By on March 13, 2010

Thinking about a Dodge Neon racking up 500k miles is a bit like imagining Britney Spears celebrating a golden wedding anniversary. Dodge Neons just don’t come to mind when thinking about hi-mileage cars. But with a bit of dedication and understanding, cars with a rep seem to run forever for the right owner.  Here’s a 1998 Dodge Neon R/T (no less) with 446,000 miles on it, and that was last July. And that’s with the original engine, no less, in case you were wondering. OK, there is a bit of a secret to the owners’ success: it’s their sixth Neon, so they’re familiar with all their hidden warts.

As part of allpar.com’s 200k club series, this Neon takes the gold for Chrysler’s much-maligned Civic chaser. The original owner had a mighty long commute, and the current father-son team of owners are still using it for frequent 500 mile trips. Compression in the original cylinders reads 176, 175, 160, 160 (normal would be 180-190).  Owner Jesse Shaffer reports.  “Probably the piston rings should be replaced.  But we’re not going to do that.  I guess we just want to see how far it will go as is.”

Regarding the notorious head gasket problems, Shaffer has this to say:

Neons have  been controversial due partly to a head gasket recall.  But that doesn’t have to be a problem, Jesse believes.  “People seem to complain about Neons because of the paper-compound gasket they originally came out with.  But I think Neon engines were built well, and once you put in the multi-layer steel gasket, and you keep changing oil and don’t let it overheat, the engine will never stop running!”

Oh, to the best of their knowledge, the clutch is the original. Sounds like he’s got it figured it out. Maybe they’re not as temperamental and high maintenance as Britney after all.

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67 Comments on “Breaking Stereotypes: The 446,000 Mile Dodge Neon...”


  • avatar

    That original clutch blows me away-these guys should give seminars on how to drive a manual…

  • avatar

    I sold mine with 178k and original clutch, but that’s definitely not 446k. The gasket was changed at 86k (it was a SOHC though).

  • avatar
    dolo54

    ugh, that interior. My back hurts just looking at those seats. Not far from the sc2 in our driveway. Kill, kill with fire. I’m sorry, it’s cool they kept it running and all, but there’s nothing worse than a crap car that won’t die. Without a good excuse to get rid of it you end up living with the torment. I’m afraid that saturn we have will last forever as well. Please no.

    • 0 avatar

      I feel the same way about my mothers 94 SL2 with 125k on the clock. Its gutless, has a weak heater, lo-fi stereo and paper thin seats that make my back ache after 15min but the balsted thing has been bulletproof reliable and still looks sharp after all these years.

    • 0 avatar
      levi

      “…there’s nothing worse than a crap car that won’t die…”

      Great post, dolo54!

      And great idea for an article, Paul.

    • 0 avatar
      chuckR

      My brother’s first new car was a 1978 Dodge Omni. He had back problems and his solution was to install a Scheele driver’s seat. Cost of Omni -$5000. Cost of seat – $500. When the Omni was used up, he took the seat out – it was still in pretty good shape. You only have one back; you can have many cars….

    • 0 avatar

      Actually, Neon had a significanly better seat than my wife’s Lexus does. I guess it all depends on the shape of your butt.

    • 0 avatar
      Piston Slap Yo Mama

      C’mon, if you didn’t own one, how can you be sure the seats suck? The Neon was a great, underrated car. Even Grassroots Motorsports rally prepped a beater Neon and had good things to say about it: http://grassrootsmotorsports.com/project-cars/1996-dodge-neon-acr/hi/
      America doesn’t do small, cheap cars well but the Neon was the rare exception. You should save your criticism for the butt ugly Caliber – yeesh what were they thinking?

  • avatar
    Patrickj

    It proves that as long as it doesn’t rust out, a skilled mechanic with available parts cars and more cars than drivers can keep a vehicle running a very long way.

    This has very little relevance to those of us without our own shops who have to buy most of our parts and labor retail.

  • avatar
    niky

    For most of the problems you get on these engines, electronics, sensors, vacuum-fittings, etcetera… you don’t have to be a mechanic to fix them. Just have to know how to turn a wrench.

    Being a member of an online club helps. Small problems can be addressed before they become big ones, aftermarket solutions to common weaknesses can be relayed to owners and common weak points can be exposed by members who drive more insanely than you.

    I mean, who else is willing to go to the trouble and expense of finding out that doing twenty cold launches with the VDC off will roast your GT-R’s transmission, while proper warm-up will extend the transmission’s life to over 100 launches (each one solidly in the low 11s)?

    Who else will diagnose inadequate high-lateral g oiling in your engine and provide tips on how to avoid it? Online communities pool together the resources of thousands of owners and dozens of aftermarket suppliers for each model, and just reading through a few of these boards can help you greatly extend your car’s useable life.

  • avatar
    Larry P2

    Actually, there are many domestic cars out there with similarly hideous miles on them. You just won’t usually hear about them on an import fanatic site like this one. And there are just as many import cars that suffer from incredibly nasty reliability problems … I’m looking at YOU right now, VW, with the notorious auto transmissions that grenade at 50,000 miles and then have the unmitigated gall to charge 5,000 bucks to replace them.

    • 0 avatar
      kadena

      I hear you. Notorious auto transmissions include my 2002 Honda 5 speed which failed rather young even though I did all the service the manual said. Claims by the Honda dealer that they never break when my transmission failed cut no mustard with me. I found the true and unfortunate Honda transmission story myself.

    • 0 avatar
      texan01

      My 1995 Explorer went 225,000 miles on its original disposable French-built, Pinto based transmission. And I could still drive it just fine with it, but the lack of 2nd gear meant that acceleration was even slower than usual.

      Now it’s got 262,000 miles on it. Not sure if I want to keep it to 300k as I;m just getting tired of it.

  • avatar
    Runfromcheney

    Although these late 90s Chryslers have stodgy reputations for reliability, they are not that bad. With the notable exception of the sludgebox 2.7L Intrepids, your 90s Chrysler will treat you well as long as you take good care of it and maintain it. I have a 1998 Caravan that hasn’t given me any trouble aside from small problems. The transmission did grenade on me, but I had it rebuilt by a trusted independent mechanic who modified it slightly from the original Chrysler design and filled it up with synthetic fluid; he claims that as long as I don’t do anything stupid, it will last the life of the van. I have since driven it gently and kept up on the maintenance, and I haven’t had any trans problems. In fact, I actually wonder if the Caravan’s vaulted trans problems are the results of a faulty design, or if it is because the soccer moms who owned them didn’t change the fluid and filter every 12K miles like they were supposed to.

    I see clean 90s Chrysler on the road all the time. (LH sedans, minivans, cloud cars, Neons, the whole bit). Granted, I see a lot in the local junkyard as well, but they are usually all dirty and beat to shit. I think that proves my point right there.

    • 0 avatar

      Chrysler’s 604 4-speed automatic transmission was indeed a POS. We had a ’91 AWD Caravan that went through 4 transmissions in less than 60,000 miles, with all proper maintenance done, and it was equipped with a factory transmission cooler. To their credit, Chrysler paid for everything on the first two replacements and we only had to pay the labor to r&r it the last time.

      Even though warranty work is profitable for dealers, one dealer told me that if he never saw another 604 it’d be too soon.

    • 0 avatar

      “I have a 1998 Caravan that hasn’t given me any trouble aside from small problems. The transmission did grenade on me…”

      This is a contradiction in terms. Tranny failures are not “small problems”.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      I would hardly call the need to change the trans fluid every 12K normal. A-604s were very misunderstood but they were simply too frangible. Especially compared to its predecessor, the ubiquitous 3 speed that never broke. I never changed the fluid and still crack a quarter of a million miles…

  • avatar
    pgcooldad

    I posted a link to this Neon months ago while fighting off the domestic haters.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Wow, 500,000 miles on a Dodge Neon. Imagine how long a good car would last in their hands!

  • avatar
    DweezilSFV

    Allpar’s 200,000 Mile Club has over 4000 members in it.

    Popular Mechanics used to run an issue that highlighted owners of high mileage cars and offered tips on how their readers could get their own cars to go 100,200,300,000 miles with very little trouble.

    The cars varied, but the routine was the same : regular maintenance, fixing things that when wrong as they happened instead of continuing to drive the thing and wracking up collateral damage along the way and pretty much not acting like because the car was old it was automatically a “beater”. [Or because it was inexpensive it was a s**tbox that didn\'t deserve proper care: the view of so many online arm chair \"enthusiasts\"].

    Have to give up my 95 SL1 as the seats and seating position cause some nerve in my leg and back to go crazy even after doing errands around town.

    It’s almost crippling,so I am dreading taking it to Tucson to hand off to my little brother. But he’ll get a good car.

    Don’t know what I’ll rent to drive back to L.A. It might even be a Dodge Caliber. At my request. That way I can judge for myself if rentals are valid indicators of whether a car is any good or not. Especially rental cars from Chrysler. Plus I have never driven a CVT before. If the seats are comfortable, I may get one for myself.

    On the Saturn watch the oil and it will easily go another 100,000 trouble free miles. And what does go wrong is easily fixed. There is also a well informed and devoted online fan site in Saturn Fans filled with information and even how to videos for repair questions. Like Allpar.

    It’s why I bought it: the simplicity of it is it’s beauty. Actual thought was given to ease of repair and replacement of parts, perhaps for the last time in modern cars.

    It’s a throw back to the era of the Plymouth Valiant and Chevy Nova when you could see and understabnd what each thing was under the hood and could fix it with a standard set of tools. But the seats are so bad, it’s no longer viable for me.

    Funny thing: over the past 30 years my 63 Valiant Signet has had the most comfortable seats of any car I have owned.I guess because it uses something more than a quarter inch of padding in the seat bottom….

    And it had gone around the odo twice by the time I got it.

    • 0 avatar
      cmus

      My wife has a Patriot with a CVT. She absolutely loves that car, and the behavior of the transmission. CVT is a huge plus for her, and now has become sort of something she would look for in her next car. She’s more of the car-as-appliance sort, but she didn’t care for the Corolla (and it’s blandness) she had before the Patriot at all.

    • 0 avatar

      A friend has a Nissan Xtrail with CVT, says it does very well. Not many km yet though, about to break 80,000 or so.

    • 0 avatar
      DweezilSFV

      cmus and Pete: thanks for the firsthand CVT report. Seems like there are a lot of Nissans and other brands with this type trans that aren’t the stinking POS that the Saturn “Vti” was. Or the Ford CVT.

  • avatar
    pb35

    Back in my Detroit days I coveted a Neon. Probably because we didn’t have a lot of money.

  • avatar
    ott

    The Neon R/T still tugs at my heartstrings. I know the stigma related with this car, but dammit, that thing looks good, especially with the stripe package and available “power”bulge hood. Call me tacky, but this package definitely stood out when it came to market. But maybe it’s me. I’m still lusting after a clean ’88 Fiero GT too.

    The clutch probably lasted so long due to the long distance drives this car was used for. Once you’re in fifth, you’re just cruising. Come to think of it, that’s probably why the rest of the car is still running too. That and the fact it’s probably a southern car, with no salt to deal with.

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      While 446k miles in a Neon is nothing to sneeze at, it definitely sounds like the result of a combination of a non-corrosive environment, primarily highway miles, and vehicle research for attention to specific, non-routine maintenance.

      Now, 446k miles in a Neon that routinely travels NYC streets, that would truly be something. The only original equipment left on something like that would probably be the VIN plate.

      Imagine how many other Neons would have hyper miles if ChryCo hadn’t cheaped-out on the head gasket to save a few pennies per car.

    • 0 avatar
      supremebrougham

      Not to nitpick, but unless you are from Canada, that car is not a Southern car, it has Pennsylvania plates on it.

      Perhaps it’s safe to say that it wasn’t a Monday or a Friday car…

    • 0 avatar
      roadracer

      The owners obviously did an admirable job maintaining the car to keep it running this long, but the lack of rust is miraculous! They use salt in PA don’t they?

  • avatar
    Dr Lemming

    I suspect that most cars could last as long with appropriate care (and in the right part of the country). For me at least, the key question is: Why bother?

    As a case in point, I have a pair of early-90s Civics which I plan to keep as daily drivers until someone makes a small car that strikes me as a meaningful improvement. Hasn’t happened yet.

    • 0 avatar
      Runfromcheney

      Same here. I don’t think I am going to get rid of my 1998 Caravan until someone makes a minivan whic is superior. The current Honda Odyssey is close, but still no cigar.

  • avatar
    BuzzDog

    Having owned cars well into six-digit territory, I’m convinced that just about any modern car will last if it’s properly maintained and if proper attention is paid to its condition.

    To each his or her own, but when I’ve bought my last few vehicles I specifically asked myself if I’d be happy and comfortable spending thousands of hours in the driver’s seat. I’m not so sure I could say that about a Neon…

  • avatar
    twotone

    446,000 miles in a Neon is not something I’d be proud of. Then there is Irv Gordon with 2,700,000 miles on his 1966 1800S — did he ever get out of the car?

    Twotone

  • avatar
    210delray

    The presumably original clutch on my ’80 Volvo 240, which I bought used with 31K miles, made it 220K miles. This car was our primary family car in the 80s and saw a fair amount of stop-and-go traffic as well as long-distance runs for vacations and family visits.

  • avatar
    jimboy

    I see a lot more old detroit iron on the road than any import brands, especially GM stuff. My daily driver for years was an 86 olds cutlass that was bullet proof until some kid on a cell rear ended me with his 80′s bonneville. Say what you will about american cars, they’ll take a licking far better than most temperamental, expensive to repair, european/ asian stuff. TTAC and jeremy clarkson may hate them, but then let’s look at the british auto industry, or repair costs for imports, ha, ha, ha, ha! (oh, I forgot, there is no british auto industry!) (oh, I forgot, it takes weeks to get parts for imports and they cost twice as much!)

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      Obiviously you’ve never heard this old joke: Most GM cars run poorly longer than most cars run…

      I would agree with you on the Detroit iron. I can’t find a huge number of 20 year old Toyotas, but I still see dozens of late 80′s early 90′s Cavaliers (and other GM’s Mopars, Fords esp. Tauri) here in Western Michigan. We probably have more Pontiacs here than anywhere in the US. And probably Canada, too. This area is Pontiac Central.

      I have a ’97 Cavalier with 246,800+ miles on it, even though these cars have been out of production for 5 years, I STILL see myself coming and going every day. I have the same problem with our ’09 G6.

      I remember seeing these guys’ Neon on Allpar. I would agree with the folks who recommend a website for advice on how to keep the cars going, I still read j-body.org for advice my three Cavs and Sunfires.

      Cars up into the mid’00′s are still pretty user serviceable. But like another poster said, the armchair experts don’t seem to have dirty fingernails, either…

      As a matter of fact, I just came back from scouting another Sunfire GT. But seeing this Neon reminded me of how much I liked many of the ’90′s Mopars. And those are easier to mod than a J, maybe I should keep an eye for one…

  • avatar
    Andy D

    I heartily concur about finding a web site dedicated to the care and feeding of your particular car jones. Many people relating their accumulated experience instead of a newb floundering in the dark. I have sites for my BMWs, my old jeep, even my mowers and blowers.

  • avatar
    Juniper

    I live in the rust belt, and there are a lot of Neons still running around here. Most look to be in very good shape. In fact I think they look very contemporary vs new cars of today.

    • 0 avatar
      Runfromcheney

      I see tons as well. The 90s Chryslers seem to be pretty well rustproofed. My 98 Caravan has been mercilessly driven through 12 Michigan winters, yet the undercarriage is almost completely spotless.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      I would agree that there’s a lot of old iron being driven daily here in the rust belt, thankfully, they don’t make them like they used to…

      I can remember as a kid, if you had a five year-old car that didn’t have lesions of rust all over, that was a real gem. My in laws bought my daughter a five year old Sunfire, and it is virtually spotless.

      Additionally, her newer ‘Fire has many upgrades from my ’90′s vintage Sunfire, including plastic fender liners in the rear of the car, it will probably never rust at this rate.

  • avatar

    BTW, guys, you know it may be not completely related, but on Luscombe-Silvaire group there’s a whole bunch of people who fly prewar Luscombe-8 of various subtypes, some with original engines. I cannot imagine commuting in a 1938 car.

    • 0 avatar
      mistrernee

      The English warbirds from late WW2 are pure insanity.

      How anyone can keep those H24 sleeve valve Napiers in the air is a mystery to me, they had trouble keeping them running when they were brand new. (edit: apparantly they don’t and usually swap the engines out for something.. normal).

      Anything made out of aluminum can last a long time, the Acura NSX for example is a car that won’t need to get taken off the road unless someone crashes it. Aircraft are filled with aluminum and have some pretty strict maintenance requirements and scheduled engine rebuilds.

      Cuba is also worth mentioning, i’m pretty sure they have everyone else beat when it comes to keeping US made iron on the road.

    • 0 avatar
      porschespeed

      From what I’ve been able to garner from those who have visited, it may be a ’57 Chevy body, but the mechanics are a hodgepodge of ‘field expedients’.

      There are some people with stashes of US parts, but creative retasking of Soviet-Era hardware is what keeps most of the old American iron on the road.

  • avatar
    lilpoindexter

    The engine was built in Chrysler’s Saltillo Engine Plant. The entire car still looks pretty sharp.

  • avatar
    Moparagain

    Just spoke to a fella with a 2002 ram truck 2wd with the 3.7v6. Had to have him show me the speedo with 258,080 miles on it. His only complaint that he was on his 3rd set of brake pads. Really complained about that. I have to admit as a MOpar fan even i was surprised at the lowly v6 engine

  • avatar
    Moparagain

    BTW years ago The Slant 6 Club of America had a page for the 200k mile club. The page was full. It was just an everyday deal. Nothing unusual.

    • 0 avatar
      BuzzDog

      The Slant 6 is an excellent example of how Chrysler’s engineers could really hit the mark, as that particular engine managed to simultaneously combine good attributes in the areas of efficiency, performance, reliability and packaging. Some of its features are clever, but simple…you look at them and wonder, “Now, why didn’t I think of that?”

      The basic design, like that of the small block Chevy, was good enough to stay in production for years, and with a few updates could probably still do the job. I’m not sure how long it will be before we see another breakthrough engine design like that.

  • avatar
    joe_thousandaire

    An older Neon broke down outside my house a couple of years ago. I decided to go out and give the poor young man a hand. This car was amazing, it literally had the classic pringle’s can air intake, the engine compartment was full of duct-tape and the inside of the driver door was somehow made up of some kind of shaved Styrofoam material. He had tried to replace the alternator belt himself but didn’t clear all the hoses. I straightened out the belt for him and fixed the rubbed-through hose with yet more duct-tape, gave him a jump and he was on his way again, purring like a kitten. I was pretty impressed that the old Neon would run at that age in that sort of condition. If that abused POS could still make it down the road, a well-maintained version hitting half a mil isn’t that surprising.

  • avatar
    65corvair

    I had my Neon for ten years and 217,000 miles. Spent less on repairs in those ten years than my 04 Matrix in six! The Neon was the better car. Where is this Toyota quality? Also the Neon was much more fun to drive. Faster and better mpg. Should have kept it longer,

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    It’s not unusual at all to see neons with around 200k on them. Even though the early models had head gasket problems they brought out a new gasket design in mid 99 to fix the problem. Many cars in the 80′s-90′s had head gasket problems, not just the neons.
    The engine has a very strong bottom end, and will handle 600 hp. There are many aftermarket companies that make speed equipment for them, and they can be made to run like hell.
    Last summer there were lots of neons at the mopar nationals in columbus running in the 12′s!
    My daughter had a 99 with 177k on it and it was still going strong, but it was totalled in an aciident last summer. She bought another one, just like the one pictured, only in black with silver stripes.
    It’s a one owner, with 144k and in excellent shape. It uses no oil between changes.
    the first gen neons had an excellent suspension design, they handle very well, and are often used in autocross racing. the engine is such a good design that BMW uses a shorter stroke version in the mini cooper.
    Even though the early neons had problems with paint peeling they had pretty good corrosion protection, I see a lot more of them still on the roads than most other small cars from the 90′s. There also seems to be a lot of cavaliers still on the roads compared to most other small cars from back then.
    Since they are small and cheap you see a lot of them neglected and abused, and still going.

  • avatar
    NoChryslers

    This story is a LIE!!! It has to be.

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    446,000 miles; what did it end up on a ship going around the world several times?

    Haha, just kidding. I’m not surprised at any car that can go a million miles or more; not even a GM. You’ve just got to take care of them.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    The car isn’t that old so the mileage isn’t that surprising. I’m more impressed with my ’93 Toyota PU my buddy is still driving. That has 300K, 50K pulling boats and loaded snowmobile trailers and 17 years of cold nothern midwest starts. That’s what kills a motor. The main reason OTR trucks go so long between rebuilds is becasue every time they are started they’re driven 2000 miles or better.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    It may shock the audience to hear that in 2007 I traded an 05 Odyssey with 28k miles for a 98 Grand Caravan with 99k miles on it.

    The Odyssey was a lemon, and my prior experience with a 96 Grand Voyager made me desperately want to return to Chrysler, which is exactly what I told the astonished Honda district manager.

    That Grand Caravan now has 144k and climbing, but I’m not expecting 446k!

  • avatar

    Paul, if it’s really still original clutch, then those 500 thousand miles must be highway. There is no way that a clutch could last that long in the city – physically impossible. This also reminds I – you need to put those miles into context. Highway miles are easy…eeeaaasssyyy. It’s the city driving that kills cars.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    The car probably is mostly highway driven. But it does not matter, over 400k is still impressive.
    What surprises me is that the site hasn’t been bombarded by the idiots yet. With their 4-500k new york city driven hondas and toyotas, with original tires, belts and hoses, oil never changed since new.

  • avatar
    DweezilSFV

    Buzzdog: I think you might see the sort of Slant Six type longevity with GM’s Ecotec and Chrysler’s [and Mitsu\'s and Hyundai\'s] World engine. It seems they’re over built for their purposes just like the Slant Six.

    Part of the reason I bought a Delta based GM car [05 ION] was for the GM auto and the Ecotec.Plus the polymer body panels on the Saturn. All of which help it’s chances to go many miles over a lot of years at a low cost.

    The ever more complex electronic foolery coming standard on the new offerings will put a lot of new cars into an early grave. Even as straightforward as the ION is,though,the electronics in it are way overboard for my taste and give me some pause.

    GM can’t even get the ignition switch to operate reliably, I should trust their electronic steering assist and drive by wire ??????

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      I have two Ecotec powered vehicles, and am very happy with their operation. I would agree that they may be as durable as the old slant six, at least that’s my sincere hope. One of the cars on my radar to replace the quarter million mile Cavalier when it finally croaks is an ION. Maybe I could find a Red Line, but that may be asking too much of random luck. My neighbor has had no issues whatsoever with her ION, and was saddened to hear that Saturn is no more. She had bad luck with Chevys before, but started buying Saturns in the SL days, and was a very happy customer. GM could learn something from that…

      As for the Mopar/Mitsu/Hyundai World engine, I don’t know anyone with one to know how they’re performing. They’ve only been out for a short amount of time (~ 3 yrs?), so it’s hard to get a reading on how they’re doing. Maybe someone with one out there can give us a clue. From the specs (that I saw in a Caliber brochure) it looks like it should be able to get the job done, but I guess time will tell.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    I worked for a courier company in college that used Ford Escorts. This was from ’88-90. The cars were run three shifts a day, pretty much around the clock. Up to 200K miles a year. Most would make it to ~4-500K before something big blew, most commonly they would eat a valve. These cars got very little maintenance, oil changes every 10K miles or so. Which was every 2-3 weeks! Many would get to the “self-changing” stage – fill the oil at the beginning of your shift, and the gas at the end.

    By ’89, Ford had stopped selling diesel Escorts,but the company still had a few. Those would go 7-800K miles. The diesels were MUCH nicer to drive than the gas engined cars, especially the few 4spd gas Escort Ponys that they had – awful super strippers. Most of them were LX-spec wagons though.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    I have not seen the lower end of the world engine yet, so I would not know how beefy it is so far. But I have yet to see a 4 cylinder with a block as beefy as a slant 6. It had a deeply skirted block, with forged steel crank and hemi sized main bearings.
    It also featured tuned induction. Take a look at the intake manifold on one, it had long gently curved runners, which is why it had decent torque for it’s size and gave outstanding fuel mileage for the day.
    What I do know about the world engine tho is that it gets lousy fuel mileage for a 4 cylinder. When I bought my truck I glanced at the window sticker on a caliber and the EPA ratings blew me away. 29 on the highway is unacceptable for a 4 cylinder.
    Last year when a snowstorm caused a big branch to fall on the hood of my truck I rented a caliber for 3 days while it was in the body shop, and though I didn’t check the fuel mileage while I had it I didn’t need to. It used a fairly decent amount of fuel for a 4 cylinder, so I believe the EPA rating is pretty accurate for this car.
    The seats in the caliber were as hard as a rock, worse than in the old pony cars. It handled decently, but was a far cry from the neons. The gauges were excellent.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      I knew a guy back in the day who had an early Valiant (before they were Plymouths) who had a factory “power pack” for the old Slant Six, which gave the old beast a pretty good kick! It had a four barrel carb, an uprated ignition and maybe an aluminum block. (I saw this in the late ’70′s.) Many of the old sixes from the domestics were pretty stout motors, they never got the glory like the V8′s did.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    I just went over 200K on my 94 Escort LX. Original Clutch too. Compression is still factory spec. You don’t need a Honda or Toyota to go 200K, just take care of the thing.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    You are correct, geozinger. The power pack option had a carter 4bbl with aluminum manifold, higher lift cam and some other goodies. It was available on the aluminum and cast iron block versions.
    They made a limited number of slant 6 aluminum blocks from 60 to about 64.
    Most owners did not change the coolant every year like the factory recommended, and as a result many blocks were ruined due to eroding between the tops of the cylinders.
    When chrysler first conceived the slant 6 the plan was for all of them to be aluminum. At first there was a supply problem with the reynolds aluminum company, so most were cast iron. Chrysler planned to make both aluminum and cast iron versions until the supply of aluminum blocks was ample to make all of them aluminum.
    That never happened, and with the problems from owners not flushing and replacing the coolant on the aluminum engines chrysler ended up later building all cast iron engines. There were about 10k aluminum blocks made during their production run.
    This was the reason for the slant 6 block being so robust. Since it was initially planned to be an aluminum block, they designed it to have tons of extra material to compensate for the softer (and much less rigid) aluminum.
    This same tooling was also used for the cast iron version, and was retained after the aluminum block was discontinued, which is the reason for the heft of the cast iron block.
    About 3 or 4 years ago mopar muscle magazine found an aluminum block in good shape and built a hyper pack engine from it and installed it in a 62 valiant.
    Offenhauser makes an exact reproduction of the hyper pack manifold.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      HYPERPACK! That was the name I couldn’t pull out of my memory.

      It seems there was something of an aluminum block fad back in the early ’60′s. I remember AMC’s having one too. Your info about the same casting for iron and aluminum makes sense, especially considering the extra ‘beef’ in the old Slant Sixes.

      I’m pretty sure those things could survive a nuclear blast.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    I forgot about the amc aluminum 6. I think it was based on the earlier (pre 199-232-258) engine?

  • avatar
    mopar1

    It is really sad to see so many haters out there.. there have been some things built with design flaws, but the fact is, if you treat it right, it will last. my 2000 neon has almost 350,000 miles on it. thats in alaska, everyday, all year. starts at -40 without thinking about it. gets 2 new oil filters a year, and one oil change. changing the oil every 3000-5000 is ridiculous. oil break down is a myth created by the oil companies, it just gets dirty. Theres a trucker down on the west coast that sends a sample in every 10,000 miles for an analysis and if its good, it stays. he has over 250,000 miles on his oil. just change the filter to keep it clean.

  • avatar
    MrsCarito

    I have a base model neon 03 that was a rental car at one point. 226xxx miles original engine. Only major repair was solenoid in transmission common problem. Automatic. Taking it to Jersey from Ohio tomorrow.


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