I'm screwed.... (or at least my car is)



So the clutch cable broke, simple repair??? Well the fact of the matter is, I have changed a few parts (backyard mechanic, not professional mechanic), but this one actually scares me (because of past experiences with this car). For instance, my water pump went out. Its driven off the timing belt, gotta rip the whole side off the engine, tough job, but I can do it. Now I understand why the shops wanted to charge 12 hours labor for the job!!! Not only was there no space to get at anything without pulling the engine and transaxle (beyond my capabilities), but there were no parts avalable, at any parts store, there was only a retrofit kit, that cost a 400$ (thats just the timing belt retrofit kit, that doesent even include the belt, much less the water pump I need to replace). The only suspect part was the timing belt idler pully, and the part was not avalable anywhere (except in the retrofit kit). So the job took about 16 hours (at least), and three days to accomplish (parts problems…).

So the clutch cable broke on my 99 dodge neon. Nobody carries the part (dealer only part), what in the hell am I in for now??? I have chiltons and haynes for the car, one didn’t tell anything, the other showed the repair, but didn’t show all the aux problems you run into… Considering the fact that I have to remove the power distribution box to even get at the cable (unbolt and move out of the way, fine, un hook a bunch of stuff, I totally suck at automotive wireing. This could have not happened at a worse time (my work just had thier bianual 30 percent of thing (normally the employee discount is 20%). So I got shampoo and conditioner (a bunch of panteen for 3.50 for 35 oz, food, household chemicals (kind of stocked up), and since they happend to have sony yudden000t02 media for 16$ per 50 (11.20 with my discount), I might have just bought some. I have even bought a bunch of plastic storage, but cannot return it (it helps form the walls of our baby prisson).
So lets spend all our money, then the cable breaks…
No parts stores have the part (napa, pepboys, autozone, oriely auto), its a dealer part only, and the dealers dont even have it (but can order it)… It scares me to find, not only do I not have the time to order it, but if there is some retrofit kit again… there is a dodge dealer parts distroubution warehouse a few blocks from me (that charges full dealer retail to the public), but guess what, past experience tells me, if they had it the dealers could have it in a day, since the dealers are saying 2-3 days, it meand they have to order from chrisler, which will take a week (if I’m lucky, 2-3 days, but I’m not lucky).
Its just a simple clutch cable (Back in college, I used a simple u clamp to repair a broken clutch cable on my old rabit. Looing at it, I gotta tear a bunch off the engine to access it (used to that on this car). But how bad will it be. I am broke (gotta borry mony for the 88$ part), have to work, might have to take a cab (bus takes 2 hours as my wife has done it, but my knee (had surgery) wont take the walk?
I’m screwed…


Damn bro, sorry to hear…I hope you get it worked out!


I have a bad feeling about this… 50$ bets that I cannot get the part, but I can rig something (if there is a damn lever to pull on I, I can rig a cable to pull it, by f*cking hand if nesasary, I’m not kidding, a hand operated clutch (pull really god dam har, wait, wait, right now!!!). The only thing that makes me thing I cannot… Its a self adjusting cable. You just couldn’t make it simple. I’ll see what that is when I tear it apart, but knowing crysler, they took a simple cable, mega mis engenerred it (including an over complex self adjustment device), it just a cable and a sheath, but I’m guesing without the oem part, I screwed…


I’m also Neon owner…I am searching online now, I can’t seem to find a cable, but I have found a Clutch Disc, Clutch Kit, Clutch Lever, Pressure Plate, and Release Bearing…


Poor bastard … when it rains, it pours.
Time to pass the hat around to your bro / sis.
That’s what family are for … mooching off. J/k.
Family always lend a helping hand … unless they suck, in which case you need a chainsaw & an ironclad alibi.


Ran across this site while looking for parts, maybe it will help you with the repair.



You pull it yards are your friends. Find a low mile Neon with the same setup and get it for cheap. Thats why my 95 is a automatic, less problems to fix and nice for a daily driver.
Also hit the Neon boards and news groups and ask questions, somebody might know a easier way or can get you parts cheaper.


Sorry to hear about your car…that sucks big time. I’d second the ‘you pull it’ yards…hopefully, you’ll find the Neon of your dreams there to take the part you need.


The only thing that worries me about junk yard is, mine is a 99, the 2000 is redesigned (diffrent everything). So used parts are from 96-99 models (for most parts). Considering everything on may car has failed, I don’t trust parts that are older than my car.
Maybe I’m unlucky, but just do a search on crysler sterring problems that have killed people. You will find that it is common. I now understand why the dealer tryed to talk me out of the beter, longer extended waranty (crysler must not want them to sell them). I actualy went to another dealer to buy because of thier refusal to sell me the extended warranty I wanted. So anyway, I got a 5 yr extended waranty (80k if I recall right). I had over 6000$ worth of repairs done under warranty and extended warranty, including a rack that cracked in half (as in rack and pinion sterring, the same thing that keeps killing crysler owners). IF you were to take the cost of having additional repairs done (Out of warranty so I did them myself), but the cost if a shop did them, I’m out another 3 grand easy. Thts 9,000$ worth of repairs on a car that cost 14 grand new, within about 6 years (the car is still under 100,000 miles (about 93,000 right now).
I spent my younger life keeping old piece of crap cars running with plenty of junk yard parts (I actually had a 77 toyota corolla as a tenager, it died, I found another 77 toyota coralla, basically free parts for quite a while. That was a sweet deal.
I only have about 90k miles on this car. We cought it new. I ran penzoil conventional oil till about 9,000 miles (to let the engine break in), then I have run nothing but castroil full synthetic for the life of the car.
Years back, I actually repaired (rigged) a clutch cable on the side of the road while I was still dating my wife.
Its just a simple cable, but in this car it scares me. I might be beter off if I designed and rigged something (I know thats not true but for gods sake, a damn clutch cable on a 6 year old car). If ti were just that I could dismiss it, but everything is failing. I took very good car of this care and maintained it very well. I don’t deserve this. I cannot afford this. It’s very frustrating.
The funny thing was, I bought a new car, so I wouldn’t have to keep working on cars. It lasted about 5 years (I guess I expected more from a new car).
Fyi thanks for all the good words and advice. I’m kind of ranting cause this really screws me over and makes life tuff right now.
The nice thing about being able to work on cars is that you can work on your own car. The bad thing is, you have to work on your own car. The wife expects it. The car dies, your a mechanic, you fix it, its cheaper… I’m just chryslers little call girl. The bought me cheap and made me ashamed of myself, whoring myself out every time a part fails…


Sorry to hear about your car troubles ripit. I too used to do all major repairs as well as servicing on all types of cars owned by friends and family. It’s a real bummer when you can’t find the information required to do a simple? repair such as a clutch cable.
Here in England if I could not do the repair I would contact a non franchised garage for a quote and also advice. Good mechanics are always looking for a short cut to repair jobs to earn the bonus for doing the job in less (some times much less) than the manufactures standard time, although the garage always charge the standard time or more.
It does surprise me however that no one does a pattern part in the US, there are numerous companies in the UK that make such parts including the original contractor who supplied the factory in the first place. This part can usually be bought from a motor factors for about one third the cost of the dealer.
I wish you luck in your quest for a reasonably priced solution.


Here is the thing though, they do patern parts (aftermarket parts), for just about any car made. The parts companies I mentioned (pep boys, autozone) are huge national parts stores. Just googleing quick, autozone has over 3000 retail stores in the US. Pepboys has 600 stores that keep in stock, an average of 23,000 parts. Here is the problem though. My 99 dodge neon is actualy a half year car (they only made it a half year and discontinued it). When I changed the timing belt and wanted to change the ideler pully, I found, in that half year, they used 4 diffrent ideler pullys (3 avalable from parts stores). Mine was unfortunatlly the forth. The forth was aparently factory defective by design, and required not only changing the pully, but several other parts, so while the other 3 pullys were avalable after market for 20-30$, the fourth pully was only avalable as a retrofit kit, for 300$ from the dealer. Even though they say the original part doesn’t work right and may fail prematurlly, this is not a factory defect, no recall, pay to refit with new parts yourself. The steering rack cracked on my car (2500$ warranty repair), and I found out, it was also defective by design, and actualy broke itself. Basically too much preasure is applied to the rack in normal use, making it very liklly to crack and them break. several people have been killed because the rack broke, and all sterring capability was suddenly lost and crysler has been and is being sued by many people over people being killed due to it.
Thats just one instance (google crysler sterring falure (spell it right though)) and see. It seems every time I go looking for a part there are at least 2 for my car style alone, sometimes several (for a half year car). The water pump I changed. Many water pumps have a hole that wil bleed water if the pump fails. Mine had a hole that would bleed water if the pump failed, directlly onto the timing belt!!! It took me about an hour and a half to clean all the crap out of the timing case because the water pump was dumping fluid (by design) into the timing case. Admitedlly, I used stop leak, which was all acumulated and caked on everything in the timing case!!! What ever happend to the good old reliable timing chain (belts are cheaper but a small retarded monkey could design a beter system than this).
Every single repair seems ot be much more difficult than any car I have ever worked on. Parts are hard to find becaue there are so many revisions and some are just plain not avalable.
the fact that the clutch cable is not avalable from parts stores, and the dealers don’t even stock them, leeds me to believe that I have another nightmare part again. I wonder how many diffrent clutch cables there were on this year of car. So I have to get a dealer part (overpriced), probably as defective as the original (who in the hell has heard of a clutch cable failing on a 99 with about 90k miles???). I already know that I have to remove the power distribution box to get at the cable to remove it (and god knows whatelse I’ll have to remove).
I know that I’m childishly ranting, but damn it, rant not over yet. I cannot afford such a defective car. so much for buying American (though most parts were not even made here, many are made in mexico).


I do sympathise with you. Currently I have a Renault Megane and when I came to replace the front disc’s and pads there were 3 possible combinations for the model and year. The motor suppliers (trade only) were very helpful and we got it right first time.
I have never been keen on Chrysler vehicles and have had mostly Vauxhall (GM) and Volvo.
Both were very reliable, cheap and easy to service.
I tried a Rover 820sli and it was a nightmare. I can see why they went to the wall and I will not buy one ever again. I had to scrap it with 80k on the clock as it was so unreliable and expensive to repair. (£24k new).
We are lucky here in the UK as the legislation for consumers is fairly robust and the EU has also passed legislation that says products have to be durable. For cars this equates to about 6 years for a car if anything major goes wrong.
Landover’s used a BMW diesel engine which had a manufacturing fault where the bolt holding the oil pump onto the block in the sump would vibrate loose and no oil flow!
At first they tried to get the consumer to pay for all or most of the repaired or replaced engine. However when it became obvious that too many were failing a London Barrister took out a class action and the problem appears to have been resolved.
Landrover and BMW would not admit to the problem until there was so much bad publicity.
I have used second hand parts very successfully from vehicle scrap yards; perhaps this is a possibility for you.


Its a shame what they try to do. Crysler seems to be fine doing it to the max. One thing that makes me even more worried, is that three people at work with resonablly new crysler cars are having major premature problems. Actually two now, my bosses dodge intrepit with only 86k miles, had the oil pump fail and the engine blew. I’m sorry but a major mechanical falure like that at 86k is completlly rediculous (and franklly, that water pump that failed could have been the same for me had I not caught it barlly in time and fixed it myself).
Whatever happen to good old cars (for me american cars) where you didn’t really even have any problems till 150k, and even then its simple stuff like a water pump, that can be changed in 30 minutes, not 12 hours… They lasted twice as long and were easy to fix (and much cheaper to fix if you didn’t know how to do it yourself).


From what you are saying ripit it almost sounds like it would be easier to take the engine out to replace the cable, always assuming you can get a new cable at a reasonable price.


awww ripit i feel for your problem…but like one already said when it rains it pours.But having to buy dealer-only parts is the worst possible thing you could do…they have you over a barrel and nothing you can do about it.I ran into the same problem when i had my Cadaliac…rear brakes for it was over 200 bucks…and dealer only…so when the main bearings and rod bearings went out…it went in for the trade-in …:slight_smile: I know with a baby around…money is tight…I do hope you find a solution that can get you back in your car and off the bus…take care of that knee…so we can hit those pubs…:wink: and pool games in the back (naked ones that is :wink: )…


I worked on cars for most of my lile up to the point when I screwed up my back so I know what you mean by being “hard to get at”. Jobs that used to take an hour ended up taking half a day of hell or couldn’t be done at all (like non adjustable clutches where you had to replace clutch, pressure plate, and flywheel to get the clutch back in adjustment). You would rip the shit out of you hands and arms just trying to reach some stupid little part like a spark plug and you needed 10 special tools to do anything.
It would be my guess that if this cable is a dealer item only, and the dealers don’t even keep them in stock would mean that the part doesn’t go bad very often. If it were me I would try the “pick and pull” way. It would also help you find out what exactly is involved in replacing the cable. Just make sure you push in on the clutch a few times to make sure that the one you are going to remove doesn’t squeak or feel rough or hard to push.
I would also go to a dealership first and ask the service manager if you can look at one of there repair manuals to see just what is involved in replacing this cable. A “good” service manager should let you. Chilton manuals are often a waist of time.


Damn, sorry to hear about your car, ripit :frowning:

My mum’s last car was a pain, she ended up where it would have cost more than the car itself to repair it, in the end (Ford Fiesta).

She got another Fiesta, and so far this one’s been kinda OK, but not as reliable as her old Escort.

I hope everything ends up OK (and rest up that knee…or my psycho cat will come for you ;)).


Thing is Ripit, you could probably get 2 cables out of a junkyard for the price of one new dealer only cable. I, too, have worked on cars for a good portion of my life, and hate dealer only parts. Usually no friggin warranty (at least most parts stores give a replacement or pro-rated warranty) on most parts.

At least it’s not the radiator hose for a 61 Chevy Apache pickup with a 350. Do you know how much duct tape you go through while driving around trying to find a part with a busted hose patched with duct tape?