Hesitation with black smoke from exhaust frequntly stops running

My grandson has a 1997 Dodge Neon with 136K miles. He has two problems.

1. Car hesitates and emits black smoke from exhaust. At times car will stop running all together.

2. When he turns on the headlights the gas goes to empty.

Any suggestions or help will be greatly appreciated.

Dave taylor

Well he certainly has an electrical problem. May be nothing more than a bad gournd. I would suggest starting with the battery cables (both of them) checking both ends to assure they are clean and tight. They also may be corruded under the insulation so you might want to move them around a little while you have a meter on it.

Black smoke is fuel  Too much of it.  I don't know what kind of fuel delivery system a 97 Neon has but it likley is pumping too much fuel into the engine.

Seems unlikely that the problems are related.

For the black smoke and stalling, I would check temperature sensors. The car may ‘think’ that it is cold so it is feeding an ultra-rich mixture to the engine. Start with the water temperature sensor that supplies data to the fuel injection system.

Sorry to be so oldschool, but let us start with what basic maintenance if any has been done. An Air filter, gas filter and spark plugs are the basis of an engine that will run.period .end. i do not get the gas goes to empty when the headlights are on, an electrical problem, but sometimes you need to start at the bottom and work your way up.

If the check engine light is on, get the codes read at your local Auto parts store, and post back.

It’s a Neon. Of course the Check Engine Light is on. Chrysler could have saved a few bucks if they’d just wired the CEL in these vehicles permanently on. But the good news is that you can read out simplified codes without going to the parts store. See http://www.allpar.com/neon/codes.html

(Actually our now defunct Neon had a lot to recommend it. But reliability wasn’t one of its strong points. It was sort of what might have happened if MG had survived into the 1990s and decided to produce a compact car — complete with wiring harnesses that would have done credit to the Prince of Darkness Joseph Lucas http://www.hermit.cc/mania/tmc/articles/lucas.htm)

Check the fuel pressure. Another problem could be a bad fuel pressure regulator allowing too much fuel pressure build-up. Had a similar problem with a Ford. Bad regulator was responsible for fuel pressure oscillating between 20 psi and 120 psi. New regulator fixed the problem.

As far as the gas gauge, there is an obvious electrical problem. I suspect in the dash. And, I’m guessing a grounding problem with the dash board. Electrical gremlins are the hardest to fix on any car.