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Pulling my hair out- 2001 PT won't start

 
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Old 02 Dec 2013, 07:58 am
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Default Pulling my hair out- 2001 PT won't start

I have been cruising these links for a while now and trying some of the suggestions I've read but with no luck. I have an 01 PT and just hit 100k when the trans blew. I got towed and rebuilt trans. Then noticed a slight miss. Had a mechanic look at it hoping for plug/wire issue but was told it had low compression in 1 cylinder from a cracked head. After replacing the head the engine wouldn't start. It originally showed it wasn't reading the cam sensor. Sensor and magnet were replaced twice with MFR parts. Tried crank sensor also after reading that in here. Tried sending computer out for reprogramming. Also tried computer and wire harness from junkyard car. Both computers work when put in other cars. Old wire harness showed no damage after being taken out. Replacement harness has same result. Checked for mistaken plug on the coil, but wires trace out correct. Thought we got it fixed when it started, then found the cam sensor was not plugged in. As soon as cam sensor is plugged in the engine dies and won't start. Disconnect the cam sensor it runs and mechanic says it drives great, but engine light is on and code won't let it pass inspection. So far this mechanic can't figure it out. He sent it to Chrysler and they couldn't figure it out. Both places say they checked timing and it is spot on. At this point everyone says it shouldn't run at all with the sensor disconnected and it shouldn't stall out when it is connected. But nobody can figure out what is going on or what to do next.

Anybody here ever see this before or have any other ideas?
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Old 02 Dec 2013, 09:12 am
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Default Re: Pulling my hair out- 2001 PT won't start

A long shot - I've read there are 2 identical connectors that can be swapped by mistake, but I'm not sure one of them is cam sensor connector....maybe others here can clear that up.

Also, I assume timing belt was changed when head was removed?
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Old 02 Dec 2013, 10:57 am
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Default Re: Pulling my hair out- 2001 PT won't start

Yes the timing belt was changed and I'm told the proper timing was confirmed by Chrysler as well as my mechanic.

I asked the mechanic about the identical plugs and he told me they were traced correctly. He also replaced the wiring harness so I'm hoping that if he made that mistake it wouldn't be repeated. He said Chrysler checked this too and said that if they were reversed, the engine wouldn't start even if the cam sensor was unplugged and the reversed plugs could ruin the computer.

I don't understand all this stuff myself and have to rely on his work of the knowledge of others. That's why I'm fishing for info here. Hopefully somebody may have had a similar situation and can provide an idea that is escaping us.
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Old 02 Dec 2013, 12:41 pm
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Lightbulb Re: Pulling my hair out- 2001 PT won't start

You mentioned the wiring harness for the PCM/ECU;But,has the wiring harness for the CPS been checked thoroughly from end-to-end,sometimes the wiring loom for the CPS can get wedged in between the coolant hoses,causing it to get hot,resulting in a breakdown of the insulation,resulting in a fault/short.
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Old 02 Dec 2013, 12:52 pm
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Default Re: Pulling my hair out- 2001 PT won't start

A shop is doing the work? Do they not have a scanner to see what the problem is? Seems it'd be pretty easy to hook up a meter to verify there's a crank and cam sensor reading. Use a noid light to verify the injectors are all getting a pulse signal, and a stethoscope to verify they are actually working. Use a fuel pressure tester to be sure there is adequate pressure in the rail. Use an inline spark tester to be sure all the plugs are firing. I say "seems like" because I spent this past weekend doing exactly this in a friend's driveway. It's not difficult. Cars need three things to start - fuel, spark, air - and the first two are easy. Verifying air is rough, because it's an issue of a specific quantity getting into the cylinders - a serious vacuum leak can result in unmetered air that makes for difficult or impossible starts... but a smoke machine can sort that out pretty quick.

Is this an independent shop or the dealer? I ask because the reason I spent this past weekend driving 1000 miles and fixing a car on a holiday weekend is because an independent shop couldn't figure out the problem in three days of trying. Took me six hours with tools I could carry in the back of a Toyota Celica to find the issue. SHOP FAIL.
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Old 02 Dec 2013, 05:34 pm
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Default Re: Pulling my hair out- 2001 PT won't start

It's at an independent shop but he drove it to a Chrysler dealer, showed them the problem and left it there for diagnostics. They scratched their head and recommended replacing the wiring harness.

I didn't know about the second harness. I'm going to call him and ask him about that.
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Old 12 Dec 2013, 05:11 pm
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Default Re: Pulling my hair out- 2001 PT won't start

Talked to mechanic. He replaced the entire wire harness. Harness came from identical 2001 PT in scrapyard due to rear end collision. After taking out the old harness he opened the protective covering of the old one and found no sign of damage to the wires. Even around the cam sensor/coolant hose contact area.

2nd computer and 2nd wire harness currently installed. Same problem continues. He has driven it on the highway 60 - 65 mph with the cam sensor unplugged and said it ran great. He drove it to and from the Chrysler dealer that recommended the wire harness exchange. I asked him to run temporary wires directly from cam sensor plug to the computer terminal, jumping out the wire harness entirely. Haven't heard how he made out on this yet.

Already added grounds, replaced cam sensor, magnet and crank sensor with mfr parts. I see a lot of other conversations with similar problems, but no one has posted with a success story. Has anyone survived this? What are we missing?
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Old 12 Dec 2013, 06:16 pm
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Default Re: Pulling my hair out- 2001 PT won't start

Did this guy find success driving the car with no cam sensor prior to replacing the entire wire harness? That seems like a ton of work and cost for just a couple wires. Has this guy connected an oscilloscope to cam sensor to see what it's doing, or plugged in a scantool and monitored it while starting/idling/driving? I feel like he's doing what so many mechanics do - replacing parts randomly instead of doing actual diagnosis work.

I'm not saying this is what the problem is, but when the cam sensor is disconnected not only is knock-detection eliminated, but the fuel injectors run in batch fire mode since there isn't adequate timing sensitivity to run them sequentially. If the car runs with the cam sensor unplugged, it could be masking a problem with a fuel injector that is less of a problem with them firing in batch. Or, perhaps the timing belt is off a tooth, and the "slack" created by failsafe ignition timing and batch fired injectors allows the engine to run, whereas with more precise timing created with the cam sensor providing feedback won't let it.

The car ran before the transmission failed, right? It's only this dude futzing around in the engine bay that created any of these problems. I really doubt a head would magically crack during a transmission-ectomy, and the fact that this guy took a "running car with a dead transmission" and turned that into a "running car with a miss" and turned that into a "non-running car" doesn't speak very well for his wrenching ability. It's kind of hard to toss ideas out without having context, so maybe get these guy to get a freeze frame of the OBDII monitors while the spark plugs are removed and the engine is turning on the starter with everything else connected, and let's see what that looks like. I'd also strongly encourage being SUPER SURE the cam timing is still correct. The forum is littered with people have problems setting the tensioner correctly, and speaking from experience I can see why - maybe this guy bungled it when he swapped the head.
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Old 13 Dec 2013, 08:49 am
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Default Re: Pulling my hair out- 2001 PT won't start

Trans rebuild was done by another shop 8 months before I brought this engine missing issue to this shop. I did notice the very slight engine miss shortly after the trans was repaired. Again, hoping it was a plug or wire, but he came up with low compression on one of the cylinders. I wasn't too surprised by the cracked head as I have had overheating trouble in the past and have replaced the electric fan twice as a result.

After replacing the head, he said it wouldn't start and came up with a bad cam sensor reading. He replaced the cam sensor and magnet twice, with mfr parts. He then sent the computer out for repair, figuring this was the issue. It came back with same issue occurring. He then put a computer from another 01 pt in and had the same problem. He has tried syncing the sensors. He took both computers out, put them in other cars and they work fine. He thought he had it fixed when it started and sounded good, then realized that the cam sensor was unplugged. As soon as he plugs it in the engine gets real rough and dies.

Based on what I have read here he also replaced the crank sensor, checked the timing, and checked the wires and reversal of the 2 identical plugs. No luck.

He drove it to Chrysler with the cam sensor disconnected, said it ran great. Showed them it running, plugged in the sensor and watched it die. It was at Chrysler for 2 weeks for diagnostics. They didn't identify the problem, but suggested replacing the wiring harness. Also sent a big bill for their diagnosis attempt.

I am bringing every idea presented in this and all the other conversations on this site to him. He says he used scanners and equipment listed earlier and still believes that it is an electrical issue. He also said Chrysler confirmed timing and potential mechanical issues.

At this point I'm afraid that I may have the best looking and running car in the junkyard as I can't get it to pass inspection without the cam sensor plugged in no matter how good it runs. I wish I knew more about car repair, especially at this point, but being a fireman my vehicle knowledge involves hoses, saws and rescue tools.

Thanks for all the input. I'm hoping we come up with that 1 weird item and fix the car. I've thought about taking it to another shop, but fear getting the same runaround and costs increasing.
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Old 13 Dec 2013, 01:28 pm
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Default Re: Pulling my hair out- 2001 PT won't start

Here's another thought:

Possible that you've got a head that's had too much taken off? I've never had this happen, but I've heard of it happening on other cars... Machine shop takes too much off the bottom of the head when fixing a warp and creates an irrevocable cam timing problem in the process. Again, I'd check that timing belt to be sure it's 100% properly aligned.

On the topic of cam timing, it is possible the mechanic didn't properly torque down the cam sprocket and it spun? It's been a while since I looked at a PT cam, but I'm pretty sure they're subject to the same problem lots of cars are - an incorrectly torqued cam sprocket wobbles, shears off the alignment key, and you end up with one cam off. On most cars you'll get bent valves, but as has been demonstrated here the PT is non-interference, so it'd probably run just fine with one cam off up to a couple dozen degrees. Hell, it might run better - to a point. You'd get a cam sensor *seriously* off, which would prevent a start.

Is it possible the mechanic has reversed plugs somewhere? I know on my Volvo the cam sensor and O2 sensor have identical plugs, and people frequently confuse them. Don't know if it's possible on the PT as well, but maybe worth a look?

As far as taking the car elsewhere, I sympathize with the conundrum. Based on what you wrote back there, I'd be *seriously* pissed about this guy buying me a new computer before swapping in a spare, or buying a new wiring harness before actually pinning mine out. I still feel like he's just parts swapping. What we know is that whatever the problem is he caused it, because you brought him a running car and he's created a non-running one. As painful as it is, you really might be best off letting him fix this so he can find where his error was. And, really, it's his error. Computers don't magically break during head gasket jobs. I will damn near guarantee the current problem is directly related to the work he was doing, in the area in which he was doing it. I've done this crap to myself before - it's always something I did, no matter how innocently.

Last edited by thesameguy; 13 Dec 2013 at 01:34 pm.
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