Leave it to a traveling salesman to come up with an innovation that would irrevocably shape the 20th century.
Nikolaus Otto, purveyor of teas and kitchenware, got around to building the first practical four-stroke internal combustion engine, dubbed the “Otto Cycle Engine.”
His working model demonstrated that a four-stroke design could work reliably in an engine compact enough to power a motorcycle and, eventually, an automobile.
His motor, introduced in 1876 as the first genuine alternative to the steam engine, remains the basis of today’s high-performance, low-emissions engines. Some 134 years of development and refinement have made our contemporary engines technological marvels – but mistakes can happen.
There are at least eight mass-produced engines today that have caused owners a lot of anguish, according to their grievance reports on the Internet.
If you’re looking for a used vehicle, think twice before you buy one powered by any of these. Old Nikolaus would not have put his name to this lot.
Chrysler 2.7 L V6
The small but powerful 2.7 L V6 commonly found in the 2004 and older Chrysler Intrepid, Concorde, LHS and Sebring/Stratus models is notorious for oil sludge formation.
Motor oil would collect and cook in the engine’s tight passages, forming sludge and constricting circulation. Eventually, the engine would seize due to oil starvation.
Then there’s the water pump that was incorporated inside the engine. The pump’s shaft seal had a reputation for failing at the 100,000-km threshold and barfing a large quantity of coolant into the crankcase. The resulting chocolate milk mixture is a sure sign of exorbitant bills to come.
Chrysler made some design changes in later engines, but anyone with this lump under their hood should monitor oil level frequently and perform oil changes religiously.