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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 09 Apr 2014, 01:40 pm
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Join Date: Apr 2014
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Default wont hold fluid

Hello fellow PTC owners.

Our problem is cooling system related. If we can get this issue resolved the car is a keeper. If not well have to unload it, though we really don't want to as we're quite fond of the car already.

Ok, here's what happens. We'll fill the radiator with, well tap water at this point as we don't want to spend money on coolant that will simply be gone. We're aware that's not the best thing for operation overall. The car has maybe a 50 mile range before it starts to heat up over operating level. Every morning the radiator's filled and one of us will do odd errands about town. We try to avoid areas where stop 'n go traffic is known. In living rural we're able to avoid those areas pretty easily. So, we run the heater full blast, roll back the sunroof and lower the rear windows. This helps keep the needle at exactly halfway. Soon it'll be too warm in this area to do that w/any modicum of comfort. The previous owner's father who was driving the car pretty much exclusively saw fit to dis-connect the AC before we came into possession of it. That's not a problem for me. I prefer a car w/o it anyway. The post-operation cooling fan works. There's a gurgling sound coming from just beyond the dash fully audible from the inside after coming to a stop and shutting off the motor.

Sometimes if we drive far enough and stay long enough I'm able to re-fill the radiator as the engine will have cooled down sufficiently so the radiator cap will come off w/o fluid gushing out. Purely a preventive measure. The previous owner has a wooden dowell wrapped in a facecloth stuffed into the overfill opening. We carry a gallon jug of water for the aforementioned circumstance.

So, each time we leave to go somewhere the radiator'sfilled. We don't mind, but it's the heater full-on thing that bugs us. Oh, yeah and after a bit of time driving the heater will blow unheated for a while and then go back and forth between unheated and heated though not consistantly. The needle doesn't move during these air temperature fluctuations.

We'll look forward to your experienced ideas, suppositions, suggestions and recommendations. We've got a really good backyard mechanic who has saved us unimaginable sums of money over the years. He's going to replace our egr valve/sensor, vacuum hose, etc. and thermostat next week so we can get it through emissions. We can't flip the title or register it in our names until it clears. The previous owners have graciously allowed us to drive it on their registration as we're both insured appropriately. So, functionally it's as if we're driving a borrowed car.

Also, there's a distinct 'miss' when idling, but it disappears when stepping on the gas. There's no hesitation or lunge that would suggest a transmission or injector issue. My guess it's in need of some plugs, wires, distributor cap, and a new coil as well. While it may not need these replacements it's my intent to do so. If the 'miss' problem can be diagnosed. Btw, the PTC is pushing 375,500 miles. It was a gift, so any funds spent aren't the issue. Just don't want it to become a 'money pit'. We've already done that bit. While we're willing to go 7-800.00 as it needs tires as well, we just don't want to get into 4 figures. It's a 2002 foor door sedan. Did I say we love it? Other than it's problems we love it. Everything else works very well. Oh, and is there a way to disable the 'chip' assembly activated by the ignition key. That 'feature' is a PITA. Thank you ahead of time for any responses.
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Old 09 Apr 2014, 02:02 pm
Handy_Cruiser's Avatar
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Location: Arkansas
Posts: 10,434
Default Re: wont hold fluid

This sounds a lot like a slightly blown head gasket or cracked head. The car runs fine for a while if nursed, but then overheats and blows the water out.

After looking at many PT's before I bought mine, I saw several with this exact same issue and it always appeared to be a blow head gasket. Other things that could cause this include a stopped up radiator and a malfunctioning radiator fan. But if the fan runs while the car is operating, that's likely not it.

I suspect if you do a compression test on your engine, you will find a weak cylinder. This is likely where the miss comes from when the engine is warm. You may also notice some rust on one or more spark plugs. But not always. There are several good How-to videos on YouTube showing how to diagnose a blown head gasket. Napa and several other companies also sell a chemical to test for compression gases in the water jacket:


NAPA AUTO PARTS

Uview Combustion Leak Tester UVU560000: Choose the best Commercial Tools And Equipment at Advance Auto 4Parts

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Last edited by Handy_Cruiser; 09 Apr 2014 at 02:08 pm.
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Old 09 Apr 2014, 02:17 pm
randyincctx's Avatar
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Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Corpus Christi,Tx.
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Post Re: wont hold fluid

Out of all the times you mentioned filling the radiator.....You never once mentioned 'bleeding' the air out of the system,maybe you are,and just forgot to mention it?
But,if you are not bleeding the air out of the system when adding 'fluid' (supposed to be HOAT),it can cause most (if not all) of the overheating symptoms you have described.
Also;You didn't mention if your in the US/UK(I can assume from 'screen-name'=UK?),and whether your PT is a 2.4L N/A or Turbo,or 1.6L,or 2.0L petrol,or 2.2L CRD?...Not that it matters a whole lot,though?....That's what your 'signature' is for,otherwise you'll have to mention it almost everytime you start/or post on a thread.
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Last edited by randyincctx; 09 Apr 2014 at 02:25 pm.
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Old 09 Apr 2014, 03:18 pm
quicksilverdon's Avatar
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Location: Felton, Delaware
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Default Re: wont hold fluid

Wow, 375,500 miles. !

Could be lotsa things.
Put clean cardboard underneath and see if it's a leak.
When was timing belt/water pump last replaced? should be done every 100,000 miles.
The function of a distributor is now computerized.
While the stock coils are very good, at 375,500 miles, yours could very well need retirement.
I understand you don't want to spend on coolant since it uses it, but at least get distilled water - supermarkets carry it for irons in gallon jugs.
You mention EGR, so it's either an '01 or an '02.
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Old 09 Apr 2014, 09:03 pm
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Default Re: wont hold fluid

Try a half can of this. Should get rid of you leak.
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  #6 (permalink)  
Old 11 Apr 2014, 10:07 pm
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Default Re: wont hold fluid

Quote:
Originally Posted by randyincctx View Post
Out of all the times you mentioned filling the radiator.....You never once mentioned 'bleeding' the air out of the system,maybe you are,and just forgot to mention it?
But,if you are not bleeding the air out of the system when adding 'fluid' (supposed to be HOAT),it can cause most (if not all) of the overheating symptoms you have described.

Also;You didn't mention if your in the US/UK(I can assume from 'screen-name'=UK?),and whether your PT is a 2.4L N/A or Turbo,or 1.6L,or 2.0L petrol,or 2.2L CRD?...Not that it matters a whole lot,though?....That's what your 'signature' is for,otherwise you'll have to mention it almost everytime you start/or post on a thread.
Saw a youtube video regarding replacing a thermostat and it showed where the valve is located. No, I've never done that. I'll try it and see if it makes any difference. Not sure of the engine size, but it's a 2002 four door sedan w/a sunroof. The owner's manual doesn't specify. If there is a way of identifying the engine size the information would be much appreciated.

My screen name is with respect to my ancestral home. My heritage can be traced directly to Owain Glyndwr hence the moniker. When actively learning Welsh a few years ago it came as a pleasant surprise to be able to pronounce the 'double L' sound easily. Bore da!
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Old 11 Apr 2014, 11:05 pm
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Join Date: Apr 2014
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Default Re: wont hold fluid

Quote:
Originally Posted by Handy_Cruiser View Post
This sounds a lot like a slightly blown head gasket or cracked head. The car runs fine for a while if nursed, but then overheats and blows the water out.

After looking at many PT's before I bought mine, I saw several with this exact same issue and it always appeared to be a blow head gasket. Other things that could cause this include a stopped up radiator and a malfunctioning radiator fan. But if the fan runs while the car is operating, that's likely not it.

I suspect if you do a compression test on your engine, you will find a weak cylinder. This is likely where the miss comes from when the engine is warm. You may also notice some rust on one or more spark plugs. But not always. There are several good How-to videos on YouTube showing how to diagnose a blown head gasket. Napa and several other companies also sell a chemical to test for compression gases in the water jacket
Thanks much for your rs. It's my intent to save and print all these suggestions as to what may be causing problems. The car has leaking issues beyond just the coolant. I'd invest in distilled water were the leak not as severe. Like I said I don't want the car to become a money pit. It can easily go through a gallon per day in just routine driving. The 365.00US invested in distilled water would be better spent in resolving the cooling system issue one would think. If it's a blown head gasket wouldn't that cause a water/fuel mix? Please, excuse my ignorance. If that's the case I'm aware a gasket is relatively cheap and replacing one is all in the labor. There doesn't seem to be any issues w/t water pump. I'm not sure when the timing belt was changed or if the coil has ever been replaced.

There are oil, trans, ps and brake fluid leaks as well. They're tolerable at this point as they're not severe. The brake issue is a rear wheel cylinder seal corrected easily enough w/replacement. As in my previous post all the issues can be addressed one at a time through the minimal labor cost of our backyard mechanic friend.

If there is a 'weak cylinder' it could very well be in need of piston ring, valve, spark-plug, or sp wire replacement. Again, it's tolerable. The cooling system is the main thing. If we can get it resolved we'll keep it. Everything else can be taken care of over a period of time.

Once I had a '90 Mazda B2600i pickup. It would just 'cut out' from time to time. Very dangerous as it happened on the interstate. One had no idea when. Very unsettling. At others' well meaning suggestions I replaced the gas filter, fuel pump, fuel tank, fuel lines, coil, spark-plugs, wires, distributor, rotor, distributor cap to no avail. It seemed more likely to happen in wet weather. When perusing a 'Mazda pickup' forum similar to this one I happened upon a member expressing the exact same symptoms. A responder informed him that '89, '90 and '91 B2600i ECMs were manufactered by Mitsubishi and they were found to have capacitors that would leak and short out the circuit board. They cost 350-600.00US in exchange for one's old unit. That's if one could even be found. An internet search revealed a guy online in Ft. Meyers, FL who'd re-condition and improve that specific ECM for 160.00US w/a 10 day turnaround. He said 40% of his business was from those Mitsubishi made ECMs. Needless to say after having spent over a grand chasing the problem a buck sixty was chump change. Once installed the truck ran flawlessly for 5 more years until it was lost in the May 2010 flood here in Mid-Tn. If not for the flood I'd still be driving it as it only had 196,000 miles on it and was effectively a new truck.

We'd love to be able to keep the PTC as everything else about it is top-notch. We'll save the links from your post. They're much appreciated.

Last edited by welshdude2; 11 Apr 2014 at 11:34 pm.
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Old 11 Apr 2014, 11:07 pm
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Default Re: wont hold fluid

Quote:
Originally Posted by Busted_PT View Post
Try a half can of this. Should get rid of you leak.
Ummm, ok. Half a can of what pray tell.
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  #9 (permalink)  
Old 11 Apr 2014, 11:31 pm
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Default Re: wont hold fluid

Quote:
Originally Posted by quicksilverdon View Post
Wow, 375,500 miles. !

Could be lotsa things.
Put clean cardboard underneath and see if it's a leak.
When was timing belt/water pump last replaced? should be done every 100,000 miles.
The function of a distributor is now computerized.
While the stock coils are very good, at 375,500 miles, yours could very well need retirement.
I understand you don't want to spend on coolant since it uses it, but at least get distilled water - supermarkets carry it for irons in gallon jugs.
You mention EGR, so it's either an '01 or an '02.
As in a post to another's reponse it would effectively be 'cost ridiculous' to invest in as much distilled water needed @ a buck per gallon. Really appreciate your suggestion though. And you're correct it's an '02. The body is 'tight'. The doors make that 'snap' sound like a new car. The radio/CD, system sounds great and all the functions are fine. The 'cluster light' is burned out. I checked the fuse. It's fine. There are videos aplenty showing how to do that very replacement. The suspension could use new shocks. Definately needs new tires. Priced a set for 52.00 per. Mounting and spin are extra of course, but worth it.

So, like I said. If we can get the cooling system resolved we'll keep it. The wheel cylinder seal is nothing to fool with, so that'll be next. If it turns out to be a head gasket, we'll price it and weigh the cost in a vehicle w/375,00 miles on it. Me? I want to keep it and resolve all the issues. As a gigging musician it's perfect. All of my equipment fits behind the rear seats while they're upright and my bass fits neatly behind the front seats on the floorboard. And it gets very good gas mileage as well. What's not to love?
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Old 12 Apr 2014, 12:11 am
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Default Re: wont hold fluid

Btw, I found out what engine: 2.4L SFI DOHC 4 cylinder. It's also a 'Touring Edition'. MSRP 18,000+ w/add-ons 21,000+. We're having our mechanic look at it this week and determine what the cooling system/idling miss problems are and whether it would be cost effective to keep it. I'll post back.

Thank you all for your responses and suggestions.

Last edited by welshdude2; 14 Apr 2014 at 11:51 am.
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