Yes, it is true. NO matter whether you take great care of the Neon or not, it will hurt you bad. I have done some investigation and yes the predominant problems are.
Rusted Head Gasket.
Cam Seal falls out.
Rear Main Seal falls out.
There is a revised MLS Head Gasket that corrects that.
After market cam and rear main seals will fix the flawed Chystler ones. The only reason they fall out is that they are not tapered or staked to the motor, Simply, oil pressure blows them out.
I also noticed that the foam that seals the tail lights dries out after several years and flattens, allowing water to seep into the trunk. I removed them, brushed the foam with a stiff brush and coated the foam with wheel bearing grease. Then cleaned the body mounting surface with glass cleaner and reinstalled them, no further problems.
BUT, could someone tell me what this EGR problem really is. I have replaced the valve with a known good used one and the code and condition still exists. Car idles rough, stumbles on acceleration and has a failed EGR Circuit code.
Thanks in advance.
Mike Springfield, Vermont firstname.lastname@example.org.
When buying a used Neon, remember it is an entry level vehicle, not a luxury car. You get what you pay for. A Civic may or may not be more reliable, but it WILL cost more to buy and fix. I purchased my Neon with 68,000 miles on it back in '97. It now has 230,000, has been beaten on and is still going strong.
I bought my 96 Neon just to drive to and from work with 70K miles on it. I have had it 2 years and it now has 125k miles. The auto trans is still shifting great and the stock head gasket is sealing fine. It does leak some oil from somewhere under the car, but it doesn't even show any loss on the stick between oil changes. I haven't had to put ANY money into this car besides oil/filter changes and gas. I beat it to death every day to and from work doing 80+mph on the highway, still getting 30mpg!!! I love my little Neon!
My '96 Neon has had problems, but far fewer than most inexpensive cars I've owned. Yes, the head gasket went at 70,000 miles. I got Chrysler to pick up the parts costs with a little talking. Yes, it uses oil. I keep a case in the trunk, and truthfully, I add a quart about every 800 to 1,200 miles, depending on the kind of driving I do and how new the oil is. But after 157,000 miles, I'm on the original clutch, original exhaust, original air-conditioning compressor and original brake rotors. Other than accident-related items, I have replaced brake pads once (90,000 rear, 110,000 front, which shocked me), the turn signal switch twice (once on warranty, no cost) and the HVAC fan once (about $120). I also have replaced belts, which are typical wear-and-tear items, and had the water pump replaced with the timing belt as preventive maintenance. Other than that, wiper blades and bulbs, and the speakers are shot. It still gives me 32-35 mpg week in and week out. And after having the valve train cleaned with some stuff my mechanic put into the fuel line just above the throttle body and injectors, it's still very quick and winds to redline. (That also reduced oil consumption.) My 2000 Ford Focus needed much more work than that in the first 32,000 miles.
I own a 96 single overhead cam dodge neon. I bought it with 55,000 miles on it. It has done just great until recently, the transmission is acting up. It goes up to 8 and 9 thousand rpm before it will change out of any gear. It also slips the belt while going down the road, and jerks it around.
I purchased a 1998 Neon R/T new and it runs like a top, even though it was drag raced for the first two years I owned it. Just replaced brake pads and tires.
I bought a 96 Neon a few years ago as a fixer-upper for 550.00.
After cleaning it up (it was a storage area for pool toys) and replacing the radiator (they are known to leak and when they go, coolant and trans fluid change places - it is a saveable fix if you can flush the trans fluid out), and struts with top mounts, I gave it to my daughter and she had it for 2 years.
I re-inherited it since she had it stolen twice (they are so easy to steal, it's pathetic). I traded her for my 99 Taurus after replacing the steering column.
I am in the process of fixing it up. It needs the normal stuff, tires, brakes, gas tank (since it had rotted out on the top). I just enjoy how much fun it is to drive.
My plan is to trick it up a bit, and since I work at a Chrysler dealership, getting parts is no problem.
I exchanged the original muffler, which was falling apart, even though it was so quiet even still. I have a glass pack on it, and it has such a mellow tone.
It's a lot of fun to drive. Not bad for a car with over 120k on it.
I bought a 1996 Plymouth Neon SOHC about 4 months ago with 145,000... it ran perfect for 2 months... then the first dirt road I took it on destroyed the passenger CV trans-axle...
After getting it towed home, I replaced it and as soon as I went to start the lil car, the fuel line burst. I replaced that also. Afterwards I drove it for about two weeks and the alternator went out. Another week later the internal water pump gave out... now I'm waiting on my next paycheck to replace both the water pump and of course the timing belt. But I should have come to expect it for a $650 car.
"then the first dirt road I took it on destroyed the passenger CV trans-axle..."
I got a kick out of this. It reminded me of my 1990 Dodge Omni. I was off-roading in it with some guys in trucks and didn't see a sawed off stump sticking up. It caught the front subframe cross member and stopped the car INSTANTLY. The impact threw me into the steering wheel and sent my sunglasses flying. I was terrified to look under the car. When I did, I saw not a HINT of any damage. I drove the car to 240,000 miles before selling it. NEVER a problem. If I'd done that with my Civic, it would have left the engine and sub-frame lying on the ground.
I bought my 1996 Neon in 2009 from a dealer for $1500.00 emissions tested, certified and registered. It had 100k on the odometer. I drive it to and from work every day, plus a little bit here and there.
Today it is nearing 220k and still runs very well. The air conditioner clutch went out last year, but I'm not replacing it. I'm OK with fresh air. It's a fun car to drive but many things can go wrong with it. Fortunately, I do repairs myself and spend only for the parts. So far, I replaced the EGR transducer ($24.00), alternator ($180.00), radiator ($130.00), brake and fuel lines ($95.00), brake calipers ($70.00), brake hoses ($150.00), filler neck ($140.00) and a few other items for a total of about $900.00. A mechanic may have charged another $2500.00 for labor. Definitely a money pit unless you do the work yourself.
Most negative reviews of Neons are from people who ignore servicing or otherwise abuse them. As a mechanic and car buff, I'm often called on to recommend cars to people. Some years ago I recommended a Dodge Neon to a handicapped friend after his poorly built Japanese import became too unreliable to drive at around 90,000 miles. He put well over 100,000 miles on the Neon with zero problems, and recently traded it for a Dodge Avenger. He was also very lucky to find one of the very rare Dodge dealers that actually cares about their customers, and provides him with shuttle service to and from his home when he takes the car in for routine servicing. It seems that Chrysler is really showing a lot of effort in becoming a car company to be reckoned with. I've owned 3 Chrysler products over the years myself, and have found them to be very well built and reliable, though I now drive Ford and GM.