Allpar Forums banner
1 - 20 of 22 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
11 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi everyone,

I'm hoping that you can help me to diagnose and fix my PT Cruiser.

Car history:
  • 2005 PT Cruiser Convertible, standard model, regular engine (not turbo)
  • 106,000 miles on the odometer
  • Manual transmission
  • I work from home, so the car mostly sits. I tend to drive it about twice a week for groceries and errands, and about once a year I take a long road trip of about 3K-4K miles.
  • I bought it used in 2010, with only 5K miles on it. Someone had lowered it in front (chopped the springs, dumb in my opinion, didn't correct the alignment, I found out the hard way when I needed new tires), and it's possible that they did other goofy stuff to it. It has leaked and/or burned a bit of oil for as long as I've had it, which naturally worries me.
  • In 2014, at about 55,000 miles, I had trouble with the main dash panel computer. All of the gauges in the dashboard went dead. My shop paid to have it rebuilt, it immediately failed again, they spent 3 days checking the car's entire electrical system, they could never find the problem, they gave the car back to me for free. It was drivable, just none of the gauges in the dash worked. A few days later it magically started working again, and has worked fine ever since, except that for some reason the little lights that light up the controls at night (allowing me to see the speedometer, tach, etc.) went out. It's stupid I know, but I've been using little battery-operated tealights to see my speedometer at night.
  • It started randomly dying in January of 2020, my garage replaced the spark plugs and ignition wires, and it ran great for about a year and a half.
  • I have not yet replaced the timing belt, and I know that's overdue.
Recent Problems:
Several months ago, it started running really rough sometimes, but really well at other times, and it seemed to be mostly related to how hot it was outside. When the temperature outside was under 80 degrees, the car usually ran great, but when it got much over 80 degrees, the engine would just die sometimes if I took my foot all the way off the accelerator. The oil light would ding and come on (usually the engine light would NOT come on, although once or twice it did come on and then go right back off). It mostly ran fine, and only died when I was slowing for stop signs and stop lights, but a few times it even died at highway speeds if I took my foot all the way off of the accelerator in order to shift or slow down. It seemed like, if I could have always kept my foot on the gas a little, it probably wouldn't ever die, but since it's a stick shift, that's not possible. I have to take my foot off the gas sometimes in order to brake (I was getting really good at keeping it running by using the hand brake while idling at stop lights). A couple of times it also idled really rough when it was hot outside, and one time it ran really rough even at freeway speed. That was on a day when it was about 92 degrees outside.

I knew the battery was old, so I replaced that, and suddenly my car ran well at all temperatures! I couldn't believe that just the battery could fix everything! It ran perfectly for about 6 weeks. Now it's back to having intermittent troubles.

Most days it runs beautifully. But one night 3 weeks ago, as I was driving home, it randomly died again as I pulled up to a stop light. Same as before, the oil light came on (not the engine light), I heard the ding, and it died. It started right back up (it always does), and it was low on fuel (the fuel light came on about 2 miles after the engine died), so I filled up the gas tank. Bizarrely, when I started the engine after fill up, the fuel needle began to climb from E to F as expected, then kind of jumped, fell back down to "Empty", and the fuel light came back on. I just drove, and within a few blocks, the fuel gauge went back to full, the fuel light went off, and the car seemed completely normal for about another 3 weeks.

Suddenly, last night all hell broke loose. After 3 weeks of running really well again, the car died as I was pulling up to a stop light. As usual, the oil light came on as I was slowing to stop, the car died, I finished braking, and was able to start it right back up. I could keep it running as long as I was giving it some gas, so I drove kind of slowly, shifting so that I could be mostly in an RPM range where I could keep giving it some gas. It died several times on the way home, always started right back up, and I'm convinced that if this was an automatic transmission and I could drive it without ever taking my foot off the gas, I could keep it from dying. Occasionally, I would hear the ding as I slowed to a stop, and once or twice it didn't die (even thought the oil light was on). If I could catch it and give it gas quickly enough, it would sometimes keep running, and the oil light would go off.

But now the new, REALLY bad brand-new symptom: 3 times on the way home it lurched really strangely, like the whole car was trying to seize up. It was dark, so I could see that the head lights went off while this happened. It's not that the car just lost power and coasted, instead it suddenly lurched and was stopping itself (as if I had hit the brakes), but WHILE I had my foot on the gas. Is this likely the timing belt going out, or something else?

My strategy is to fix this entirely myself if I possibly can, because I have time but not money, the car isn't worth much if i sell it, and I don't absolutely have to drive (I work from home, in a city with good public transit, and friends whose cars I can borrow when I need to). I love this car, and it's a project now, not an investment. I have a local tool lending library that can lend me code sensors, torque wrenches, all the fancy tools that most car owners don't own. I'm even considering tackling the timing belt and water pump myself, because my garage quoted me $1500 but the parts cost less than $100.

What I'd like to do is to obviously fix the lurching, whatever that is, because that's BAD. I realize that there may be more than one thing wrong with it, and there are lots of relatively inexpensive parts out there. I'm hoping that maybe I can keep replacing inexpensive parts, even if it's time-consuming, and keep driving it for a few more years.

If this was your car, and you had time and tools but not money, what would you do, in what order?

Thanks in advance.
 

·
Super Moderator
1966 Crown Coupe, 2016 200 S AWD, 1962 Lark Daytona V8.
Joined
·
22,725 Posts
Welcome to Allpar. Always diagnose first. <<<
If the engine stalls, the oil pressure drops to 0. This may cause it to turn on the light and ding at you.

The gauge information is carried on the communication bus between the modules and the instrument cluster.
Do you ever see the message 'no bu5' in the odometer display? When the bus goes down, the gauges will drop to zero. Other strange electrical things can happen.

You may need tools that can read more than engine OBD codes as the cluster uses non-OBD body codes.

You will want a service manual with wiring diagrams for the car. Chiltons and Haynes are poor at this. I suggest a factory service manual.



Audio equipment Font Automotive tire Metal Signage
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
41 Posts
The first thing I would do (but that doesn't mean anything - :rolleyes:) would be to disconnect the battery for an hour or so and clear all the computer codes. Reattach the battery and start/drive the car. See if it throws any (new) codes or does the dancing you've been describing. It's good to start diagnosing from a fresh start.

Another example of fine Chrysler engineering.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Did you ever see the message 'no bu5' in the odometer display?
Thanks so much for your reply. No, I've never seen that. I'll try to look more closely next time, in case I'm missing it.

The advice about a factory service manual sounds like such good advice, but I can only find one online so far, and it's $249.95 and has to be special ordered. Oh, and I just found one on Ebay for $130. Still steep. Is that a common price range for something like this? Should I be looking somewhere else?

Thank you!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
41 Posts
Thanks so much for your reply. No, I've never seen that. I'll try to look more closely next time, in case I'm missing it.

The advice about a factory service manual sounds like such good advice, but I can only find one online so far, and it's $249.95 and has to be special ordered. Oh, and I just found one on Ebay for $130. Still steep. Is that a common price range for something like this? Should I be looking somewhere else?

Thank you!
See if your local library has one to check out. If they don't, ask them to get it.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
32,836 Posts
Check electrical connections to the computers. Contact oxidation produces intermittent and/or high resistance connections.
 
  • Like
Reactions: multimopes

·
Registered
Joined
·
294 Posts
First off if your timing belt broke it would not run at all, if it jumped teeth on the gears it would run weird, seems like it runs fine while you are upper rpm so I think this is electric not timing belt.

Your timing belt does need to be replaced ASAP after you get the main issue fixed.

My girlfriend's mom's 2010 PT Cruiser had issues where the gauges would turn on and off and car would die.

I borrowed car and it did it on me as I pulled out of AutoZone onto road, going slow approaching red light, gauges went off and on and heard ding as car stalled, put in neutral and started again.

Put in new ignition switch and it fixed it, by the way first switch was a dud and wouldn't start car, returned it and AutoZone know it all told me "then you have a bad starter, no warranty or refund"

I explained I put the factory switch back on and it started just fine, so there's that, give me another switch or refund please.

Then they tested it with multimeter and found out "oh it's not working!" Sent me to another AutoZone, it's never done it again.

Not sure if this is issue with your car, but it cost less than $50.00 to try.

Also bought a micro ratchet tool at AutoZone to avoid pulling steering wheel or something, it has torx bits, Phillips and flat head bits.
 

·
Super Moderator
1966 Crown Coupe, 2016 200 S AWD, 1962 Lark Daytona V8.
Joined
·
22,725 Posts
Steering wheel can stay on. The upper and lower column shrouds remove. You may have to also remove the lower blocker panel in front of your knees.
The ign switch screws may need the tamper-proof Torx® bits.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Put in new ignition switch and it fixed it
Thank you. Being a novice, I wouldn't have thought the ignition switch could be faulty, since it starts right up every time, but this article describes all the problems I'm having, including even the scary lurching problem. Symptoms of a Bad Ignition Switch | DoItYourself.com

Thank you! One article said that if you replace the ignition switch, you have to have the dealership reprogram the ignition key. Is that the case on this vehicle?

Many thanks!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
55 Posts
Thank you. Being a novice, I wouldn't have thought the ignition switch could be faulty, since it starts right up every time, but this article describes all the problems I'm having, including even the scary lurching problem. Symptoms of a Bad Ignition Switch | DoItYourself.com

Thank you! One article said that if you replace the ignition switch, you have to have the dealership reprogram the ignition key. Is that the case on this vehicle?

Many thanks!
Not if you only replace the switch. The sensor for the Sentry Key antitheft system would not be affected by swapping out the ignition switch.

Thank you. Being a novice, I wouldn't have thought the ignition switch could be faulty, since it starts right up every time, but this article describes all the problems I'm having, including even the scary lurching problem. Symptoms of a Bad Ignition Switch | DoItYourself.com

Thank you! One article said that if you replace the ignition switch, you have to have the dealership reprogram the ignition key. Is that the case on this vehicle?

Many thanks!
No. Sentry Key SKIM is separate from the ignition switch.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
38,910 Posts
You have to replace the switch only, not the tumbler and key, to avoid reprogramming.
 
  • Like
Reactions: OregonPTConvertible

·
Registered
Joined
·
11 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thank you all for your help. I disconnected the battery and replaced the ignition switch today, drove it around for about 15 minutes, and it died twice, both times (as usual) as I took my foot off the gas and came to a stop. It was a little different when it died. I was approaching a stop sign, and it just died, but the oil light didn't come on this time and there was no ding, which is unusual (usually the ding is how I know that it has either died or is about to die). The engine light did come on, but only briefly just like it always does when the engine shuts off. It didn't flash or stay on or anything.

So I drove to AutoZone and borrowed their diagnostic tool. It completed successfully and said that nothing was wrong with the car.

It seemed like it was running a little better before it died, but that's not something to rely on, since all of the problems have been so hit-or-miss. Even before it started running so badly, it would run really well sometimes and really badly at other times.

I have a set of manuals arriving soon (including wiring charts). What would you suggest that I try next?

Thank you.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
294 Posts
I was hoping that would fix your problem, oh well.

At least it sounds like something has changed.

So with new ignition switch, can you keep car from dying by keeping RPM up by pushing on accelerator pedal like before?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Dying comig to a stop could be the IAC (idle air control) motor. If it is slow reacting it will stall out the engine. Sometimes is can be cleaned but may be only temporary.
Thanks so much! My new plan is to clean the IAC and also the throttle body. I've found videos that show how cleaning the IAC and throttle body can help with idle and acceleration problems (my acceleration tends to lag for a second when I first step on the gas).

I also found this video about cleaning up all the ground points in the engine compartment, and it seems credible to me that all that grime could easily cause electrical problems.
My car has mostly NOT been garaged, and I live in rainy Oregon, and my whole engine compartment is filthy, plus of course the car is 16 years old. Seems logical that corrosion, carbon deposits, and dirt could cause plenty of problems. Looks like a lot of work, but probably worth it if I can get this car to last me a few more years.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I was hoping that would fix your problem, oh well.

At least it sounds like something has changed.

So with new ignition switch, can you keep car from dying by keeping RPM up by pushing on accelerator pedal like before?
So far yes, but I haven't been able to drive it very much yet, so I need to do some more testing. I do think that the ignition switch was a good idea. My car just has more than one thing wrong with it, I think. Thanks again, and I'll update here again soon.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I just wanted to come back and thank you all for your help, and let you know that I figured out the problem and fixed it. I found out a friend of a friend is a mechanic. I described the lurching and stalling to him, and he said that, if the air intake manifold gaskets are bad, it can cause oil to get on the spark plugs, which will cause this kind of lurching. It can also cause the car to die for no reason.

Any of you who have done this job will know that the upper air intake manifold gaskets are easy, but the lower ones are a pain. When I got just the upper intake manifold off, those gaskets didn't look bad, so I was afraid I was on the wrong track, but I kept going. I partially drained the radiator, removed the upper radiator hose, the fuel rail, and the lower air intake manifold, and sure enough, those lower gaskets were awful. Flat as a pancake. I can't believe my car had been running at all with those lousy things in it.

Cleaned everything up, changed the spark plugs, put it all back together, and it's running great! Thank you all again for your ideas. Just wanted to let you know what worked for me, in case you find yourself having the same symptoms. Electrical problems were a logical conclusion, but this time it was those gaskets. About $45 worth of parts (gaskets, new fuel injector O rings, spark plugs), plus a lot of labor, and I'm up and running again.

Mary
 
1 - 20 of 22 Posts
Top