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Oil leak and Gas leak...

03-11-2009, 05:59 PM
I bought my first car, which was a dodge neon 99, I got it from a guy in Ohio. I got the car and there was a couple problems. I have a oil leak thats making my car sound rough, I'm pretty sure the leak is beside the front passenger side, I put 2 qts of oil in my car and it's all over my driveway. I'm not real car smart, I've taken to some local people but it never gets fixed. A buddy told me that the oil pan could have a hole in it and I was told it could be easy to get off there if the pan wasnt attached to the whole engine. Does anyone know if the pans is attached to the motor or not??

Also I have a pretty bad gas leak, when I bought the car I noticed that I was getting pretty bad gas mileage, and here recently I've noticed the smell of gas in my car. I took my car down to get gas and noticed that all of my gas was going out along the ground beside my car, the gas was coming out down right beside the passenger side tire in the back. I was told that my gas tank might not be attached to the nozzle but once again no one around here was able to get it fixed.

Could anyone give me any ideas what it could be...And maybe how much $ i could be looking at...

03-13-2009, 08:28 PM
As far as the motor oil leak; The oil pan is bolted to the bottom of the engine block - just like on 99% of other cars. There are perhaps a dozen bolts up through the sides of the pan into the bottom surface of the block; plus a couple more (I think) that bolt sideways into the lower part of the transmission. Getting the pan off is sort of a dirty job - but not rocket science. You would want to get the front of the car elevated -safely-. This could be with a pair of the ramps sold in auto parts places, or; I have jacked up our Neon, using the jack that came with it, and stacking wooden and cement blocks under the side of the car (right below the front door hinge area). I work one side at a time, and use good wheel chocks in front of and behind the rear wheels, to keep it from rolling away. Since once a front wheel is off the ground, being in 'park' doesnt help: The car will easily roll down any slight slope. The wooden pieces I use are 6" x 6" and 4" x 4" chunks about 2 feet long. I dont use jackstands, since my driveway is gravel, and kind of soft. A jackstand could sink in and drop the car on me.

Its not too likely the oil pan has a hole in it, though of course thats not impossibe. More likely leaks are because: 1. The drain plug is bad, with stripped threads or cross threaded. You can get new drain plugs, and should also use a new drain plug 'washer', made of plastic. 2. There is an oil sealing gasket between the oil pan and the block. This can get really soft with age, and may give way, leaving an inch or so with no gasket. This would not leak much, or not at all, if the engine is not running. But once the engine is running, even at an idle, a good bit of oil will get sprayed out through the small opening. The inside of the oil pan is a hurricane of oil droplets. 3. You can have a bad seal at the crankshaft. Its called the front main seal, and along with the rear main seal (at the transmission end of the engine) can go bad and leak. The Neons in 95-98 were known for having seals that didnt hold up. I dont know if they fixed it for 99, as the 97-99 Neons are just about identical. With our 97 Neon we had a leaking rear main seal. It got to where it was dripping a quart of oil out each 75 miles of driving. We drove it from Northern VA to souther Texas and took a few dozen quarts of oil to make it. I cured that leak by pulling the engine out of the car, and replacing both the rear main seal and the front main seals, as well as the camshaft seal (at the upper part of the motor) and putting the engine back in. Now the car gets over 2000 miles to a quart of motor oil - and stays dry underneath, even though it has 160,000 miles on it. I have never heard of a Neon having a crack in the block. Its probably possible, but as far as my experience, usually happens at the same time that the engine blows up from a connnectin rod punching a hole in the block.
As for the gasoline leak at the back. Thats likely to be a bad fuel line hose, or connection at the tank, or it could be a bad connecton between the fuel filler tubing and the fuel tank. If its a bad connection where the fuel filler connects, I suspect it will require dropping the fuel tank to fix.
If the fuel leaks from in front of the tire: Inside the tank there is a fuel pump, fuel sender float, and a fuel pressure regulator, all in one assembly that fits in the tank. They fit into an opening in the tank, which is close to the front side of the rear wheel on the passenger side of the car. The opening in the tank has a rubber gasket, a locking ring to keep it in place, and the hose connections. There are probably 3 hoses. One is the fuel line (fuel under about 49 psi of pressure), a fuel return line from the engine compartment (not much pressure at all), and a fuel vapor line, that lets the fuel in the tank expand and contract with temperature, and keeps the fuel vapors from getting out. Anyone one of the hoses, as well as the rubber gasket for the large opening, and the plastic assembly itself - could be where your leak is. If you run the rear wheels up onto a set of the ramps, you can slide under the passenger side of the car (just in front of the rear wheel) and can see the stuff Im talking about.
Unless the problem is a hose connection that can be replaced from the outside, it may mean taking out the fuel pump/regulator assembly, and putting in a new gasket (about 4" in diameter). This can be done without removing the tank, though it may be necessary to loosen the straps holding the tank up so you can get to things.
Usually you wait until the car is almost out of gas - so the tank isnt so heavy. An empty tank weighs maybe 25 lbs, and each gallon of gasoline adds another 7 lbs.
Sorry to be the bringer of bad news about the oil leak, but if you did a search in this forum, (1st generation Neons) you would likely find postings about the chronic oil leaks on Neons.
The leak at the area where the fuel comes out of the tank is not a common problem, but nothing lasts forever on an older car. Anyone who keeps a Neon running will have to make some of the same repairs that you are looking at. My daughter drives our current Neon. I plan to get another 97-99 Neon, one with a big bad oil leak - since I can pull the engine and fix the leaks - and have a decent car for very little money.
Im looking in the lower part of the U.S. though, so I wont have the rust that happens to cars in the northern states.
If you dont do the work yourself, it wont be cheap. Dropping a fuel tank is probably over $200. Dropping the pan to replace an oil pan gasket would probably be a similar amount - and it wont fix the leak if its a leaking main seal at the crankshaft (or from the camshaft seal at the top of the motor).
By taking the motor out myself and re-installing it, I probably saved at least $800. The three seals I replaced cost about $12 each.
Also....I bought the Neon service manual for the car on ebay. It is the one published by Chrysler, and has all the detail you could ask for. I think it cost me $30. I am retired, and am a self taught mechanic/hobbyist. Its a lot of work to make all the repairs to your own car - but it sure saves lots of money.

03-14-2009, 02:03 AM
Alright thanks.

As far as the leak, do you think it would fix the problem If I could find someone to take out my motor, and replace the seals on the motor. I'm not positive about the hole in the oil pan. But I was told by someone that kinda looked under my car, that it's possible that the pan/gasket? I think could be bad. Can you get the sealents at advance auto?? And how costly are they? And are they very hard to get put on the motor.

The gas leak, is another story. The gas is leaking out behind the tire, when I go to put gas in it. I was told that the nozzle line? isn't attached to the tank, but I'm not 100% sure. I also was told that there was a piece maybe missing from the nozzle area that would attach the tank and nozzle area together.

Like I said I know nothing about cars, But I'm a college student trying to get a couple years out of this car. And In the meantime trying to spend less money than what I paid for the car. I have already spent 800 bucks on new tires, the guy that sold me the car, sold it to me with bent rims, and out-of-round tires. 3 outta the 4 strutes were busted. He told me that the car came from an older women, but the car has been trouble since I bought it.

But I do appreciate your help so far, and hopefully you can help me figure something out with this. No one around my area (West Virginia) knows anything about cars, and it's been really hard to get this problem fixed.

03-14-2009, 09:31 PM
There are 4 places that Neon engines usually leak oil, and the 95-99's were known for it. One is from the oil pressure sender, located at the back of the block, down low. Second one would be from the headgasket - near the driver's side rear of where the block and the engine head join. Third one was from the rear main seal. Fourth was a bad gasket between the oil pan and the engine block. Less common were leaks from the front main seal, or the seal behind the camshaft sprocket. If the oil is dripping from the passenger side of the engine, its more likely either the pan gasket, the front main seal, or the camshaft seal.
Here is a link to another neon site, which has a 'how to' about finding out if your car has the newer type of headgasket, or the older kind (which was likely to fail):
The new type 'multi-layer steel' (MLS) headgaskets do NOT have this problem
By the way, in a car whose engine is sideways, i.e. 'transverse', the 'front' of the engine is the part facing the passenger side fender. The 'rear' of the engine is the part facing the transmission.
If you log in and do a search for the words "oil leak" in the 1st generation Neon forum, you will be able to read enough to be an expert on the subject.
If you have someone pull the engine from the car, (or do it yourself) it becomes pretty easy (with the engine on a bench or just on a stack of tires) to change all 3 of the seals (front main, rear main, camshaft seal), and to turn the engine upside down and unbolt the oil pan and put it back on with a new gasket. I forget if the pan uses a real gasket, or if you use a 3/16" bead of RTV Gasket Maker instead. But I think the 3 seals and certainly the RTV Gasket Maker would all be available from Advance Auto or Auto Zone. (I usually use the Ultra-Black gasket maker, its in a tube like toothpaste). I think the rear main seal is about $14, the other two seals a little less.
Also, if the oil pressure sender shows signs of leaking, it is really easy to reach when the engine is out. With the engine in the car - its an inconvenient thing to replace. I got the seals from a local auto parts place here in south Texas, O'Reillys Auto Parts, which now owns Several other auto parts chains, and usually has good stock and countermen who arent idiots. I could have also ordered the seals from www.rockauto.com - and the UPS man would deliver them right to my driveway.
Neon engines are not very hard to pull out. Its handy that the hood will pivot up to stand straight up, so you only have to put a brace to keep it from coming back down. You dont have to unbolt it at all. This is nice when you want to keep rain out of the car while the engine is out.
I was able to pull mine out without disconnecting the a.c. hoses, by just unbolting the compressor from the engine, and using rope to hold it up away from the engine when I hoisted it up.
Replacing the rear main seal requires unbolting the flywheel. On mine the seal was partly out already, (where the big leak was), and I pulled it off using my fingernails!. The new seal I had to drive in using a hammer against a block of wood. Anytime you remove parts from the motor, it is a good idea to use a torque wrench to put them back on - especially things like the flywheel bolts.
For the 'front main seal' and camshaft seal - you have to remove the vibration damper, then the timing cover, and the timing belt. The timing belt should be replaced periodically, so anytime you have the engine out of the car, it is worthwhile to replace it - AND the tensioner pulley too. They sell those as a kit; I think I got mine via www.rockauto.com. They have a range of different belts/tensioners, as some folks insist on the original maker parts. I think I chose the cheap one - which was about $60.
On Neons the water pump is also driven by the timing belt, and you have to remove the timing belt to be able to replace that water pump. So with the engine out of the car, and the timing belt off -- I also replaced the water pump, and the two small rubber hoses that are buried under the intake manifold. Now I have peace of mind for 100,000 miles - which is how often you are supposed to replace the timing belt. If the timing belt snaps, it is likely to bend some of the valves, since the Neon is what is called an 'interference' engine. The timing belt prevents the camshaft from having the valves open when the pistons are at the top of their stroke. In the first second after the timing belt breaks, the pistons will be whacking the valves that are open.
Ill try to send you a p.m. about the fuel leak.

03-30-2009, 11:55 AM
What i would do is lift car on jack stands and support with jack, or ramps.Get some engine cleaner from autozone, i would avoid spraying on alternater. But spray everywhere that oil is by, clean it well then, you want to search for the leak at the highest point. Also i would take the timing belt cover off as well to see if you can spot oil coming off by the cams.
Good luck

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