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NOS has a "New" Car...


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Well, it has finally happened: I'm getting rid of the Cobalt. I can't take the monthly payments anymore while I'm in school, and this seemed like a good alternative...

I took a 7 hour round trip over to the west side of Michigan yesterday and picked up a 2004 Dodge Neon R/T. It's got 78,xxx miles on the clock, manual transmission, leather interior, power sunroof, and is Blaze Red Pearlcoat. Here’s my initial review of the car…

Unfortunately, on its first trip it only averaged 30.4 MPG (5.1 MPG less than my sister's automatic '08 Pontiac G5 that was the companion car on the trip) and wasn’t as peppy as I had thought it’d be. Given, this was with fuel injector cleaner in the tank, and only God knows when the last time the car was actually maintained. I'd say that it's pretty good for a car with presumably 78,xxx miles on its air filter and spark plugs and probably quite a few miles since the oil's last been changed. Tonight or tomorrow I'll be doing an oil change (and putting some type of oil treatment), replacing the air filter, and getting new spark plugs. That should help do the trick.

Let's get into the "bad" before we post the good... The car's got some flaws, just as most 6 year old cars would. Oh, and the reason I said they’re “bad” is because, upon fixing/upgrading these things, the once “bad” things will potentially be the best parts on the car, for now at least…

1. The last owner, before trading it into the dealership, had a Viper alarm system put in it. Well, he ripped that system out when he got rid of it and something went wrong, so now I have no power locks. I guess I'll just have to find the short in the circuit (hopefully that's what it is...) and buy a Viper 5901 alarm system to put in there (their newest one with remote start, power locks, and alarm).

2. Next, it'd be safe to assume that the brakes should’ve been changed out 10,000+ miles ago. The front rotors are pretty bad looking (visible build up, rough surface) and the car couldn’t stop if its front bumper depended on it. There’s also quite a stench when braking. I’m ordering some Hawk HPS pads and some NAPA Ultra Premium rotors tomorrow and getting some fresh brake fluid for the whole system too. I’ll have to get some cheapo tires for now too since the ones that are on there have some dry rot going on.

3. The body’s got a few problems with it, but nothing too terrible. The front passenger fender is a bit crinkled, and actually cracked the paint and is beginning to rust. The passenger side has a couple dimples in the doors too; hopefully they’ll be an easy fix. Also, the rear bumper and trunk have a few nicks/heavy scratches on them, but I’m not too worried about that. This all just means that (1) I’ll definitely have to get that SRT rear bumper now (and a new fender, and I might as well get the SRT front bumper too… which means I’ll basically get a full paint job done), and (2) a carbon trunk w/ molded PVO spoiler may come sooner than expected.

4. This is being over critical, but the trim piece that goes around the HVAC and radio controls has a quarter inch hole in it for some reason, and is covered by a piece of velcro… strange. I’ll have to replace it with a silver one. There are a few holes from where tweeters were mounted in the doors too.

Now for the good… I really like how this car drives. The ergonomics are quite good too; I like the feel of the interior quite a bit. It’ll be much nicer though with a Maddog STS, new shift knob, and quite possibly upgraded materials to cover the dash and doors. I really do like the way everything is right there though because it feels like the car was built around you. They did a great job with the engineering in that aspect.

As I mentioned, the braking and acceleration are both sub-par for now, but let’s hope that will change within the next week or two with all the tune-up pieces I’m going to do. Though I must say that the transmission shifts much smoother than my Cobalt's transmission, and downshifting is very easy too.

However, it does handle pretty good, mostly thanks to its low curbweight. The car is shorter than my Cobalt was, and takes bumpy curves in the road much better than the Cobalt due to its independent rear suspension, but I feel it’d be much improved if it had some coilovers. The ride is a bit bouncy right now… not quite to the point where I’d say the shocks/struts were blown, but just not as settled as my Cobalt. Given, I’m comparing an SS Supercharged suspension to the R/T’s suspension, but that just shows how good Dodge did with the suspension. Again, I believe that’s mostly because of the IRS.

Overall I’m pretty satisfied with the car so far. It will undergo a very good cleaning and a tune up this week, and then I’ll be able to review the “bad” things I mentioned even further, and then we should be able to start the modding process… Oh, and please don’t let that term scare you, it will be tastefully done. :)

First pics.. not yet washed, polished, or waxed...









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Now you can officially change your name to Dodgefan2 :P.

Congrats about the Mopar and I hope you sell the Coby. It was insane when Dr. Z got rid of the sedan body in small cars for Dodge. Neon's are good vehicles.

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Woo! Another Mopar on the GM forums. :smilewide:

Congrats man, I always liked the Neons, and the second gens are far more reliable than the first gens.

Since you're going to be doing a lot to the car, a few questions:

Do you like that front fascia? Personally, I liked the preMCE front end better. I don't think they're interchangeable because at the very least the headlights are different. However they did make an SRT appearance package that gives it a front end more like the SRT4.


Of course there's always the actual SRT4 front end, which has always been my favorite of any Neon.


How's the leather holding up on it?

Do you plan to have it repainted Inferno Red or another color?

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Oh noesss!!!!


I like the '03-05 MCE better than the pre-MCE (I prefer the raccoon headlights and not the turn signal + headlight setup), but the SRT body style is definitely the best. I'll probably keep the R/T side skirts and get a true SRT front and rear bumper. It looks the best IMO, even compared to aftermarket, and it isn't unreliable like fiberglass is. As for interchangeability, the only difference is that you have to swap the headlights and the bumper, but that's all AFAIK. The fenders and hood are the same for the '00-02 and the '03-05.

The leather is pretty good, the front seats are slightly worn, but that's okay. As for a color change, I'm not sure as of right now... If I do change it, it'll probably be a custom candy apple color or pearlescent orange or something. We'll see..

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That's cool that you can just change out the headlights and go back to the older style bumper.


But I agree, the SRT4 bumper is the best (this would probably be 2nd favorite for me).

Inferno Red is a sweet color, the 300M I got my engine from was that color, and when it was in one piece it was really sharp looking.

For the seats, you may consider this stuff: http://www.leatherique.com/

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Looks pretty nice for a Neon :P

Seriously though, I have to ask...

I assume you paid somewhere around $4k for this car... and you are planning on getting new bumpers, new paint job, new brakes, etc. etc., all done to the car... why not just buy a car that doesn't need all these upgrades done to it to begin with? Don't mean to come off like an asshole, but I don't see the point of throwing so much in a car that's worth less than $5k.

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Looks pretty nice for a Neon :P

Seriously though, I have to ask...

I assume you paid somewhere around $4k for this car... and you are planning on getting new bumpers, new paint job, new brakes, etc. etc., all done to the car... why not just buy a car that doesn't need all these upgrades done to it to begin with? Don't mean to come off like an asshole, but I don't see the point of throwing so much in a car that's worth less than $5k.

Agreed...plus it's a Neon.

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Because, simply put, no car I ever buy will be "good enough" for me. I'll always have to modify it. So I'm starting with a nice car that I can use for comfortable and efficient roadtrips, and it'll be trouble-free in the winter.. so I'm building around that.

If I wanted better brakes, looks, and performance, I'd get an SRT.. but right now that's out of my price range. And, honestly, I really don't want an SRT right now.

If I wanted better all around performance, I'd get a Trans Am, but that's not very good for the winter.

If I wanted better paint/looks, I'd buy a new car, but I don't want a payment.

Nothing's perfect. Believe me, I put at least 6 months of thought (probably more like a full year) into different cars before I decided on this.

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Today's Work:




Installed the air filter, did an oil change, put some oil treatment in, and took off the ugly ass chrome piece at the edge of the hood.

Then I went for a joy ride up to the auto store and got a PCV valve; I'll put it on tomorrow. I discovered I have no e-brake too...

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