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About to buy a 2003 GT - Advice? Cautions?

 
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Old 12 Sep 2010, 01:54 am
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Default About to buy a 2003 GT - Advice? Cautions?

Hi! New to forum. Nice place you all have, here!

I've been researching used cars and have been very impressed with what I've read about the PT Cruiser. An older model works for my budget.

I found two PTs similarly priced: 2001 LE; 2003 GT, both from private parties.

The 2001 has 155,000 miles - manual trans. The 2003 GT has 110,000 - auto trans. (The 2001 looks and felt a LITTLE more tired than the 2003.)

The 2001 recently had new timing belt and upgraded head gasket. Both apparently have original transmission.

I'm more interested in reliability and mileage than speed, but speed is good, too.

I'm having the 2003 taken to my mechanic on Monday for a 71 (I think) point inspection to hopefully find any gotchas before I finalize the purchase.

So, for all you folks with experience, is there anything I need to watch out for? Anything I should ask the mechanic to look for?

I've read a lot of complaints about transmissions, but here on the forum, there's a lot of praise for it, too. Your thoughts?

I also read that the biggest reason for tranny failures was putting in the wrong fluid (dextron?). Is there any way to know if that's a problem on a car that old (not the original owner)? If I make certain to use the correct fluid from now on, and the tranny isn't showing signs of problems, am I likely to be ok?

Am I likely better off with the 2003 with 40,000 fewer miles, even though it's an automatic?

Or, am I likely to spend a lot of time in the shop with either of these cars? (I'm not handy, at all, so tinkering isn't an option with me.)

Thanks for your help!
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Old 12 Sep 2010, 05:52 am
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Default Re: About to buy a 2003 GT - Advice? Cautions?

Hi I own 2-2003 PT's- One touring 85kmiles bought new- & another GT-Turbo for 1 year 2nd owner-44k miles---- I have to say both are great but the GT is really fun to drive! The power is like a small 8 or V6! Handling is better too.Both are automatics.GT has autostick.Things to check are front control arm bushings, spark plugs,radiator-timing belt way due on both.You can get easily 200k if taken care of-my neighbor had 205k!! Put on lift,check body for damage,run carfax. Price is subject to what you want to pay-The GT's I think will begin to appreciate in value if prestine-in time,Other thing GT runs on premium(no big deal now-they get better MPG-so equal ) auto trans fine if serviced properly, good luck MJB

Last edited by mjb457; 12 Sep 2010 at 05:58 am.
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Old 12 Sep 2010, 07:21 am
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Default Re: About to buy a 2003 GT - Advice? Cautions?

High mileage used cars are always a gamble. You have no idea how they have been treated or why the previous owner got rid of it. Don't mean to sound down on the PT as I really love mine but your probably going to pay next to nothing for an 8 or 10 year old PT so it's not like your going to hit the road and forget about having to fix something. As far as the post above me saying you'll make up the difference on buying premium fuel because the GT gets better mileage, that's a matter of opinion. You said it yourself, "speed is good" so your not going to be taking it easy. Running premium and pushing the GT doesn't add up to saving gas, and if your saving money by buying an older car, filling it up with premium all the time can add up.

Anyway, have the mechanic run the engine at idle with the A/C on for a good 15 -20 minutes or more and check out the temperature guage. It shouldn't move anywhere past half way. Check well all the parts of the front suspension including the wheel bearings.
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Last edited by CREWZIN; 12 Sep 2010 at 07:23 am.
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Old 12 Sep 2010, 08:49 am
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Default Re: About to buy a 2003 GT - Advice? Cautions?

I agree with Crewzin( Id look for one wth low miles unless its free.Id want service records also.They are VG cars but little things come up & cost $.having both PT's though I think overall the GT has way more power,but the non-turbo PT is fine for daily use, good luck again.MJB
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Old 12 Sep 2010, 12:14 pm
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Default Re: About to buy a 2003 GT - Advice? Cautions?

Service records is not an option because neither are original owner. The 2003 didn't appear to keep good records, though he says the timing belt was replaced at 94k. It's at 110k now.

The 2001 had the timing belt/pump and head gasket replaced very recently.

So, I'm going to have to have to go on what the mechanic finds. Thanks for the list of things to have him watch for.

The lower mile PTs in my area are beyond my budget, sadly.

Any other thoughts from anyone? I'm especially curious to know about the transmission. Can the mechanic determine its health? Can he know if it's had the wrong kind of fluid?

Last edited by Kaprice; 12 Sep 2010 at 12:16 pm.
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Old 12 Sep 2010, 01:24 pm
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Default Re: About to buy a 2003 GT - Advice? Cautions?

I'd walk away from both ..how much $ are we talking? If you arent mechanically inclined repairs really add up. A really nice Pt can be had with low miles and good records here in PA for under $7k ,Take care , MJB
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Old 12 Sep 2010, 01:46 pm
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Default Re: About to buy a 2003 GT - Advice? Cautions?

Really? Just walk away, point blank? Little chance either of these will work out for me?

They're both being offered for a negotiated $3500.
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Old 12 Sep 2010, 02:04 pm
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Default Re: About to buy a 2003 GT - Advice? Cautions?

For comparison purposes, I just bought a 2001 PT Cruiser Limited Edition, automatic, with 68000 miles for $4250 (private sale, not dealer).

It's in fantastic condition inside and out, and runs like a top.
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Old 12 Sep 2010, 04:06 pm
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Default Re: About to buy a 2003 GT - Advice? Cautions?

If you don't buy a manual trans, start saving for a new trans. The ATX's are a notorious weak spot.
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Old 12 Sep 2010, 07:40 pm
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Default Re: About to buy a 2003 GT - Advice? Cautions?

Walk away ,,,yep,,,$3500 is not adeal if it have no records... you could easily spend that in repairs,,, Id buy a well maintained with records one with lower miles,,you will have that many more miles to go,,, you say you cant afford much more but how will you afford it when its parked and in the need of repairs? Mjb The automatic is just fine if maintained,,same tranny in the Caravan( I know people who drove them 200kmiles no problem) dont believe what you hear..ask cruzin how many miles on his 2001 Automatic??
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