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1997 Dodge Neon Head Gasket

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Comments

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,041
    Good point...I remember way back when Mazda replaced defective rotary engines by the boatload...I can still recall seeing a brand new engine going into some old, rustbucket of a Mazda, and the factory was picking up the tab. With most American automakers, it seems like you have to relive the last scene from Frankenstein, storming the castle with pitchforks and blazing torches.

    If I were GM et al, I'd boost the warranty up to some decent mileage, and say "Look, up to 75,000 miles we cover the drivetrain, after that you're on your own"....I'll pay for a head gasket or transmission at 100K, I feel that's fair, that's a lot of miles, but not at 37K miles!.

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  • I also have a 1996 Plymouth Neon. The head gasket blew just within the warranty period at close to 30,000 miles, the transmission went at 70,000 miles,(out of pocket expense) the gas gauge stopped working at 80,000 miles, and now the head gasket has blown for the second time at 105,000 miles. I totally agree that the Neon is a peice of ****!! Never again will I buy a Neon.
  • alcanalcan Posts: 2,550
    An article in Automotive News about 9 months ago discussed new car warranty coverage, the thrust of which was that all the domestic and most import carmakers wanted to reduce their warranty period because of the billions of dollars it costs them, but nobody wants to be first for fear of losing market share. I'd suggest that increasing warranty periods stems from one of two rationales. One: a sales tool to attempt to capture more market share. Two: an excuse for the quality of the vehicle (such as Hyundai 10 year powertrain warranty).
  • Boy, and I thought I was the only one out there who hated every day getting into my 1996 neon to go to work. I had the full set of gauges go out around 40K and had a dealership tell me it was because of my battery. What the.... then there is this oil leak that I have taken to 3 different shops and paid out around $1000 to have fixed, with no results still. Is anyone else having a problem with their blinker switch? Mine won't stay left-I have to hold it down. A bright and shining moment came into my life when I hydroplaned last week and ripped the suspension out on the curb at 50 mph. Now, if only the insurance company will total it, I will know that God is smiling on me.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,041
    Yeah, Alcan, maybe you're right....certainly the warranty "craze" started so that people would switch makes, and it worked pretty well for some automakers.

    It's the kind of thing you can argue both ways...with some cars, it wouldn't matter if it had a 150,000 mile warranty---if it broke every few months, the owner still wouldn't be happy, would he? On the other hand, a Honda has...what...36 months?...and you don't see Honda owners moaning and groaning too much.

    Someday "certain" carmakers will understand the magic priniciple:

    It cost just as much to engineer and assemble a car badly as it does to do it well.

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  • enetheneth Posts: 285
    It also helps for an automaker to be proactive - automakers have access to huge databases that point to faulty parts and their failure modes. No one can convince me that Chrysler doesn't know about its failure-prone 4-speed automatics, or that Ford didn't know about faulty head gaskets in the 3.8L V6 engines. They know - just like Toyota knew about the faulty head gaskets in the 3L V6 engines in the trucks, and Subaru knows about the faulty alternators in the 96-98 SIA-built Legacy and Outbacks. The difference is that Toyota and Subaru stepped forward and took a pro-active stance - while Ford and Chrysler sat back and let the customer twist in the wind.

    Somewhere I've seen it said that one customer with a bad experience will result in 22 or more lost sales from other customers. For all their Harvard and Wharton-trained MBAs, the domestic automakers sure miss the boat a lot on prudent business practices.
  • alcanalcan Posts: 2,550
    I can't argue with that. Years ago when the issue of defective rack and pinions came up, a GM engineer told me that their corporate bean counters had determined it was more cost effective for them to simply replace the assemblies under warranty than to shut down a production line and re-tool it to correct the valve housing wear problem.

    It's become a major industry for aftermarket reman companies such as Moog, TRW, etc.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,041
    I think we're doomed if this type of thinking goes on. The Japanese and Europeans will crush us. We'll need protective tariffs just to keep our own automakers in business. Gee, did you read about the guy on these boards who bought a Mercedes SLK? Well, the engine blew, so they replaced it for him, and that one didn't run quite right, so they gave him a new SLK and charged him .21 cents a mile for the few thousand miles he drove on the old car.

    Will a Dodge dealer do this on instruction from the factory without legal intervention? Hmmm....I wonder....

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  • tason67tason67 Posts: 36
    these boards are litered with my tale of woe regarding THREE head gasket repairs on my 1996 Stratus, bought new (2.4 engine). I think customers understand that breakdowns and failures happen. But the lack of customer service when it does is what turns you off. You shouldn't have to spend 70K on a car to get decent customer service. Don't Chrysler et al understand that no matter how good a car looks, if it doesn't run well and there is no service in customer service, that we can and will shop elsewhere? I for one am through with Chrysler and I am an employee! Just yesterday I was put on an important job that I had never done before, given five minutes of training, and left to get it done. The poor woman working next to me had no less than three different sets of bolts to tourque, put on the flywheel for the timing belt and a bracket for a sensor and then tourqu those as well. And that line was moving so fast, I didn't even have time to get a sip of water I had next to me. With people overloaded like that, it's no wonder there are quality issues. It's not the american worker; it's the American manager. Okay, I'm off my soapbox :)
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,041
    Oh, yeah, assembly line work can be very difficult. My hat's off to you for that!

    What you say is very true...quality issues are management issues as much as engineering, materials, etc. Look at how well some Japanese-American car building ventures have turned out.

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  • cwopetecwopete Posts: 22
    Yup, traded her in, just couldn't live in fear anymore. I woke up the other night in a cold sweat, had a nightmare that the Neon caught fire while I was driving. The following morning I was on the NHTSA website looking at recalls and consumer defect investigations and low and behold, there's an ongoing investigation for 1996 Neon SOHC underhood fires.

    Sure, I enjoyed the Neon while I had it, fun car to drive, etc, but she was starting to go south anyway, burning oil, making funnier noises than usual, I was just waiting for the MLS headgasket to let go (or the timing belt, tranny, electrical system, motor mounts, whatever, they're all suspect to crap out sooner than later).
  • Yes, As sad as it sounds I absolutely hate American cars. Because of the "BUY AMERICAN" campaign from a few years back I decided to give Chrysler a chance. I bought a 1995 sport Dodge Neon with 30k miles. As soon as I reached 40k my "CHECK ENGINE LIGHT" came on and my car started leaking oil like crazy. I took my car to the shop and and $750 later I was driving it again. They replaced the head gasket and oxygen sensor. Because I had read the bad reviews on the internet I knew that this was a reocurring problem. Well what do you know, 10k miles later the "LIGHT OF DEATH" came back on again and 40k later I was leaving oil puddles under my hood everywhere I went. Since the firt time I have visited different shops on 4 occasions. 1 for the gasket and 3 for the "CHECK ENGING LIHGT". Finally I gave up, my car is no longer leaking oil becuase I just replaced my gasket for a second time but I try to ignore the "CHECK ENGINE LIGHTS". Following is a list of problems I currently have with my 80K mile car: Check engine light is on at all times, My windows sound like I'm driving a 747 Boeing jet, paint is peeling all over the car, weird noise under the steering column everytime I make a turn. Intermittent electrical problems with my blinkers and turn signals and low gas mileage. DODGE SCREWED ME AND THOUSAND OTHER CONSUMERS. AND THE WORST THING IS THAT THEY ARE VERY AWARE OF THE PROBLEM. I SAY NO MORE AMERICAN CARS FOR ME... ESPECIALLY DODGE, CHRYSLER OR ANY OTHER RELATED LINE. I GIVE DODGE TOW THUMBS DOWN, ON A SCALE FROM 1 TO 10 I GIVE THEM A 0. I HAVE RECOMMENDED EVERY SINGLE PERSON IN MY FAMILY NEVER TO BUY THEIR PRODUCTS AGAIN. AND THEY NEVER HAD.
  • buoyantbuoyant Posts: 128
    My undergraduate degree is in marketing and the mantra in the field is "a dissatisfied customer tells 8 people of their experience, whereas a satisfied customer tells one."

    I have trouble believing the 1:22 ratio:

    [Somewhere I've seen it said that one customer with a bad experience will result in 22 or more lost sales from other customers]

    That ratio is extremely high even in the high school education or less demographic. Typically, consumers with higher incomes/education levels will use word-of-mouth (WOM) in the initial stage of a purchasing decision but the critical factor(s) will probably be their own research. Marketing research has shown that those using WOM as a critical purchasing factor tend to be the less educated. Even in that group though, 1 in 10 or 12 is probably a more accurate ratio.

    On a different note, I can completely understand why someone who purchased one of those 95-97 Neons would be - pardon the french - pissed at Chrysler, but let's not forget how fast Chrysler rushed that puppy from inception to production (less than two years). STILL...standing on a soapbox and essentially proclaiming that anyone seriously contemplating purchasing a 2001 Neon is a dolt is in poor taste. Hey pot, this is kettle. You're black.

    I hate to be rude, but I hear violins playing in my head when I read some of these posts. With only a little research (hell, even cheap cars still cost quite a bit of money in the picture of things), any 95/96 Neon buyer should've been WELL aware they were going to be guinea pigs for a completely new automobile design (new engine, new tranny, new chassis...NEW EVERYTHING). Virtually nothing on the 94-95 Neon was carried over from the generally quite reliable and plenty unattractive Acclaim/Spirit twins. Now these same VOLUNTEER test subjects want everyone to join in their crusade against Chrysler? I can't help but to wish Kias on these people. They truly deserve it.

    On the same note, I just heard someone the other day b******* about the problems he already had with his '00 Focus and I asked him point blank, "Just exactly what part of your pre-purchase research on the vehicle led you to believe that the car would be problem-free?" Yes, I was a jerk. But in my defense, this guy is an idiot.

    When you buy an American car here in its first production year, you ARE going to be a guinea pig. The more new parts it possesses, the greater your odds of having trouble. This is common knowledge, folks.

    When you buy a "new" Japanese design the first year out of the chute here, at least you can usually rest assured that the Japanese consumers themselves have done the beta testing.

    On a different subject, I agree that Subaru makes some fantastic vehicles nowadays - if you can handle the exterior appearances (that new Impreza got beaten senseless with the ugly stick and I think most unbiased people would have to agree that the Forester does somewhat resemble an AMC Pacer on steriods). But, if you did a little checking around (you have to look hard, not a lot of people bought Subies ten years ago) to find some people who purchased the Subaru "timing-chain eater" Loyale ~1990, you would also probably find at least a couple really belligerent "I'll never buy one of those damn Subarus again" types in the group.

    I think it's a very good thing that these boards exist so that people can share their experiences and opinions about different vehicles. I think it's important that none of us forget, however, that these boards are not accurate representations of true consumer sentiment.

    The people who take the time to post here generally fit into one of two categories: (1)those seeking vengeance against companies that sold them lemons and (2) those trying to justify their own purchase decisions and biases (we call this psychological phenomenon "cognitive dissonance" in marketing). Most of us possess some type of bias (I, for example, hate sport utility or "suburban assault" vehicles with a PASSION). Let's just keep in mind that our opinions are just that - opinions.

    Before I go, I apologize for the length of this diatribe. Just consider yourself lucky that you didn't have to read any of my research papers in college :)!

    Happy motoring all!
  • enetheneth Posts: 285
    No one is disputing that all carmarkers have produced problematic models.

    A few corrections:

    Subarus use almost exclusively timing belts, not chains. Shorter-lived belts were more the rule than the exception ten or fifteen years ago; Honda had problems, but so did a lot of other makers - and Chrysler's first 2.2L engines snapped belts with monotonous regularity as well.

    The Neon was not an all new design by any measure. The transmission dates back to the Omni and Horizon of the 1970s - it has a generally good reputation for engineering, if not quality control. The Neon was designed to make a profit for Chrysler in selling U.S.-designed and North American-built small cars - something Chrysler had never attempted before (the Omni-Horizon were SIMCA-Rootes European designs, like the Cricket before them; the Shadow and Sundance were simply cut-down K-cars, not true small models). Chrysler cut every corner it could to keep the price down, and the Neon that resulted was unsatisfactory to most people.

    It used to be true that the Japanese automakers held back worldwide releases until after home market debugging - that hasn't been the case for many models in years. And while no automaker is immune to design defects and manufacturing defects, you don't see the same level of problems with a newly minted Corolla or Civic that you do with a newly minted Neon model.

    The newer Neons are what the originals should have been - no doubt. They're also priced quite a bit higher than the originals, and I would suspect they don't make much, if any money for DaimlerChrysler.
  • mlee2kmlee2k Posts: 1
    My 95 Neon Sport had head gasket failure years ago, but not long after my standard warranty expired. Just my luck.
    Has anybody who had head gasket work done after warranty been able to get any money back from Chrysler? What is the procedure?
    Also, I saw only one mention on this forum about a potential class action law suit. If it exists, does anybody have details?
    Thank you.
  • enetheneth Posts: 285
    You can try, but it's generally best to seek reimbursement up front, or soon after the repair is done.

    Class-action lawsuits are meaningless to the individual consumer - they invariably result in miniscule payouts to member of the class (and big-league ones to the attorneys who represent the class).
  • prolixprolix Posts: 1
    I had this problem on my 97 a few months ago, at around 75,000 miles(in other words, well after warranty). Dealer replaced it for $100 and acknowledged that it was a fairly routine problem. Just make sure you take the problem to a reputable dealer and let them know you are aware of this.
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