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I hope my pain means gain for someone else.

 
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  • 5 Post By smarq17
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Old 28 May 2019, 12:14 am
smarq17's Avatar
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Default I hope my pain means gain for someone else.

This was a case of me knowing - but ignoring my responsibilities.

I bought my 2003 Limited over 3 years ago with 97K on it's odometer. I had researched PT Cruisers before buying this one...including owning a 2005 Touring Edition several years ago (had to sell that one due to a career change) and promising myself to buy another PT as soon as possible. I knew the issues that came with a PT, not to mention the fact it was a used vehicle too.

Yet...I still chose to kick the ole "timing belt replacement" thing continually down the road. I knew it had to be changed no later than 105K (preferrably closer to 95K though), I knew it and always had it in the back of my mind. Still I kept kicking the ole "timing belt replacement" thing right on down the road.

Lesson learned.

Earlier this month (right after surpassing 105K miles too!!!) my G-D-F timing belt finally went to crap.

OK here is my story, unadulterated and complete with details.

First thing I did was check the code and it indicated my Camshaft Position sensor was out. So I went ahead and changed it, but still no start. I did not want to do anything more than that, since I figured it was beyond my current level of repair skills.

I took it to a local shop that I trust and use regularly. Initial diagnostics showed that it was likely the timing belt had busted. That alone was serious enough, but I was prepared for that probability. I asked the service guy there about the damage I was about to incur, fully expecting (and getting) the price estimate that has, time and time again, been shown in this forum. I was told to prepare to pay around $1,200 or more - depending on the amount of damage found.

After catching my breath, I asked for worst case and best case scenarios. He told me best case was my sensor saved me from any serious damage but I should replace the timing belt and water pump regardless. Made sense. The worst case though...damn.

He listed all the potential damage that could have taken place and I almost cried. Almost.

So I told him to go ahead and tear down whatever he needed to find out exactly what needed to be repaired. This took 2 full days. I went ahead and bought a timing belt kit for $56 on Amazon (thank you Prime 2-day delivery) knowing that a replacement was demanded here anyways. BTW, buying the part on my own saved me over $300.

It was found out the timing belt had slipped about a dozen notches and there was a real possibility that my valve stems my be damaged enough to need replacement. I started looking for a replacement motor right after that, but he also said as long as he was able to start up the motor with just the timing belt kit (it arrived right on time!), it would be driveable so I was hopeful again.

Finally, after my PT spent a full week in the Critical Care ward, the mechanic was able to get it up and running. Felt like my baby was back in action at last! But. No.

Before I went to pick up my PT to get back to cruising, I was told my cooling fan was completely dead. They quoted me a price to replace it for $600. I felt like another, separate, ton of bricks had been dropped on me.

They asked if I wanted them to go ahead and replace the cooling fan before they put my PT back together. I decided against that, with the thinking that I drive mostly at night with mostly highway miles. I wasn't anywhere near overheating prior to the timing belt going to crap and kind of knew I was having fan problems at the time. I thought that my low speed fan was what was the problem since my issues were mostly when I was idling. Being told it was completely dead was not really expected and the estimate was totally not what I wanted to hear. But, oh well.

I paid my $900 bill for the timing belt and picked up my PT. I was able to drop the cooling fan price down to $200 (for labor) since I was going to buy a fan I already had saved on eBay for $40 with the promise I would be back as soon as my fan was delivered.

So.

My $40 cooling fan was delivered last week on Thursday. I had my PT put back into service and repaired by noon that Friday. While I'm much lighter in the wallet , I feel much better now that all that was finally taken care of and will hopefully not have to repeat the experience.

Lesson #1: Replace the G-F-D timing belt BEFORE it busts. If, somehow, you have gone beyond 105K and STILL HAVE NOT replaced it - do it ASAP!

Lesson #2: NEVER let a shop buy the parts you need. Autozone, Amazon, Ebay and so many other dealers will always be cheaper - without sacrificing quality.

Lesson #3: ALWAYS take the experiences posted here in this wonderful forum at full value. Everything I had already read here concerning timing belts came true without fail. While I did not heed the advice to replace before repair was needed, I was prepared for the consequences. Thanks to you all for that.

Well that's my story. If I was able to help just one person with it, then my life has at last become worthwhile.
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Old 28 May 2019, 07:55 am
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Location: Lake Wales, FL
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Default Re: I hope my pain means gain for someone else.

Yeah, the timing belt issue is on you. You owned it, so good for you. As for the cooling fan, did you check it yourself or just take their word for it? If you'd come to the forum BEFORE getting that work done, you'd have probably saved some money buy following the advice of how to check it yourself. Moot point now. Now for "engine damage" The 2.4 is NOT and interference engine. It is a RARE occurrence that valves get damaged when a timing belt fails in these cars. Sounds more like you were giving them permission to do work that wasn't needed. Good for the shop owner for not taking advantage of you. $900 for a timing belt, water pump job is a hell of a deal. Here where I live, they charge the folks that can't do it themselves around $1,500.
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Old 28 May 2019, 01:35 pm
Fk5 Fk5 is offline
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Default Re: I hope my pain means gain for someone else.

Quote:
Originally Posted by smarq17 View Post
Lesson #2: NEVER let a shop buy the parts you need. Autozone, Amazon, Ebay and so many other dealers will always be cheaper - without sacrificing quality.
This advice is *sometimes* good. You can save a ton of money by buying the parts yourself, but you often lose your guarantee. The shop will usually guarantee parts and labor, but if you buy crappy AutoZone parts, I wouldn't expect them to change them for free when it dumps out. My local shop doesn't like to shop around, but will usually be willing to buy where I tell him. Sometimes I bring him stuff, but 99% of the time I am doing my own work, so I take my chances. Talk to the shop about what it means to your warranty to bring your own parts.

As for learning lessons from your experience, I feel like you suffered few repercussions from letting the belt break. If anything, I will be more likely to let mine snap around 200K. Then I will use my AAA towing to take it home and do the job.
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Last edited by Fk5; 28 May 2019 at 01:41 pm.
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Old 28 May 2019, 01:51 pm
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Default Re: I hope my pain means gain for someone else.

Wow a $600 quote for a fan? I think my brother spwnt maybe $50 on a TYC fan and it took me an hour at most to replace it
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Old 28 May 2019, 11:17 pm
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Default Re: I hope my pain means gain for someone else.

Quote:
Originally Posted by smarq17 View Post
Lesson #1: Replace the G-F-D timing belt BEFORE it busts. If, somehow, you have gone beyond 105K and STILL HAVE NOT replaced it - do it ASAP!
Your tale of woe told me your procrastination didn't matter, except maybe the car will have more miles when the next belt needs changing. Replacing the timing belt before or after failing made no difference.
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Last edited by circus; 29 May 2019 at 09:57 am. Reason: rephrased
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Old 29 May 2019, 02:55 pm
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Default Re: I hope my pain means gain for someone else.

Quote:
Originally Posted by circus View Post
Your tale of woe told me your procrastination didn't matter, except maybe the car will have more miles when the next belt needs changing. Replacing the timing belt before or after failing made no difference.
While it made no difference from a repair point of view..after 100K, its not a matter of "if" it will break, only when and where. Best to replace it, when you can control the when and where to get it replaced. If it would have snapped on a Saturday, 300 miles away from home, with the family in the car at 11pm, the situation would have been a whole lot worst and probably much more expensive.
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Old 30 May 2019, 02:39 am
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Default Re: I hope my pain means gain for someone else.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JonN View Post
Wow a $600 quote for a fan? I think my brother spwnt maybe $50 on a TYC fan and it took me an hour at most to replace it
The exact quote was: $240 for labor and $400 for a replacement Mopar fan. I worked the labor down to $200 by promising to come back after I bought my own fan.
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Old 30 May 2019, 02:42 am
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Default Re: I hope my pain means gain for someone else.

Quote:
Originally Posted by circus View Post
Your tale of woe told me your procrastination didn't matter, except maybe the car will have more miles when the next belt needs changing. Replacing the timing belt before or after failing made no difference.
LOL that's one way to look at it. I know it was not fun breaking down more than 20 miles aways from home in almost 100 degree sunny weather. Also, still having to finish my work before actually finding a way to get me and my PT home. All said, I wish I had replaced the timing belt earlier this year when I had less work and more $$$ available. That's my experience anyways.
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