99 dodge neon help?

If anyone is knowledgeable about this car, I’m quite desperate, and need help. I got code 12, 11, and 55. I checked the cam and crank sensor but didn’t understand the test (would the light staying on not be a flash)? As far as I can tell, the timing belt might have slipped and crashed the valves??? Compression is 60, 70, 80 and 100 (all should be 100), but what caused it to suddenly die? I’m thinking slipped timing belt (replaced it 40,000 miles ago but didn’t install the retro fit kit for pullys).
Anyone know anyhting about neons?

Here you go ripit hope this helps you out. :iagree:


CODE 12 Problem with battery connection.Direct battery input to pcm disconnected within the last 50 ignition key-on cycles.

CODE 11 No distributor referene signal detected during engine cranking…Check circuit between the distributer and the pcm.

CODE 55 Completion of fault code display on check engine lamp.this is end of message code.

I really appreciate your taking the time to find that. Unfortunately, I have looked at that list extensively (the car had about 8 grand worth of repairs under warranty and Chrysler extended warranty and another 4 grand if you look at what it would cost for a mechanic to do the repairs I did. I did most myself, only because of cost.

The big problem is, No distributor reference signal could be caused by a dozen things. As best as I can tell, the cam and crank sensor are good but their wiring may be bad (according to the factory repair manual as best as I can tell). I have the factory repair manual in pdf (20 pages for the ignition section). From it I have ruled out the cam and crank sensors (but didn’t really understand the test), so I’m guessing slipped timing belt. It could possibly just be the coil (and the compressions problems were and underlying problem, after all, would the cause the care to just fatally die)?, but it would cost hundreds just it get it diagnosed.
How can I actually test the sensors though (can sensor is new and has 20G on it). I really want to try a new coil (its out of spec but is it bad/inoperable). IT costs me 80$ just to try that part.

If it is an interference engine kiss it goodbye. If it is not Take off the valve covers and check the valve timing. If the tensioner for the belt lost pressure and you jumped time nothing else in the ignition system will line up and you will be going in circles.

It is an interference engine so I may be screwed. I guess I could give rebuilding the head a go (did it once years ago and got another 30-40k out of that car). I’m pretty good mechanically and haven’t found a job yet that I haven’t been able to figure out as I go (though I sometime just pay for the really hard jobs as I have never had a shop or engine hoist etc to work with). While I’m good with mechanics, I suck with electrical which makes diagnosing it a giant pain. The coil is supposed to be .45-65 ohm resistance but its about 1.2 ohm (would that be enough to make the coil fail suddenly)? Something is making the compression bad though, which supports the idea of a slipped timing belt. I would really be pissed if I tore down the head just to find it was unnecessary. I guess I could replace the timing belt (see if it was off to start with), and check compression with the new belt and proper timing. I know its not broken as I can see the cam gear turning (there is a viewing window). I’m just going to have to get another car, put this one is storage, and work on it as I am able (I have very little free time). I’m kind of also wondering, could it have been running with those bad compressions (eroded or coroded valves or something), and something else went out to cause it to die? Gas mileage was crap which might support that, and I have seen engines in worse shape continue to run (no idea if this one is capable of running with compression like that). I know the spark plug wires were bad (I have just replaced them), so for all I know, some of the valves are caked with carbon from missed fires?

have you done a wet compression check?
basically its just running a second compression check with ~2 table spoons of oil (no need to actually measure, lol) in each cylinder, if the compression improves over the dry test the rings are to blame, if the result stays the same that means the issue is with the valvetrain

have you checked for spark? the sell fancy spark testing tools that plug into the plug wires, or you can try the old school method of pulling a spark plug out, plugging it back into the wire and holding the threads against something metal on the engine while someone cranks the car and watch for spark across the electrodes (careful not to shock yourself, lol). if you have spark go ahead and check for fuel if you haven’t already done so, with the key on briefly push in the schrader valve on the fuel rail and gas should spray out. if you have spark and fuel my guess would be either weak spark (bad coil) or the valve timing is off like you said. if you have no spark my guess is either bad coil or bad crank sensor (I’m not 100%, but I’m pretty sure mopar ECMs use the crank sensor for spark timing and the cam sensor for fuel injection timing)

once you get her running again give some seafoam a whirl, that stuff does wonders for carbon buildup…plus the smoke show it gives you is always a good time :bigsmile:

You would be surprised how cheap you could find an engine for this car. I replaced an engine in a 1998 Subaru Legacy for $2700 installed and it only had 98K on it (that inckluded new timing chain, waterpump and complete tuneup and 3000 mile warranty on the motor… The original one died at 280k. 1998 and 1999 were very good years for many makes of cars.

I’m seeing lower mileage engines for it for around 2000$. If it were a better car I would consider it (or perhaps just get another one since the blue book is only 2000$ in excellent condition, and use this one for a parts car), but its such a piece of crap, I hate to throw even more good money after bad. If it were not for all the money I have already put into it, I would just trash it. I can try and fix it myself cheap though before trashing it (or parting it out).

@jwill427, I was kind of thinking a wet compression test wouldn’t do any good as either way, its major mechanical wear/damage and I would have to tear it way apart anyway, but I guess it might at least help me narrow down the problem. If it is rings, then maybe the problem is electrical, and the belt didn’t slip. If its electrical, then I have a nightmare diagnosis in front of me (though maybe a much cheaper and simpler fix once I nail down the problem). I did try an inline spark tester and got no spark. Later though (after a last ditch effort of disconnecting the battery cable for a while to reset the computer), I started getting spark on one coil. the other coil got weak spark on one side and no spark on the other side even though it was the same coil? I still am no closer to knowing if the computer is just not telling it to spark, or if the coil is bad. Fyi it has one coil unit but two coil packs in that one unit (each fires two cylinders). I tested resistance on the coils. Secondary was what it was supposed to be. Primary is supposed to be .45-.65 ohm, but was 1.2 ohm. I have no idea if that is a small insignificant difference, or plenty of difference and probably a bad coil (I’m gonna have to research it some more). With any luck, I’ll actually get some free time to look at it this weekend so thanks for the suggestions. Fyi there was pressure in the fuel system, and I bleed a little gas off the schrader valve and tried dumping it in the throttle body (in case the injectors were not firing, it should have tried to start for a few moments since that would give it a little gas). It was a not go. After resetting the computer, it did actually momentarily fire once or twice. I didn’t stop to think (I was quite tired), that I was probably erasing the trouble codes from when it actually failed (yea I’m a dumbass). I’m going to rent a scanner from autozone this weekend and hope there is still something in there to read. I’ll post when I find out more…

I assume this car has a cd player in it, this is cdfreaks after all…

a scanner will definitely give you a clearer picture of whats going on :iagree:
it does sound more like a sensor issue now, and disconnecting the battery will only clear the check engine light, the computer still stores the most recent codes so no worries there.

I rented a scanner from auto zone and it said I had excessive valve wear and possible worn rings, according to the code. A new air cleaner fixed everything. The code disappeared and the car (a 1998 Subaru Legacy) with 240,000 miles on it runs great, burns no oil and does not smoke.

The scanner pulled up nothing. I think I read somewhere that the computer in it is pretty basic. Even with a scanner, you only get a little more info that you would with the flashed codes and you do loose everything if you disconnect the battery).

Anyway, I tried a new coil and no help. I tried a compression test with oil and every cylinder jumped up to 150lbs (60, 70, 80 and 100 lbs without oil). It would seem the rings are dead and the valves/timing belt may be ok (though I did get a little noise like a mini back fire into the throttle body a few times?). Even if I get it running, its not going to last long as minimum compression is supposed to be 100 lbs. All I can think of is the cam/crank sensor and or wireing or the computer. I ran through the diagnostic for the cam and crank sensor, but they only gave options for the test light blinking, or not coming on at all. What if it stays on like it did (as near as I can tell, the sensors are good but the wireing or computer may be bad). In addition, with compression that low and the fact that it is occasionally making strange mechanical noises, there is no telling what kind of mechanical failure is in there. I may call around and see what shops want to look at it because I’m at a loss.

Could be a cracked ceramic pick up in the distributor. Had a similar problem with a truck a few years back. Replaced computer, plugs, wires, sensors, etc. because the repair shop said that each was the problem. After 10 days it ended up being the ceramic pick up. Because they kept the vehicle so long, I only had to pay for the part and labor, $68.00.

by the looks of the compession i would ck the timing belt to see if it is in time.

It’s distributorless. As far as I can tell the computer goes straight to the coil (electronic distributor). The computer just turns power on and off to the coil, and every time the power turns off, the coil field collapses and you get high voltage for a spark. The coil goes straight to the spark plugs (2 coils so it fires 2 cylinders at a time, one ready to fire, the other on the exhaust stroke).
I haven’t ruled out the timing belt, but wouldn’t the compression stay low with oil in the cylinders if it was that? I was always under the impression that putting a little oil in the cylinders (straight through the spark plug hole) would seal the rings temporarily but would not seal bent valves or correct low compression from wrong valve timing? With oil in the cylinder, every cylinder got 150lbs of compression?

I had a Ford Escort that would only start without water in it. The cylinder head gasket was blown and leaked coolant into it.

is this a twin cam eng. a wet reading that is higher usually means ring problems but an engine with bad rings doesn’t die and not restart only in very cold temps. (winter temps.) i always start with basic eng. settings first.

Its a single overhead cam engine. I’m not completely convinced that the poor compression has anything to do with it suddenly dieing (I’m thinking more along the lines of something in the ignition system). It tripped code 11 which is “CODE 11 No distributor referene signal detected during engine cranking…Check circuit between the distributer and the pcm”.
Fyi, I guess I was a bit wrong about it not having a distributor, lol. It does have a relay that turns power on and off to the coil, though the pcm (the computer) controls the relay. The relay is the same as the horn relay (you can swap them to test). I did and it didn’t seem to help.

If the timing belt slipped (can be due to the pulleys), It can be as far as 180 degrees out.

single cam eng. usually do not hit valves if the belt jumps or breaks. i have seen belts with teeth striped off at the crank. does the eng crank faster than normal, broken or striped belts will let the emg crank fast. look at cam sprocket to see if it is turning. belts usually break at starting but can break anytime. I have had them break while driving down the road and stopped at a traffic light. put an old spark plug on a plug wire and ground the plugf threads and look for spark. keep in mind if the belt is striped the ecm will not get a signal.