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Chrysler Repair/neon 96 hard start, idles rough, and cuts


QUESTION: i have a neon 1996 automatic, 2ltr.  i changed the fuel pump after i got stuck from work. when we started up the car it took a long time to start cranked it more that 8-10times before it started and it had a rough idle. the longer you left it idling the weaker it got until it cuts. when you depress the pedal it sinks engine sputters. driving it is next to impossibleas it continually looses power.

- i checked the plug there were blackened even though these were faily new.
- exhaust fumes have a strong fuel smell
- i checked the egr valve and did the screw driver trick and lubricate
- There are no codes  coming up even with the key on off trick

please assist

before the fuel pump failure the car was working fine

ANSWER: I just answered your most recent question so look at that. I see that you did check out the egr valve. So do look at the spray pattern of the injector. I believe you will find that it is dripping fuel instead of having a very fine, nearly invisible spray pattern. That dripping would explain why you have wet black plugs and exhaust smelling of fuel The injector can be replaced easily, but it costs about $150. I will be available for follow-up questions on Monday morning.
Please rate my answer and add a nomination of me for volunteer of the month.

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QUESTION: hi Roland,  I checked the injectors as you had mentioned and they seem ok for now. as i was checking them, i decided to put more fuel as i couldnt figure how a car that was moving fine until i replaced the fuel pump could behave like this coincidentally.  i topped up the fuel to just above half tank. Turned on the key to on position on- off-on 3min interval then started the car. of it went it started without even hesitation. raved it 2.5 and when i tried to get to 3 there was slight resistance then it goes to 3. I had also added injector cleaner just incase.  for almost 30-45mins it was ok then it died, but immediately when it died i turned it on again and it started one kick.  10mins later it died, i went to check the if fuel was reaching the injector and found it dry. when you start the car it starts right up minimum resistance.  Right now i am thinking the inline filter might be the one with a problem. let me know if there are other areas that can cause such a situation.

ANSWER: Hi Tony,
The item on the top of the fuel pump is the combo pressure regulator/filter and it can be changed out. There is a push button on the side to release it by rotating it. Because of the association of the problem with changing the pump I would see if you can return it for a replacement. If not, then replace the regulator/filter unit.
Maybe measuring the fuel pressure would tell you if that were bad, but it involves buying a pressure gauge and fittings.
Also keep checking for fault codes using the ignition key.
I wish I could provide other suggestions. Let me know how this works out.
Thanks for your previous rating and nomination, which you can do both again if I merit them.

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QUESTION: There an inline filter just next to the tank where the fuel pump comes out. Is this item you mean.  its a 3 -way unit connecting 2 hose to the pump, i assume one draws fuel the other must return it to the tank and the 3hose connects to the fuel line that feeds the engine. Is this the item you are referring to.  directly on the pump theres nothing

Hi Tony,
My '97 Neon manual (I don't have a '96) shows the regulator/filter to be on the top of the pump module, so in the '96 it is as you describe it. That sounds like a pressure regulator unit and likely it has the filter also.
Have you gotten any fault codes?
I wonder about replacing parts as an approach to this issue. How about the fuel pressure measurement as an alternative to see if indeed there is a lack of sufficient pressure to the fuel rail system when it dies on you? Compare the cost of the regulator/filter to the cost of a gauge.

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Roland Finston


Free fast answer to your repair question about a Chrysler/Dodge/Plymouth car, minivan, SUV, or truck. Problems with electronically controlled engines and transmissions as well as body wiring problems are my specialty. This free troubleshoot advice forum helps you diagnose faults, minimize repair costs or do-it-yourself.

I answer questions seven days a week and respond to you in about 30 minutes. "Maxed Out" means I am answering another question, briefly unavailable, or asleep overnight, so try again later.

I have do-it-yourself experience (50+ years) and a library of 100 1982-2011 Chrysler factory shop manuals and 20 multi-manual Chrysler Corp. CD's.

I was voted "Top Expert" 2010-2015, here at AllExperts, and have answered 20,000+ questions.


Five decades as a 'do-it-yourselfer' on domestic and imported cars.

Yahoo Autos Group called The Chrysler Lebaron Club (co-moderator)

Advanced degrees in Physics/bruised knuckles

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"Top expert" of 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 here at Allexperts. Quickest "average response time" at Allexperts (currently no. 1).

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