring out where to set everything so i don’t blow my engine please ant help would be grateful

  • John Hoogendam

    Dear John,
    Thanks for all your instructions about the waterpump replacement.
    My job was a succes, the only problem is a slow oil leak at the rear of the engine.
    It drips on the exhaust pipe and it can be smelled in car’s interior when cabin heat blower is on.
    Your advise is greatly appreciated,
    Thanks again…
    John Hoogendam

  • Randy

    Two things,

    My chain was also off 6 notches but if you keep rotating it by hand it eventually comes back and all dots and arrows line up.

    Dealer also suggested removing the plugs and turning over the engine 10-15 seconds with the starter to get the oil flowing but not let it start.

  • This is definitely not a Chrysler repair that I would attempt to make on my own. It would require at least a service manual and probably some past experience. Thanks for sharing your tips!

  • Rick

    Just bought a 2001 Sebring, only 43000 miles on Dec. 26. After a week smelled antifreeze. It took a while to figure out the coolant coming out of the side of the engine block was a weep hole for the water pump. I just bought a Haynes manual and am getting ready to tear into it in the morning. I just found this post and wanted to say thank you for the information you provided. It looks like it will be very helpful.

    I would also like to add, Who was the genius that came up with the great idea of putting the water pump inside the engine, behind the timing chain…. BRILLIANT!!!!!!

  • Chris

    I thought I was just about finished with this #@$^% job and tried turning the engine a couple of times after I finished installing the chain. It rotates fairly easily for about 1/4 revolution of the crank shaft then abruptly stops in both directions. What could I have done wrong. All the marks are in the correct spots on the primary belt. I’m stumped and depressed.

  • dave

    the way to stop the rockerarms from jumping is to put vise grips on round part of the rockerarms tight against engine.2 each side.that way ya dont have bother with taking chance of getting chain on wrong teeth after.dont remove them till after you have put tensioner back into engine.one let oil out of.Also had shift engine over with pry bar to get front plate to drop off.This will save ya a lot of time i hope.Very helpfull website .read a lot of stuff while doing it.2 hrs trying get front plate off before someone shifted engine for me

  • dave

    there is also a rubber gasket under the thermastat behind alternater that just might be the problem instead of the waterpump leaking.If no coolant in oil i wouldnt do the waterpump.After i did the waterpump ,coolant still leaked.After I removed alternator then 3 bolts holding housing on radiator hose.thermostat behind there.rubber gasket blown out.new bolts and rubber gasket no more leak. lot of work for nothing changing waterpump.I myself see no way possible for water to leak outside of engine if leaking from waterpump after ive done job of changing it.Chrysler says it can but i dont see how.After i was part way through doing job and looking at these pictures and waterpump realized i was making a mistake.phoned chrysler dealer and asked if waterpump leaking could leak outside of engine.Was informed it had a special passage way to leak.Well on 2004 chrysler sebring 2.7 engine i dont see how it can leak outside of engine.water dont flow uphills were i come from.But it can definatly flow downhill into the oil.I suggest if coolant leaking outside of engine you get a pressure tester and pressure test rad full of coolant and destinguse where water leak really is coming from before trying to fix your waterpump.After mechanic
    fixes your waterpump which dont need replacing he will fix your hose or gasket or frostplug for free instead of telling ya and a repair that shoulda took hr will be about 6 hr repair bill maybe more.another mechanic scam that will sure hurt the wallett.!good luck Dave

  • KJR

    I believe they built this engine in alphebetical order and when they got to “W” they were like Oh Crap!!!! where do we stick the water pump?

  • Mrs. Amused

    OMG thanks for all the info…after working with my husband all day on his daughters car, I decided to research…this will be very helpful to him tomorrow…and might I add the humor to some posts was appreciated after such a trying ordeal…Thanks to all!!!

  • Mr. over it

    i got timing chain on tentioner on and when i am rotating it the tentioner makes a banging noise and then i looked at the chain in between the cam sprockets and noticed that it is loose turn it a litlle more and the tentioner makes a clang and the chain at the waterpump is tight is this normal and should i continue or what i have took the chain off god knows how many times and each time its the same it scares me please help me before i shoot this motor please!!!!!!

    • This could be the sound of the chain getting tensioned by the cam lobes going over center. I wouldn’t expect it to “bang”, but, it will definitely have an abrupt snap of the chain as each cam lobe goes from “uphill” tension to “downhill” tension on the chain.

      Rotate it around and double check the alignment before you button it all up. The big worry is that the chain jumped a tooth due to being too slacked.

  • Leon M

    I have a 2002 convertible sebring with the 2.7 water pump went out replaced the water pump along with chain tensioner and guides cam gears and crank gear when I finished the car would not start apparently there are two different cam gears for the 2002 which let the cam sensor read the timing mark so after all this work I couldnt get the car to run without pulling the cam position sensor took me days to figure this out but finally figured it out but from all the starting attempts some how sheared the crank keyway and now have to tear back into this pain in the ars car again worst design I have ever seen they need to recall this motor.

  • Roland C.

    Hi,
    thanks for your excellent instructions. I did this job on my wife´s 98 Concorde 2,7 last week and it worked out exactly as you had described it. The water pump was the main issue because it was leaking out of the seep hole very badly. Second issue was a leaking thermostat seal – which is co-located with the water pump seep hole, so it took me a while to identify 2 different coolant leaks that close together. The third issue with this car (going on for the last 2 years) was blue exhaust smoke during initial acceleration after idle (like at a red light or a stop sign) accompanied by occasional CHECK ENGINE lights triggered by P172 and P175 (rich mixture), excessive high OBD fuel trim values during idle / coasting and high oil usage.
    Long story short, I had to replace the valve stem seals.
    After reading your instructions and studying the Haynes repair manual I decided to do it myself and fix all issues at once.

    Some points I like to note:
    1. The colored master timing chain links line up with the marks on the sprockets only like every 12 chain revolutions. You said, yours were 6 links off at the initial look – my were 3 links off. After ON MARK installation and a couple of manual test revolutions the links were off the marks again. Each time they came by the mark it was a different number of links.
    2. The crank shaft markings are lined up for 60 degrees after Piston 1 TDC, which is a safe spot, where no piston interferes with any open valve – in case you turn a camshaft while it is not synchronized with the crankshaft. That was important knowledge for my valve seal job. With the crankshaft at that position I could turn any camshaft into any position without the risk of a valve hitting a piston.
    3. Regarding the primary chain tensioner: I have the one that can be taken apart. In order to unlock it, I had to twist the lower part a couple of degrees relative to the upper (thicker) part. Then the spring extended. Just compressing it all the way according to the book didn´t do it. During my first attempt of installing it, I used a prey bar and pushed against the tensioner arm (just like in the haynes book) and broke off a tiny retaining latch on the backside of the gliding surface of that tensioner arm. The gliding surface came off and slid off the tensioner arm. The chain facing side was in perfect shape. With the chain pressing onto the arm and sliding over it into only one direction, I decided that the latch was not really important for the proper operation of the tensioner arm and glued this gliding pad to it with some RV sealant. Time will tell if it was a good idea or not. A friend who is a long time mechanic told me – no sweat. He would have done the same.
    4.For those of you, who also want to replace the valve stem seals: Remove ALL 4 Camshafts before you work on the first seal. As soon as you move the crankshaft out of that 60 degree off TDC sweet spot, any open valve is at risk to be hit. As soon as you have the camshafts removed, all valves are closed and the crankshaft can be moved to any piston´s TDC. If you use compressed air to keep the valves up while the spring is removed, be prepared for the piston moving down. 100 PSI is quite a force! I managed all 6 pistons staying at TDC even with the pressure on. I used a chop stick with a mark on it in the spark plug hole as a reference for a precise TDC determination.
    The piston – valve interference issue is not really expressed in the Haynes manual. BE AWARE OF IT!
    5. There is a 30 minutes (3 parts / 10 minutes each) instructional video on YOUTUBE about working on these engines. It is originally from Chrysler for their mechanics. It shows all the do´s and don’t´s. It is from 1997 when this engine was introduced. Watching it gave me a lot of confidence in what I was doing.
    6. Crankshaft pulley installation without the described special tools: I used my own special tools just as you did. Propane torch to heat up the center of the pulley, first aid Ice spray to cool the crankshaft and a hammer. Worked like a charm. Make Physics work for you.
    7. Starting up the engine after the job being done was a sweet moment today. It started right away! About 10 seconds of unusual mechanical noises from the chains – then it ran smoother than ever. I hooked it up to my diagnostic scanner and watched all the sensor data like timings, temperatures, pressures and fuel trims. I let it run until the fans came on at 100C plus a couple more minutes to see the temperature going down again. No leaks after that! Then a 20 minutes test drive with the diagnostic scanner on the passenger seat checking for critical data during driving. All perfect. No more smoke clouds after intersections, no more dripping coolant and hopefully no more P172/P175 codes due to oily oxygen sensors.
    Thanks again for this excellent blog. Your experience really helped me a lot,
    Best
    Roland

  • john

    What a piece of crap.The golden glazy engine I have has 84,000 on it,with routine maintenance done with bad rod bearings in it.

    Laws arent going to change companies like chrysler,stopping buying their products will change chrysler or put them out of business.

    I will neevr buy another chrysler as long as I live.

    Its like learning and doing all the timing chains and tensioners on this thing,as well as the rod bearings,changing the oil pump just in case,the water pump and just working on this thing in general has sucked the living life out of me.

    Just the general deisgn of the engine,putting the battery inside the drivers fender…..(having to take the alternator off,should have taken the ac compressor off just to change the thermostat???)It took me two hours just to turn the radiator drain plug which I couldnt get to…..then I had to grind down the sides of a socket just to get the socket into the bracket area to get the power steering pump off because a regular socket wouldnt fit in to get to the damn bolt.

    I cannot believe what a piece of junk this thing is.

    • The news has been out awhile now, you need to change to synthetic oil and change it w/ filter every 3000 max, every 75,000 you should change the waterpump/timing kit, and on the first one change the valve stem seals. If sludged due to internal coolant leaks, flush the oiling system with a good oil flush product (seafoam,amsoil,crc,autoRX ) prior to removing and cleaning the oil pan and pump pick-up. Some recommend replacing the oil pump especially if reduced pressure has been experienced. The mis-engineering of the PCV system can be partially compensated for by using the synthetic motor oil which greatly increases it’s ability to breath and release moisture and to flow more freely thru the too narrow passages. (keep an eye on the cleanliness of the PCV valve)

  • If you didn’t catch it in the posts here, before starting the engine you need to leave the sparkplugs out and crank the engine till the oil pressure light goes out, I did this 3 times with a 30second wait between times. This will fully fill the tensioner and avoid any clatter of the chain when the engine is actually fired up. And don’t wait,get the plugs in it and start it soon as possible to seat the check ball and o-rings so they can’t allow leak down of the tensioner. And the first steps of the procedure with the forward facing engines is to remove, headlight assemblies,core support center section (above the radiator),hoodlatch,radiator and the grill I believe. You now have excellent access for working on the dampener pulley.

  • roman rocha

    how did you remove the tensioner?

  • Mike Panno

    I want to Thank you for the detailed instructions on this project. I purchased a 2002 Dodge Intrepid with 90,000 miles, the seller stated that the car overheated and they pulled off the road, added some coolant and noticed coolant leaking, they drove the car around town for 6 monnths adding a gallon of coolant every 3 days or 100 miles. Their mechanic stated it needed a water pump, total cost would be $970.00 I bought the car for $1300 knowing the problem but not the extent of replacing the pump. I purchased the parts off Ebay for $177.00 (Water Pump, Cam chains, Cam Tensioners, Timing chain, Timing gears, guides and tensioner).
    Yes they were made in China (15,000 miles later still no problem).

    We drove the car and kept putting water in until it poured out as fast as I put it in, I parked it and found this excellent website and tore into it, followed the directions and the tips..

    On assembly,I applied pressure to the timing guide that the tensioner rests upon and turned the engine over and watched the tensioner fill with oil taking vertualy all the slack out of the chain, reassembled the engine and it fired right up. I didn’t even hear the starter it was that quick. Well it leaked oil, transmission fluid and a little water and the recovery tank swelled a little and steam came out. I was totally bummed out, and thought it had blown the head gasket.

    I visited the nearest Pick and Pull yard and found about 40+ of these cars with perfect bodies which meant drivetrain or engine problems, and it turns out all that most of theses Dodge/Chrysler products have the transmission fluid leakage problem at the radiator, I bought a used radiator and replaced the valve cover gaskets and kept pouring coolant in the tank and bleeding the air out of the system. The end result is that all the problems disappeared and it runs like a Champ…

    I also noticed that all the 2.7L and 3.5L engines that had the front cover or valve covers removed were full of sludge(most probably they neglected to change oil on a regular basis).. Mine fortunately had synthetic oil its whole life and was golden inside with no sludge in the valve covers, oil pan, or timing cover and only a slight scuff of one cam lobe.

    I have to agree that most of the oil is trapped in the heads, all you have to do is pull the dipstick while it is running and it will come out dry on the stick. I use Lucas Oil treatment and put an extra pint in so its at least on the bottom of the dipstick while it is running and the oil light does not flicker after it has warmed up and idling, but it uses about a qt of oil every 3,000 miles, I guess thats okay for an engine with 100,000+ miles on it.

    Now I’ve heard and seen the problems with this car but Kelly Blue Book states that 75% of all buyers were satsfied with the car.

    So with about $1700 in this car I feel it is an excellent investment.

  • Larry A.

    There is a metal plate sandwiched between old waterpump and engine block. Do I reuse this metal plate when installing new waterpump or do I remove metal plate upon installation of new waterpump and gasket?

    Thank you,

    • The new gasket should come with all the parts needed. I vaguely recall having the same dilemma and I think I opted to not use thin sheet metal remnant of the old gasket system.

  • Marko

    Hello John

    Yesterday, I bought a car with Chrysler 2.7 engine.
    Engine cranks but wont start. Compression of the engine is zero.
    The timing chain is broken or something. Do you have experience of valve damage?

    Marko from Finland Europe

  • dakota

    I have a 2004 intrepid 2.7 and I am in the middle of changing the water pump right now. it has 217,000 miles on it and I haven’t driven it since november 2012 because I didnt have time to work on it due to work, and I am getting it ready right now. Everybody thought it was the head gasket until I looked at some stories and I bought a new kit for it and I took the water pump out, and the bearings were bad in the pump and it was almost locked up. Is this going to fix my problem or is there more to the story? Oh these instructions are very helpful! its a godsend!

  • Martin Winderl

    I wanted to thank you for the photos and some of the insights as to what to look for in the struggle.
    The thing that would be helpful is photos as you go down the way. The $500 estimate would be a bargain, I just got my car back together and took it in for Smog test and talking to owner and he said
    it could run as high as $1,200. He congratulated me on getting through it without giving up. But he said that the Sebring 2005, 2.7L 50K is no worse than most cars today. The one thing you left out, was taking the motor mount off and cover, you have to break the air conditioning to get the pipe out in back to move the motor mount. I didn’t & I really struggled.

    I will write you up one when I get it composed, it is long and a lot headaches,curse words and time,
    far beyond what I could have imagined.

    I’m not sure how big I can post on this for you. I could also contribute to your photo collection.

    • Glad you found it helpful — happy to hear of your victory!

      Keep in mind that I did the job on an Intrepid, which doesn’t have the transverse motor arrangement that the Sebring does. As others have commented, you have even less room to work in that car…

      I’d be happy to add an addendum to my post, or otherwise augment with your contribution. I’ll contact you via email. If you leave it as a comment, it’ll be too hard for others to find.

  • Patrick

    Great post! Lots of good info here to get me going, but I’m stuck at the timing cover. I have exposed the whole front of the engine, removed the harmonic balancer and all the bolts (including the top left with the torx head) around the outside of the timing cover, and can not get the cover off.

    There are two 13mm bolts in the middle of the timing cover… do those need to be removed too or are those holding something to the back side of the cover?

  • Patrick

    Ndvermind :) They do come out. I just had to get a 3 foot cheater bar to get them to break free.

  • ramrod

    Started to take apart my 05 Magnum 2.7l to change the water pump found out one of the guides sheared off Ind crumbled in my motor the plastic cover on the guide wrapped itself around the water pump luckily it didn’t do major damage .

  • Ray

    Thanks for the post. I just removed the timing chain cover for my 2000 Chrysler Concorde (94000 miles) to replace the water pump. After a look over before proceeding with removing the chain, I noticed the center small sprocket pulley above the water pump is loose and wiggles but the chain is tensioned everywhere. I stopped since I was not sure if this is normal. Can anybody help me? is this normal?

    • Don’t know how to answer that — there is no central sprocket _above_ the water pump. Perhaps you mean the water pump sprocket itself, in which case, that’ll get changed with the pump.

  • ricardo

    great walk thru just tackled this job on a 2000 dodge intrepid. changed water pump. lined all my links up to their marks but would not start.. i unplug the cam sensor and engine fired up after a few seconds tensioner engaged engine sounded perfect.. plug in cam sensor and will not start.. changed cam sensor 3 times just in case it was a faulty sensor however when i plug it in it wont start. Read somewhere if i unplug and engine sounds rough then its timing. However it sounds great w/o cam sensor plugged in any ideas

    • Tony

      Hey Ricardo,
      I have been reading and watching a lot of video regarding this engine. I remembered seeing this same question asked on a YouTube post. Did you happen to replace the cam sprockets? I am not familiar enough with this engine (yet), but hopefully it helps.

      Here is the page for reference:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RysZFNGnJG4

      Here is his answer:
      “yes the new camshaft sprockets sometimes dont come with the correct notches for the cam sensors to read off of….therefor engine wont have spark if those are used….when you disconnect the sensor it will run in a failsafe mode and will have an extended crank time before starting. either find a matching sprocket or reuse the old ones like i did if they arent too bad…”

  • Ralph Hudel

    Hi@ all
    Thanks to this excellent site I have now also successfully managed to tackle the water pump job on a 2002 sebring convertible. Taking it apart is a bit of a pain because of the transverse engine. apart from that the job was fairly logical and straightforward. I did however turn the engine over quite a couple of times till all the timing marks lined up with the colored links on the chain. They will line up in the end, it may take up to 12 or so revolutions of the crankshaft, I removed the spark plugs to make it easier to turn over. Before removing the chain sprocket I secured the camshafts from moving in any way by securing one camshaft in its cylinder head to the other with good vise grips and cable ties. Here one grabs one camshaft(in the round portion only) and lays the handle on the other camshaft, then lock the vise grip tightly. A sturdy cable tie around the handle of the vise grip and around the second camshaft simultaneously will then lock both camshafts so they wont budge one bit. You need 2 vise grips because you have to block the camshafts on both cylinder heads. I only removed the right-hand bank chain sprocket (rear bank on sebring) and wangled my way with a thin wrench to loosen the chain guide on the opposite head just enough to slide the water pump out. It works but its mighty tight! It took me 3 tries to get the timing right, and in the end I quickly loosened up the lef-thand bank sprocket bolts so i could fit the chain. Starting from the crankshaft sprocket the chain must be first fitted without slack onto the left-hand bank sprocket, then also without slack via the water pump to the right-hand bank sprocket. This may take a couple of attempts till it all lines up.All slack in the chain must be where the chain tensioner rail is!! I used bits of wood here and there jammed in to keep the chain in place. I then jammed the handle of a small hammer behind the tensioner rail to keep the chain tight and fitted the tensioner.

    Attention: Here surefire way to check your tensioner, you may want to take this on as an addendum. Upon examining the tensioner closely I found that it has a tiny bleed hole in the piston, opposite end of where the ball valve is. THE FUNCTION OF THIS BLEED HOLE IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT, because if the air cannot bleed ot of the tensioner it will cause persistent chain rattle issues upon starting and at hot idle!! I tested the tesioner by putting it in a vise and veery lightly tightened it. If the tensioner is OK then after a minute or so oil will start oozing lightly from the bleed hole in the piston opposite from the hole with the ball check valve.If no oil oozes out, bin the tensioner and get new one, the bleed hole is blocked

    I then reset the tensioner, ratcheted it out till it touched the tensioner rail as described and with the handle of the hammer still jammed between tensioner rail and engine block turned the ignition key.All ignition coils disconnected!! No Rags or stuff left near the camshafts or inlets!!! The starter motor primed the oil pump with fresh oil, pumped up the tensioner, this let go of the hammer and when it dropped on the ground under the car I could be sure the chain was tight. I primed the tensioner for so long till I could see oil oozing from the bleed hole in the tensioner piston. If you are unsure of what you are doing please skip this step, the engine might rattle for a couple seconds, nevermind…

    Then, reassemble in reverse order ;-)

    Greetings from Germany

    Ralph

    • Thanks for the sage advice Ralph! I’ve included another update about the tensioner. Really appreciate your clever approach to holding the cams!

    • Justin B

      Hi Ralph. With the transverse mounted engine and tensioner with the base plate mounted under the power steering bracket, did your old tensioner come out with a rubber O ring? Did you use the O ring that came with the new tensioner? I don’t recall there being an O ring around my old one but because the new one came with an O ring around it I just installed it like that. The moment I started the engine large amounts of oil came out past the backing plate. I took the tensioner back out, reset it, and installed it with out the O ring around the tensioner. As I said earlier I don’t remember the old one having one on it. But could The oil flowing freely past the tensioner and into the timing case be the cause of my oil pressure problem??

  • Rollin Royce

    I purchased a 2003 stratus for our granddaughter.It has 105 k. good shape,worth hanging parts on. After going on line now i’m parnoid. The crankcase oil is sweet as well as the transmission fluid. I have no way of knowing if the w/pump has been replaced. Should I wait till the oil shows contamination? I think I can handle the install. Have done it on older cars but this is a different bread of cat.I have all the tools but I will be doing it on a 2.7 2003 stratus. Dealer wants $900. Mean while can I just keep a watch on the weep hole. Also there isn’t much room to work in there but I’ve put up with that before.
    Am 82–getting too old for this.
    Rollin

  • Jim Schmitt

    I recently took my 2004 Chrysler Concorde (55K miles) with the 2.7L engine in to a local repair shop to have the water pump replaced. The comments that I heard from the technician that did the job led me to believe that he has not done very many of these (wish I had known that ahead of time). Everything worked fine, but I have noticed that once the engine has been running for a while and is good and hot, while idling at a stop light, the oil pressure light comes on. If sitting for a while with the engine idling, I can smell burnt oil inside of the car. I thought that perhaps I had a bad oil pressure sender and replaced it. I also changed the oil and added 20W50 oil to increase the viscosity, hoping to increase oil pressure. I’m still having the oil pressure problem at idle. I have not put a manual gauge on it yet to see where I’m at, but I suspect that this may be related to other issues mentioned in this blog. I also know that when the water pump was replaced, although the oil and filter had been replaced, the tech did not flush the engine. Just in the last couple of weeks, I am noticing kind of scraping sound coming from the front of the engine when I first start the car. Does anyone have any idea of what I can do to fix the low oil pressure problem at idle? Could this be related to sludge in the engine and, or problems with the tensioner that everyone has been referring to?

    • There are not too many likely reasons for low oil pressure:
      1) It’s not really low but a faulty indication — check with a mechanical gauge as you suggested
      2) worn oil pump
      3) worn out bearings — the 20-50w should have helped if that were the case
      4) over-heated oil — i.e. a symptom of some other problem

      If you don’t hear the timing chain rattling at hot idle, then your tensioner is fine.

    • KJH

      On the 2.7L engine there is a heat shield over the oil pressure switch that unfortunately traps heat behind it and can fry the oil pressure switch. Low readings on hot days at full operating temps are common then. The light flickers on, then goes out with any increase in RPM. If you can get under the care and pull the switch you will likely find oil inside the connector. You can just replace the switch for about 8 bucks or you could run a real pressure sender to a gauge. The fitting is 3/8 in NPT. I myself ran a gauge setup to the left A-frame plastic cover and kept the switch as a backup.

  • Teaka

    HELP HELP PLEASE My 2005 dodge magnum 2.7 motor was running great the water pump went out on it so i took it to mechanic and he fix it (well i thought so)come to find out i go to pick up my car and it is tapping or sound like something is rattling please help me diagnose the problem when he crank it up at first it ran good he drove it down the street and came back it sound like crap please help

  • Moparnut

    Is it possible that a cut o ring on the tensioner will cause the bleed off of pressure and rattle of the chain? I put the chain, pump, and new tensioner on it and it’s fine until it gets worm, then rattle rattle rattle. I didn’t replace m chain as it didn’t show any issues, but I disorder a new one. I’m a certified MoPar tech and my Mopar books aren’t near this helpfull

  • Tom R.

    I just want to commend you on your quick anology of what to do. It was the most insightful that I have found on the web. The tensioner was a little tricky for me to understand but I finally got it. I did a 2003 Dodge Intrepid and the first flip of the key, it was off and running. Thanks again,
    Tom

  • Rexf

    2004 Sebring 2.7 L v6 133,300 miles.
    Replaced – Water pump, timing chain, thermostat, blower resistor. All of these were bad and have had no effect on the low heat.

    Issue – low heat coming from dash heater (approximately 100 degree discharge on a 40 degree day). If you turn off fan for a minute then back on there is more heat but only for a few seconds. Heat builds up in box then discharges. Cool again after.

    Checked – Flow through heater core appears to be good (water hose test). core is not leaking.
    Blend door actuator appears to be working correctly. Will cycle between heat and cool. Visual inspection of actuator looks good.
    Mode door actuator appears to be working correctly. Cycles between upper and lower registers and defrost.
    Hoses do not appear to be collapsing. Do not see any restrictions in hoses.
    Thermostat appears to open at mid gage level, about the same time as the radiator fans. Water temp drops a bit and then it cycles closed.
    Any clues what I am overlooking?

  • Ted

    Good article glad I didn’t atempt at home I’d of been disapponted I; leave it to a prfectional

  • Irv

    . Not sure if anyone noted this, but Goodson Tools and Supplies now makes a tensioner stop block that stops timing chain from jumping if tensioner fails. http://www.goodson.com. cost is $30 BUY ONE.

  • aaron

    2003 sebring 243000km ……well im about 8 hours into it every thing looks good no sludge and no water in the oil. guess i was lucky, as it leaked externally only and i caught it right away., just about ready to remove the tensioner, timing marks are all lined up after what seemed like 30 revolutions. so far every thing has gone quite smooth(besides a stripped torx on the timing chain cover), your instructions and pics have been invaluable not to mention a lot of great posts from other readers. the one about pivoting the water pump to remove the bracket was a big help. from what im reading im a little worried about compressing and reinstalling the tesioner correctly but i think i’ll re-read all the posts and push on thru it. will keep my progress updated. again great step by step, big thank you from Alberta, Canada

  • JV

    I just finished a waterpump replacement on a 2004 Intrepid with 48000 miles this morning after getting a steady leak from the waterpump weep hole noticed after parking overnight in the driveway last week. After tear down it appears not to have leaked coolant internally.
    I bought a new primary tensioner to eliminate the need to purge the oil from the original one and reset it because the process did not seem clear to me without using the special tool. UNFORTUNATELY the new tensioner activated (extended) in shipping and I learned a new skill in resetting the tensioner by practicing on my old one. The original tensioner was extended on the chain to 3/4″ and the wear indicator is at 1.5″ so I could have used the original one again but chose to use the new one. I was not confident in the method to purge the oil and reset while doing it but it worked. The method used was to place the tensioner in a vise with the bottom (purge oil) end hole tilted to be accessible to a small nail, pin ( I used a small allen wrench). You slowly compress the fully extended tensioner piston while barely depressing the ball in the purge hole. It seems like I would barely touch the ball and oil would come oozing out while slowly compressing the piston. I stopped compressing within approximately 3/8″ to 1/2″ of the piston end. I took it out of the vise, compressed it by hand and it fully extended. I tried it again with the same results on both my original and new tensioner. The new tensioner had no oil that came out in the purge process.
    As mentioned, I used the new tensioner on the rebuild and was concerned when I activated the tensioner against the chain tensioner arm. When I manually rotated the engine from the crank bolt after setting the timing, the chain would put tension on the tensioner arm and push the tensioner piston back in approximately 3/8″ to a ratchet step. When I continued to manually rotate the engine, the piston would extend out again and then back 3/8″. I wasn’t sure if this was normal or a problem. It appears it was normal and that at first start up oil pressure fills the tensioner with oil (5-10 seconds of engine noise)and the piston stays in contact with the tensioner arm providing proper chain tension.
    I have seen comments about the importance of tensioner preload by priming the engine thoroughly. I did this by pulling the fuel pump relay and leaving the electrical connectors off the spark plugs. I cranked the starter 4 times for approximately 10 seconds. Connect the spark plugs, install the fuel pump relay and start the car. This was the moment of truth. The car started with a few seconds of slight engine clatter and smoothed out to normal. So far so good and no leaks!

    Thanks for providing this site and a way to learn from others and share. Hope this can help others as you helped me.

  • aaron

    Well had a chance to get back at it this past weekend, everything went back together nicely. started the cat it rattled for about 3 seconds and then quieted right up. used your oven trick to help get the harmonic balancer back on. again thank you so much for all the info in this thread. no way i would have gotten thru this with out it.

  • Justin B

    Hi I’m in the middle of my water pump job, got the new pump on. I also bought a new oil pump, How do I get the crankshaft sprocket off? or on again for that matter? is it just a 3 jaw puller like the balancer?

  • Justin B

    Ok so I’ve had the car back together and been driving it for a while now Yippeee right?? Wrong. My oil light comes on all the time and I get the burnt oil smell all the time and sometimes very strong. I’m not sure what caused this as it didn’t happen before. I never did get the new oil pump on as I couldn’t get the crank sprocket off. Does anyone know what is causing the oil problem and what I can do to fix it?

  • Ervin R

    Get the best quality tensioner you can find and also get the approximately $25 (shipped, ebay) tensioner stop block. Because I put in a new water pump on my ’04 Sebring early this year. No problems for about 3000 miles, ran great. then it started making noise at start-up then not long after all the time. Sounded like the top end was dry. With all the talk of sludge in these engines I thought that I was just due a new engine. Tried flushing the engine and I also have been using royal purple synthetic since I bought the car in early 2013 with about 90,000 miles on it. Then the other day I found a thread by accident that mentioned tensioner failure. I thought wait, that video sounds like my car. So today I took off the rear valve cover, yeah the fun one on a transverse engine and found the tensioner had indeed failed and the the chain slapping around had broken the inner left guide arms and damaged the tensioner arm. Pieces were up in the valve cover next to the chain and you can see with a flashlight the broken guide. So I should have all the parts from napa to replace all the guides and the tensioner with hopefully better quality parts. I am also waiting on a tensioner stop block to arrive early next week before buttoning it up. In case the tensioner ever fails again. I will finish taking the timing chain cover off this weekend hopefully to visually inspect the chain and such and to get to the guide bolts. It runs fine, just noisy so I am pretty sure it hasn’t jumped timing. I had overheated before the water pump was replaced and after all that, while I was replacing the thermostat, I found that it was really my culprit for overheating. I have also read that the stock water pump should be changed at 90,000 miles. The original usually has a plastic impeller. Mine must have been changed since it was metal. This is a great thread I wish I had found before. I will add that the cam gears can be turned with the bolts removed allowing the chain to be attached to the correct sprocket position and then the cam rotated to match the bolt holes. They only fit one way. On mine I used two pair of vise grips to hold the cams while the chain was removed since I did not know that trick. Also the colored links on the chain are very hard to see until you see them and then it’s not as difficult to locate them again. Also the tensioner should primed after activating by turning the engine over, spark plugs removed and the ASD relay out for several revolutions. Not a terrible job, but time consuming and very tight in there. The worst is the power steering pump located on top of the tensioner, next to the firewall. If this was my daily driver it would be very frustrating to have it down for so long while making the repair. I know that some hate Chrysler for these issues, but I find that all makes have some kind of service issue. I don’t like water pumps behind the timing chain or belt, but I do understand there isn’t much room for it in the engine compartment elsewhere, but there has to be a better way. I work on my own cars so I usually get used to their quirks until they are completely worn out. Good luck, God bless and don’t get discouraged and give up on a good car. I think that is what the manufacturers want, just throw it away and get a new one.

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