Piston Slap: Ultradriving the Budget Beater?

TTAC Commentator mopar4wd writes:

Sajeev,

So, I’ve noticed over the years that common wisdom for purchasing budget cars is all about condition and less about mileage. But other than my trusty ’88 Ramcharger, ’00 Durango, ’91 Eagle summit (Mitsubishi Mirage) and ’87 Toyota pickup, most of the vehicles I have owned all started becoming awful to own going somewhere between 150-200k miles. The list includes Fords, Subarus, Jeeps, Nissans, Chryslers, Volkswagens, Volvos, etc., since I pretty much only buy sub-$5,000 cars and have to rely on them daily. I have shifted to a little older and lower mileage (and of course well taken care of). Usually between 90-120k miles and 10 to 12 years old.

Which leads me to my question. I’m now the owner of a 2004 Chrysler 300M with 42,000 miles. The owner bought it from a Chrysler dealer locally in 2006. It’s well maintained and clean despite living its life outdoors: new tires, new battery and oil changes every 3k miles. The owner had it up for a reasonable price but everyone was low balling her — I brought a reasonable offer (about 15 percent less than asking) and picked it up.

After driving it a thousand miles a few things have popped up: cam sensor going out (a common issue that I’m DIYing today), I’ve made an appointment to have the timing belt and water pump replaced (there was no record of this work), and based on feel I think the rear struts may need a change.

Given the like-new condition of the car is there anything else I should be looking at doing (fluid changes are on the list) given that it’s closing in on 14 years old?

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