Dodge Neon – When To Replace the Timing Belt?

Replacing the timing belt is one of the most important parts of owning a Dodge Neon. In this guide we are going to cover how often you need to change the belt, what happens when it breaks, and more.  

Does the Dodge Neon Have Timing Belt or Chain?

If anybody tries to tell you that the Dodge Neon has a timing chain, no it does not, so don’t let them try to convince you otherwise.

When Does the Timing Belt Need to Be Replaced on a Dodge Neon?

Credit: Dodge

The service manual for the Dodge Neon calls for a replacement of the timing belt every 164,000 km (102,000 miles) or 169,000 km (105,000 miles) depending on what schedule you are following (severe or normal conditions, and yes, they do seem to be very similar). If the Neon doesn’t get much use, the belt should be replaced every 7 years.

A lot of owners like to change the belt much earlier than the mileage stated above, with some doing it as early as around 100,000 km (62,000 miles). This is because a number of Neon owners have reported failure before the recommended service interval.

What Happens if the Timing Belt Breaks on a Dodge Neon?

What happens depends on what model you have. Models equipped with the 2.4-litre motor (SRT) should be fine as that engine is non-interference. However, models equipped with the 2.0-litre SOHC or DOHC engines will probably experience catastrophic failure when the pistons and valves get mashed together. This is because there is not enough space for the pistons and valves to clear each other on an interference engine.

The extent of the damage to an interference engine when a timing belt breaks can vary, but a full engine rebuild or replacement is almost always required.

Another thing to keep in mind with 2.4-litre equipped Neons is if the compression has been raised and some big cams fitted, it will turn the engine into an interference unit. This shouldn’t be a problem for most 2.4 Neons, but it is something to keep in mind if the engine has ever been modified on the one you own.

What Else Should be Replaced with the Timing Belt?

You should replace the following components when changing the timing belt on a Dodge Neon:

  • Belt tensioner
  • Idler pulley
  • OEM water pump (this is driven off the timing belt)

To Sum Up

Credit: Dodge

The timing belt should be replaced at least every169,000 km (105,000 miles) or 7 years, but a lot of owners do it much earlier, with some doing it every 100,000 km (62,000 miles). If the belt breaks on 2.0-litre SOHC and DOHC engines it will almost certainly lead to catastrophic damage as those motors are interference units. The 2.4-litre engine is a non-interference motor, so major engine damage shouldn’t occur if the belt does snap. However, some modifications can turn the 2.4 unit into an interference engine. Lastly, the belt tensioner, idler pulley and water pump should be replaced with the timing belt on all Dodge Neon models.

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  • Ben

    From his early days playing the original Gran Turismo and with his Hot Wheels car set, Ben has had a long interest in all things automotive. His first foray into the world of automotive journalism was way back in 2009 and since then he has only grown more interested in the industry. Ben also runs and heads up the video production side of Garage Dreams, focusing on small informative documentaries about some of the world's most legendary cars.

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