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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 Eight - Q&A 176 - 200

176. I recently purchased a pillar pod and some gauges. One of the gauges I am installing is an AIR-FUEL type. I need to know which wire to tap into and which sensor on the exhaust system. I think there are two. One on the manifold, and a second one, just before the converter. Can you help? - Ed, from the USA.

The upstream oxygen sensor is closest to the cylinder head. The wire is shown as black w/dark green stripe. This is the signal wire to the Powertrain Control Module (PCM). I advise extreme caution when splicing into the O2 signal. I would not cut the wire. I suggest gently peeling back the insulation, then soldering the gauge sensor wire to the signal wire. Make sure to seal the splice. Over time moisture will corrode the wires causing abnormal O2 readings.


177. I have a 2001 PT Cruiser, which I purchased (9 months old) used from a dealer, including all the extended warranties. My wife had a slight fender bender; the front end of the PT ran into the rear of another car, which was stopped in traffic. There was some minor damage to the body and the oil dipstick and starter solenoid were replaced after the body work was completed. No other problems up until today, I went for a oil change with 16,000 miles on it (months after the collision and fix) and the mechanic told me that oil is leaking from the back of the engine. He suggested that there might be a problem with the oil sending unit, or possibly the head gasket since they were known to fail. The leak is small and oil has accumulated on the side, back and underside of the engine. I didn't initially notice any oil spots in the driveway, but I checked again and found some residue. If it is the oil pressure switch, is it a common problem and how does it work? Could this have been be caused by the accident or is it a design flaw as he mentioned? Since the collision work and warranties are all in force what would be your best guess and should I be worried? I have scheduled an appointment but that is days away. Is there any news of common failures in this area? Thank you. - Nick, from the USA.

The head gasket was re-designed prior to PT production. There have been no reports of gasket leakage. I can't foresee how a bump to the fender would cause an oil leak, but you said the oil dipstick and solenoid were damaged. What you have is an oil pressure switch. It does not read oil level.


The oil pressure switch is located on the right rear side of the engine block. The oil pressure switch is a pressure sensitive switch that is activated by the engine's oil pressure (in the main oil galley). The switch is a two terminal device (one terminal is provided to the wiring harness and the other terminal is the switch's metal housing that screws into the engine block).


The oil pressure switch is normally "Closed." The switch changes from a Closed circuit to an Open circuit, on increasing pressure of 7 PSI. The oil pressure switch changes from an Open circuit to a Closed circuit, on decreasing pressure, between 2 PSI and 4 PSI.

If it's leaking, it's likely just a failed part and a warranty claim. This is not a common failure. But with 50,000 parts, there's always a risk that some part may fail.


178. I just had a Chrysler speed control added to my 2001 PT. Before I left the dealer's parting lot I switched on the fog lights. When I switched on the fog lights the air bag light came on. (The same dealer installed the fog lights last July.) When I returned the car to the dealer it was determined that the air bag module was shorted. The dealer currently has one on order. Does the installation of Chrysler OEM components like the fog lights and the speed control put the car a risk for shorts? I am especially concerned since this involves a safely item like an air bag. - Roger, from the USA.

It sounds like they pinched a wire when they had the steering wheel/airbag removed to install the cruise control. It must have shorted to the fog light switch that's also in the steering column. There would be no problems if these features were installed when the car was built. Since any add-on requires re-wiring, you risk mistakes by the technicians.


179. This past Friday (12-28-01), I picked up my brand new '200 TE PT with manual transmission. The problem I'm writing to you about concerns the transmission. Everything was functioning just fine until the odometer hit 100 miles. Then it seemed as if the synchronizer went out on only fourth gear (first, second, third and fifth continue to work without a problem).

When sitting still (with the e-brake on), I can consistently shift into fourth without the meshing problem. When under power and trying to shift into fourth, you hear this resistant clunk sound (hard to describe via email). The sound is not a true metallic, gear grinding, "crap, I just blew a shift" sound. It sounds more muffled and alignment oriented. Although the sound preceeds the actual engagement of fourth gear, I am able to complete the shift. The resistant clunk is happening intermittently, approximately 90-95% of the time. At first we thought the clunk only happened at high rpm's, but then it reared it's ugly head at 1500.

We plan to take it back to the dealership on Monday, do you have any suggestions in the interim? Thank you for your time and consideration, it's truly appreciated. - Lesa, from Michigan.

Here's the only info available from page 21-3 of the service manual.

Diagnosis and Testing - Common Problem Causes

The majority of transaxle malfunctions are a result of:

1. Insufficient lubrication
2. Incorrect lubricant
3. Misassembled or damaged internal components
4. Improper operation
5. Hard Shifting

A misadjusted crossover cable may cause hard shifting. If hard shifting is accompanied by gear clash, synchronizer clutch and stop rings or gear teeth may be worn or damaged.

Misassembled synchronizer components also cause shifting problems. Incorrectly installed synchronizer sleeves, struts, or springs can cause shift problems.

It seems that you have a simple case of defects in material or workmanship. Out of 300,000 PT's, you happened to get one with a bad transmission. I'd guess that the 4th gear synchronizer is defective.

Follow up from owner - The dealer diagnosed the problem as "misassembled or damaged internal components" and will replace the transmission.


180. I noticed in the owner's manual, that the suggested tire rotation method is the cross pattern, which I previously used on bias-ply tires. I thought reversing rotation on radial tires was a no no? - Michael, from the USA.

Non-Directional Tread Pattern Tires

Tires on the front and rear axles operate at different loads and perform different functions. For these reasons, they wear at unequal rates, and tend to develop irregular wear patterns. These effects can be educed by timely rotation of tires. The benefits of rotation are especially worthwhile. Rotation will increase tread life, help to maintain mud, snow, and wet traction levels, and contribute to a smooth, quiet ride.

ThumbnailThe suggested rotation method is the forward-cross tire rotation method. This method takes advantage of current tire industry practice, which allows rotation of radial-ply tires. Other rotation methods may be used, but may not have all the benefits of the recommended method. PT 2002 service manual, page 22-6.


181. I changed the clock-spring in my car because it was clicking. While it was off I started the car and the airbag light came on, no big deal, but when I put the new one on the light would go out after 8-seconds but would then come right back on a second or two later. I then put the old clock-spring back on and it did the same thing. I did center everything correctly. What could be wrong? Do I need to reset codes and how? Thank you. - David, from the USA.

Yes, you need to hook up your scanner and clear the codes from memory or have the dealer take care of it. Remember to select the restraint system instead of the engine control system.


182. I have a 2001 Cruiser and the MIL popped on at 10k miles. I took it to my local dealer and got the royal run around. I have installed a Borla Cat back system (exact same system that is made by Borla for Mopar) and the error code is 420 - catalyst seems inefficient #1. According to the dealer this is caused by low backpressure, which they attribute to the installation of the Borla exhaust.

My father is a mechanic and I grew up working in his shop, so I know enough to suspect that they don't know what they're talking about. I spoke to the engineers at Borla last week and they indicated that the Cat back does not contribute to backpressure. So my question is, what else can it be? I can drive as fast as ever so I don't think the CAT is bad. If I reset the light it tends to come on when the engine is warm and I am stopped at a light - my guess is the O2 Sensor. - Ernest, from Texas.

The powertrain diagnostic manual makes no reference to exhaust backpressure. What you are getting is the opinion of the dealership, not a test result. I would insist that they follow the printed diagnostic test prior to giving a response.

Possible Causes - Engine mechanical problem, exhaust leak between engine and converter, defective converter, bad O2 sensor. Test 3 indicates that burning oil or coolant can trip this code. I would not except the brush-off from a service writer.


183. I just purchased a 2002 TE PT with an automatic transmission. I noticed from day one that I feel a wobbling, or shimmy, or like a walking feeling, in the front end soon after take off. It doesn't matter if I take off going straight or around a corner (more noticeable on corner take off). It is a little more noticeable on gradual take off's vs. stepping on it, but it occurs both situations. It only happens when the PT is traveling less than 25-30 MPH. I don't feel it in the steering wheel at all.

I took it back to the dealer and had them test drive it with me. They told me that they all do that as the mechanic drove through the parking lot, stopped, turned the wheel all the way to one side, than stepped on it - you could really feel it than. I have other front-wheel drive cars that don't do this shimmy with normal acceleration so his reply "all front wheel drives will do this to an extent" was incorrect. I have also talked with two other PT owners who don't have the problem. The PT has 1500 miles on it, and still does it. Thank you. - Jerry, from California.

I would suggest you search the forums for Goodyear tire topics. There have been many discussions about defective tires. Your problem may lie in the tires. It doesn't sound like a defective suspension. I would also line up a demo PT and yours; take the service advisor for a test drive in each one. If your PT pulls and the other one does not, you have a defect.


184. I have a 2002 LE with chrome wheels. The center cap of these wheels appears to be removable. How does one remove it without damaging it? Thank you. -Wayne, from Michigan.

After you remove the wheel the center cap should snap out from behind.


185. My PT's front wipers streak the windshield, which makes visibility somewhat difficult. Should I replace them, and how can I DIY? Thank you. - Joan, from Montana.

Wiper blades exposed to the weather for a long period of time tend to lose their wiping effectiveness. Periodic cleaning of the wiper blade is recommended to remove the accumulation of salt and road grime. The wiper blades, arms and windshield should be cleaned with a sponge or cloth and a mild detergent or nonabrasive cleaner. If the wiper blades continue to streak or smear, they should be replaced.


186. I recently changed the air intake set up on my 2002 PT using the instructions for your insulated air intake modification. The install went fine, except I accidentally snapped off the retaining clip on the IAT sensor connector. Currently I'm using a wire tie to make sure it does not come loose. Do you know of any easy way to repair the connector without replacing the harness? I'm concerned about warranty issues if I take my car in for service. Thank you. - Bryan, from the USA.

This question was mentioned in the forums about a year ago. The wire end of the connector is part of a huge harness. The owner could not find a source for a splice-in harness. I suggested that you could cut one off of a junkyard car. Since the Stratus/Cirrus and Caravan all use the 2.4L engine, it may be easy to locate one.


187. I've had my 2001 PT for about 8 months now and recently damaged the glove box. How do I replace it? Thank you for your help. - Tom, from Iowa.

You can find the OEM Glove Box Assembly Removal Guide in the Pit area.


188. I have a 2001 PT with automatic transmission. I'm interested in purchasing a computer chip as a replacement for mine once I have it re-programmed. Do you have an idea what the cost might be? Thank you. - Rod, from the USA.

The "chip" is not removable from the PCM. It uses an EPROM erasable/programmable read only memory. There are companies offering re-programming of your PCM as well as modules that splice into the computer lines and re-configure the signals. I do not keep track of pricing, but competition should drive the costs down soon.


189. My 2001 PT battery accidentally went dead. I was going to use a trickle charger to recharge it and saw no way to do it. Road service came and "jump started" it. They told me the battery is not available for service -"probably under the seat or someplace." The owners' manual indicates it may "never need service" whatever that means. Where is it and how do I remove it? Thank you. - Rudy, from the USA.

The battery is underneath your air cleaner box. It's very easy to get to. It's a normal, everyday battery made by Exide/GNB for DC. It will need to be replaced about every 5 years under normal use. Draining a battery completely dead (deep cycled) will reduce the operational life span by as much as 33%. Car batteries do not take well to being deep cycled. Marine batteries are made for that usage. Since DC decided to hide the battery, they installed jump-start posts that you can simply attach your trickle charger leads to.


190. I have a 2002 TE PT and would like to improve its performance, but I noticed that you have mentioned that the automatic transmission is a weak link. What problems are you talking about and would it be cost effective to swap it with the manual transmission? I plan on supercharging it with the Venom Racing 400 system and the 1200 system. If you're familiar with the Venom line what are your impressions of it? Thank you for the help. - Eric, from the USA.

I still classify the automatic transmission as the weakest link in the drivetrain. Many other Chrysler technician's claim that it can handle anything the Cruiser can offer. It is in the V-6 Caravans, which are heavier with more horsepower. You may want to search the forums. The connecting rods are a little wimpy according to several forum members.

Switching to a manual transmission would be difficult and costly. The BCM, PCM, and TCM would have fits trying to make it run correctly. It would be much easier to sell your PT and purchase a 5-speed PT.

We try not to make specific product recommendations. If you feel the Venom system is beneficial to you, then it's your choice. I can't make the decision for you.


191. Today, while driving, smoke came out of the steering column where the hazard button is located and the green light (head light indicator) came on. Fearing a fire I stopped the car to check. I disassembled the cover to see what the problem might be; but I did not see anything melting. However I did notice that the fog lights were on, although the car and all switches were turned off. The car is one year old with no alterations of any kind. Do you know what might have caused this to happen? Has it happened before to other PT's, and should the dealer replace the entire assembly or will just repair the current one? - Jorge

The common part is the multifunction switch (headlight switch). There have been reports of intermittent contacts. This is the first report of smoke! The dealer should replace the switch under the warranty.


192. I'm getting ready to order lowering springs for my Cruiser and have read varying opinions about whether you do or do not need "camber kits." One opinion stated that for a modest lowering of 1-/2" to 2 " they aren't required. Other owners insist that you should always use them or you'll have problems. I'm looking at the modest approach to keep some ground clearance. Thank you. -Terry, from Illinois.

I think I can set you straight on your spring question as we have installed over 900 sets to date. The Progress, Gold Line, Ground Force, and Eibach springs all lower the car 1.7" in the front and 2" in the rear. You are correct. It is a rather mild lowering, but one every PT should have. Since the PT is inexpensively made, the factory variance throws off some alignments more than a simple technician can adjust. Therefore, the alignment kit is necessary. We find it is only needed 10% of the time.

My advice is to install the springs. Drive the car on a level interstate and check for leading right or left. If so, have a normal alignment done, but don't tell the mechanic anything. See if he can get it within specifications. If he can not, then buy the camber kit. There is no sense laying out $110 for something you probably don't need. Advice provided by Bill Rea, from Race & Street.


193. I heard someone say that to prolong the life of PT transmission (automatic), use 3rd gear for city driving and override for highway driving. Does it make sense? Thanks. - Jason, from the USA.

That used to be the case. What we have now is a very sophisticated Transmission Control Module (TCM). This computer reads all the speed, temp, throttle, etc. information and makes sure that you are in the gear best suited for economy.


194. I took my 2001 PT Cruiser (automatic) in today with only 2000 miles on it because I'm experiencing a good deal of valve noise. It sounded like a bad lifter and they told me the adjuster needed to be replaced, but they didn't have any in stock. They allowed me to drive it home and continue to use it. Is this a good idea? Have you run across any valve adjuster problems so far? - Garth, from the USA.

If it's called an "adjuster," why must it be replaced? Why not "adjust" it? :) You may be fine. At least the problem has been documented. If, for any reason, continued use causes more damage, they will be liable for repairs. I've not heard of any HLA- hydraulic lash adjuster concerns.


195. I just installed some LED tail light bulbs in my PT and I'm experiencing some problems. I installed the driver side bulbs and turned on the lights - everything was ok. I installed the passenger side bulbs, and turned on lights - no lights, so I stepped on the brake and (heard) the fuse blew. I thought the bulb was bad so I removed both new ones and replaced them with the OEM's. Now the auto door locks do not work, and the alarm beeps but no lights flash, nor do the doors lock. When you push the lock button on the door panel you can hear a relay engage behind the dash but the locks do not move. I checked all the fuses and they were OK. As a precaution I replaced the fuses, which I thought were good, with new ones. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks. - John, from the USA.

There are multiple fuses involved with the stop and tail lights. They tie into several different systems including the security system and locks. Rather than post info for 11 different fuses, I'll give the most probable based on your description.

Fuse #10, 40amps in the power distribution center (under hood fuse block next to the battery) supplies power to fuses #1, 2, & 3 in the fuse block (inside the dash). These 3 fuses control tail lamps, RKE-remote keyless entry, multifunction switch(headlight switch), and power door locks.

Once you determine that fuse #10 -40amps is the culprit, check the operation of your brake and tail lights everyday. Don't take safety for granted.


196. I own a 2001 PT (27F package) with 30k miles on it. I have experienced a problem with my PT for over a month now that is progressively getting worse. Now, in fact, it is almost undriveable. I brought the car in for service last week with an entire page of information detailing the specifics of the problems I was experiencing. Rather than do ANY work looking for the problem, they checked the computer (which reports no problems of course) drove it for 5 miles and then tagged the issue "could not duplicate." On my drive home from the dealership, the stuttering issue occurred twice and it nearly stalled when I parked at the house.

The level of incompetence and complete lack of regard for the customer at my dealership is amazing. I plan on taking it to another dealership this weekend to see if they can do more than plug a computer into the thing. Here is a detailed description of the problems I gave to the service department.

While driving, the vehicle will stop accelerating and almost immediately kick back in. The effect is almost exactly like engaging the clutch and then letting it back out only when this happens, the RPM's don't change noticeably. In the past week, this has gotten worse. Now at times, it will 'lapse' even longer than before and the RPM's will drop.

Although this usually only happens once every few minutes, in the past week there have been 2 or 3 times when this would happen several times consecutively. I have only noted this happening in the first 15-20 minutes of operation (I drive almost an hour each way every day.) In the past week the time in which the problems occur seems to be getting longer - although the effects seem to become milder as the car is driven. This has happened in at least all gears from 2-5, most often when cruising, but I have noticed it during acceleration as well.

In the past week, the vehicle has stalled about once a day while stopped. I've noticed the idle seemed to be a bit rough when stopped. It would always hover around 1000 RPM or just below. Generally, when just below 1000 I sense the rough idle. In the past week, it has been idling lower than normal closer to 750 than 1000 RPM's and the times it has stalled. It seems to just idle lower and lower until it stops. I'm not sure if this and the above problem are related, but I assume they are.

This past week, occasionally, when under hard acceleration in low gears the brake MIL will come on for about one second. This has happened approximately ten times in the past couple of weeks. I'm not sure this is related either but I felt it was worth mentioning.

Earlier this week I noticed the coolant was low. I check this monthly and have not noticed a problem with it before. Again, not sure if it's related. I filled with the recommended coolant and did not notice any change with regard to the problems.

Thank you so much for your time. - Jason, from Florida.

First of all, you need to add some brake fluid (DOT-3) to the master cylinder ASAP. It's most likely low because the pads have worn down and may need replacing. The front brakes are very simple to replace. The OEM pads are Wagner MX-841. See the Brake Guide in the Pit area.

A dealer can install a 'flight recorder' to record every parameter while you drive. Once the PT acts up, they can have an 'instant replay'. One item not measured (won't set a code) is fuel pressure. If you have an intermittent fuel pump, it could cause the problems you've had. Several PT fuel pump module failures have been reported in the forums over the last year.


197. I have a 2001 PT. I just replaced the OEM cassette radio with a Mopar CD/cassette radio, possibly from a new generation PT Cruiser, and have two minor problems.

The dimmer on the radio works in reverse - when I turn up the interior instrument lights the radio lights get dimmer and visa versa - is there a simple fix?

The USB connector on the old radio had 2 pins, and what I assume is the USB connector on the new radio has only 1 pin. Is there a way to connect it, or any danger in not connecting it? - Kevin

I don't have any 'for-sure' answers for you. The dimmer is a mystery. I have not seen this before. The small plug is not a USB. It's the PCI communications bus. This is a multiplexed signal running throughout the car. The Body Control Module (BCM) speaks to everything. There are several codes for radio problems. These are passed to the BCM through this wire. I believe that the second pin isn't used. The connector should be plugged in.


198. I own a 2001 LE PT. The heater vents in the dash have stopped emitting air. The heater direction control seems to be stuck on "screen & feet," and turning the selector does not alter the setting or air flow. Is this an electronic fault or a problem with the selector switch? - Rob, from the UK.

The air selector is a simple cable from the control knob to the panel/defrost door behind the dash. Most likely, yours has become disconnected. This should be a warranty repair and is performed by removing the center bezel & heater control panel.


199. I want to paint the handle/latch on the glove compartment. I would like to know how to remove it and not mess it up. Thanks. - Edris, from th

That information is available in the Glove Box Assembly Removal Guide in the Pit area.


200. I own an automatic 2001 PT with 16,000 miles. I would like to know when an appropriate time would be to change my transmission fluid. My manual recommends every 35K miles, but I've always been under the impression that to keep a transmission in tip-top shape you should change the fluid and filter every 15K miles. Thank you. - Rino, from the USA.

I firmly agree with your schedule, but the +4 fluid is much better formulated than normal ATF. It's also a dealer-only item @ about $8/qt. Only Amsoil has listed Chrysler +4 as compatible with their synthetic ATF. Amsoil is also about $8/qt. I'm at 15K miles and am forcing myself to wait a little longer. I have decided to change my ATF at 25K miles. I change my engine oil every 2K. There is no environmental concern because I heat with the used fluids.


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