1999 Dodge Neon Highline 2.0 SOHC from North America

Summary:

Fun reliable daily that your mom won't know you're speeding in, unless you cut off the muffler

Faults:

Cluster wasn't working (easy fix with soldering).

Wiper motor.

Bad tie rods.

Water pump timing belt (just to be on the safe side).

Replaced a couple broken interior parts.

Replaced headlights, blinkers.

Camshaft position sensor and fix some exposed wiring to it.

Transmission fluid/clutch/booger bushings.

Harmonic balancer (previous owner had bent it).

Motor mounts.

General Comments:

This has been a very reliable fun car for me.

I got the car with unknown mileage since the cluster wasn't working; a lot of people report them going out around 300k miles so I assume that's where it's at.

The car used to be loaned out to people who couldn't afford a car, so they were allowed to use it until they could get their own car (so I'm sure it was beat on and not maintained well). When I bought the car it did shift a bit rough and would hesitate to go into gears; I replaced clutch, trans fluid and shifter bushings which fixed the issues.

I had a previous 97 Neon automatic that had a trans failure, so I pulled the motor and got this as it was at 100k miles. I put the motor in because I could see the previous motor ran great, not a slight hint of clatter, misfire or metal in the oil. I did switch out the alternator at one point because I had a battery drain and assumed the issue was the alternator; later discovered it was the exposed wires on the cam position sensor.

On the motor I put in I had already done a timing belt and water pump kit on it; if you're reading this I assume you're checking one out to buy it, so I'll say do a water pump and timing belt; they are an interference engine; if the timing belt skips you will ruin the motor. As long as you rent a harmonic balancer tool, it's an easy 4 hour job for a beginner if all goes to plan. The back plastic of the timing cover has an arrow to line a divot on the cam gear to time it, and a more obvious mark on the crank; just turn over the engine by hand 3 times and check the work. Motor mounts will probably need done; you can replace them when doing the water pump. Any older Mopar will likely need a suspension overhaul or at least a few parts fixed; for me it was just tie rods.

As a send off these cars are extremely easy to work on even for beginners,. Do the timing belt, parts are cheap, and there's tons of support at https://neons.org. Avoid 2004-2005 year Neon's, they have a pin in the transmission and if you ever have the tires spin, the pin starts to loosen and it's a time bomb till they shoot the pin and destroy the transmission

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 23rd April, 2022

1999 Dodge Neon ACR 2.0L DOHC from North America

Summary:

Cheap fun

Faults:

Just normal maintenance.

General Comments:

Fast and fun, super grip, super brakes.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 17th December, 2010

1999 Dodge Neon RT 2.0 from North America

Summary:

The last attempt to compete with the foreign makes was a failure

Faults:

Head gasket replaced at 21,002 miles.

Crank position sensor replaced at 23,429 miles.

EGR replaced at 33,278 miles.

Cam shaft position sensor replaced at 34,087 miles.

Front brakes replaced at 40,561 miles.

Head gasket replaced AGAIN at 45,418 miles.

EGR replaced AGAIN at 47,905 miles.

Exhaust manifold gasket replaced at 52,648 miles.

Engine wiring harness replaced at 62,603 miles.

A/C compressor replaced at 79,767 miles.

Camshaft position sensor replaced AGAIN at 82,083 miles.

Radiator replaced at 86,152 miles.

Muffler replaced due to hole at 86,755 miles.

Speedometer cluster replaced at 90,491 miles.

Headlights get all milky and faded - poor headlights.

Sunroof assembly replaced TWICE before 90 miles.

Turn signal switch replaced at 92,971 miles.

General Comments:

The DOHC 2.0 moves this car nicely.

Handles like a go kart.

Not a comfortable ride with poor suspension travel.

Good on gas mileage.

I think the bean counters at Chrysler killed this car and all it could have been.

A serious money pit. Check engine light will come on every 2-3 months.

Only buy these cars if you are a mechanic or know what you're doing.

DO NOT buy this car if you want to remain married, or continue to have a girlfriend.

DO NOT let these vehicles sit more than several weeks without starting/driving, especially in wetter climates. You will have strange electrical/grounding issues!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 7th September, 2009

17th Nov 2009, 05:44

Sounds like we had identical cars! Many of the same problems you mentioned, plus if I or someone in the house didn't start my Neon for the 1-3 weeks that I was typically away on business, I would come back to all kinds of weird issues (check engine lights, rough idle, surging, and sputtering).

The winter time brought all kinds of strange noises in the suspension to the power steering pump/etc.

In concept the Neon was a noble idea that was executed poorly, and was definitely decimated by the bean counters at Chrysler as you stated. You only get once chance to make an impression, and I'm thinking the Neon left a life long bad taste in MANY auto buyers mouths. Many people will NEVER consider a Chrysler product ever again. So many buyers were left out in the cold with the head gasket i$$ue alone! You eventually either reap rewards for the products and services you offer/provide, or you slowly die. A very sad tale of "what could have been" It truly was Chrysler's last attempt to take on the imports, and you'll never see this again.

24th Jun 2012, 20:17

Wow... all of your comments and problems listed brought back a lot of bad memories. Despite all of those problems, it was a fun car to drive, and I still have a warm place in my heart for it. Sadly, if you do the research on how they went about designing and building this vehicle, we'll never see another vehicle executed the way the Neon was. It was the last of its kind in many ways.

I'm thinking if the bean counters had allowed a proper MLS head gasket from the start, it would have saved us all so many headaches, and not left such a bad taste in our mouths.

26th Apr 2022, 13:05

It turns out that most of the head gasket failures were caused by a drilling machine that was not calibrated at the engine factory in Mexico. One or more of the head bolt holes in the block was not drilled deep enough. The bolts bottomed out in the holes that were not drilled deep enough and hence the head was never properly compressed onto the block. Hence repeated failures.

I had one of these engines and removed the particular bolt and ground off the end. It worked at least until I sold the car. I never replaced a head gasket.