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New Car, New Noises

Discussion in 'Neon' started by B10alia, Apr 16, 2016.

  1. B10alia

    B10alia Well-Known Member

    Nov 10, 2010
    I recently bought a decidedly not rusted '05 Neon (85k miles) to replace my tired old Spirit. I like the Neon so far, it's got a lot of little weird bits about it (the front reading lights, the rear cupholder integrated into the top of the console) that actually make a lot of sense when you think about them. From what little I've driven it, it's definitely quieter than the Spirit on the road, feels lighter and more nimble and has a much better engine/transmission combination than the 2.5/A413. I'm looking forward to getting better gas mileage too, I averaged high 20's at best on the highway with the Spirit and I figure I should average low 30's with the Neon without a lot of trouble.

    I am having some issues in the front end of the car, however. For starters, there's a vibration around 70 on the highway and a strong pull to the right. There's also quite a bit of noise over bumps at low speed which is coming from low down, most strongly on the passenger side (both sides are noisy). I haven't been able to check the little things like air pressure/tire rotation yet since the car isn't registered, I only drove it home after I bought it and I can't do anything other than 20mph down my dead end street for now. Poking around, the outer sway bar end links are new, the inner sway bar bushings are OK, and the sway bar has no slop with the front wheels on or off the ground. The rear control arm bushings look to be shot, though; I remember being surprised at how far down the front wheels hung with the car jacked up. The passenger side appeared to be torn in places up top while the car was off the ground. On the ground, I put a crowbar between the control arm and sway bar and was able to move the passenger side LCA quite a bit with very little force; the driver's side some, but not as much. The front suspension setup is kind of strange on one of these cars, but I assume that the rear bushing shouldn't be able to move at all if it's in good trim.

    My current plan on the rear LCA bushings is to remove the LCA, and burn the old bushing out with a torch. It seems like there must be a sleeve inside that I will need, since the more expensive Moog bushing on RockAuto has a sleeve in the picture and the cheaper Moog one does not. I'm figuring I'll pop the sleeve on some dry ice to shrink it, slide it in the bushing, leave it out in the sun for a while and then press it all in with a bench vise. I figure the front LCA bushings should be OK since they're of a more traditional design and only have 85k on them at any rate.

    I also know I need to do a timing belt sooner rather than later, and I figure that the motor mounts, at least the center one on the frame rail, should be done since I have to take them out anyway. RockAuto carries the "DEA" brand, are these any good? The mounts aren't bad per se, there's some vibration but not a lot (I drove a Neon that had a completely broken one(s) while I was car shopping and I'm not seeing anything nearly that bad). And will filling them with RTV make them last any longer? I've heard that on other sites, it seems to me like you wouldn't want to do that, but if the mount is subpar to begin with, the equation changes a bit. The vibration I mentioned above can be seen in the passenger seat and felt in the shifter, but I'm more inclined to think it will resolve with replacing the LCA bushings and that the motor mounts (especially the $90 transmission one, which you can only get from Mopar) wouldn't be a good use of my very limited finances at this point.
  2. NWbyNW

    NWbyNW Active Member

    Jun 5, 2015
    Enjoy the car. I loved my Neon beyond belief. I had a 2005 Neon since it was new, and sold it this year. Not a single problem, it never have rattles, never got worn down. Just regular maintenance and the car just ket going, the handling was great, it was quick and peppy, and a very fun car. Got it to 105,000 miles and still ran like it was new when the new owner purchased it. The new owner I can tell will live the car based on the other cars they owned.
    wolfsblood07 and T-Dot25 like this.
  3. gminnebo

    gminnebo Active Member

    May 2, 2006
    Pretty common to have the front lower control arm bushings fail (not the physical connection, just the rubber bushings wearing out), slight vibration in the front end at speed is the give away, it's a pretty cheap and easy fix (whole control arm as a unit is replaceable).
  4. ImperialCrown

    Level III Supporter

    Jun 8, 2008
    The 2nd generation Neon (PL) and PT Cruisers had a rear bushing of the front control arm separation issue. The bond between the rubber bushing and the outer steel shell will break and separate. This allows the bushing to slide down and rest against the crossmember.
    It is not a dangerous condition and won't really affect alignment/tire wear. The issue may be more prevalent in damp or salty climates.
    A possible symptom may be a 'clatter over bumps' as the arm contacts and rattles against the crossmember over bumps. See images:
    I have tried shimming rubber or plastic between the arm and the member to stop the rattle, but replacing the bushing will restore a 'tightness' to the ride and steering feel.
    You may want to heat the frame bolt slightly to soften the threadlock before removing it. You don't want the blind nut to spin inside the frame rail! An air impact wrench is good for removing and installing these. The right side requires the engine steady mount and bracket to be removed.
    Line up the bolt washer 'witness' marks when re-assembling so that mount adjustment doesn't change.
    It is best to remove the lower control arm completely and press the old bushing out and the new one in. Note the proper orientation of the bushing before removing it. An alignment check afterwards is up to you.
    I've had to replace them on dad's PT a couple of times. They should last 5-6 years around here.

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