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A PT Cruiser user review

 
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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 08 Oct 2010, 04:58 pm
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Default A PT Cruiser user review

Alrighty, I have owned many a make of cars and done much wrenching on each one. After owning the Cruiser for two years I thought I would give my review of this ride for potential buyers, pt enthusiasts, etc...

The vehicle is a 2003 Base 5 Speed in sage green with good old black steel wheels. Mileage is just a few hundred miles short of 150K. Everything is stock.

Drivetrain: The 2.4L is surprisingly a very smooth and powerful Chrysler engine! Although it makes decent torque down low, most power seems to come above 4K rpms...no hesitations or complaints from the DOHC design when you bring it to redline. 30 mpg hwy...no problem. So far my only complaint with the engine mechanically is the over use of plastic plumbing on the intake manifold and valve cover. I have a broken PCV valve thread port because of this overly cheap material...overtightening is all too easy. The Transmission is horse poo. The T350 might be the worst transmission I have ever driven. The shifting is loose and noisy. The shift link bushings are in great shape so I doubt this has much affect on the poor feel. There is a high pitched whine in 5th gear and 1-2 shifts are harsh even in summer weather. Oh and the engine to transaxle seal is leaking. Perhaps the Getrag is substantially better adn I have heard that the auto stick is even more of a nightmare. Either way this was a cheap chrysler work around that JUST gets by.

Suspension: I was actually pleasantly surprised the first time I drove the PT...yeah she's a bit of a pig but the car responds quite well and feels nice and stable at all speeds. I'm sure the adjustable shocks/struts are the tops but for a stock suspension with 150K...it's pretty darn good! The wheel bearings are all stock but are starting to produce sound...nothing bad yet but you can tell that in the next 15K they'll have to be changed.

Interior: My favorite part of the cruiser. Very versatile and smooth clean design lines. The redesign doesn't flow as well IMHO. I'm not a big fan of the window controls and I swear Chrysler added lead plates to the removable rear seats. Overall though it's a spacious interior with a great seat height and layout.

Exterior: Once again the lines of the 1st gen are much cleaner save for the amber turns in the rear. The bumpers are heinous especially with that 'rare' paint code form Chrysler that causes the bumper to discolor after two years. I wish that the front flares were more pronounced and extended higher and out about an inch in both directions. In addition to this I would have made the engine bay access a bit wider but I'm sure this was done for safety crumple zone reasons.

Reliability: So far, I have had relatively good fortune with my Cruiser. My only complaint with this vehicle (and this is a big complaint) is that everything is so damn impossible to service yourself. Timing Belt? Better just remove the engine. Heater core and cooling system? Better disassemble the front half. Exhaust work? Better have a lift unless you are a really skinny fellow.

Value: The used market is flooded with these cars right now...and almost all of them are low mileage. These are great cars for the price and a perfect first car. Overall I have been quite impressed with the car. People make fun of me at work cause I drive the cruiser over some of my other cars but it's perfect for hauling my kid and four dogs

Anyhow, hope this is received well and is of value to anyone looking to purchase a cruiser.
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Old 08 Oct 2010, 05:37 pm
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Default Re: A PT Cruiser user review

X 2 I agree it does have its good and bad points, but I still will drive mine.
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Old 08 Oct 2010, 05:55 pm
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Default Re: A PT Cruiser user review

I agree with about half of it. "over-tightening is all too easy" is why you use a torque wrench or have the sense on a plastic threaded part not to use so much muscle. Giving an impression of a vehicle with 150,000 and who knows how many previous owners isn't exactly fair but if I took that wrong and you are the original owner, I apologize. You said you have a 5 speed, which I don't have but have heard they are pretty reliable and the only problem is the shifting bushings. It's a good thing you don't have the 41TE automatic or there would something else you wouldn't like. As afr as getting to the exhaust, timing belt and heater core, believe me, there's a lot of other cars with the same or worse access to those and other parts.
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Old 08 Oct 2010, 11:46 pm
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Default Re: A PT Cruiser user review

You forgot to add that it's the only modern car you can paint flames on without it looking silly ....

Tim
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Old 11 Oct 2010, 09:01 am
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Default Re: A PT Cruiser user review

The Cruizer had one owner previous to me but honestly I don't see how that would affect the review? Most of this would be applicable to a brand new car.

Yeah I have hear that the auto is a nightmare but the T350 isn't all that much better. Granted I wouldn't have bought the cruiser if it were an auto...but seriously this transmission is running behind the largest engine Chrysler ever mated to it and it was a cost saving method. It's not that the trans shifts rough...it's just disconnected feeling. I have driven quite a few transaxle cars and none of them have felt this way. Perhaps the mileage has a lot to do with this, I'll have to drive a new model with the T350 is compare. Only driven a new model auto as a rental car.
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Old 11 Oct 2010, 10:47 am
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Default Re: A PT Cruiser user review

I think I agree with most of it (but the manual, i have the auto). I have only had mine about a month and only put about 1000 miles on it so My opinions are pretty "early". I didnt get my PT for any reason other then it looks a bit different then the everyday cars on the road. I DO NOT care for new cars, they all look the same to me (give me a 60's car with modern drivetrain anyday). Buying my newest car was sorta a No Win for me.. everything I looked at reminded me of something my grandparents would have bought. Hence the PT (or HHR), wait a sec I do believe my grandpa maybe did buy a ar in the 30-40's that looked just like um , where my choices purely on a Visual standpoint. I'm a GM guy (or was) but have owned most brands in the last 10 years and really have nothing to bad to say about any of um.. So again, Brand (though I must admit I tend to lean towards american (even if they are really no more than the Hondas built here) ment very little to me.

So far my impressions of a 05 Base :
Engine is a bit "rough" at idle.. but after driving about 10 PT's I knew that. But for a 4 popper, its pretty strong in the PT ..right up till about 65-70MPH. My Auto shifts smooth and nice, but I'm terrified of it as all things point to it being a weak spot (my chrysler mini van has 200,000 on its auto with no work ever, can I get lucky 2X?).

Seats seem a bit hard, but I'm thinking they will be excellent for long drives, and after a couple weeks I'm not noticing um really anymore. Dont like the Center window switchs.. at first I liked um, now, not so much.

Engine bay, havent worked on it yet, but wow its crowded in there.. Taking the intake off to change plugs is kinda HINKEY to me..But when you look at the size of engine compartment and understand why they use the long runners, its not like it couldbe done any other way.

I noticed there seems to be alot of brake dust, mine my have the original pads (50,000) or Prevoius owner was hard on um.. not sure yet.

Rear hatch, dont like that I have to turn key and lift.. cant do it with one hand (easy), useing the key to pull it open is just inviting Lock problems down the road. I use my hatch alot whit hands full, so this one bugs me.

Muffler sticks out like sore thumbe below back bumper.. I see there is chrome covers for it, but even a chrome cover is not going to fix it in my eyes.. still a Dingleberry hanging below it (cosmetic items are pretty low on my list, but never the less, are there).

Overall I'm happy, but only time will tell. I didnt buy my PT cuz It was what I wanted, I bought it as it was the lesser of all the new car evils so My opinions are about a "driving car" that looks better then the average one (to me). And so far no regrets.

And as OP stated.. WOW, you can get um for a song right now in excellent shape. I would park mine in any carlot and beg anybody (who didnt know all the changes inside and out) to point out how mine didnt look like new in every way, not a stain, rip or wear mark inside.. and not a scratch, ding or anything outside.. and by KBB I paid slightly more then half of book ... Incredible value I think. I planned on spending 10-15 grand on soemthing new.. and ended up keeping up spending way less (in fact much less then half) for a car that should last me (transmission willing) for the next 5 years..
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Old 11 Oct 2010, 12:09 pm
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Default Re: A PT Cruiser user review

Rear hatch, dont like that I have to turn key and lift.. cant do it with one hand (easy), useing the key to pull it open is just inviting Lock problems down the road. I use my hatch alot whit hands full, so this one bugs me.


This part here I've been wondering about. I have an '08 and there is no keylock above the handle on the hatch like you see on most. I don't mind the pressure switch other than the fact you have to unlock all the doors to open just the hatch.
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Old 11 Oct 2010, 12:49 pm
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Default Re: A PT Cruiser user review

Quote:
Originally Posted by clok1966 View Post
Rear hatch, dont like that I have to turn key and lift.. cant do it with one hand (easy), useing the key to pull it open is just inviting Lock problems down the road. I use my hatch alot whit hands full, so this one bugs me.
Perhaps I did not understand this properly, but I just use the unlock on my key (twice to get hatch unlocked) then one hand grabs and squeezes the pressure switch and the hatch comes up smoothly. Once started the lifters take over and raises it all the way.

Does your pressure switch work?

Phill
(Long time lurker but laid off / retired on Oct 1st)
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Old 11 Oct 2010, 02:31 pm
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Default Re: A PT Cruiser user review

Quote:
Originally Posted by PhillRoath View Post
Perhaps I did not understand this properly, but I just use the unlock on my key (twice to get hatch unlocked) then one hand grabs and squeezes the pressure switch and the hatch comes up smoothly. Once started the lifters take over and raises it all the way.

Does your pressure switch work?

Phill
(Long time lurker but laid off / retired on Oct 1st)
Maybe he does not have the remote.The remote was seperate from the key in 05.

Last edited by SCBluePT; 11 Oct 2010 at 02:42 pm.
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Old 11 Oct 2010, 06:03 pm
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Default Re: A PT Cruiser user review

He may have a base model, Chrysler stripped them way down to get the price down. You get what you pay for, unfortunately you don't realize that for a few days after you buy the PT.
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