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Discussion Starter #1
Hey guys I recently bought a 98 Neon with DOHC and a 5 speed transmission. The guy sold it to me for $500 because it has a bad timing belt (I have visually confirmed it's bad) but the rest of the car is in great shape with only minor paint peeling. The car seems well taken care of and has 258,000 miles on it. I am tech savy so a timing belt is no issue at all. But I want to know if there is any common conditions to look out for. Ik the engine and transmission are pretty stout if you care for them correctly but any advise would be greatly appreciated. Thanks guys :)
 

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If the timing belt broke, it probably bent a few valves. Areas to look for that are weaker spots are the control arm bushings and the motor mounts. Both were soft rubber to reduce NVH but the soft rubber tends to wear out. Aftermarket parts can address those issues. The other area of concern might be the head gasket but it's likely the head will come off for the repair so use the MLS gasket.
 

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A snapped timing belt is a big job on a DOHC Neon. There is very little clearence with the DOHC motor. There are cases where valves will damage the pistons as well. You want to change the water pump and the tensioners. Bad tensioners will cause the belt to break again. When this is done in a shop, they also replace the motor mount. It's a 12-1500 job in a shop. If I were you, I would go to neons.org. That is the place where all the Neon owners get the good advice.
 

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You can check for bent valves by pulling the valve cover and loosening the cam journal bolts. This will lift the cams and close the valves (the ones that can close). Then apply air pressure to each cylinder with a compression tester adapter hose screwed into the spark plug hole.
Air hissing out of the throttle body would be from bent intake valves.
Air hissing out the tailpipe would be from bent exhaust valves.
Air hissing out the oil filler cap hole would be ring/piston leakage (there will be a little bit).
I have found that intakes usually get bent and maybe not all of them. Diagnose this before pulling the head.
It is tight, but if you remove the hood, RF wheel and splash shield and remove the Rt. motor mount with a floor jack under the pan (if it is aluminum, use a block of wood to distribute the lifting force and do not use a lot of force if it goes no higher) it will allow access to everything you need.
Get a good service manual for pictures, procedures and torques.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
sorry to clarify, I have NOT purchased the vehicle, onto the next first gen Neon, I'd rather not deal with the possibility of bent valves. As always you guys rock with the input
 

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Would of been a good project to jump on. I think in the 5 years with Chrysler ive been in the shop I have only seen 1 2.4 bend valves on a broken belt. The rest had new belt, pump and tensioner and away they went. Even if the valves bent If you are ballsy enough to try a timing belt job then pulling the head is 30mins more. And with a broken belt the strip down is so much quicker.
Get it fix it yourself then flog it for a profit.
 

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1998 Neon R/T was still the 2.0L DOHC and was a highly interference valve-to-piston engine with a broken belt event. The 2.4L DOHC in the SRT-4 was a more forgiving and "possible" valve-to-valve engine if the belt broke.
These were fun and practical little cars. The Caliber and Dart may have their strengths, but are no Neon.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I have recently found a 99 neon in my price range with no timing issue, I will be picking it up Wednesday. it has 178,000 miles. About how long to the head gaskets last?
 

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Just about forever, unless it's a very early 1999 that used the pre-MLS gasket.
 

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You may be able to tell just by looking. the MLS gasket will have rivets (or something similar) holding the layers together and they are supposed to be visible.
 

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Jeff2KPatriotBlue said:
If it has that milage, then it likely either has the revised part, or it has already been replaced.
I agree with this. I bought a 97 Neon with the DOHC motor in it brand new in 97. Headgasket went at just over 45K miles. Luckily for me I had the extended warrenty. A friend of mine used to work at a Chrysler Dealer and he said that they would do a slip and slide when they changed the headgaskets on the Neons to get them out.
 

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But yet, they didn't all fail. I sold a 1995 SOHC Neon in 2003 with 145k on it. It had been in the family since new and was still running on the original, non-leaking head gasket.
 

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The standard disclaimer that entry level cars are often owned by people who can't afford to upkeep them... so beware of missed "maintenance" items like oil changes.

Not sure about the 1st gens, but the 2nd gens ate rubber control arm bushings for lunch... replaced with polyurethane and you are good for life.

Frameless windows might not seal well due to the door being closed by the window... might cause a whistle.

Other than that, they are pretty stout cars!
 

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Discussion Starter #17
The guy I bought it off of was a Mopar guy, he had an SRT4 also. It has actually been pretty nicely taken care of mechanically, there are a few things here and there but no major flaws
 
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