Saving a 2001 Dodge Neon R/T

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Pizzacrust
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Saving a 2001 Dodge Neon R/T

Post by Pizzacrust » Tue Jul 19, 2022 10:08 pm

So I've been a previous Neon owner before: a 2001 Dodge Neon SE in flame red color. I was also on here as Chibits12 probably from 2006 to 2008 and had the Neon for maybe five years until I traded it in for a 2008 Cobalt SS (regular NA 2.4l model). Yeah, that Cobalt was junk :lol: needless to say compared to the Neon lol. Power steering would go off while driving, carpet at the rear seats would get flooded when it rains, door handle would come off, etc.

So what else did I drive? After I got rid of the Cobalt, I got a 4 door 2012 Nissan Altima. It was a nice car, comfy but very boring. Then I wanted something small so I got a 2008 Volkswagen R32. It makes a sound like Chewbacca but also eats your wallet just to keep up with maintenance. I still drive it if I don't take out the Neon.

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I wasn't exactly looking for another car but it's always nice to check what's out there. So I was checking out Facebook marketplace and found this 2001 Dodge Neon R/T up near Hanover, PA last November. Here's what I saw on Facebook:

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I missed my old Neon so I got this one for a bargain. The same color I want too! I would say a brand new Playstation 5 cost much more than this thing when I bought it lol. The car was completely stock, nothing was modified, all parts on it seem original still. Car drove fine, but just by looking at the pictures, the poor car needs some TLC. It needed a lot of work to pass Maryland inspection but I didn't want to see this thing go the the crusher. There's only been two owners and it spent most of its life in Pennsylvania and Maryland. The granddad (2nd owner) was going to give it to her granddaugher but she didn't want it. She wanted an suv I think. I'll post more later about the inspection results and what my plans are for it. So why didn't I just get an srt4? They're fun cars for sure but I just prefer the older bodystyles of the r/t model. It's also really tough to find a clean srt4 these days.
Last edited by Pizzacrust on Sat Jul 30, 2022 11:50 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Saving a 2001 Dodge Neon R/T

Post by Midnight_Rider » Wed Jul 20, 2022 12:23 am

Aw, a new coat of paint and there you go!
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Pizzacrust
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Re: Saving a 2001 Dodge Neon R/T *Pic Heavy*

Post by Pizzacrust » Wed Jul 20, 2022 7:15 pm

Yup, a fresh coat of paint would be nice too.

Just to recap, the car had a couple of problems going on and it failed inspection the first time. The very first thing I had done to it is change all the fluid (oil, tranny and power steering fluid) because I wasn't exactly sure when the fluids were changed; the previous owner only had it for a couple of months and changed the oil once.

It needed:
- new motor mounts
- new belts including timing belt
- head gasket needs replaced
- new control arm bushings
- new axle, driver's side

other issues:
- security light on dash keeps blinking
- tires are showing signs of dry cracking

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Re: Saving a 2001 Dodge Neon R/T

Post by INVUJerry » Tue Jul 26, 2022 9:09 am

Man that's some work you put into it. Did you get through inspection at this point? Also, I'm amazed you didn't just toss historic plates on it!

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Re: Saving a 2001 Dodge Neon R/T (pic heavy)

Post by Pizzacrust » Fri Jul 29, 2022 11:25 pm

It did pass inspection so car is good to drive around Maryland. Just realized you live in Hanover, I got the car in McSherrystown which is close by your place I think. I was going to go with the historic plates route but didn't know how to go through with that process; I"m such a dummy lol. I should've asked about that first thing at the tags and title place.

After passing inspection, I decided to start gathering parts for it around the beginning of the year. Present plan is to keep it stock. One of the best things last Christmas/holiday season was that there were plenty of open part time jobs available, so I took some shipping jobs and saved up a bit of cash for some parts.

Finding the parts was the fun part. The 3 tokico struts I found in Amazon real cheap. Finding the last strut up front took some to find and ended up finding them from an online store in California (optionsauto.com). The windshield moldings I asked from some junkyard in North Carolina. The muffler I found on ebay. As for the emblems, these took a while to find too. Some Dodge dealerships still have them luckily. The first Neon emblem I bought got stolen during shipping lol. The Magnum 2.0 emblem is no longer available so I had someone fabricate them for me.

Parts list as of 7/29/22:

- new R/T muffler
- set of Tokico struts
- new headlamps
- sun visor clip (one is missing in the car)
- front windshield moldings
- new emblems (Magnum 2.0 emblem made by rebadgedesign.com)
- center caps; some wheels were missing them

Still needs:
- lowering springs (leaning towards Eibach pro-kit for now)
- new strut mounts
- set of new tires
- spare tire cover in the trunk and new floor mats

I'll probably stop by my friend's house this coming weekend to see the car. Probably install new headlights and emblems while I'm there.

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Re: Saving a 2001 Dodge Neon R/T

Post by MyNeonSaysHi » Sun Jul 31, 2022 3:40 am

nice little project! looks like you have some work cut out for you and some nice parts to install! I really liked the tokico setup i had on my 01 SE. Direct bolt on kit. They were the HP blues with the tokico red springs. Pretty sure that setup has been discontinued for ages. Was a nice 1.5'' drop or so.

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Re: Saving a 2001 Dodge Neon R/T (pic heavy)

Post by INVUJerry » Tue Aug 02, 2022 9:16 am

Pizzacrust wrote:
Fri Jul 29, 2022 11:25 pm
It did pass inspection so car is good to drive around Maryland. Just realized you live in Hanover, I got the car in McSherrystown which is close by your place I think. I was going to go with the historic plates route but didn't know how to go through with that process; I"m such a dummy lol. I should've asked about that first thing at the tags and title place.

After passing inspection, I decided to start gathering parts for it around the beginning of the year. Present plan is to keep it stock. One of the best things last Christmas/holiday season was that there were plenty of open part time jobs available, so I took some shipping jobs and saved up a bit of cash for some parts.

Finding the parts was the fun part. The 3 tokico struts I found in Amazon real cheap. Finding the last strut up front took some to find and ended up finding them from an online store in California (optionsauto.com). The windshield moldings I asked from some junkyard in North Carolina. The muffler I found on ebay. As for the emblems, these took a while to find too. Some Dodge dealerships still have them luckily. The first Neon emblem I bought got stolen during shipping lol. The Magnum 2.0 emblem is no longer available so I had someone fabricate them for me.

Parts list as of 7/29/22:

- new R/T muffler
- set of Tokico struts
- new headlamps
- sun visor clip (one is missing in the car)
- front windshield moldings
- new emblems (Magnum 2.0 emblem made by rebadgedesign.com)
- center caps; some wheels were missing them

Still needs:
- lowering springs (leaning towards Eibach pro-kit for now)
- new strut mounts
- set of new tires
- spare tire cover in the trunk and new floor mats

I'll probably stop by my friend's house this coming weekend to see the car. Probably install new headlights and emblems while I'm there.

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The historic plate process is pretty easy. You hand the title shop the title, they hand you 2 years of stickers and you're good to go. No inspection, no emissions testing. Allegedly you can only drive it 5K miles a year, but they never ever check.

With the lowering springs, the Eibach's usually look pretty good, but the spring rate is pretty high which will wear out the valving in the struts faster. You could look into doing Vogtland springs which my buddy had in his SRT-4 and I liked the ride of, or ebay "Manzo" springs which I believe is the same as the Sprint springs brand, they offer what looks like a pretty good drop. Or, even doing a coilover conversion to the tokico struts so you can have adjustability and choose your spring rates, but that's a little more involved. Just make sure you order new bump stops for them as well.

As for the center caps, I think other mopar center caps will fit, you should go to crazy rays with a tape measure and see if some center caps from either stock 15's or minivan wheels will fit. I might have some center caps from 15's around I can check if they'll fit.

Also, I'm really happy with how those emblems turned out for you! They look great!

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Re: Saving a 2001 Dodge Neon R/T

Post by Pizzacrust » Thu Aug 04, 2022 10:38 pm

MyNeonSaysHi wrote:
Sun Jul 31, 2022 3:40 am
nice little project! looks like you have some work cut out for you and some nice parts to install! I really liked the tokico setup i had on my 01 SE. Direct bolt on kit. They were the HP blues with the tokico red springs. Pretty sure that setup has been discontinued for ages. Was a nice 1.5'' drop or so.
Thanks! Yeah I don't really want to go more than 1.5" with the drop, just worried about the ride comfort once I lower it.
INVUJerry wrote:
Tue Aug 02, 2022 9:16 am
The historic plate process is pretty easy. You hand the title shop the title, they hand you 2 years of stickers and you're good to go. No inspection, no emissions testing. Allegedly you can only drive it 5K miles a year, but they never ever check.

With the lowering springs, the Eibach's usually look pretty good, but the spring rate is pretty high which will wear out the valving in the struts faster. You could look into doing Vogtland springs which my buddy had in his SRT-4 and I liked the ride of, or ebay "Manzo" springs which I believe is the same as the Sprint springs brand, they offer what looks like a pretty good drop. Or, even doing a coilover conversion to the tokico struts so you can have adjustability and choose your spring rates, but that's a little more involved. Just make sure you order new bump stops for them as well.

As for the center caps, I think other mopar center caps will fit, you should go to crazy rays with a tape measure and see if some center caps from either stock 15's or minivan wheels will fit. I might have some center caps from 15's around I can check if they'll fit.

Also, I'm really happy with how those emblems turned out for you! They look great!
Well, some minor bad news but my friend was looking over the car the other day and he noticed that the sides skirts were drooping down. Literally they were hanging by double-sided tapes. When the guy fixed the rusty rocker panels, he never made the holes to properly secure the side skirts because he only found the regular Neon rocker panels. Bolts for those are now missing too, probably got thrown away during the cutting and welding. Good thing they never came flying off when he drove it back 30 miles from the shop. We're going to secure those skirts this weekend.

Is the spring rate between the sportslines and the pro-kit different? Not really sure what the spring rates are of these things. I do see some Vogtland and Manzo springs for sale. Manzo seems to be real cheap for a set! I was just browsing Modern Performance and they have the oem strut boots and bump stops. Would these OEM strut boots fit the Tokicos? I was surprised how the emblems turned out too. The guy made two because one was done in white background and other in chrome; I'll probably stick the chrome one.

My friend took these pics as soon as the car was brought back from the body shop couple weeks ago. Car was gone most of July during the repair/repaint process. I waited for the car but had to leave to go to jury duty that Friday morning. Not bad looking for a 21 year old car!

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Re: Saving a 2001 Dodge Neon R/T

Post by Midnight_Rider » Thu Aug 04, 2022 11:12 pm

Pretty paint!
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Re: Saving a 2001 Dodge Neon R/T

Post by INVUJerry » Fri Aug 05, 2022 6:54 am

Pizzacrust wrote:
Thu Aug 04, 2022 10:38 pm
Well, some minor bad news but my friend was looking over the car the other day and he noticed that the sides skirts were drooping down. Literally they were hanging by double-sided tapes. When the guy fixed the rusty rocker panels, he never made the holes to properly secure the side skirts because he only found the regular Neon rocker panels. Bolts for those are now missing too, probably got thrown away during the cutting and welding. Good thing they never came flying off when he drove it back 30 miles from the shop. We're going to secure those skirts this weekend.

Is the spring rate between the sportslines and the pro-kit different? Not really sure what the spring rates are of these things. I do see some Vogtland and Manzo springs for sale. Manzo seems to be real cheap for a set! I was just browsing Modern Performance and they have the oem strut boots and bump stops. Would these OEM strut boots fit the Tokicos? I was surprised how the emblems turned out too. The guy made two because one was done in white background and other in chrome; I'll probably stick the chrome one.

My friend took these pics as soon as the car was brought back from the body shop couple weeks ago. Car was gone most of July during the repair/repaint process. I waited for the car but had to leave to go to jury duty that Friday morning. Not bad looking for a 21 year old car!
You could look into using "Panel Bond" Adhesive to attach the sideskirts. That's what a lot of professional shops use, but that is a permanent attachment basically.

The bump stops and dust boots will fit the Tokico's just fine. Also, I forgot that those struts are adjustable, so you'll be fine with what springs you use, as long as you have the bump stops in them. The struts are designed for higher spring rates 8).

The car is looking killer!

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Re: Saving a 2001 Dodge Neon R/T

Post by Pizzacrust » Sat Aug 06, 2022 6:47 pm

Thanks everyone!

So my buddy Pete and I met at the hobby store place and he brought the car over. Today was the first time I've seen the car after a month or so:

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There were imperfections like running clearcoat, oversprays (my decklid brake light was sprayed over) and some dents never fixed. We changed the headlights and fixed the sunroof coming off its tracks. Most important for me was that the rust has been fixed on the right rear quarter panel so that was good.

Before:
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Re: Saving a 2001 Dodge Neon R/T

Post by INVUJerry » Tue Aug 09, 2022 10:36 am

Well, it's better. Not perfect but better. I bet someone that's competent with a good buffer could buff some of that paint out for you once it's cured up enough!

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Re: Saving a 2001 Dodge Neon R/T

Post by Pizzacrust » Tue Aug 09, 2022 9:45 pm

INVUJerry wrote:
Tue Aug 09, 2022 10:36 am
Well, it's better. Not perfect but better. I bet someone that's competent with a good buffer could buff some of that paint out for you once it's cured up enough!
If you know someone let me know because you can see how it's just one big orange peel lol. Also the drip I saw that I mentioned? Looks like it's the clear coat, not the actual paint.

I'm going to let the paint cure for two more months, maybe until the end of October before I dabble into doing that. This has literally taken me almost all year to get the car to how I want it.

I also messaged the granddaughter who owned this car and shared her pictures of the car now. She said his grandpa wants to buy it back. I said I'll try to enjoy it as much as I can for now :P
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Re: Saving a 2001 Dodge Neon R/T

Post by sidepipe87 » Thu Aug 11, 2022 2:10 pm

Jerry was actually messaging me regarding the SKIM issue in this car and I just happened to come across your thread. So the SKIS light is blinking while driving, but no issues.... I assume you have a gray SKIM key? Do you have multiple? If so, does it blink regardless of which key is used?
PM me for your 00+ PCM SKIM/VIN flashing needs. Neon PCMs Plus

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Re: Saving a 2001 Dodge Neon R/T

Post by Pizzacrust » Thu Aug 11, 2022 4:19 pm

sidepipe87 wrote:
Thu Aug 11, 2022 2:10 pm
Jerry was actually messaging me regarding the SKIM issue in this car and I just happened to come across your thread. So the SKIS light is blinking while driving, but no issues.... I assume you have a gray SKIM key? Do you have multiple? If so, does it blink regardless of which key is used?
I only have one key for the car and it's gray-colored
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It just blinks all the time and doesn't do any harm it seems. It's supposed to be an immobilizer right?
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Re: Saving a 2001 Dodge Neon R/T

Post by INVUJerry » Fri Aug 12, 2022 9:34 am

Pizzacrust wrote:
Thu Aug 11, 2022 4:19 pm
sidepipe87 wrote:
Thu Aug 11, 2022 2:10 pm
Jerry was actually messaging me regarding the SKIM issue in this car and I just happened to come across your thread. So the SKIS light is blinking while driving, but no issues.... I assume you have a gray SKIM key? Do you have multiple? If so, does it blink regardless of which key is used?
I only have one key for the car and it's gray-colored
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It just blinks all the time and doesn't do any harm it seems. It's supposed to be an immobilizer right?
Yeah it's supposed to be... but if the immobilizer was removed from the PCM, and the SKIM/SKIS module in the column was unplugged, the cluster would probably flash because it's angry all the time. If it's bothering you, you could remove the bulb out of the cluster.

If you happen to open the plastics around the column and see that the SKIM module is unplugged, do not plug it back in. It'll brick the car until you get the PCM reprogrammed.

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Re: Saving a 2001 Dodge Neon R/T

Post by Pizzacrust » Fri Aug 12, 2022 9:54 am

INVUJerry wrote:
Fri Aug 12, 2022 9:34 am
Yeah it's supposed to be... but if the immobilizer was removed from the PCM, and the SKIM/SKIS module in the column was unplugged, the cluster would probably flash because it's angry all the time. If it's bothering you, you could remove the bulb out of the cluster.

If you happen to open the plastics around the column and see that the SKIM module is unplugged, do not plug it back in. It'll brick the car until you get the PCM reprogrammed.
Ah OK. I'll just leave it as it is, the blinking doesn't really bother me.
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Re: Saving a 2001 Dodge Neon R/T

Post by INVUJerry » Fri Aug 12, 2022 10:07 am

Pizzacrust wrote:
Fri Aug 12, 2022 9:54 am
INVUJerry wrote:
Fri Aug 12, 2022 9:34 am
Yeah it's supposed to be... but if the immobilizer was removed from the PCM, and the SKIM/SKIS module in the column was unplugged, the cluster would probably flash because it's angry all the time. If it's bothering you, you could remove the bulb out of the cluster.

If you happen to open the plastics around the column and see that the SKIM module is unplugged, do not plug it back in. It'll brick the car until you get the PCM reprogrammed.
Ah OK. I'll just leave it as it is, the blinking doesn't really bother me.
I'll be honest man, I'm really intrigued so I want to figure it out lol.

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Re: Saving a 2001 Dodge Neon R/T

Post by Pizzacrust » Fri Aug 12, 2022 10:00 pm

When I brought in the car at a shop for inspection, the guys there were curious too. They offered to fix it and I'm like, nah the car's too old and I'm afraid they'd make things worse.
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