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Jean-Seb's 2005 SX2.0 log

Posted: Sun Jun 15, 2014 7:03 pm
by Jean-Seb
Well, hello all. Here is a log that will contain most if not all of what I've done to the car so far.

I'm in no hurry to work on this project, so don't hold your breath or anything, but you can always check back if it pleases you. :D

I was car-free for two years, by choice, until I purchased this rough but lovely little bug. I gained most of my experience working on my previous project, which I sadly never finished: a 1995 Pontiac Grand Am. I performed a 5-speed swap on it as well as installing, wait for it... rear Dodge Neon disc brakes lol. Regardless, I gained valuable experience from it, one important lesson was to never start a mod if you can't finish it properly lol. So, I'm taking this approach to the SX2.0. :)

Here's the main subject: a 5-speed bright silver 2005 Dodge SX2.0.



It's a basic SX2.0, with no power locks, windows or mirrors. And I like it like that. My goal is to remove useless (to me) systems and make it simpler, easier to work on and more reliable on the whole. It will also be made lighter in the process, which is always good. :glasses1:

I'll be focusing mainly on the engine bay, which in the beginning needed a lot of cleaning. I'm still working on it, because there's some rustproofing (grease) all over the bay but it's baked on. Degreaser doesn't do much so it needs to be WIPED off by hand.

On the first day,

And as it stands now (at the time of this post).

It's a little better, but I'll get there eventually. :D

So, my first projects were, besides boring maintenance, adding an injector cover and swapping the nasty fuel rail for an older chrome plated unit.


Just in case anybody (noobs mostly) wonders, they are identical and interchangeable. Mine was getting rusty in the "injector tubes" and I had trouble taking one of them out. Otherwise, it was mostly for aesthetic purposes.



On the same day, I installed a freshly painted PT Cruiser 24mm front swaybar with new endlinks. That took care of most of the clunking in the front end. Gotta love when everything works out. :)


Anywho, stay tuned for more !

And thanks for watching.

Posted: Sun Jun 15, 2014 10:17 pm
by Midnight_Rider
Very nice. I know about the gunky rustproofing stuff- Ziebart has coated the underhood area of my car with it. As much as I appreciate keeping that area rust-free, I am envious of those with shiny engine compartments.

Posted: Wed Jun 18, 2014 2:50 pm
by Jean-Seb
Thank you ! :)

Yeah, it's a good idea in theory, but as you can see, every fastener is rusty and the radiator brackets are disintegrating... so it doesn't work. :rofl:

Posted: Thu Jun 19, 2014 1:56 am
by Midnight_Rider
I'm wondering if your road crews in QC use more salt that ours here in US midwest. Might explain the rust you've discovered.

Posted: Tue Jun 24, 2014 1:58 pm
by Jean-Seb
Well, in some areas they use a saltier mixture. I do know that the previous owner was commuting on the bridge over the St-Lawrence river near Quebec City and apparently they use an awful lot of salt there. Coupled with a lack of mudflaps, you get magic rocker panels ! They disappear by themselves. :(

Anyway, I took one of the door mouldings off Saturday and saw that the paint behind it is damaged also. I'm assuming because of the salt as well. It's all bubbley and lighter in color. So the moulding went back on, which makes me mad. grrr...

So instead of getting drunk because of the disappointment, I installed some new allen coil bolts after giving them a quick gloss black spray. I wanted stainless but they don't make them that long apparently. :( The rest of the engine bay bolts will be stainless though. :) It's all in the details. :glasses2:


Quick question for you guys: what tool do you use to adjust your headlights ? I've noticed the studs behind them, but can't seem to find a tool that fits them. :( Thanks for any input. :D

Posted: Sat Jun 28, 2014 11:56 am
by Jean-Seb
SCORE ! :lol:

I found this little thing during yesterday's junkyard run !


I also found 12 feet of 2-gauge battery cable out of a Lincoln LS and a driver side radiator bracket that isn't as rusty as my current one. I also found a sunburn yesterday... wasn't looking for that either. :tardbang:

Posted: Mon Jul 07, 2014 3:11 pm
by Jean-Seb
Just a quick picture-less update.

I finally adjusted my headlights and I must say I'm disappointed in Chrysler to not have been able to come up with an easy way of adjusting them without having to remove them from the car ! :banghead: Anyway, it's done and I can see further than 15 feet in front of the car.

I also installed my driver side rad bracket and refreshed the fasteners as well. There's this thing I do now, per occasional demons' idea, I cut the bolts (or just use shorter ones) to make sure they aren't sticking out past the weldnuts. The extra threads won't rust, it saves weight and it will take less time to remove next time I need to ! :D I also refresh the threaded holes with a tap whenever possible.

I probably won't do much to the car in the next two weeks, but I'll be at it again after that. ;)

Posted: Fri Jul 25, 2014 1:53 pm
by Jean-Seb
Hello again. :shock:

I finished cleaning up the engine bay last week, tucked the accelerator and cruise cables, refitted the big rubber bands on the rad hose sleeve. It looks a bit better.


I also bought a new bumper cover and replacement rocker panels (also a welder to do it myself and some POR15). :D



And I took some pics down in Vermont, last weekend. Beautiful state and perfect roads. :toothy7:


On the sad side of the coin, I found out the engine oil drain plug was the victim of crossthreading. So I'll need to pick up another oil pan... and I'm overdue for the oil change. grrr...

Also I'll need new fog lights. One of them was replaced by my nephew and well... he overtightened it and now the mounting nuts are "welded" to the studs. The second one's lens is damaged due to all the gravel it got hit with.

Anyway, it will be fine once I get this done.

Thanks for watching ! :)

Posted: Sat Aug 09, 2014 9:09 pm
by Jean-Seb

so the cross-threaded drain plug scare was in fact a false alarm. Apparently the bolt head was stripped so they welded a new bolt head on. Still, I already purchased a used oil pan and started to clean it up, removed all of the rough casting marks, and I will be painting it next weekend probably. Pics when it is completed, no teasers. lol

Quick maintenance/project for today: I replaced my accessory belts and installed one that bypasses the A/C compressor. :D

I've found a belt load of worn out little rocks stuck in the grooves. Bah !

And the new P/S only belt.

I've also found a nearly mint passenger side rad bracket last time I assaulted the junkyard. :) The ugly...

And the nice one. Nevermind the sad little touch-up paint job. :(

I'll keep rocking along until winter shows up. Don't be shy, you can leave some comments ! Whatever it is ! :quotes:

Posted: Mon Aug 18, 2014 1:02 am
by Jean-Seb
Weekend update.

So I've been working on preparing a used oil pan for replacement.

Here it is ready for transplant. It'll be installed next weekend.

After a good cleanup...

Now after removing all the rough edges, casting marks and sanding...

And the final result, coated with gray POR15 paint.



I've also deleted the cruise control and tidied up the various lines/cables/hoses that run above the timing belt cover. I was gonna change the torque strut mount bolt (the orange one lol) but rust on the exposed threads kept me from finishing the task. I'll get back to it another day.

Next up: rocker panel repair. I'm not particularly looking forward to it... but it has to get done. :roll:

See ya ! :D

Posted: Mon Aug 18, 2014 1:39 am
by Lantern04rt
that pan turned out great :thumbup:

Posted: Mon Aug 18, 2014 9:42 am
by occasional demons

I guess that's a good argument for the splash shield, and timing belt covers.

I am still debating on hacking my brand new, splash shield for the '99, as the oil filter location on the Stratus 2.4 kind of intrudes on the splash shield's real estate.

There aren't many new 1gn ones left in inventory. (I think less than double digit figures) Almost makes you think twice about hacking it.

Posted: Mon Aug 18, 2014 11:20 am
by Jean-Seb
Lantern04rt wrote:that pan turned out great :thumbup:
Thank you ! Too bad no one will see it. :lol:
occasional demons wrote:I guess that's a good argument for the splash shield, and timing belt covers.

I am still debating on hacking my brand new, splash shield for the '99, as the oil filter location on the Stratus 2.4 kind of intrudes on the splash shield's real estate.

There aren't many new 1gn ones left in inventory. (I think less than double digit figures) Almost makes you think twice about hacking it.
Can't you sort of bend it out of the way ? Not sure how it looks like with your application, though.

The 2nd gen ones seem small compared to my old car. Oh well, I won't drive it as much as the previous owner in the winter, so I don't think it'll be a problem for me.

Thanks for the comments guys ! :)

Posted: Sun Aug 31, 2014 9:12 pm
by Jean-Seb
Tis' Sunday ! Time for an update. :shock:

A couple of weeks ago, I installed the rejuvenated oil pan with a new gasket using the nicest OEM bolts that I had.

There she is, shamelessly showing her insides... Gross ! :rofl:

Now all sealed up and full of fresh synthetic oil. Unfortunately, it does make everything else look like crap now. lol

After that, I trimmed my new rocker panels a bit and coated them with the same paint. That should keep them from rusting from the inside out.

And today, I did a quick common mod: trunk lid carpet. :) You can also see what my mobile workshop looks like. :lol:

I "started" having issues with my starter a few weeks ago and it got much worse this week. So I found one at the junkyard that looked really nice from the outside. And well, it also works the way it should. The solenoid on the old one was the culprit: the motor would turn but it would engage only after 3 or 4 attempts. :roll:

After installing it, I cleaned up my intake bellow tube and fixed the inner rings too. One of them moved over one notch and made the whole thing look deformed (you can see it in post #8 ). So I fixed that and I then rotated the tube completely to hide the collar screws. The wire harness that usually runs above the TB is now under it and I hid the IAC and TPS wires too. It looks a little less chaotic in that area now.

See you soon. :runaway:

Posted: Sun Aug 31, 2014 9:21 pm
by Midnight_Rider
That oil pan- beauty, eh? :thumbup:

EDITED to be more appropriate. :lol:

Posted: Sun Aug 31, 2014 9:28 pm
by Jean-Seb
Thank you very much ! :D

Posted: Sat Sep 13, 2014 6:26 pm
by Jean-Seb
Smarty pants... :pottytrain2: :rofl:

Quick update for now.

Major work on a daily driver, outside, sucks. There, I said it.

So anyway, I got one rocker panel done (well, almost). Still need to smooth it out a bit and paint. But the other one will have to wait until next summer. I didn't realize that doing about 7 feet of tack welds would take that long. So I ran out of time, but anyway, it looks better than before lol. No pics of that just yet.

I've deleted most of my A/C. Still need to remove the condenser in front of the rad and the evaporator inside, then switch my HVAC control panel (with the one from post #6... remember ?). lol

More coming. [-(

Posted: Sat Sep 13, 2014 7:58 pm
by Midnight_Rider
Midnight_Rider wrote:That oil pan- beauty, eh? :thumbup:

EDITED to be more appropriate. :lol:
Jean-Seb wrote:Smarty pants... :pottytrain2: :rofl:
Sorry, couldn't resist. :lol:

Looking forward to the rocker panel pics.

Posted: Tue Sep 16, 2014 1:40 pm
by Jean-Seb

I was afraid you'd say that.

It's pretty cold and rainy up here, so it'll be a while before I post pics, but I won't forget. ;)

Posted: Fri Oct 10, 2014 7:05 pm
by Jean-Seb
Well, apart from almost frying everything by reinstalling my battery the wrong way in, I've done a few little things lately. Hopefully, I'm not boring anyone here though. :sad3:

So, I replaced my shift cable bushings with the usual world-renowned Booger units and took the opportunity to swap in a PT Cruiser shifter.

I cannot say how much I love this mod. It's exactly what I wanted. It brings the knob higher and closer to the steering wheel and does have a shorter throw. I'll close up that hole in the shift boot for a tighter fit someday.

And as an observation, I gotta say that solid cradle bushings are really not necessary considering the amount of flex that comes from the sheet metal the shifter is bolted to. I'll stitch-weld those next summer, as well as the plate underneath the parking brake handle.

Here it is complementing my salty floor mats. lol

And I then finished off the afternoon by installing my nicer-looking A/C-less HVAC control panel. Everything worked out great for that, almost plug-n-play.

Thanks again for looking. More coming up as usual. 8)

Posted: Fri Oct 10, 2014 7:11 pm
by MyNeonSaysHi
Great progress with pictures. Love the new shifter! I have a cousin who has lived out in Quebec for about 2-3 years or more. He will be coming down to Kansas first of November to do some sort of speech. I hear it is very pretty up there.

Posted: Fri Oct 10, 2014 7:57 pm
by Jean-Seb
Thanks man !

And nice ! I assume he's from the US originally ?

It is pretty for sure, especially right now with all the changing leaves. But it's always prettier when you're from the outside, coming here and seeing this with fresh eyes. All I see now are the careless drivers and potholes. :rofl:

EDIT: Just added this picture. This gives a better idea of the added height of the shifter (also of how dirty my car's interior really is lol).


Posted: Sat Oct 11, 2014 2:15 am
by Gnuserup
Nice work - great :thumbup:

Posted: Thu Oct 16, 2014 4:24 am
by Jean-Seb
Danke schön ! :P

The PT shifter mod is definitely a 10/10. I went on a road trip last weekend and I was still laughing hysterically while shifting, just like the day I installed it. :lol:

Posted: Sun Nov 16, 2014 4:45 pm
by Jean-Seb
And the fun continues... but slowly. :)

I hope everybody here is doing great. I am even though winter's here and things are slowing down a bit.

I'm working on a couple of projects right now. They just take time because they involve epoxy and what not. :lol:

Here's a completed one. I found this dirty thing in a poorly modded Neon at the junkyard and just thought I'd try restoring it. The previous owner just glued it inside the center console so there was a lot of glue-removal involved. Try that with freshly-trimmed fingernails... lol


After cleaning it, removing most of the glue and cutting the old boot off of its frame.

Then epoxied on the frame and installed. Not bad for a 3,50$ project. Sorry for the grainy picture, it gets dark so quickly... :(

So like I said, I'm working on a couple of other projects, but they take time, so bear with me. I also picked up a set of Sebring backing plates since I can't find any Neon ones. The rear disc conversion will be done next summer, just gotta gather parts. :)

Until next time... :rockon:

Posted: Sun Nov 16, 2014 5:37 pm
by thomas_w
Looks very nice and it closes the gap the old boot had.

Posted: Tue Nov 18, 2014 12:32 am
by neongirl87
wow! you work fast! nice updates!

Posted: Tue Nov 18, 2014 1:28 pm
by blueneo03
they have a trim piece on the leather boot and the srt boot that clips into the center console itself instead of the shifter base like the metal ones do and it sits nicely on there you may try to find one of those to even the boot out on there. plus it adds for easier removal of the boot.

Posted: Wed Nov 19, 2014 5:00 am
by Jean-Seb
thomas_w: Thank you. I knew I had to do something about that gap. I'm glad I found that boot, it looks less incomplete. :D

neongirl87: Thanks ! It seems I spent all summer working on that car. :rofl: Oh well, I didn't have anything else to do anyway lol.

blueneo03: Hmmm... I'll look into that someday. But it just seems like I've spent enough time on that part of the car for now lol. Maybe I'll find some black plaid flannel and make a smaller one later. Thanks for the tip though ! By the way, it's in your progress log that I first got the idea that the PT shifter would work in a Neon. So thanks again for that, I love it ! :lol:

Posted: Wed Nov 19, 2014 3:45 pm
by ducktapetg
I like how that shift boot came out. Great job!