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General care of the PT Cruiser

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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 30 Jun 2010, 04:06 pm
Fresh Cruiser
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 10
Default General care of the PT Cruiser

Hello, I have a '07 PT Cruiser (base model), and have been using it for almost two years now (bought it used as a one year old previous rental). I need to say I have very little experience with automobiles (this is my first vehicle).

So far it has been very reliable. However what kind of maintenance should I do to keep it that way?

I try to regularly visit my dealer every 3K for oil changes, and rotation when scheduled. They also do a small visual check, replace the coolant, and washer fluids.

Had these issues fixed so far:
  • Changed engine air filter (bought off from amazon, and replaced myself according to instructions I found on this forum)
  • Replaced one of the signal lights
  • Had horn mechanism replaced under warranty. It still sticks somehow
  • Replaced fuel cap (my friend left it open!)

1 - Currently the AC is not as strong as before (it's Arizona, so most of the year it's running at full speed). Is is possible to replace the fluid myself? Or shall I have it done professionally?

2 - Also at the initial engine start, the air that comes in does not smell as good. I found this link on this forum:
Installing a Cabin Air Filter on an '03 PT Cruiser turbo
But it's for a '03, and my vehicle is slightly different. Is there a '07 version for the instructions?

3 - When idle, its rpm fluctuates, sometimes causing a small "shake". Is this normal?

4 - Finally the engine compartment is full of dust. How can I safely clean it? (I prefer not to touch anything I don't know).
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old 30 Jun 2010, 04:26 pm
Fanatic Cruiser
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Billings, MT
Posts: 745
Default Re: General care of the PT Cruiser

Welcome. I work for a Chrysler dealer, so please allow me to offer some insider tips for proper care and maintenance:

1) You can pickup recharge kits at most parts stores for your a/c. You'll want to get R-134 with PAG oil. There will be instructions on the bottle for recharging. Otherwise, most shops will charge around $100 for a full evac and recharge, where they suck out the old freon and pump in new stuff.

When you get the a/c working properly, use it at least once a week. In my car, the button never gets turned off. One of the leading causes of a/c systems getting weak or blowing warm is when people don't use them for long periods of time (such as during winter). When you're not using it, the PAG oil is not circulating and the seals within the system dry out and cause leaks. Use it often to ensure reliable performance for years to come!

2) This smell is most likely caused by mildew in the a/c system rather than a cabin filter. Also at the parts store you can buy a can of a/c system cleaner which will eliminate the mildew. You simply spray it in through the fresh air grille at the base of the windshield while the a/c is running at full strength.

3) This is perfectly normal, provided it's very subtle. Even the new cars on our lot do this when they're first started and the engine is still cold. It should smooth out after a minute or two. If it's very noticeable or persists to the point of physically shaking the whole car, you likely have a problem.

4) A couple times a month I clean my engine. I've been doing it this way for years on all of my vehicles. Get a can of engine degreaser, spray the engine concentrating on any areas where there's caked on dirt or grease, and use a pressure washer or a garden hose with a strong sprayer, and preferable hot water to thoroughly rinse the engine. Drive it right away so the engine heat can dry the water. You don't want to leave the water standing in the pockets on the engine. Stand in front of the car and spray over the engine, you don't need to hold the water very close to the engine at all.

Good luck!
2010 PT Cruiser Classic, Deep Water Blue
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Old 30 Jun 2010, 04:40 pm
Fresh Cruiser
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 10
Default Re: General care of the PT Cruiser

Thanks for the quick reply.

2 and 4 seem easy to do. For 1, $100 does not seem to be a very high price, so I'll probably have it done professionally.

As for the "shake" it's more like a small pulse which you can feel by your feet in the driver seat. It's subtle, but one cannot be sure without asking. Can it be related to the fuel injection system, or the program in the car computer?

And btw, does the injection system require maintenance? I could not see it mentioned in the user manual...
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Old 30 Jun 2010, 05:14 pm
Hooligan's Avatar
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Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 6,023
Default Re: General care of the PT Cruiser

sucru, welcome to the Forum. You don't say how many miles you have on your car, but as far as the shaking goes, mine did that before I had 500 miles on it (bought it new), first thing I did was to change plugs and replace the wires, haven't had a problem yet and I now have 28,000+ miles on it so far. Good luck and there is a sticky on how to change the plugs, stock wires are not good for PT's for some reason.

2008 Silver Steel Metallic, Touring, NA, Sirius; Chromed door handles; lower grille; fog light surrounds; chrome front & rear bumpers strips; Airaid air filter; Bassani duals; Modesty Cover; Autolite AP5263 Platinum Plugs (.040); Crane Plug Wires; NAPA Ceramic pads; Blane hood struts; PTeazer Gas, Brake & Foot Rest Pedals, '05 Rear Step Pad, Stainless Door Sills, Llumar tint, "A" Piller chrome; APC Strut Bar
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Old 30 Jun 2010, 05:25 pm
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Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 10
Default Re: General care of the PT Cruiser

I'm nearing 50K miles on the vehicle.

Hooligan, I searched the forum after reading your post. Many people call the stock wires "crap", and some people reported issues like this when AC was on (my AC is almost always on).

Is this the guide to follow for the wires?
Spark Plug Guide
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  #6 (permalink)  
Old 01 Jul 2010, 09:04 am
quicksilverdon's Avatar
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Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Felton, Delaware
Posts: 20,501
Default Re: General care of the PT Cruiser

Agree completely w/Hooligan about the ignition.
Do plugs at same time. Gap plugs at 0.040 (parts places sell plug gapping gauges - they are cheap - I have one that is a metal disk that is very easy to use.
Get a brand name of ignition wires, or you can get them from Be sure the wires "seat" at both ends - requires some force to get them to "click" on.
The guide is for an '01 - there is no more EGR to worry about and they stopped putting on the engine cover, but the rest still appplies.
You can also buy plastic "rhino ramps" - they hold a lot more than the PT weighs - then you drive up on them and do your own oil changes - you can get 5 quart jugs of Mobil1 synthetic at Wall Mart, get a Mobil1 filter at Advance Auto and still be cheaper than paying dealer. (put used oil back in the jug and bring it to WallMart for recycling).
"Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life,
nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."
Isaac Asimov"

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Traded in '02 Silver Touring Edition w/87,000 miles
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  #7 (permalink)  
Old 22 Jul 2010, 01:42 am
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Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 10
Default Re: General care of the PT Cruiser

I managed to make it worse (in general).

First I had the AC fluid recharged at a mechanic. It actually solved the pulse issues at idle.

However it's still not very efficient, and also now the air blown inside is very humid, especially when in recirculate mode. After coming back from a week long trip, the mechanic was not able to identify the issue (and I did not want him to touch it anymore either).

I can understand the AC performance not being very good (it's usually 110-120 here in Phoenix area these times), but the humidity is very strange. We have dry heat, and it's probably not coming from outside.

Thus I went ahead, and checked if there is something in the cabin air intake. There seems to be nothing there (not even a filter, which is normal).

But there is a reddish fluid in the engine air filter compartment:

Would installing an cabin air filter, or cleaning up the mess in the engine air compartment will help with the issue? Or am I really in a bad situation?
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Old 26 Jul 2010, 03:05 pm
Cool Cruiser
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 394
Default Re: General care of the PT Cruiser

But there is a reddish fluid in the engine air filter compartment:
This is normal. The reddish fluid is synthetic motor oil. It's fed back into the air filter from the PCV system. It's perfectly normal to have a mess in there. This is the reason people with turbo's especially - install "catch-cans" in that line.

Thus I went ahead, and checked if there is something in the cabin air intake. There seems to be nothing there (not even a filter, which is normal).
It's perfectly normal to have no filter installed. They don't put one in the outside air intake in some years. You can put one in if you like, but it'll just sit there and might get wet from rain.

This might sound weird and even a bit scary. However this did "fix" my wifes similar air issue.

With the car off Reach your hand deep into that chasm behind the washer refill. You are likely to find a hanging door on a hinge that is freely swinging.

Now turn the car on at idle and set the A/C to on, full cold, full fan, OUTSIDE air.

Again carefully (I'm actually not sure if there is a fan right there or not, I was terrified when I did this) - reach in that chasm and feel that the door still swings.

Have someone switch the air to RECIRC. In a normally functioning system it should snatch the door from your fingers and tightly close. You'll now understand the function of recirc.

I "fixed" this for the season by covering most of the chasm itself with stiff cardboard. It's good enough for this summer until I tackle the root cause - weak vacuum at that actuator likely due to a cracked vac line.

As for humidity - its not really possible what you describe. Beyond that chasm underhood - there is the evaporator core, which is a freezing cold (normally) coil of wires that air travels past, loses its heat and is blown into the cabin.

Normally those coils have a ton of water that is condensed on them, and is normally dripped onto the ground. If the pressures aren't right it can freeze up (with ice, and impede coolant and/air flow), or just not be very cold. In neither case will it actually increase humidity.
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