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I have had her for a year. Bought her from a guy I am still in touch with. He never had this problem, and took very good care of her. She's got only 50,000 miles on her.

She presently is d/i/d (dead in driveway). AGAIN. I'm about ready to cry.

She has been to my implicitly-trusted Firestone mechanic (of over 20 years, he has worked with all of my family's other cars) no less than 10 TIMES in the past 6 months. He is SO HONEST, he has charged me for ONLY ONE VISIT and paid for ALL BUT THE FIRST TOW (for which I used my road-plan). The problem is that after 24 hours, she simply DIES. No power. No electricity. Nothing. I can drive her all day, off and on, running errands, but the next morning? NADA. ZIP. ZILCH.

He has changed the battery/cables, the alternator (3 times), the starter... they have gone through the wiring and replaced some spots... disconnected the after-market-installed alarm system... that time, s he ran for TWO days... then dead again.

I cannot locate an electrical specialist here in Suffolk County, Long Island. My mechanic said he'd be happy to look at her again, but doubts he''d find anything new after trying for so long, and recommends I let the dealer have at her. (I don't want to waste his time, or the money he pays his mechanics when he isn't charging me.)

Any suggestions, my new friends? She's in pristine shape... but if she won't consistently run, I'll be a mess. (My last car was a 2007 Mets-blue PT Cruiser, bought used from Enterprise, and I drove her so much, over 125,000 miles, that she finally died of old age and I got $400 for what was left of her.)
 

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Welcome to Allpar. Is the battery being drawn upon overnight until it is dead? Does it always start with a jump-start?
Or does the battery stay charged, but loses its connection with the rest of the car?
 

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Welcome to Allpar. Is the battery being drawn upon overnight until it is dead? Does it always start with a jump-start?
Or does the battery stay charged, but loses its connection with the rest of the car?
The 2 times we tried to jump her, she started, but as soon as I put her in reverse in an attempt to back her out of the driveway to get her to the mechanic, she died, dead as a door-nail.
 

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To me, it's always surprising that even good mechanics don't follow logical diagnostic procedures.
If the electrical system goes dead overnight, or 2 days, or whatever, it's because there is either a bad battery or a drain on the electrical system.
To check the battery, you disconnect it, fully charge it with an external charger, then do a load test. If it passes, move on to the next step.

The next step is to put an ammeter inline between negative clamp and post, and see how much current is being drawn with engine off. With modern cars and their accessories, when you first connect it, it may draw up to 500mA until it goes into a 'sleep' mode after a few minutes. At that point, it should draw on the order of less than 100mA, maybe even only 50mA or less. Vehicles that are 25+ years older would only draw 15mA to 30mA in this case.

If the current draw is still excessive after several minutes, then you start pulling fuses, one at a time, until the current draw drops to a normal range. Now you know which fused circuit has the issue. You then find out what devices are on that circuit, and plug the fuse back in, and one by one test them, or unplug them, until the current draw goes away. Then you know whether it's a radio, dome light, alarm or whatever.

This is what needs to happen here. It requires an ammeter that can read up to 10A DC, and eventually, knowledge of the wiring of the car, which a mechanic can subscribe to, or the owner can buy the factory service manual. Good luck.
 

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The 2 times we tried to jump her, she started, but as soon as I put her in reverse in an attempt to back her out of the driveway to get her to the mechanic, she died, dead as a door-nail.
This could be a bad alternator, or it could simply be that you need to rev the engine a little and let it charge about 10 minutes before putting it in gear and starting out. If you jump it, immediately remove the cables, and very shortly after that, start to drive, putting it in gear can lower the RPMs enough so that the alternator can't keep up with the drawn-down battery and current loads.
 

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To me, it's always surprising that even good mechanics don't follow logical diagnostic procedures.
If the electrical system goes dead overnight, or 2 days, or whatever, it's because there is either a bad battery or a drain on the electrical system.
To check the battery, you disconnect it, fully charge it with an external charger, then do a load test. If it passes, move on to the next step.

The next step is to put an ammeter inline between negative clamp and post, and see how much current is being drawn with engine off. With modern cars and their accessories, when you first connect it, it may draw up to 500mA until it goes into a 'sleep' mode after a few minutes. At that point, it should draw on the order of less than 100mA, maybe even only 50mA or less. Vehicles that are 25+ years older would only draw 15mA to 30mA in this case.

If the current draw is still excessive after several minutes, then you start pulling fuses, one at a time, until the current draw drops to a normal range. Now you know which fused circuit has the issue. You then find out what devices are on that circuit, and plug the fuse back in, and one by one test them, or unplug them, until the current draw goes away. Then you know whether it's a radio, dome light, alarm or whatever.

This is what needs to happen here. It requires an ammeter that can read up to 10A DC, and eventually, knowledge of the wiring of the car, which a mechanic can subscribe to, or the owner can buy the factory service manual. Good luck.
THANK YOU SO MUCH. I am going to print this out and show him.

One other weird thing -- don't know if it makes a difference.

We use those "widgets" that track how you drive, t hat send info to your insurance carrier. Well, the first 3 times, I got an e-mail from them that told me that my battery was dead and the widget was not transmitting info. Since then, however, I have never gotten another message, as if the widget thinks the battery is still functioning! Strange.
 

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This could be a bad alternator, or it could simply be that you need to rev the engine a little and let it charge about 10 minutes before putting it in gear and starting out. If you jump it, immediately remove the cables, and very shortly after that, start to drive, putting it in gear can lower the RPMs enough so that the alternator can't keep up with the drawn-down battery and current loads.
He replaced the alternator 3 times.
 

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. . . The 2 times we tried to jump her, she started, but as soon as I put her in reverse in an attempt to back her out of the driveway to get her to the mechanic, she died, dead as a door-nail. . . .
I would check the electrical connections at the battery positive and negative post terminals. Remove and clean until they are shiny, bright. Even though they look clean and tight, excessive resistance can develop.

After that check the positive battery cable connection at the PDC / power distribution center. Likewise makes sure it is clean and tight.

Check the 2 ground connections, G100, G101, for cleanliness on the engine and body of the car. Again shiny clean and tight. Try this and see if this resolves the problem. See attached image.

Battery Ground Locations.gif
 

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I would check the electrical connections at the battery positive and negative post terminals. Remove and clean until they are shiny, bright. Even though they look clean and tight, excessive resistance can develop.

After that check the positive battery cable connection at the PDC / power distribution center. Likewise makes sure it is clean and tight.

Check the 2 ground connections, G100, G101, for cleanliness on the engine and body of the car. Again shiny clean and tight. Try this and see if this resolves the problem. See attached image.

View attachment 29319
Thank you very much. I will take your reply as well!
 

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THANK YOU SO MUCH. I am going to print this out and show him.

One other weird thing -- don't know if it makes a difference.

We use those "widgets" that track how you drive, t hat send info to your insurance carrier. Well, the first 3 times, I got an e-mail from them that told me that my battery was dead and the widget was not transmitting info. Since then, however, I have never gotten another message, as if the widget thinks the battery is still functioning! Strange.
That might not be so wise, if your mechanic is as experienced and seasoned as you portray him to be, he is not going to take kindly to you printing out something from the internet and showing him what to check next. ;)

Get rid of the widget, at least temporarily, until you get the electrical matter figured out. ;)

But as previously stated, your mechanic should start out by checking and testing the battery, then work from there. Do you know how old the battery is? Can you see any stickers on it that may indicate a date code?

You can also take it to almost any auto parts store and have them check the system. They have a small machine that they hook up to the battery and it can check the battery, charging and starting system. Just takes a few minutes and should be free, as I have never had a parts store charge for that service. They might find a problem or not, but at least you will have another opinion on your PT.

If they do find a problem, they can give you a printout from the machine and you can then take that to your mechanic and that would at least show what another place found. ;)
 

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That might not be so wise, if your mechanic is as experienced and seasoned as you portray him to be, he is not going to take kindly to you printing out something from the internet and showing him what to check next. ;)

Get rid of the widget, at least temporarily, until you get the electrical matter figured out. ;)

But as previously stated, your mechanic should start out by checking and testing the battery, then work from there. Do you know how old the battery is? Can you see any stickers on it that may indicate a date code?

You can also take it to almost any auto parts store and have them check the system. They have a small machine that they hook up to the battery and it can check the battery, charging and starting system. Just takes a few minutes and should be free, as I have never had a parts store charge for that service. They might find a problem or not, but at least you will have another opinion on your PT.
He'll be cool about it, I'm sure LOL. I believe I recall that we changed the battery for a new one, but I'll have to review my records. Thanks for the advice, I shall look into it!
 

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This is what such a test will show, this is from my PT.

The battery failed when under load and they replaced it under warranty:

 

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I had a Dodge Magnum that randomly ran the battery down but only when unlocked. When I replaced the PCM for a no-start the battery run down went away.

Your battery drain seems much more predictable.
 

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"My mechanic said he'd be happy to look at her again, but doubts he''d find anything new after trying for so long, and recommends I let the dealer have at her. (I don't want to waste his time, or the money he pays his mechanics when he isn't charging me.)"

I think he is hinting to you he doesn't want to mess with it anymore in a very polite way.

You should try another shop at least for this problem, but use him in the future for other repairs.

By the way, nobody here has mentioned ignition switch, probably not it but something to consider.

My GF's mom's was bad on her 2010 PT Cruiser, in that car's case it would cause the car to die and lights on dash go whacko.

We tried replacing it just for kicks, one at AutoZone was a dud ( the starter motor would not turn) found another and the issues went away.

I guess the test with meters etc would be the way to find it.
 

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I think he is hinting to you he doesn't want to mess with it anymore in a very polite way.

You should try another shop at least for this problem, but use him in the future for other repairs.
That could be very true ;)

There's nothing wrong with using another shop, to get a second opinion. Your mechanic may be very good, and he may think he's looked at everything. ;)

But another set of eyes on something and, they may have that voila moment, and find something that the other shop missed :)
 

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"Gerry g" in post number 14 above has given you a FREE method of finding out if your problem is the one that has often been found to be the reason for a dead battery in the past.

The the steering column MULIFUNCTION SWITCH shorts internally and drains the battery while setting overnight. It's the portion that turn the foglights on and off that fails.

Simply at the end of the day, immediately after you shut your PT off, and you are sure you have a fully charged battery, pull the interior fuse box panel cover and remove the fuse number 8. That's the panel cover that is at the lower left side of your dash and just a few inches away from your knee while you are sitting in the drivers seat. There is a diagram on the inside of the panel cover that you have to remove that shows you the location of fuse #8. That's the one you want to remove before leaving the car unattended overnight. It is labeled as a 15 amp fuse that controls the "FOG LAMPS" and is located near the top right side of the fuse box.

The next morning try to start the car. If it starts then you have narrowed your problem down to it most likely being a faulty MULTI-FUNCTION SWITCH in the steering column turn signal stalk. This was known to happen from time to time on our PTs .There were handy man fixes that were found to work by taking the stalks apart and then jerry- rigging them but it is far better to simply buy a new MULTI-FUNCTION SWITCH.
Again, the test to find out if this is your problem is free and you can do it yourself if you're mechanically inclined at all. The only time you spend anything is for the new MFS if that does indeed turn out to be your problem and paying to have it installed. There is not much labor involved so it shouldn't cost much.

Until you locate a new MFS, you can reinstall the fuse each morning before you drive it for the day. Just remember to immediately remove it again after parking it for the night. Many owners simply left the #8 fuse out until they did the permanent fix, but I am not recommending that at this time.

Your free DIY test above will tell you one way or another if the MFS is the problem


Jerry
 

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"Gerry g" in post number 14 above has given you a FREE method of finding out if your problem is the one that has often been found to be the reason for a dead battery in the past.

The the steering column MULIFUNCTION SWITCH shorts internally and drains the battery while setting overnight. It's the portion that turn the foglights on and off that fails.

Simply at the end of the day, immediately after you shut your PT off, and you are sure you have a fully charged battery, pull the interior fuse box panel cover and remove the fuse number 8. That's the panel cover that is at the lower left side of your dash and just a few inches away from your knee while you are sitting in the drivers seat. There is a diagram on the inside of the panel cover that you have to remove that shows you the location of fuse #8. That's the one you want to remove before leaving the car unattended overnight. It is labeled as a 15 amp fuse that controls the "FOG LAMPS" and is located near the top right side of the fuse box.

The next morning try to start the car. If it starts then you have narrowed your problem down to it most likely being a faulty MULTI-FUNCTION SWITCH in the steering column turn signal stalk. This was known to happen from time to time on our PTs .There were handy man fixes that were found to work by taking the stalks apart and then jerry- rigging them but it is far better to simply buy a new MULTI-FUNCTION SWITCH.
Again, the test to find out if this is your problem is free and you can do it yourself if you're mechanically inclined at all. The only time you spend anything is for the new MFS if that does indeed turn out to be your problem and paying to have it installed. There is not much labor involved so it shouldn't cost much.

Until you locate a new MFS, you can reinstall the fuse each morning before you drive it for the day. Just remember to immediately remove it again after parking it for the night. Many owners simply left the #8 fuse out until they did the permanent fix, but I am not recommending that at this time.

Your free DIY test above will tell you one way or another if the MFS is the problem


Jerry
And that is a much more common issue on the Gen1 over Gen2 ;)

Certainly worth investigating and a cheap fix, before moving on to more detailed or costly repairs. :)

Same as going to any auto parts store and have them check the battery, charging and starting system, all while the battery is in the vehicle, it's also free and will at least give you a starting point on the health of the battery. ;)
 

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If you chose to do so, you can have someone with a meter check the circuit for the #8 fuse in your interior fuse box, labeled FOG LAMPS, to check for a power drain. It will verify (or not) that GERRY G's and my suggestion in post numbers 14 &17 above was right or wrong. This test can be done at any time.

Good luck


Jerry
 

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I want to thank ALL OF YOU for your input!!!!! My guy said this morning "If you can, bring it back whenever you want and leave it. We will try everything they've said!" -- yes, I did... I printed out ALL the comments/suggestions, we had a heart to heart (he's as frustrated as I am and wants to get to the bottom of it -- he doesn't want me to "go away" LOL) and he is willing to give it another shot! The only other "mechanic" I know is our dealership, and I have placed 5 calls over 5 weeks now, with NO return call. Eff them, I'm going to give my guy another shot as he is willing and able. He really is sincere about this! I'll keep you informed as to what happens. Right now, our OTHER 2004 PT Cruiser (owned also for a year, has 80,000 miles) is in the shop for a "check up" and oil change, and I will need to arrange a tow through one of my road plans once we get it back. (We also have a functioning Jeep Grand Cherokee that has taken a massive beating, but keeps on ticking! We need 2 functioning vehicles while the Woodie is in the shop. I also want to charge the battery, let it run if the battery DOES charge, and see if after time I can get it into reverse and then into drive. I may have been trying to do so too fast as someone mentioned above. I'd like to save that tow, if I can.)

THANK YOU AGAIN, EVERYONE!!!!!

PS - 06PTElectricBlue -- yours is the color of my first one! A real beauty!
 
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