by JR (Milwaukie, OR)
2003 Dodge Neon Sport
I drive a 2003 Dodge Neon with about 110,000 miles on the clock. It has been getting gradually loud in the back and when I had the tires changed last I asked the tire guy his opinion on the rear bearings. He did the same grab and wiggle test that I already did myself and confirmed my suspicion. The rear bearings are not so good. I decided to search for parts online and see what I could find. It’s interesting what I found. I think it may have something to do with the economy and the recent re-organization of the corporate powers that run big American auto industries but I’m not sure. In fact I’m not sure if they even make the Neon anymore, one thing is certain, there are plenty of brand-new parts available on Ebay. I found the cost to purchase two brand new never used brake rotors was less than the cost of having them turned in a machine shop. I found almost everything I needed to overhaul the brakes and suspension was available at a wholesale cost online. So I bought the rotors and drums with pads/shoes and rear hub/bearing assemblies plus a full set of KYB replacement struts. Since this 03 Neon is my daily transportation to work I decided to take it to the shop to have the work done, rear first- front can come later, mainly because I know the rear brakes are nearly metal-on-metal and it makes me nervous. So I had them replace the rear hubs, rear drums, rear pads, rear wheel cylinders, rear struts, and the serpentine belt on my 2003 Dodge Neon. since I had all the parts for this work they charged me labor plus brake cleaner and brake fluid. the total came to about $430 they say it took 2 hours to do the brakes and 2 hours to do the struts plus the shop minimum to do the belt. I feel it was an excessive charge. I have found that there are NO ONLINE references for flat rate time that are readily available to consumers.JR: Thanks for sharing your 2003 Dodge Neon story with site visitors. I wanted to answer the question “In fact I’m not sure if they even make the Neon anymore” The answer is No they do not. The first year for the Neon was 1995. The last year for the Chrysler Neon was 2005. Not many car models run 20 years. I liked the neon and thought they got better every year they where in production. I had a friend that owned a 1999 RT neon sport model. It was dark blue with the optional silver stripes on the top side of the car. It was a cool looking ride. He claimed the car would do 140 mph top speed for hours at a time without any problems. He use to drive it from Vegas to Cali flat out on the dessert roads. He traded the car when hit 150k on the odometer.As far as the labor charges my opinion would be that it depends on the shops labor rate. This can vary widely between states and shops. The total labor hours on the other hand is something that should be looked at for fairness. You mentioned “there are NO ONLINE references for flat rate time that are readily available to consumers” Although I know of none that are free they do have Labor guides in the auto repair online manuals I push on this site. Not free but under 12 bucks!