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My wife's 1996 Dodge Neon with 46,000 miles on it has an oil leak. I took the car to our usual and trusted mechanic and he told me the following tale of woe. The car is leaking at the cylinder head gasket. They have to tear apart the motor to fix the leak. I was also told that since they were going to tear apart the motor they my as well change the timing belt and water pump while they're at it. All this to the tune of around $1500 . I am of the opinion that I should go buy a case of motor oil and be vigilant about checking the level of oil in my wife's car. As it stands right now the car goes thru about one quart of oil a month. This would seem to me to be a more reasonable solution as this vehicle is our second car and is not driven all that much.

Does anybody have an opinion about my dilemma and my solution to it ?
 

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agmantoo
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Replace the valve cover gasket and any additional seals around the fasteners that hold the cover on. Then search for another "trusted mechanic" Gasket should be purchased for less than $25 even if it is a silicone type.
 

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I am not a mechanic, just a woman. :haha: I just got done watching my dh change the head gasket in his Honda Accord. Not an easy job either. I do know that even if you change the head gasket it will blow again if the head is warped. Unless you are a mechanic you will probable not know if the head is warped by looking, and you will have replaced it for nothing.

He did change the timing belt at the same time, but his work car has major miles on it and he thought he would kill two birds with one stone. The water pump was fine, although over heating was a problem before he changed the head gasket. Ohhhh Another sign that its the head gasket is that radiator fluid drips out of your tail pipe.

Take this advice with a grain of salt, because mechanic talk really does bore me to death and goes over my head at the same time. :cool: I'm sure if my dh was here reading over my shoulder he would either be proud of me for actually listening to him while he worked on the car, or shaking his head muttering about how I know nothing about cars. :D

mljjranch-who will look for a post about animals that way I have some experience behind my posts.
 

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Look at your oil dip stick. also take the cap off your oil fill. look at them, do you see a milky whits substance?
look at your tail pipe. Do you see a fair amount of white smoke?
have you noticed your temp. guage reading any higher?
check your radiator level. has it decreased?

all these are indicators of a leaking head gasket.

In todays cars when there is head work, or water pump work or timing belt work to be done it IS advantagious to do the other as well. ie: replace timing belt might as well do the pump. This is because labor the the major costs with these jobs and at 40-60 bucks an hour it add up fast.

Is is leaking on the side where the valve cover is underneath the plenim? or on the other side where it is easy to get to? or are both sides accessible?
if so, start with the valve cover gasket and work your way down.

hope that helps..


Gimpy
 

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I have had experience with the Neon line of cars. It is true the gasket has a grommet it in where the oil goes up to the valve train. This grommet is prone ot failure and chrysler knows about this. In addition to a head gasket you will need intake seals for the manifold and a timing belt. If the gasket is leaking bad it is only a little while until the belt breaks and causes valve train damage. I think the $1300 estimate is considerably high. My friend had an estimate for one where the belt broke and bent valves. That estimate was only $1100 and that was with head repair. The gaskets for this should only run about $150 and the rest is labor about 6-7 hours. I have done this already as well as put in a motor. This was cheaper than the valve job after the belt broke.


Theront(dh)
 

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agmantoo
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Fonzie, I did a bit of research and there is a technical service bulletin stating that there was an engine oil leak and here is the statement.

09-07-98 DEC 98 Cam Position Sensor - Oil Seepage Diagnosis

That car certainly has had its share of bulletins and recalls. I would not put a lot of money into it. You may be lucky and find out that it is a simple repair (hopefully). You need to try to determine exactly where the leak is occurring. At the rate of a quart per month it does not sound as if the problem is major unless you are encountering other problems such as over heating or oil and water mixed.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks to everyone who answered my post. I think I am going to go with having a case of oil on hand and check the oil level regularly.
 

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This car has a timing belt, if it is getting oil on it because of this problem it WILL FAIL and cost as much or more than the original estimate. Find out if it is an interference motor or not, if it is when that belt fails it will damage internal parts in the engine. Costing more$$$$.
 

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Sorry, no shadetree just a professional. Your techs diagnosis is most likely correct, along with at least 4 other oil leaks that engine probably has. Unfortunately that engine, which is very dependable otherwise, has incredible oil leak problems. It also has a timing belt as was stated and it does require replacement at mileage intervals, or when it breaks in the middle of no where and leaves you stranded.
I don't know how you bought this car, new or used. either way start by pleading your case to your local Chry. dealer. Many times they have an extended warr. to fix common problems. Unfortunately of all of the brands Chry. is the tightest when it comes to changing policy or giving consideration. If you get no satisfaction at the dealer level look in the owners manual and start calling up the ladder. Do some research on the net before you call so you are familiar with the common problem they have. That said I can tell you if it is done at a Chry. dealer under warr. it will most likely be a quickie job.
 

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And if it was purchased new, check with your state attorney general about implied warranty laws in your state. If they exist, you may be able to force Dodge to fix the problem, even if your warranty ran out ages ago.
 
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The doesn't have to be any kind of water leak to have a bad head gasket. The gasket can indeed blow and oil passage and have the coolant circuit be just fine.
Also, about leaving and just dealing with an oil leak. Oil leaks will and do ruin other parts as they travel down from the engine and aare then blown rearward by the passing air. Any rubber bushing in the way will be ruined in a short while. If it oils the drive belts it'll get thrown into a bigger mess and ruin them also. Listen to Beeman and Boogeyman on the timing belt, and don't do a visual judgement on it when it's due. Go by the book on it's lifespan. We had a '95 Neon that woke me up pretty rudely about the dealer here. After wrenching for 19 years I had no idea how poorly they handled the service. Wife wanted them to do it under the extended but wow! Never again. Loren
 

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I think that neon's have overhead cams. There is a seal at the back of the head which often leak with overhead cam vehicles. Check a chiltons manual and then give it a shot.. Probably a lot cheaper then rebuilding the top end of the motor..
 
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