DIY on 1997 Stratus 2.5L V6

I am looking for advice on the replacement of the spark plugs, spark plug wires, distributor cap and rotor. Please bear with me. Allow me to entertain you with an anecdote first.
I (second owner) am driving a 1997 Stratus 2.5L V6. Current mileage is just over 60K. I always had it serviced regularly, following the maintenance schedule in the owner's manual, by an official dealer. So did the first owner, judging the maintenance log.
Three weeks ago I brought the car to the dealer for the 60K maintenance job and reported two problems: horn not working and a squeeking noise on cold engine starts that would last for a couple of minutes. Told the dealer that the clockspring was replaced six months ago because I had the same problem with the horn.
The dealer had checked the driving belt but could not find the cause of the squeeking noise. I had to bring the car back another for the clockspring because it was not in stock.
Three days later I hear a very hard rattling sound coming from under the hood: the driving belt had snapped! Probably because the idler pulley was loose. It could be taken off by hand, without any tools. Apart from being snapped now, the driving belt appeared to be in good conditions (ribs okay, no cracks).
I take the car back to the dealer. The dealer says the mechanic only visually inspected the drive belt without removing anything. So I'm to believe that it's all of a coincidence that pulley came loose because it was not tightened enough about six months ago.
Now the power steering pump is leaking! Caused by the snapped driving belt. The dealer refuses to take responsibility for the loose pulley.
What choice did I have? I paid for a new power steering pump, a new drive belt and a new idler pulley. Oh yeah, and for the replacement of the clockspring. When my car was returned I didn't bother to check whether was the horn. Driving on my way home I realized that and I pressed the horn... It still didn't work. I discovered that the horn only worked if the key was out of the ignition. So it seems that the clockspring was replaced but the mechanic did not bother to check if this solved the problem.
To top it off, the dealer charged me for the 60K maintenance job but the only parts specified on the invoice were engine oil and a oil filter. According to the owners manual the following, amongst other things, should be replaced: PCV valve, air filter, coolant, spark plug wires, distribution cap and rotor, et cetera. All these parts were not specified on the invoice. Unless the dealer decided not to charge for these parts because he was feeling generous, the 60K service maintenance was just not carried out.
In utter frustation I ordered both the Haynes and the Chilton repair manual. I admit, not the best motive to start as DIY. But as I was reading the routine maintenance sections of these manuals, I started to get more and more enthousiatic about doing maintenance myself.
First I replaced the PCV valve and the air filter myself. That was easy.
Now I decided I would take on draining and flushing the coolant system. I wanted to be prepared and I must have read the procedure as described in the Haynes and the Chilton manual at least ten times, over and over. I was going to carefully follow each step. So I went over to a DIY workshop. Well, getting to the drain plug was real, real hard. I ended up busting the radiator because the drain plug very hard to reach and to turn that I probably used to much force. I learned from someone that most dealers just suck the coolant out with a vacuum pump or blowing ot out.
Although I have to have a leaking radiator to be replaced now, I'm still not discouraged yet on doing maintenance myself.
According to the owners manual the spark plugs, spark plug wires, distribution cap and rotor must be replaced at 60K for 2.5l V6 engine. That should be done at 100K according to the Haynes manual and the Chilton manual. I would appreciate your comment on at which interval this should take place.
I would also welcome tips and pointers.
Thanks in advance.
Henk
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I have a '98 Dodge service manual and it shows the spark plugs are to be replaced at 100,000 miles. To replace them you will have to remove the intake plenum, so be sure to add the gasket to your parts list. Put clean shop towels in the intake passages to prevent anything from getting in your engine. You also need to buy a torque wrench to ensure you tighten the bolts properly, otherwise you risk stripping the threads.
HTH Gyz

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Gyz,
Thanks for the info. What about replacement of the spark plug wires and the distribution cap and rotor? Currently I only have the Haynes and the Chilton manual. Haynes says replace at 100K. Owners manual says 60K. I'm inclined to follow the owners manual. I ordered the factory service manual because I read that the FSM is a lot better than Haynes. I understood that the DIY-er is the target audience of the Haynes, that's why I got Haynes first. Any pointers on changing the plug wires, dist cap and rotor?
Thanks,
Henk
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It is a bit of a pain replacing the cap and rotor as you will have to remove egr tube. The pain is getting the little bolts off of the egr tube.

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Obviously the factory service manual is what the dealer uses. Not only do you get complete and accurate information, you also get step-by-step procedures for diagnosis, R&R, and enough theory of operation to aid in troubleshooting.
Though I didn't do this, but I think it is a good idea to change the plug wires when replacing the spark plugs. Removing the wires can put a lot of strain on the conducting elements causing fractures. I experienced this on a '90 Caravan 3.3L V6. It seems I didn't learn my lesson.
For important items like the timing belt and water pump, in my opinion it makes sense to buy factory parts. I seriously doubt that a $50 brand x water pump will last as long as the dealers $250 part. If it were easy to replace it might be worth the risk, but it's not. I replaced the timing belt and water pump on a '93 Stealth ES I had and didn't think it was that bad. I thought it would be about the same amount of effort on my Stratus V6. What a pain in the @$$!!!
Gyz

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