2003 Dodge Neon Sudden Losses of power and gas smell

Tiny
TSELLREP
  • MEMBER
  • 2003 DODGE NEON
  • 4 CYL
  • FWD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 91,000 MILES
I have a few symptoms to consider.

My car was running sluggish so I replaced the spark plugs (stripping out the threads for cylinder 1's spark plug and inserted a heely coil), wires and then the ignition coil but now I have a new problem.

Now, occasionally, when the engine is hot, I'll suddenly lose horsepower, as though someone cut the horsepower in half and the check engine light will come on and then start blinking. I'll pull over and turn off the engine and restart the engine and it'll be fine again for a few miles.

I pulled the codes (at Autozone) and the results (P0300 & P2302) say it might be the ignition coil, but the coil tests out OK.

My teenage son also noticed that he smells gasoline when the car is at idle if the vent or windows are open. I've also have had an on-again/off-again warning of a vacuum leak.

Could a fuel leak cause this type of problem. Where do I start? How do I find a leak in the fuel system when there aren't any apparent leaks? (No pooling/ puddling)
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Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008 AT 5:12 PM

10 Replies

Tiny
MMPRINCE4000
  • EXPERT
You will have to inspect the fuel system from injector rail, connections, fuel filter and hard lines for any gas.
Also make sure the Heli-coil repair (plug) is tight, as a loose plug will cause problems and can be the source of the gas smell.
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Wednesday, December 24th, 2008 AT 10:09 AM
Tiny
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I also got that advice from a friend of mine and found Fuel Injector #2 was loose and when I pulled it, I found the gasket was ripped and cracked.

I pulled the rest and they were all ok but cleaned and replaced all of the O-rings.

Drove it to work today and haven't had my car running that smooth in more than a month.

Thanks for the advice.
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Wednesday, December 24th, 2008 AT 11:28 AM
Tiny
MMPRINCE4000
  • EXPERT
Great news, glad it's running better. Mmprince4000
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Thursday, December 25th, 2008 AT 6:37 AM
Tiny
TSELLREP
  • MEMBER
Except that on my way home from work yesterday, it happened again. A friend thinks that because it only happens under tougher driving (freeway or accelerating) that it might be a fuel filter problem.

Is that possible/ likely?
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Thursday, December 25th, 2008 AT 1:11 PM
Tiny
MMPRINCE4000
  • EXPERT
Possible, check fuel pressure with a mechanical gauge. Also check fuel pressure regulator, look for gas in vacuum line. If present, then the FPR needs to be replaced.

If fuel pressure is low, then pump or clogged filter.

Also check the CAT backpressure, it may also be partially clogged.
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Thursday, December 25th, 2008 AT 5:45 PM
Tiny
TSELLREP
  • MEMBER
Why then the gas smell from the engine compartment? (Pump and filter are in the tank in the back.)
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Saturday, December 27th, 2008 AT 1:21 PM
Tiny
MMPRINCE4000
  • EXPERT
An injector seal could cause the gas smell. Make sure the seals, both in the rail and in the head are secure.
If injectors are held at rail with "C" clips, make sure they are on correctly.

When you install seals, coat with grease so they will slide in head and not get knicked and leak.

Inspect connection to fuel rail, injector seals, fuel rail bolts, cold start valve connections, and FPR. Could be a small leak somewhere you can't see.
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Sunday, December 28th, 2008 AT 8:14 AM
Tiny
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  • MEMBER
Yesterday, I was test driving my car, trying to get a better idea of what was wrong and it cut out again so my son and I pulled over and on a hunch, I pulled the #1 spark plug wire off - with the engine on - and, down the plug tube, I saw a small explosion down by the plug, and a couple more over the next few seconds.

Looks like I have gasoline escaping around my #1 Spark Plug.

Arrrgghhh.
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Sunday, December 28th, 2008 AT 9:49 AM
Tiny
MMPRINCE4000
  • EXPERT
Sometimes the helicoil will work, but to be honest, I have seen several and they only lasted about 6 mo.

Contact a trusted garage, or machine shop and see what they reccomend as a permanent repair.

But to save money you will have to pull the head and carry it in to the shop for repair.

Use the car repair link in this thread or get a Haynes manual.

Take digital pictures of the engine and connections and label everything you disconnect.
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Monday, December 29th, 2008 AT 8:30 AM
Tiny
TSELLREP
  • MEMBER
Details, details.

Evidently I forgot to use the Hi-Temp RTV when I put the Heely coil in and didn't get in right. A professional pulled the old out and properly put in a new one and that sealed the gas leak.

However, that was a second problem; the engine was still cutting out. We found that, also, #1 Spark Plug was bad, somehow, and not consistently providing spark when the engine was hot. Replaced #1 and all is well.
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Saturday, January 10th, 2009 AT 11:48 AM

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