2002 Dodge Neon



November, 30, 2009 AT 3:35 PM

Noises problem
2002 Dodge Neon 4 cyl Front Wheel Drive Automatic 85000 miles

My car is *driving* me mad. We have changed several parts (air filter, plugs, wires, idle air control valve, motor mounts, oil) and it is still doing the same thing. It is idling rough, and if in drive position whileon the brake, it vibrates pretty roughly. It started doing this about a month ago and so far no imminent problems as far as overheating, engine light, or stalling. After changing the motor mounts, the car seemed to vibrate MORE. It seems to lack the power it once had, like when passing another car or whatever. It looks like from this site I should check the vacuum lines but I dont know where they are located. Thank you for your help!


4 Answers


Service Writer

December, 1, 2009 AT 7:44 PM

Regardless of the CEL not lit, I suggest checking for codes regardless.

The timing belt is recommended by the manufacturer to be changed at 84 months. The belt may have skipped a tooth. This is an interference engine and may trash the engine if it does break. IF you go into this job, plan on the waterpump, timing belt and timing belt tensioner.



December, 2, 2009 AT 3:28 AM

Service Writer is right about the timing belt, but here is another related problem that can be impossible to find. There is a camshaft position sensor on the left side of the engine, and a crankshaft position sensor on the back of the block. When the timing belt jumps one tooth, the engine computer will detect it and turn on the " Check Engine" light. It will run as you described too. If the belt jumps two teeth, the computer will shut the engine down to prevent valve damage as Service Writer explained. Three teeth off and valves will hit the pistons.

If my story is right, and the problem gets worse, your Check Engine light should be coming on pretty soon and you will have a diagnostic fault code memorized in the engine computer for " Cam and crank out of sync". In other words, the timing belt jumped a tooth. When you go to replace the belt, if you have the presence of mind to inspect the timing marks first, you will find the belt has NOT jumped a tooth, so you'll be scratching your head. If you don't bother checking the timing before you start the project, you'll just throw a new belt on and put it all together only to find it runs, (or doesn't run), just like before.

The problem, which is pretty common, is a sheared off locating dowel pin for the cam gear. The gear shifts on the cam just a little. Even though the cam and crank sprockets are timed perfectly, the camshaft is late. If the cam sensor were reading the cam sprocket, no problem would be detected, but since the sensor is on the other end of the camshaft, its pulses arrive at the engine computer slightly behind the crankshaft sensor pulses. This is how the computer detects the problem.

The fix is a new dowel pin. If you're careful, you can use wire to tie the belt to the sprocket so you won't have to go through the process of moving the belt around later.

On two of these I was involved with, I found I had spark on the two center cylinders, but not on the two outer cylinders. (One coil was firing, but not the second one). Also, there is a procedure for relearning the relationship between the two sensors, but I've never had to do that. Once repairs are completed, rotate the crankshaft two complete revolutions by hand to be sure no valves are hitting the pistons, then just fire it up.




December, 5, 2009 AT 3:26 PM

Ok I did check the codes and there are none. Now one thing I did forget to mention is that right around the time this started I had the plugs changed by a family friend AKA " shade tree mechanic" and Im not sure if this is a direct result of that. My husband checked the plugs (he was working, so I had someone else do the plugs) for whatever you check plugs for, (lol.I know nothing about mechanics) and he said they arent looking bad, no black stuff or anything. Wires can only be put in one order, 1 long and 1 short on each side. Now, I was reading on this site on your " car noise section" and it was saying that if there is a vibration when brakes are applied it could be the rotors. This normally wouldnt cross my mind, but it also said warped rotors can be caused by a steep grade which caused the brakes to overheat. Well last August We went to Yosemite, CA and there was a very steep grade downhill, and thebrakes overheated so badly that we had to pull over and let them cool. They would not work when coming to a stop and had to engage the e-brake. Of course that wouldnt explain the lack of power, but Im wondering if tht isnt my imagination, with it running so roughly it may seem to have less power when in fact it may not, you know? So I guess that gives me a few more things to check for, well, have my husband check for that is. You said 84 months on the timing belt? Well this is a 2002, but it does have 87000 miles on it. Isnt that an expensive procedure? Thank you all so much!


Service Writer

December, 7, 2009 AT 6:33 PM

The Doc makes a great point. Check the timing and see if it is on before going further with the timing belt. Until the problem is identified and cured, do not do the timing belt. Time-wise it is due and may be the source. The timing will tell you that. The belts dry-rot, thus the time. The belts wear, thus the mileage interval which is 105,000 miles. The first one to fit is what is important regardless of the other.

The brake rotors are a separate issue. Once they warp, the properties they posess are diminished and would need replacement, but nothing to do with rough run. Lack of power maybe if the e-brake are stuck on even the release is out. But still not rough run.

So check the timing and let us know at that point to go further.

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