First thing to do is check for fault codes. With the key in the ignition, turn it to start (where all the lights and bells come on but the engine does not crank), tnen turn it off, then turn it to start, then off then start. About one second on each, and in the speedometer mileage readout will be codes that will show up. Write them down and get back with us, or, look them up on the internet. If the engine did a couple chugs and stopped, it sounds like it is the possibility of a timing belt, a code that usually starts out as saying it is a cam sensor input bad, or something like that. At this point, or even before you look whatever codes show up, if you go to the passenger side of the car with the hood up, you will see the timing belt cover, a rounded plastic cover on the top end of the engine, and there is a hole in it. If you look in there, you can see the cam sprockets. Have someone turn the engine over and look at the sprockets (turn the engine over a couple seconds) and see if the cam sprockets rotate.
A search as simple of 2002 pt cruiser error codes (your year of course) and there are lots of loations with the codes, I think they are even here somewhere, but we can get you going in the right direction either way.
I may have this wrong but I suspect that the codes for the PT are the same for all machines regardless of the date of manufacture. There may be variances for some specifics in terms of actual repair but the fault codes for systemic failures used in troubleshooting seem very consistent over the years.
On the note about the cam sensor: I had one fail. The car shuddered but restarted so mine apparently became intermittent enough to get me home. On the bright side the fix was cheap and easy to do and the directions are on the Allpar site if you Google around. Make sure you get a code like P0341 first though or you are wasting your time. You may also need a scanner to clear the code.
Anybody try the Phone app that runs a ODBII adapter from bluetooth used as a code scanner? I have a scanner so I don't actually need one but it looks inexpensive and quite useful if it works. Decent code scanners are in the $100 range that are robust and have decent support from the manufacturer. If these are cheap enough this sidesteps the tool quality question altogether. All the hardware has to last is a couple of uses to compete.
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