The 2000 Neon has a 4 speed trans and it is very possible that it is in "limp-in" mode. The trans computer monitors the sensors from the trans and that helps with the shifting. If it sees a problem it defaults to 2nd gear to allow you to get it somewhere to get it looked at. The trans computer will store a code about the problem and with the appropriate scan tool you can find out where to begin to correct the problem. The code readers at the parts stores will only read the engine computer so it won't be any help.
My car appears to have a 3 speed auto trans with a lock out converter. I wish it had a 4 speed .
The VIN # XXXXX XXXXX follows 1B3ES46CXYD686658 . I hope this helps. This thing is driving me crazy . Have a great day. Bill
Thanks for the info, you were correct this is a 3 spd trans behind a 2.0 SOHC engine. These transmissions are usually very bullet proof and we seldom see issues. Since you can manually shift this trans to get all the gears, you might want to take a look at a trans filter change. Dropping the pan to replace the filter will give you a look inside to see if there is anything that may be broken and give a general indication of the health of it. Another thing that could be an issue is the governor. It could be sticking in its bore. And finally a sticky throttle pressure valve. This is the easiest to check, a bit hard to get to. Where the gear selector cable comes to the trans you should see 2 levers. One has the gear shift cable and the other is right above it. It should have a spring loaded feel and be easy to move back and forth. If this binds, it will affect the shifting of the trans. I found a picture for you to look at. It is #1. Hope it helps.
You were very helpfull with all my questions. Thanks David very much,I hope I can get this figured out and start running my car again.
Glad to help, let me know what you find.