Well, the Cirrus is now finished. And all went better than expected in some ways, and others went much worse than necessary.
I purchased many parts from RockAuto.com, something that I will not do again. I ordered an evaporator, and the universal unit that everyone is also selling at big box part stores does not fit well. It is 2 inches shorter, and the lines are smaller. So you have to modify the unit in order to make it fit inside the HVAC box. Also, I bought a new expansion valve to go with it, since it is just common practice to replace the expansion valve when doing AC overhauls. The connector broke off INSIDE of the high pressure liquid line, and had to be forcefully removed, and a new expansion valve bought. I had to go to the dealer and get my new evaporator. They dropped the price $200 for me because it has sat in the back inside of a box since May of 2002, and they did not need it any longer, but I still put an unplanned $200 into the project. On the very positive side, the replacement dealer part came with brand new Styrofoam evaporator surrounds, something I had not been able to replace otherwise. Online part sites charge $300 each set of surrounds, so it was worth it. I also ended up replacing the condenser. Further investigation showed that it was sludged up inside, and I was not going to risk the compressor. Everything in the system but the compressor and hard lines were replaced. I blew out all old oils and replaced all seals, and put a new accumulator on. I discovered that the clutch was coming loose on the compressor, and I was able to tighten it before it fell off completely, and this quieted the clinking noise it made when the AC disengaged. I pulled the car down to a vacuum of -30 by running the pump for 6 hours, and then I left the gauges on for 24 additional hours while I worked on other parts of the car, verifying that it could hold vacuum. I also repaired the sensor on the liquid line. The three wires kept coming out of the connector, and I soldered them in, instead of crimping them. Apparently crimping does not work well for Chrysler plugs, and I expect I will need to do this to other connectors within the harness in the future.
Additionally, I discovered that my heater core was internally blocked. I took it off and was surprised that it continued to leak coolant. Upon continued flushes, it emptied out chunks of plastic, rubber, and coolant sludge. It took repetitive flushes, chemicals, and I heated the core over flame to boil out water. This caused the rest of the blockage to be pressurized and it shot out like a bazooka all over the kitchen wall! I did this until it quit blasting stuff out, and it appears to be cleaned out completely. I am pondering what to do about what could possibly be inside my engine block and radiator. I cleaned it out the best I could, and I have been flushing the system with water, and draining every few days to remove more sludge like material. I replaced the thermostat, and the engine seems to stay warmed up while I drive. A for sure on whether or not I have repaired my heater remains to be seen until winter. The engine holds A LOT of water even though you drain out the system. Does anyone know of a drain plug on the motor? If so, it would be nice so that I could replace the containing water with coolant before winter to avoid cracking the block.
I fixed multiple wiring issues, including my gauge cluster had a few burned out connections on the PCB board for the tachometer. I had to add copper wiring to the board, as most of the copper lands on the board in that general area had received so much current over time that they lifted up and split due to overload and excessive heat. I had an issue with the dimmer not working well, and I am still at a loss as to why it doesn't work. I disassembled and cleaned out the combo switch, but the dimmer feature does not work whatsoever. The dimmer switch is directly wired, and does not have any connections within the combo switch unit, it is just connected directly to the car's wiring via plugs on the combo switch.
I solved my EGR issue, though I need to solve the root cause. Oil is leaking from somewhere higher on the engine block above the EGR, but below the valve cover gasket. Oil had gotten between the EGR mating surfaces and metal gasket, and to the best of my assumptions, it would suck in the oil and mess up the readings when the computer energized the EGR. I currently have NO codes in the computer since battery reconnect. I usually have code 32 by now. I assume engine oil will fall down and get between the gasket and mating surface again, so I will need to locate the oil leak.
I did a transmission fluid drop and filter change. There were no abnormal materials on the magnet, and it appeared to have been done recently by the previous owner as there was not a lot of normal clutch material present. This leads me to believe that the hard shifting into drive problem will only get worse until the offending part fails, though it appears to be noticeably better than it was before. I am starting to look into the solenoid clutch pack, as the drive solenoid makes a different noise when engaging the transaxle when hot, and the reverse sounds strong and clean in comparison. Drive sounds weak and 'clacky', it doesn't seem to make the usual noise it makes when cold. I removed the transmission oil cooler when I replaced the condenser to verify that it was not plugged before putting it on the front of the new condenser.
All in all, The car was on jack stands since July 1st and this project repaired multiple problems. I still do not know where my water leak is in the trunk, but when it rains the spare tire well fills up with water. This happens when parked also, and I have removed the carpeting before and had a helper spray water all over the car. I never did find any leaks this way. This project cost me almost $700 dollars in parts and tools. The muffler needed replaced and registration was due by the 31st, so I also had that repair done in order to register the car this year. I saved an estimated $1,000+ in labor charges for all the work that I had done myself, so all the deep wounds in my arms are worth it. A shop would have charged time for it to sit in their bay while parts had to be ordered in, and I would have had a crappy evaporator installed anyway. Goes to show, there is a large difference in OEM Mopar parts and "OEM aftermarket" parts. Sometimes you can get away with it, such as the case with the condenser. But in most cases with this Chrysler, it needs to be genuine Mopar to even work right, forget about the fact it probably won't fit.
Thanks everyone for all their support and help in this project, and I now have a lot of knowledge in removing the dashboard and can answer questions in relation to this. Stupid enough, the upper intake manifold needs to be removed to allow clearance to access the heater hoses, and replace spark plugs. If anyone here has a wiring diagram on the interior light dimmer, that would be amazing. I need to find where the dimmer controller is if there is one, check for lose connections, etc . before condemning the switch and taking all the effort to open the combo switch again. Which is a complicated, spring-loaded process for all those willing to attempt. You will need a soldering iron and skills to use it.