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2003 PT Cruiser VERY difficult to start - help?

 
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Old 01 Oct 2013, 07:56 pm
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Default 2003 PT Cruiser VERY difficult to start - help?

So for one, in the last week we've had a LOTTA rain, and then the temperature dropped 10 degrees. Anyway, after the rain I tried starting up the car and it wouldn't go. Not the battery, though. Eventually I was able to rev it and get it going.

A couple days pass and it happens again, and again. The car will start after a few tries while keeping the foot lightly in the gas. Then, I drive. Get to the stop sign, car dies. Start it up again, rev, move, next stop sign, dies. Car won't go in idle without dieing UNTIL the temperature gauge is at the halfway mark. Like it won't start and keep running unless it's already warm.

I can usually start 'er up again easily if some time has passed and the engine hasn't gone fully cold, but it several hours pass, then it's back to being difficult.

Any ideas? I should add that over the last six months the engine will occasionally though rarely stop randomly while driving but is easily started back up again. Also, a sort of whine started around then, too, that increases in pitch when accelerating - related to the actual speed and not my pressing the pedal. I.e. it continues while coasting on the highway. At all related?

Old error codes still pop up (i.e. they're not new...):
P0325 PCM Knock Sensor Circuit
P0522 Engine Oil Pressure Sensor/Switch Circuit Low Voltage
P0551 Power Steering Pressure Sensor Circuit Range/Performance

Cars at 105,000 miles with the original timing belt.

Thanks much for any ideas, or what to expect to fix!

Last edited by randomzombie; 01 Oct 2013 at 08:01 pm.
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Old 01 Oct 2013, 08:42 pm
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Lightbulb Re: 2003 PT Cruiser VERY difficult to start - help?

One thing to try is,clear the old codes by disconnecting the negative battery cable for about 10 mins,and depress the brake pedal to dissipate any residual charge,then re-connect the battery cable....And the next time the issue presents itself,check for any new(or the same)codes.
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Old 02 Oct 2013, 01:52 am
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Default Re: 2003 PT Cruiser VERY difficult to start - help?

Random; First check for a vacuum leak and change the pcv valve [lean when cold]. But, it sounds more like a wiring/connector issue. And, like Randy said, clear the codes and see what pops up.
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Old 02 Oct 2013, 08:03 pm
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Default Re: 2003 PT Cruiser VERY difficult to start - help?

Will do, when it isn't raining. Started this morning fine after sitting the night in the rain, then was difficult again later on after having driven through the rain. Maybe the momentum of driving is moving the water back to something exposed?

Hopefully when clear and light tomorrow I can go under the hood again...

Thanks so far!
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Old 03 Oct 2013, 09:05 am
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Default Re: 2003 PT Cruiser VERY difficult to start - help?

Can't see those codes pointing to hard starting.
I'd throw some Lucas fuel treatment in - it's like chicken soup - can't hurt and often helps.
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Old 04 Oct 2013, 01:33 am
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Default Re: 2003 PT Cruiser VERY difficult to start - help?

Don; Can't hurt you say? --- Ask the chicken!
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Old 12 Nov 2013, 11:45 pm
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Default Re: 2003 PT Cruiser VERY difficult to start - help?

Hello... some updates, and new problems.
Anyway, I discerned there was an oil leak in spark well #1 a while ago. I've noticed that absorbing oil out of the well regularly - weekly - has made it easier to start the car. So I've been doing that until I have time and money to buy/attempt to install new valve cover gasket - maybe Thanksgiving?

NOW, the other day the battery drained. I don't have a multimeter or the like, and *assumed* it was the battery - a crappy Value Everstart from Walmart that was almost a year old - and I'd read that that's occasionally how long they last, so it made sense.

So I took the battery in for a replacement - they didn't test the "dead" one - no questions asked. I installed it yesterday afternoon, and then later on drove to my GF's house and noticed already that the dash lights were dimmed and that the charging system light came on.

Today at school it died on the road. Not enough power for emergency lights even. Had my friend jump me, which lasted all of ten minutes, but enough time to find a lot to park in for the night (dark already!). (Conveniently a block away from an AutoZone, but it didn't make it that far - gonna try and get it over there tomorrow).

So, new battery drained in a day. No corrosion at the posts or the terminal clamps but I wasn't able to follow all the cables in the dark, and my flashlight was dimming. Could this be possibly a cable problem, or is it likely the alternator? Could the oil leak in well #1 have anything to do with the battery drain, or have damaged the alternator? I guess I can get it tested at AutoZone tomorrow, but was curious as to any thoughts prior.

Also, if I can keep the battery at least above 3 volts, how reasonable would it be to use a Battery Tender for trickle charging through the night daily until I can do something more? (<--poor nursing student waiting still for delayed financial aid).

Lastly, the battery "thermowrap," as the manual calls it, is in tatters - so how necessary is it to keep it, or replace it?

Finally got my Chilton 01-03 guide though!
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Old 13 Nov 2013, 12:19 am
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Lightbulb Re: 2003 PT Cruiser VERY difficult to start - help?

Valve cover gaskets not seated correctly around the spark plug wells isn't an uncommon problem....So,you know what to do there.
Now the battery not charging/holding a charge,there are 4 things I can think of that might be causing your problem,first it could be a loose alternator belt(easy to check/fix),second loose or dirty/corroded connections on the alternator(easy/moderate to check/fix),third the armature/brushes are worn in the alternator requiring a replacement alternator(Moderate/Hard to check/fix & costs $$),If you go to Autozone have it load-tested,and fourth a bad voltage regulator which on PT Cruisers (unlike older cars) is integrated into the circuitry of the PCM/ECU(Moderate/Hard to check/fix & costs $$$)
As for the 'Thermo-Wrap',I'd personally say "Toss it!"(or at least that one)......I really don't see how it protects the battery from engine bay heat,especially since it doesn't even cover the top,or bottom of the battery,and many people have been/are running without them.IMO
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Old 13 Nov 2013, 08:08 am
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Default Re: 2003 PT Cruiser VERY difficult to start - help?

You may have a bad multifunction switch - the stalk that controls the lights. Usually when it goes bad, it turn on the fog lights and drains the battery. If your battery is draining even with the car running, then go thru Randy's list.
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"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"

'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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Old 13 Nov 2013, 03:19 pm
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Default Re: 2003 PT Cruiser VERY difficult to start - help?

Thanks for the thought, Randy, I'm hoping it's either corrosion or alternator belt related i.e. not requiring alternator replacement or worse.

quicksilverdon, yeah, I did have that problem with the fog lights - pulled the fuse (was it #8?) about a year and a half ago. With the fuse out, would the switch still present any problem?
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