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Trouble Shooting: Stalling and Rough Idle

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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 05 Jun 2016, 11:13 pm
Fresh Cruiser
Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Vancouver Island, BC
Posts: 26
Default Trouble Shooting: Stalling and Rough Idle

I figured I would start a completely new thread for my Stalling and Rough Idling rather than cluttering up my introduction thread! Not sure if it should go in General or the Tech/Performance section (mods, feel free to move as required).

Vehicle Information:
2001 PT Cruiser
2.4L Automatic, non-turbo
Just rolled over 200,000km

Great vehicle and my wife is in absolute love with it, which is good since it's her car; I just work on it! We're the third owners and I have no maintenance or service records other than the oil change was done about three weeks before we purchased it.

Runs a bit rough, seems to randomly stall at low RPs. I think that this might separate issues, not sure. I may have addressed the rough idling, but the stalling still happens. I've ruled out environmental related issues (heat, rain, while the engine is cold or warm, etc) since there doen't seem to be anything consistent OTHER THAN while at low RPMs, usually while at a stop light/sign or coasting without a food on the gas.

What I've done so far:
Thankfully I am both fairly handy with a computer and a wrench! And thanks to these forums I have already started down the path to trouble shooting the issues. Thus far I have:
Removed and cleaned the Idle Air Control Valve as per this thread. Picture
Removed and replaced both the PCV and PCV Hose. The hose was in rough shape (picture) and leaked like a sieve; though the PCV looked decent enough. Played it safe and did both. This drastically improved how it idles.
Removed, clean and installed new Positive and Negative batter terminal connections (sorry, no photo)
Replaced the Air Filter and made sure the throttle body was clear (no photos),

Thus far after each of the above minor repairs the PT cruiser ran well for about day, then the stalling started again. Idle has greatly improved but it still isn't what I would consider perfect.

What I plan on doing next:
- Follow the cables from the battery to the starter and locate the grounds to ensure they are properly grounded and clean/replace their connections.
- Pressure Test the fuel system to ensure that I'm not chasing a clogged fuel filter or failing fuel pump.
- Replace spark plugs (already purchased) and ignition wires (on order).

Thoughts on what else I should be chasing down and checking?

I also noticed two other potential problems that may or may not be contributing factors:
- Noticed the fog lights don't work. Did some investigation, the fuse had been pulled. Replaced and the lights work but they stay on due to a faulty Multi function switch. Removed fuse and will eventually replace as per this thread.
- Also noticed, while tinkering with the above multi function switch, that the cruise control switch is missing completely. (photo for reference, notice the steering column (wheel is turned over) between the spokes, and the empty hole where it should be).

I don't think the rough idle or stalling is an ignition related issue (other than perhaps the wires and plugs), but it's obvious someone has been tinkering in there.

- As per conversation below, the car has never given me any check engine or warning lights and I did have the mechanic at the station put it on the scope to see if there was any current codes or codes in it's memory, and there wasn't anything showing.
- Reports from this afternoon, while my wife had it out and about, is that it stalled again. She restarted it and it ran rough then smoothed out after a few seconds, but runs like absolute garbage above 3500 RPM. Again, not sure if it's a related or independent problem.

Last edited by firefighter26; 06 Jun 2016 at 02:56 pm.
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Old 06 Jun 2016, 09:34 am
Cool Cruiser
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Deland, fl
Posts: 335
Default Re: Trouble Shooting: Stalling and Rough Idle

You might try cleaning the fuel system with AMSOIL P.i. Performance Improver Gasoline Additive and the air intake past the air filter with AMSOIL Power FoamŪ . They worked for me when I had similar problems with idling, stalling and poor fuel economy. The Power Foam is not available in Canada, but I can find you a retailer if you go to the US. I can get you AMSOIL products at wholesale and have them shipped from Edmonton, Alberta warehouse to a Canadian shipping address, or from the US to a US shipping address. 713-301-1872
Wyld_Rose likes this.

Last edited by Gold2006; 06 Jun 2016 at 09:57 am.
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Old 06 Jun 2016, 10:24 am
Obsessed Cruiser
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: Thousand Oaks, CA
Posts: 7,508
Default Re: Trouble Shooting: Stalling and Rough Idle

Is your engine light on? If so post what the codes are.

IF no engine light or if the code is one of the P0301 to P0304 I would suggest replacing the spark plugs and plug wires if you are due. Having a large gap in the spark plugs will cause this problem.
If at First You Don't Succeed - Try, Try Again

Last edited by ptcruisersteve; 08 Jun 2016 at 03:21 pm.
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Old 06 Jun 2016, 10:35 am
rsrocket1's Avatar
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Join Date: Mar 2016
Location: Sacramento, CA
Posts: 787
Default Re: Trouble Shooting: Stalling and Rough Idle

As Steve said, you can check your spark plugs. While you're at it, check the intake system and see if there are any leaks.

Your symptoms sound a lot like an vacuum/intake leak.

You'll need to remove the intake manifold to get to the spark plugs anyway so it would be a good time to check the gaskets to make sure they are soft and pliable. You can also go around the air intake path with some spray starter and see if you hear a change in engine pitch when you spray the stuff in various locations. A surge will usually indicate the location of the leak if that is the problem.

When you take the intake manifold off, be sure to put a towel over the 4 front holes that lead to the engine to make sure nothing falls into them. Otherwise you'll have a tough time getting it out.
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Old 06 Jun 2016, 11:01 am
SpannerHound's Avatar
Regular Cruiser
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Scotland, but in Canada on Holiday
Posts: 192
Smile Re: Trouble Shooting: Stalling and Rough Idle

Things you might want to check:

Air leaks downstream of the MAP sensor
The MAP sensor
Intake air temperature sensor
Poor body earth(ground)
Crank sensor

Happy hunting
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Old 06 Jun 2016, 02:59 pm
Fresh Cruiser
Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Vancouver Island, BC
Posts: 26
Default Re: Trouble Shooting: Stalling and Rough Idle

I actually had the mechanic at the station hook it up and see there were any codes showing or in it's memory, and both came back clean. It's never given me any kind of check engine or warning lights, just dies.

It stalled again this afternoon on my wife while she was driving it down hill, low speed, pretty much at idle (not putting her foot on the gas). She pulled over, started it again and it started hard, ran rough for a few seconds then smoothed out but she says that above 3500 RPM it runs rough again.

Not sure if it's a related problem or individual problems, or a combination of a bunch of problems!

I'm picking it up in an hour or so from her work so she can drive my vehicle home later tonight, so I'll probably spend the afternoon tinkering with it.
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Old 06 Jun 2016, 03:19 pm
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Join Date: Sep 2001
Posts: 27,758
Default Re: Trouble Shooting: Stalling and Rough Idle

That part about running rough above 3500 PRM's, that wasn't in neutral while revving the engine was it?
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Old 06 Jun 2016, 03:27 pm
Fresh Cruiser
Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Vancouver Island, BC
Posts: 26
Default Re: Trouble Shooting: Stalling and Rough Idle

Partially. It was in park. She had pulled over to restart it as I mentioned, then when it settled down a bit she gave it some gas and it at about 3500 RPM it didn't sound right. I just took it for a quick run on the highway after swapping vehicles and it ran perfectly fine for me. Also let it idle at work for about 15 minutes, which did without any issue or noticeable hick-ups.
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Old 06 Jun 2016, 03:34 pm
Obsessed Cruiser
Join Date: Sep 2001
Posts: 27,758
Default Re: Trouble Shooting: Stalling and Rough Idle

ALL PT's have a limiter about the 3500 rpm range. The computer (if I remember right) shuts down the fuel to the injectors to stop over revving in Park/Neutral so the engine doesn't blow. There's no problem there, it's a built-in safety device.
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Old 06 Jun 2016, 03:47 pm
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Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Vancouver Island, BC
Posts: 26
Default Re: Trouble Shooting: Stalling and Rough Idle

Ah, that is good to know! Takes that completely off of what seems like a growing list of symptoms. I was worried that whatever the issue is was having an affect at the bottom and mid of the RPM range.

It seems as though everything is connected, in one way or another, to the low RPM driving (basically coasting) or while at idle (stop lights/signs). It has never died while "actively" driving.

I think the next things I am going to focus on is going to be the spark pugs and ignition wires. Before I take the intakes off I'll see if there's a leak using Engine starter spray, and once I have the intakes off I'll check their gasket and also that they're clean.

I hate taking things apart twice!

Last edited by firefighter26; 06 Jun 2016 at 03:51 pm.
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