Neon PL 2k Suspension Information


The second generation Neon's suspension is similar in design to the first generation, with independent control arms (single-wishbone front; multilink rear) damped by McPherson struts. The largest change is increased jounce travel all around, which improves the ride but generates a lot of comments about 4WD and off-roading. Spring rates and strut valving remain similar to the first generation car; however, with extremely limited exceptions, no parts are interchangeable between generations.

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2003.2 Touring Suspension

Like its predecessor, the Touring suspension (SDC) package is standard on most Neons. It is used on all SE/LE, ES/LX, and SXT/Sport Neons unless they have the Sport Appearance Package. This is the softest setup, but still offers good handling capabilities. Slightly higher center of gravity and slightly softer struts with more travel mean that the second generation car does not handle quite as crisply, but certainly rides better than the original.

Touring Suspension Specifics
Spring Rate (Front) 140 lbs/in
Spring Rate (Rear) 110 lbs/in
Front Sway Bar 20 mm
Rear Sway Bar Equipped on 2000-2001
Steering Ratio 18:1 (power assist)
Struts Tokico Firm

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2003.3 Sport Suspension

The Sport suspension package uses the same design Tokico struts as the Touring suspension; however, the struts are valved for somewhat stiffer response. Roll stiffness is increased as well with a heavier front sway bar and the addition of a rear sway bar (again similar to the first generation car). This package comes standard on the R/T, and is included on both SE and ES Neons when equipped with the optional Sports Appearance Package. The Sport package has the same steering ratio as the Touring setup, but with less power-assist boost for better road feel.

Sport Suspension Specifics
Spring Rate (Front) 150 lbs/in
Spring Rate (Rear) 120 lbs/in
Front Sway Bar 22 mm
Rear Sway Bar 19 mm
Steering Ratio 18:1 (firm feel power assist)
Struts Stiffer (Tokico)

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2003.4 Competition Suspension

The Competition suspension package is only available on ACR Neons, and is even more fully developed than the first generation ACR. Foremost in the design are double-adjustable struts with a wide range of stiffness for both rebound and compression. Compression/rebound are adjusted together rather than separately; but this is an improvement over the later first-generation ACR Konis in which compression was not adjustable at all. The Competition struts are inverted in design, meaning the hydraulics are at the top of the strut, for increased strength and resistance to lateral loading. They adjust from below rather than above. These excellent pieces are manufactured in the UK by Dynamic Suspensions, and are similar to the struts used in the popular British Touring Car series racecars. Spring rates are the same as the Sport package, as are the front and rear stabilizer bars. The Competition package also includes the low-boost "firm feel" power steering.

The struts have six full turns of the adjustment knob. To adjust damping, turn the knob clockwise until strut damping is at full hard, then turn the knob counter-clockwise to the desired number of detent clicks. 24 clicks down is considered full soft. The detents may not be noticeable, painting hash marks on the knobs and counting the rotations would be more accurate.

Competition Suspension Specifics
Spring Rate (Front) 150 lbs/in
Spring Rate (Rear) 120 lbs/in
Front Sway Bar 22 mm
Rear Sway Bar 19 mm
Steering Ratio 18:1 ( firm feel power assist)
Struts Very Stiff; Double Adjustable; inverted Dynamic Suspensions)

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2003.5 Suspension Questions and Answers:

Click here for some general discussion of alignment terms and the advantages of various setups.

2003.5.1 Q: How can I adjust camber on my PL2k ACR?

A: Second generation ACRs are not built with adjustable camber. However, camber can be adjusted by using "crash bolts" as described below and by slotting the struts. Additional camber can be gained by loosening the upper strut bolts and pushing the top inboard. The SCCA-mandated maximum camber for Club racing is -2.4 degrees.

Adjustment is made possible to these cars (and SCCA-legal) by slotting the holes with a grinder, provided that the official dimensions of the slots are not exceeded. These are shown on Page 2-54 of the 2002 Neon Factory Service Manual. (2001 FSM has inaccuracies.) Note that the layout of the slots calls for very accurate scribing and grinder work and may be beyond the ability of a novice mechanic. Legality is maintained because manufacturer's published information specifies slotting as an acceptable procedure for adjusting camber in this car.

2003.5.2 Q: How can I adjust camber on my PL2k Neon?
A: Without slotting the struts, camber can be adjusted with the use of the Mopar Camber Adjusting Bolt Package (front bolt p/n 5019074AA, about $14 for two). These "crash bolts" are common between the second generation Neon and the PT Cruiser. One bolt in each strut will allow approximately 1 degree of camber; 2 bolts may yield a little more than 2 degrees camber adjustment

Rear crash bolts (p/n 4773957, about $16 for two) are available; two bolts are required per wheel. These bolts are the same for both generations of Neon.

Click here for more information regarding crash bolt installation.

2003.5.3 Q: How can I lower my PL2k Neon? Can I use springs from an older Neon?
A: The second-generation car has much more jounce travel than the original, so it is not affected as badly by lowering. In fact, a recent Grassroots Motorsports article actually suggested the car would handle better if ride height were reduced. With the previous Neon, the best to be hoped for was not hurting the car's handling. Either of the methods below can be used, and will result in a drop of approximately 1-1/2 inches, while maintaining or improving the handling.

Under NO circumstances should aftermarket lowering springs from a first generation car be used on a PL2k Neon. They are entirely too short and will result in damage to the suspension, in addition to severly interfering with proper handling. Also, never heat-soften or cut coils from the stock springs, at least not if you care about anything other than how low you can get the car.

Lowering can be safely accomplished by using OEM springs from particular first-generation cars, or by installing the Mopar Performance lowering springs designed for the second generation car (note: as of this writing, the Mopar Performance springs have been discontinued, but remain in stock in warehouse distributors).

Lowering a PL2k with Mopar Performance Springs
Location Part Number
Front P5007563
Rear P5007564

Lowering a PL2k with First Generation OEM Springs
Location Part Number
Left Front 5273414
Right Front 5273416
Rear (both) 4656285

"Certain first-generation Neon springs can be used successfully to lower a 2nd generation Neon. Note that the #285 springs are the tallest first-generation springs ever used, and they are not currently available new. The #285 springs may be superseded by #335 springs. If you use first generation Neon springs that are any shorter (lower part number) than these, you will have insufficient travel according to the engineer that I consulted.

These springs are first-generation R/T & ACR springs, so the rates are 150 lb/in front and 120 lb/in rear. The rear springs will not stay under tension when the car is jacked up so be aware that they may clunk when you lower the car back down. If you're really concerned, you can use plastic zip-ties to secure the springs to the perches.

Note also that the "416" (for example) is the last 3 digits of the part number. It is in large print on the spring tag, and a decent parts counter person should be able to find the complete part number if you tell them what it is and what vehicle it's for."

2003.5.4 Q: How can I improve handling of my Neon?
A: Second generation Neons handle well, if not quite as well as the original. However, there are a number of (relatively) easy ways that handling can be improved:
  1. Put on better tires. This is always the place to start. The stock Goodyear rubber is chosen strictly for its quietness, not performance. Unless you are a driving enthusiast, it may not be worth replacing the OEM tires before they're worn out. But when you do replace them, much better tires are available for the same price (or cheaper) than the stock Goodyear tires. See the questions on wheels and tires below for more information.
  2. Dial in some negative camber on the front wheels. See the questions above about camber adjustment for more information.
  3. Install Mopar OEM swaybars from the Sport suspension package if your car does not have them. SE, ES, and SXT Neons that do not have the Sport Appearance Package will benefit from this modification. The R/T and ACR already have these swaybars. However, they can upgrade to the larger 22mm/19mm Mopar Performance sway bars.
  4. Lower the car using the Mopar Performance second-generation Lowering springs or Stage 1 Springs.
2003.5.5 Q: What are the stock wheel/tire sizes?
A: All OEM second generation Neon wheels have a 5-bolt x 100mm circle and a 40mm offset. The SE/LE comes with either 14"x5-1/2" steel wheels mounted with 185/65-HR14 tires, or (for 2002+ m/y) 15"x5-1/2" steel wheels. The standard a href="FAQ_2KM.html/#2kES">ES/LX/SXT wheels are 15"x6" alloys with 185/60-HR15 tires. The 15" alloy wheels are optional on the SE.

The standard ACR wheels are the same 15"x6" alloys as the ES, but carry "performance" Goodyear Eagle NCT-3 185/60-HR15 tires manufactured in Britain. R/Ts and later Neons with the Sport Appearance package receive 16"x6" alloys with "performance" Goodyear RS-A 195/50-HR16 tires.

Offset is the distance from the mounting plane to the centerline of the wheel. A smaller offset will move the wheels outboard; a larger offset will move the wheels inboard. Too much change either way may cause clearance problems with wider tires. Anyone considering aftermarket wheels should keep the offset as close to 40mm as possible, since this dimension is engineered into the steering geometry. Also, altering offset by more than 1/4" (about 6mm) is illegal in SCCA stock classes for autocross.

2003.5.6 Q: Are wheels interchangeable between both generations of Neon?
A: All OEM wheels from any generation Neon will interchange with the exception of the original 13" steelies, which will not fit over brakes intended for larger-diameter wheels. The 14" wheels which fit most other Neons will not fit the SRT4.

Click here for more information regarding other Mopar wheels that will fit Neons.

2003.5.7 Q: I saw OEM SRT-4 wheels and tires for cheap on ebay. Will they fit my Neon?
A: Yes and no. The wheels are 17" The tires are 205/50 R17.

That said, you can use the wheels but not the tires. Due to the sidewall height, the tires will not clear the spring perches of the Touring/Sport/ACR struts.

A few claim to have been able to pick up 3-4mm spacers from tire shops and this is enough clearance to use the tires. NOTE: Remember to install longer wheel studs/lugs so the lug nuts have something to grip to.

2003.5.8 Q: What are the aftermarket suspension parts that will fit a Second Generation Neon?
A: View the chartsbelow:

Spring Options:
Manufacturer Model Number(s) Spring Type Spring Rate Front/Rear (lbs) Specified Lowering Height front/rear Average Actual Height Retail Price Ride Quality
B+G Sport Springs P/N 141008 Progressive Increasing Spring Rates 20-35% 1.6"/1.6" $200 A bit stiffer, near OEM
Eibach Pro Kit Progressive 1.7"/1.7" 1.7"/1.7" $215 Much Stiffer
Dropzone 1.5"/1.5"
Goldline n/a Progressive 170/125 1.5"/1.5" $160
Intrax 2.25"/2.50" $269
Maxspeed 1.5"/1.3" $120
Mopar P5007563 & P5007564 Linear 150/120 1.5"/1.5" 1.5"/1.5" $150 Very Similar to OEM
Mopar SRT-4 Springs Linear 170/125 N/A 0.5"/0.5" Very Similar to OEM
No Name ORANGE Ebay springs 1.9"/1.8"
Progress n/a Progressive 1.8"/1.8" $170
Sprint Performance Lowering Springs 1.75"/1.75" $170

Strut Options:
Manufacturer Model Number(s) Retail Price Ride Quality
Mopar/Tokico Touring Struts (SDC) Factory quality
Mopar/Tokico Sport (R/T) Struts Slightly stiffer than Factory
Mopar ACR Struts P5007389 (x2), P5007442 (x1), P5007443 (x1) $1600/set varies from stiff to incompressible
Mopar SRT4 Struts Slightly stiffer than Factory
KYB GR-2 $230 Slightly stiffer than Factory

Coilover Options:
Manufacturer Application Model Number(s) Adjustability Type Specified Lowering Height front/rear Retail Price Ride Quality
B+G 14001 Height 1.2-3.5"/1.2-3.5" $1300
Ground Control Sleeves, Height 0-2"/0-2" $410
H&R SRT4 Height 1.5-2.5"/1.0-2.0" $1100
KW Height $1200
Leda Height & Dampening
Mopar 2nd Gen Neon Stage 2 P/N P4510451

Height $1400
Mopar SRT4 Stage 2 P/N P4510447

Height $1400
Mopar 2nd Gen Neon Stage 3 P/N P4510587

Height & Dampening $1650
Mopar SRT4 Stage 3 P/N P4510586

Height & Dampening $1650
Skunk 2 2nd Gen Neon Sleeves, Height 3.0"/3.0" $420

2003.5.9 Q: Can I put SRT-4 Springs on my Second Generation Neon? What about struts?
A: The spring perches on the SRT4 struts are different to accomodate the 17" wheels and the taller 50 series tires. They are dampened higher to provide the driver with a sportier feel. The springs are slightly stiffer at 170/125lbs Front/Rear.

So, yes, you can use the SRT-4 springs on your 2nd gen, it will typically lower car 1/2" all around.

Yes, you can use the SRT-4 struts with your OEM or aftermarket springs. Because the perches are higher, your ride height may be higher.

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Neon PL2k Brake Information

2004.1 General

The standard Neon braking system for non-ABS cars is a vacuum-assisted front disc/rear drum arrangement with mechanical proportioning valves. This comes on Neon, ES, and SE models. Antilock brakes, including rear discs & low speed traction control are optional for these cars in 2000-2002. For the 2003 M/Y, traction control was discontinued.

The ACR and R/T are now standard with four wheel discs and a new, improved, electronically-proportioned antilock brake system featuring low-speed traction control. Gone are the non-ABS four wheel disc system and the ABS disc/drum system; all disc brake cars now have ABS, and vice versa.

The new system is called the Teves Mark20e, and is based upon the Teves Mark20 adopted by the first generation Neon for the '98-'99 m/ys. The "e" system uses electronic brake distribution rather than mechanical proportioning valves. The low-speed traction control function, which selectively applies braking to whichever front wheel appears to be spinning.

Brake Sizes:
>Disc/Drum Disc/Disc SRT-4
10.1"/? 10.1"/? ?/?

Editor's Note: I do not currently have detailed information concerning rotor/drum sizes, lining materials, etc. I will try to locate this information for future revisions.

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2004.2 Brake System Questions and Answers:

Click here for some general discussion of brake systems and other information.

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