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The Neon head gasket seems to typically last about 60,000 miles, at
least for 1995-97 models. Calling Chrysler will usually yield a new
head gasket for $100 at most, assuming you have less than 100,000 miles
on your car (call 800 992 1997). The new head gasket design is better,
we are told, and not likely to fail quite so quickly. Symptoms: oil in
the antifreeze, oil on the engine, antifreeze in the oil. (Note that a
leaking valve cover gasket can also spill oil onto the engine, though
this is much less common). Dealers are also empowered to do this for
free but most will not, because they can charge you much more
than they can charge Chrysler.
Chrysler did introduce a revised head gasket, a
metal-layered-sandwhich design. It seems far superior.
Gene's Neon had 170,030 miles as of June 2001. Things that broke in
I'm writing this down from memory. I haven't done this for almost a
year. Not all these steps have to be done in this order.
Before starting, make sure you have the following:
You might need another set of exhaust bolts and gasket.
Before actually proceeding with the work, it might be wise to do the
I might have left a few things out, but you basically remove
everything and kep track of where it all goes. I take pictures. I have
a digital camera, but a Polaroid will do.
Now we start getting to the fun part:
Now, since so far, we have done all the procedures to remove a
timing belt, it would make sense to use a new belt, so we don't have to
do the labor twice when unnecessary. The timing belt's recommended
change interval is 105,000 miles. I changed mine at 127,000 miles when
I did my head gasket.
On another note, you have to go through these procedures to get to
the water pump. Usually, they would charge another 1/2 hour labor to do
the change the water pump. A water pump's life expectancy is not much
greater than 100,000 miles.
Some say you should remove the cam from the head. If you want to
examine the cam lobes and actuators, you can remove the cam. I didn't
when I did mine. If you have a DOHC motor, you need to remove the cams
to have adequate clearance to reach and remove the headbolts.
The assembly is pretty much the reverse of disassembly. A few notes:
View of front of motor with crank damper:
View of motor front with the front motor mount removed:
View of front of motor without crank damper and rear timing cover:
View of enginebay with the valve cover off:
View of motor from top. if you look where the orange stuff is, this
is where the 2.0/2.4L motors tend to pour oil:
View of motor from top with the MLS gasket:
View of head removed from car. Notice the rust stains in the
combustion chamber. This is due to the coolant leaking into the piston
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