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Yesterday I bought a 2001 PT Cruiser Limited with 40k miles. It appears to be in good shape (exterior/interior) and the engine doesn't have any strange sounds. The seller was quite old and hadn't driven it much. He only had the oil change paper (Aug 2016) to give me. So I don't have any mechanical history.
My question is: What should my husband and I look at first (mechanically)? This is our first Chrysler.
I did go through the maintenance schedule and we're double-checking everything on the list up to 40k miles. We did pull the VIN history and there seem to have been a number of recalls since 2001. Does anyone know if there's a database that shows whether the recall work was done?
Thanks,
Linda
 

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At that age, even with the low mileage, I'd consider changing the water pump and timing belt. Then things like the other belts and hoses. Check the age of the tires even if the tread is good.

As for recalls, open ones will show here:
Official Mopar Site | Recall Information
 

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Thank for you your quick response. That link for the recall info was a gem! I checked and all the recalls have already been checked on the car. Now I can breathe a bit. We're getting a quote now on the timing belt, water pump, and tensioners.
Anyone know how to post a vehicle pic on my profile?
Thanks,
Linda
 

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At that age, even with the low mileage, I'd consider changing the water pump and timing belt. Then things like the other belts and hoses. Check the age of the tires even if the tread is good. . . .
To this list I would check and flush the cooling system, brake system and the automatic transmission fluid. Brake fluid will absorb moisture even when sitting unused. Unless replaced on a regular schedule engine coolant depletes the anti-corrosion additives. Does the heater work properly? Corrosion can cause a plugged heater core and/or radiator core.
 

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Original copper plugs were only god for 30K. Change with Platinum and be done with it.
 
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Thanks for all the extra items; I've added them to the list. We got quotes from three shops based on replacing the timing belt, water pump, and tensioners. The first was from our regular mechanic: at least $1,200. The second quote was from the local dealer service dept: $1,040 firm. The third quote was from a small mechanic shop locally who's done extensive work on PT Cruisers and at least six of my friends use; his quote was $550. We went with him because of his experience, how much our friends trust his work, and his price.
Thanks again for your advice.
One other question I have for you guys. The manual says to put SAE Grade 5W-30 regular oil in the PT Cruiser, but we always use synthetic on our cars. Isn't synthetic better for an engine's longevity?
Thanks,
Linda
 

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Yes, spark plugs. It is a PIA to change them because you have to remove the intake manifold. Put Platinum plugs in and don't have to do it again. I had them in my 01 and they worked fine.
 
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One other question I have for you guys. The manual says to put SAE Grade 5W-30 regular oil in the PT Cruiser, but we always use synthetic on our cars. Isn't synthetic better for an engine's longevity?
Thanks,
Linda
You can probably use synthetic as long as it is SAE 5W-30 and meets or exceeds the specs listed in the owner's manual. That said I've used conventional motor oil in all my vehicles with most logging over 200,000 miles (one went over 300,000) and no engine problems attributed to using conventional oil. I only had one engine failure and that was a blown head gasket at 273,000 miles on a '86 GTS. Oil usage has been within industry standard. Today's conventional oils are much improved.

My current vehicles are a '06 Ram 1500 (234K miles) and a '10 Journey SXT (111K miles). I have used conventional oil with both and no engine problems. YMMV.
 

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I would only go with what the owners manual suggests.
I believe that a quality API-certified, SE rating 5W-30 should be best all around. Synthetic oils are probably fine, although I have seen increased oil consumption on some cars using synthetics.
This is the service manual. See chapter 0 for recommended lubricants and maintenance schedules (large 51 mb file):
http://oskin.ru/pub/chrysler-dodge/manuals/Service Manuals/2001_PT_PTCruiser/01PTE.PDF
Some owners will have no issues with using platinum spark plugs. The intake plenum has to be removed for a spark plug/plug wire change.
The factory recommended spark plug is still a 30K mile Champion (copper plus) RE16MC.
I have had some driveability issues with platinum plugs where going back to copper plugs fixed the issue.
 

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One other question I have for you guys. The manual says to put SAE Grade 5W-30 regular oil in the PT Cruiser, but we always use synthetic on our cars. Isn't synthetic better for an engine's longevity?
Thanks,
Linda
Use synthetic 5W30 in my 04 PT with no issues; started around 70,000 miles. Took the engine to 345,000 miles before rebuilding it. Now at 362,500 and still running synthetic.
 
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As you can see in my avatar, I have a PT Cruiser. Mine has the 2.4 turbo, so spark plug changes are easy due to the intake design. I run the copper Champions in mine simply because it just doesn't run right with a platinum plug in it. That may be different for the N/A engines like yours, but I figure the engineers put the copper core plugs in there for a reason, and that's good enough for me to stay with them. If you have a guy that's willing to to a timing belt, water pump and tensioners for $550, then you got a HECK of a deal. You will want him to take a look at the center motor mount whiles he's in there. If it's the least bit cracked, go ahead and replace it, because if it ever breaks on you and needs replacing, it will cost just as much as doing the timing belt/water pump job because all of the same things have to come out of the car. I wouldn't do it for someone else that cheaply and just wonder where you live. He could make a fortune here in FL where I am because there are PT Cruisers all over the place.
 
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She goes into the shop on Monday, so I'm grateful for all the timely comments. I would have never known about the motor mount or plugs without your help, so I thank you. In Eastern WA the cost of living is lower, so a talented mechanic can be found to be reasonably priced. Thanks again!
Linda
 

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I would only go with what the owners manual suggests.
I believe that a quality API-certified, SE rating 5W-30 should be best all around. Synthetic oils are probably fine, although I have seen increased oil consumption on some cars using synthetics.
This is the service manual. See chapter 0 for recommended lubricants and maintenance schedules (large 51 mb file):
http://oskin.ru/pub/chrysler-dodge/manuals/Service Manuals/2001_PT_PTCruiser/01PTE.PDF
Some owners will have no issues with using platinum spark plugs. The intake plenum has to be removed for a spark plug/plug wire change.
The factory recommended spark plug is still a 30K mile Champion (copper plus) RE16MC.
I have had some driveability issues with platinum plugs where going back to copper plugs fixed the issue.
Thanks for the electronic manual! What a gem that is.
 

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There is a vent in the middle front dashboard by the windshield. Mine is cracked and breaking apart. I did a Google search and it looks like that vent is built into the whole big plastic piece, so I can't buy the vent separately. Has anyone found an aftermarket solution to the broken vent? If not, has anyone replaced this whole plastic piece? The replacement piece isn't terribly expensive but I wonder if it's something my husband can snap in, or whether it requires special tools.
 

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The top dash panel demister grille gets deteriorated by sunlight which eventually fades and embrittles it.
I am not aware of any aftermarket panels or repair kits. Someone here may chime in if there is a less expensive way.
The panel is held on by one screw behind the power window switch pod. The switch pod is held in by clips and lifts out by prying with a blunt tool like a flatblade screwdriver (trim stick). Use care not to mar the plastic finish.
After that screw is removed, the top dash panel unclips from the dashboard and the new one goes in by reversing the removal procedure.
See 8E-20 in the service manual for the panel R&R pictures and the procedure.
It looks like only one color panel was offered in 2001. Taupe?
I see a latest Mopar part # of 0RB71WL8AN. Google around for your best deal.
 

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I cut out the plastic and installed some very coarse mesh screen used to cover gutters. You can do this without having to remove the dash cover. After cutting out the original just slide into place since the screen is flexible. . I painted it flat black to reduce glare on the windshield.
 

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I had good news from the mechanic. Mechanically the car is in excellent condition. The only two issues were that the back brakes needed cleaning and the spark plugs were the original ones. The center motor mount had no issues, the cooling system, transmission, belts, and hoses were all in great shape. He's changing out the timing belt, water pump, and tensioners. What a relief! I ordered a new dash piece to replace the crumbling one. Thanks again for everyone's help here. It was valuable advice.
One question about the audio. The factory stereo/speakers is pretty bad. I need to change that out. My husband is going to take that on. Did any of you do that yourself? Did you use the the sound deadening behind the speakers?
 

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My wife has a 2001 PT LTD, just shy of 70,000. We bought it in 2002 w 6000 miles on it.
It's been a sturdy hauler and pretty much trouble-free. I recently had a bunch of front end bushings replaced. I'm wondering if the struts and shocks should be replaced too. I don't recall what it rode like when new, but it seems a bit harsh now.

I fitted an aftermarket cabin air filter long ago, not too difficult.

Good luck with your PeTey!
 
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