98 Neon problems

Hello All, First let me thank the guys in this group for the excellent feedback they have given others in the past. In my time lurking in here I have learned
more than a thing or two from your posts. I believe that sharing of information is the best use for Usenet.
My sister has a 98 Neon. 114k miles, 2 Door, manual transmission, SOHC model. In general a real basic grocery getter.
Problem 1: The car has within the last week developed a LOT of play in the steering. I'm talking almost 2 inches of wheel turn. We bought it to the local Dodge Stealer and they claim there is nothing wrong with it! No F'ing way! It's a sheer fight to keep the thing in one lane.
Problem 2: The car has VERY little power. Besides the fact that it's a 2.0L Engine. I mean it has no pep, etc. I changed the plugs and wires. It helped a little for a week but now it's back to the way it was. The car seems to be either running VERY rich or burning a lot of oil, or both. Is there a PCV Valve and or timing adjustment on this thing? We did a leak down test and the cylinders / rings don't seem to be bad. Dirty valves maybe?
Problem 3: The gauges randomly decide to come on and go off. I've read in previous posts that it's probably bad solder joints in the cluster circuit boards. I pulled the cluster and redid as many solder joints as I could find, and still no change. Ever time she hits a large bump they go off. I'm guessing it's a loose connector somewhere?
I've been telling her it's time to replace it; however, she's a college student and just can't afford it. (Hence why I'm working on it and not a 'real' mechanic.)
Any useful input would be appreciated.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
#1- I'd checkout the tie rod ends first, or possible you may have a bad rack now.Check for play either way.#2- I'm assuming there no codes so check all all non-elec. items that would pertain too emissions i.e-vacuum lines, pcv valve, if the egr valve is not elec.it may be sticking, check pressure from exhaust pipe you may have a partially pluged cat. and so on.#3-Take the I.P back out and on the two main connectors on it either on each pin put a tiny bit of solder on them or take a pair of needle nose and give them a small twist (dont go too much) about a 20 deg. turn you make that call. That should be enough to make contact again with the female in the dash. The connectors lose it's spring that's the problem. Hope I gave you enough help, if not good luck.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Motorsforum.com is a website by car enthusiasts for car enthusiasts. It is not affiliated with any of the car or spare part manufacturers or car dealers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.