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Dash light malfunctions?

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Old 14 Jul 2012, 11:21 pm
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Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 1
Default Dash light malfunctions?

I have a 2001 PT Cruiser which will be going to my mechanic on Monday, but tomorrow I need to drive it 100 miles (and back, 6 hours later) and am needing a little reassurance that it's safe to drive.

The Check Engine light came on at 6 p.m. The closest open shop was Pep Boys and they ran a system check. They said the error message was for the "power steering pressure sensor," and that the rest of the charging system checked out fine. They said this was a non-critical problem and I could still make my trip and take it to the mechanic on Monday.

However, when I started up the car again, another light came on -- the engine temperature warning light. I checked all the fluids, even though I had just done this a few days ago, and everything is full. The temperature gauge was at "C."

I drove it home, a distance of about 5 miles, and the temperature gauge remained at "C." It should have come up a little, if not to the mid-point, from my experience with this car.

So it seems like maybe there is an electrical problem with the dash lights? Because the car is not overheating, it is full of coolant and neither of these lights were on before.

Thanks for any replies.
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Old 15 Jul 2012, 05:59 am
Obsessed Cruiser
Join Date: Sep 2001
Posts: 27,758
Default Re: Dash light malfunctions?

First, you don't have to run to Pep Boys to find out what the engine light means. Follow these instructions to do it yourself.

Second, the Power Steering Pressure switch is a non-critical item so you should be able to make your trip without a problem.

To find out if the gauge is working, there's a test of all the numerals and dials on the gauges you can do. Hold the trip reset button in while turning the key towards the windshield. Don't start the car but leave the key facing forward. The numerals where your Odometer is will start counting (11111, 222222 etc.) and you can now leave go of the rest button. After the numerals count all the needles in each gauge (one at a time) will do a test. Watch your temperature needle to see if it is working properly.

If the test is good, the owners manual only talks about overheating when the light comes on but will come on if your extremely low of coolant. You say you checked all the fluids so you might have a problem with the ECT (Engine Coolant Temperature) sensor. It's located just below the thermostat. It's electrical so if the car is cold, you can disconnect the sensor and plug it back in to make sure it's making good contact. Picture below of the sensor.

Lastly, to clear the computer of all fault codes, take off the negative battery terminal for about 5 minutes. It resets the computer, clears all the faults. If something is bad, the engine light will come back after you start driving again.

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