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Dodge/Plymouth Neon



  • jhan759jhan759 Posts: 24
    I am looking at purchasing a used neon for my son. He really like the RT model, wants a manual transmission. Looking between 96-98. Any comments from members of the group would be great (pos or neg). Thanks!
  • hersbirdhersbird Posts: 323
    The older R/T neon was available only in 98 and 99 and only with a manual transmission. A Sport model would be similar to the R/T but available in automatic or manual. The 95 Sport model was actually the best as far as true "sport" content goes, and was actually really similar to the R/T. The top of the line when it came to sportiness was the "ACR" or "competition package" models available all years to 99 but best in 95-97. It is tough to tell a ACR from a stripped down sport but the best exterior clue is the foglight holes with no fog lights (and not just broken out!) The ACR was a manual only Neon as well. is the largest internet Neon site with more content then you would ever need to know about Neons. The web boards there are not as civilized as edmunds so watch out, but there is lots of other good info on the site.
  • andrelaplumeandrelaplume Posts: 934
    I mentioned up several posts about a headgasket problem that seemed inherent to the early Neons. I had just sold my '95, used, to a neighbor in 1999 with 32K and a month later he had to replace the head gasket for $500. I told him to try to work something out with what was then a Plymouth dealer...he said he would but I recently found out he did not. Just recently (2002) I saw a great deal of info on the internet about premature headgasket failures on early Neons. I posted here for more info but there seemed to be a bit of denial of the problem.

    I contacted Chystler for my older neighbor and with out batting an eye they agreed to to refund $400 of the $475 repair bill under a 'good wiil' program. Since the issue of whether or not his head gasket was repaired with the 'new' re-engineered one or another defective older one was in question I asked what would happen if the current gasket should go in less than 30K miles or so. They told me to call back at that time and perhaps another accomodation would be in order.

    All this tells me:

    1) There was a definite Headgasket problem....likely should have been a recall.

    2 Chrystler seems to be in a pretty magnanimous mood with their customer service these days. I tip my hat to them!
  • hersbirdhersbird Posts: 323
    That is sweet! I've always thought if push ever came to shove Chrysler would always bend over backward for me, but it seems others don't always get the same treatment. Maybe this is just a good example of you get courtesy from courtesy. Chrysler is certainly not afraid to issue recalls (compared to somebody like Toyota) and they issue them at the drop of a hat. They are not trying to hide or protect a reputation like Toyota. The difference being that recalls are almost always needed for safety, and the headgasket problem could not be considered safety under any stretch. They did do this "good will" or extended warranty you encountered, and this is the same thing GM did with the early quad 4 motors and Toyota did with their early 90's v-6's. No reason to tear apart all motors when you can just fix the ones that fail, as long as it's not safety related. Technically they don't even have to offer an extended warranty as when you originally purchased the car you agreed to the terms that were in place, and there was no guarantee that the headgasket would last longer then 3 years or 36,000 miles. I agree Kudos to Chrysler for going above and beyond.
  • stans40stans40 Posts: 16
    I have a 95 neon with 77,000 miles. It has been leaking oil on the ground for several months. An independent mechanic I use looked at it and said it looked like a head gasket problem which he would fix for about $400-$450. I called Chrysler customer service, but the lady said she was aware of the problem and didn't know if Chrysler would pay for the fix. She did say to take it in for diagnosis and she would set up a case number so a district rep could evaluate the claim. Since they will probably charge me $50 to diagnosis the problem, I don't want to then hear sorry, but we can't help you. I would like to know if anyone has recently had Chrysler fix this problem with only a $100 deductible.
  • jrundgrenjrundgren Posts: 2
    My 2000 Neon (which actually rolled out of the factory January '99) had to have the headgasket replaced at 60K, after a serious failure--it dumped all the oil on my 20 mile commute home. Luckily, but the time I figured it out, I was a block from home, and there was no damage to the engine. The repair was covered under my extended warranty. It's interesting to hear this is a common problem...

    My newest problem is the car trying to stall when the air conditioner is on. It's particularly bad in reverse. When the AC is off, the problem seems to go away. It's almost like there isn't a steady intake of oxygen or something is clogging the fuel supply. Any ideas or similar experiences?
  • vocusvocus Posts: 7,777
    It would make it alot easier to diganose the problem if the Check Engine light came on. Even if it only came on briefly or flashed, the computer would "hold" that code and the dealer could find it. If it were the oxygen sensors, the CE light would come on.
  • krzysskrzyss Posts: 845
    are not typical.
    It is well known design/(cheap)execution issue from 95-99. I might be mistaken with ending year.

  • jrundgrenjrundgren Posts: 2
    If the check engine light flashed, I never noticed, but I'm sure they'll run a diagnostic anyway.

    My new problem (as of lunchtime today) is that it WON'T START!!!!! I'm absolutely sure it's not the battery or the alternator (plenty of electricity to peripherals, and no tell-tale "click"). I turn the key as far as it will go and...NOTHING. Maybe an ignition problem? Or a short?

    I'm going to have to have it towed to the dealership. Hopefully the problem is covered under my extended warranty, and the towing will be covered. Any ideas would be helpful... I'll post the results when I find out. $%#$%!!!!!
  • dstauff12dstauff12 Posts: 3
    I took my wife's 99 Dodge Neon to a local shop to have an oil change Thursday and they informed me that the head gasket was leaking. He said that it would cost around $900 to replace, but he said they have seen this on Neon's probably 100 times over the years and that I should contact Chrysler to see it they would help. He said he had heard of them splitting the cost with customers. The car has 57,000 miles and is way past the warranty period. I drove it straight to the dealer that we purchased it from and told them of the leak and that I understood that this was a common problem with Neons. The man at the service department admitted that there have been problems, but that they would only cover it if it occurs in the first 3yr/36,000 period. I then called another dealer and they suggested that I call Chrysler. I called and within seconds I received a "Case #". The man on the 800 line also called the dealer that we bought it from and informed the service department of our case #. He then instructed me to call the service department to schedule an appointment. I had to authorize the service department to "tear it down" at a minimum cost of $250. They said that after they took it apart they would report what they found to Chrysler and then find out what "assistance" if any Chrysler would provide. I was a little leery of this, since it would be after they had it tore down before I would find out if and how much "assistance" they would provide. Well, they called back and said that we only had to pay a $200 co-pay and that Chrysler would cover the rest. We decided to have the timing belt changed while they had it torn apart and this saved us money also. They said the normal charge for a timing belt change was $353 and they are doing it for $190. Of course with a leaky head gasket, we are also having the system flushed. We have to pay for the flush, $129.95. The original service man quoted me $950 and now after a very short phone call I only have to pay $200.
    I apologize for the long message, but wanted to pass this info along to others. I have a friend who works for Chrysler and he did not know to call and he recently paid for the repair in full himself.
    It should never have happened, but at least they helped. Good luck to all with this problem and always remember to buy the extended warranty with a Dodge. I know I will if I ever buy a Chrysler product again.
  • vocusvocus Posts: 7,777
    I thought Chrysler had something going on where you just had to pay $100 for the replacement headgasket, because it's a known problem? There might be some posts further back in this board, but I know I read it somewhere. Worth looking into.
  • keishabkeishab Posts: 1
    I have been informed of my head gasket problems and i am not to happy. But I also have a problem with a non working speedometer, gas gauge and radiator gauge. Any one experience this????
  • vocusvocus Posts: 7,777
    If all the gauges are not working, it's probably an electrical problem. I would check the connection to the dashboard (wiring harness) to be sure its ok.
  • 71charger71charger Posts: 116
    In my opinion you're getting the old screw job. They have to remove and replace the timing belt to do a head gasket anyway. Your cost to have the timing belt done at the same time should only be the parts cost of the belt. Dealers mark up parts when they go from the parts department to the service department but $190, holy crap! Call the parts department and ask how much a timing belt for your year Neon is. Then ask the service writer to explain their method of replacing a head gasket without removing the timing belt as you would find that fascinating. If he can't come up with this methodology (I want to hear it if he does) tell him you are only going to pay the cost of the part for the new timing belt. You are not going to pay him twice for the same labor. The last Mopar timing belt I bought (for a 2.2)was about $50 at the dealer.
  • mstrommstrom Posts: 4
    While I'm looking forward to my head gasket blwoing at 60k, I'm still trying to find out why the car "crunches" in the morning on a cold start?
    It sounds exactly like someone is holding the key on while the motor is running.
    I've had it to the dealer 3 times. They've replaced the starter and checked the flywheel for damage and found nothing. All three times they duplicated the problem when we left it over night for them. Finally after the third try, the dealer said it was probably just a weird quirk for my particular Neon as they have not seen it on any others.
    Anyone else have this happen to them that knows what's wrong?

    PS: the only reason I'm keeping the pile is the great service we get from the dealer. We've gotten a renatl car for all 7 times it's been in the shop!
  • My 2002 Neon SXT SOHC autotrans (3.6k)also tends to stumble at idle. Stopped by dealer in Newport News Va. Service advisor stated a new ECM flash is available. The work would take about 45 minutes to complete. All covered under warranty.
    I will post flash results after a 72hr test period ending 8 Aug 02.

  • A similar problem occurred with my 5 speed neon 3 times in the past year. Every time it was during very hot weather (but low humidity....I am in Colorado) and when I downshifted for example to get more power driving uphill in the rockies, or to come to a stop. Each of these 3 times, the engine started to stumble (as if I was running out of gas) and then I stalled. If i start the car again, same thing happens. However if I let the car cool down for 30 minutes and start the engine again, it works fine and it won't happen again for a several weeks or months. The car does not overheat, the fan works fine and the water pump is less than a year old. The spark plugs have just 1000 miles on them, and same thing for the spark plug cables. Each time the problem occurs, the "service engine soon" light comes on for 2 days and them it is off. Each time I brought the car in to 3 different place, they told me that it was a misfiring problem (according to the code # they got from the diagnostic) but they did not know what was wrong.
    Any idea? It is obviously heat related. Thank you for your help and sorry about the long post.
  • 71charger71charger Posts: 116
    I honestly have no idea. Have you tried some of the Chrysler sites? or register at and post your problem there. Possibly look for help or a link at
  • Could it be a weak coilpack? If so, is that easy to change so I can do it myself?
  • iowabigguyiowabigguy Posts: 552
    frenchy2002. Do you use gas with alcohol in it??
    My guess is vapor lock. Don't believe the 2002 Neon has a gas return line so if the gas boils in the fuel line you stumble and die. Once the fuel cools off again you can drive normal. Had this problem in a 1982 Nissan pickup years ago. Rick
  • stans40stans40 Posts: 16
    Since Chrysler wants $80 for spark plug wires for my 95 Dodge Neon, I am asking about suggestions for good but reasonably priced wires.
  • wenbwenb Posts: 45
    Is anyone questioning the throttle response an d shiftong of the 4 speed auto 2002 Neon.I test drove one and it seemed pretty terible. I understand that Dodge has replaced the engine controler chip with a more powerful unit for 2003. they claim quicker response and smoother running engine.The car I drove was so bad it seemed like the software control between engine and transmission was in crash mode. Comparing the drivability to a Kia Rio, the Kia felt like a Ferrari. Both cars had A/C on.I am not talking about racing. I am talking about quick take off and shifting when you step on the gas.The Neon felt reluctant to move out.
  • Anyone know the correct amount of ATF+4 trans.fluid needed when removing pan/changing filter on a 2000 Neon with 3
  • The shocks you're getting on exiting the vehicle aren't caused by the vehicle electrical system. (the electrical system is 12V). You are getting static shocks. They are preventable by touching the door or other metal part of the car while sliding off of the seat.
  • Check your fuses first.
  • micwebmicweb Posts: 1,617
    I've owned and driven both, and also owned and driven the Focus ZX3.

    No problems on either.

    The 1999 handles better out of the box. The Neon S definitely needed better tires. Both cars had Goodyear GA's, but the GA's seemed grippy on the 1999 and sloppy on the 2002. Goodrich Comp T/A's were a major upgrade on the 2002. I also put a front swaybar on the 2002, but couldn't but a rear one on, since the rear shocks no longer come with the necessary mounting brackets.

    The 2002 rides better. Isn't that the inevitable trade off - handling or ride?

    The 2002 feels squooshed down - like the roof is smooshed towards your head. It isn't really, but the long sloping windshield and A pillar make it feel that way. The windshield is naturally harder to reach and clean on the inside.

    Both cars have fast engines, but both benefited from an aftermarket exhaust. On the 2002, I put on a Dodge muffle designed for the DOHC engine and it was much quicker and also quiet. A Magnaflow and resonator on the 1999 were much cheaper, just as fast, slightly louder - in hard acceleration. Both cars hit 55 mph in second gear without a struggle now. There is a definite power bump when the rev's hit the mid range. The 2002 has a K&N air filter, the 1999 just gets the paper element changed every 10,000 miles to allow maximum breathability.

    The 1999 is surprisingly solid on the freeway. 80 mph interstate crusing is no problem, and the car still has passing power, but you have to downshift - 5th gear is way to high.

    On the 2002, fifth is lower and less downshifting is required. This is supposed to hurt freeway mileage, but I got 31 mpg on the interstate. Of course, on a recent trip in the 1999, I think I got 34 mpg - but previous trips were more on the order of 31 mpg, so I might have gotten a faulty fill-up.

    Compared to the Focus ZX3, both Neons are reliable, and quicker too. The four doors are easier for throwing things in the back seat than the ZX3, not to mention much easier on the rare passenger.

    The 1999 handles stiff crosswinds great.

    I got the 2002 up to 110 mph once - accidentally! It was lonely stretch of interstate, and I had earplugs in to reduce the noise level (the car isn't terribly noisy, I just don't like 5 hours of wind drone). With no cars to pace, and no trees to count, I looked down and discovered the speedometer at 110 - that's how well the car handles. You can't judge speed by its handling, only by the increasing wind roar! (Be assured I promptly dropped down to 80).

    The 1999 doesn't seem to have the same "long legs." It'll cruise all day at 80 to 85, has plently of power to pass, but doesn't seem composed enough to cruise at higher speeds for long periods. I'd say the second generation Neon can keep up with just about anything on the highway, but in the 1999 you have to either put up with being passed once in a while, or drive like a maniac (i.e., outside a comfort zone).

    The 2002 is definitely slick. The 1999 is my choice for an urban stealth car, with mountain road capability. It is always underestimated, but gets you were you want to go - fast.
  • Saw a new 2003 Neon on the freeway this morning. I have to say I like the rear end treatment better, the front end is a matter of opinion, but no worse than before.

    My understanding of some of the changes:

    New gear ratio for 5th gear on manual to help with fuel economy and noise on the freeway.

    New engine mount design

    Recalibrated automatic tranny

    New steering wheel

    I wonder what the reason would be to buy a Stratus over a Neon - they are pretty close in size.
  • What has been your replacement tire of choice for the 185/60-15s that came on the aluminum rims on the 2000s? It seems Goodyear (as far as I've found) seems to have a monopoly on that size. Has anyone put on 195/50s? I'm at 40,000 miles and will need new rubber before the snow comes (if we get any this year). Experiences?
  • micwebmicweb Posts: 1,617
    Browse the Tire Rack's website at - they give you all the sizing choices. Also, here is a website that let's you calculate speedometer variations based on different tire sizes:

    I was reluctant to mail order tires and have them installed by a "recommended installer" but it worked out ok. The practice seems well enough established that the installers don't treat you like dirt for not buying from them. They are even friendly and helpful!

    I had 50 tires on a Focus ZX3. Every car is different, but the 50 tires seemed to make the ride hard - I could feel every expansion ridge. Personally I like 60 series tires - squat enough to be laterally stiff, tall enough to protect the rims.

    After trying several current models, I think Bridgestone 950's are worth looking at - easy to balance, quiet, grippy in dry or rain. Look good, too.

    Finally, 195/60x15 should fit nicely and you should have a lot of choices. The Tire Rack or your local installer should be able to help you. I put 205's on my 1999 Neon, but I wouldn't do it again - that was overkill.

  • I've purchased from Tirerack a couple of times. Once because I needed snow tires and they had the only decent prices. Generally I've found I can shop around and do better locally as their installers charge quite a bit to mount and balance. A friend has access to the equipment at his job and will do it for me for $5 a tire so I may buy from them again this time. I've been running 195/50-15s on my Shelby Charger for over 19 years and don't mind them. That's why I was wondering if anyone has put them on their Neon. I had put Bridgestones on in that size and they were horrible. When it was time to replace them they tried to sell me Bridgestones again. I told them how much the last ones they sold me sucked and I wasn't interested in having them again. I was assured the tires were completely re-engineered and only the name stayed the same. They told me if I didn't like them after a week to come back and they'd give me full credit toward any other tire. I took them and haven't been back. This set is awesome.
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