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Engine cutting out, rough idling, RPMs surging and falling, and now overheating!

 
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Old 01 Jun 2016, 10:42 pm
HippysChick's Avatar
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Default Engine cutting out, rough idling, RPMs surging and falling, and now overheating!

Hello everybody,

I've hunted down information on the PT Cruiser through this site several times recently and you've been very helpful, for which many thanks!

However, my 2007 PT Cruiser Touring is still playing what my Dad would have termed 'silly b*ggers'.

Let me start at the beginning:

February 2016, at 119,000 miles I had an oil and filter change at a certain tire supplier. Driving home, the 'oil pressure sensor low voltage' code was produced. I had to have said sensor replaced and all was well - for a short while.

March 16: driving home from Melbourne, about to leave I-95 at my exit, all of a sudden I have no power at all. No check engine light came on. Around this time I also noticed that the car would idle higher than usual and rough when I started it first thing (normally it idles around 800 rpm; now it often idles when started at 1200 rpm or so.:

What happens is I will be driving along on the interstate, get the ten miles between towns, and right when I am ready to start turning off the power bleeds away, the revs drop to zero, the power steering stops working and the car is dead at the side of the road. It takes maybe five minutes of sitting there until it will restart.

Take the car to a local shop - no codes, it doesn't misbehave at all, so the advice is bring it back when I get a check engine light.

April 16: By now the car has taken to stopping as described almost every time I drive back from Melbourne. Not on the drive TO, just the drive BACK. I get on at 173, drive to 183, turn off, get half way down Sarno Road and park up for an hour, then drive home. It cuts out either just as I approach 173 or, worse, when I am trying to turn off Malabar Road on to San Filippo.

Still no error code, but the shop notices the PCV valve is stuck open and replaces it for me. Cost around $60 and the car seems fine for a couple of weeks.

May 16: Drove the car in to Melbourne. Parked up for a couple of hours. Started the engine and it ran rougher than rough and produced a check engine light. Wouldn't go above 2,000 rpm so was picking up speed veeeeery slooooowly. Finally! Cam sensor needed changing, which was duly done and all was well for - ooh, a whole week!

Twice since the beginning of May the engine has shut itself off. I haven't bothered taking it back to the shop because I haven't had a check engine light yet.

So tonight, June 1, two things happen.

First of all, I start it up and notice that at traffic lights the rpms are dropping to 500 or 600 then surging up to 800 again. The AC doesn't seem to be giving out much cool air. I turn it off and the surging/dropping in idle stops. I can put the AC on while the car is actually moving, but have to turn it off at lights.

Second thing: I'm driving home from the other side of town. No interstate, just city traffic. Still getting that drop/surge in idle. I drove home, parked up, grabbed something from the house, went back out almost immediately, started the car again, drove to the bank (about three minutes away), parked, paid some money in, started the car again and was just turning off the bank forecourt when there was a 'bing!' and a red temperature gauge lit up. Thermostat needle almost in the red, I could hear the coolant boiling (or so it sounded).

Parked up on a strip mall lot and let it cool down for half an hour and sloshed some coolant into the small plastic reservoir. That was what a quick Google said to do, and I wasn't daft enough to open the radiator cap. I did notice that the yellow plastic cap on the coolant reservoir at the back under the hood was not very well attached - there's a tear in the crease and the lid doesn't want to seal.

Drove it home and it ran at just under half way on the temperature dial, which is normal, but that was barely a mile and a half.

So, in summary: PCV valve changed. Oil pressure sensor changed. Cam shaft position sensor changed.

Vehicle still cutting out periodically. Idling rougher and higher than usual. Now overheating and making bubbling noises. RPMs dropping to 500 or 600 at lights with AC on; stops dropping when I turn the AC off.

It's also having horrible gas mileage lately - I do more around town than highway driving, but even still, an average of 17.8 mpg sucks.

Tomorrow morning I will go out and check to see if the fan is turning. I have a nephew who is quite handy with cars and can probably get him to have a look at flushing and bleeding the coolant system and will get some HOAT coolant (I hope I got that right) as I just sloshed in what the Mobil station on the strip mall had to get me home.

I will also get him to check for stuff clogging up in between the radiator and the AC condenser. I also noticed somewhere that it recommends checking the AC condenser isn't clogged so will have him look at that (that might be the same thing, I don't know.)

I posted this mammoth thread because it seems to be the case that I have more than one issue going on and while some of it is covered in other threads there seems to be a lot going on!

Oh, by the way - the horn hasn't worked except for about two weeks, when the dealer we bought the car second-hand from replaced the entire horn system. Then it died again. Electrical gremlins?

If anyone has read all of this, my thanks and apologies!
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Old 01 Jun 2016, 10:55 pm
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Location: Thousand Oaks, CA
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Default Re: Engine cutting out, rough idling, RPMs surging and falling, and now overheating!

First thing I would check is to make sure your battery cables are not loose. Make sure that are making good contact. Have a battery load test done with the battery in the PT Cruiser. The PT Cruisers are sensitive to voltage drops.

I would suggest checking your radiator fan. Your low speed on the radiator fan might be failing causing the rough idle with the A/C condenser not being cooled by the fan. You need to take care of this immediately to keep the engine from overheating.

On the engine cutoff I would suggest checking the wiring going to the ignition switch and the ignition actuator after the battery load test has been done.

On the 2006 and 2007 there are many members complaining about the TIPM that fails or is found faulty. Make sure all wires going to it are making good contact.
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Last edited by ptcruisersteve; 01 Jun 2016 at 11:03 pm.
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Old 01 Jun 2016, 11:07 pm
HippysChick's Avatar
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Default Re: Engine cutting out, rough idling, RPMs surging and falling, and now overheating!

Gott in Himmel!

The airbags didn't deploy when I hit the Oldsmobile last November. The horn randomly sounds (sometimes for fifteen or twenty seconds at a time - my husband almost had himself a new one torn, recently), but the shop reckoned that a plastic pad (?) that activates the horn when you strike the wheel boss had melted and that was why it only worked intermittently.

I did once have a window roll down that wouldn't roll up again, but it resolved itself within minutes.

I hope it isn't a TIPM! I really do!

Forgot to mention, my last vehicle was a Fiat Stilo, and I was on the Fiat Forum for a few years. That's what led to my sniffing out this forum, I remembered how lovely and helpful the Fiat lot were!

Thanks for the reply, I appreciate it! My gut has been muttering that it's something electrical....
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Old 02 Jun 2016, 06:45 am
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Default Re: Engine cutting out, rough idling, RPMs surging and falling, and now overheating!

Check to see if both speeds are working on the fan....
Before you flush the radiator do a head gasket test by checking for exhaust gases in the radiator fluid.

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Old 02 Jun 2016, 11:16 am
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Default Re: Engine cutting out, rough idling, RPMs surging and falling, and now overheating!

In my experience, 17 mpg city is quite normal for a Touring model. On the bright side, I also get about 34 mpg highway...
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Old 02 Jun 2016, 12:01 pm
Fk5 Fk5 is offline
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Default Re: Engine cutting out, rough idling, RPMs surging and falling, and now overheating!

Did you ever open the radiator cap to determine if it is full? If there is coolant, is it milky? Check the oil, does it smell burnt? Overheating to the point of setting off the bells and whistles is not good even if it turns out to be something simple (I'm on my 2nd leaking radiator)
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Old 02 Jun 2016, 12:21 pm
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Default Re: Engine cutting out, rough idling, RPMs surging and falling, and now overheating!

The symptoms of your June 1 experience sounds like the fan is not turning on. Here's the truth table for what conditions cause the fan to run at low and high speed. Having an OBD2 monitor would also really help because it displays the engine coolant temperature sensor reading in numerical format rather than the highly non-linear instrument gauge.


You can see that from a cold start, turning the A/C on won't cause the radiator fan to come on and it won't come on until the coolant temp is 180C.
When the fan is off with the A/C switched on, as the A/C system gets hot, the A/C will quickly cycle on and off.

At highway speeds, you might be getting enough airflow to not overheat the engine even if the fan is not working at all.

You can also see that the radiator fan logic is tied to the temperature sensor so the temp sensor must also be working for the computer to turn the fan on and off properly.

The other symptoms may have nothing to do with the fan but I would say the fan is at least one suspect in your problems.
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Old 02 Jun 2016, 12:25 pm
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Default Re: Engine cutting out, rough idling, RPMs surging and falling, and now overheating!

Quote:
Originally Posted by rsrocket1 View Post
The symptoms of your June 1 experience sounds like the fan is not turning on. Here's the truth table for what conditions cause the fan to run at low and high speed. Having an OBD2 monitor would also really help because it displays the engine coolant temperature sensor reading in numerical format rather than the highly non-linear instrument gauge.


You can see that from a cold start, turning the A/C on won't cause the radiator fan to come on and it won't come on until the coolant temp is 180C.
When the fan is off with the A/C switched on, as the A/C system gets hot, the A/C will quickly cycle on and off.

At highway speeds, you might be getting enough airflow to not overheat the engine even if the fan is not working at all.

You can also see that the radiator fan logic is tied to the temperature sensor so the temp sensor must also be working for the computer to turn the fan on and off properly.

The other symptoms may have nothing to do with the fan but I would say the fan is at least one suspect in your problems.
On my two PT Cruisers the low speed on the radiator does come on when I turn the A/C on with the engine cold.
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Old 02 Jun 2016, 12:30 pm
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Default Re: Engine cutting out, rough idling, RPMs surging and falling, and now overheating!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ptcruisersteve View Post
On my two PT Cruisers the low speed on the radiator does come on when I turn the A/C on with the engine cold.
On my PT as well, on a cold engine and turn on the a/c, the fan comes on immediately. That's how I was able to determine that the high-speed function was not working properly, had the fan replaced to prevent a possible overheating situation.

Last edited by rckstein; 02 Jun 2016 at 12:33 pm.
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Old 02 Jun 2016, 01:00 pm
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Default You got me (maybe)

Interesting, immediate fan with A/C on with Gen2 PT's?

This table is from the service manual. Maybe it's not right. I replaced the timing belt, water pump, T-Stat and fluid on my Outback this weekend and was watching the radiator fan cycle with the A/C switched on and said "seems like the logic is the same as what's in the PT Cruiser Service Manual".

Since replacing the fan on my 09 PT Cruiser (worn out low speed brushes), I hadn't validated the truth table myself with the new fan and thermostat in the car. Since everything worked fine at all speeds and outdoor temperature conditions, I just assumed it was doing what it should be.
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