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How to replace the cylinder head on a 2005 Dodge Neon 2.0L SXT

How to replace the cylinder head on a 2005 Dodge Neon 2.0L SXT

March 2, 2015 6:09 am2 comments

Hey Everyone,

Well the head gasket went out on my wife’s 05 Neon. I tried to look online to to find some videos of how to do the job (like I do for basically any auto repair) and I couldn’t find anything. There were a few good ones on how to do some bigger parts (e.g. replace the timing belt), but no full video for this. So I figured I would make one.

Here is the final video of how I fixed it:

Here is an approximate list of times where I do/show individual steps:

Topics Removal Time Install Time
Remove crank cover (bolts x3) 2:00 1:38:10
Remove battery negative 3:30 1:38:10
Remove fuel relay 3:30 1:35:10
Remove starting coil (bolts x4), coil plug, & spark plug wires 3:40 1:37:20
Remove valve cover (bolts x10) 4:45 1:37:20
Remove two vaccum hoses attached to valve cover 5:20 1:23:05
Remove spark plugs 7:20 1:34:10
Drain cooling system 12:20 1:35:25
Remove intake manifold 13:37 1:21:00
Remove fuel rail 14:14 1:30:50
Remove air intake from throttle body 14:30 1:23:50
Remove upper radiator hose 15:15 1:30:20
Remove thermostat & housing (bolts x2) 15:20 1:29:15
Remove MAPS sensor plug 15:55 1:21:45
Remove fuel injectors 16:00 1:30:50
Remove brake booster hose 17:10 1:23:05
Remove intake support bolts x2 17:45 & 21:10 1:21:20
Remove intake bolts x5 18:30 1:21:00
Remove A/C compressor clutch plug 19:00 1:21:45
Remove knock sensor plug 19:25 1:21:45
Remove starter cables and plug 19:45 1:21:45
Remove timing belt 22:10 1:14:20
Remove crank bolt 23:10 & 24:25 1:31:10
Removes serp belt and alt belt 23:30 1:32:20
Remove crank damper puller 25:20 1:31:10
Remove power steering pump (bolts x5) 26:10 1:29:35
Remove hose/ground holder (bolt x1) 28:20 1:30:05
Remove upper torque strut (bolts x2) 28:40 1:28:30
Remove right engine mount (T55 Torqs x1) 30:20 1:27:55
Remove timing belt plate (bolts x3) & outer cover (bolts x2) 31:05 1:25:50
Remove timing belt 35:20 1:14:20
Removing timing belt back cover (bolts x2) & belt tensioner (bolts x2) 37:10 1:11:45
Remove cam shaft sprocket 38:10 1:12:12
Remove front cooling hose (bolts x2) 39:10 1:19:40
Remove cam shaft sensor plug, support (bolt x2) , & coolant temp sensor pluig 40:30 1:22:30
Remove exhaust temp sensor & heat shield (bolts x3) 40:58 1:24:50
Remove exhaust manifold (bolts x8) 42:00 1:24:20
Remove cylinder head 43:45 1:03:00
Swap cam shaft sensor (bolts x4) & engine coolant temp sensor 1:01:50


Other topics discussed  
How to fix engine tick when its cold 6:00
How to find top dead center for cylinder 1 8:00
General inspection once taken apart (things to look at) 45:45-1:01:50
How to clean up the head and block surfaces 53:30
How to check for head warp 57:50
Does it have an EGR valve? 1:00:00
How to replace rocker arms 1:01:00
How to replace your timing belt, water pump, and belt tensioner 22:10
How to time your engine 1:13:30


Here is more background on how I figured out it was the head gasket:

Background: 2005 Dodge Neon SXT 2.0L with 121k miles. Started hearing the knock at around 116k miles. Only repairs in my log book near 116k were a replacement remote car starter, replaced 3 exhaust rocker arms, new rear struts, and new serp belt tensioner (yeah I should have done this with the timing belt…) at 115k. I did the timing belt, water pump, new spark plug wires, lower engine torque mount, and coolant flush at 107k.

Here is what I have tried to fix (in order of my attempt)
1) Running premium for 8 tanks or so. 4 of those tanks had injector cleaner
2) Replaced knock sensor and the tranny mount at 119k
3) Checked intake for leaks with starting fluid then checked and cleaned MAPS sensor at 120k
4) Transmission fluid flushed and replaced at 120k.
5) I can re-create the knock doing a torque stall (foot on brake and gas at the same time). I did this while a friend unplugged the injectors one by one. Doing this, we narrowed the knock down to cylinder #3 (middle driver’s side). That is to say the knock went away when we unplugged the injector for cylinder #3, but remained there for all other cylinders. So I replaced the injector for cylinder #3 thinking it may be running lean.
6) The neon started to struggle to start. It would turn the starter about 10s when it was cold (like single digits cold here in da UP) before it would start. So I knew the battery was good. I replaced the fuel pressure regulator/filter, because i never had and with 122K it could have been that. I then went and borrowed a fuel pressure tester and a compression tester. Since the 2005 Neon does not have the nice schrader valve like I hear some Chrylers do, I had some issues getting the fuel pressure regulator to work.

Ultimately, the compression tester showed me cylinders 3 and 4 only had 60 psi. 1 and 2 had 160psi. The book says 175-225psi. When I put some oil in cylinder 3 and re-tested it, the psi went to around 80psi. Since cylinder 3 and 4 have the issue, I assume its a head gasket issue. I haven’t noticed oil in my coolant or coolant in my oil, but I haven’t look yet either.

Special Notes:
-Sometimes when I hear the knock I can press the pedal down a ways and the knock will stop. My theory here is that when I do this I flood the chamber with gas and that lowers the temperature. So in certain conditions light pedal = no knock, medium pedal = knock, heavy pedal = no knock.

-I am NOT talking about rocker arm tick here. I already had that issue and fixed it by replacing rocker arms that i heard tick. I am talking about underload (e.g. driving up a hill) detonation (i.e. pre-ignition). It mostly happens around 2k RPM.


If you came across this and are trying to do the job, feel free to comment/email me to get more information.



P.S. Update from 7 Months later

Just a heads up for anyone who reads this, I just had to take my intake manifold off and do a bunch more work because my water pump inlet hose started leaking and causing cavitation. So if you are doing this job, loosen the AC compressor mounts and pull the water pump inlet pipe, clean the rust off, get a new seal, and do some extra sealing with high temp RTV! Would have been nice to know this when I was taking it all apart for the head job anyway…


  • Chris


    Great video and instruction!

    Question: where is a good place to get a gasket for a 2005 Dodge Neon?


    • Hi Chris,
      A reputable seller on Ebay or a good autoparts store like Napa would be just fine. If you end up machining your head, remember to get a thicker head gasket. Also don’t reuse your bolts!

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