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Posted: 1/11/2006 12:46:41 PM EDT
Given how much people insist that "American" cars (like they even exist anymore) are unreliable piles of crap, I thought I'd share a little about mine.

2000 Dodge Neon purchased same year as a RENTAL RETURN with 12,000 on the clock for $14,500 (tax and all). Car was paid for two years later. It's been said "Buying a used rental car is like going to a house of ill-repute looking for a wife. Anything that's been driven that hard by that many people isn't something you want to put your key in."

I perform no preventative maintenence. If it breaks, I fix it. It currently has 160,000 miles on it. I don't remember when I changed the oil last. I always put the cheapest oil I can find in it. I could give two shits about this car. Here's EVERYTNING that's been done to the car by yours truly since I bought it (I actually bothered to keep records, save oil changes)

Replaced thermostat.
Replaced pads & shoes. Twice.
Replaced drums & dics. Once (last week).
Replaced plastic vaccum line I inadvertently burned a hole in (don't ask).
Replaced plugs and wires. Wires once, plugs twice.
Replaced battery I burned a hole in. Again, don't ask.
Replaced air filter. Twice.
Replaced one fuse.
Disassembled and cleaned the IAC motor. Good as new.
The fuel regulator and filter are integral. I've never replaced it, but something tells me it might not be a bad idea with 160,000 miles on the clock. Or not, since the damn thing is fine and it's like $120.
Removed and cleaned the injectors. No reason, just seemed like a good idea since I was already in there. Checked flow rate. They didn't need it.
Recharged the AC.
Replaced all tires. Three times (they need it again).

The car is currently down waiting for a few parts. At 160,000 miles, I decided that it might be a good idea to replace the timing belt. Yes, I waited that long to replace the timing belt. The timing belt tensioner isn't perfectly quiet, and neither is the serpentine belt tensioner. Both are marginal, so they are being replaced since it's so hard to get to them. I might even spend $30 and change the water pump, since I'm already in there - not that it needs it. Both serpentine belts were pretty bad, so I bought some new ones. The power steering pump has been noisy for the last 75,000 miles, so I might take a look at that while I'm at it. I've never changed the power steering fluid.

I've never changed the transmission fluid. I've never flushed the radiator. I've never changed the brake fluid. Ever.

That's it. That's everything. I treat the car like shit, and it keeps right on running. It starts every time, and has never left me or my wife stranded. It runs just as smoothly as a 2005 Neon I rented a few days ago. When I'm done with the timing belt and power steering noise, there will be nothing else wrong with the car. Nothing. No squeaks, no rattles, no wind noise, no nothing. As the years go on, more stuff is going to break (especially since I don't do smart things like change fluids), but DAMN. I just have to shake my head when people INISTED that I would have nothing but problems buying an "American" car. Everything done to the car so far has been piss-ant Mickey Mouse shit.

Maybe people can lay the "American" vs "Import" crap down for a bit, huh? Is it fair to say that both have good AND bad examples? Is it fair to say that anectodal stories (like mine) are not proof of anything, one way or another? Is it fair to say that "scientific" (laughable) surveys of owners are unreliable?

I think so.

You know what I'd like to see? Detailed fleet service records.
Link Posted: 1/11/2006 12:54:24 PM EDT
How many times has that thing been stolen? Neons are high theft vehicles around here.
Link Posted: 1/11/2006 12:58:01 PM EDT

Originally Posted By NCPatrolAR:
How many times has that thing been stolen? Neons are high theft vehicles around here.



None, but it has been broken into. They stole my radio. I replaced it with another MP3/CD Player I had laying around. They punched out the passenger side lock while I was in Cleveland. I've never gotten around to fixing it.

Around here, NO cars get stolen that often. The criminals know better, and the pickin's are easier in Toledo.

Link Posted: 1/11/2006 1:00:39 PM EDT
I don't care how reliable it is, neons are still and always will be chick cars.
Link Posted: 1/11/2006 1:08:09 PM EDT

Originally Posted By 9mm4me:
I don't care how reliable it is, neons are still and always will be chick cars.



'Tis true! But hey, if you're gonna beat on a car, it might as well be a chick car.

My 05 Mustang allowed for the return of my man card.
Link Posted: 1/11/2006 1:09:17 PM EDT
my toyota truck: replaced one clutchfan after driving it thru water above the hood in a hurricane (it ran on 2 or 3 cylinders for a few days after and cleared itself up).
replaced front rotors at about 180k. Replaced front break pads twice. Replaced shocks front and rear once. Replaced front headlight after a pot hole slam fest driving thru NYC.
I have changed fluids regularly. I recently put rear add-on leaf springs.

It doesn't use oil and reliable as hell.

The only reason I bought it was because I had a bad taste in my mouth after my 3rd GM engine blew(all used cars...2 maticulaously maintained by my old man), and the asshole at the Jeep dealership wouldn't talk to me because it was cold outside and me and my old man showed up wearing Dickies in an '86 camaro...I guess he figured I wasn't worth the time....
Link Posted: 1/11/2006 1:17:18 PM EDT

Originally Posted By SubnetMask:
Replaced drums & dics. Once (last week).



So that's how you know it's a guy car?

Sorry Subnet, I couldn't resist!
Link Posted: 1/11/2006 2:27:38 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/11/2006 2:32:15 PM EDT by GoGo]

Originally Posted By SubnetMask:

Maybe people can lay the "American" vs "Import" crap down for a bit, huh? Is it fair to say that both have good AND bad examples? Is it fair to say that anectodal stories (like mine) are not proof of anything, one way or another? Is it fair to say that "scientific" (laughable) surveys of owners are unreliable?

I think so.

You know what I'd like to see? Detailed fleet service records.



Well said and great post.

I could add my Accord (I drive this like I boosted it EVERY DAY- if the rev limiter ain't found I ain't driving according to my friends) story with more miles and even less wrong with it, only one alignment ever, orginal clutch, original rear brakes, no rattles, blah, blah- but your right.

I swear to anyone reading this I sincerely wish I felt differently- but the cars my friends own just don't act like yours. Further, I have never met a domestic car that acted like yours in the flesh (steel?). Yeah I'm sure they ARE out there somewhere.

Latest fiasco is a GrandAm with 13,000 bought new and has never seen rain it's babied so bad- it can't keep it's oil separate from it's coolant. He says to me, "I guess you'll be buying a Honda again won't you?" You bet Einstein.

F250 2,000 past warranty bought new and again meticulously maintained (does not tow anything but one driver) which ejected a spark plug- yes spit the thing out of the engine. Guy who owns it is an honest pro around a car with many other cars in his stable including a Cobra. I bought a brand new Stang in '95- lost compression in 2 cyls WAAAAY before payments ran out.

Dodge Ram of co-worker needs tranny after 12,000 miles. he swore at me (in good fun), " I see why you drive a fucking Honda."

These three are within the last four weeks- I kid you not.

Shameful thing is the "big 3" pay my lunch- I design equipment for their powertrain divisions- all of them. I have been in their plants and have to deal with their ineptness on a day-to-day basis. Blue collar- white collar- it don't matter.

I wish my friends and co-workers and relatives had your luck- might keep me out of the Honda dealership next time despite my inside look at things. I just don't prefer to take that big of a gamble with my $.

GoGo
Link Posted: 1/11/2006 2:49:28 PM EDT

Originally Posted By NCPatrolAR:
How many times has that thing been stolen? Neons are high theft vehicles around here.



You need to do a better job...

...on topic, I own an American made car that has a lot more miles than yours, but honestly, I would prefer to have a Toyota or Honda. It has made it way past 200k, but all of my cars last a long time, even the French and British ones. Can you make an American car last a long time? Yes. Are they as good as the Japanese? No...
Link Posted: 1/11/2006 2:53:36 PM EDT

Originally Posted By 9mm4me:
I don't care how reliable it is, neons are still and always will be chick cars.



Cars that are "chick" cars when new, can become something else when older. This will happen with the Miata, which imho got labeled wrongly (they should have never put Automatics in them)...
Link Posted: 1/11/2006 2:56:17 PM EDT
I know a guy who was struck by lightning.
Link Posted: 1/11/2006 2:57:00 PM EDT
Well, here we go again.

I'm in before the GM bashing.
Link Posted: 1/11/2006 3:00:16 PM EDT

Originally Posted By SWS:
Well, here we go again.

I'm in before the GM bashing.



We need to get the GM bashing in now, because if we wait too long they might not be around to bash...
Link Posted: 1/11/2006 3:03:44 PM EDT

Originally Posted By squeezecockerp7m8:
We need to get the GM bashing in now, because if we wait too long they might not be around to bash...



But we've been bashing them every week for two years - and unfortunately, they're still alive.

Link Posted: 1/11/2006 3:11:06 PM EDT

Originally Posted By SWS:

Originally Posted By squeezecockerp7m8:
We need to get the GM bashing in now, because if we wait too long they might not be around to bash...



But we've been bashing them every week for two years - and unfortunately, they're still alive.




I'm honestly worried about what will happen to the RenCen if/when they fail...if that gets boarded up, that will be quite the eyesore, even for Detroit standards...
Link Posted: 1/11/2006 3:17:52 PM EDT
That'll be a glorious day for the American consumer.
Link Posted: 1/11/2006 3:24:39 PM EDT
I had a 1983 Plymouth Horizon with the 2.5l engine in it I treated much the same way. I was its third owner when I got the car in 1988 or so. It rolled 120k on my watch. I had really minor maintenance into it for such a disposable vehicle... The aspirator went once, the muffler fell off, and I replaced the brakes a few times. Got pretty good at it too!

I don't miss that car - a two-tone brown-and-tan Horizon is essentially chick repellant - but it got me where I wanted to go.
Link Posted: 1/11/2006 3:35:48 PM EDT
At 100,000 miles on my '98 (bought new), I'm pleased with it's record.

It has never broken down.
It had the characteristic head gasket leak (oil->external), fixed under warranty.
I complained about some (mild) piston slap, so Chrysler replaced my short block under extended warranty.
I am still on the factory brakes--all hardware, all pads, everything. I'll probably need new ones at about 110,000 miles.
It uses no oil; it gets great gas mileage; regular oil analysis indicates that there is no significant wear.

It's been through several autocross events, and I drive fairly hard on a daily basis. I expect to do the normal 105,000 mile service soon (timing belt, idler and tensioner pulleys, belts and hoses), along with some preventative and upgrade maintenance (water pump, suspension bushings, engine mounts). I may buy another car before I reach 200,000 miles on my Neon, but I have no doubt that it will make it to 200,000 miles just fine.
Link Posted: 1/11/2006 3:52:31 PM EDT
I loved my Neon (1995 Highline Coupe). It served me well for a loooong time with very few repairs needed.

I'll never say a bad word about a Neon.
Link Posted: 1/11/2006 4:09:17 PM EDT
Link Posted: 1/11/2006 4:19:15 PM EDT

Originally Posted By LadyLiberty:
I loved my Neon (1995 Highline Coupe). It served me well for a loooong time with very few repairs needed.

I'll never say a bad word about a Neon.



Well the wife had the same car POS!
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