How to Replace a Starter on a Front Wheel Drive Neon Car

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The Neon, a compact front-wheel-drive passenger car, was manufactured by Chrysler from 1994 to 2005. The Neon utilizes a small electrical motor to start the engine. A small metal gear attached to the starter engages the flywheel (on manual transmissions) or flex plate (automatic transmissions). When you turn the ignition key, this gear rotates the crankshaft, which in turn starts the engine. Over time, the starter may wear out and must be replaced.

Things You'll Need

  • Floor jack
  • Jack stands
  • Wrench set
  • Socket set
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Flat-head screwdriver

Removing the Battery Box

  • Raise the front of your Neon with the floor jack, and support the car on jack stands.

  • Disconnect the ground cable from the negative battery terminal by loosening the retaining bolt with a wrench and pulling the clamp off the terminal.

  • Disconnect the positive cable from the battery.

  • Pull out the bolt that secures the battery hold-down clamp to the battery tray, using a socket. Remove the hold-down clamp.

  • Remove the battery from the vehicle by lifting it straight up.

  • Use a socket to pull out the eight bolts that secure the battery box to the vehicle. Remove the battery box.

Removing the Fan Assembly

  • Use a Phillips screwdriver to loosen the two hose clamps that secure the upper radiator hose to the engine and radiator.

  • Remove the upper radiator hose by pulling it off the engine and transmission.

  • Use a socket to pull out the four bolts along the top of the radiator that secure the fan assembly to the radiator.

  • Detach the electrical connectors from the fans. Use a flat-head screwdriver to pry the retaining clips away from the connectors; then pull the electrical connectors off the fans.

  • Lift the fan assembly from the vehicle.

Removing the Starter

  • Remove the two wires that are connected to the starter. The first wire has an plastic connector that you can simply pull off. The other wire is retained by a nut; use a socket to remove it.

  • Pull out the two bolts that connect the starter to the engine, using a ratchet.

  • Remove the starter from the Neon.

Installing a New Starter

  • Lift the new starter into position.

  • Reinstall the two bolts that connect the starter to the engine block.

  • Reconnect the two wires to the starter solenoid.

Reinstalling the Fan Assembly

  • Drop the fan assembly into position against the radiator.

  • Reconnect the electrical connectors to the fans by sliding them onto the fittings.

  • Reinstall the four bolts along the top of the radiator that secure the fan assembly.

  • Reinstall the upper radiator hose by sliding the hose ends onto the fittings on the engine and radiator. Then use a Phillips screwdriver to tighten the hose clamps.

Reinstalling the Battery

  • Drop the battery tray into position, and reinstall the eight bolts that secure it. Drop the battery into position in the tray.

  • Reinstall the battery hold-down clamp.

  • Reconnect the positive battery cable to the battery by sliding the clamp over the positive terminal and tightening the retaining bolt with a wrench. Reconnect the ground cable.

  • Lower the car.

Tips & Warnings

  • Take special care when removing and installing the starter bolts. The Neon uses an aluminum engine block, and the threads machined into the block can strip easily.
  • Always follow the instructions listed in your owner's manual when lifting and lowering a vehicle. Failure to do so could cause injury or death.

References

  • "Haynes Dodge & Plymouth Neon 1995 thru 1999 (Haynes Repair Manual)"; Chilton; 2000
  • "Chilton Dodge Neon 2000-2003 (Chilton's Total Car Care Manual)"; Chilton Editors; 2004
  • "High-Performance Dodge Neon Builder's Handbook (S-A Design)"; Mike Ancas; 2005
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