Screening out leaves from your Plymouth, Chrysler, or Dodge Neon

wiper armsOne of the interesting shortcomings of the Plymouth Neon (and the Chrysler and Dodge Neons as well) is a tendency for the fan to make dit-dit-dit noises as it hits a stuck leaf. There is an easy way to fix this — adding a screen to the cowl cover. The built in cover is supposed to screen out large objects, but it doesn't do this well enough. Newer cars usually have a replaceable filter to eliminate allergens as well, and enterprising owners can probably adapt such a filter to the Chrysler Neon; that isn't our goal today.

Start out with the right parts - the usual collection of socket wrenches and a thin flat-bladed prying thing, along with the handyman’s secret weapon and a small amount of nylon screening. This is sold in rolls at hardware stores for house windows; it’s light, easy to work with, and durable, and you may need some for your house someday.

cutting the screen

First, take out the clearly visible bolts that hold down the cowl cover. Next, remove the wiper arms —

  1. Mark the position of the wiper arms somehow. You can just leave the car sitting under a tree for a while and wait for the tree goop to mark the edges of the wiper blades. Or you can use chalk or a grease pen or something to mark the position of the arm or the wiper.
  2. Use a fine-edged screwdriver or other tool to carefully pop off the plastic covers. There is a clear indentation to make this relatively easy.
  3. Use a socket wrench to get the bolt off.
  4. Carefully but firmly pull the arm straight off. The threads on the coupling look fairly fragile.
  5. If desired and if the paint has disappeared from the wiper arm, remove the wiper blade, sand down the wiper arm, and repaint it with the appropriate flat or glossy black paint. This will extend the project time somewhat as it must dry before you have windshield wipers again.

Now, you can carefully remove the black plastic cowl cover. Carefully, so it doesn't scratch anything on the way out — or crack — lift it up and out. (We didn't have any problems.)


Flip it over and you can clearly see where to attach the screening: around the big round tube thing, and wherever there are openings to the outside world.

Use the duct tape (cut or torn where needed) to support the mesh wherever possible. If you really want to do it right, use glue (a glue gun may be the best way) to give the nylon some serious support; duct tape is for the guy who wants the whole job to take ten minutes, glue is for the guy who wants it to last ten years. I kept the Dodge Neon for two years after doing this and it was fine at that time with just the duct tape. I wish I still had it now.

dodge neon

Do not overtighten the bolts when you reattach everything. The cowl bolts don’t need a lot of force. The wiper arms must be lined up carefully and pushed on firmly but straight, and with the grooves lined up. (you'll see why when you look at them. Apparently they design the grooves to give up long before the wiper linkage, in case the wiper hits an immoveable force.) This is where marking the position earlier pays off. Mis-aligning by a small amount probably will not matter, as long as the arms don’t hit anything or leave the windshield, but it’s best to stick to the original settings.

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