Breaking Stereotypes: The 446,000 Mile Dodge Neon

Paul Niedermeyer
by Paul Niedermeyer
breaking stereotypes the 446 000 mile dodge neon
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’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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  • Mopar1 Mopar1 on Dec 24, 2011

    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.

  • MrsCarito MrsCarito on May 15, 2014

    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.

  • Poltergeist Make sure you order the optional Dungdai fire suppression system.
  • Prabirmehta I charge my EV at home 100% of the time. The EV is used for in-town driving and the gas guzzling SUV is used for out of town trips. This results in a huge cost saving and rare trips to the gas station.
  • Conundrum Three cylinder Ford Escapes, Chevy whatever it is that competes, and now the Rogue. Great, ain't it? Toyota'll be next with a de-tuned GR Corolla/Yaris powerplant. It's your life getting better and better, yes indeed. A piston costs money, you know.The Rogue and Altima used to have the zero graviy foam front seats. Comfy, but the new Rogue dumps that advance. Costs money. And that color-co-ordinated gray interior, my, ain't it luvverly? Ten years after they perfected it in the first Versa to appeal to the terminally depressed, it graduates to the Rogue.There's nothing decent to buy on the market for normal money. Not a damn thing interests me at all.
  • Inside Looking Out It looks good and is popular in SF Bay Area.
  • Inside Looking Out Ford F150 IMHO. It is a true sports car on our freeways.