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Looking for Advice ('04 PT)

 
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Old 07 Feb 2013, 03:00 am
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Question Looking for Advice ('04 PT)

Hello All,

I'm back in Canada after 13 years in Europe, and right now I need to get an inexpensive car. Have my eye on an '04 PT cruiser that probably can be had in my current budget (about $4,000). I drove a PT back in 2002 or so (rental car on vacation in BC) and though it was pretty sluggish, I got to be fairly fond of it over the couple of weeks.


Question is, do these cars stand the test of time?
After ten years - are they decent used cars, or prone to expensive major breakdowns 'right around the corner'... This one has 140,000 km on it, and looks pristine in the pics (it's about an hours drive away to go look at it in person).

Assuming these models have proven to be pretty reliable ( and this one is not all rusted out underneath!) - is $4,000 for 140K km a reasonable price? Or should I be looking for one with lower mileage?

Last edited by rockandroller; 07 Feb 2013 at 03:03 am.
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Old 07 Feb 2013, 07:37 am
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Default Re: Looking for Advice ('04 PT)

That's 86,992 miles. Just be aware that at 100,000 miles there's a major servicing due, that if you can't do it yourself, the dealers in the U.S. charge somewhere around $1200 (U.S.) for parts and labor. What I'm talking about is the timing belt, water pump and tensioner.

Are there service records with the car? The transaxle is the only other (could be expensive) part that if it hasn't been serviced (flushed) by now, you could run into problems.

There are other parts, power steering pump, front suspension including wheel bearings, and the multi-function stalk on the steering column (which operates the lights and fogs) that seem to be hit or miss. some owners have to replace them, others go for a longer time with no problems. Just remember that everything wears out eventually. If you can afford some sort of warranty, it might be a good investment if you don't know the cars history. CARFAX (if you have that in Canada) doesn't tell you everything.
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Old 07 Feb 2013, 04:09 pm
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Default Re: Looking for Advice ('04 PT)

Thanks very much! All extremely helpful information.

I guess I'm curious now to find out if that timing belt typically fails much before the 100,000 miles - or if the manufacturer's recommended service interval has proven pretty accurate.

For me, if I can "probably" get another 12,000 miles out of it before dumping in the next $1200, then it's probably economical as a car purchase right now. Personally I'm mostly attracted by the PT styling - as "$5,000 used cars" go, it's pretty much the most interesting car out there that has enough room in the back to hold my guitars and stuff. If I didn't have to load it up (and drive on the highway frequently) I'd be leaning towards one of those little "Smart" cars instead.

I'm still waiting to hear back from the owner on service records.

All the blue book info I could find online seems to indicate that around $4500 is the going rate for 'excellent' condition. (The car in question is a "touring" model, with automatic transmission.) Whether or not it's as excellent as the pics indicate remains to be seen...
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Old 07 Feb 2013, 04:21 pm
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Default Re: Looking for Advice ('04 PT)

The Owners Manual actually calls for the timing belt change at 120,000 miles. We play it safe saying to change it at 100. Some have gone further than the 100,000 but when we hear from them, it's usually because it broke out in the road and they were stranded. Some even had the belt go before 100 but it's rare. Personally, I'd say your 90% safe till 100-110,000.

Some good info: the engine is a non-interference type. The vales can't hit the pistons for major internal damage if the belt breaks but the opposing/spinning vales can hit each other if you happen to be at medium/high speed when the belt goes south. A lot of times, as we see on the forum, the belt goes right after the car stops for a light or other stop and when you try and go again, it doesn't move, the engine light comes on and a fault code of P0340 pops up.
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Old 07 Feb 2013, 08:45 pm
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Default Re: Looking for Advice ('04 PT)

The Touring in '04 was pretty stripped - the Limited Edition has more features.
A manual transmission is better on gas, eliminates the tranny worry, and is peppier.
Should be no lack of PT cruisers in your price range.
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Old 07 Feb 2013, 08:50 pm
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Default Re: Looking for Advice ('04 PT)

As with 99.9% of what CREWZIN posts!
What tha man said!^^^^^

The manuals are not without their clutch and cable problems.
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Last edited by Busted_PT; 07 Feb 2013 at 08:57 pm.
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Old 09 Feb 2013, 07:45 pm
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Default Re: Looking for Advice ('04 PT)

Also consider how much driving you'll be doing and what you'll be doing with it. Since it's winter, get some winter tires, unless you're back in BC. If you end up getting it, post a pic. Good luck!
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Old 11 Feb 2013, 11:40 pm
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Smile Re: Looking for Advice ('04 PT)

As a matter of fact, I am back in BC (and this car comes with 2 sets of wheels/tires). I've also found a couple more touring and a couple more limiteds to consider - but this first one is the one I like best (it's the only one where the bumper color matches the body color).

And I've decided I don't like the look of the 2nd Gen (2006+) PT as much as the first Gen... that front bumper kind of spoils it for me on the new ones (the way the front fascia fills in where the grill is supposed to be). Which is too bad as there are lots of 2006s floating around here... (well, in a 500km radius of here, anyway).

Still waiting for an opportunity to interview the first suspect (It's an hour's drive from here)
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Old 20 Feb 2013, 03:47 am
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Question Re: Looking for Advice ('04 PT)

Finally, I get to go look at this car tomorrow. BTW its a turbo (2004 touring w/ 'turbo lite' 180hp engine option).

I downloaded the manual, and it implied that the turbo can go much longer before a timing belt service! Is that just a typo?
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Old 20 Feb 2013, 09:15 am
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Default Re: Looking for Advice ('04 PT)

I would not go over 100,000 miles without doing timing belt (and water pump).
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nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."
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'05 Limited Turbo Lite, (Silver, of course)4-wheel ABS, Sunroof, Spoiler. Mods: E&G Classic grill, K&N FIPK, BTG duals, rear lowered 1.5", LED washer lights, $20 catch can, Aoogah horn, Weatherflectors, Sunroof Deflector, Fuzzy Dice, rear logo flames, rear pinstripe graphic, Gen3 Taillights, rear sway bar, hood struts, Strut bar.
Traded in '02 Silver Touring Edition w/87,000 miles
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