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Note: first-generation Neon performance tips, many of which probably apply to the second generation as well, are stored here.
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).
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