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Adjusting the Kickdown Band

The Dodge Neon, from 1995-1999, came with an optional 3 speed automatic. Unlike most modern automatic transmissions, this one goes back to the K-car days and requires more maintenance than simple fluid changes if you expect it to hold up. In fact, you can't even use modern automatic transmission fluid in it; you have to buy the stuff Chrysler had stockpiled during the cold war.

One of the things that you can do yourself to keep this transmission in good shape is to adjust the kickdown band. Located below the battery tray, this job can be accomplished with basic wrenches, sockets, and a torque wrench available at any hardware or automotive store. This web page explains how easy this is to do.

READ THIS: This work was done on a 1999 Dodge Neon. I understand from what I've read that Neons from 1996 to 1999 all have the same automatic transmission with the same specs; however, it's possible that I could be wrong. As such, this information is provided as is, without warranty of any kind. I recommend anyone considering doing their own work on their car either consult a professional, the factory service manual, or a Haynes manual, and consider this information here for entertainment purposes only.

In other words...if you screw up your car, don't come crying to me. You're on your own. If you can accept that, then read on.

The first thing I had to do is to remove the battery:

As you can see, this involves removing the battery cover, the battery, and the power distribution center.

Next, I needed to remove the battery tray:

I have outlined in this picture the location of the kickdown band adjustment. Here is a close-up of that adjustment:

The adjustment of the band is simple enough. The kickdown band adjusting screw consists of a smaller top portion on which you would use a socket, and a larger locknut is accessible using an open ended wrench. While holding the adjusting screw firm with a socket and wrench, I backed off the locknut approximately 5 turns and made sure the adjusting screw turned freely. I then torque down the adjusting screw to 72 inch-lbs., then back it off 2 ¼ turns. Then, holding the adjusting screw in position, I tighten the locknut and torque it to 35 ft-lbs.

I used to own a '95 Highline with an automatic transmission, and on that car, I backed the adjusting screw off 2 ½ turns after tightening to 72 inch-lbs.

When adjusting this band, you may wish to also consider changing the transmission fluid, filter, and adjusting the low reverse band. I recommend something along the lines of a Haynes manual for further direction, because I'm done with Neons which means you won't ever find that here.