Second-Generation Neon Performance
Note: first-generation Neon performance tips, many of which probably apply to the second generation as well, are stored here.
Chrysler / Dodge Neon performance tips
Clifford Jansen wrote that Mopar Action has an article about putting the 2.4 liter engine into the Neon. While the 2.4 is not much more powerful on paper than the Magnum 2.0, it generates more power at lower rpm.
Those who own 2000 and 2001 Neons that do not have the Magnum engine may be wondering at this point how they can upgrade to the Magnum. The answer is, basically, it is probably not worth it, since it would require changing the cam, intake system, exhaust and computer, and the resulting power boost is not especially large. On the other hand, if a Neon R/T should happen to be available at the junkyard, it may not be too impractical (we have no hands-on experience and cannot vouch for the effectiveness of this method).
Dodge Neon S 2002 modifications
1. Stock 185/60/14 Goodyear GA tires were poor - felt like they were tucking under or about to slide - upgrading to cheap 195/60/14 Goodrich Radial T/A's gave much improved steering response and better grip.
2. MOPAR catalog indicated ACR sway bars available front and rear. Front bar installed by dealer and improved handling, but not by as much an increment as the tires. Rear could NOT be installed because the rear shocks/struts don't have mounting brackets anymore for a rear sway bar - I have to install the RT shocks/struts to upgrade to a rear sway bar. The RT struts are cheaper than aftermarkets, fortunately. I will update you if I do this conversion. For the time being, just the front ACR swaybar.
3. The car bogged right after upshifting 1st to 2nd. After replacing the stock (restricted) muffler with an RT model muffler, the bog went away, and the engine seemed to accelerate smoother if not quicker (it's always been quick, though, that's the nice thing about Neons).
4. Then added a K&N filter, which made the engine run smoother. Before, I was impressed that I could run up to 60 in third (I drive conservatively). After, I found second gear would run smoothly up to 60. I didn't hit the redline "cutout" and haven't yet, although in the 1999 Neon I had before, I bumped the "cutout of death" several times.
5. Gas mileage has been around 30 so far, with no improvement from the first hundred or so miles to the 4000 I have now. However, I got a couple of tanks at 32, and driving 85-90 over 200 miles, kept mileage at 30 (whereas my Golf takes a big hit, from 30 mpg down to 25mpg).
Cold air intake (from "violator5speed") - for 2000-2004 (perhaps later)
- The first step is to remove the stock resonator box inside your driver side fender. If you lay down and look under the front of your bumper, you will find a screw/bolt facing the side of the car. Remove this screw. Then you need to unclip the black plastic in the wheel well. There are one of those black plastic factory clips that you'll probably ruin trying to yank out. Don't worry, they're very cheap and you won't even need to buy a replacement in this case. Once you remove the plastic bolt, there are 2 screws holding the plastic on which are screwed into your front bumper. They have star heads on them, so you'll need a star wrench to get them out. Once these 2 are out, you can yank at the plastic to loosen it. Now you can gain access to the other bolt holding the stock resonator box in place. Remove this screw.
- Pop your hood and get a Philips head screwdriver. Remove the top of your stock air box, which is located in the front right section of your engine. There are 5 screws holding the box down. Loosen all the screws, but they won't actually come out. Lift the top of the box off, exposing the air filter. Now you can grab the elbow to your right with the sensor in it and pull it up, removing it from the resonator box you just loosened. Give the resonator box a little push from up above, and it should fall right through onto the ground.
- Now it's time to remove the bottom of the air box. You can start by taking off your filter and setting it aside. There are 2 bolts that hold the bottom of the box in place. One of them is located up by the radiator, the other is to the right over by the elbow you removed. Both need to be loosened and removed. Now, inside the air box, there are 4 screws that hold the throttle body to the box. Loosen and remove all 4 of these bolts. After these are out, you should be able to wiggle the box around and yank it out.
- There is a small tube leading from the back of the valve cover to the box, where a sponge should be sitting. Remove this tubing so you can pull the box out. Watch for a little wire that is clicked onto the box in the front, you need to grab the plastic piece and pull it off so you can take the box
- Anything that you think may be hard about this project is over. Everything from here on out is even easier. Now you can remove the bellows tube (accordion-shaped tube from intake manifold to throttle body). Be careful not to let the throttle body just hang after this, make sure there is something there to support it. Now comes the supplies
- Three 2" rubber couplers with hose clamp on each end - $12
- 3 feet of ABS piping (might have to buy 10ft for $5 or so)
- One 90 degree ABS bend
- Depending on your choice of air filter, special mounting for the filter
- We'll start off by replacing the bellows tube. Place one of the rubber couplers over the inlet on the intake manifold. Cut about 6 to 7 inches of ABS piping to replace the bellows tube. Slide one end of the ABS piping into the rubber coupler and tighten the hose clamps. Now you can place a rubber coupler on the other end of the piping and slide the other end over the inlet on the throttle body. You can now tighten the hose clamps.
- Place a rubber coupler on the other side of the throttle body. This may take some squeezing to fit on, but it will fit. Measure the right length of ABS to reach from the throttle body to the hole in the fender (leaving room for the 90 degree bend). *Notice you have a sensor and a tube with no where to go. You can choose to drill a hole in this piece of ABS for the sensor to fit in. I left the "breather" hose alone, simply shoving a piece of sponge into the end, but not so far that it gets stuck.* Attach the 90 degree bend to the end of the ABS piping in order to route the tubing down into the fender. Aim some piping (6in or so) towards your bumper and figure out how you want to mount your air filter. This may be easier by coming up through the bottom, where your resonator box used to be.
- Make sure all of your connections are tight and secure so nothing will fall apart. Now you can slide the black plastic in the wheel well back into place. Screw the start head bolts back in, and if you ruined that cheap plastic factory bolt, you can use a piece of string or something to hold the plastic in place so it doesn't jiggle around.