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Hot and troubled PT

 
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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 19 Mar 2008, 11:24 am
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Join Date: Mar 2008
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Question Hot and troubled PT

My wife's 2001 PT has been having issues.

It started a little over a year ago, the AC wasn't working well and the car was overheating; such ended up being the fan motor. During this time she was careful as possible to keep an eye on the temp gauge. Coolant was disappearing, I couldn't find any leaks or nothing indicating were the coolant went, refilled and no further problems.

Last week she told her car was overheating again and she could hear a gurgling noise; had her park the car and when it cooled off, I checked the coolant and almost put a gallon in to fill it up.

Last night, she was just leaving the house and had gone just about a mile when she calls me, telling me the car died and won't start; I go and get to the car and in the back of my head I'm thinking "oh crap with all the overheating, the head gasket is blown and/or the engine is shot". When I get there I'm able to start the engine, it's missing and stumbling, barely able to get it turned around and headed back to the house.

I notice that at 2-3 k RPM, there's hardly enough power to keep the car going, at higher rpm the engine seems to smooth out and run fairly ok. In any manner I only get the car half way back to the house and it simply won't run at all so I latch on with tow rope and gently bring it home.

Note that when I got to the car were it had died, I checked the temp gauge and it was in the middle, not cold but not indicating hot; I kept an eye on it the 1/2 mile I was able to drive it back and it didn't indicate anything different.

This morning I go out and start the car, it start fine no rough idle or anything abnormal, needless to say i shut it off and went to work.

What's the problem here? the running ok when cold but crapping out when warm seems to indicate to me, head gasket/warped head; I did notice to some relief last week when the Mrs. came to me telling me it was overheating that I did notice what appeared to be grim/grudge at the base to the thermostat housing and thought to myself, well at least there's an external leak and was going to get on come the weekend, in checking it later I saw no proof that it was still leaking.

The PT is a 2001, get's serviced on a fairly regular basis but hardly get's driven during the week, my wife works at home during the week and usually only drives it on the weekend and then only for short around town trips, bought it used 4 years ago and put only 25,000 miles on it during that time.

What's the guru's here idea of what I'm looking at? I have done head gasket/head on 2.4 Ford engines and in the back of my head I'm preparing for the worse but is there anything else I should look at first?

I have read the "gurgling noise" thread and that's seems to fit the reported noise the wife told me about, I was not aware that the coolant system needed bleeding so I'm sure there's a air issue. Also, for a poor dumb Ford guy, would there be any horrible consequence in not using the special red coolant when I refilled the coolant system?

Thanks in advance for any suggestions and direction that might be offered!
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old 19 Mar 2008, 09:13 pm
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Default Re: Hot and troubled PT

do you have any smoke or steam coming fromt he tailpipe? any oil floating on top of the water in your cooling system (when water is present that is..)? if not, chances are the headgasket is blown between cylinders. a quick compression check would tell for sure. If you get your headgasket replaced, go for the whole nine yards and replace the timing belt, waterpump, tensioners, thermostat, etc. Dont forget to at least have your head decked for flatness as it will keep your new gasket from blowing too.
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  #3 (permalink)  
Old 19 Mar 2008, 09:41 pm
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Default Re: Hot and troubled PT

I'm looking though a repair manual for the PT and with DOHC, the head gasket is a lot of work! the Ford 2.4 four bangers that I have done are single cam under the head and the tear down is fairly easy esp for a weekend mechanic like me!

Here's something else to chew on, I haven't noticed any smoke or steam coming from the exhaust, the car ran excellant up last night to now AND this morning as I mentioned, it started and ran fine with no issue including it had a smooth idle (for about 2 minutes and I shut it off).

I got home from work this afternoon, checked the coolant (which was fine) and tried to start it.... It would't start, period. No misfiring, no fireing at all!?!?....

I'm baffled, no one touched the car since it started this morning but yet 9 hours later it went from running to nothing; I was hoping it's the head gasket but if it's not, I have no idea were to start.
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Old 20 Mar 2008, 01:02 am
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Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: great white north minnesota
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Default Re: Hot and troubled PT

somthing to check quick the far right spark plug wire is accessable with out taking any thing off but the dress up cover on the motor. see if you have spark. Get a coolant presure tester and air up the system and see if it goes down they are famous for puking out the seams on the radiator and the water pumps if u pump it to 15 lbs and it holds you dont have a bad gasket. if it leaks you just have to find the green.

Overheating can be caused by other things too. Retarded timing can cause the engine to over heat. you may have a bad pcm or a bad cam sensor as that controls the spark. that is why i said to check for spark. also a bad engine ground can cause all kinds of problems like hit and miss spark which can cause over heating.
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  #5 (permalink)  
Old 20 Mar 2008, 08:12 am
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Join Date: Mar 2008
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Default Re: Hot and troubled PT

After finding out about pulling diag codes using the "key dance" method, I get a P320 which is Crankshaft position sensor reference signal cannot be found while the engine is cranking and also a 1684 "The battery has been disconnected within the last 50 starts". Also again this morning as yesterday afternoon, it wouldn't start

The 1684 code makes sense as the battery was replaced last month as the orginal one from when the car was new died and it's very reasonable to believe that it's been less than "50 starts" since the battery was replaced.

I'm getting my hopes up that perhaps my problem may not be as serious as first thought esp with a lot of statements that head gasket failure is not common with the PT's 2.4 engine and I would like to consider that my wife is somewhat careful with the overheating issues that have occured.

Is it common for the crankshaft postion sensor to go bad after 63,000 miles?
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  #6 (permalink)  
Old 20 Mar 2008, 07:13 pm
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Location: great white north minnesota
Posts: 52
Default Re: Hot and troubled PT

Do you have access to a hoist if not a set of oil change stands ? The crank position sensor is located above the oil filter on the back right of the motor
You maybe lucky and have a loose wire. I would also check the positive and negitive cables from the battery to the engine. these sensors often run in milivolts and a slight variation can raise hell with the system.

I checked with checker auto parts and the crank sensor is 84 dollars over the counter. If you check you local parts house they may rent or loan you a presure tester as long as your buying parts there, they often require a refundable deposit. I think it would be worth your time to do a presure test on the system even if it didnt cause the overheating. the overheating may have caused other problems. It is best to know if you have a leak. just pump it up to 15 psi and see if it holds presure.
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  #7 (permalink)  
Old 22 Mar 2008, 07:55 am
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Default Re: Hot and troubled PT

Problem solved at least with regards to the problem of starting, replacing the crankshaft position sensor and the car is running just fine.
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  #8 (permalink)  
Old 22 Mar 2008, 12:01 pm
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Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 6,787
Default Re: Hot and troubled PT

glad you got it fixed !!
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