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2nd Gen Neon 2000 - 2005 2nd Gen Neon

Buying a used Neon? What to look for...

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  #1  
Old 03-01-2011, 10:48 PM
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Default Buying a used Neon? What to look for...

Question:
Quote:
“I am considering purchasing a Neon. What should I look for before I buy it?”
Answer:

Neon-specific:
  • Broken torque strut mounts. They keep the engine from torquing under load. Broken torque strut mounts, also referred to as upper and lower motor mounts, will cause shifts to be harder, vibration in the inside and will lead to premature failure of both the [center] motor mount and transmission mount.
  • If an automatic, check the transmission fluid and make sure it is solely red in color, or a shade thereof, and does not appear to have or smell like antifreeze (sweet) at all. Antifreeze in an ATX will cause it to essentially self-destruct as the clutch pack material will be eaten away. Likewise, check the coolant and make sure it is green in color. If it is reddish/brownish, that could be a sign of the same leak. NOTE: It seems Mopar coolant is red? Not sure how to check if that's the case. Flush and use G05?
  • If the car is near or above 105,000 miles, find out if the timing belt, water pump and tensioner have been replaced. This is one of the most important preventative maintenance items for these cars. Failure to do this can and probably will lead to a broken timing belt, and a new engine.
  • Check the lower control arm bushings, lower ball joints and outer tie-rod ends. These are common wear and tear items that can cost in the hundreds of dollars range to fix.
  • Open the trunk and check the spare tire area for water/mold. The taillight seals will go out and allow any water to enter the vehicle. It will generally start to fill up the spare tire area, but can quickly spread to the interior of the car.
  • Pull the spark plug wires out and check for oil in the tubes. If there is, the valve cover will usually need to come off to fix the problem.
  • Check the oil pressure sensor on the back of the engine to see if it is leaking.
  • An oil leak on the passenger side, underneath the engine, may be bad cam and/or crank seals under the timing cover.
  • A faulty MFS (Multifunction Switch) or Intermittent Wiper Switch, and/or possibly melted MFS/Wiper wiring (both use the same connector AFAIK), can cause the headlights, turn signals and wiper blades to not function properly, provided everything else is correct; i.e.- no fuses are blown, no bulbs are blown, wiper motor isn't bad, etc...
Some sounds to listen for:
  • Squeaking and/or creaking while going over bumps- worn/torn lower control arm bushings or sway bar bushings.
  • Creaking while turning- worn outer tie rod ends.
  • Clunking while going over bumps- worn lower ball joints or sway bar bushings.

General items for any car:

Engine:
  • Check the motor oil dipstick to see if it is filled to the proper levels.
  • Color is not a good indicator of bad motor oil. Oil turns darker as it cleans the engine; this is normal. The oil generally should not be pure black. The oil should not look like a milkshake though; this is a sign of water contamination. This could be from a loose oil cap, or antifreeze leaking into the oil through a cracked passage in the block or a failed headgasket.
  • Feel a bit of the oil between your fingertips, feeling for any grit or a sludge-type feel to it. These are signs of poor maintenance.
  • Does the oil smell burnt? Not good either.
  • Look at the underside of the oil cap, if it has one. Is there build-up underneath?
  • Look at the internal engine through the oil fill hole. Is it clean inside?
  • Look for leaks and corrosion around key engine components.
  • Look for electrical tape on any wiring.
Exhaust
  • Does the catalytic converter glow red after a proper drive?
  • Is there blue smoke? This indicates the car burns oil.
  • Is there black smoke and/or does the exhaust smell like raw fuel? This indicates excessive fuel consumption (rich condition).
  • Is there white smoke? This indicates that coolant/antifreeze is getting into places in the engine that it shouldn't be (blown head gasket, cracked head...)
Automatic Transmission
  • Same as checking the motor oil, except there isn’t a cap usually.
  • Does the transmission slip while going through the gears? They should firmly engage/shift.
  • Listen for any noises and feel for jerks, shutters or grinding.
Manual Transmission
  • These can go long periods of time without needing maintenance, but while driving, listen for any noises and feel for jerks, shutters or grinding in the pedal and shifter. Does the clutch pedal feel “loose” in its travel?
Cooling System
  • Check for proper fluid level.
  • It should be a bright green in color (if a traditional coolant is used).
  • Look underneath the radiator cap for any corrosion and to make sure the gasket is in good condition and intact, and for any rust flakes floating in the coolant.
Suspension
  • Are the struts leaking?
  • Any squeaks, clanks or popping noises?
  • Excessive bounce after driving over a bump/uneven ground?
Tires
  • Check the tread. Is there any? Is there irregular wear?
  • Are there any cuts, gouges, bubbles or cracks in the sidewall?
Body
  • Mis-colored panels? Repaint? Why?
  • Check gaps between the doors, between the hood and trunk between fenders…
  • Look at the paint from the side. Does it all look the same? Any “waves” in the paint, from body work?
  • Do the doors open smoothly?
  • Any paint missing? Rust on the exterior or in door jambs?
Interior
  • Smells?
  • Animal hair?
  • Cracks/tears/burns in seats, carpet, headliner, paneling and dash?
  • Do all of the buttons and controls work?
  • Do all of the door handles and locks work?
  • Are any warning lights on in the instrument cluster?
  • Is the carpet under the dash/front of the center console wet?
HVAC
  • Does the heater blow hot air after the car is warmed up?
  • Does the incoming heated air smell sweet like engine coolant?
  • Does the A/C blow cold air?

You can also look online for several other articles that may list other things to check for, go more in-depth about certain things that I mentioned or provide actual buying tips, facts and cautions.

Here are some to get you going:
http://www.samarins.com/check/index.html
http://www.carsdirect.com/used-car-buying/
http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/cons...tos/aut03.shtm
http://autos.msn.com/advice/articles/aischecklist.aspx
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Torque Strut Alignment Procedure | Maintenance Info | '00-'02 FSM | '03-'05 FSM | FAQ and Performance Thread

Please do not PM me questions about your Neon. Start a thread. Your questions will be answered quicker that way.
If you do PM me, expect a 1-2 week wait for a reply.
All FSM pictures, pages and information: 2003 DaimlerChrysler Corporation

Last edited by darthroush; 02-07-2013 at 02:03 AM.. Reason: Added items...
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Old 03-01-2011, 11:11 PM
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Thanks Darth, quality post.
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Old 03-02-2011, 12:20 AM
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[quote=darthroush;2433712]Question:
Answer:


  • Mis-colored panels? Repaint? Why?

bumper covers don't always match from the dealership, if you pay close attention to brand new cars on the dealers lot some cars have a slight color difference from the bumper covers. This doesn't always mean that they were replaced or repaired.
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Old 03-02-2011, 01:25 AM
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True, certain materials can "show" the same color different than others (i.e.- fiberglass and metal). The point I was trying to make is that if they look to be different, was it repainted/replaced and why.

For example, the RR quarter panel of my car is a very, very small shade different than the rest of the car (probably not noticeable to anyone except my OCD-self). It also has waves in it from a less than stellar job of repairing the panel when the previous owners got into an accident with it. That, and clear coat is starting to peel off of the edges of that same panel, and the rear bumper that was also repainted.
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Torque Strut Alignment Procedure | Maintenance Info | '00-'02 FSM | '03-'05 FSM | FAQ and Performance Thread

Please do not PM me questions about your Neon. Start a thread. Your questions will be answered quicker that way.
If you do PM me, expect a 1-2 week wait for a reply.
All FSM pictures, pages and information: 2003 DaimlerChrysler Corporation

Last edited by darthroush; 03-02-2011 at 01:28 AM..
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Old 03-03-2011, 01:59 PM
CyrilKeir CyrilKeir is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darthroush View Post
Question:
Answer:

Neon-specific:
  • Broken torque strut mounts. They keep the engine from torquing under load. Broken torque strut mounts, also referred to as upper and lower motor mounts, will cause shifts to be harder, vibration in the inside and will lead to premature failure of both the [center] motor mount and transmission mount.

Did a recent check of my neon, the upper right has a rather large crack through the rubber, and the bottom right has a small crack. I can't tell if the middle one is cracked...

Where would be the best spot to purchase the two motor mounts? I'd probably be ordering them, and then having a shop install them.

Any suggestions?
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Old 03-06-2011, 05:11 AM
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Amazon usually has the cheapest prices. You could always compare with a local parts store though.
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Torque Strut Alignment Procedure | Maintenance Info | '00-'02 FSM | '03-'05 FSM | FAQ and Performance Thread

Please do not PM me questions about your Neon. Start a thread. Your questions will be answered quicker that way.
If you do PM me, expect a 1-2 week wait for a reply.
All FSM pictures, pages and information: 2003 DaimlerChrysler Corporation
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Old 04-24-2011, 06:43 AM
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Excellent post sir!
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Old 09-02-2011, 01:07 PM
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This was really helpful. thank you.
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Old 09-03-2011, 12:15 AM
xarkhun xarkhun is offline
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the color difference on the bumpers is usually from the flex addative in the paint that causes it to dry slower which causes it to be darker its not usually the material that casues it
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Old 12-03-2011, 07:59 PM
turbo talon dl 94 turbo talon dl 94 is offline
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Save yourself the trouble and dont buy a Neon. All of the things that Darth Roush listed are very good items to be aware of but if (especially IF) you're buying from a dealer they have ways of "masking" certain problems like emissions control and some of the engine noises. They can disconnect the battery and clear the codes and they may not return for several weeks which by then the warranty period will be up and use heavier than recommended oil for quieting lifter tick and other nosies which would discourage purchases. Check the brakes and pay special attention to the rear drums if you have them. Ask when the battery and alternator were last changed as well. The alternator is NOT fun to work on.

Last edited by turbo talon dl 94; 12-03-2011 at 08:00 PM.. Reason: ..
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Old 12-03-2011, 07:59 PM
 
 
 
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