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New Cruiser(2001) and don't know where to start

 
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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 09 Apr 2009, 05:12 pm
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Join Date: Apr 2009
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Default New Cruiser(2001) and don't know where to start

Hello all!

Just a quick introduction. My name is Justin, I'm 22, living in MN, and an Iraq Vet. I bought a 2001 Limited Edition, and to be honest, before I owned the Cruiser, I thought they looked like stubby little school buses. But now I am completely in love with it! I'm glad to see this forum has such a supportive community, because I need some advice.

I'd like to turn her into a well-groomed, efficient machine and at the same time increase my understanding of the entire vehicle. My knowledge of how vehicles operate is still small, but I've already got the technical mindset and desire to learn. I've searched the forums, been here several times reading old posts, solutions, problems, etc, but a lot of the time the your fancy vehicle technical jabber is barely low-level enough for me to grasp! So, before this gets too boring, these are the things I'm curious about:

-Importance of fluids and fluid quality-
Oil/Coolant specifically. Is there a specific type that's better than the rest, or types that affect performance? Do you change your oil yourself or take it to a local Jiffy Lube or equivalent?

-Maintenance/Upgrade-
How often do we replace spark plugs? From what I understand, I should be replacing my plugs with Champion Double Platinum 7570, but the gap for those is .04 and my engine suggests .05. I can use some sort of gapping tool to fix this?

-It's a 2001, things are broken-
My back windshield wiper is acting screwy. I think it's from the MN winter, but the blade only wipes the beginning 2/3 of the window, then it seems like tension is lost. I also lost the little cap that covers the screw at the base of the wiper, no idea how, but it looks trashy.
I'm thinking I need to replace the hydraulics that open-assist the rear door, they look kind of 8 years old and it feels like they might be loosing pressure.


I'm still very hesitant in posting these questions because I don't want the community to get the idea that I don't like to do research. This just seems like the most concise way to answer these problems, and possibly even provide solutions to other members!

Thank you for any advice/input/help you offer!
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old 09 Apr 2009, 06:25 pm
Obsessed Cruiser
 
Join Date: Sep 2001
Posts: 27,743
Default Re: New Cruiser(2001) and don't know where to start

Welcome to the forum Justin.

Before anything, we need to know a little bit more about your PT. Were there any maintenance records when you bought it? How many miles on it now. Did you receive any warranty at all from the dealer or was it bought privately?

If nothing is available at all, and you plan on keeping the PT a couple of years, you might want to sink some Preventative Maintenance into it so it's reliable transportation.

All the fluids should be changed. Plugs and wires changed and a good look-over by a mechanic especially the front end suspension.

The plugs you picked are good and a notice put out by Chrysler a few years ago changed the plug setting from .050in to .040in to make the car idle and run better.

Changing to synthetic oil will cost a bit more but you can go longer between oil changes and always change the filter at every oil change.

The transaxle is a weak link so take care of it by having it flushed and only using Chrysler's ATF+4 (or the newer synthetic) fluid. Have that doen at least every 50,000 miles.

Coolant should be changed at least every 5 years but if your in the northern climates where it freezes each winter, keep an eye on the mixture to make sure it stays in the range where it won't freeze. Chrysler says to stick to their particular coolant but I believe most of the good brand name coolants will be OK. I don't believe in mixing brands though so I keep a gallon in the garage of the same brand I put in the PT.

Not sure about your rear windshiled wiper. I pulled mine off years ago and put a chrome handle on for looks. The first thing yo might try is a good brand of blade to see if that helps.
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Old 09 Apr 2009, 08:05 pm
Hooligan's Avatar
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Join Date: Aug 2003
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Default Re: New Cruiser(2001) and don't know where to start

Welcome Justin to the Forum, thanks for your service, its always good to hear from another VET!!! Crewzin has answered your questions, but to elaborate a little on your plug question, yes, you can buy a "gap setter" at you local auto store, there are many kinds, the one I use is about the size of a silver dollar and is made to slide the plug gap and check it. If it is to loose, tap it gently (don't want to break the porcelain) until it is the correct gap. If it is to tight you can use the tool to "bend" the "prong" until it is correct.

A decent torque wrench would be advisable also as many "fixes" have a torque spec. I'm not trying to scare you from trying to work on it yourself as it a good car to learn on. There is a "sticky" about spark plugs and how to change them.

Maggie at www.raceandstreet.com is a good source of all kinds of parts, the Crane plug wires are used by many of us. Good Luck.
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Old 09 Apr 2009, 09:15 pm
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Default Re: New Cruiser(2001) and don't know where to start

Xerex G-05 is the aftermarket equivalent to the Mopar factory coolant. Available at Napa. It is no longer available at Pep Boys. It's bright yellow/green.

Dexcool is usable, and you might find that in your radiator (kelly green), or maybe the yellow jug "universal" prestone - deep green coolant. Often shops who do flushes change our coolant to one of these.

As for oil - synth never hurt any car. Mobil 1 5w30's what I use with a K&N oil filter or a Mobil 1 oil filter. Heard of some folks using royal purp or amsoil too. Dino oil works too as long as you keep changing it. Oil changes are a cinch.

I highly recommend doing a pan dump/filter/refill on the tranny at least once to get a new filter in there.

90k is usually the mileage when there are a lot of timing belt breaks. If you are over that - I suggest researching whether it was replaced on your car. If you can't find out, its cheap insurance to have it done along with the water pump and timing belt tensioner. It's a tough tough job best left to those who get paid for it.

Quote:
I'm thinking I need to replace the hydraulics that open-assist the rear door
My wifes 2001 is the same way. Anyone know of where to get the lifters? (besides the yard?)

Plug life depends on the plug, I think its 12k miles for coppers, and 36k+ for Iridium.
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Old 10 Apr 2009, 02:47 pm
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Join Date: Apr 2009
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Default Re: New Cruiser(2001) and don't know where to start

Thank you all for the input!

The details about the car that I didn't mention before. I bought it from a family member, and I know he took at least minimal care of the vehicle. I don't have any records, but I could just ask him about any problems he had. I'm sitting at just under 65k mileage. I definitely need to replace the plugs soon, it'll be a good Spring time project. It sounds like I should replace the spark plug wires too, but I haven't found much information on what makes a good plug wire and instructions on how to replace them. It's probably a simple process but I don't like going into these types of projects without knowing what to expect!

Quote:
The plugs you picked are good and a notice put out by Chrysler a few years ago changed the plug setting from .050in to .040in to make the car idle and run better.
Does this mean that Chrysler will change my plug setting as a recall sort of deal? A local Napa parts store has the plugs I want in .050 and it's a little less expensive than online.

Quote:
90k is usually the mileage when there are a lot of timing belt breaks. If you are over that - I suggest researching whether it was replaced on your car. If you can't find out, its cheap insurance to have it done along with the water pump and timing belt tensioner. It's a tough tough job best left to those who get paid for it.
I'm not quite at 90k, but with the harsh weather here I'm thinking it might be a good idea to get the work done sooner than later, by a professional of course! Unless there is a reason not to do it sooner.

Quote:
Not sure about your rear windshiled wiper. I pulled mine off years ago and put a chrome handle on for looks. The first thing yo might try is a good brand of blade to see if that helps.
I took a closer look at the blade and the spring inside isn't doing what it's suppose to. Could be from winter gunk or just rusty and old, I'll let you know if I'm able to fix it and what did and didn't work!

Quote:
Xerex G-05 is the aftermarket equivalent to the Mopar factory coolant. Available at Napa. It is no longer available at Pep Boys. It's bright yellow/green.
I don't plan to do any fluid exchanging myself, so if I took a certain type of fluid into my local chain autoshop you think it'd be weird to ask them to put in a specific type? I've been getting the synthetic oil for the changes, but don't know what type specifically. If I need to add oil in between however, I'll make sure to pick up some Mobile 1 5w30.


Does anyone have experience with putting acetone in their tank?

Acetone In Fuel Said to Increase Mileage

» How to Boost Your Gas Mileage with Acetone » Blog Archive* *Alice Hill’s Real Tech News - Independent Tech

Thank you again!
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Old 10 Apr 2009, 03:22 pm
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Location: Oregon.
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Default Re: New Cruiser(2001) and don't know where to start

Bosch double platinum plugs come pregapped. I use them in my wife's non turbo '04 PT and they work great.
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Old 10 Apr 2009, 08:47 pm
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Default Re: New Cruiser(2001) and don't know where to start

Welcome.
Vietnam vet here (yeah, an old fart)
You've gotten good advice.
As to the cap on the wiper arm - what I'd do - buy a tube of black silicone sealant, and put a dab on. Will last forever, and can be pulled out if needed.
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Old 10 Apr 2009, 10:16 pm
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Default Re: New Cruiser(2001) and don't know where to start

I was nervous the first time I took the upper intake off the PT to change the plugs, turned out to be pretty simple. Actually in hindsight it seems easier than some of the older engines I've worked on.
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Old 11 Apr 2009, 09:40 am
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Default Re: New Cruiser(2001) and don't know where to start

Quote:
Originally Posted by bobdole369 View Post
As for oil - synth never hurt any car.
Correct me if I'm wrong. I've heard of horror stories related to seal and gasket leaks on older cars when they were switched to synthetic from regular.
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Old 11 Apr 2009, 12:26 pm
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Posts: 394
Default Re: New Cruiser(2001) and don't know where to start

Quote:
Correct me if I'm wrong. I've heard of horror stories related to seal and gasket leaks on older cars when they were switched to synthetic from regular.
That's not been my experience. Went full synth at 138,000 on a 3rd gen firebird, lasted till 231,000 - till some cell phone talking soccer mom ran a light and ended that dream.

My wifes 2001 PT went to full synth at 63,000 (still working at 94,000), and my own at 48,000 (74,000 now).

I've heard the stories, but somehow I think they are more of a wives tale than anything else (like the horror stories of replacing your tranny fluid after a number of years is supposed to break it).

Sure you mess with something and if its on the way out you might kill it the rest of the way, but would you rather have the chance of fixing it on your own terms, or having it strand you when it breaks one day?
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