The Reliant has quite literally been a little shaky as of late, having developed a habit of rough idling when I am waiting at red lights or stop signs.  Eventually, the "Check Engine" light came on, which got me just a little nervous.  Luckily, my Google-fu was good enough for me to save a trip to the dealer by getting the error code from the car’s computer.  This also has me wondering what I could do to it with my Netbook and a USB cable.  In any event, a few clicks of the key, and I then had the Answer To My Car Problems:

"P 303 – 3rd cylinder misfire"

Well, that was about as pointless as farting in a windstorm.  Actually, it did give me something else I could Google, and Google away I did.  Instead of relying on a single solution, I looked for commonalities between the different fixes I found.  This was made slightly more difficult in that there are actually two major revisions of the Dodge Neon, so I had to disregard anything in relation to the first-generation model.

I figured I would go from least-expensive to most-expensive fixes, hoping to not have to resort to going to the dealer.  I started out by replacing the air filter and PCV valve.  I almost took the opportunity to upgrade to a K&M filter, but the auto parts store I visited did not have them in stock.  I reset the car’s computer to make the "Check Engine" light go away and hoped for the best.  The Reliant felt like it was running better, but soon enough the rattling returned, not quite as serious as before, but there nonetheless.  I figured the next thing to try was to replace the spark plugs, wires and ignition coil, though the coil was going to cost a few bucks.  I went to do some more research (all the while the rattling was becoming worse, and the "Check Engine" light reared its ugly head again) and as I did not see the coil mentioned very often, I figured I’d install new plugs and wires, and see if that would be enough.

Luckily, I had a day off to perform the operation, and so I voyaged to Auto Zone to get parts.  I acquired a set of wires and some slightly-nicer plugs and drove home to begin…and discovered I would need a extender for my ratchet.

Of course, it couldn’t ever be just that easy, so I had to make a quick trip to Wal-Mart.

Soon thereafter, I was busy swapping cables and plugs, and all was well…until I went to attach the third wire to the ignition coil.  I pushed it in, expecting to hear the ‘click’ of the connection being made, but, nothing.  I looked inside the cable expecting to see the silver connector inside, but instead there was…nothing!  Well, fark.  I used the old cables, and took a trip back to Autozone to get a replacement set.  To make sure all was well, I connected the new cables in the parking lot. 

Curiously enough, there were a few signs saying "Do Not Maintain or Repair Vehicles In Parking Lot" in front of the Autozone, but after seeing three vehicles in the parking lot with hoods popped and their owners hunched over their innards, so I figured one more wouldn’t hurt.

The operation was soon over, and so far it appears to have been a success.  I keep waiting to feel That Shaking Feeling again, but it hasn’t happened yet.  If it does, come back, then I suppose I will break down and buy the ignition coil, but so far, so good!


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