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How Badly Can You Abuse a PT Cruiser?

 
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  • 5 Post By SpaceMouse
  • 1 Post By rckstein
  • 2 Post By NitroPT
  • 1 Post By CREWZIN
  • 2 Post By rob302
  • 1 Post By VsandFords
  • 2 Post By sanatanadharma

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Old 18 Jul 2017, 04:56 pm
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Default How Badly Can You Abuse a PT Cruiser?

This isn't going to be a well-received first post, but here goes:
I needed a car for work. Or more accurately, to keep at work. I take a train and light rail to my job (at NASA Ames Research Center), then have a one mile "commute" from the main gate to my desk. So I needed a vehicle that would stand up to the abuse of never getting properly warmed up, getting maybe an annual oil change, and living outside in the salt air next to San Francisco bay.
Working with a $2k budget, I was faced with choosing between a really ugly early model Elantra (140,000 miles), a riced-out Civic (200,000 miles) or an '06 PT (104,000 miles). My two car nut friends (one a former Senior Editor at Road and Track, the other a test driver for Michelin) both said "You'll be sick of the PT Cruiser, and everything will wear out or break, before the drive train quits", so I bought the Chrysler.
It started and ran well, it needed a few repair items (driver's side door handle broken off on the inside, tail light out, that sort of stuff). Then I discovered that the rotors were down to their absolute minimum thickness and starting to crack, so new pads and rotors up front. Figure I'll also need to replace the rear shoes and drums.
Then I looked at the maintenance intervals and realized this sucker needed a timing belt. No big deal, I did the belt and water pump on my Miata. Then I found out that on the PT, this is like tying your shoes with your socks on over top of them. But what the heck, I was raised by an aircraft mechanic and have been wrenching for a very long time.
So far I've found that all three of the right side engine mounts are shot. I shattered one of the legs of a Harbor Freight three jaw puller trying to remove the main pulley (fragment whizzed right past my ear when that sucker went!). Blew a hose on my compressor (it hadn't worked this hard in the eight years since I set it up, guess the heat got to it). The folks at Amazon are probably happy (ordered engine mounts, belt and water pump kit, front crank seal, serpentine belts, and a heavy-duty, Chrysler-specific 3 jaw puller from them so far). Also hit Harbor Freight (yeah, I know) for impact sockets and a pneumatic wrench (already had an impact wrench). So instead of paying the local shop $1200 to do the job, I'll have a few new tools and a smaller hole in the bank account and continued thankfulness to my dad.
All this for a car (or truck, I guess) that's going to die a slow death of attrition. But at least it'll be running when it does.
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Old 18 Jul 2017, 04:58 pm
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Default Re: How Badly Can You Abuse a PT Cruiser?

Welcome to the forum

Since you're going to tear into the area and do the timing belt and all the other components, you might as well replace the cam seals at the same time.
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Old 18 Jul 2017, 05:08 pm
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Default Re: How Badly Can You Abuse a PT Cruiser?

Yup this is a PT Cruiser forum soooo I always start by saying WELCOME to new members.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SpaceMouse View Post
This isn't going to be a well-received first post, but here goes:
Working with a $2k budget, I was faced with choosing 06 PT 104,000 miles.

Itsa... a $2000..that's two thousand dollar car you bought WHAT WERE YOU EXPECTING?
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Last edited by NitroPT; 18 Jul 2017 at 05:10 pm.
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Old 18 Jul 2017, 05:33 pm
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Default Re: How Badly Can You Abuse a PT Cruiser?

Welcome to the forum.

Your ALWAYS taking a chance when buying a used car unless you really knew and hung around with the previous owner. You have no idea how they treated the car and what upkeep/maintenance was done to keep it running, unless of course you happen to find the owners manual in the glove compartment with all the oil changes and maintenance that was performed before you bought it.

As was said, you bought transportation that you need to depend on day in and day out and you had a 2K budget. What can you expect.

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Old 18 Jul 2017, 05:36 pm
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Default Re: How Badly Can You Abuse a PT Cruiser?

I beat the piss out of mine and it handled it well. The cam shafts will get damaged by neglecting oil changes. Mine had spalling on the lobes. I never drove without flooring and power shifting it. I went off roading, drove over /launched off curbs, drove over parking blocks, slid down bicycle trails, etc.

Have fun with it
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Old 18 Jul 2017, 05:58 pm
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Default Re: How Badly Can You Abuse a PT Cruiser?

Quote:
Originally Posted by CREWZIN View Post
Welcome to the forum.

Your ALWAYS taking a chance when buying a used car unless you really knew and hung around with the previous owner. You have no idea how they treated the car and what upkeep/maintenance was done to keep it running, unless of course you happen to find the owners manual in the glove compartment with all the oil changes and maintenance that was performed before you bought it.

As was said, you bought transportation that you need to depend on day in and day out and you had a 2K budget. What can you expect.

Oh, I'm not complaining- definitely figured on needing to do some work on it, just a bit surprised at the, uh, tight packaging of the engine and the pulley's reluctance to be moved (though now that I've gotten into it, I keep running into references to "six tons of force" securing the pulley).

On the plus side, I've discovered that the radiator has been replaced reasonably recently, and the seller mentioned that some sort of ECU module (which is apparently failure-prone) had likewise been replaced.
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Old 18 Jul 2017, 06:03 pm
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Default Re: How Badly Can You Abuse a PT Cruiser?

Welcome to the forum from Texas. Replacing the TB is tough. Probably not as fun as tying your shoes with socks over the top. Lisle makes a puller for the crank pulley that will handle the torque needed to pull it loose.
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Old 22 Jul 2017, 04:36 pm
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Default Re: How Badly Can You Abuse a PT Cruiser?

Quote:
Originally Posted by CREWZIN View Post
... taking a chance when buying a used car unless you really knew ... what upkeep/maintenance was done to keep it running ... happen to find the owners manual in the glove compartment with all the oil changes and maintenance that was performed before you bought it. ...
She who buys my cruiser will receive a fully annotated owners manual, maintenance logs, years of gas-mileage records, pictures and notes detailing the modifications (mostly electrical), and lots of unobtainium.
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Old 22 Jul 2017, 04:50 pm
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Default Re: How Badly Can You Abuse a PT Cruiser?

Welcome to the forum from the great sovereign state of Arkansas!

Sounds like you've got this all well under control at this point. Good for you.

The magic of a PT Cruiser isn't that it's real durable. It's not. The magic is that it is very inexpensive to maintain and fix if you can do the work yourself. It's the most common type of car in many salvage yards right now and parts of all types are plentiful. The timing belt is likely the most difficult thing you will ever have to do to it. After this, just give it regular maintenance, fix stuff as it brakes and the car will virtually be immortal.

And yes, a PT Cruiser is the PERFECT car to leave at work. Just make sure it has a good battery in it if it sits for long periods. And enjoy!
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Last edited by Handy_Cruiser; 22 Jul 2017 at 05:00 pm.
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