1st Generation Neons FAQ

Welcome to the Chrysler Neon Frequently Asked Questions!This is intended to be a source of information for anyone interested in the Neon.
Hopefully, having this resource kept current will lower the volume of repeat discussions on www.neons.org.

0.0   Neons.org
    Using neons.org
1.0   Neon Overview
    The features & differences of the Neon models as they came from the factory
2.0   Maintenance, Repair, & Troubleshooting
    Fixing your Neon
3.0   Modifications
    Changing or improving your Neon
4.0   Racing
    Racing your Neon

Table of Contents

0.0     Neons.org

0.1    General
0.1.1   What is Neons.org?
0.1.2   Who's running this?
0.1.3   How do I contact the administrators?
0.1.4   What resources are available at neons.org?
0.1.5   What are all these acronyms people use?
0.2    How do I find information on neons.org?
0.3    Using the neons.org forums
0.3.1   How is information organized in the forums?
0.3.2   Searching the forums   How do I search the forums?   I'm having trouble with the search results.
0.3.3   Posting a question to the forums   What are the rules for posting on the forums?   What's the best way to post a question on the forum?   How do I add a picture in my post, or add a sig picture at the bottom?   Nobody has responded to my question! Why?
0.3.4   Someone is being rude to me in the forums! What do I do?

1.0     Neon Overview

1.1    Neon Models
1.1.1    Neon Base Sedan/Coupe
1.1.2    Neon Highline Sedan/Coupe
1.1.3    Neon Sport Sedan/Coupe
1.1.4    Neon ACR Sedan/Coupe
1.1.5    Neon Expresso Sedan/Coupe
1.1.6    Neon R/T Sedan/Coupe
1.1.7    Neon Style Sedan/Coupe
1.1.8    Neon Export Models
1.1.9    Neon Options  Paint color options  Other options
1.1.10    Neon Production Information  General  Neon Production Timeline  Neon Production Revisions
1.1.11    Neon Model Questions and Answers   Which model Neon is better?   How can I identify an ACR?   Do the empty fog light holes cool the ACR's front brakes?   How can I identify a Plymouth Style?   What's the story with door handle color?   What is the deal with fascia color?   How about side moldings?   They say my car is only available with the SOHC, but mine has a DOHC!   What does "R/T" stand for?   What is the size and spacing of the R/T stripes?  Can I complete them or install them myself?
1.2    Neon Engines
1.2.1    SOHC (Single Overhead Cam)
1.2.2    DOHC (Dual Overhead Cam)
1.2.3    TLEV (Low Emissions)
1.2.4    Export (Single Overhead Cam)
1.2.5    Engine Technical Data
1.2.6    Engine General Information
1.2.7    Engine Questions and Answers   Which engine is better?   What are the different cam specs for the SOHC model years?   Why do the two engines have different octane recommendations?   What does the rev limiter do?  What does the speed limiter do?   Is there any parts interchangeability between SOHC and DOHC?   What is a 'bobble strut'?   What is the DOHC 'oil restrictor'?   Is there a difference between the DOHC and SOHC controllers?  ATX and MTX?   Where is the PCV valve on my '95 SOHC?   Is the Neon's engine really a Mitsubishi product in disguise?
1.3    Neon Transmissions
1.3.1    ATX (Automatic Transmission)
1.3.2    MTX (Manual Transmission)
1.3.3    Transmissions Data & Comparison
1.3.4    Transmission Questions and Answers   What are the shift points for the automatic transmission?   Why doesn't the Neon have a four speed automatic?   What is a modular clutch?
1.4    Neon Suspensions
1.4.1    Base (SDA)
1.4.2    Touring (SDC)
1.4.3    Sport (SDE)
1.4.4    Competition (SDK)
1.4.5    Export (SDF)
1.4.6    Suspensions Technical Data
1.4.7    Suspension Questions and Answers   What are stock wheel/tire sizes?   What are the differences between the Arvin and Koni ACR struts?   Is there a difference in the springs between each suspension type?   Why was the camber adjustment taken out of newer ACRs?   What is a "trunk kit"?   What is the difference between the black and the yellow Koni struts?
1.5    Neon Brake Systems
1.5.1    Brake System Information
1.5.2    Brake System Questions & Answers    How have the brakes options changed over the years?    Are all the front disc systems the same?
1.6    Miscellaneous
1.6.1    General Specifications
1.6.2    Miscellaneous Neon Questions & Answers   How do I decode my '95-'99 Neon's VIN?   How can I find out information about a specific Neon?   How do I find a good dealer in my area?   What is a TSB?   Here is a veritable potpourri of Neon trivia.   How about that One Millionth Neon?!   Here are some telephone numbers for Daimler-Chrysler.

2.0     Maintenance, Repair, & Troubleshooting

2.1    General
2.1.1   What will I need to work on my Neon?
2.1.2   What workshop manuals are available?   What errors are in the Haynes workshop manual?
2.1.3    How do I get a Factory Service Manual?
2.1.4    Where can I get all those funky tools listed in the Service manual?
2.1.5   What are the bolt sizes & tightening torques for my Neon?
2.2    Engine
2.2.1   Are headgaskets really a problem?
2.2.2   What oil should I use?  What about additives?
2.2.3   What oil filter should I use?
2.2.4   What spark plugs should I use?  What is the correct gap?
2.2.5   What is the significance of the timing belt?  Are the engines an 'interference' design?
2.2.6   What is OBD II?  What are 'error codes'?
2.2.7   My engine's leaking oil, and  I'm scared.  Help!
2.2.8   My Neon gurgles when I turn it off...
2.2.9   My Neon whistles when I turn it off...
2.2.10   What is the deal with motor mount failures?
2.2.11   My Neon made a horrible noise when I hit some deep puddles, and I thought it was going to explode.
2.2.12   I changed my spark plugs, and the well was full of oil.  Is my head gasket shot?
2.2.13   Why is my gas mileage so bad?
2.2.14   My Check Engine Light is showing codes 12 and 21.  What's wrong?
2.2.15   My Check Engine Light is showing code 43.  What's wrong?
2.2.16   My Oil light came on.  What do I do?
2.3    Transmission
2.3.1   What kind of fluid should I use in the automatic transmission?
2.3.2   What kind of fluid should I use in the manual transmission?
2.3.3   What is the duty cycle of transmission fluid for each unit?
2.3.4    Why is my manual transmission getting hard to shift?
2.3.5    My clutch is making popping noises, or feels funny.
2.3.6    My Neon yelps or chirps when I shift hard, or when I go from 'R' to 'D'.
2.4    Suspension
2.4.1   My steering wheel shakes at 73 mph (or some particular speed) and it's driving me mad!
2.4.2   What are Camber, Caster, and Toe?
2.4.3   How can I adjust camber on my ACR?
2.4.4   How can I adjust camber on my Neon if it's not an ACR?
2.4.5   What are suggested alignment settings?  Will they hurt my tires?
2.4.6   Are any other alignment adjustments possible?
2.4.7   I'd like more information about toe-in versus toe-out.
2.4.8   My Koni struts have oil on them.  Are they leaking?
2.5    Brakes
2.5.1   What kind of brake fluid should I use?
2.6    Electrical
2.6.1   My dashboard gauges are reading erratically or not all.  What do I do?
2.6.2   My brake lights came on & won't go off.  What's wrong?
2.7    Body, Chassis, & Interior
2.7.1   We all know you should use Mopar body parts.  Here's why.
2.7.2   My spare tire well or my rear set foot well is wet!
2.7.3   My door window rattles, and/or is hard to roll up!
2.7.4   What can I do about the wind noise around my door window?
2.7.5   Why is my window getting scratched from rolling it up & down?

3.0     Modifications

3.1    General
3.1.1   What basics will I need for making modifications to my Neon?
3.1.2   Will aftermarket parts void my warranty?  What about Mopar Performance parts?
3.1.3   What is 'Rice'?
3.2    Engine
3.2.1    General   What aftermarket hop-ups are available for each engine?   What is a basic plan for increasing SOHC performance?   What is a basic plan for increasing DOHC performance?   A discussion of fuel injection control by the stock PCM.   What spark plugs and wires should I use?   What does an underdrive pulley do?   What aftermarket computers (or 'chips') are available?   Won't I get in trouble for switching the PCM?  I thought they tracked mileage or something.   What does replacing the motor mount do?   I want to replace the oil gauge. What size thread is on the engine oil pressure sensor?
3.2.2    Air Intake   What is the difference between the SOHC and DOHC intake manifolds?   What is the significance of the throttle body?  How do they differ between cars?   How can I upgrade my intake system?   Iceman   Mopar Performance   Early Style AEM Intake   Kirk   Quikpipe   3.0 CAI   Other CAI systems   Warm Air Intakes   What is a K&N filter, and what will it do for performance?   Can I install a cold air intake if I have an automatic transmission?   Is water a problem for a cold air intake, or not?   Will removing the intake snorkle give more power?   How does the PCV relate to my cool new intake setup?   What K&N filter do I use as a replacement on my Iceman intake?
3.2.3    Exhaust   What is the theory behind header design?   How can I upgrade my exhaust piping and muffler?  Which muffler is best?   What about a header and cat?
3.2.4    Cylinder Head   What do 'porting', 'polishing' and 'headwork' mean?   What do cam gears do?
3.2.5    Forced Air Induction   I need boost!   A few words about the problems involved with adding boost to the Neon.   Which is better, turbo- or supercharging?
3.2.6    Nitrous Oxide   What about nitrous oxide?
3.2.7    Engine Swap   Choices for engine swap   What will I need to install a 2.4 engine?
3.3    Transmission
3.3.1   How can I increase performance of my automatic transmission?
3.4    Suspension
3.4.1   What tires/wheels should I get?  I want to stay with the stock wheel size.
3.4.2   What tires/wheels should I get?  I want to move up in size.
3.4.3   I'm confused about all these tire designations.
3.4.4   Why should I adjust camber?
3.4.5   How can I lower my Neon?
3.4.6   How can I improve my Neon's handling?
3.4.7   What are swaybars and how do they improve handling?
3.4.8   The Mopar Performance catalog lists a 19mm rear swaybar.  Does it *really* exist?
3.4.9   Will wheels from any other Chrysler products fit the Neon?
3.5    Brakes
3.5.1   Should I put on cross-drilled or slotted rotors?
3.5.2   Can I convert my rear drum brakes to discs?
3.5.3   What do stainless steel brake lines do?
3.5.4   Should I install high-performance brake pads?
3.6    Electrical
3.6.1   Where do I connect the power to illuminate my new gauges?
3.7    Body, Chassis, & Interior
3.7.1   What does that big chunk of iron under the front bumper do?  Can I remove it?

4.0     Racing

4.1    General
4.1.1   Some important words about 0-60 acceleration times.
4.1.2   A discussion of engine power, and the theory behind shifting.



This FAQ has been substantially reorganized and updated since its origins in the early days of 1995.  There are now more than a million and a half Neons on the road, and thousands of Neon Enthusiasts.  The original FAQ was geared to introducing the car to the world at large.  For this version, the focus has changed toward the person who already owns (or is strongly considering) a Neon, and wants to find out specific details about the car.  Questions are answered in "technical laymanís" terms, with explanations wherever possible.  Emphasis has been placed on factual information; any opinions are clearly labeled as such.  Great care has been taken in choosing sources of opinion.

Information is provided with as much background as possible.  Consequently, there are very few one-liner answers.  If you do not see a specific question listed, try reading other answers that seem relevant.  Most likely, the information is contained under a slightly different topic somewhere.

Some of the information previously included in the How-To section of this site is incorporated here.  Also included are part numbers and other information that has been compiled, but has not yet found a good home.  Please see the credits below for more information.  There is also a revision history, which will highlight the changes.

The original FAQ was compiled and maintained by Susan Goetcheus in early 1995.  It was revised and expanded in 1996/97 by Patrick J. Hennessey, again in 1998/99 by Duke Wilford & Neons.org, & again in 2006.  This version is copyright 2006 by Neons.org.  Anyone is invited to submit questions, factual answers, or editorial comments to the Administrators of www.neons.org

There have been many contributors to the FAQ over the years, and some have been forgotten.  Information used verbatim from other sources is quoted and credited; names of people who have furnished information appear in the answer text.  However, a few sources deserve extra thanks for the vast quantity of information they have provided:  Erich Heuschele, a Chrysler chassis engineer and prolific Neon racer, has been very generous with his knowledge and insight; Greg Smith, another Chrysler technical employee and racer, has spent untold amounts of time looking up specs, part numbers, production figures, and a million other facts.  Please note that any items from Chrysler employees included here have been provided on a strictly personal basis, and are not to be considered as official DaimlerChrysler Corporation information or opinion.

Much of the technical information in this FAQ was taken from another excellent source:  Grassroots Motorsports magazine; specifically the "Everything You Always Wanted To Know" Neon article in the July/August 1998 issue.  GRM is a small magazine of excellent quality, geared toward amateur racing, autocross, and modest-budget cars (and enthusiasts).  It can be found at Borders Books and other large newsstands, and is available by subscription.  See their website for subscription information.

Revision History

02/13/1999:  Version 3.0 posted at the neons.org website.
04/23/1999:  Version 3.1 added the Miscellaneous Information section, and additional questions to the Suspension and Drivetrain sections.  Expanded the Models section slightly; corrected information throughout the FAQ in response to feedback.
01/13/2000:  Version 3.2 added the Performance Modifications section, and expanded the Troubleshooting and Maintenance section.  Additional information inserted for the Models section and the Longer Essays.  Various corrections and clarifications made throughout the FAQ. Additional credit goes to Jason Artley, Duke Wilford, Keith Millham, Dale Seeley, & Jim Waleke
11/29/2006:  Version 4.0, reorganization & layout changes, with additional information pertaining to modifications & maintenance. Thanks to Greg Smith, Mike Carpenter, Plymouth_neon_1998, Lorenzo DeCaria, Riddler & other folks at neons.org for supplemental information.

1st Generation Neons FAQ

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