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Old 08-07-2012, 04:40 PM   #1
Mad_Professor
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Default My dodge neon has bought the farm.

It's a 2003 dodge neon, I bought in 2005. It's current mileage is 131k.
Long story short, I've been having over-heating issues on my dodge neon, starting from the beginning of june of this year.

Drive more then 20 miles the temperature starts rising, sometimes suddenly too, as in you might be fine and all suddenly the temperature jumps to the top of the gauge. Get on the interstate fine for awhile then it starts to overheat while going 70mph.

I had the radiator pressure tested and thermally check out with a FLIR infrared camera. Upper and lower hoses replaced, thermostat replaced, water pump went out 9 months ago had it replaced, radiator cap replaced because it had no rubber gasket left, all done by a mechanic I trust.

He's not sure if it's a headgasket or a cracked block, and wants $1300 to have the block pulled and sent off to a machine shop to have a magnaflux inspection done on it.

I don't feel comfortable dumping $1300 on a test to have it tell me my block is fubar.

For that much I could just buy a new crate engine.

Hell not even that, the suspension needs work done on it soon. I can hear the control arm banging around on the frame.

I got two choices here, I could

A: have a new headgasket put on.
or
B: Drive it til it dies.

I think I can just get along with it since my place of work is only 10 miles away and I work nights. I have managed so far keeping the engine cool during the day using the heatercore of the climate control system to help cool the engine. It'll buy me some time to save up some money, pay off my credit card and then either have it repaired or buy a new car.


What do you guys think?
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Old 08-07-2012, 05:26 PM   #2
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Default Re: My dodge neon has bought the farm.

drive till dies then buy new/used motor an keep rollen! suspension is a cheap fix.
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Old 08-07-2012, 06:55 PM   #3
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Default Re: My dodge neon has bought the farm.

If it had leaked antifreeze into the oil, you would have burned out the crankshaft by now. If you have warped the head badly, coolant would be in the oil. If the inside of the rad is oily it's a bad sign. I would resurface the head and replace the head gasket. 131k miles is not a lot. Are you sure your rad is still good? A recored rad and head gasket job is the most cost effective. Replacing the motor of FWD is major labor time and not worth it IMO.
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Old 08-07-2012, 07:00 PM   #4
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Default Re: My dodge neon has bought the farm.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigbeark View Post
If it had leaked antifreeze into the oil, you would have burned out the crankshaft by now. If you have warped the head badly, coolant would be in the oil. If the inside of the rad is oily it's a bad sign. I would resurface the head and replace the head gasket. 131k miles is not a lot. Are you sure your rad is still good? A recored rad and head gasket job is the most cost effective. Replacing the motor of FWD is major labor time and not worth it IMO.
Agreed. Fix the car the right way and it will save you $. Cars are not throwaway (unless it is a cheap Chinese/Indian brand).
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Old 08-07-2012, 09:06 PM   #5
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Default Re: My dodge neon has bought the farm.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ratdude747 View Post
Cars are not throwaway (unless it is a cheap Chinese/Indian brand).
I didn't even know we had Chinese or India cars in the US yet....I'm sure its a matter of time though....you can buy coffins at walmart, so give them a little time to plan, you can get a gallon of milk for your young child, a throw-away chinese car for your 16yr old, and a coffin for your dead parent all in one stop.....

FWIW, my wifes korean SUV (2002 Kia Sportage) has been unstoppable....even when the timing belt shredded at highway speed, it did no damage internally.....very very very few OHC engines with belts or even chains can boast that one!! non-interference for the win!
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Old 08-07-2012, 10:40 PM   #6
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Default Re: My dodge neon has bought the farm.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mad_Professor View Post
He's not sure if it's a headgasket or a cracked block, and wants $1300 to have the block pulled and sent off to a machine shop to have a magnaflux inspection done on it.

For that much I could just buy a new crate engine.
Why do you trust that mechanic?
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Old 08-08-2012, 02:23 AM   #7
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Default Re: My dodge neon has bought the farm.

Quote:
Originally Posted by larrymoencurly View Post
Why do you trust that mechanic?
It's the family mechanic, therefore it's inherited.

As for everyone else, you make some great points.

I might pull the rad and get a new one for 90$
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Old 08-08-2012, 02:45 AM   #8
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Default Re: My dodge neon has bought the farm.

I don't think it would be a good idea to replace the rad untill you're sure its not going to leak oil into it, otherwise, it's only gonna wreck your new one.
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Old 08-08-2012, 03:15 AM   #9
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Default Re: My dodge neon has bought the farm.

Quote:
Originally Posted by c_hegge View Post
I don't think it would be a good idea to replace the rad untill you're sure its not going to leak oil into it, otherwise, it's only gonna wreck your new one.
Yeah but if I was leaking coolant into oil or the other way around my crank would be fubar long time ago.

The only other thing that's been an issue is the engine eats oil but doesn't blow any smoke during start up or accelerating/driving. It eats about a quart every month. It leaves no oil slick on the carport and the engine isn't bleeding fluid around gaskets and seals, even after a degreasing and engine cleaning. The spark plugs don't look like oil is being burned off. But it's not in the coolant system either, it's a mystery and it's been like this for the past 2-3 years.
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Old 08-08-2012, 10:43 AM   #10
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Default Re: My dodge neon has bought the farm.

This is unrelated, but does your Dodge Neon have electric folding mirrors? As in you press a button and they fold?

Apparently the Chrysler Neon here has that feature which is the first I've seen on an American car as our Japanese cars all have that feature.
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Old 08-08-2012, 10:57 AM   #11
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Default Re: My dodge neon has bought the farm.

Have you had any hoses blow? If so, there could be a clog.

Is the radiator clear too?

B/c you say the temp is kind of unpredictable (shoots up sometimes), it leads me to suspect a clog.
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Old 08-08-2012, 11:14 AM   #12
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Default Re: My dodge neon has bought the farm.

Here are my thoughts on your overheating problems. Many of the lower radiator hoses used on the dodges have a wire coil inner core. This coil keeps the hose from being sucked closed. This wire can and does rust out and or break up. When this happens the water pump can suck the hose closed and cut off the coolant flow. To check this out just grasp the hose when the engine is cold and squeeze it. If you can squeez it closed with out much effort you should replace the lower hose. Also you can try racing the engine a little while looking at the lower hose. It just might suck it closed while you are looking at it.
To check the radiator core disconnect the lower hose. This is done with the engine off and cold. Water should exit the radiator almost as fast as you add water to the radiator. If the water isn't flowing freely the radiator core is most likely clogged up.
My brother had a little dodge that both of these thing happened to at the same time. We put a new radiator and lower hose in it and the overheating problem was solved.
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Old 08-08-2012, 03:51 PM   #13
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Default Re: My dodge neon has bought the farm.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mad_Professor View Post
It's the family mechanic, therefore it's inherited.
I didn't mean he was a crook, but even good mechanics are usually good at some things but bad at others. Also I doubt a good mechanic would quote $1300 to just pull the engine, rather than also change the head gasket or maybe install a used engine.

Have run without the thermostat, to see if it makes any difference at all?

If you get none of the usual signs of a blown head gasket, lik milky engine oil or a really clean spark plug or cylinder, then the block may be bad after all.
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Old 08-08-2012, 05:00 PM   #14
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Default Re: My dodge neon has bought the farm.

M Proff,

I have had very good luck with Jasper engines over the years.

My first wagon (Chrysler K car) I got when the wife and I moved to Virginia had one.

It was solid.

When I was in Iraq, had the truck re worked. All kinds of front end parts.
Dropped in a re manufactured GM V6 and auto transmission into my 1989 C1500.
That was December 2004.
Was cheaper than making payments on a new truck.
The 89 is still working.
In fact it's so old now, that Fairfax Virginia can't nick me for vehicle tax any more. Might get 'antique' plates just to annoy the world.

The odometer has since failed, but the engine and trans always work.

My guess is that the truck has over 300K on it.
I consider anything over 186k miles a 'light second', so im well onto my second light second on the truck.

The engine and trans are rock solid performers.

The advice I give my friends is this.
Buy good tools once.
Work out the math of keeping the existing thing working vs payments for the next few years.

It's human nature to want new and fun things.
In this day and age we have to look at transportation from a distance and make the best decisions.

Much luck on your repair.
Jack Crow
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Old 08-08-2012, 06:23 PM   #15
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Default Re: My dodge neon has bought the farm.

Quote:
Originally Posted by stevo1210 View Post
This is unrelated, but does your Dodge Neon have electric folding mirrors? As in you press a button and they fold?

Apparently the Chrysler Neon here has that feature which is the first I've seen on an American car as our Japanese cars all have that feature.
No, my car is stock as they come, no power windows/locks/seats.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ben7 View Post
Have you had any hoses blow? If so, there could be a clog.

Is the radiator clear too?

B/c you say the temp is kind of unpredictable (shoots up sometimes), it leads me to suspect a clog.
No hose failures, if feeling for cold spots, everything feels warm.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Junk Parts View Post
Here are my thoughts on your overheating problems. Many of the lower radiator hoses used on the dodges have a wire coil inner core. This coil keeps the hose from being sucked closed. This wire can and does rust out and or break up. When this happens the water pump can suck the hose closed and cut off the coolant flow. To check this out just grasp the hose when the engine is cold and squeeze it. If you can squeez it closed with out much effort you should replace the lower hose. Also you can try racing the engine a little while looking at the lower hose. It just might suck it closed while you are looking at it.
To check the radiator core disconnect the lower hose. This is done with the engine off and cold. Water should exit the radiator almost as fast as you add water to the radiator. If the water isn't flowing freely the radiator core is most likely clogged up.
My brother had a little dodge that both of these thing happened to at the same time. We put a new radiator and lower hose in it and the overheating problem was solved.
The second time this had happen, the upper hose felt weak like no pressure.

I'll check the lower hose again, perhaps we got a defective lower hose.

Quote:
Originally Posted by larrymoencurly View Post
I didn't mean he was a crook, but even good mechanics are usually good at some things but bad at others. Also I doubt a good mechanic would quote $1300 to just pull the engine, rather than also change the head gasket or maybe install a used engine.

Have run without the thermostat, to see if it makes any difference at all?

If you get none of the usual signs of a blown head gasket, lik milky engine oil or a really clean spark plug or cylinder, then the block may be bad after all.

I understand, I only heard it from another family member, perhaps there was more to it. I picked up my neon today, I didn't feel like talking to anyone.

As for the block being bad, why go bad now?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack Crow View Post
M Proff,

I have had very good luck with Jasper engines over the years.

My first wagon (Chrysler K car) I got when the wife and I moved to Virginia had one.

It was solid.

When I was in Iraq, had the truck re worked. All kinds of front end parts.
Dropped in a re manufactured GM V6 and auto transmission into my 1989 C1500.
That was December 2004.
Was cheaper than making payments on a new truck.
The 89 is still working.
In fact it's so old now, that Fairfax Virginia can't nick me for vehicle tax any more. Might get 'antique' plates just to annoy the world.

The odometer has since failed, but the engine and trans always work.

My guess is that the truck has over 300K on it.
I consider anything over 186k miles a 'light second', so im well onto my second light second on the truck.

The engine and trans are rock solid performers.

The advice I give my friends is this.
Buy good tools once.
Work out the math of keeping the existing thing working vs payments for the next few years.

It's human nature to want new and fun things.
In this day and age we have to look at transportation from a distance and make the best decisions.

Much luck on your repair.
Jack Crow
Yeah I heard a thing or two about jaspers, but I think I want to stay mopar because of how easy it is to get parts from the local auto parts store.
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Old 08-08-2012, 07:31 PM   #16
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Default Re: My dodge neon has bought the farm.

M Poff,
These are Mopar engines, re manfactured.
In my police pack dodge and in the K Car.
They worked great.
Look them up on the web and as a minimum get a quote.
That will give you some idea as to start from.
Much luck.
Jack Crow
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Old 08-09-2012, 03:40 AM   #17
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Default Re: My dodge neon has bought the farm.

So I took my car on a 60 mile joy ride after work.

Time 3:50-5:20am
First 40 miles going 55-75mph last 20 miles going 45 with stop and go traffic lights.

Stopped every 20 miles to check engine.

Upper and lower hoses have good pressure basically they feel like over-filled bicycle tires.

I feel decent amount of heat coming off the rad but for some reason I feel like it should be more, considering how hot the top hose is.

The temperature fluctuated a little bit around the 1/4 mark but never rise more then a millimeter above the mark or below the mark

I just don't get it. If I had a bad gasket or crack block or head it should have happen during that joy ride.
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Old 08-09-2012, 07:57 AM   #18
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Default Re: My dodge neon has bought the farm.

Change the thermostat again. It sound to me like its sticking just a little bit. Other than that drive it and watch the temp. I do not believe that your engine has a cracked block or head. Its head gasket may be fine too. Keep in mind a blown head gasket can show its self in many different ways. If it blows between and oil and water passage oil gets forced into the cooling system while the engine is running. This is because the oil pressure is much greater than the cooling system pressure. When the the engine is turned off the coolant can then flow back into the oil passage. This is because the coolant pressure is still high but the oil pressure is now zero because the engine isn't running. If the gasket blows between the cylinder and the water jacket other uncool things happen. As soon as the engine starts the compression blows into the cooling system. The hoses get presureized with in seconds. There can be so much presure that coolant can get blown out of the radiator overflow. With this type of blow out the coolant goes the other way too. Dense smoke may come out of the tailpipe and the engine will miss badly. If the blow out is bad enough you may see coolant colored water being blown out of the tailpipe along with the dense smoke. When the engine is turned off the coolant can fill a cylinder. When you try and restart the engine it will act like its locked up. Its called a hydrostatic lock. Since you can't compress a liquid the piston and connecting rod can be damaged. Here is another bad way out. The gasket can blow between cylinders. This leaves you with low compression on two cylinders. The engine will lack power and may miss fire often. In yet another form of a blown head gasket the gasket can fail between the cylinder and the crank case. In this form of failure the engine can explode. On every compression stroke fuel and air are forced into the crank case. On the power stroke a little fire also gets blown into the crank case. If the the crank case ends up with the right mixture of fuel and air this little bit of fire will light it off. It can blow the oil pan and valve covers off the engine. In the last form of failure the gasket can fail between the cylinder and the outside of the block. The engine will lack power and you may hear a chug chug sound under the hood from the escaping compression. It sounds like and exhaust leak. Any of the failures that involve the water passages will cause overheating, lack of power, and missfiring. The other failures will cause lack of power, and missing.

One more idea! check you water pump belt tension. Slipping belts can cause overheating too.

Last edited by Junk Parts; 08-09-2012 at 08:03 AM..
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Old 08-10-2012, 08:08 PM   #19
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Default Re: My dodge neon has bought the farm.

JP- the water pump is driven off the camshaft[timing] belt on the Neons (Both SOHC and DOHC versions.

Mad Prof - check a Haynes or Chilton manual for bleeding trapped air in the cooling system. Many newer cooling systems use a pressurized recovery tank. I know the '98 Neons and '02 PT Losers have bleeders as well as the '00 300M's (I can list other vehicle that have them as well). The bleeder is usually located near the thermostat housing at the highest point of the engine.

The reason bleeders are installed is because the top of the radiator is no longer the highest point in the cooling system.
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Old 08-13-2012, 06:01 PM   #20
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Default Re: My dodge neon has bought the farm.

Are your e-fan(s) working properly? If one of the speeds is flaking out (or if one fan is flakey, if you have two) that can easily cause problems. Fans can be intermittent too.
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