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The following is a compilation of Q&A's submitted by enthusiasts and answered by Ask Motor-Mike and Ed.

 

Part Twenty Five - Q&A 601 - 625


601. My 2001 LE PT with 43k miles has a continuing engine coolant problem. When idling, it warms up, but unlike on other PT's that I have noticed, the needle never reaches the center of the gauge. While driving, the temperature continues to drop until the needle is below the lowest indicator (pale blue area) mark on the gauge. I suspect that the thermostat is stuck either open or partially open. The dealer checked it and said it was OK. Have any ideas? Thanks. - Jim, from Maryland.

Based upon your description of problem, we agree with your diagnosis; it sounds like a stuck open thermostat.

 


602. My wife has a 2003 TE PT with 4 wheel disk and ABS package. However, her dash does not have the "Trac Off" switch that I have noticed on other PT's under the radio on the lower dash panel. Do you know if they removed the ability to turn it off, or did they just find a really sneaky place to hide that darned switch? Thanks in advance. - Andy, from Connecticut.

As was stated by Sci-Fi in the PT forums, the 2003 TE PT lists ABS and Traction Control as separate options. With previous model years both options were included, however in 2003 you have a choice of one and or both options. The Four-Wheel Disc Antilock Brake option is $595.00 and the Low-Speed Traction Control option is $175.00.

 


603. I have a 2001 LE PT. With the engine running the interior lights flicker. If the PT were built in the 70's I would say it's a bad voltage regulator, but since it's all computerized I would appreciate hearing your thoughts. Thanks. - John, from Ohio.

This behavior is normal. All 2001 through 2003 PT's that I've seen do the same thing. The lighting is controlled by the Body Control Module. It's not a straight connection to the battery.

 


604. I needed to change the wiper blades on my 2001 LE PT, so I measured the driver's side blade (20") before going to the store. The chart at the store said 21" for the driver and 20" for the passenger. Were mine reversed? Why can't they both be 21 inches, it seems to work either way? Thanks. - Roger, from Canada

The PT's OEM wiper blade specifications are:

Driver side - 21"
Passenger side - 20"
Rear hatch - 18"


The curvature of the glass determines the wiper blades' ability to maintain contact and clean the windscreen. I have used 20" blades on both sides without any problems. It may work fine with 21" blades, but I haven't tried it. When you purchase after market replacement blades you'll notice that the replacement guide in the store usually lists several blade manufacturers. If you make a comparison among manufacturers you'll notice that many list different size blades for application on the same model year PT as well as other vehicles. If you're interested in an OEM fit using an after market blade consider blades manufactured by Anco, Trico and Tridon.

 


605. I have a 2001 LE PT. When I'm cruising at any given speed, the car will stay straight, but when I accelerate or brake, the car pulls to the side. The faster I accelerate or brake, the more it pulls. I have to hold on to it pretty tight to have control of it. - Jason, from Illinois.

The pulling you describe is symptomatic of a problem with the suspension, brakes and or tires. A trip to the dealer is in order to determine the exact cause of the pull.

 


606. I have a 2001 LE PT. What does it mean if the air bag light goes on and buzzes? It does it every once in a while, but doesn't stay on. - Jason, from Illinois.

The front airbag system electrical circuits are continuously monitored by a microprocessor and software contained within the Occupant Restraint Controller (ORC). The ORC also contains impact-sensing elements, which are monitored by the ORC to determine when an impact occurs, that is severe enough to require front airbag system protection. When a frontal impact is severe enough, the ORC initiates the inflator units of both front airbags to deploy.

An airbag indicator lamp in the instrument cluster lights for six to eight seconds as a bulb test each time the ignition switch is turned to the ON position. Following the bulb test, the airbag indicator lamp is turned ON or OFF by the ORC to indicate the status of the airbag system. If the airbag indicator lamp comes ON at any time other than during the bulb test, it indicates that there is a problem in the airbag system. Such a problem may cause the airbags not to deploy when required, or to deploy when not required. A trip to the dealer is in order to diagnose the air bag indicator light.

 


607. My 2001 LE PT came with 205/55R16 tires. I changed to Dayton LTE 215/60/16N tires with a 2" whitewall. I was surprised at how big an effect the larger tire had on handling. The car now leans more in turns. Will strut tower bar and sway bars front and rear restore the handling?

Also, the speedometer is off about 4 mph at 60 mph. I went to the dealer because I was told that the electronic speedometer could be re-calibrated. The dealer initially told me it was not off enough to be of any concern, then said the only way to fix the speedometer was to go into the transmission and put in a different sending unit. Is this the only was to change the speedometer? I can live with the speedometer being off, but my wife is not pleased with the way the car handles. The 2" whitewalls look great, so I don't want to put the 55 series low profile tires back on. Thanks. - Steve, from South Carolina.


The handling issue you mention is due to the taller and flexible sidewall of the new tires, without modification to the OEM suspension. I have the strut tower bar and sway bars on my PT, with OEM tires, and they do improve handling, however were not tire/suspension experts and really can't offer advice with your particular situation. You might give the professionals that sold and installed the tires for you a call and ask for a recommendation.

The speedometer is programmed using the DRB3 scanner. The transmission diagnostic manual the dealer has will explain this. The drive gears were replaced in the old days, however that is no longer the case. See the speedo re-calibration limitations here.

Unfortunately, the simple cure for both problems is the tires. No matter how much you like the looks, they have altered the operational design of the Cruiser.

 


608. I have a 2001 LE PT. For the last month or so my mpg has been terrible, its winter and I haven't been driving much. When there's no snow, I've been driving short distances of less than 10 miles or so. I noticed that I get about 30-40 miles per quarter tank. I thought it might be my high powered amp I installed asking for too much power, so I filled up my tank and ran some tests on the freeway. First test - I drove with no music, pretty fast at about 55-80, flooring it a couple times to pass some cars until I used a quarter tank. I traveled about 60 miles. Second test - I exited the freeway, turned around and retraced my route, but drove slower (how i usually drive) at 60 stopping, but this time I turned on the stereo and listened to the music. It took me about half as much gas to get back, which doesn't surprise me because I was driving slower. It became obvious that the amp did not affect my mpg.

After all that driving, my car was dirty. For a final test, I went to wash my car about a mile away, left the car running while waiting in line for about 5 minutes. I realized I didn't have change for a twenty, so I left and drove a mile to a gas station for change. I left the car running, went inside and back to the car in about 5 minutes, then back to the car wash, waited in line for another 10 minutes, and finally washed the car. At this point i realized how much gas I wasted. I used an eighth of a tank, while driving less than 5 miles and idling, all of which took about half an hour. - Jason, from Chicago.


The PT is not known for it's stellar mpg, however with the exception of your stereo, which has no affect on mpg, all of the driving habits that you describe can result in reduced mpg.

Short distance driving during winter months certainly raises a red flag. A car will not achieve optimum mpg until the engine is completely warmed up. It's not likely that this occurs in 10 miles during a Chicago winter. Based upon your figures, you're getting about 11 mpg, which isn't great, but not unheard of in similar situations. In addition, idling consumes a lot of fuel.

Another issue in some of the colder areas of the country is MTBE. During the winter months some states require fuel suppliers to blend MTBE with unleaded gasoline to reduce carbon monoxide emissions. A few owners and at least one DC dealer have suggested reduced mpg, using gasoline, which contains MTBE. Ask your gas vendor if this is their practice and if so, when it started. If possible, try to locate a gas vendor that does not include MTBE and make a mpg comparison. If that's not possible and the car is performing normal in all other aspects I would suggest that you wait until the weather warms up, and the gas vendor no longer uses MTBE in their fuel. Then, check the mpg for improvement. If it does not improve, a trip to your local dealer for diagnosis will be in order.

You may also want to review the Variables Which Affect MPG report in the PT area

 


609. I have a 2001 LE PT w/30k miles. I was reading about the Champion RE14PLP5 Double Platinum plugs on the web site, specifically about the projected core nose, which initiates the flame closer to the center of the combustion chamber and pistons. This has the affect of advancing the timing, which allows you to reduce the maximum indicated timing, while reducing detonation and improving throttle response. Will the automatic spark knock detector control the detonation or will I have to reset the timing to avoid spark knock? I tow a 1,000 lb. motorcycle trailer and have not had spark knock (even uphill) with the OEM Champion plugs, however I like the projected nose feature on the DPP plugs for heat dissipation. - Dana, from California.

The timing is not adjustable on the PT. The PCM controls everything. The knock sensor will retard timing long before you could actually hear pinging. The knock sensor only listens at less than 85% throttle. Once you exceed that, the PCM backs the timing off substantially.

 


610. I have a 2001 LE PT. When replacing my spark plugs I decided to use the Champion platinum plugs RE14PLP5. I did this about 4000 miles ago and I currently have about 45k miles on my PT. It started missing badly and the check engine light came on, however when I checked for any fault codes it showed no faults. So I took it to the dealer, who re-gaped the plugs because the gap had closed. The #1 cylinder was almost completely closed, with no gap. That fixed the problem for about two weeks, then it occurred again, the plug gaps had closed. The dealer has now put the OEM Champions in and the mechanic stated that the Champion platinum plugs are too long and the piston or valves are hitting the plugs and closing the gaps. I have worked on my cars for over 40 years and have never had anything like this happen before.

The only other information to share is I had just gotten my PT out of the body shop the first time this occurred. My wife ran into the back of an SUV at low speed and unfortunately the PT sustained front-end damage to the fenders, hood, grille, etc. There was no visible damage to the engine upon inspection. If the plug problem is related to the accident I can't understand how I could drive an additional 4k miles without the problem occurring sooner. Since the plug swap my PT is running fine. Any thoughts you may have on this would be appreciated. Thanks. - Bill, from Virginia.

It's extremely doubtful that the collision you mentioned created the problem with the plugs. If the engine light came on, you have codes to read. They may be pending codes and not read by the instrument cluster. It sounds like you are getting a misfire and detonation in cylinder #1. This is the primary cause of bent electrodes. Remind the mechanic that these are OEM Chrysler spark plugs, and not some aftermarket parts. This plug is available for the 2.4L in the Chrysler parts department. I would suggest that you look for your engine light to come back on, or get the pending codes read. They are still in there if the tech didn't arbitrarily clear the codes.

 


611. I was wondering what is involved in replacing the bulb that illuminates the gas gauge? Is it something I can do myself? Thanks. - Howard, from the USA.

The instrument cluster turn signals and the high beam indicator are serviceable indicators. The instrument cluster must first be removed to replace the high beam indicator. Then the defective bulb and socket turns out counterclockwise. The instrument cluster bezel needs to be removed to access the

If any of the other indicators are burned out, the entire cluster must be replaced. The cluster illumination bulbs are serviceable and may be replaced once the instrument cluster is removed. We have a Instrument Cluster Guide in the Pit area.

 


612. I have a 2001 BE PT and was recently involved in an accident. The front bumper was pretty much destroyed. After the insurance adjuster left, I noticed that the headlight bezel was banged up pretty bad. Is this bezel in two pieces and does it go with the front bumper itself or is it a completely different part? Thank you for your help. - Tim, from New Jersey.

The service manual is rather vague in this area and does not address the bezel. It appears to be part of or included with the headlamp unit. It is not part of the front fascia, which includes the bumper assembly, lower grille, and fog lamps. Your local dealer or insurance adjuster should be able to easily make an accurate determination for you. Make sure that the adjuster checks for damage under the bumper. It is not uncommon to find a damaged front bumper energy foam and reinforcement, even in minor accidents, which is not visible until the bumper is removed by the body shop. Most body shops will work with the adjuster as they disassemble and inspect the vehicle in the vicinity of the damaged area.

 


613. I'm an owner of a 2002 BE PT, and since I've had it I have replaced the bulbs (9006 and 9005) about 4 times. Why is that, am I doing something wrong? I've been very careful about not touching the bulb. Thanks a lot. - Vicente, from Mexico.

We haven't received any complaints about the OEM headlamps burning out frequently. In fact, I'm surprised that you have had to replace any OEM bulbs in a 2002 PT given the age of the car. The diagnostic guide in the service manual suggests checking the following:

1. Charging system output too high. - Test and repair charging system.

2. Loose or corroded terminals or splices in circuit. - Inspect and repair all connectors and splices.

You may also want to consider visiting your dealer, and having them troubleshoot the problem. Hopefully, the fix is covered under the warranty.

 


614. I have a 2001 LE PT with the following suspension upgrades: sway bars, lowered tower strut, 17" wheels and tires. I would like to replace the OEM shocks with Koni shocks and wanted to know how difficult the installation is and if they will be compatible with my other upgrades? I plan to have them professionally installed. Thank you. - Jim, from Florida.

We haven't received any feedback on the Koni shock absorber applications for the PT. Koni has been manufacturing performance shocks for many years and offers three types of shock absorber designs: mono-tube high pressure gas, twin-tube low pressure gas, and twin-tube hydraulic (non-gas). Each of these designs has certain ride and performance characteristics, which can enhance the performance of a vehicle. I would suggest that you check with Koni or a tire/suspension professional for a product recommendation that compliments your current suspension upgrade. The PT utilizes one OEM gas-charged shock absorber on each side of the rear suspension. The top of each shock absorber is bolted to a bracket attached to the body of the vehicle. The bottom of each shock absorber is bolted to the rear axle. The OEM replacement procedure is available in the Pit area.

 


615. I just purchased a 2001 BE PT from a local dealer. It has an automatic transmission with 18400 miles. I noticed that while driving on the freeway with the cruise control set at around 71 mph that the rpm's will surge from 2500 to 3000 for a second or two and then drop back to 2500 rpm's for awhile then surge again. This is a smooth transition and I have to watch the tack to see it happening. Why is it doing this and will it cause any problems? I have about 30 days left on the original 3-year warranty. Thanks. - Larry, from California.

An occasional surge of about 50rpm while using the cruise control is normal. 500 rpm should throw you back in the seat. A 500rpm shift in overdrive should be about 10mph. We haven't received any other complaints of this nature with the cruise control system. You may want to have the car checked out by the dealer, if for no other reason then to document the problem since you are near the end of your warranty period. If you're curious and want to do a little detective work on your own, the diagnostic test procedure is available in the Pit area.

 


616. I have a 2001 LE PT with an automatic transmission. Is there a way to either disable the rev limiter or replace the OEM auto shift stick with one similar to the autostick found in the 2003 turbo? I like the automatic transmission, but dislike not being able to control 2nd gear. I'm not sure what the advantage is to have a shift pattern of 1st, 3rd and overdrive. Thank you. - Wade, from Canada.

The rev limiter cannot be bypassed. The engine doesn't make any more power at a higher rpm without extensive aftermarket modifications.

You can control the transmission if you practice. Launch in 1st. Pull up to 2nd when you're ready. As soon as it shifts to second, pull it back into low. It will stay in 2nd until you pull it into 3rd. Some practice at this can yield a more fun and satisfying drive. From the outside, it can look like a stick shift if you lift off the gas for a split second during the shift. Practice finding the sweet spot in the torque range. That's where you want to shift. The transmission computer will not let you do any damage to the transmission. Read more about the 2003 PT autostick conversion process here.

 


617. I have a 2001 LE PT w/manual transmission and 14k miles. In second gear it surges between 2500 and 3000 rpm. It has done this since it was new. I've visited the dealer a few times for this problem and was told not to worry about it. Thanks. - Mal, from Illinois.

Were not familiar with this issue, nor are we aware of a fix. If the dealer is telling you that it is normal request a comparison test drive in similar PT off their lot. On the other hand, if you have documented the problem with the dealer when it began, and they have made multiple unsuccessful attempts to fix it, your only recourse may be to contact DC directly for help. I would start with the DC zone manager for that region.

 


618. I have a 2001 TE PT. I noticed an oil drip under my car. I had the oil changed and the tech said I have a small drip, which may require a gasket change. Are there any known problems with the oil gaskets? - James, from Florida.

There have been no reported oil leak concerns for the PT. The oil drain plug should only be tightened to a few ft/lbs. It's typical of oil change gorillas to over-tighten and destroy the drain seal. If it didn't leak prior to your oil change, I would ask questions.

 


619. I have a 2002 LE PT. When I enter the car, and put my foot on the brake prior to starting the car, the brake pedal feels hard, and feels like it won't go down very far, almost like a lack of power assist. After starting the car, brake behavior returns to normal. Is this a vacuum leak, and or normal? Thanks. - Jeff, from Arizona.

The behavior of the brake pedal action you describe is normal for a vehicle equipped with power brakes. Without the engine running, there is no vacuum to assist the (power brake booster) brakes. Manual brakes do not rely on this and they work all the time.

The purpose of the power brake booster is to reduce the amount of force required by the driver (foot-pedal pressure) to obtain the required hydraulic pressure in the brake system to stop the vehicle. The power brake booster is vacuum operated. The vacuum is supplied from the intake manifold on the engine through the vacuum hose and power brake booster vacuum check valve. As the brake pedal is depressed, the power booster input rod moves forward. This opens and closes valves in the power brake booster, allowing atmospheric pressure to enter on one side of a diaphragm. Engine vacuum is always present on the other side. This difference in pressure forces the output rod of the power booster out against the primary piston of the master cylinder. As the pistons in the master cylinder move forward, hydraulic pressure is created in the brake system.

 


620. I have a 2002 LE PT and would like some basic information on the brake system as it applies to the master cylinder? Thank you. - Bill, from Ohio.

Two different master cylinders are offered on this vehicle. Vehicles without antilock brakes (ABS) use a standard compensating-port master cylinder, while vehicles equipped with ABS use a center-valve design master cylinder. All applications use a 23.82 mm (0.937 in.) bore diameter master cylinder.

The non-ABS master cylinder is a four-outlet design (one for each wheel brake) with two screw-in proportioning valves. One is attached directly to the right side of the master cylinder housing while the other is attached to the bottom.

The ABS master cylinder is a two-outlet design and the brake tubes from these primary and secondary outlet ports lead directly to the integrated control unit (ICU) before going to each wheel brake.

Both type master cylinders mount to the power brake booster in the same manner. The master cylinder body is an anodized aluminum casting. It has a machined bore to accept the master cylinder pistons and also has threaded ports with seats for hydraulic brake tube connections. The master cylinder has the brake fluid reservoir mounted on top of it which gravity feeds brake fluid to the master cylinder when it is required. The reservoir is made of see-through plastic and it houses the brake fluid level switch. A removable brake fluid level switch is mounted in the left side.

For complete information on the Brake Systems visit the Pit area.

 


621. I have a 2003 GT PT. It's a two hour drive to the dealer so I thought I would ask if there might be something I could do on my own. The problem involves the wipers - they don't work when I rotate the switch to the different settings, but do work if the stalk is moved for a single wipe or wash. I checked the fuse in the panel under the steering wheel and it was ok. Thanks. - Chuck, from Oklahoma.

The control module for the wipers is integral to the switch. There is only one fuse to supply power. Since the mist feature is working, you can rule out a fuse. Most likely, the module has gone south. The wash and mist feature bypass the control module. The entire stalk must be replaced. Since your dealer is so far away, I would insist on another switch being ordered and in stock prior to the trip. Obviously, it would be a warranty repair.

The front windshield wiper/washer switch is mounted on the right side of the multi-function switch on the steering column, behind the steering wheel. The wiper system has LOW, HIGH, and INTERMITTENT switch positions. The intermittent wiper system, in addition to low and high speed, has a delay mode and a pulse wipe mode. The intermittent wiper function is integral to the wiper switch. All electronics and relay are inside the switch assembly. The wiper switch also includes the MIST feature, which provides a single wipe when actuated.

Follow up from owner - You were a great help, I asked the dealer to make sure the part would be there and it was. The dealer replaced the multifunction switch and it has worked fine ever since. Thank you.

 


622. I have a 2001 LE PT w/34K miles. When I turn off the ignition and remove the key the vehicle continues to run. I re-insert the key and cycle it on and off, and the motor continues to run. Finally, after about 1/2 hour of cycling the key on/off the engine shuts off. Then the lights on the dash stay lit and the ignition key does not do anything. I pull the key out, reinsert the key and do this over and over, until finally (1/2 hour) the car starts again. I have had the car to the dealer three times. They have replaced the diode in the transmission wiring harness, the ignition key recognition electronics and the car still does the same thing. Do you have any idea of what this could be? - Robert, from California.

I would look at the physical ignition switch itself. We have received similar complaints and several switches have been replaced.

 


623. I have a 2002 LE PT with a manual transmission and have to press a release button on the ignition switch to release the key. It's not a problem, just annoying. Is there any modification out there that I can make to defeat the lock button? Also why does the manual have this and not the auto PT's? Thanks in advance. - Dustin, from Oklahoma.

According to a DC customer service representative, the button is there as a result of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard #102. The main purpose is to prevent the accidental removal of the key while driving. The key release button on the PT Cruiser steering column is only present on vehicles equipped with a manual transaxle. The automatic transaxle has a feature built into the gear shift mechanism, which accomplishes the same thing by not allowing the key to be removed unless it is in the park position. We do not recommend that you attempt to disable this feature.

 


624. I have a 2001 LE PT, which starts, idles and runs fine. At 4000 rpm's the engine starts loping. If I turn it off and try to restart it, it will run a second and then cut off. It will do this three times in a row. After that it will not turn over any more. I'd appreciate any info you can give me. Thanks. - Steve, from Virginia.

There is a fuel cut-off that will not allow you to exceed 3700rpm in neutral or park. This rev limiter is a safety program. If the engine starts for a few seconds then dies, it's most likely the Sentry Key Imobilizer System. Your owners' manual explains the operation of the security system.

 


625. I have a 2002 LE PT. I went to use the horn today and it didn't work. I checked the fuse and it was bad. I haven't made any changes to the PT, and the horn worked fine up until recently. Any ideas? Thanks. - Lloyd, from Arkansas.

You may have a short circuit. Replace the blown fuse with a new fuse. If the replacement fuse blows immediately (before you attempt to use the horn) follow procedure #1. If the replacement fuse does not blow immediately, but does blow when you attempt to use the horn, follow procedure #2.

1. Remove the horn relay found in the Power Distribution Center (PDC) under the hood. Then install a new fuse, if fuse does not blow replace the horn relay. If the fuse blows with relay the removed, check for short to ground with an ohmmeter on the circuit between terminals 62 and 66 and the fuse terminal. Repair as necessary.

2. You may have a short circuit in the horn or horn wiring. Remove the horn relay found in the Power Distribution Center (PDC) under the hood. Check for a shorted horn or horn wiring. Disconnect the horn wire harness to isolate the short. Repair as necessary.

 



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