In March, 2000, I purchased a 1998 Dodge Neon with about 28,000 miles on it. During the two years I have owned it, I have had to get the brakes replaced, and about six months ago I had to replace the battery. I had owned the car for about a year when the air conditioning quit working.
The car has always had a small oil leak. At around 49,000 miles I was adding a quart of oil every couple of weeks. Recently (around 54,000 miles) it started leaking copious amounts of oil onto my garage floor. I took the car to a mechanic and he informed me the head gasket had failed and needed to be replaced. When the mechanic removed the head, he called me and told me there was a manufacturing defect in the head; a "chunk" was missing which could only have occurred when the head was cast. He also stated that this played a part in the failure of the head gasket. He said he had seen this a few times before on other Neon vehicles, and informed me the head would need to be milled. The mechanic who milled the head also commented that he, too, had seen this defect previously in other Neon vehicles.
Because these two mechanics had seen this problem with other Neon vehicles, I started to do a little investigating. I understand with more than a million Neon cars on the road, even a large number of failures is a small percentage of the unaffected cars. I also realize this problem is common among most cars with aluminum heads, not just Neon vehicles. I investigated a little further and found out that head gasket failure is enough of a problem on the Neon that Chrysler made special provisions for head gasket repairs beyond the normal warranty period. Technical Service Bulletin 09-05-98, which addresses this problem, was issued on November 06, 1998.
I contacted the Daimler-Chrysler Customer Assistance Center. They "reviewed" my case and after a few minutes, informed me that Chrysler would not do anything about this as the car was no longer under warranty and because I was the second owner. I wrote a follow-up letter to them and got the same response.
Chrysler/Dodge IS aware of this problem, but obviously won't take responsibility for it. This is the first - and last Chrysler/Dodge vehicle I will ever buy. My advice to others is to steer clear of Chrysler/Dodge and buy just about anything else.