2001 Dodge Neon quickly overheats

I have a 2001 Dodge Neon and it is overheating within 2 minutes after I start it. Also there’s alot of water running through my power steering fluid reservoir

I can not see how water can get into your power steering without somebody mistaking the PS reservoir for the coolant reservoir. Have you checked the coolant reservoir and if accessible the radiator itself?

Myriad of possible problems and solutions for overheating on a twenty year old vehicle with unknown mileage or maintenance history.
Repair could be anywhere from less than $100 to many times what a Neon is worth, that’s just for the cooling system. Your steering rack and PS pump may well have to be replaced, many $$$, if extremely lucky, it might be flushed with fresh fluid.
Spends the $100-150 to get it properly diagnosed. Some shops will wave the diagnosis fee if you have them do the repairs. Proper diagnosis is the most economical approach.

The cause of a cold engine overheating in 2 minutes is usually a thermostat stuck closed.
As for water in the power steering reservoir the only way that can happen is if someone put it there or you are looking at the wrong reservoir.


Remove the radiator cap when the engine’s cold.

Start the engine, and while it idles watch the coolant in the radiator for bubbles.

If any are seen, the head gasket’s blown.


This car does not have a radiator cap. It has a pressurized expansion tank, which the owner may have mistaken for the power steering reservoir.

This model is known for head gasket problems, due to the poor quality composite gasket used at the factory. A lot of these cars were junked due to this reason, and the fact that if DIY is not an option, the cost of a professional repair will exceed the book value of the car.


Chrysler changed to multi-layer stainless steel head gaskets on the 4 cylinder engines in 1998.

Many of the 1995-1997 4 cylinder engines had the composite head gasket replaced with the MLS gasket to correct an oil leak, with this the Neon received the reputation of “blown head gaskets”.

I am aware that Chrysler redesigned the head gasket used on the Neon twice, and that they went to a MLS gasket sometime in the late 90’s. However, even to this day, I frequently see Neons offered for sale on Craigslist with suspected head gasket/overheating problems.

Of course, this could have nothing at all to do with the design and quality of the engine itself, and could simply be the result of owners treating their car as disposable and refusing to do proper maintenance, such as changing the coolant at the recommended interval, replacing old radiator and heater hoses, etc. It is no secret that many economy cars have disappeared from the road because owners were too cheap to replace the timing belt, or perform other necessary maintenance.

1 Like

It has been >48hrs from the OP posted and my response. This appears to be another one and done post in the “ask someone” category.