1998 Dodge Neon High Line 2.0L from North America
A good choice that handles great, and has some attitude when needed
I have owned two 1998 Neon High Line vehicles. Both with less than 70k miles. The problems listed here will be the common problems related to the Neon. Many of these issues could have been avoided had Chrysler just opted to use a better grade of lubricant.
1) The windows have issues with improper lubrication of the window tracks, which causes accelerated ware in the window regulator rollers, which in turn will cause the rear window guide (metal guide) to crack or break.
2) The sunroof suffers the same failure mode. SInce Chrysler used lithium soap based grease for lubricating tracks etc. The lubrication washes off and or dries up over time, the tracks without the assistance of lubrication will bind and cables and guides will break on the sunroof.
3) Leaking tail light seals, this is a common problem which can be repaired by removing the tail lights and sealing the seals with silicon sealer, the leaking will cause the carpet and related jute backing to get wet and mold. Its important to remove the carpet and let it throughly dry out.
4) The electric door locks fail because the parts within the lock assembly break. Since mine is a two door, I don't care about electric locks not working. For those that want the locks working, you are required to replace the entire lock assembly to get the electric locks working again.
5) Leaking into the passengers floorboard is usually caused by a blocked drain tube. The drain tube is on the firewall, just behind the oil filter. Clean out that tube and the drain will start working again and the problem will be fixed.
6) The cylinder head gasket has problems leaking. Some engines have head bolts that are to long which causes issues related to proper tightening of the head gasket. Most of the leaks occur on the back side of the engine. One of my Neons had this very problem.
7) Headlight gaskets fail after a few years and must be replaced.
8) Like all new cars the headlight lenses fade and become foggy after years of exposure to the elements.
9) The headlight switch is the old pull out kind, which vibrates during use at speeds above 40 mph.
10) The front and rear speakers? Well what can I say they are just cheap junk initially. Always plan on replacing any stock neon speakers. Everyone I have had were failed. The worst issue is that the front door speakers are special fit only and have to be ordered or made to fit.
The engine seams to have extended longevity if its properly maintained. The positioning of the ignition coil onto the valve cover is not the most intelligent idea to date.
Mileage, the manual transmission version gets excellent mileage. At below 50 mph you can achieve 40 plus mpg. Below 60 mph the vehicle will return high 30 mpg.
Even the SOHC engine produces enough acceleration to effortlessly keep up with traffic. Further, if you walk into the throttle, the available power will put a smile on your face.
The car handles well and has excellent brakes. The chassis can be pushed hard, even in its stock setup. There are plenty of aftermarket chassis parts available if you want to improve the road handling of the vehicle.
Cruse control with a manual transmission, I can't rave about this feature enough. For long drives it's the best addition to the vehicle.
For some reason it's easier to find low mileage Neons compared to the other low mileage economy vehicles.
Replacement parts are common and usually inexpensive to purchase.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 6th August, 2009