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1997 Dodge Neon Head Gasket



  • Vital stats: 98 Neon; 2.0L SOHC engine; 57,000mi; obviously out of warranty

    Problem: You know it, you love it: a leaking head gasket (HG)

    The Adventure: Chapter 1

    After reading up on all the particulars from successful(check out "stevarino"'s post #54 here on this board)/unsuccessful folks here and elsewhere at such great sites as, etc., I have decided to take the leap and try and prod (gently at first, with a harpoon if necessary) DaimlerChrysler (DC) into covering the repair and, with any luck, extending the warranty out to 7yrs/100kmi (this is goal #2 and will not supersede goal #1).

    In the hopes that my experience might be of service to someone else with this common problem, here it is as it happens...

    First, I had an independent mechanic check it out and confirm the HG was leaking (this was free). For oodles of reasons not important here, it was decided that I should try the dealership.

    Before calling the dealership I called DC's 800 number (1-800-922-1997 for those who need it) and created a customer service ticket (CST) via an explanation of the HG problem. As expected, the representative on the other end gave no indication that DC would actually cover the repair cost or extend the warranty or give me any good faith guarantee but would send (email, apparently) the information I gave him directly to my dealer of choice (a local 5-star that we've had the car in to before for other warranty work and which did a good and fast job - FWIW: we had the whole manual tranny replaced @ 35,000mi, gratis and in a half a day no less). So, I jot down the DC ticket number and ask about the particulars of the process. DC says that the dealer should diagnose the problem and then potentially make a decision on the spot or refer it up the line to the regional potentate (ahem).

    Armed with my CST# and a little info (download the TSB at the following website: - it really makes for interesting reading for insomniacs...) I give the dealership a call. I start off with the obligatory "you guys were so great when we had the car in before..." schpiel and presented the problem. Because I really want to keep everything above the board, I also mention the fact that I had spoken with DC. She doesn't let on that the HG leak is a major problem but does want the CST# and pleasantly schedules us in for the first thing Tuesday morning (01/02/01) for the diagnosis.

    I'll post the results of the dealership inspection/conversation/resolution? Tuesday afternoon....
  • asprnasprn Posts: 1
    Having read all the entries posted, I can relate to most of them but the head gasket in particular. I am NOW headed for the 4th head gasket in 5 years. Maybe time has come for some more responsible action on the part of the dealership?? perhaps a voluntary recall?? I sick of wondering WHEN I will find my next ill oil slick! I am also rather tired of the rude demeanor of my local dealerships . I will NEVER purchase another chrysler product so long as I may live! Perhaps a wee class action suit on behalf of all of us repeat head gasket sufferers??? :-) maybe even begin the DC HI Support Group... pats on the back and here's your complimentary box of oil... you'll need it. On the flip side, I have enjoyed my neon. It is a joy to drive and a cute little car! Too bad the people backing it are difficult to deal with and the engine leaves a great deal to be desired.
  • Well folks it's not over yet. Anyone who has a 1998 Neon 2.0 DOHC get ready. It will happen without a doubt. The dealer did not give me any argument "..being that it is so close to warranty and since we want your experience with us to be positive...blah, blah, blah", but it took 4 days for them to repair the car only to have it start leaking again a week later. Probably the shop engineer (a.k.a underpaid, barely high school graduated grease monkey) forgot to clean and prep and did a not uncommon "slip-n-slide". Other than the head gasket, the brakes at 15k and the sunroof mechanism replaced twice at 28k and 30k, I ???love??? the car...Thank goodness my lease is up in a month and I get to give it back...
  • Chapter 2: Into The Shop With Ye

    Before the new year I posted (#82) about my currently unfolding experience with the, "Aw @#!%&!, my head gasket is leaking, I'm beyond the warranty period, and now I have to go fight DaimlerChrysler to get the darned thing fixed..." saga that all '95-'98 Neon owners will probably go through at some point. Here is the continuation of my experience...

    We pick up our story at the dealership early this morning (7AM) for Neon's diagnosis appointment. Drop it off, they'll call me at work. About 3 hours later I get a call from the service manager and he says sure 'nuff, it's the head gasket (what a surprise, eh?) and that they called DC and referenced my CST# (having this *already* set up with DC is key, IMO, to getting a quick resolution). The service manager (Tony - really nice guy, btw) says that DC wants me to pay the first $100 and that DC will then pick up the rest of the tab. At this point, the thought did cross my mind that I should press for totally free, but then I caved, "That'll be just fine," I says. I also ask if they will be installing the "new" MLS gasket instead of the old one and I was assured they will be doing just that. I should state that the dealership that I took this to is a 5star (though the last award was in '94 - guess they get to call themselves that forever) service dept. that has seen this car once before for warranty work. I did not, however, buy the car from this dealership so their handling of the situation, when a future new car sale isn't directly at stake, is commendable, IMO.

    So, what originally looked like a $600+ repair is now going to cost $100. Did I get it completely free plus an extension on my warranty? In a word, no. Did I have to fight and rail against the machine getting nasty with everyone in the service department and at DC? Absolutely not - everyone has been cordial and pleasant (but I might add no one, esp. the DC rep on the phone, was very forthcoming with information like 'oh yeah - that's a common problem' - never heard that once). Am I happy that DC is going to pony up the lion's share of the cost? You betcha.

    Now we'll see if the gasket will leak again any time soon. If so, there will be an epilogue forthcoming. 'Til then, good luck on your head gasket repair!
  • I have a 97 Neon SOHC with 47,000 miles. About two years ago the head gasket was replaced under warranty. I recently changed the spark plugs and they all had oil on them. Now my oil light is coming on. The dipstick shows the oil level is right above the minimum. Could this be another problem or is it the head gasket again?
  • enetheneth Posts: 285
    Hopefully, it is just the gasket again - but don't let it go. Have the car checked by a mechanic.

    As I recall, it took DaimlerChrysler a while to fix the problem - if your car was repaired with the original gasket, it may simply have failed again (hopefully it will be just that).
  • alcanalcan Posts: 2,550
    Is the oil on the firing tips or on the porcelain? If on the tips, oil's finding it's way into the cylinders. If on the porcelain, it's probably leaking down from the cam cover.
  • The oil was on the tips of the spark plugs.
  • I posted a message about a week or so ago, when my car was still in the shop for a new fuel injector. I was at a friend`s house, had not had the car back for more than 2 days, and guess what? I got in it to leave and the son of a gun would not start. It was very cold outside, and that was the same symptom the car had when the fuel injector was bad. When I was driving to my friend`s house earlier that day, it seemed sluggish and I wondered if the throttle was stuck or something. Needless to say, I ended up having it towed to the mechanic. I am getting really sick of this, not to mention broke from having to pay the repair bills. I still haven`t found out what`s wrong yet.
  • I have already posted a message regarding my Breeze on a prior site, now noticed I fit into this site also.

    My 1996 Breeze just had a $1357 repair bill at the Chrysler dealer yesterday. The head gasket replacement accounted for $730 of that bill. Our 1997 Neon was just in at 28,000 for it's head gasket replacement.

    Not only are we afraid this will be an on-going problem with both of these vehicles, the Chrysler regional representative is refusing to cover any cost of the Breeze repair.

    He stated that only 2.0 liter repairs are being covered. There is a 2.4 liter in our car. Looking over all the complaints posted on these sites, I can't believe we're the only ones to have a problem with the 2.4.

    We want to be persistent in our claim with Chrysler. Any suggestions on our next step? Should we "tough it out" hoping for no future head gasket problems or go keeper into debt buying two different on-Chrysler products?

  • enetheneth Posts: 285
    Check with - both the 2.0 and 2.4L DaimlerChrysler 4-cylinders have had significant problems with head gaskets (they're similarly designed engines). DaimlerChrysler should cover the problems with the 2.4L engine as well.
  • Thanks for the help eneth.

    We looked at the site and found the TSB service bulletin regarding the replacement of headgaskets on both 2.0 L and 2.4 L engines.

    Hopefully we can settle with Chrysler over the phone...but according to past consumers, threats of small claims court is the only way to receive any compensation from Chrysler.

    We have also e-mailed to the local dealer we purchased both our Plymouths from. Maybe the thought of alot of bad publicity will force some type of action on their part.

    We can only hope!!
  • Dear fellow neon owners, we are in the preliminary stages of initiating a class action lawsuit and are searching for potential plaintiffs. If interested, please email me and include the following details: year of your neon(s), mileage when the headgasket failed, cost of repairs, name, address, phone number, and any associated expenses you incurred. If you do not feel comfortable releasing your personal info, please email anyway and the attorneys can contact you via email directly. Thank you! Aimee
  • I noticed my 1997 Dodge neon has been leaking oil.I brought it to a dealership yesterday and they said it was the head gasket and they would fix it for $750.I was shocked.Then i told them i wanted to get a second opinion and they said fine but charged me $65 dollars for an hours labor on diagnosing the problem.Then i logged on to and seen this problem is commonplace.I am so mad.I need help holding my composure.I need this to be fixed for free.
    Does anyone know the number i call at chrysler?please reply...all help will be appreciated
    Thanks bryan
    p.s my car has 48000 miles on it
  • The phone # for Chrysler is 1-800-922-1997. Post # 82 on this site details their encounter with Chrysler.
  • I just realized that I didn't include my email address for interested parties. I assumed there would be a way to email me directly from the post. Thank-you.
  • cwopetecwopete Posts: 22
    For those of you (like me) who were wondering if the used Neon you bought has the new MLS headgasket, checkout this link It shows the MLS headgasket, which has a series of rivets to hold the gasket together. If your engine is clean and you can see the aluminum head to iron engine block junction underneath the intake manifold, you can plainly see the rivets on the gasket on either side of the engine. One is visible to the right and below the radiator cap, the other can be viewed if you remove the air cleaner snorkel. I tell you, I was mighty releived to see that someone had already fixed this problem before I purchased the Neon.
  • I just found out today that the massive oil hemorrage from my 1998 2.0 engine (49,000 miles) was indeed a blown head gasket...I'm getting it towed to a dealership tomorrow and getting it repaired. I mentioned that I knew about the Chrysler deductible program, and then the service guy knew all about it. So, hopefully by the end of the week it should be good as new. I would like to thank everyone on this board for the information...without it I might have ended up paying an arm and a leg when I didn't need to...By the way, has anyone had luck getting the $100 deductible back? I'm planning a massive campaign to do just that.
  • Great website!
    My 5-speed SOHC 1995 Neon sports sedan recently had it's second headgasket (HG) replacement at 98,000 miles almost 2 years to the day and 30,000 following the first HG replacement. DaimlerChrysler (DC) paid for the labor the first time around while I paid for parts. I was socked for a $435 labor cost for the second replacement. The Dealer covered the cost of the part which amounted to $220.

    My question is whether the first HG replacement in December of 1998 used the new multi-layer steel (MLS) HG. The part #s are:
    09353010 GASKET, CYLINDER Head-Replace (B)
    5014132AA GSKT PKG-UPPER

    There is a tremendous difference in DC customer service between December 1998 and December 2000. In 1998, customer service was prompt, courteous, and they kept me on the phone until the situation was resolved. Flash forward to the new DC which requires you to navigate a voice mail menu which asks you 4-5 times about whether you really want to talk to a customer service representative (i.e., a real person). Add a 5-minute wait before your call is answered. I was told during my first call that if I wasn't satisfied with the Dealer defraying the cost of the HG that my only recourse was to speak with the District manager, who may or may not talk to me. I felt like a captive in Stalag 13. In addition, the customer service rep said that this offer was very generous on the part of DC, and I should be grateful. Three weeks later I called the dealership that serviced my car, and was told the the district manager has not checked in yet, but that I was on the top of the list. I called DC again, and after navigating the voice mail harassment system was told that the only person I could register my complaint with was the district manager. I told the customer service (clearly a misnomer) representative at DC that this individual is still missing after three weeks, and wasn't there anyone else I could contact. Sergant Schultz... I mean the customer service rep said the only person who could address this matter was the district manager (how do you spell "run-around"). The helpful customer service rep then told me that DC defraying the cost of the part was a goodwill gesture, and that "the customer has to take responsibility at some time". After reading this message board you have to wonder when DC will develop a consistent policy in standing behind their product. The HG issue is a design problem. Neither the dealership nor DC addressed my concern about whether the HG will need to be replaced in 10,000 or so more miles. I didn't know about the redesigned MLS headgaskets either. Does the MLS HG really remedy this problem?

    Please let me know whether the first HG replacement was the older type which was known to be defective, and had been replaced.
  • Basic information: 1998 Neon with 77,000 miles (husband commutes), Neon leaking oil like crazy.

    After reading the helpful information on this page I called my local dealership yesterday to tell them that I thought I had a headgasket problem. I was told by the Service Manager that the District Manager had set a limit of 5 years or 50,000 miles on headgasket replacement. I then called the Customer Service number (which by the way is 1-800-992-1997 NOT 922-1997) and talked to a really nice guy who called my local dealership and set up an appointment to check out my Neon. I got a call a few minutes ago and was told that the District Manager had turned down DC paying for any part of my gasket replacement due to the high mileage.

    I called Customer Service again and was told that my only recourse was to have my file sent to the District Manager's Office. I asked her what good it was going to do to send my file to the same person who had already turned down my case. She said that it was the only thing that could be done. We'll anyone with a brain knows what's going to happen when my file gets there - it's going to be turned down again without anyone ever looking over the information.

    My advice to anyone reading this is - 1) don't commute in your Neon and 2) take your Neon to your dealership TODAY - even if you don't seem to have a problem - have them check the gasket every month until your warrenty runs out. And, if the extended warrenty is under $605 (what I'm about to pay for a replacement gasket job) buy the extended warrenty because your gasket will fail sooner or later and it's better to be under warrenty!!!
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