Periodically won't start and now...


Asked by ladycygnus Sep 27, 2012 at 03:29 PM about the 2004 Dodge Neon

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

Last year my neon, out of the blue, decided it periodically didn't want to start. I've since learned that it happens most often after a day or two of sitting when the temperature gets above 80 and then starts to cool. So, for example, if I drive it on Tuesday and don't touch it on Wednesday until after 5pm and it got warm enough it will struggle to finally turn on. It doesn't sound like it's struggling to start, but instead like it should start just fine but stalls out instead. I've also learned that holding the key in the start position until I hear...some faint sound change and, if it's really fighting it, tapping the gas, will start it 90% of the time. In that last 10% I end up biking or calling a taxi.

The first mechanic changed the battery and positive battery cable for a pretty penny and told me that the sparks needed changing and fluids should be flushed. I changed the sparks myself for a fraction of the cost. I took it to another mechanic known for being honest and they changed the crank shaft sensor, it seemed to do a bit better, but then started having the same difficulties again. They are now at a loss (especially since it started just fine for them every time...except that once where I felt very vindicated, but then they went to hook it up to the computer and it worked just fine).

Now the car is having problems with the fuel injectors and I need to dump fuel injector cleaner in every few months or I get a check engine light and some rough driving. Also I was just told by the mechanic that the front control arm bushings were going to fail inspection. I just passed 100K miles.

7 Answers


It sounds like it is probably your idle air controler. It is a VERY common problem with older cars. It is a little electric motor that controls the amount of air that goes to your engine for idling. Very simple and pretty cheap to fix. Tapping that gas would explain it starting because you are essentially bypassing the IAC and allowing air and gas in manually. What year is the car? I can find you the part right online.

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I'm not sure if it's the 2004 or 2005 (two neons a year apart were bought at the same time...not wise for paperwork purposes).

3,215 Luckily the part for 04 and 05 are identical. This is the part you MIGHT need. No guarantees that it is your problem but it sure does sounds like it... This is such an easy thing to do, you might be able to do it yourself. Should literally take less than ten minutes to install. Does the engine idle fluctuate RPM's for about a minute after you start it (and sometimes stall)?

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"Does the engine idle fluctuate RPM's for about a minute after you start it (and sometimes stall)?" Yes, sometimes the RPMs will fluctuate slowing then speeding back up. If it slowed too much I know to tap the gas. From A bad idle air control valve can cause a car to stall immediately after ignition in warm weather, but the vehicle will start properly when it is cold. When the accelerator is pressed, however, the car will stall. Likewise, if the temperature outside is warm enough, the car may start even though the idle air control valve is bad but will require the driver to immediately press the acceleration pedal to keep it from stalling. Read more: Signs of a Bad Idle Air Control Valve | My car never stalls when it's cold, sometimes pressing the accelerator won't prevent it from stalling, but it never stalls because of it. This sounds like it may be the answer (and a simple plug-and-play one at that). I'll see about getting that replaced, but I won't know if it worked until we get a toasty day again.


I think this is the problem. Bad IAC's can also act up in cold weather. Every time I have had one go bad, it is always worse when it is cold out.


So I was very delayed in replacing this because I feared it would be a waste of money. The car finally decided refuse to start at all and when I replaced this part it started up just fine. I do not know if long term it will work, but if someone else is having a similar problem they will know this improved the situation a lot.

Justin Gilmore

as for your control arm bushings, its a common problem on higher mileage neons. mechanics are anal about them too. easiest course to remedy the problem is to buy complete control arms with the bushings already in them. ( sells them for a decent price. the other route, which is harder but will last longer, is to buy prothane control arm bushings from ( these bushings will probably outlive the car but are harder to install since you need to reuse the old control arm and will require the use of a press to get the old bushings out. hope that helps

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