The 1999-2003 Chrysler Concorde/Dodge Intrepid Safety, Service, and Reliability

Information courtesy of Chrysler. We are not responsible for errors or changes.

Airbags

A next-generation driver air bag was a major element in the supplemental restraint system that included the steering wheel, steering column, instrument panel knee blocker. These elements combined with seat belts, which were the primary occupant restraint system and must always be worn properly, to provide the driver with significant crash protection.

Next-generation air bags incorporated a new hybrid inflator module that used a small amount of pyrotechnic material with compressed argon gas. A new igniter triggers combustion of the pyrotechnic material and a consistent, controlled release and expansion of the compressed gas that takes a few milliseconds longer than before to fill the air bag. A small amount of pyrotechnic produced few particulates. An SRS logo molded into the trim cover denoted the presence of the air bag and that next-generation air bags were still supplemental restraints.

When the driver contacted the next-generation air bag, the steering wheel absorbed and distributed the load to the steering column. Subtle variations in cross-sectional shape and material thickness of the new Concorde and Intrepid wheel's die-cast magnesium armature, developed through the use of computerized finite element analysis, ensure efficient load distribution in milliseconds. The steering column reacted with the body structure, deforming to absorb some energy and transferring some. The die-cast magnesium column assembly and steel lower mounting bracket provided a combination of strength and deformability to help control driver impact loads. A telescoping intermediate steering shaft assembly collapsed during impact to help avoid transmitting impact forces from the body structure to the steering column.

Further, the steel knee bolster behind the steering column lower cover deformed and also transferred loads to the body structure through brackets and struts to help manage impact energy for driver protection.

Passenger Air Bag

A next-generation passenger air bag was standard on Concorde and Intrepid. As with the driver air bag, it was certified to comply with the recently revised FMVSS 208. Passenger air bag inflators used a small amount of liquid fuel to trigger a consistent, controlled release of compressed argon gas stored in a pressure cylinder that takes a few milli-seconds longer than before to fill the air bag. The new Concorde and Intrepid were the first domestic US vehicles to use liquid fuel for the passenger air bag. Benefits of this liquid-fuel inflator included:

  • Lower air bag surface temperature
  • Simpler, more cost effective construction
  • Smokeless deployment-no dust in the air during deployment and none to clean up later
  • Environmentally friendly-combustion products occur naturally in the atmosphere

The next-generation passenger air bag, seat belts, the instrument panel knee bolster in the glove compartment door, and the body structure managed crash energy for milli-seconds to provide significant crash protection in frontal impacts.

The passenger air bag module was mounted directly on the instrument panel's structural retainer, concealed by the padded instrument panel's seamless outer surface. A concealed air bag door, also attached to the retainer, separated the outer skin of the panel when the air bag deploys. An SRS Air Bag logo molded into the instrument panel cover denoted the presence of the air bag and served as a reminder that next-generation air bags were still supplemental restraints.

Air Bag Control Module

The air bag control module (ACM) provided the following new features:

  • A single-point sensing system, similar to that used on other Chrysler vehicles, activated the driver and passenger air bags
  • An energy-reserve system ensured proper deployment in the unlikely event of a loss of battery power
  • Diagnostic software verified functionality of the accelerometer that detected vehicle impacts. The software sent an electrical pulse to the sensor and tested the response to determine if the sensor was functioning properly. As on prior air bag systems, the driver was alerted to any malfunction by an air bag warning lamp in the cluster
  • Simplified construction used ASICs (application-specific integrated circuits)

Seat belts

  • New low-friction shoulder belt turning loop material to facilitate proper webbing adjustment and smooth retraction on removal
  • End-release buckles at all seating positions with new rounded outer contours that customers could slide over without discomfort
  • Cinching latch plates on outboard passenger three-point belts to facilitate the use of child seats
  • Manually adjustable lap belts for center front and center rear seat occupants

Head Impact Protection

A more stringent, extended head impact safety standard (FMVSS 201) was being phased in between the 1999 and 2003 model years. The 1998 Concorde and Intrepid complied in advance partly through trim refinements:

  • Windshield and center pillar trim covers offset from the body structure concealed ribs to absorb impact
  • Molded, impact-absorbing polyurethane foam was inserted between headliner and roof side rails. Front and rear roof headers, passenger assist handles and sun visors met injury protection criteria without modification
  • Shoulder belt turning loop trim covers molded integral with the turning loops extended inboard and had ribs to absorb impact. A flexible hinge allowed the cover to fold over its mounting bolt and snapped positively into place

Collision Resistant Structures

Dynamic Side Impact Protection

The ability of the new Concorde and Intrepid body structures to protect passengers in a side impact collision, as required by the US Government, was integrated into the body structure with a minimum of additional weight. The ability to absorb impacted energy and minimized intrusion was efficiently distributed around the periphery of the passenger compartment structure:

  • Tubular, ultra-high tensile strength steel (200,000 pounds-per-square-inch ultimate) beams were installed in the front and rear doors
  • Deep-section high-strength steel reinforcements were placed inside the center pillars
  • Center pillar-to-sill weld joint was stiffer laterally and longitudinally than in 1997 to resist deformation. The sill had no styled surface, allowing more welding between pillar and sill than possible with conventional sill structure with a styled surface
  • Raised sill area adjacent to each rear seat minimized impact barrier intrusion. The raised sills replaced secondary door strikers used on prior models that had the potential to snag passenger's clothing.
    The design of this sill structure was patented
  • High-strength steel cross members beneath the seats connected the raised sill sections with the rear longitudinal rails to distribute impact loads to other parts of the structure. This system was lighter, less costly and more space efficient than the add-on tubular beam used previously

Steering Wheel and Steering Column

The ductility of the magnesium steering wheel allowed it to deform effectively during impact for driver protection. The steering column provided effective support for the driver air bag. Column mounting was sturdy to ensure consistent air bag positioning during frontal impact.

Rear Impact-Resistant Front Seats

All new Concorde and Intrepid front seats were designed to absorb energy from rear impacts for occupant protection. This protection was provided over and above the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. Structural strength was distributed throughout the seats, including tracks, frames and recliner mechanisms on both sides of each back. Head restraints were also larger, farther forward and have a maximum adjustable height 0.87 in. (22 mm) higher than in 1997. The new head restraints also had positive latches to prevent downward pressure from lowering them, and were not removable.

Security Systems

The Remote Keyless Entry (RKE) system was operated by a new control module that plugs directly onto the BCM (Body Control Module), simplifying assembly and increasing reliability. The new module allowed the use of up to four transmitters per vehicle. It also allowed an owner to have RKE installed on the car by a dealer. An external antenna added to the receiver provided increased range, enabling it to receive signals from transmitters at a distance of at least 40 feet (12 m).

New transmitters sent a unique coded signal that changed in an indecipherable manner each time a button on the transmitter was pressed. Rolling code thwarts would-be thieves who would attempt to unlock the vehicle by capturing and reproducing the code with a scanner or by transmitting a massive number of codes from a random signal alternator among which one would duplicate the code of a valid transmitter.

A vehicle theft security alarm (VTSA) was optional. It detered vandalism and non-professional theft, frequently lowering insurance premiums, by monitoring door ajar switches, the ignition circuit, power door lock and unlock circuits and a trunk lid lock sensor. If a switch or sensor was triggered, the horn blew intermittently, exterior lights flash and the ignition was disabled to prevent theft of the vehicle. The VTSA was automatically armed by locking the doors with any power lock switch or with the remote keyless entry transmitter. A warning lamp on top if the instrument panel flashes.

To discourage theft and illegal entry, new lock cylinders each had an additional tumbler. In addition, a side-bar alignment notch reduced the possibility of theft through the use of substitute keys and the possibility of accidentally unlocking the wrong car by a key with a tumbler sequence nearly identical to the correct one. A new, longer key had an oval, molded head.

HomeLink Universal Transmitter Refinements

HomeLink operated home security systems that used specially coded signals, known generically as rolling codes, to increase security.

Serviceability

Powertrain

  • The 2.7-liter engine oil filter base was integral with the oil pan, preventing spillage during filter changes, and minimizing residual left in the block
  • The oil filter on the 2.7-liter engines was more accessible than on prior engines
  • The 2.7-liter engine included a trough in the valve cover around the oil filler cap nipple that kept spilled oil (during filling) from running down the side of the block
  • Increased accessibility to upper bell housing bolts made transaxle removal easier
  • A new rear transmission mount simplified mount replacement and improved transaxle removal
  • Coil-on-plug ignition eliminated spark plug wires and simplified tune-ups
  • Platinum-tipped spark plugs provided 100,000 mile tune-up intervals under normal operating conditions
  • New exhaust system clamps did not crush pipes together, making pipe separation simple.

Suspension And Steering

  • New steering tie rod ends made toe adjustment easier
  • New rear suspension design and fuel tank placement simplified tank removal
  • Front stabilizer bar service no longer required the removal of engine cradle from vehicle
  • Removal of rear stabilizer bar no longer required removal of the gas tank
  • A translucent power steering fluid reservoir allowed the fluid level to be checked without removing the cap

Brakes

  • The modular anti-lock brake system, which placed both electronic controls and the valve unit in the same location, was both easier to diagnose and service
  • New parking brake cable routing along the door sill made replacement easier

Engine Cooling

  • A carbon seal on the water pump provided life-of-the-vehicle endurance
  • Long life engine coolant thermostat designed to last 7 years or 100,000 miles
  • Long-life engine coolant extended the change interval to 5 years or 100,000 miles under normal operating conditions

Body

  • A new steering column mounting system required removal of only the steering column cover needed to access the column

Diagnostics

  • Diagnostic communications used the new industry standard J1850 data bus, providing access to on-board diagnostic information by aftermarket scan tools
  • Odometer readings displayed briefly when any door was opened to facilitate checking by service attendants

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We make no guarantees regarding validity, accuracy, or applicability of information, predictions, or advice. Please read the terms of use and privacy policy. Copyright © 1994-2000, David Zatz; copyright © 2001-2016, Allpar LLC (except as noted, and press/publicity materials); all rights reserved. Dodge, Jeep, Chrysler, Ram, and Mopar are trademarks of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

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