Just picked up a new (to me) 2002 Neon. It's got about 54000 miles. I noticed the factory manual recommends changing the timing belt at 60K. Is this a big concern. Is it critical it be changed around then? I know on some cars the valves are so close to the pistons, if the belt goes, so does the valve train. Also, I haven't looked at what it takes, but is there anything to watch for?
Thanx for any help
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Just be aware this is a $500 job minimum at a shop I trust. My mechanic said they hate to see a Neon come in the door because they have so many problems and they're so hard to work on. He said if people would take good care of them then they weren't too bad but they're cheap cars that were under-engineered by Mopar so they are expensive to fix.People just tend to run them until they die. That's why most people don't change the timing belt, the cost. If you own a Neon the best investment you can make is AAA because you'll become the tow truck driver's best friend.
It can be done. Just make sure you have another car to drive because I guarentee you you'll find you need something that you didn't get beforehand. I downloaded the following instructions but I don't remember where. I'm not taking credit for them in any way. But by the time I got done reading I decided to let a repair shop do it. I would have done the job myself twenty years ago when I was really into cars and spent all my time rebuilding engines and doing everything myself. Now I'm 50 years old and live in Florida where you get sweaty just going to the mailbox. Hope this gives you some idea of the complexity of the job.
My 2000 Dodge Neon had 105,000 miles on it and needed the timing belt changed. This is not an easy task and you will find it takes about 6-8 hours if you have all the needed parts ready to install if you need them. Don't expect to just go to the local parts place and obtain some of these parts. There are several dealer only parts.
Before you start this job: 1. Inspect the upper and lower torque struts that hold the motor on the passenger side. Order them ahead of time if you see they are damaged. Make sure the local parts store has them in stock if you are not sure of their integrity. You can tell if they are bad when you remove them; they just fall apart or you can see the split neoprene. 2. Inspect your accessory belts and the serpentine tensioner pulley prior to beginning the work. Order the belts (If you have over 75,000 miles on the vehicle, you will need the new accessory belts.) or know where you can purchase them locally. 3. Make sure you can get a new timing belt tensioner unit locally at your Mopar Dealer. If you have a mechanical timing belt tensioner, you are warned by a Dodge technical bulletin to replace it with a hydraulic unit. 4. Order a water pump and replace it while replacing the timing belt. 5. Of course, purchase a timing belt, lol...
First, it was necessary to remove the passenger side tire and the splash guard behind the tire in the wheel well. The next items to remove were the accessories belts (ac, alternator, etc.) which included the serpentine belt. The crankshaft damper had to be removed with a three-arm puller tool and a small insert that protects the crankshaft threads.
Remove the power steering pump by just setting it off to the side after removing the bolts. You don't have to undo the hoses; just lay it over to the side.
Using a floor jack, you hold the engine in place while you remove the lower torque arms. Inspect the upper and lower torque arms carefully as mine needed replaced. I was very lucky that a local parts store had the lower torque arm at their warehouse; I ordered the upper torque arm as I could easily see it was broken. I would at least inspect these torque arms carefully for broken neoprene prior to beginning the timing belt change; the engine could have fallen off the lower torque arm if I had hit a huge bump while driving. When I took the upper torque arm loose, the engine shifted on the floor jack and the lower torque arm neoprene completely separated, allowing the engine to shift off the arm. The lower torque arm is about 2' long and made of aluminum with neoprene inserts for the engine to ride more smoothly on when hitting bumps. You must also remove the upper torque arm on the engine passenger side about 12" in length; that was also broken on my car and had to be replaced. The torque arms were about $112 for both.
Next, you must remove the serpentine tensioner plate which has three bolts; I think. This was a totally unexpected cost for my timing belt replacement when I tried to purchase only the plastic tensioner pulley and was informed that the item was not a replacement part; you had to go to Dodge and purchase an entire plate (with a redesigned "hydraulic" tensioner for the serpentine belt tensioner). I went to a local salvage yard and obtained a fairly new tensioner pulley for about $3; the old plastic pulley was completely worn away. A new serpentine tensioner plate with the integral tensioner was $429 at Dodge; I was very happy that I found the replacement pulley for $3 at the local salvage yard saving about $426.
You can now remove the front timing cover. Make sure to align the camshaft and crankshaft timing marks before removing the timing belt. The camshaft pulley has a mark that needs to align with the mark on the head above the pulley. The crankshaft sprocket should line up at the same time with its mark at the top of the oil pump assembly. If you accidentally move the camshaft in some manner, after you remove the timing belt, you can damage the pistons or valves.
Next, to loosen the old timing belt, you need to look at the tensioner. Insert an 8 mm Allen wrench into the hexagon opening located on the front of the belt tensioner pulley. Rotate the pulley counterclockwise until it contacts the stop. While holding tensioner pulley against stop, insert a 1/8" or 3 mm diameter pin or Allen wrench through the hole located to the left of the hex opening. While pushing pin into hole, allow the tensioner pulley to rotate back. Almost immediately, the pin should engage the locking hole to prevent further movement of the pulley. I was totally surprised by what happened when I tried to purchase a new timing belt tensioner pulley as my pulley was worn quite badly. I received the wrong part to replace the tensioner pulley three times at three different parts stores. It took about an hour to discover that there was a problem with the old "mechanical" timing belt tensioners. It is not just recommended that you change the tensioner; you must replace the timing belt tensioner plate and all if you have the older mechanical tensioner. This is a technical bulletin from Mopar that says there have been several "explosions" of the mechanical units with engine replacements needed; the tensioner actually blew a hole in the engine block. Of course, this is not a "free replacement" due to a manufacturing problem; you must purchase this item. Some of the latter models of the 2000 Neon have had the hydraulic units installed and all you need to purchase is the tensioner pulley which costs about $30. You can tell if you have the mechanical one when you actually get into and remove the timing belt; the mechanical unit has four pronounced legs, while the hydraulic unit is more of a plate (even though the holes align for both units). You must replace the back timing belt cover with a new tensioner installation (and it comes with the kit). Mine, of course, was the earlier model and required a complete plate, hydraulic unit and tensioner pulley replacement. And, of course, it was a dealer item only with a cost of $469. I had no choice but to drive (a borrowed auto) about 100 miles to a dealer that had one in stock. Before you begin your job of timing belt replacement, find out if you own an earlier 2000 and also locate a dealer with the unit in stock. You honestly should install the hydraulic unit as the technical bulletin explains the damage from an "explosion".
While you are in there, you should replace the water pump. If you read all the bulletins and people's posts about this item going bad just after they finished the timing belt, you really should just purchase the water pump and make sure it has the seal in the kit (Mine did not include the water pump seal.). The water pump was only $40. If you have to replace it, you see all the trouble you must go through again to get it out of the timing belt area. The water pump is driven by the timing belt.
The oil pump is also driven by the timing belt; however, there are not many failures of the oil pumps.
Now you may start to put the timing belt into place. If you have gotten the timing just a tiny bit off, you can follow the procedure as below. It is hard to explain in words only without pictures; however, I will try to do so. You can email me with further questions and I can send you drawings or pictures that are more explicit.
Set crankshaft sprocket to TDC by aligning the sprocket with the arrow on the oil pump housing, then back off to 3 notches before TDC, that is clockwise three teeth. Use a large wrench and the crankshaft nut to carefully adjust the timing. This is to allow for belt installation later.
Set camshaft to TDC by aligning mark on sprocket with the arrow on the rear of timing belt cover.
Move crankshaft to 1/2 mark before TDC for belt installation.
Install timing belt. Starting at the crankshaft, go around the water pump sprocket and then around the camshaft sprocket.
Move crankshaft sprocket to TDC to take up belt slack.
Remove the pin or 1/8" or 3 mm Allen wrench from belt tensioner.
Rotate crankshaft 2 revolutions and check the alignment of the timing marks.
Install front timing belt cover. Install engine mount bracket. Install right engine mount to engine mount bracket through bolt. Remove jack from under engine. Install upper torque strut. Install power steering pump assembly. Raise vehicle and install lower torque strut. Install crankshaft damper using M12-1.75 x 150 mm bolt, washer, thrust bearing and nut from Special Tool 6792. Install crankshaft damper bolt and tighten to 142 Nm (100 ft. lbs.). Install accessory drive belts. Install right inner splash shield.
Lower vehicle and perform camshaft and crankshaft timing relearn procedure as follows: Connect the DRB scan tool to the data link (diagnostic) connector. This connector is located in the passenger compartment; at the lower edge of instrument panel; near the steering column. Turn the ignition switch on and access the "miscellaneous" screen. Select "re-learn cam/crank" option and follow directions on DRB screen.
It is not a fun job unless you enjoy some very hard work and have a few specialized tools. The scan tool was purchased at Sears (I hope I can say a specific name. You can purchase the scan tool at a parts store or off the web as well.). The special tool is a three-arm puller. The other special tool is to protect the crankshaft threads. Hope this helps!!!
man is that not the worst thing to see especially when you're nearing the 10k mark. i know no shop in my area is gonna want to do that lmao, a lot of shops didn't even want to do my alignment just because they thought the camber kits were a headache. now how am im gonna get them to do something like that? plz tell me the st4 motor isnt like that?
Why would i join the evolution when i've got life by the horns?
The shop that did my timing belt said the water pump is included in the kit they bought so theychanged it when they did the job. Unfortunately they got the timing off by one tooth so the car is throwing a 1390 error and I'm going to have to take it back to have themfix it.