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Dodge/Plymouth Neon

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  • majorthomechomajorthomecho Posts: 1,331
    Thanks for the chuckle. Yes, we Echo owners are different.

    I really took a hard look at the Neon, but safety and reliabiliyt are big issues with me so I went with the Echo.
  • officerozofficeroz Posts: 25
    Apologies for the previous long rant, nothing personal intended toward other Neon owners. And I also don't like to put down other folks preference for cars. God knows I've had a variety of them over the years, some good, some bad. In fact, before buying the Suburban, I had not owned a GM product for 23 years due to a couple of bad experiences, one in 1969, and one in 1976, an Impala and 1/2 ton pickup truck respectively. But after driving a Suburban a few times during Vehicle Evaluation classes I help teach for SCCA Corporate, I found it to be an excellent vehicle, as well as several of the GM brand cars, like the Regal and Intrigue.
    I pull an enclosed trailer to competiton events, (not for the Neon, but for my C Prepared 65 GT 350 look-a-like Mustang)and found the 'burban great for towing compared to the Grand Cherokee I had owned previously. So, I have changed my mind regarding quality on (some) GM offerings. My spouses' previous car was a Toyota Camry, an excellent car, but boring...The Regal GS with it's stiffer suspension and supercharged 3.8 V6 is a much livlier car, has lots of torque and HP, and even though it's mundane styling turns a lot of folks off, it's a blast to drive in "spirited driving" mode.
    As for the Echo, it's kinda grown on me as small cars go, but the gawd-awful looks of the Aztec, and overdone Isuzu SUV that Joe Isuzu is hawking, will never grow on me! Sorry if I offended anyone who owns either of these...

    officeroz
  • buoyantbuoyant Posts: 128
    Sorry for getting off track here folks, but I have to voice my strong agreement on the looks of the Aztek.

    I went along with my parents when they picked up their 2001 Olds Intrigue from the local GM dealer this past February and I started talking to one of the guys I knew there about the Aztek (they had three on the lot). He told me they only time they'd been moved in the past two months was for plowing. Well, I stopped through again last week and the SAME three Azteks were still there! My God, at this rate they'll still be "closing-out" the '01 Azteks in '05.

    I've always had a love for Oldsmobiles (when I was a kid, the cool-person's car was a Cutlass Supreme). I have serious reservations of purchasing a GM car in the near future though.

    What kind of company cancels the devision "most likely to succeed" in the future (Oldsmobile) and then pours millions into marketing what is obviously the most undesirable vehicle on the planet (the Aztek) during the most popular show in States (Survivor)?

    The management at GM is so ignorant, so oblivious, they honesty thought the reason this vehicle wasn't selling was because no one had seen it. These people couldn't BUY a clue if Kmart had 'em on blue light special!

    GM is in serious trouble, IMO. The current management has only been trained in methods of losing market share and it seems to be self-perpetuating.
  • 71charger71charger Posts: 116
    2000 Neon ES now at 20,000 trouble free miles. Even the Goodyears are holding up well. Just trying to bring this board back on topic. You really don't want to get me started on what a piece of crap my Camaro was or what a rust bucket a certain Mitsubishi we had was. I think Mopar really missed the boat on their advertising campaign for the redesigned Neon. They should have gone for the more rock n roll Mitsubishi/Nissan or something showing how much fun they are to drive such as the Mazda "zoom, zoom, zoom" thing. They make a small sedan that historically has been a better performance car than a Miata. Then they picture it stationary, collapsing a bridge under the weight of its features in its advertising. Of course, Chrysler has had (in my opinion) pretty crappy advertising for many years. How about those terrible Joe Garigiola (sp?) ads from the 70s.
  • buoyantbuoyant Posts: 128
    How soon you forget the groovy "Hi!" ads of the mid 90's!

    I used to clip them out of magazines for my Ad and Promotions class in college. Everybody loved the concept: a human metaphor for the car with a smiley face. It wasn't just a car, it was your happy, scrappy little friend!

    I haven't seen a Neon TV ad here for nearly a year! Apparently, Chrysler figures the new ones sell themselves...

    Does anyone know what changes Chrysler is making for the 2002 model year other than the 4-spd auto yet? I have this awful feeling they're going to swap the standard ES 5-spoke wheelcovers with an uglier design to provide an incentive for purchasing the alloys. On that note, does anyone else here find the standard ES wheelcovers better LOOKING than the upgraded ones (I realize the alloys are larger and provide slightly better grip)?

    Also, does anyone know yet if the cinnamon color is going to hang on for the 2002 year? I fear the introduction of the new almond color means the cinnamon goes down in the history books.

    Later!
  • vocusvocus Posts: 7,777
    On the ES model, the wheels are not any differently sized whether they are alloy or wheel covers.

    My ex-roommate (he moved out Saturday, so no more Neon) has a 2000 Neon with the alloy wheels. I told him he should have gotten the car with the 4-disc in-dash CD changer rather than the wheels, because the money would have been better spent. :)
  • 71charger71charger Posts: 116
    While I was sitting in the Neon bored out of my skull today waiting for a tow truck to come fetch my wife's Jeep which had died on an interstate off ramp I started actually looking at the paperwork in the glovebox. I've only had the car a year and a half, don't want to rush into reading the owners manual. I couldn't believe I'd bought a $375 CD player. What was I on? The wheels, at $355, were a bargain by comparison. Especially since they're about $1200 a set over the parts counter. I'm sure you could find a quality CD for a whole lot less but your not going to find a better bargain on some really sharp alloy wheels. Especially when you consider that you're getting them mounted and balanced. Now if they'd only teach the guys at the factory what the little dot on the side of the tire is for, maybe they'd get it in the right place once.
  • buoyantbuoyant Posts: 128
    I think the in-dash 4 disc player is money well spent too. The single slot CD players are a pain in the butt unless you like listening to one CD over and over again (otherwise it seems like you're constantly loading the thing). Plus, if you order the single slot on the Neon, you forgo the cassette player. And that makes it impossible to listen to movies in the car during long trips. Surely I can't be the only one who dubs videos onto cassette tapes and "watches" them while driving...

    You might - MIGHT - be able to get a better deal on an aftermarket changer, but it isn't going to fit in that little hole in the dash like the factory unit does. And the only thing more annoying than constantly changing CD's into and out of the head unit is popping the trunk and shuffling handfuls of jewel cases while standing behind the car.

    The factory disc changer and the power funroof are must-have options IMO. I don't see the need for aluminum wheels unless you find them more attractive than the wheelcovers on the steel wheels. The other option that doesn't turn my crank is the leather seating.

    It amazes me how many people order leather for car interiors nowadays (they aren't living rooms you know). I do think it looks better than cloth when the vehicle is NEW, but it invariably cracks and gets that shiny look after it soaks up enough UV radiation and butt sweat. And few things in life are more unpleasant than sitting on ice-cold leather on a dark winter mornings. Give me velour any day of the week.
  • buoyantbuoyant Posts: 128
    Hasn't anyone's 95 Neon exploded lately?

    This board is so silent it's eerie.

    Anyone see a 2002 Neon in the flesh yet? I want to know what's changing.
  • Scrolling through your posts has been very helpful, but I have a couple of questions to bother you all with, if you'll allow. I'm looking to buy a smaller used car in the $4,000 to $5,000 range for basic short commuting and weekend trips up and down the east coast. Reliability is obviously a primary factor in the decision. I would love to get a Honda Civic (who wouldn't) but those things hold their value like gold bars. So, I've been looking closely at Neons and Saturns mostly, leaning heavily toward the Neon. I've noticed in many peoples' ads that they have replaced the head gasket on their 95s and 96s and new car reviews complain about wind noise. The noise isn't a major concern, but obviously I'd like to avoid sinking a large sum of money into major repairs. So would I be better off buying a 97 Neon with higher miles (120,000+) or a 95 or 96 with, say, 60,000 to 75,000 and pray the head gasket doesn't blow? Also, are their any other major problems that seem to be chronic and should I take a closer look at other makes and models (outside of Kia)? I'm sorry if this is redundnant. Thanks a lot for listening.
  • buoyantbuoyant Posts: 128
    I'm not sure where you're from, but around the Minneapolis-St.Paul metro, you can find '97 and '98 Neons with around 50k on the odometer for $6000. I think this is probably because there are a large no. of dealers in the area now selling '00 and '01 rental returns for $9995 (hey, it's tough to sell the older ones for the same price as the newer ones).

    In fact, I looked at a green '98 Neon with 42k miles at a large Nissan dealer this past winter. The dealer was asking $6,900 and it was in perfect shape and it had all the options including the factory power sunroof.

    You'll be doing yourself a favor if you avoid the '95 and '96 model year. The newer, the better.

    Unless you are from a rural area with very limited dealer competition, you should be able to latch on to a '97 or '98 Neon (perhaps even a '99) for $6000 with a little negotiation. Don't forget to negotiate! Dealer markups on used car trade-ins are unbelievably high - much higher than that on brand new cars (on which consumers can make direct comparisons between identical cars between dealerships and the actual price the dealer paid is relatively easy to figure out). Domestic cars are usually easier to negotiate on than imports as well.

    My first and second car purchases (both used) were for $2200 and $2400 under initial asking prices respectively. I still think the dealer had more room to give on the second one (it was advertised at $6595 and I paid $4200), but I wanted the car REALLY bad. Interestingly, I was also looking at a used Honda Accord at that same time, but the dealer selling it (a Toyota dealer) told me they weren't going to be negotiating on "that" car. They said if I didn't buy it for their asking price, someone else would. I said, "bye, bye!"

    Looking back, I'm quite glad I didn't buy the Honda. It had above average miles and appeared to been owned by an idiot who knew little about regular maintenance (you know, those Hondas just need "gas and oil" or so the myth goes). Even if I never had to stick another dollar into it (highly unlikely from its condition though), I still would've paid too much.
  • Thanks, buoyant. I live and work in Washington DC, but I'm going home to St. Paul for labor day weekend and I'll definitely check out the selection in the Twin Cities area. Any specific dealerships to check out/avoid? It seems like it may be worth it to suck it up and squeeze every penny out of my pocket and go with the newer model. Thanks again.
  • jaserbjaserb Posts: 858
    zapatista - I drive a '99 Neon Sport with 5 spd and I love it. One word of advice though, if you're looking at buying one - avoid the sunroof. Even the service guys at my dealership said it was a bad design (the third time I brought it in to be fixed!).

    -Jason
  • You need not offer your advice in response to my questions. Having gone through many of the earlier posts, I think it's unfortunate that you ran off genuinely helpful Neon owners who actually had valid input into this message board. Since you don't even own one, will you (finally) be leaving now that your friend's Neon is out of the garage? I dont' know if you work for Mazda or what, but it would have been easy to look at your same complaints repeated 50 times and get a distorted picture of the reliability of these cars. Luckily, I went through about 300 posts and while my eyeballs now feel like they're going to shrivel up and fall out of my head, I've come to the conclusion that Neons have problems like every other car, but they seem to be adequately reliable and fun to drive for what my needs are; save the occasional lemon, as with all vehicles. The only question now is whether a 98 is worth a montlhy payment or do I just plunk down $4,500 for a 95 or 96 and deal with the faulty head gasket, leaky trunk, pealing paint, AC and clunking wheel problems. Because of the advice from people who really are looking to help others in here, all of those seem relatively easy to take care of, and if DC is really willing to replace the gasket for a cost of about $100 out of my pocket, I may take my chances because christ knows I don't need another payment. We'll see. I do know, however, that I won't be buying a Protege. I just didn't want you to waste your time.
  • Thanks, man. I'll definitely avoid the sun roof and the automatic transmission.
  • buoyantbuoyant Posts: 128
    Fantastic! A fellow Minnesotan on the Neon board (and a fellow 20 something by the sound of it).


    There isn't any particular dealer I avoid in the metro (with the possible exception of Richfield-Bloomington Honda). I have noticed that the salesmen tend to be rather agressive at the Walser dealerships however. Be prepared to hear the phrase "what can I do to get you to buy this car today" six or seven hundred times if you stop at one of them. I usually just reply, "Boy, I don't know. What CAN you do to get me to buy this car today?" I've also found that telling them I'm seriously looking at a practically identical car across town for an asking price $2000 less always puts them in a friendlier mood (dealers are terrified if you leave their lot without buying - particularly if they think you're headed to a different dealer across town - as few customers ever return).


    If you're looking for old Neons, Burnsville VW (Cliff Lake Road and 35W) is probably the best place around. They have a younger clientele and deal in huge volumes, so they tend to get a lot of Neons in on trade. As an added plus, they have a rather small sales lot (the cars are pretty much stacked on top of each other) and seem to be willing to do anything to make more space for more used VW's. If you go down to Burnsville though, also check out the Honda dealer by Buck Hill. I've looked at a few Neons there. A friend of mine bought his Saturn there and got a really good deal.


    You might also try doing dealer searches on these websites:


    http://www.getauto.com


    http://www.carsoup.com


    Most of the area dealerships list cars on one or both of these websites. A caveat though: the prices on these sites are dealer “dream prices.” I don’t know the demographics of those that shop for cars via the internet, but apparently the dealers have pinned the internet shoppers as rich and completely naïve when it comes to car shopping. When shopping for my last car, I found a number of cars in the paper ads listed on the dealers’ websites as well. The price listed on the website was invariably higher – in fact I found one car (yes, the same car!) listed in a Star Tribune ad for $4995 while the dealer’s website showed $7995. And since it was listed at $4995, I’d be willing to bet there was still wiggle room.


    When I was a sophomore in college, myself and a friend used to go around test-driving cars for fun on the weekends. It was probably the cheapest entertainment around (and how many other punks can say they've blasted down I394 at 100mph in a Jaguar XJ12?). Actually, I got so comfortable dealing with car salesmen I actually started enjoying the whole "negotiation game". I recall one occasion at Wally McCarthy's where a saleman actually followed my friend and I off the lot shouting, "how 'bout $3200?!?! how 'bout $3000?!?!" We spent the ride back to his place shouting lower prices at each other in $200 increments.

    Man, if I was actually serious about buying that Cutlass Supreme, I could've gotten it for a song...


    If you have the time, try to enjoy the shopping experience. Drinking dealership coffee and driving the hell out of someone else's vehicles is never a bad way to spend an afternoon.

  • 71charger71charger Posts: 116
    I was looking through the 4adodge website and checked out the Neon accessories. DC offers aftermarket aluminum 15 inch rims for the Neon with lug nuts included for $167 each, list price. To me they look similar to the 16 inchers on the new R/Ts. The regular production rims are somewhere in the neighborhood of $900 a set, dealer cost. If you didn't get the aluminum rims when you bought yours, wish you had, but don't want to spend $1200 bucks on what had been a $355 option this could be the way to go.
  • Once again, you're a wealth of information.

    I am indeed a 20something from MN. My parents live in Apple Valley, so I'll definitely head over to Burnsville VW and the Honda dealership by Buck over Labor Day weekend. After reading all of these posts, I'm definitely getting a Neon and I'm pretty stoked about finally looking at actual cars instead of just newspaper and online listings (when the student loan refund comes in a couple of weeks--God love grad school). I'm going to see if I can get into a 97 on my budget. If not, I'll probably settle on a 95 or 96 Sport. I'm still debating whether it's better to buy one out here and have to switch the title and registration to MN or buy one at home and drive it back out to DC. There's probably less of a chance for signigicant body rust out here, but I'm much more comfortable looking at home. Also, I'm trying to sort out the merits and pitfalls of buying from a dealer versus a private individual. So many questions, I know. I just don't want to get screwed as I'm not quite the shrewed negotiator you've fashioned youself into. A philosophical quest for Justice and Fairness leaves me vulnerable in the used car universe. At least now I know the questions to ask and how much is too much for what I'm looking at.

    Thanks again.
    -jeremy
  • majorthomechomajorthomecho Posts: 1,331
    The salesman asking "what can I do to get you to buy today" is not an exclusive Dodge dealer question. I test drove a number of cars before settling on my Echo and I heard that question at virtually every dealership. Even at a couple of Toyota dealerships except for the dealership where I bought my car. Which is one reason I chose that dealership.

    Zap, I would suggest you go for a newer, used Neon without the head gasket problems rather than buy an older '95 or '96. Even if you end up with a car payment. I agree that you should get a manual instead of an automatic. Perhaps the traffic in Washington DC means an automatic makes more sense, but a manual is much more fun. Also, I have not heard good things about the three speed automatic in the Neon.

    Speaking of Washington DC, do you know where Chandra Levy is? ; )

    Seriously though, enjoy your car. It doesn't matter if a car (any car) is not the most reliable or the safest or the most economical. What matters in the end is that it pushes your buttons, meets your needs, and you enjoy owning it.
  • when i first got out here, it was the Monica jokes. now, it's Chandra Levy. i honestly don't know why pols can't just keep it in their pants. a little self-respect...

    anyway--ok, i'm going to look at a a 99 Highline this week. it's a 5 speed with quite a few features-ac, cruise, power breaks, no power steering or locks. it's at a Jeep dealership for $6,900 with 55,000 miles on it. so if i can get it for $6,000 or so i could put 5k down and make payments of about $100 per month for 1 year. so the questions are-- why does a 99 have 55,000 miles on it? do they have to tell me if it's a rental return, because i don't want one of those? should this alarm me?
    sorry for being a baby. i just want to get the right one. thanks.
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