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1997, after 20 years

Hot luxury: 1957 Chrysler 300C

Meet the Mopar 300

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

One of the interesting shortcomings of the Plymouth Neon (or the Chrysler or Dodge Neon) 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.

cutting the screen

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

wiper arms

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. 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 use chalk or a grease pen.
  2. Use a fine-edged screwdriver or other tool to carefully pop off the plastic covers. There is a clear indentation to make this 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 fragile.
  5. If the paint has disappeared from the wiper arm, you can sand down the wiper arm, and repaint it.

Remove the black plastic cowl cover — carefully, so it doesn’t scratch anything on the way out — or crack — lift it up and out.

screen

Flip it over and you can see where to attach the screening: wherever there are openings to the outside world (not over the big round thing, though). Clean the underside of the cowl cover.

Use the duct tape (or are better tapes for this purpose) to support the mesh wherever possible. If you really want to do it right, use glue 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 in particular 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. (they seem to design the grooves to give up long before the wiper linkage, presumably 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, but it’s best to stick to the original settings.


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