My Neon has been fun to drive, and exceeded my expectations for long life and reliability
Overall, this car has been very reliable. The clutch broke the first time at about 76000 miles. A transmission shop replaced it for about $650. It broke again at 110000 miles, and cost a bit less to replace the second time, but the car now has more than 220000 miles on it and the clutch is still working. Three clutches in this many miles isn't bad. However, I once owned a VW Rabbit that I put more than 250000 miles on it without replacing the clutch even once.
I've had minor performance problems once in awhile that have been caused by ignition system components. Replacing coil pack, plugs and plug wires have fixed the problems.
I replaced engine mounts once, including a hard to reach mounting bolt on the side of the engine where the alternator belt is located.
I've had the timing belt replaced twice (recommended at 100000 miles). I had the water pump replaced along with the timing belt, since it is easier to do while replacing the timing belt. I also had the shop replace the coolant hoses during the second timing belt replacement, since they had never been replaced in 200000 miles. Following that work, there was a minor coolant leak that took a couple trips back to the shop to find and fix, including a radiator replacement.
What is most notable are the things that have not been replaced in more than a decade of daily driving and more than 220000 miles. The following are still original equipment:
The engine is burning a bit of oil as it ages, although it varies depending on the type of driving done. Typically uses about a quart every 1500-2000 miles.
I did replace valve cover gaskets once to fix oil leak.
The moonroof is electric driven and hasn't worked for some time. It now appears to have plugged drain lines, as water found its way into the floor area on passenger side during recent heavy rains.
All in all, very good reliability for an American car that was not expensive to purchase. I don't personally know others who own Neons, but my experience has been good.
Coincidentally, the Neons were built in my hometown of Belvidere, Illinois. Although my father-in-law worked there, he never did buy a new Chrysler product, even though he would have had employee discount benefit.
I had choice of automatic or 5-speed manual transmission, and selected the stick shift for both performance and mileage benefits. I have been getting 31 to 33 mpg with this car, and needless to say, that has been very satisfying, since going more than 220000 miles at this fuel consumption rate means I've used more than 6500 gallons of gasoline!
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know
Review Date: 10th September, 2011