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The purpose of this page is to provide a (hopefully!) objective report on my ownership experience. First, there will be a synopsis, which will likely not be updated often, unless my opinion markedlly changes from what is published below. The initlal report was posted at just over 78,000 miles. Subsequent to that, I've posted more or less monthly updates on the status of the car. It is hoped the information will assist someone in purchasing a Neon of their own. :)

NOTE: This page has reached it's conclusion.  The Neon is no longer part of the family; and it was a little tough letting go. If I had to do it all over, I'd do all 9.5 years over again. No doubt. A great little car.

 Go right to the updates!

The Good:

Mechanically very cheap to operate, even considering the fuel pump and rear main seal that were replaced the last couple of months.. Other repairs included minor things like the turn signal switch; and the seat belt sheath. One headlight bulb. Original brakes lasted 87k, original plug wires lasted 90k.

Handling is still good, considering the struts have 129k on them. Everything works as new (my friend's 95 Mustang has a window crank that falls off when you breath on it). It might be masked a bit by road roar, but I don't hear any wind noise.

A blast to drive. Just as it was new. Handling really comes in handy avoiding things like bowling balls in the road. A wonderful package for the money; better than some more expensive competitors. While it is starting to show its age a bit; not as much as the aforementioned Mustang. Brakes excellent.

Still feels pretty well put together. The dash top has been off a couple times;and at the time I was worried that the r & r might have set it up for rattles. Pretty good so far; even minus one clip that I manhandled off.

Very good AC and excellent heat/defrost.

My Neon has been spared many of the 95 Neon peculiarities (wet puddle growl as an example).

 The Bad:
 
The windows. You know the drill; rattle rattle scratch drip.

Exactly how much did they save by not finishing off the back of the turn signal switch? Feels real cheap. Ditto for the lack of a glove box lock.

Trunk sounds super tinny when closed (95's had less padding back there; a '99 I saw at the dealer had a *much* more substantial sound when closing the trunk).

Lots of road noise. Either it's getting worse or it's getting to bug me a bit more.

Some dash rattles and squeaks becoming apparent; though not too bad yet. Some might be due to misc. debris inside the car :-) Still; my Lebaron was quieter at 105k (as far as interior noises) than my Neon now. Of course it was quieter than the Neon when the latter was new, as well. Most of them surface in colder weather, due to shrinkage of components. Noticed with temps as mild as the 60s.

The AC really kills the performance.

 

Overall:
The original Neon was marketed as cheap and a blast to drive. I think that both the Good and Bad reflect this. My car was cheap to buy (especially as a leftover :), and cheap to own. It's never failed me in my requests for handling or acceleration (at least when the AC is off). I wish the road noise was a bit less intrusive, and that the windows were thought out better. As far as transportation, the car has been strictly jump in and drive; I feel very confident in the car.
Updates:

Update 6/25/05 - (163,380 miles)

Well, this is the FINAL update to this page. On 6/24/05, at 2PM, we took delivery of our 2005 PT Cruiser. The Neon is back where he started, as we purchased from the same dealer. Thanks lil' buddy!

Update 6/11/05 - (163,200 miles - 350 since last update)

New plugs and air filter means Neon run much better :)

Update 5/26/05 - (162,850 miles - 3,600 since last update)

A repair to report...he needed a new radiator. Also new rad hoses; only prudent given they're original!

Update 3/10/05 - (160,250 miles - 1,400 since last update)

Second update of the year! Not a terrible amount of new stuff, just a lot of salt and crap. A little bit of peeling paint on the trunk. Suspension is officially shot and needs attending to Real Soon Now.

Update 1/26/05 - (158,850 miles - 11,350 since last update)

Well,  the updates have ground to a halt, eh? Let's see...

1999 - 2 updates (started in October)
2000-  10 updates
2001-  10 updates
2002-   5 updates
2003-   3 updates
2004-   0 updates(!!!)
2005-   1 update (so far :)

Nine years 1/26/96-1/26/05


Wow, nine years. New? Not much. The ol boy is still kickin'. A little creak here, a little clunk there, a few lights out on the radio
(including an intermittent display). A little reluctant to go into reverse first thing in the morning when it's cold out. But overall...he's the same ol' Neon. So he's still mine.

Update 12/3/03
- (147,500 miles - 3,899 since last update) The old Dunlops were toast, replaced by Pirelli P400s; so far so good. Had an alignment done as well - amazing the difference it made! Other than that...nothing new!

Update 9/6/03 - (143,601 miles - 3,201 since last update) A repair to report; shocking :) The AC started gurgling and whining, and I feared the worst. Turned out to be the expansion valve and low pressure cutout switch; not too expensive. AC is cold as ice again, and as a reward I washed the car today :)

Update 6/6/03 - (140,400 miles - 8,300 since last update) Hee. Pretty funny, that last comment. As you can see, I've passed 140k. No drama, no new windshield, no new suspension either. No money! Plus, the originals are hanging in there. He needs a good wax job, but I gave the interior a good cleaning...pulled the seats out and everything. This little car is the Energizer Bunny.

Update 8/11/02 - (132,100 miles - 2,071 since last update) Heh. So much for monthly updates ; sorry about that. Obviously travel has lessened; note above that I did an update on this exact day last year! And I've put less than 10,000 miles on the car in that time. Wow. Quite down from an average of 25,000 some years ago. I must say, one reason for lack of updates is that there hasn't been much *to * update. I do have to adjust the windows; and he needs new plugs. But he runs great despite it; and is still very solidly put together. I'm beginning to worry about the windshield though, as it's looking its age. The suspension needs attention too very soon. Hopefully it won't be three months before I update this again!!!

Update 5/12/02 - (130,029 miles - 879 since last update) A fairly quite month; nothing of note to report...

Update 4/5/02 - (129,150 miles - 1,135 since last update) On 3/29 I noticed oil spots on the garage floor as I pulled out. Diagnosis was the rear main seal, a bummer. Just got the car back yesterday. He needs a bath :)

Update 2/24/02 - (128,015 miles - 1,000 since last update) New fluid did stop the PS noise. However, a new noise initiated an investigation and eventual replacement of the fuel pump and fuel filter.

Update 1/17/02 - (127,015 miles - 1,223 since last update) Wow, the mileage has really dropped off. Should start to pick up a little as I've got a job now :-) Some groaning the from the power steering, maybe some new fluid will help. Will get it checked out.

Update 11/20/01 - (125,792 miles - 2,111 since last update) Yes, a long time since the last update. He gets driven a bit less now, as the commute mileage is lessened. There's a LOT of reasons for missing the October update and the early November one: 9/11, marriage, moving, adopting a dog, and general craziness. Plus, not much news on the Neon front :)

Update 9/5/01 - (123,681 miles - 1,369 since last update) Pretty quiet month here too, save for a wash. My last update as a non-married person!!!!

Update 8/11/01 - (122,312 miles - 1,688 since last update) A fairly quiet month for the Neon.

Update 7/14/01 - (120,624 miles - 2,074 since last update) Just finished a much needed cleaning, inside and out. Ths summer has been really busy, what with the new house and all, so 'optional' maintainence (i.e. the windows) has been deferred yet again. Required maintainence has been done, including new tranny fluid a few hundred miles ago.

Update 6/6/01 - (118.550 miles - 1,916 since last update) An uneventful month. Windows still unadjusted :(

Update 5/3/01 - (116,634 miles - 1,785 since last update) In need of a wash, and soon the windows will finally be adjusted properly. Car keeps rolling along...

Update 4/6/01 - (114,849 miles - 1,849 since last update) Still waiting for Spring to really hit. Nothing really to report this month; just another period of care free driving :)

Update 3/10/01 - (113,000 miles - 2,062 since last update) Another nice month, except for the weather :) A nice sunny day means a wash, new plugs, and an interior cleaning. Also a purchase of cleaning materials for the Spring :)

Update 2/3/01 - (110,938 miles - 1,923 since last update) The five year anniversary of my purchase came and went. Just today the car got a big cleaning; inside and out, body & motor. New oil, cleaned everything out with a Motor Vac. She runs just great.....

Update 1/3/01 - (109,015 miles - 1,116 since last update) The girl got a nice week off between Christmas and New Years as we were in Florida. Sure glad there's a garage. It' s still cold, now there's snow...my baby needs a bath!

Update 12/9/00 - (107,899 miles - 2,099 since last update) It's cold out, and with that comes shrinking plastic and a couple buzzes to track down. Still need to adjust windows, but, er, it's cold out :) That's about it for this month :-)

Update 11/4/00 - (105,800 miles - 1,856 since last update) New tires this month; in preparation for winter. Definitely needed :) rubberized trim that surrounds the door opening had been loose where the B pillar meets the roof; been that way for ages. Popped off the skid plate and reapplied; all pretty now :)

Update 10/6/00 - (103,944 miles - 2,227 since last update) As promised, the car now has a new timing belt and water pump, with a bonus of a new thermostat, again as a preventative measure. Nothing negative to report :)

Update 9/1/00 - (101,717 miles - 1,593 since last update) Just getting back to first week of month reporting :) Not much new here, by the next update I'll have a new timing belt and water pump.

Update 8/14/00 - (100,124 miles - 2,766 since last update) On August 10, at around 7:50 PM, she hit 100k. I'm accumulating a small list of things to do, from fixing rattly windows to clunky steering knuckles. Nothing big though. Promptly after hitting the milestone, the Neon was parked for the weekend and we took the Fifth Avenue to a wedding on Long Island. A well earned weekend off for the Neon, I'd say :)<>Update 7/8/00 - (97,358 miles - 472 since last update) A couple days ago I detected a slight miss at idle. Last night, it ran really crappy and set a code 43 (misfire in one or more cylinders) Got new plugs and wires and she's right as rain :)

Update 6/30/00 - (96,886 miles - 2270 since last update) Got a bath & a wax today; on top of the intensive interior cleaning last week it's sparkling now!

Update 6/1/00 - (94,615 miles - 2475 since last update) Another quiet month; just rolling on and on, in bad need of a bath :)

Update 4/29/00 - (92,140 miles - 2039 since last update) Quiet month on the Neon front. No gurgles, just fun :)

Update 4/1/00 - (90,101 miles - 836 since last update) Well, over 100 miles yesterday put me over the 90k hump. No fanfare, but I *did* see it roll over :). Some warm days here, and no more gurgle, so hopefully the new cap fixed the problem.<>Update 3/21/00 - (89,265 miles - 2197 since last update) Since the brakes were done, I've had an oxygen sensor go (the upstream one) and I heard the dreaded gurgling again. I replaced the rad cap (which is the one that was on when the gasket blew; it might have been affected). So far so good. Oh; and I've replaced the plugs. The old ones looked fine; just normal wear.

Update 2/19/00- (87,068 miles - 618 since last update) Well, finally. The Neon needed new brake pads. The factory ones lasted 87,059 miles, which is pretty amazing, especially for an auto trans.<>Update 2/10/00- (86,450 miles - 3600 since last update) After some mighty cold nights (5 degrees or so) I've decided the heater is fine. I lost the foam for the radar detector so it buzzes again :( My garage door opener was the source for another buzz so it got moved to the passenger seatback pocket. Still original brakes; still running fine :)

Update 12/8/99- (82,850 miles - 3,253 since last update) One of the dash rattles turned out to be my radar detector knocking against the windshield. A well placed piece of foam cured that. The head gasket job was a success, though now the temp gauge takes longer to rise to 'normal'. Same good heat as before though; and eventually it gets to the same level. I just passed inspection, so that's out of the way for two years :-)

Update 10/14/99- (79,597 miles) I've just returned from the dealer with a new head gasket installed. On 10/11 I noticed a gurgling sound upon shutdown. On 10/12, while heading home from work, the temperature gauge spiked, and I headed for the dealer. The diagnosis was the head gasket. I'd been expecting the gasket to go, because they usually do on this engine. The replacement is the much sturdier MLS gasket.




Future of my Neon:

Updated 6/24/05 - The PT Happens

I'm very seriously looking into the PT Cruiser, but I'm not looking to jump out of the Neon just yet. I'll be first in line to drive a PT, but I'll stick with the Neon until a decent deal comes around. I'm in no huge hurry.

Updated 11/8/99- With the recent announcement by Daimlerchrysler(sic) regarding the cancellation of the Plymouth brand, and the subsequent advice "Just get over it" from Chrysler President James Holden, I'm REALLY no longer in a hurry to dump money into DC's coffers at the moment. I'm just not in the mood to think about it right now.

 

Plus there are rumors of a turbocharged version of the 2.4 winding up in the PT down the road. :-)

Updated 3/21/00 - Still stickin' with the Neon. Performance on the PT is an issue, but that will be answered soon when they're on dealer lots. Still not happy (in fact less so) with the direction Daimler is taking Chrysler. Not wowed by the Sebring/Stratus sedans/coupes (ewww Mister Squishy...). Hope it's not a bad sign or PT will be my last new Chrysler. that's a ways down the road though.

Updated 4/1/00 - See PT review for Test Drive info. Short summary: I like it! It'll be my new car eventually, but it's not imminent. Likely no further updates on this for 5-6 months....

Updated 11/4/00 - PT delayed further; buying a house & getting married take precedence. A year or so looks like a realistic target at this point....

Updated 4/6/01 - A new roof and the desire to redo the windows, as well as the tease of the PT Convertible, might conspire to keep me in the Neon longer than planned. Which isn't a bad thing; I have enough confidence in the car to wait out the storm and see what is available. I keep a car a long time and would hate to second guess myself.

Updated 4/5/02 - Heh. A year later and not much changes! The PT Turbo is out this summer, and that's my new eventual goal. The foreseeable future of the Neon looks good though.

Updated 6/6/03 - Well, well. Another year, same Neon. Same story too :) He keeps rolling along.

Updated 6/14/05 - A couple of years later...still going...


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