Tip & How-To about Dodge Neon

Fixing shift linkage problem in a 31TH automatic transaxle

After an engine swap, I found that the automatic transmission on my 1995 Dodge Neon wasn't working. The only thing that had been done to the transaxle was to change the filter, so it was a mystery as to why it had been working before the swap and not after.
The symptoms were as follows: 1) No drive in any gear. 2) When the engine was revved with the transaxle out of park, it would go into drive no matter what position the shift lever was moved to. It would go into neutral if the shift lever was moved to either the 1 or 2 (first or second gear) position. 3) The throttle cable could not be adjusted correctly.

Diagnosis proved to be very difficult, as nothing significant had been done to the transaxle. I found a clue posted by motor1258 here on fixya that led me in the right direction, however.

Swapping the engine involves pulling both engine and transaxle as one unit. Part of the process is to disconnect the shift and throttle cable connections. Normally the cables are simply popped off and replaced during reassembly, but in my case the brackets were corroded and replaced from the donor car.

The two brackets are mounted on a dual shaft; the shift lever is clamped to the outer shaft and the throttle cable to the inner shaft (which rises higher than the outer shaft). At the top of the outer shaft is a circlip that goes onto the throttle shaft. Somewhere along the line that clip was removed and replaced incorrectly.

Should you have to take those brackets off and are tempted to remove the circlip, DO NOT DO THIS! What happens is that internally the outer (shifting) shaft connects to the valve body's shift mechanism and removing the clip allows it to slip out of place. The same occurs for the throttle shaft. If that happens, fortunately the fix isn't too complicated.

The fix: 1) First, remove the throttle cable clamp to access the circlip. 2) Take the clip back off (you can't make it any worse at this point if it's already been removed). 3) Drain the transmission fluid by loosening the oil pan bolts and letting the fluid drain into a large container. 4) Finish removing the oil pan bolts and the oil pan. 5) Remove the two Torx screws holding the oil filter and remove the filter. (Note: This step is done primarily for clearance, but it can be done without removing the filter. However, after all the work of draining the transmission, it would be foolish not to go ahead and replace the filter.) 6) Reach above the transmission and move the shift lever. Looking between the valve body and the transmission case on the right (passenger) side, you'll see the lever moving. The valve body has a manual valve that is operated by the shift lever. It has a shaft with two discs on the end; the shift lever mechanism should be in between those two discs. With the clip off, you should be able to pull the lever down far enough to slip it under the manual valve and into position. 7) Check the throttle cable connection as well; it should be on the inside of the fixed shaft such that it can rotate to press on the kickdown valve. If it isn't, push up on the lever until it can ride over the end of the fixed shaft and rotate it into position. 8) Once both levers are in place, put the washer and circlip onto the throttle shaft. Replace the throttle clamp and reinstall any cables that were disconnected. 9) With the help of an assistant in the car, check the operation of both levers inside the transmission. 10) Once they're correct, replace the transmission filter with a new one using the two Torx screws removed earlier. 11) Clean both the transmission case and the oil pan of any remaining gasket material, taking special care not to scratch or score the aluminum case. 12) If appropriate for the gasket, apply a bead of sealant to both sides before reinstalling it and the oil pan. 13) Refill the transmission with fluid and check the operation of the transmission.

Posted by on

Cars & Trucks Logo

Related Topics:

Related Questions:

1 Answer

dodge neon

Here's a link to the transmission,join the site Shane,it's free then you can use their repair guides,this is for a automatic,on left of page is link to manual transmission. Repair Guides Automatic Transaxle Transaxle Removal Installation...

Apr 02, 2014 | 2003 Dodge Neon

1 Answer

rough idle in gear while stopped

Is your car a manual or automatic? If it is a manual, did you just change your clutch? I have a 2003 Dodge Neon and when I replaced the clutch the entire car shook; come to find out the clutch was not assembled right and wasn't balanced. I installed another clutch and it is fine now.

Nov 26, 2011 | 2003 Dodge Neon

1 Answer

i bought two speed sensor for my dodge neon 2002 and i have no clue where to find it.how to install it?

Instructions Things You'll Need:
  • Wrench
  • Jack and four jackstands (optional)
  1. Step 1 Loosen the bolt on the negative battery cable and slide the connector off of the battery. The battery is on the right side of the engine compartment. The negative battery cable is black.
  2. Step 2 Jack up the vehicle and place it securely on jackstands. If you cannot raise the car, remove the air filter box, battery and battery tray. These are all on the right side of the engine, connected by bolts.
  3. Step 3 Locate the vehicle speed sensor. It is on top of the transaxle, near an inner CV joint. If your Neon has a manual transmission, the plug will be oval-shaped with three wires and connected with a bolt. Automatic transmissions will have a round plug and sensor. Use the replacement sensor as a reference while searching for the sensor.
  4. Step 4 Disconnect the sensor. For manual transmissions, squeeze the tab on the electrical connector and pull. Unscrew the bolt holding the sensor to the transmission. The plug on automatic transmissions is held in place with a locking tab underneath the connector. Pry it open and pull off the connector. Unscrew the sensor from the transmission.
  5. Step 5 Install the replacement vehicle speed sensor and reconnect the cable.
  6. Step 6 Remove the air filter box and throttle body if your Neon has an automatic transmission. A second vehicle speed sensor is located on the transmission below the throttle body. It is connected in the same way as the other sensor and can be found behind two rubber hoses on the transmission housing. Replace it the same way you replaced the other sensor.
  7. Step 7 Lower the car and replace any parts you removed to access the sensors.

Jul 14, 2010 | 2002 Dodge Neon

1 Answer


It couyld be several things, You need to find if there's a code stored in the computer for starts. Have you done work on the transmission? Is ther a check engine light on?

Jul 01, 2010 | 1995 Dodge Ram

1 Answer

I own a 2002 Dodge Neon ES. The other day as I attempted to pull into my driveway, the transmission slipped and I couldn't get into the drive. After I got it in the drive I noticed a trail of fluid all the way down my street. My mechanic said it could be a rusted sidepin on the transmission. Huh??

First thing to do is look under the car were it is setting to see if there is a puddle of oil or transaxle fluid. Oil will be brown and the transaxle fluid will be a deep red color. With the car setting on level ground check the oil and transaxle fluid levels. ( you will need to have the car running to correctly check the fluid level in the transaxle). Once you have done this then you can tell what fluid level is low or none at all. If it is the transaxle level that is low then it could be a blown seal in transaxle causing the problem. (Rusted Sidepin ???) hope this will help you.

May 12, 2010 | 2002 Dodge Neon

Not finding what you are looking for?

2,531 people viewed this tip

Ask a Question

Usually answered in minutes!

Top Dodge Experts


Level 3 Expert

78919 Answers

Colin Stickland
Colin Stickland

Level 3 Expert

22326 Answers

Ronny Bennett Sr.
Ronny Bennett Sr.

Level 3 Expert

6927 Answers

Are you a Dodge Expert? Answer questions, earn points and help others

Answer questions