What to look for when buying a used Chrysler PT Cruiser

Safety: Antilock brakes, traction control and side-impact airbags were optional. In the NHTSA frontal crash tests, the 2001 Chrysler PT Cruiser received only two stars for the driver and four stars for the front passenger. The improved 2002-2010 PT Cruiser received four stars for both the driver and the front passenger. In the NHTSA side-impact crash tests, the 2001-2010 PT Cruiser received four stars for the driver and five stars for the rear passenger protection.

Chrysler PT Cruiser problems: One of the issues that can cause the engine to overheat is a bad cooling fan motor. The cooling fan has two speeds, often one of them stops working. Sometimes this could happen intermittently. If the engine overheats, the repair could be quite expensive. The wheel bearings are not uncommon to go bad. Some suspension problems, like bad control arm bushings are fairly common. The corrosion on the alloy rims often causes the tires to lose air. A bad camshaft sensor could cause the code P0340 as well as some driveability issues. When replacing the camshaft sensor, it's best to use an original part bought from a dealer.

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The part called watt's link in the rear suspension commonly goes bad causing the clunking noise from the rear when driving over bumps. If you Google 'watts link pt cruiser' there are few DIY instructions how to replace it. This website: Ptcruizer.com has a good collection of repair tips.

What to look for when buying a used Chrysler PT Cruiser: If you notice oil or coolant leaks, be careful; some oil leaks could be caused by internal engine problems and the repair is expensive. When you take your Cruiser for a pre-purchase inspection, ask to check for oil leaks especially around the front crankshaft seal; it's a known problem. A black soot in the exhaust or blue smoke may indicate excessive oil consumption. If you see any smoke, even a puff of blue smoke when the car is started, avoid the car. During a test-drive, if you notice the engine temperature rises above normal, avoid the car. Vibration and growling or whining noise coming from the wheels could indicate a bad wheel bearing, which is a fairly common issue. Watch for any noises from the suspension. There are plenty of suspension components that can go bad. Guides for used car buyers:

Maintenance tips: Change engine oil regularly. We checked maintenance schedules in owner's manuals for 2004 through 2010 PT Cruiser. For these model years, Chrysler recommends changing oil every 3,000 miles (5,000 km) if the car is used in operating conditions like stop and go traffic, repeated short trips, below-freezing temperatures, etc. For normal operating conditions, the recommended oil change interval is listed at 6,000 miles (10,000 km). We think that 3,000-3,500 miles oil change interval is reasonable to keep your engine in a good shape. You can download an owner's manual here.
Check the tire pressure regularly; there are some complaints about tires losing air due to corrosion on the rims.
The PT Cruiser 2.4L engine has a timing belt that needs to be replaced at recommended intervals. The owner's manual for the 2007 model PT Cruiser recommends replacing the timing belt every 102,000 miles or 170,000 km for a non-turbo engine and 100,000 miles or 160,000 km for a turbocharged engine. We recommend replacing the timing belt earlier, for example, at 80,000 - 90,000 miles, or at least, have it checked when the mileage is approaching the change interval. When doing the timing belt, it makes sense to replace the water pump as well. The flashing Check Engine light and occasional misfiring could be caused by bad spark plugs and wires; if you haven't done a tune-up in a while, it might be a good idea to do it now. If you notice that the engine temperature rises above normal, have the car checked before it overheats. Change transmission fluid at recommended intervals. Keep the coolant and other fluids clean and topped up. Have your car inspected at least once a year in a garage on the lift (e.g. when doing tire rotation) to keep it safe.
You might also be interested:

Safety Recalls - NHTSA - check for recalls.
Transport Canada - Motor Vehicle Safety Recalls - check for recalls in Canada.
Ptcruizer.com - plenty of info and tips.

2009 Chrysler PT Cruiser short specifications (US 5-door model)

Overall length:
Overall width:
Overall height:

168.9 in (4290 mm)
67.1 in (1705 mm)
63.0 in (1601 mm)
103.0 in (2616 mm)

Ground Clearance:

5.5 in (140 mm)

Estimated Base Curb Weight:

3,070 lb. (1392 kg)- manual transaxle
3,222 lb. (1461 kg)- automatic transaxle

Cargo capacity:
Behind rear seats:
With rear seats out:

21.6 cu. ft. (0.61 cu. m)
62.7 cu. ft. (1.78 cu. m)



2.4-liter DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder
150 bhp @ 5,100 rpm, 165 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm

2.4-liter DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder Turbocharged
180 bhp @ 5,200 rpm, 210 lb-ft @ 2,800-4,000 rpm

EPA Fuel Economy (US mpg, L/100 km):
4-cyl, Manual:

4-cyl, Automatic:

4-cyl Turbo, Automatic:

city: 21 mpg (11.2 L/100 km)
hwy: 26 mpg (9.0 L/100 km)

city: 19 mpg (12.4 L/100 km)
hwy: 24 mpg (9.8 L/100 km)

city: 18 mpg (13.1 L/100 km)
hwy: 24 mpg (9.8 L/100 km)

Recommended Fuel:

Unleaded regular, 87 octane

Fuel Tank Capacity:

15 US gallons (57 liters)

Engine oil capacity:
Engine Oil with Filter:
2.4 Liter / 2.4L Turbo Engines

5.0 US qt. (4.7L) (SAE 5W-30, API Certified)