neon piece of s^&t? thinking of buying one for daughter.

Discussion in 'Neon' started by skidflap, Sep 9, 2003.

  1. skidflap

    skidflap Guest

    is the neon a good reliable car?
    i want a 2000 or newer and need your expert?opinions or personal experience
    with this car.
    are repairs easy or badly designed?
    is the auto tranny holding up well?
    other things that could be better/worse on this car.
    i currently own a 01 T&C and love it so i'm leaning towards the neon for the
    TIA for opinions rambling observations or any feedback you choose to post.


    "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety
    deserve neither liberty nor safety."
    Benjamin Franklin
    skidflap, Sep 9, 2003
  2. I'd pick an '01 or later Neon. I would *not* own a first-generation
    ('95-'00) Neon, especially not a '95-'96.

    Quality control is much better on the PT Cruiser.

    Daniel J Stern, Sep 9, 2003
  3. skidflap

    Dan C Guest

    Maybe, although who would want to be seen driving one...? ;)
    Dan C, Sep 9, 2003
  4. The wife had a 1997 Dodge Neon Sport 5-speed. Except for a shifter linkage
    adjustment problem when it was new and the infamous head gasket design
    problem (fixed under warranty) no other mechanical problems surfaced with
    the car...and she wrecked it three times and raced it a _lot_!!! We did
    have serious paint peeling problems though that Chrysler offered to pay a
    50% goodwill toward a repaint job (out of warranty), for those areas that
    hadn't already been repainted a few times! :) but we just traded it
    instead since it was looking pretty sorry...down to the primer in spots.

    My daughter currently has a 2000 Neon ES 5-speed (purchased in July 1999)
    and so far has not had a single problem with it at 65K miles. But then this
    has mostly been my experience with Chrysler products since I started buying
    them in 1987...very reliable and trouble free. Not perfect, but pretty darn
    good! Now with a 1997 Grand Caravan SE, 2003 Stratus SE and 2004 Sebring
    LXi in the driveway (along with my son's 1996 Dakota LE), I hope that trend
    will continue!!

    | is the neon a good reliable car?
    | i want a 2000 or newer and need your expert?opinions or personal
    | with this car.
    | are repairs easy or badly designed?
    | is the auto tranny holding up well?
    | other things that could be better/worse on this car.
    | i currently own a 01 T&C and love it so i'm leaning towards the neon for
    | kid.
    | TIA for opinions rambling observations or any feedback you choose to post.
    | sincerely
    | --
    | Skidflap
    | "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary
    | deserve neither liberty nor safety."
    | Benjamin Franklin
    James C. Reeves, Sep 10, 2003
  5. skidflap

    David Little Guest

    Most PT owners are happy to be seen driving theirs. It is an emotion driven
    purchase/relationship; you either love it of you hate it. I traded my
    2002 PT Touring Edition in on a 2003 PT Turbo GT. The extra 65 HP and the
    torque based turbo management gave it a real kick in the pants.

    After adding the Stage I Turbo Upgrade (New PCM and Injectors), the Torque
    went up to 260 Ft.Lbs and HP up to 235.

    The Stage II upgrade is due out soon, and it will also be a new PCM and
    Injectors, plus turbo toyz (4 position dial-a-boost, pump/race gas selector
    switch, Intercooler spray system (Off/Manual/Automatic control). It will
    maintain the torque at 260 ft/lbs, while boosting HP to 260 HP.

    A Stage I equipped PT GT has made a 13.83 appearance in the quarter. A
    stock Turbo will do 15.25 all day long.

    I know the original question was about reliability. The 2002 PT was the
    best build level, and the reliability has been above average.

    With the excesses of trade-ins from low APRs and rebates, you should be able
    to get a low mileage 2002 for under $10K. When I was trading my 2002 in
    with 15K miles, I kept hearing how they were bringing $7K to $9K at the
    auction. I was finally able to get $13,750 out of it toward the purchase of
    the GT at $100.00 over invoice.

    Back to the comment about who would want to be seen driving one - I don't
    mind them looking at my rear bumper when they under estimate the
    performance. The GT with Stage I provides break-away in first gear, on
    demand, without slipping the clutch, from a rolling start, merely push
    pedal to floor. With the small turbo that spools at 2300, combined with the
    natural powerband of the 2.4L starting at 3500 and going to around 5500;
    anything above a fast idle results in surprising engine reaction.

    The only thing that seems to top that is the look on the faces of the
    unaware; those who wouldn't want to be caught driving a PT, trying to catch
    up to see what just happened.

    The Ricers have the hardest time comprehending. Almost as bad as getting
    beat by a Subaru Forrester XT; when you are driving a "Sports Car".

    The Grocery Getters are getting the treatment; the others are getting the
    David Little, Sep 10, 2003
  6. skidflap

    Craig Bower Guest


    Don't take this as a flame, but allow me to correct some of your

    I love this statement:
    Torque based turbo management, sounds darn fancy doesn't it?
    Sounds like it's engineered to give you more power, right?

    WRONG - torque based turbo management means the engine
    management computer is ACTUALLY pulling some of the boost
    back on the engine at certain RPMS and Throttle conditions to
    ensure transaxle longevity. I.E. no massive torque-shock-loads
    go into the transaxle thereby hopefully eliminating transaxle warranty
    Now we are talking - St-I is nice - and it reduces the "torque based
    turbo management" effects to near zero, the bean counters figure
    the "few" enthusiasts who put this kind of kit on their car, most likely
    won't overshadow the savings in stock transaxle longevity.
    Yup, sounds good except the no additional torque portion. Torque is what
    you're going to need to move a big-brick (PT cruiser) through the airstream
    el rapido during acceleration! It sure is nice to say 260hp though! I'd
    curious to see on back to back dyno runs and quarter mile times/mph for the
    stage I vs the stage II setup. Without any additional torque, I'd be
    to see much change except for MPH in the top end of the quarter.
    And my "stock" Dodge Omni GLH-Turbo (with intercooler!) will gladly hand
    any stock PT GT it's ass on a silver platter! :) Mind you my GLH isn't
    really stock! Have you seen some of the numbers people are getting out
    of the SRT-4's?? Them things are in the 12's and 11's already! - Insane,
    I like!
    Compared to what? Honda? Toyota? McCain's apple pie?
    Hmmn, yeah you said it there - small turbo ... it'll spool quickly, but once
    runs out of steam, seriously it runs out of steam. It eventually simply
    chokes off the exhaust system as it is a huge source of backpressure.
    And I'm not sure what you mean by the "natural" powerband of the 2.4L
    you can't have your cake and eat it too. Simply put the 2.4L in your PT
    does not have a "natural" powerband, i.e. naturally aspirated. It is
    Supercharged, or more accurately Turbine-Supercharged or Turbocharged.
    Thus, the engine doesn't magically stop using the turbo at 3500 rpms
    and shift into naturally aspirated mode. Every single cubic foot of air
    going into that engine or coming out of it goes through the turbo, no if
    ands ors or buts. And with a small turbo, if you want to see more power,
    eventually you'll have to trade off and go with a "big" turbo - I.E. a
    AiResearch T03 or T04 to reduce exhaust backpressure and move the
    turbo boost/dynamics maps closer to where you want them to be for the level
    of performance
    you are trying to attain.

    Surprising engine reaction? - Try a Turbo Omni man - fight for your life to
    stay on the road when full boost hits - now that's surprising, only if you
    don't know it's coming! :)
    Yeah, but 900% of "Ricers" don't have fast cars, they worry only about
    appearance, so you now know the value/fun/excitment rating of driving
    a "sleeper" vehicle. Your PT can do way more than is expected of it
    from these ricer clowns, fun isn't it?! :)
    Hmmn, my Omni GLH-Turbo is a grocery getter, what kind of treatment
    did you have in mind? - Maybe a Zaino treatment and some plastic polish
    on the tail lights for the imports to see? :) God knows no PT cruiser will
    compete with a 2200 lb Omni running 14psi of boost through an intercooler
    netting 205hp and 275 ft-lbs of torque the old fashioned way, with a 2.2L

    Craig Bower, Sep 11, 2003
  7. skidflap

    David Little Guest

    Actually, according to SAE Technical Paper Series 2003-01-0410 titled
    "Turbocharging the Chrysler 2.4L Engine" (which is written by 2 DCX
    employees, compiled from info that 10 engineers who designed new components
    for the 2.4L Turbo : "Unlike mechanical boost control strategies of the
    past, the 2003 2.4L Turbo has torque-based boost control. The driver's
    throttle input in interpreted as a desired torque. For a given throttle
    input, the driver will receive the same torque output from the engine,
    regardless of ambient conditions (temperature, barometric pressure, etc.)
    NGC (Next Generation Controller - the name for the new PCM design) can also
    reduce the torque as required under certain conditions to ensure powertrain

    So there is merit in the interest in transaxle longevity. However,
    compensating for higher ambient temperatures by providing higher boost to
    obtain the same torque as lower temps for the same throttle position does
    not qualify as ensuring powertrain durability (See Sport Compact Car
    magazine, October 2003 issue, for this tidbit of info regarding torque based
    boost management.

    The stock PCM was bad about pulling boost when a mechanical boost controller
    was installed. It had the equivalent of an electronic boost controller
    inside the PCM, and it was willing to derate performance to regain control
    of managing the boost. The 2003 PCM in the turbo had fairly new software on
    a new engine platform, and had a few oversights. The Stage I PCM corrected
    a lot of them.

    Yes, there is even a feature for Boost hold during WOT shifts in the Stage I
    advertisements. In addition, it increased WOT part throttle boost, improved
    Wastegate control routines for better turbo response, enhanced first gear
    boost schedule and reprogrammed for a soft rev limiter. However, they
    retained the torque based boost control that was inherit in the PCM design;
    still provides the same torque for any pedal position regardless of ambient

    I haven't seen any curves on it yet, but I can imagine that they have
    concentrated on the area "under the torque curves" to get the torque as high
    as possible, and as early as possible to try to maintain a fairly flat
    torque (and HP) line. If they are optimizing for high speed, they will have
    to do something about the speed limiter that has been a part of PCM

    As it is now, the Stage I reaches above 250 ft/lbs torque around 2300 and
    maintains 260 ft/lbs from 3600 to 4400 RPM. Remember that comment about
    "natural powerband? HP peaks at 235HP at 5200 RPM. Remember the comment
    about where the "natural powerband" tops out? Also, when easing into
    traffic, getting straightened out and pointed in the direction you want to
    travel, the wheels don't break loose until the 3500 RPM mark. I don't think
    it is coincidence that the torque reaches it's apex there. Even though the
    GT is turbo charged, it is still a 2.4L based engine. The 3500 to 5500 RPM
    Power Band seems to carry over to the turbo, and both the performance curves
    and actually operation go far in verifying it.

    The GLH was the ultimate sleeper. The SRT-4s are really creating some
    excitement. The 2.5L turbo Forrester XT is starting to get under the skin
    of the SRT-4 group. There is a trend toward performance re-emerging in the
    industry, and it is encouraging. I guess they had to do something to regain
    the interest of the buyer.
    Consumer Reports - (FWIW), and PT Cruiser owners. While there have been
    some problems with power steering, DCX has been good about issuing recalls
    before damage is done. Overall, PT owners have been satisfied with their
    cars, and the industry reports lower than average reliability issues, in
    terms of frequency of repairs.
    See above about the natural powerband . Even if the concept is pervceived
    as snake oil, the can be little doubt when looking at the curves and seeing
    where the tires will break loose under WOT, clutch fully out and pointed in
    a straight line. The NA Cruisers were no different. You could tell from
    the sound of the intake where the engine was "breathing better". If it
    didn't carry over as a trait of the basic 2.4L engine, DCX sure spent
    considerable effort in the PCM calibrations to mimic the response between
    3500 and 5500 RPM.

    There is a drop in both torque and HP after the 5200-5500 mark. I think the
    plans for Stage III call for both a larger turbo and an enhanced fuel
    delivery system. As it is, the GT has a non-return fuel system which
    delivers 58 PSI. It is possible that the turbo scroll area could have been
    matched to fuel delivery capabilities to lessen the chance of leaning out.

    I like the smaller turbo. It has very little (if any) turbo lag, and the
    exhaust system has been optimized to keep the low end torque high. There
    are plans for stage II to offer an optional 3" cat back system. I can only
    guess that due to the progressive increase of sizes from the O2 sensor
    housing (2 1/4") to the cat (2 1/2") and finally to the 3" catback system
    that they are looking to let the natural cooling of the exhaust gas in a
    larger pipe to create the same density, while handling a larger volume of
    extraction. This would let the car have a larger exhaust while preserving
    low end torque. Since the turbo and exhaust manifold are a single piece,
    there isn't a chance for headers...

    The "treatment" is the attention that the market is giving to the PT, Subaru
    Forrester and Subaru Baja ( I don't know what is next). They look like
    unlikely candidates to be performance oriented, but that is the way the
    market is leaning.

    There is no doubt about the merits of the GLH. It has been referred to more
    than once as the design concept that could have been used as an intro for a
    boxy vehicle like the PT to receive the turbo treatment. The PT weighs
    between 3300 to 3800, depending on the load, seats in or out, gas tank full,
    etc. To get the kind of performance that it has is hard to imagine.
    Getting below 14 secs in a PT is like getting below 12 in a lighter weight
    vehicle. I like mine, and continue to be impressed by the Stage I addition.
    I guess I am a candidate for Stage II when it is released. The PT owners
    with the turbo and stage upgrades will be a good test to see about the
    durability of the design. My guess is that if DCX is planning on releasing
    staged upgrades to build HP and Torque near the 285 mark that the engine was
    designed to deliver 10% to 20% more. It will be interesting to see how the
    trans-axles hold up to the challenge.
    David Little, Sep 12, 2003
  8. *cough*Spirit R/T*cough*

    Daniel J Stern, Sep 12, 2003
  9. skidflap

    riceman Guest

    Ahhhhhhhhhhh Choooooooooooooooo!
    Oh wait. those cars weren't anything to sneeze at.
    You got one?
    riceman, Sep 12, 2003
  10. skidflap

    really man Guest

    is the neon a good reliable car?

    It's like any Toyota or Nissan, although not as run-to-ground reliable as Honda Accords. Then again, with basic
    maintenance, most Neons will go as far, and certainly cost you less.
    I owned a 1995 and own a 2002 (ACR). I love 5 speeds and the car is a nice handling vehicle. /For the money/, no one
    makes a better-handling car.
    Most are real easy. Getting a starter off a 1st gen is a pain in the ass. Had a frozen o2 sensor once, that sucked.
    No real surprises. Super easy to do a driveway oil change, I'll say.
    You cannot kill the 1st gen auto trans. At least, until you put the wrong ATF in it. You MUST use factory-approved ATF
    in a Neon trans, no two ways about it.
    Rattles because it's cheap. 132 horses from a 122cid engine isn't all that wonderful, especially since v6s are popping
    up everywhere. Climate controls are actually less intuitive in 2nd/3rd gens than 1st gen*.

    Still: it's real easy to fix, real easy to modify for autocrossing or drag racing, parts are generally cheap and always
    cheaper than Honda-Toyota-Nissan parts, and it's a Dodge. It's Ram Tough.

    -Really, Man

    1st gen is 94-99
    2nd gen is 00-02
    3rd gen is 03+. Sorry, the SRT-4 heralds a new gen, like it or not.
    really man, Sep 13, 2003
  11. skidflap

    skidflap Guest

    thanks for the input folks.


    "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety
    deserve neither liberty nor safety."
    Benjamin Franklin

    Honda Accords. Then again, with basic
    nice handling vehicle. /For the money/, no one
    Had a frozen o2 sensor once, that sucked.
    ATF in it. You MUST use factory-approved ATF
    that wonderful, especially since v6s are popping
    racing, parts are generally cheap and always
    skidflap, Sep 15, 2003
  12. skidflap

    Morpheus Guest

    This car is listed as "risky" on the consumer reports web site.

    Morpheus, Dec 12, 2003
  13. skidflap

    clare Guest

    Don't buy 1995 or older. 1998 and up seam to be pretty good. Some head
    gasket issues, but not as bad as the early ones. Twin cammers possibly
    a bit better than singles, but are usually driven harder. Find out who
    the previous driver was. If a young fellow, you MAY want to pass on
    it. A lot of young fellows like to take on the "rice rockets" with
    Neons - which cost less than Hondas and Mazdas.
    clare , Dec 13, 2003
  14. skidflap

    Bill 2 Guest

    I hope you don't buy too much older than 95 as it was introduced in the 95
    Model Year. Personally I find the build quality, ride quality, etc. much
    better in the new generation neons (2000+) and would highly recommend one.
    No head gasket problems and the air conditioning doesn't break every five

    Not only does the Neon cost less than the Civic, it performs better stock
    than a stock Civic.
    Bill 2, Dec 14, 2003
  15. skidflap

    ted holden Guest

    I bought one in 95 and traded up to a used gen-2 (2000) with 30K miles on it
    last summer and the only reason I got rid of the 95 was the fact that I
    have relatives in the auto wholesale business and it makes no sense for me
    to be driving anything with 140K miles on it.

    When I sold the 95 it was running quite nicely. I'd just taught a friend
    from New York how to drive with it which entailed stalling the engine out
    at least 50 times (5-speed) and even that didn't phase it.

    The ONLY halfway serious problem that car ever had was needing the
    headgasket replaced at about 80K miles which all Neons prior to late 98
    models needed. This makes gen-1 Neons a kind of a bargain. You can often
    find them with 50K - 70K miles on them for very little money, immediately
    have the newer headgasket installed and timing belt replaced, and you're
    set for a very long time for what still is very little money. I see lots
    of 95 - 98 Neons with 130K + miles on them and still in very good running
    condition at the Fredericksburg auto auction.

    Only the 94s had serious problems other than the headgaskets. The neon is
    the only car I've ever liked enough to own more than one of in 40 years of
    driving. It is tall friendly, fast, responsive, very roomy for a small
    car, offers excellent gas mileage for a sports car and has excellent wet
    and bad weather handling, partly due to the cab-forward design.

    My understanding of the problems Chrysler has had with automatic
    transmissionis is as follows. Prior to the 99 models, Chryslers mid to
    large size cars had significant problems with automatic transmissions.
    Chrysler went to a better automatic transmission of their own in 99 and, at
    somepoint which might already have taken place, Chrysler cars will start to
    use Mercedes automatic transmissions. The Neon in general had fewer if any
    such problems because the Neon engine doesn't really have the torque to
    hurt an automatic transmission unless you really work at it. Moreover, if
    a Stratus or Cirrus is driven rationally, there is no reason for an
    automatic transmission to die. I frequently see those with over 100K miles
    on them with no indication that the automatic transmission has ever been a

    I still prefer the 5-speed for obvious reasons. It's nearly impossible to
    mess up, more responsive, and there is a ten mpg differential in gas
    mileage, which amounts to about 100 miles per tankful free, for a simple
    skill which I already have. That's the difference between having to stop
    in New York city for gas or driving AROUND New York City...

    Ted Holden
    ted holden, Dec 24, 2003
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