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In March of 2007, I had started a new job that was about a 45-50m commute from my house. I was daily driving my 1992 Jeep Cherokee XJ, but would take my mom's '02 300M when I could because I enjoyed it on the longer trip much more. It was so much smoother, quieter, better handling, and more fuel efficient. It was superior in every way other than driving on snowy days through the mountains of PA.
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I was always looking at cars for sale, but hadn't really considered a 300M. Why would I get one when my mom had one? But I was browsing eBay motors, sort by distance, and 5 miles away, I saw it - a 1999 300M, buy it now $3500. What?!? $3500? I checked and the cheapest I could find any other 300Ms anywhere in the country were way over $8000. That has to be wrong. I looked at the ad and the photos. I could clearly see the fascia looked like garbage, clearly a bad respray from some type of fender-bender, and the passenger door had a crater in it. I didn't care, nor was I dismayed by the high miles, somewhere around 140k - I was going to be putting a ton on it anyway, it's better than de-valuing a lower-mile car so much, I thought. I contacted the seller and asked if I could see the car in person.

When I got to the seller's house, I saw it sitting there, with a flat right front tire, next to a brand new Audi. He said he drove it daily from Scranton to Binghamton, which explained the high miles, but he just got a new car and hadn't driven it in two months. He said it needed brakes and tires, which was evident by a simple visual inspection. But aside from that, and the cosmetic issues I knew about, it was immaculate inside. After a quick jump from his Audi, and 10 minutes with the world's slowest tire pump to inflate the right front tire, I was out on a test drive.

It was clunky. I knew that sound, sway bar links, no big deal. It was smooth. All of the power was still there - maybe more than my mom's 02 with 60k less miles? At the very least, the same, and just as crisp with its shifts. No smoke, no leaks. It handled straight and tracked perfectly even with nearly bald front tires. The driver's power window didn't close properly, I had to push it back into the track. The sunroof worked perfectly. I was trying to find things to talk myself out of buying the car, but I couldn't. I offered him $3000 cash. He said you come back with it today, the title's yours. I said "How about we head over to AAA right now, I'll stop at the bank on the way there." I drove it home that day. I guess in hindsight I did a Tyler Hoover move, buying the cheapest clean-titled 300M in the country.
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I dropped it off for tires at Kost in Scranton before leaving for work the next day. Tires and an inspection, please. They called me, it wouldn't pass without the brakes I already knew it needed. "We can do both front and rear for $120" - well, that was a no-brainer to me. I never heard of a brake job that cheap before (and yes, it included 4 rotors!) This was the first and also the last time that anyone, other than myself, did any work on the car outside of tires, alignment, and inspection.

I drove the car to work on a frequent basis, fixing and upgrading things here and there. I got a 01+ EVIC unit to replace the OTIS I had. I went to the junkyard and got an entire door for $20 during the week the yard had the $20 door special, and replaced the glass in the driver's door with the new one (Sure, I could have messed with replacing just the clip, but I had an entire door for $20 so why not). I also grabbed the center shift surround and chrome shift knob from the same car to replace the plastic gated shifter. Over time, as things broke like the interior door pulls, the door handles, AC compressor, or anything, I stayed on top of it all the time. I remember what a pain it was to do the AC Evaporator, but I didn't complain, because I loved that car. Even after I bought my 2006 Charger R/T, I kept the 300M, figuring it would be a good beater and "Gas saver", plus I could keep the miles off of my Charger.
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In 2012, my mom went to trade in her 2001. I always loved the twin six rims of the 01+, and never really liked the razorstars on my 99. I asked her if I could swap them before she traded, and she said I could - so I did. I had grabbed Jewled tail lights from the junkyard not too long before that, but one wasn't in the best shape, so I swapped it too. I finally felt like the car looked as great as it felt to me.
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Finally in 2015, after always trying - and failing - to find undamaged Special HIDs in the junkyard, I found a set. The lens on the driver's pair was cracked, and the tabs were broken, but I didn't care. They were all there and mostly intact. I picked them up and was happy. I also had to replace the exhaust, because my center muffler and pipe rotted out, so what did I do? I grabbed an entire exhaust from a 2001, complete with the chrome-tipped rear muffler. Another cosmetic upgrade that made me even happier still with the car.

Last Tuesday, I got a 12v to USB adapter to charge my phone and add USB ports to the car, so I didn't have to use a "Cigarette lighter" adapter. I installed it that day. On Wednesday, I drove it from Scranton to West Orange, to stay over at my girlfriend's house for a few nights. It did the same thing it has always done for me - it ate up the highway miles smoothly, gave me plenty of power to pass when I wanted, and got me to her house safely and comfortably, with ice cold AC and a toasty seat to soothe my sore back. The new USB port worked perfectly. "I need to run the other wire up through the headliner and get rid of this other plug for my dash camera", I thought to myself. "I'll do that next week." On Friday, I left her house, with her following me, so she could spend the weekend at my place.

About 40 minutes into the drive, I was going up one of the many hills on I80 by the Delaware Water Gap, when all of a sudden, it didn't want to maintain speed anymore and sounded... loud. I pushed the gas harder, and... Oh no, it's knocking! I put on my flashers, and struggled to maintain 50MPH without making it knock too loudly, wanting to make it to the next exit. I called my GF and let her know that the end was near. I managed to limp it about 3 miles to the next exit, when the oil pressure light came on. Knock, knock, knock... Oh, now I don't have power steering - yep, it's stalled. Put it into Neutral, and followed the signs for the "Park and Ride" - ran the stop sign at the end of the ramp, thankfully at 10PM there was no other traffic on that road, except for the tractor trailer that decided right before the Park and Ride to make a left turn out of Dunkin Donuts. I stood on the brakes, out of power assist by that point, and slowed enough to not hit him but not too much to not be able to make it up the hill to the lot. I coasted straight into a parking spot, and put her into park. Until that point, I hadn't smelled anything, but then I could smell burning oil. I knew I wasn't leaking any, so the bearings just got that hot. Pulled the dipstick, glittery oil. I took my stuff out of the car, put it into my GF's, and drove her car home, sad and frustrated.
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On Monday, I drove my Charger to the lot, after calling AAA and being shuffled around a few times. Having a membership is great for free tows, but dear God, the whole regionalization thing is just dumb. I should be able to call my "Home club" and get a tow from anywhere to anywhere, why do I need to be transferred (and to the wrong office the first time) to get a tow from the regional office that services that area? That's also another story for another day. Despite it taking about 2 hours to arrive, thanks to I80 traffic by both the 80/33 split and the Delaware Water Gap slowing for no reason at all, like always, I still had to wait 2 more hours for the tow truck.
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Finally, around 9PM, the tow truck arrived at my house to drop off the car. The driver was very good, and he managed to back it into my fairly narrow driveway and put it into the carport.
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My goal was to pull the oil pan off and see if I could assess the damage. I asked on the 300M group on Facebook if you can pull the pan with the engine still in and was informed, much to my surprise, that yes, this can be done. This afternoon, I started around 2:30, working to see if I could find a clean or scored crankshaft. After all, the bearings - main and rod - were not even $50 shipped, and for $50 and a few hours, I was willing to take that gamble. I drained the oil out of the pan, removed the flex plate guard and most of the oil pan bolts easily enough, but then struggled to remove the two in the front. Finally, I got enough clearance, jacking up the engine by the pan, to get the front two bolts out. The oil dipstick was giving me such a hard time, after 15 minutes of struggling, I actually busted out the torch and burned the rubber seal off it to get it out. "Now, how the hell does this pan come out?" There was no clearance between the trans and the subframe to actually get it out. I figured I'd loosen the motor mounts and jack up the engine by the mount bracket on the passenger side - this got me the room I needed to clear the trans. Success! ...Wait a minute, now I'm being held up by the sway bar! And I don't have my 18mm to take this off, it's 6PM...

By this point, I begin running the numbers in my head. I have at least another 30 minutes to take this pan off. Then at least another two, pulling every bearing to inspect every journal. I know the engine actually stalled out on me with a low oil pressure light. I know there's glitter in the oil. There's, at best, a 20% chance my crankshaft is fine. I have at least 6 additional hours for re-installation of everything, plus I will need a new oil line because I couldn't get the old one off without ruining it, thanks to rust between the flare nut and the line itself. Then if I put new bearings in it, I may still have debris in it that'll kill it anyway. Is it worth the minimum investment of 8 additional hours, likely more? It's rusty. It has over 221,000 miles. I paid $3000 for the car, and I've gotten 15 years out of it. Which is 14 more than I initially expected or wanted when I bought the car. I figured I would have sold it in 2008 or 2009, but I kept it - and it kept going. It never let me down until the very end. It was always a joy to drive. I never felt unsafe or like I was going to get stranded any time I drove it.

Thank you for your service. This post is for you.
 

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Many don't seem to realize you just should not order any ole set of bearings, even if OEM, besides the use of plastigauge, there were 4 different oem main bearing sizes depending on the build, and the code for what was used is machined right into the block, which if you find the crank is not too worn and you're not going to measure, the indicators on the block should be your guide on what exactly you need to order.
 

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Seeing this makes me regret letting go of my 300M years ago. Everything you mentioned about how it ate up miles and the comfort is so true. I remember the figure eight on ramp near where I live where I did the loop cause the damn car just held the corners so well.

I really wish Chrysler still offered something like this. Maybe a bit smaller but along these lines in terms of build, design and comfort.

Glad you were able to get as much use as you did out of yours.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Seeing this makes me regret letting go of my 300M years ago. Everything you mentioned about how it ate up miles and the comfort is so true. I remember the figure eight on ramp near where I live where I did the loop cause the damn car just held the corners so well.

I really wish Chrysler still offered something like this. Maybe a bit smaller but along these lines in terms of build, design and comfort.

Glad you were able to get as much use as you did out of yours.
The current 300 non-S cars are just as cushy, IMO. The S are sportier, as is the C, or at least the rentals I've had are. I've been considering an 11-13 6 cylinder AWD for a replacement, if I can find one cheap locally, but there are other options too for me
 

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1974 Plymouth Valiant - 2013 Dodge Dart - 2013 Chrysler 300C
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Seats in the 300M were certainly superior to the later 300s. The V6/8-speed is a nicer powertrain than the old 3.5/four-speed and the car's quieter and has more features. I think the 300M handling was more satisfying.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Seats in the 300M were certainly superior to the later 300s. The V6/8-speed is a nicer powertrain than the old 3.5/four-speed and the car's quieter and has more features. I think the 300M handling was more satisfying.
The 300M with the Special struts handles better than the base 300 touring for sure. As for the 300S or 300C, I am not sure honestly. Slight edge to the 300M probably due to the lighter weight and 245 tires? The base LX cars really don't handle that well, they're more about comfort. Now, my widebody, forget it, the LH couldn't hold a candle to that thing!

The LH interiors were far superior to the 05-10 LX cars. This is not up for debate, it's fact. The 11+, those are much nicer inside, but yeah, the LH seats still have that comfortable feeling that the LX cars didn't have until you moved into much higher packages. And even then, it's up to opinion on which is better: Cushy feel or bolstering. They're different but I enjoy both.
 

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The current 300 non-S cars are just as cushy, IMO. The S are sportier, as is the C, or at least the rentals I've had are. I've been considering an 11-13 6 cylinder AWD for a replacement, if I can find one cheap locally, but there are other options too for me
While I didn't have an S my last LX car that I owned was a 2012 300C. Great in their own way but no they did not handle like the 300M nor were the seats anywhere near as plush or supportive.

The 300M was like a giant baseball glove with serious padding thrown in!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Yes, I can understand that; the base L cars handle alright but have DEAD NUMB steering. You have to push the damn thing to near its limit to get ANY feedback. Over boosted, and not in a hurry to return to center, unlike the LH platform. Heck even my 1st gen Charger R/T was numb even after I put the SRT suspension on it at anything less than 90% of its capability, which meant if you weren't driving it hard constantly, it wasn't rewarding to drive. The LH "Feels" more engaging in that regard, and I'll miss it.

At this point since I have a very nice sedan I'm leaning towards a Jeep Hemi more and more, 11-13s I've seen for under $7k which to me seems like a hell of a deal for a lot of car.
 

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Just got home to Myrtle Beach SC from visiting family in NJ in my 2002 M w/240,000 miles on it.
Regular trips back and forth in the most comfortable highway cruiser Chrysler ever built!
Sorry to see this one bite the dust.
If the rest of the car is decent, some 300M Enthusiast may want it for a couple of $$ around scrap price. You never know, at one time I had 3, parted one out and salvaged one to be my daily driver, saving my other as my pride and joy
 

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The 300M with the Special struts handles better than the base 300 touring for sure. As for the 300S or 300C, I am not sure honestly. Slight edge to the 300M probably due to the lighter weight and 245 tires? The base LX cars really don't handle that well, they're more about comfort. Now, my widebody, forget it, the LH couldn't hold a candle to that thing!

The LH interiors were far superior to the 05-10 LX cars. This is not up for debate, it's fact. The 11+, those are much nicer inside, but yeah, the LH seats still have that comfortable feeling that the LX cars didn't have until you moved into much higher packages. And even then, it's up to opinion on which is better: Cushy feel or bolstering. They're different but I enjoy both.
My son still drives our 2004 300M and I think the 300S AWD is clearly the better in the handling department. The 300M has exceptional handling for a front drive car (all the LH cars had exceptional handling) but not as good as the 300S. I can get the 300S through the turns at much higher speeds than the 300M.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
My son still drives our 2004 300M and I think the 300S AWD is clearly the better in the handling department. The 300M has exceptional handling for a front drive car (all the LH cars had exceptional handling) but not as good as the 300S. I can get the 300S through the turns at much higher speeds than the 300M.
Yes, the 300S is a 100% better handling car, but for some people, handling means steering feedback more than actual cornering ability, and I can understand that. And unless you are pushing the LX platform pretty hard, steering feel is more "Numb" than the LH.
Just got home to Myrtle Beach SC from visiting family in NJ in my 2002 M w/240,000 miles on it.
Regular trips back and forth in the most comfortable highway cruiser Chrysler ever built!
Sorry to see this one bite the dust.
If the rest of the car is decent, some 300M Enthusiast may want it for a couple of $$ around scrap price. You never know, at one time I had 3, parted one out and salvaged one to be my daily driver, saving my other as my pride and joy
I suppose I could put it up as is in the 300 / LH for sale group on Facebook. I was offered $560 by Peddle. And I'd take the chrome shift knob, Special cluster, bi-color HVAC display, and HIDs off it for that price. I suppose if someone in the "M Scene" wants to give me $650 for it I'll even toss the Special fascia I have in the trunk/back.
 

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My son still drives our 2004 300M and I think the 300S AWD is clearly the better in the handling department. The 300M has exceptional handling for a front drive car (all the LH cars had exceptional handling) but not as good as the 300S. I can get the 300S through the turns at much higher speeds than the 300M.
I would be putting up the 300M Special against the 300S in the handling department.
With its stock Michelin Sport Pilot 245 45 18 rubber, lowered stiffer suspension non-variable assist steering at just 3550 lbs vs the 300S 4200+ lbs, I'll give edge to the Special.
Even Chrysler claimed 0.91 lateral acceleration on the skidpad.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
That's nice that Chrysler claimed it but trust me, I've pushed both pretty hard - the 300M cannot handle a corner as quickly as a 300S v6.

I try to find the same source for reviews, here's C/D - the Special M did 0.82, the 300S v6 did 0.88.

The bigger footprints, lowered stance, stiffer suspension-performance-tuned with firmer strut damping and taller rear jounce bumpers-and firmer-feeling 17:1 steering-gear ratio (normal 300s get standard variable assist) enabled the Special to pull 0.82 g on the skidpad. That matches the standard 300M and I35's scores and is 0.01 g better than the Acura Type-S's. Chrysler claims the Special pulled 0.91 g, but that number seems suspect to us, considering a Porsche 911 managed only 0.90 g.

Even in Sport mode, though, the 300S never fully seduces the driver. Although our test car’s Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar summer tires—a steal at $95—helped the sizable sedan pull an impressive-for-its-class 0.88 g around our 300-foot skidpad, the Chrysler feels more at home cruising on the highway than it does tackling twisty two-lanes.

 

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That's nice that Chrysler claimed it but trust me, I've pushed both pretty hard - the 300M cannot handle a corner as quickly as a 300S v6.

I try to find the same source for reviews, here's C/D - the Special M did 0.82, the 300S v6 did 0.88.

The bigger footprints, lowered stance, stiffer suspension-performance-tuned with firmer strut damping and taller rear jounce bumpers-and firmer-feeling 17:1 steering-gear ratio (normal 300s get standard variable assist) enabled the Special to pull 0.82 g on the skidpad. That matches the standard 300M and I35's scores and is 0.01 g better than the Acura Type-S's. Chrysler claims the Special pulled 0.91 g, but that number seems suspect to us, considering a Porsche 911 managed only 0.90 g.

Even in Sport mode, though, the 300S never fully seduces the driver. Although our test car’s Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar summer tires—a steal at $95—helped the sizable sedan pull an impressive-for-its-class 0.88 g around our 300-foot skidpad, the Chrysler feels more at home cruising on the highway than it does tackling twisty two-lanes.
Yeah, that review was heavily scoffed at, as I recall C$D admitted later to Chrysler that traction control was not turned off (there is a reason that Mopar posted those. 91 g numbers) and the required premium grade fuel was not used for the acceleration runs.
Just look how it seems not to better a base 300m was the first clue lol.
Although true, the 300S gets advantage of Summer only UHP vs the AS tires of the 300M Special.
I would be glad to take on any V6 300S in slalom or tight road course.😎👍
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