I had a 1997 Neon once, but the tranny gave at 100K Miles. almost exactly, but i'd blame it on my sis who owned it prior and never maintained the thing. it got stuck in 1st gear or reverse only. sold it to someone interested (heaven knows why) who gave it to his daughter to drive to Save-a-lot where she worked. (speed limit is only 30, and car only reached 35 in 1st maybe now i know
) but other than that it ran perfect and the A/C Worked well for a long time. the SERVICE ENGINE SOON lamp was on, was said to be the O2 sensor and EGR Valve, though it never shot out black puffs or lost any MPG's at all. i just drove it with that annoyance on and never thought nothing of it. the only problem was eventually the AIR BAG lamp came on steady, and the car chimed all the time (Warning reminder tone. also does it when the CHARGE (battery) lamp comes on, oil pressure was low, or the temperature got hot)
Far as i'm concerned, after factoring in higher prices for parts, harder to work on DIY engines, and more things to go wrong, the money you make up in gas savings goes to repairs that happen more often. vs. just the money going into the gas tank of a M body. either way you save nothing in the long run.