So this is a 2007 Dodge Caliber. Why did I buy it? Only because my cousin was selling it and I could be sure that it was properly maintained with no accident history. Also because he gave me a good deal and it looks quite nice
American cars have the typical unreliable and expensive stereotype. I would have avoided this car with a ten foot pole if I was looking at a car in the open market.
The Driving Experience
I have driven a Vios, Camry, Accord, Mazda 3
, Citroen C5
, Lexus GS and BMW Z. In comparison the Dodge has a softer suspension
and steering. Also, compared to the sedans, you won't get the same driving experience as the Dodge Caliber has a higher centre of gravity. It is also fatter than your average car.
This is a practical car and all the seats can fold down giving you a ridiculous amount of space. I actually used it to transport a cross-trainer fitness machine once. The engine is from Hyundai so the FC wasn't too bad for a 2L car, with about 10-12 km/L.
Oh, and I've heard from friends that this car is super stable and solid as a rock when running up the North-South Highway. They tell me that the car is super solid and stable even at 200kph
American cars are solid as a rock. I've had the unfortunate luck of being involved in one chain collision (middle vehicle), and while the cars in front of and behind me had their bumpers and bonnets smashed inwards, the Dodge remained relatively unscathed. The post-accident pictures were very surprising, but I guess all that heaviness and weight really helped.
Maintenance and Headaches
I got chopped by the agent who charged me $500 to simply clean the aircon filter
, and almost $1500 the following week to change the condenser when the a/c broke down again. The downside of buying unique and rarer cars in SG is that sometimes the agent will charge exorbitant prices for simple maintenance work.
Labour charges are insane and spare parts are charged at a 400% markup compared to directly importing the parts from the US. Yes, this is a super common car in the US and actually the parts are just as cheap as the usual Japanese makes.
From year 5 to scrap I had to change the following parts:
1. Engine mounts
2. Shock absorbers
4. Serpentine belt
5. Front control arms
7. Front rotors
8. Starter motor
10. ABS sensors (3 in total)
12. Rear wheel bearings & hub
Of course there's the usual service parts like brake pads, spark plugs, oil, aircon and engine air filters, etc.
These parts were changed over 5 years, and it didn't feel too different from the maintenance regime that a typical year 5 Japanese or continental car would go through. Changing a lot of these parts are unavoidable at year 5-10.
The only time when I had an actual vehicle breakdown was when I drove over an invisible bump at particularly high speed at the airport, and cracked a coolant pipe or hose
. Stopped along the PIE to wait for a tow truck.
As you can imagine the local agent (at the time) quoted extremely steep prices, like $800 for ONE engine mount (I believe the price is not so ridiculous now, but still very expensive). Thankfully I managed to find a workshop that could import the parts directly from the US at much cheaper prices. I'm not exaggerating when I say I think I saved tens of thousands of dollars in maintenance costs because of that.
Here's a big order made a couple of years back, prices in USD:
Btw, Dodge, Chrysler and Jeep are all under the same parent company, and the parts are MOPAR branded parts. So if you guys have one of those cars, drop me a PM if you need help finding cheaper parts or if you're looking for a workshop that is able to work on your car.
Would I buy an American car again?
I'm sitting at least one or two cycles out lol. That said, if a Jeep or Chrysler speaks to you, go for it. RHD Dodges are extinct now. You might not get the handling of a Miata or the comfort of a BMW, but you will be driving something different and unique, and a car that looks really great.
My Dodge Caliber will be sent to the scrapyard sometime next week. Its just feelings of nostalgia and sadness now, and I have absolutely no regrets getting this as my first car.