Q: Exhaust manifold gasket Dodge Neon

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I have a 1998 Dodge Neon with the 2.0L 16 valve motor and it has a major exhaust leak at the manifold. So bad that it, in fact melted the power steering resevoir (it isn't leaking fluid, but it sure is in sad shape.) I am unable to find any step by step instructions online for how to replace the exhaust manifold gasket. I cannot see any holes in the exhaust manifold itself. It is very loud. Can anyone give me a run down of how to go about fixing this myself rather than paying someone money I don't have. I need this car in good operational condition!

My car has 129000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

Exhaust leaks are bad news and it’s great that you are on this and getting it repaired. In the repair of my own cars, that "issue" is perhaps the number one that I have been most vigilant about (because CO in the body is really unhealthy; most CO damage to public health is from chronic exposure and NOT from the comparatively small number of cases of acute CO poisoning). The instructions to perform this repair are in the Factory Service Manual published by Dodge along with the accompanying collection of Technical Service Bulletins (if relevant to the particular repair). That Manual is readily available and is the one used by YourMechanic staff. There are numerous technical details involved in the repair among which is that the manifold you have has to actually be measured usually a specialized tool called a "machinist’s straight edge". That is, the very first order of business in repairing an exhaust manifold leak is to determine if the manifold you have is even re-usable. Often, a manifold will leak because the sealing surfaces are warped. To determine that, you have to measure it and you have to know how to measure it. If warped, it must be replaced. In a repair job like this, the studs that retain the manifold to the head require particular attention and if they break due to improper disassembly, you will have a new task which is drilling out the stud(s) and re-threading the head. I strongly advise you to link up with a certified mechanic and observe the repair process and ask questions (we love questions!), if this is your first repair of this sort, and then when the next instance of an involved repair comes up, you will be in a better position to do it yourself. If you want to go that route, and get a cost estimate for the repair, please use YourMechanic’s manifold replacement service page. If you have further concerns as you decide what to do, do not hesitate to re-contact YourMechanic because we want to help you get the best possible results as well as make the most of your repair dollars.

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