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Dodge/Plymouth Neon



  • jcasetnljcasetnl Posts: 2
    ... a 96. But the problem affects 95-98 and some 99 neons.

    I'm glad you've had a good experience. How many miles have you got on your neon? And what year is it? I think the good 99s and on are decent cars, save for the electrical problems and the crappy door seals, oh, and a shimmying problem I've read about with newer models.

    Of all the people I know that personally own or owned neons, three of five had the head gasket problem (not including myself). So, if you're around 50,000 miles, be aware that you're at risk.

    Good luck to you.

    - j
  • Hi, there, Neon owners!

    I'm considering buying a 1996 Neon Sedan w/ 42K miles for 6,000 bucks. I was hoping anyone out there would give me their opinion about this purchase. I would buy it from family, it has been well taken care of. Probably no warranty. But I'm a bit concerned about the head gasket problem I'm hearing about. I don't really care about aesthetics (wind & road noise, static shock, poor stereo) but I'd like a car that will be a good commute car (20-30 minute commute ea. way). My boyfriend and I have driven his 1992 Ford Ranger for 5 years now, and other than that my only vehicle is a 1965 Volkswagen panel van (and a head gasket on that is easy :). So, obviously, no frills is okay with me! Any suggestions/stories about 1996 Neons would be appreciated!

  • dhughes3dhughes3 Posts: 56
    Ripping through the Neon site I saw a number of comments about testers' prejudice against the Neon. Welcome to reality! While some of the criticisms leveled against the car may be deserved, I have absolutely no doubt that DC cars in general don't get a fair shake in the automotive press. Consumer Reports leads the parade, although they actually hate ANYTHING with a US name.
  • dhughes3dhughes3 Posts: 56
    Amidst all this talk about dealing for a price--When I bought my Intrepid (what am I doing on a Neon site?) a local 5 star dealer was advertising a special group of them at an unbelievable price. I had to check it out. I wound up buying one from him after comparing prices all over town. Believe it or not, that dealer was selling them for $200 UNDER INVOICE, and I'm not talking about the false invoice some dealers try to fool you with. Point? Sometimes a deal that seems to good to be true really is true.
    P.S. A lot of you guys are either illiterate or just too lazy to use proper grammar and spelling. What kind of impression are you giving the elitist foreign car fanatics?
  • protegextwoprotegextwo Posts: 1,265
    Duane, I object too you alls statement. We EFCF (elitist foreign car fanatics) are lazy and stupid tooo. Pleaze rember the illiterate folks cannot reed and will never no a bout propper gramner and spellin. By the way what do u make of jcasetnl posts. Sounds like that feller is unhapy with his domestic vehicle? I doubt he will purchase a domestic vehicle again. Well thats alright with us EFCF's, we nead new folks to buy all the promlem free Japanese vehicles are country is churning out. Never heard of a head gaskett problem with a Honda, did you?

  • hersbirdhersbird Posts: 323
    Never heard much about headgaskets on the Honda but the distributers are pretty bad from 93-96 and they cost more then a neon headgasket to replace. On top of that they strand the car on the side of the road with zero warning, unlike the neon's headgasket problem. My brother had a loaner 93 toyota corolla for a month while waiting for his WRX to arrive. It burned (not leaked) 2 quarts of oil every 500 miles and it had 65K miles on it. Maybe it's just me but the simple, inexpensive, on-time fix that some neon's require seems minor compared to what you get from those 'elite' import brands.
  • beanboybeanboy Posts: 442
    Friend just had his distributor bearing fry on his '93... $300 or so he says.
  • enetheneth Posts: 285
    If you can get a head gasket done for $300 (without factory payment, that is) - let me know where. If they do a good job, I'd like to earn a 10% commission on referrals - people would gladly pay $330 for a complete job (around here, a 4-cylinder would be more like $600-800; V6 about $1200-1500.
  • beanboybeanboy Posts: 442
    Dealer is doing them up the street from me for $100 with approval from corporate, at least last summer. Shame DC never did officially take the stance of replacing the headgaskets. Good dealership and/or enough bitching will get yeah the $100 deal. Not sure how much longer it will last though, the worst case neons being 6 years-old now. If mine ever does go, not going to go to a dealer-- will get a port and polish at a shop somewhere. Not worth opening up the engine and not doing any performance modifications, tehe.

    On the subject of modifications, ordering up koni struts, thicker roll bars and high rate springs this week--WOOHOO

  • dhughes3dhughes3 Posts: 56
    I was going to remind you of the distributor problem with Hondas, but looks like someone beat me to it! Thing is, no one in the press spouts off about these problems. Toyota had a head gasket problem in the '80s, but I'll bet you haven't heard of it. Honda has a transmission problem with the V-6's, but little gets said about it. IT'S A CONSPIRACY OF THE ONE WORLD GOVERNMENT CROWD!! Thanks for your good natured and humorous reply.
  • hersbirdhersbird Posts: 323
    I thought the headgasket in my Jeep may be bad so I got 3 quotes to fix it. It's a inline 6 so should be comparable to the neon. The dealer wanted $430. The AAA recommended ASE shop wanted $400 and a respectable ASE shop wanted $360. All these prices are parts and labor. The honda Distributer costs more then $350 all by itself w/o counting any labor. Maybe the above bearing problem was fixed w/o replacing the entire unit. The Toyota headgasket problem went well into the 90's on v-6 trucks and SUV's. On a side note the headgasket in my jeep is fine, it was a tiny leak from the water pump gasket that was cured for now by $2 worth of alumnaseal.
  • protegextwoprotegextwo Posts: 1,265
    Guys, I saw very nice looking Neon, today. It had the word Expresso printed on the front quarter panel behind the wheel well. What is a Plymouth Neon Expresso? How does it differ from the regular Neon?

  • enetheneth Posts: 285

    There is a big difference between the way Toyota handled the 3.0L truck-V6 gasket problem and the way DaimlerChrysler has handled its problems.

    Toyota notified owners of the problem, offered to fix it for free (up to and including a replacement engine if necessary) for 100,000 miles. DaimlerChrysler left its customers, as usual, to twist in the wind - forcing them to ask for recompense from the dealers.

    That may in part explain why Toyota is setting sales records, while DaimlerChrysler's Chrysler Group is planning the expiration of the Neon, closing plants, and laying off workers.
  • vocusvocus Posts: 7,777
    Was the car you saw a new-generation Neon, or an old one? If it was the old one, then the Expresso was an appearance package offered on the Neon coupes and sedans for a couple years. It included appearance items and a different interior, but not much else. My roommate's ex-wife has a 1996 Neon Expresso with only like 34K on it, and it's relatively trouble-free. Yet his 2000 ES has been in the shop 10 times in one year. He only bought the 2000 because the 1996 was so good. Weird, considering the older models are rumored to have engine and other problems, not the new ones.
  • beanboybeanboy Posts: 442
    Still haunting these parts eh?

  • protegextwoprotegextwo Posts: 1,265
    It did not appear to be a 1999/2000 model, perhaps a tad older. However, the owner of this Neon appeared to take good care of it.

  • vocusvocus Posts: 7,777
    Actually, since this is a free forum that anyone (as long as they are a member and follow the TOS) can speak in, I don't consider it haunting at all. I consider it sharing my opinion about a product that may have performed wonderfully for some, but performed poorly in my eyes. And it also looks like I am not alone, with cars having to be serviced left and right. If you or anyone else cannot handle the fact that I exercise my freedom of speech, then I don't know what to tell you.
  • dhughes3dhughes3 Posts: 56
    Thanks for the info. I didn't know they had head gasket problems with the v-6; I was referring to the 2.2L 4 cyl. Maybe Toyota did handle this one right, but Toyota dealers are notorious for ignoring customer complaints.
  • enetheneth Posts: 285
    Toyota dealers are awful, I will grant that. Toyota Motor Sales and Toyota Motor Corporation do fine.

    Ironically, when we had our Chryslers (Dodges), the dealer was great (which was a good thing, since we usually saw them a couple of times a month) - it was Chrysler Corporation itself that was ridiculous to deal with. Between our two Dodge cars, they shelled out over $3000 in warranty (actually, service contract) repairs, so we actually did OK until the extended warranties expired, excepting the inconvenience of constant troubles and breakdowns.
  • hersbirdhersbird Posts: 323
    Was the Plymouth version of the Dodge Sport. It included all the same features as the Sport, it was just called the Expresso on the Plymouth line. It was available from 95 to 98. It included different 'standard' stuff depending on which year it was. The best year for standard stuff on a sport or expresso was 95, it was much like the 98 R/T package that was only for the Dodge line. The 98 Plymouth got a special appearance package optional instead of the R/T option but I bet it was pretty rare. The best neon's performance wise are the ACR models on the Dodge or the Plymoth line. It will not have any extra badges (like R/T, Sport, or expresso.) It will have the bumper with fog light holes but no fog lights, and it will have 4 wheel disc brakes and a rear sway bar. It also has many other goodies that are not visible from a quick glance, (koni adjustable struts, bigger front sway bar, adjustable camber bolts (not on 98), unlimited speed engine controller, and quicker ratio steering.)

    I am still waiting on a good review of the 2001 ACR model to see if it's even better for road racing, or more of a tamed down sales tool.

    I also am waiting to hear more about the turbo 215 HP model due out maybe for 2002. It would be a good test bed for the PT Cruiser while 'boosting' neon sales. If it ends up being anywhere near the price of a WRX though I fear it won't sell as well lacking the AWD of the Subaru.
  • beanboybeanboy Posts: 442
    Wow, aren't we a bit defensive vocus! No problem at all about you posting where/when you want, as long as you don't mind me snooping around after you and making sure you post legit information.

  • protegextwoprotegextwo Posts: 1,265
    Thank you for the run down on the "expresso" badge.

  • vocusvocus Posts: 7,777
    The sporty appearance package available on the Neon (Dodge and Plymouth) was called Expresso for the 1996 model year. The "Sport" designation did not hit the Neon until the 1998 model year. So there were "Expresso" labeled Dodge and Plymouth Neons.

    Beanboy: Don't mind you checking my facts at all. Matter of fact, I do research for a living, so try to be right on about my info. I shouldn't really magnify the negative about the Neon experience I have had (with my roommate's), but just want consumers (as to say, people who check this board) to know so they don't get into the same mess as my roommate is in. I wish Dodge would get the refinement and customer service down on the Neon, because I think it's a nice little economical set of wheels. And it seems there are good and bad Neons, as with any car, so you just have to hope for a "lucky hand" when purchasing I guess.
  • protegextwoprotegextwo Posts: 1,265
    Paul and hersbird!!! :-)

  • beanboybeanboy Posts: 442
    Is you buy a used Neon dirt cheap and take it to your favorite local shop for work if it needs anything. Everything on the car is cheap to fix, nothing major going on the long-term vehicles other than the HG.
  • hersbirdhersbird Posts: 323
    There were 'sport' labeled dodges in 95-97 as well. The badge looked different, a body colored scripted sport, vs the chrome individual S-P-O-R-T on the 98 and 99's. If anything the early plymouth's were badged 'sport', but I do believe the Dodge never was badged 'expressso' at least in the US. I two neon books from the dealer showroom for the 98 models, one Plymouth and one Dodge. The dealer I bought my neon from in 98 sold both makes. I special ordered my neon and could have picked either one with everything being exactly the same except the plymouth would have said 'expresso' on the side and the Dodge 'sport', I picked the Dodge just because I don't like coffee. Given any Chrysler muscle car line from the 60's, I'd chose the Plymouth over the Dodge every time (Roadrunner over Superbee, Cuda over Challenger, etc) but those cars were actually different.

    well here is the full skinny on this expresso stuff from in their FAQ section:
    vocus is right as for the 96 model year, I an right for 97 on, I don't think the 95 models were actually labeled anything but it was called the sport package.

    "1.3 Neon Sport and Expresso Sedan/Coupe

    The Neon Sport debuted as the top-of-the line model. Most of the features that were optional on other cars were standard for the Sport, such as antilock brakes and 14-inch wheels. Very early Sports had steel wheels; alloys became standard when the Sport Coupe appeared in late 1994. Other identifying factors are the special fascia with fog lights; when the DOHC appeared, all Sports received the "power bulge" hood, even for SOHCs.

    The Sport line has undergone more changes than any other. Like all Neons, it was originally available only as the SOHC-powered Sedan. This car had the same SDC (Touring) suspension as the Highline. The Sport Coupe, which appeared at the end of 1994, was a somewhat different animal. While keeping all of the standard Sport features, it added standard DOHC (which could be deleted for credit) and performance ratio gearing for manual transmission cars. It also featured the SDE (Sport) suspension, with stiffer struts (not quite the ACR competition-stiff units), front and rear swaybars, and the slightly quicker steering ratio found on the ACR.

    In the 1996 m/y, Chrysler introduced the Expresso for both Dodge and Plymouth, which was an option package based on the Highline car. It had most of the comfort and appearance items of the Sport, though alloy wheels were no longer standard (all '96 Expressos had white bubble wheelcovers or white alloys, regardless of body color), and Coupes used the SDC suspension. Antilock brakes were optional rather than standard. The seats were the Sport level, with a special Tango upholstery, also known as "confetti".

    For 1997 and up Neons, the Sport was made into a similar option package, rather than an individual model. Dodge cars are called Sport, Plymouth uses the Expresso name. Both are similar to the '96 Expresso, though the newer style alloy wheels are optional and are silver on non-white cars. This package relates to the Highline car the way the R/T relates to the ACR."
  • csawrucsawru Posts: 29
    Greetings all,

    I've owned this car since day 1, with regular oil changes, mostly rural highway miles. I don't abuse this car and while I enjoy it as a commuter, I had some bad news about it the other day. For the past few weeks when I start the engine in the mornings, (And in Wisconsin, they can be *cold*) I've heard a light tapping sound from the motor, which goes away after the temp. stabilizes. For a while I thought it may be temp. related, or perhaps because the oil was needing a change. I changed the oil from the 5W-30 mix I use in the winter to a 30W I use other times. Still had the ticking. Really no other way to describe it. You only hear it under moderate load, not at idle and not when accelerating. Otherwise it had good performance, mileage is still about 35-40 MPG and doesn't seem to burn or leak oil.

    At about 89,000 miles I had the entire head replaced. From reading a bunch of prior posts,I had the typical head gasket go out on me. It took me a while to get it serviced, but with a 100,000 mile ext. warranty, it was replaced more or less with minimal charge. I had all the hoses and belts, including timing belt replaced at the same time, thinking this would give me a few more years with this car. The body is solid, mechanically seems to be in good shape otherwise, and I just replaced the front rotors myself - really pretty easy. I've changed the oil and filter roughly every 5000 miles.

    So about the ticking. I took it to the dealer I bought it from, he told me they think it's piston slap and possibly some rod knock. They call for a complete short block replacement...About $3000 total. Well I'm going to get a second opinion from another nearby dealer who I've had business for years. I described the same symptoms to the service manager at the second place, he stated it may be a sticky lifter, or something else somewhat minor.

    So if it's the worst case, what advice do any of you have? Having just gone past the 100K ext. warranty, with a well-maintained engine. From what I see this motor does seem pretty stout on the bottom end - cast iron block, etc. Honestly, 101K rural highway miles in 4 years doesn't seem that extreme. Any advice or more info would be sincerely appreciated. Thank You.
  • protegextwoprotegextwo Posts: 1,265
    A 97, well do you owe anything on it? Cars with high miles tend to need "things" on a go forward basis. I owned a 91 Ford Escort Hatchback with 97,500 miles and after a year of some minor and major repairs(the repairs all seemed reasonable at the time) I realized I was spending almost as much money repairing the Ford as I would have making payments on a new car. I see your issue as economic. You are driving a 4 1/2 year old car with high miles. If it's paid off, it might be time to cut it loose. Just my 2 cents.

  • vocusvocus Posts: 7,777
    In 1995, there were 3 models of Neon. It was base, Highline, and Sport. The only option package they came with back then was called the "Flash Decor Group", which gave the interior of the car that funky-color upholstery. The Expresso became available in 1996, along with changing wheel covers for the base models and adding power steering as standard on all models.
  • nash5nash5 Posts: 2
    I am shocked to read that anyone is happy with their Neons. My husband bought a brand new 96 Dodge Neon in May of 96. When his oil started to leak last summer, we did not take it to the dealer b/c the warranty was expired. We spent $350 at one place, 3 weeks later he broke down on the interstate, was towed to the nearest place and we spent $1500 to have the head gasket replaced. Then we found out it would have been free had we taken it to the dealer. Got the 1-800 number to call about being reimbursed (they'll only do half if it's a on-dealer place) and have NEVER talked to an actual person - one day was on hold for 2 hours (no exaggeration.) In February, the Neon broke down again, compressor or something to the tune of $1000. Now we're trying to trade it in - for a non-chrysler product of course - and the most anyone will give us for a 96 neon with less than 50k miles is $1000 b/c the engine is so terrible - and we've changed the oil religiously every 3000 miles and taken it for tune ups and all that. I refuse to sell it privately because I could never look someone in the eye and tell them I think they should buy the piece of junk. The only thing I can think to do is tell everyone I know my story to give Dodge as much bad publicity as possible. No one at the dealer or corporate seems at all concerned with my problems.
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