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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 Five - Q&A 101-125

101. I have approximately 21k miles on my 2001 PT LE, with four wheel disc brakes. About six months ago my wife started to hear the brakes squeal when the car was about to stop. It sounds like a cell phone ringing. I don't hear the noise all the time, but my wife hears all the high frequency noises, brakes, engine etc. We brought the PT in for servicing and the dealer said they couldn't duplicate the noise, and the brakes were working properly. A local garage said that they could deglaze and treat them with a "no squeal" product for about $130.00. I would prefer not to spend the money unless there is an actual defect. Do you have any suggestions? Thank you. - Bob, from the USA.

Most likely the brake pads need replacing. The PTs weight coupled with the small light duty brakes system may require pad replacement a lot sooner than normal. For the $130 you were quoted, you can have the pads replaced. The Wagner MX-841 Thermo-Quiet is the OEM front pad. These are available at most professional parts stores for around $60 retail. The labor charge should be around 1.5 hours to replace the pads, resurface the rotors, and check everything else. That puts you around the quoted $130. Deglazing and 'no-squeal' sounds like BS to me. Do it once, do it right, replace the pads.


102. When the headlights are used in the daytime the dash lights dim, they can be brightened by turning the knob to the next detent, but the compass and outside temperature gauge do not brighten. This makes it very difficult to read these items. Is there a way to wire the lights for the compass and temperature gauge to the same dim/brighten circuit as the other dash lights? Thanks. -Ed, from the USA.

That function is completely controlled by the Body Control Module (BCM) inside the instrument cluster. There is no way to reprogram it.


103. Does it require more power from the engine to run the A/C in re-circulate vs. fresh air? Re-circulate is cooler, and comes out with more force. Thank you. - Joe, from the USA.

The engine load will remain the same while the AC compressor is running. The difference is the air being drawn from inside the car. It is drawing 70F air across the evaporator instead of 90F air. This allows the temperature to drop to the 40s, hence cooler vent temps. An additional concern using the re-circulate mode is A/C odors and mildew, which you can read about in a special report within the Pit area.


104. I purchased my 2001 PT LE five speed in February 2001. It has a creak in the front end, noise in the steering column, piston clatter at start up and has used 4 liters of oil within the first 10,000kms (6000 miles). Is this car a lemon? My dealer doesn't think this is uncommon, and couldn't find anything wrong. What should I do? - Dave, from the USA.

That is unacceptable. Ask to contact the DC Zone Representative. For many, 3 documented trips to the dealer for the same concern will let the Zone Representative and manufacturer authorize unlimited diagnostic time. For additional info on each states Lemon Laws check the Special Report section on the site.


105. Would there be a great benefit from installing a by-pass oil filter on the PT? If so, how would you recommend mounting one in a 2002 PT? -Tim, form the USA.

I don't see any benefit to modifying the oiling system, except a lighter wallet.


106. I own a 2001 PT Cruiser with an automatic transmission. I wanted a little extra zip, and have installed a RAM tube with a K&N filter. I just received my tuned headers, which will be installed on Friday. A thousand thanks. - Jack, from the USA.

The intake and exhaust will help. I hope you changed the muffler to match the headers. The muffler is the largest restriction in the exhaust system, not the header. The free-flow effect gives a noticeable loss of low-end torque. You have moved the power band up a few hundred RPM.


107. My 2001 PT has 10k miles and is idling rough. I also feel a slight hesitation or skip when under a load, like going up a hill. I had the dealer check it, but he says everything is within specification. Could it be the plugs? I have not pulled them. If so, which ones should I use? - John, from the USA.

There are no aftermarket plugs other than the original RE14MCC5 Champions. I have several sets of them in front of me. Do not let some uninformed parts dude sell you plugs for a Neon or 2000 and prior Stratus / Cirrus / Caravan. They used the 2.4L engine, but they do not use the same plugs. The new head design is completely different. The Champion stock #7440 will be the platinum replacement. Champion does not have them available yet. See our Spark Plug Replacement Guide in the Pit area.


108. I have a 2001 LE Cruiser with 9000 miles on it. I live in Northern California where it is very warm in the summer. I have noticed that when the A/C is running for an extended period of time and I stop that no moisture drips on the ground as most vehicles do. When I start up again I get a stale smell from the A/C vents for about 30 seconds, then it goes away. I suspect that the water is not draining, and being retained in the A/C. I took it to my dealer and he drilled a small hole in the area behind the glove box and put some disinfectant in, but I still get a slight smell. Is there suppose to be a drain for the condensation from the A/C or not? I could not get an answer from the dealer. Thank you. - Ralph, from the USA.

Absolutely there is a drain. It's in front of the passenger footwell. It is a small tube that drips on the frame rail. My drain vents a lot of water. It's fairly common for these tubes to get blocked. I'd try a dealer who is willing to use a brain cell or two. Every car with an A/C has a drain hole or hose. Click here to see the A/C Odors and Midew Guide in the Pit area.


109. I picked up my 2001 PT on 12-23-00 and I have 9000 miles. I am experiencing a rough idle and it does not turn on smoothly. I turn the ignition on/off 3 times and it shows MIL errors: P0401 and P1684. Can you tell me what is wrong and what I can do to fix it? Thank you. - Ed

P0401 is an EGR failure. There are 9 different possible causes per page 114 of the powertrain manual. That's an emissions related failure and should be taken to the dealer soon. P1684 tells the tech that although there no current or pending codes, some codes have been recently cleared from memory. I've seen it through the key-on test you did, although I've never seen it with a scanner.


110. How effective is adding a K&N replacement air filter to the OEM air box versus the "cold air induction" system, which involves removing the air box altogether? Would you happen to know the maximum CFM intake requirement for the 2.4 L? I just purchased a 2002 and I'm trying to decide which modification would work best. If you feel their is a substantial difference, I will go with the with the air box removal system. I appreciate your time and knowledge. Thanks. - Greg

The engine will use 267 CFM at red line. That's all. The only true "cold-air intake" is my alternative insulated air intake modification. Either choice will provide a lower restriction and louder intake sound. By wrapping the intake in insulation, you can lower the temperature. If you decide to replace the OEM air filter with the K&N drop in you will notice a minimal change in performance versus a noticeable gain using my "cold-air intake" alternative.


111. I purchased my PT Cruiser about 6 months ago, and have recently experienced the same problem twice. When I start the car, the odometer reads 100 plus and the tachometer read 3 to 4K RPM. When I place the car in drive all the indicators drop down to normal. Additionally, occasionally the blinkers do not work. I have figured out when I cycle the hazard flasher on and off the blinker's work again. It sounds like a short to me. I have called 2 DC dealers in my area; they were not familiar with these problems and suggested bringing in the car. What should I do? Thanks. - Dawn, from the USA.

There have been several "multifunction switches" (turn signal switch) replaced for this concern. Your dealer doesn't spend 10 plus hours a week on the forums looking for failure trends.

The turn signal/hazard flasher, fogs, & high/low headlights are all combined into the multifunction switch. The front running/turn lamps go through the Body Control Module (BCM) located inside the instrument cluster for the indicators and Canadian DRL's. If only the front turn lights fail, I'd take a long look at the cluster.

You say that the tachometer reads 3-4K RPM. You don't mention if the engine is actually racing at this speed or not. If not, you may have an intermittent glitch in the instrument cluster.


112. Please describe the connections on the back of the 2001 PT radio. Thanks. - Ed

Thumbnail 1 - Antenna

2 - DIN connector is for the external CD changer.

3 - C3 PCI communications buss. (There are several diagnostic trouble codes for radio/speaker failures. They come from this one wire to the BCM/instrument cluster.)

4 - C1 Power, panel lamps, headlamp switch output and some speakers.

5 - C2 All speakers.

6 - Ground lugs.

We have a Radio Connections Guide for 2001-2004 model year PT's in the Pit area.


113. I have a question about my 2001PT Cruiser's gas mileage. I bought a brand new Cruiser in February. I would average 15 miles per gallon, which I have heard is normal with a new engine. However, now my engine has 4500 miles on it and this previous tank got 135 miles. That is an average of 9.6 miles per gallon. Could you tell me what could be wrong with my new car? Thanks. - Allison, from the USA.

The only way to waste unused fuel is to run too rich a mixture of air to fuel. The Powertrain Control Module (PCM) and emissions system keeps very strict control of the mixture. So, unless the "check engine" light is on, the engine is burning the correct amount of fuel to maintain a 14.7:1 air/fuel mixture. Absolutely everything else that contributes to poor mileage is beyond the PCM's control, including driving habits, A/C usage, modifications that effect the aerodynamics, and outside temperature. Simply running the tire pressure at the recommended 34PSI can improve the MPG.

Mike also mentioned that he gets about 15MPG in mixed driving with the A/C on, and mine isn't much better. If the emails we receive at the site are an indication of "average" mpg, I would say 15mpg may be closer to reality than DC's projections. Then again, I don't know of anyone who actually purchased a Cruiser because of its MPG efficiency. -Ed


114. We have 12000 miles on our PT Cruiser 5 Speed. It was delivered to us Sept. 2000. There is a persistent throttle problem - a surge, a delay, and a sudden closing. It seems the computer wants to take over the throttle at slow speed, causing either a delay in closing, or slamming it shut all at once. Also, there seems to be a delay on slight throttle opening--pressing the pedal slightly is followed by a delay, then -zoom, off it goes! This all makes slow speed driving very annoying. What could the problem be? - Brian, from the USA.

The concern could be one or many sensors. I would begin by checking the Idle Air Control motor (IAC), Exhaust Gas Recirculation system (EGR), and the Manifold Absolute Pressure sensor (MAP). Driveability problems without any diagnostic codes can turn into a parts swapping nightmare. I'd give the dealers best tech unlimited diagnostic time to troubleshoot the entire operating system.


116. We own a 2001 PT Cruiser LE with ABS and a manual transmission. At 2,500 Miles, it developed a sudden severe hesitation and extremely rough idle. The dealer kept it for a week and almost gave up. Finally, they replaced the plugs and wires (no help) - and than the EGR Valve, which seemed to solve that problem.

I mention this because my "real" problem has developed since that repair - but it may not be related. Three weeks after the first repair, I noticed a persistent, recurring but intermittent condition. When approaching a stoplight, as the car is slowing down, the accelerator will rev up-and-down repeatedly between 1,000 and 2,000RPM. It never exceeds 2,000RPM, but will do this cycling 5 or 6 times in a row. It always ceases when the car has finally stopped completely. During the acceleration from that stop, it seems to accelerate smoothly, although I've noticed an occasional hesitation. It seems that once I pass a certain slow-speed zone, the car will accelerate much more evenly and quickly. The condition may last for 2 or 4 days, then it might not occur again for several days. It happens when hot or cold, on short trips or long and the amount of gas in the tank doesn't seem to affect it.

The dealer has been unable to duplicate the problem, even after keeping the car for days at a time. I'm an experienced driver, and friends and family have observed the condition. It is very noticeable once it starts. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you. - Guy, from the USA.

My first look would be the Idle Speed Control (ISC) motor. It is the mechanical workhorse for the PCM when determining idle speed. I doubt that it's a vacuum leak. They don't pulsate with rhythm. An open EGR will cause a low, rough idle. It needs permission from the PCM to operate. Accelerator cables don't open and close then re-open by themselves. It could be a Transmission Control Module (TCM) defect. Try sliding the shifter into neutral while it's pulsing. The PCM reads several sensors to control idle. Those sensors or the PCM could have a glitch. Ask the dealer for a "flight recorder." This will read all the engine parameters while you drive. Then they can playback the good parts.


117. I was wondering if there is an air shock that will fit the 2001 PT? I'm going to pull a trailer with my car that is lowered and want to get some height in the back to compensate for the sag. - Steve, from the USA.

I do not know of any air shocks for the PT. I've used both air shocks and air bags inside the springs. The air bags have always worked better. The ride is better and controllability is improved. The air bags run at 20psi compared to 90psi for air shocks. You may want to ask for air boosters. I'm sure the catalogs won't list them, but a call to the manufacturer's tech line might get you what you need. You may also want to post your question in a few of the popular PT forums; perhaps another owner can make a recommendation based upon their experience.


118. I'm interested in having my OEM bumpers painted the body color of my (2001) vehicle. Can you describe the process or offer any alternative methods to accomplish a similar result. Thank you. - Glen, from the USA.

PT owners have met with mixed results painting their OEM bumpers, therefore we no longer recommend this process. We have received a number of emails from owners who had their bumper's professionally painted and experienced problems with durability, peeling and color matching. Some customization and specialty paint shops no longer offer this service because of these issues, and there are others that continue to paint bumpers, but do not offer a guarantee on their work. If you can locate a professional (specialty) automotive painter that knows exactly what they're doing you may be fine, but they seem to be in the minority.

Were told that the actual process involves cleaning the bumpers with a special solution to remove dirt, oil, and molding solution from the plastic. Some painters apply an adhesion agent, then multiple coats of primer and sand until smooth. A flexing agent and sometimes a hardener is added to the paint, the bumpers are painted, clear-coated and finished.

Many PT owners have purchased the painted Xenon Bumper Covers as a safer alternative to painting their OEM bumpers. They're great looking, and apply directly over the OEM bumper cover using double-sided tape and a few screws. We have a Xenon Bumper Cover Installation and Tips Guide in the Pit area, which you can use as a resource.


119. I own a 2002 Cruiser and just received a "safety recall" notification (TSB 994) from DC stating that the "cluster gauges may become inoperative." What is the procedure and time requirement for this repair. Thanks - Rick, from the USA.

The safety recall does not require any hardware changes; it's just a matter of reprogramming the PT's on board computer. The time requirement is minimal.


120. Lately I've noticed that about half the time I shut off my PT and prepare to exit the vehicle, the heated seat switch light is on, and if I hit the button, the heat actually turns on. The odd thing is that sometimes the light does go off with the key. Of course, I'm afraid I'm going to accidentally hit the switch getting out and have a dead battery when I return. Have you heard of this before? Thanks - John

Another visitor reported a similar problem a while back and we suggested a fix, however the visitor did not contact us with a follow up so were not sure how effective the advice was. It sounds like it might be a sticky relay contact, which would be a simple repair. There is a heated seat relay in the fuse block. It gets power from power distribution center fuse #4 = 40amp. The relay feeds power to fuse block fuses 4 & 17 = 20amp to each seat module. The relay is activated through switched ignition power from fuse block fuse #6 =10amp.


121. I left my gas tank cap loose and now my MIL engine light is on. Should I take it to the dealer for service or the light will go off eventually? - Eric

If you know that the loose gas cap caused the code, just ignore it for the time being. Just make sure to tell the DC tech about it the next time it's in for diagnostics so he can clear it for you.

MIL Indicator Notes - There are several levels of MIL codes. Some trigger the MIL light; many others are stored in memory and won't light the indicator. Others will retain in memory until they fail a set amount of times, then the light will come on. With special equipment I can read all codes, pending codes, or any codes since the last ignition cycle. I can tell how many ignition cycles since the last code.

So, you see, there may be codes in memory that are not "pending codes" any longer. They have been through enough cycles to be ignored, yet they will remain even if the battery is disconnected. Interrupting battery power will only reset the learning curve of the computers. It may also turn the light off if the failure is no longer present. The point is that after 1996, disconnecting power will not erase codes stored in memory.


122. I live in Michigan, and recently purchased a new 2002 P with a manual transmission. When I start it up is it best to let the engine warm up first or just go? Work is only two miles from home; then I park it for 8 hours and repeat the process. Thanks you. - Fran, from the USA.

I recommend warming the engine for a short time before driving. It seems to take about a minute for the engine rpm to settle below 1K. This gives you time to warm the fluids slightly.

It's the cold auto transmission fluid that I worry about. With an automatic, the cold fluid temperatures increase the pressure considerably. Reverse gear uses pressure in the 300psi range (pressure in forward gears is about 70psi). If the fluid is very cold, the pressure can be high enough to damage the transmission. Many, many Chrysler 727 auto transmissions have blown the first/reverse band in pieces due to high reverse pressures. Under these driving conditions it would also be appropriate to follow the "B" scheduled maintenance guidelines listed in the owner manual.

To answer your question: Take your time during a cold start. Drive the long way home, it's more fun anyway.


123. I just experienced a problem with the clock on my cruiser, it seems to be speeding up. Each month it seems to gain about 3 minutes or so. I'm wondering what this is due to and how to fix it. Thanks. - Sebastian, from the USA.

That's the "Business Feature." It keeps you from being late to meetings. A new radio should fix the concern. If you can get the dealer to believe you, it'll be a warranty repair. There is no adjustment to the clock oscillator inside the radio.


124. I have a burned out instrument panel light in the speedometer on my 2001 PT. How do you get to it? I have the dash speaker removal procedure. Thanks - Jake, from the USA.

See the Instrument Cluster Removal procedure in the Pit area. Make sure to disconnect the battery prior to the instrument cluster removal. The cluster is the PT's Body Control Module (BCM).


125. Is it OK to use Mobil1 in a 2002 PT Cruiser? I assume yes, but I know a few (older) cars had seals that could absorb Mobil1 oil. If I go with Mobil1, what type of maintenance schedule should I follow? - Rick

Mobil 1 will be fine. That's what I use. The leaky seal thing was 30 years ago, not now. You must still change the oil & filter on a regular schedule. Any oil will absorb combustion byproducts and break down. Synthetic extends this process. $20 worth of oil/filter every 6 months is good insurance for a $3000 engine. I change mine every 2000 miles. I still carry a commercial drivers license, and have traveled over 1 million miles without an engine failure. Preventive maintenance is always preferable to a breakdown.

Engine Break-in - Although everyone seems to have his or her own opinion regarding the break-in time for a new engine you won't go wrong if you follow the vehicle manufacturers maintenance recommendations up to the first 5K miles, at which point you can change over to Synthetic oil if you desire. Personally, I changed my regular oil at 500 miles and again at 2K. That's when I switched to Mobil 1.


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