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#1
Old 10-07-2013, 02:27 PM
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Ever had a Chrysler PT Cruiser? What did you think of it?

I'm going to be getting my dad's 2001 PT Cruiser with 94,000 miles of Florida driving on it. I'm bringing it to Illinois where I'll mainly use it for trips to Milwaukee, Madison, and Springfield, Illinois.

I don't currently have a car, but my experience over the last 15 years has been with European cars, mainly VWs. I'm hoping someone will tell me that Chrysler parts are not ridiculously expensive and that 3 hours of labor isn't required for the slightest maintenance job.

How does it handle in snow and ice? Anything else I should know, positive or negative?
#2
Old 10-07-2013, 02:58 PM
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Location: Montana
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Other than the teasing you will likely endure if you are not, in fact, someone's cool grandma, they're not horrible. Under the retro facade, they're similar to a Dodge Neon, so a pretty basic FWD car. Compared to a similar vintage VW, it'll probably seem pretty dull to drive, about as or slightly more reliable and somewhat cheaper to get fixed. It should be fine in the snow, or at least as good as most FWD cars.
#3
Old 10-07-2013, 03:03 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dalej42 View Post
I'm going to be getting my dad's 2001 PT Cruiser with 94,000 miles of Florida driving on it. I'm bringing it to Illinois where I'll mainly use it for trips to Milwaukee, Madison, and Springfield, Illinois.

I don't currently have a car, but my experience over the last 15 years has been with European cars, mainly VWs. I'm hoping someone will tell me that Chrysler parts are not ridiculously expensive and that 3 hours of labor isn't required for the slightest maintenance job.

How does it handle in snow and ice? Anything else I should know, positive or negative?
Wife had the dream cruiser for a few years. Couple of notes:

1. Timing belt is prone to snap prematurely. Seen it on dozens as we were looking. They are rated to be replaced at 100k, but routinely break in the 80-100k range. Check if yours has been replaced.

2. The engine is a %^&*@! to work on since its all crammed in there tight.

3.When you replace the timing belt, best to replace the water pump. See number two and they go around the same time.

4. Ours drove great but the tie rods/ball joints are also prone to go early and eat tires.

5. AC was amazing in ours... no seriously, colder on the lowest setting than any car i have ever owned and I have owned a lot!

6. Gas mileage is lows 20s if you are lucky. Beast is HEAVY for that neon engine.

7. The limited edition (which is anything but limited) had the turbo from the GT but the transmission from the base which equates to a lot of worn and broken transmissions!

8. They have a look only a woman could love!

Last edited by chargerrich; 10-07-2013 at 03:05 PM.
#4
Old 10-07-2013, 03:04 PM
Suspended
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 18,476
Decent cars..tons of room (with the rear seats down). You can carry lotsa stuff. The only fly: wide turning radius, and relatively high fuel consumption-my wife had one.
#5
Old 10-07-2013, 03:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chargerrich View Post
2. The engine is a %^&*@! to work on since its all crammed in there tight.
From a mechanic's point of view, this is a very noticeable feature. Seems like Chrysler was trying hard to make it as expensive to work on as European cars.

As for reliability, they aren't awful but they aren't great either. If it weren't for the retro appeal of the styling, not many would have sold.
#6
Old 10-07-2013, 03:22 PM
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Location: Chicago Il
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I rented one for a week and found it very underpowered. My Civic could have blown the doors off that snail. If you're just driving around town that's probably not a huge issue.
#7
Old 10-07-2013, 03:29 PM
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I had one as a rental and really didn't like it - I am tall-ish for a female and found it uncomfortable to drive for any length of time.

At the same time - free car, so free is better than paying for it
#8
Old 10-07-2013, 03:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zoid View Post
I rented one for a week and found it very underpowered. My Civic could have blown the doors off that snail. If you're just driving around town that's probably not a huge issue.
We had one as a rental once, as well. Underpowered, wide turning radius, and poor fuel consuption habits were noticable. The interior seemed chinzy and not well put-together, and the windshield wipers did not work very well. YMMV of course, but I would not choose to rent or own this car (I would just trade it in toward the purchase of a newer car). It coulda just been because it was a rental car, but my kids ended up calling that car 'PT Loser'.
#9
Old 10-07-2013, 03:40 PM
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My wife bought one new in 2001. All kinds of weird crap kept falling apart. We had a 70K warranty, so Chrysler bought most of it. Some of the major examples:

The front sway bar and bushings had to be replaced twice and were starting to squeak again.

The water pump went out under warranty at 50K miles. Unfortunately this happened in the winter as the AC didn't work once it got hot. A part of the AC compressor was broken off and the stealership said that something must have jumped up from the road and broke it. I'm thinking that the water pump was about a foot away and they had to work right next to it.

The plastic thermostat housing cracked and started leaking twice.

The automatic transmission died at 77K miles which was 7K miles after the warranty expired. That was over $2000.

Probably not an issue but 3 of the 4 original tires were defective including one that blew out. We ditched the 4th tire as we thought it would die soon.

Snow and ice were OK. My wife's PT had anti-lock brakes and traction control.

As chargerrich mentioned, the gas mileage is't as good as you'd expect especially on the highway. I think that the aerodynamics aren't all that good at speed.

Also as chargerrich mentioned, it's tight under the hood. You have to remove half of the plastic intake manifold to get at the spark plugs for example. Of course with platinum plugs, you can go up to 100K miles if you dare. Also the owner's manual says to remove the front tires to replace the headlight bulbs, but you really don't need to do that. Jacking up the car does help drop the tire so that you can get to the access panel easier.

At just under 100K miles the sway bar started squeaking yet again. Also it wasn't running a good as in the past. I even thought I felt the automatic transmission getting jerky. Therefore she sold it for a 2013 Nissan Altima and likes the new Altima much better.
#10
Old 10-07-2013, 03:40 PM
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Location: South Carolina
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We had my husband's mom's for a while (it was a convertible - not sure what year.) I HATED HATED HATED HATED that car. HATED it. It was noisy, and it had a huge, huge, huge blind spot. When you changed lanes on the interstate you just had to say a prayer and roll the dice.

It also got bad gas mileage and couldn't turn worth shit.

On the other hand, it did have a lot more cargo room than you'd think, looking at it.
#11
Old 10-07-2013, 03:42 PM
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Positive: It's free.
Negatives: For a four banger, the fuel economy is terrible. Also, you have to be seen in it.
#12
Old 10-07-2013, 03:45 PM
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Join Date: May 2000
Location: Brookfield, IL
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I owned a 2001 Cruiser for 10 years, here in Chicago. Loved it for the first 7 or 8 years; hated it for the last 2 or 3.

To build on / agree with the other comments...

Positives:
- Very roomy for up to 4 adults
- Very good visibility for the driver in most directions (though there's the blind spot by the C-pillar on the passenger side)

Negatives:
- Engine is somewhat underpowered. Early Cruisers, like the 2001, had the Neon 4-cylinder engine, and it was too small for the weight of the car (but the engineers struggled with getting a bigger engine into that pinched nose). The first redesign of the model (around 2003?) made for a bit more room in the engine compartment, and allowed for a bigger engine.
- Cramped engine compartment makes it difficult / expensive to work on. There was a needed repair to the engine (can't remember exactly what it was, now) which required completely dropping the engine out of the car (and which the mechanic told me would have been far easier -- and cheaper -- on virtually any other model).
- Unreliable electronics. Had to have the main computer chip replaced twice, and several other repairs related to the electronics. I've owned 3 Chryslers in my life, and all three of them had this same sort of issue.
- Lots of issues with the tie rods and suspension as it got older. I felt like I was fixing something in that area of the car every six months.
- Poor gas mileage. Around 22-23 on the highway, 19 or 20 in the city (more like 15-16 in the winter, when the engine would just get warm as I got home from my fairly short commute to the train and back).
- Smallish trunk / rear storage. Could not fit golf clubs back there, for one thing. You could fold down the rear seats in a couple of different fashions, and create a lot of storage room, but if you need the back seats, there's not a lot of trunk space.

Winter handling was OK, but not great. Always had a difficult time getting traction in the snow on my (short but uphill) driveway.

Edit: Zsofia reminded me: crappy turning radius.

Last edited by kenobi 65; 10-07-2013 at 03:47 PM.
#13
Old 10-07-2013, 03:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JerrySTL View Post
Also the owner's manual says to remove the front tires to replace the headlight bulbs, but you really don't need to do that. Jacking up the car does help drop the tire so that you can get to the access panel easier.
I'd forgotten about that. What a pain!
#14
Old 10-07-2013, 03:53 PM
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Aside from being an unreliable, difficult to work on, poorly handling, absolutely crap gas mileage vehicle with bad visibility, it is also one of the lowest ranked modern passenger vehicles in crash safety testing.

That it is also uglier than anything else on the highway this side of a Pontiac Aztek or an Nissan Juke is just an added bonus.

Stranger

Last edited by Stranger On A Train; 10-07-2013 at 03:54 PM.
#15
Old 10-07-2013, 04:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chargerrich View Post
Wife had the dream cruiser for a few years. Couple of notes:


6. Gas mileage is lows 20s if you are lucky. Beast is HEAVY for that neon engine.

:

So THIS is why they say YMMV. I currently drive one for work commute. I get 25-26, in town and 29-30 on the interstate

Last edited by Tread; 10-07-2013 at 04:45 PM. Reason: ETA But mine is manual transmission
#16
Old 10-07-2013, 05:03 PM
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My son used to drive his company's PT Cruiser, which he referred to as either a PT Loser or a POS Cruiser, or. . .well, you get the point. He hated it, and that was saying something since it was at least ten years newer than his own car.
#17
Old 10-07-2013, 05:16 PM
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I had a 2001 that was a 5-speed manual. The manual seemed a little umph-ier than the automatics when it came to going up hills, etc.

When I bought it, I had heard that when it comes to Cruisers, there are good ones and bad ones (like JerrySTL's). I had a bad one, too. In the three years that I owned it, I had to replace the power steering pump and a wheel bearing, and had some weird vacuum leak. A control module on the computer went bad, and the entire computer was going to have to be replaced. I skipped that one. When it started sounding like another wheel bearing was going, I decided to ditch it.

I'm guessing that if it's hit 94,000 without appreciable problems, it's probably not a bad one.

I thought mine handled horribly in snow and ice, of which we have a fair amount. It did not have traction control. I thought it handled badly in the rain, too. If there was a lot of water on the road, it always felt like it was on the verge of hydroplaning. It sucked on cornering, too.

I used mine to haul my art show set-up, and you can get a lot of storage if you remove the rear seats, but that is enough of a PITA that you're not going to be whipping them in and out on a daily basis.
#18
Old 10-07-2013, 05:55 PM
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When I first saw one, I thought they were cute as could be, but after seeing one up close and seeing how TINY they are inside, I decided I didn't want one after all. But they're still cute!
#19
Old 10-08-2013, 02:31 AM
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Location: NE Ohio (the 'burbs)
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I'm still driving my 2002 PT Cruiser, and I don't look forward to the day I'll have to replace it. The main thing for me is the cargo space. I'm an artist, and I can lay several paintings, up to 56" x 40", flat, with the back seat down and the hatch closed. Any other vehicle that can handle that is much larger, getting into SUV territory.

In spite of what others have reported, I haven't had greater than average problems with the car. Oh sure, I wish it had better mileage, and if you want to accelerate with the AC on, you practically have to get out and push.

From what I've heard, the 2002s are the only good ones. 2001s had way too many bugs, and beginning with 2003 they were made more cheaply. I rented a newer one once, and it was a total piece of shit. They even screwed up the retro dash design.

Anyway, I'm keeping mine.
#20
Old 10-08-2013, 04:34 AM
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dalej42--- You are moving it from sunny Florida to Wisconsin Winters.
Adjust the engine, so it runs hotter.
Add a plug-in radiator heater unit.
Upstate the cars Emergency Kit.
Put a large bag of rock salt or sand above the rear wheels, for weight & traction material.
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#21
Old 10-08-2013, 05:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zoid View Post
I rented one for a week and found it very underpowered. My Civic could have blown the doors off that snail. If you're just driving around town that's probably not a huge issue.
Not to mention that it sits high - it felt like I was driving a tall skinny scout- i normally was driving a jetta at the time, which felt comfortable, snug to the ground. Got into the loander PT, and it felt like i was in the scout - but instead of a nice wide stable wheelbase, I was jacked up on something skinny enough it made me nervous to try and corner fast or do fast curves. THen when I got the jetta back it was like riding in a roller skate. But I much prefer the safer stable feel of the wider lower wheelbase.
#22
Old 10-08-2013, 09:17 AM
Corellian Nerfherder
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Location: Brookfield, IL
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor View Post
Put a large bag of rock salt or sand above the rear wheels, for weight & traction material.
The Cruiser is front-wheel drive; how much would that help? (Other than pouring the sand under the front wheels, that is. )
#23
Old 10-08-2013, 11:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor View Post
dalej42--- You are moving it from sunny Florida to Wisconsin Winters.
Adjust the engine, so it runs hotter.
No, don't "adjust" the engine to run hotter. The proper (factory temperature) engine thermostat will keep the engine, when fully warmed up, in the desired (and needed) temperature range. In this case, I'm pretty sure a hotter thermostat is not even available, but if it were there would be a risk of overheating and possible engine damage.

For some vehicles with very efficient radiators being used in bitterly cold climate (more like Alaska than Wisconsin), a winter front may be helpful to avoid overcooling.

On a related note, while colder-than-factory-spec thermostats are available for many vehicles, it's not wise to use them. They can prevent the engine from getting fully warmed up and keep it from running at full efficiency. Fuel mileage, performance, emissions, and sometimes engine durability can be affected.
#24
Old 10-08-2013, 02:02 PM
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Bought a 2005, liked that it sat up high, lotsa room with back seats down. Drove it from AZ to northern NV, in the winter, with the front wheel drive got thru the mountain ok. There are tons of them in northern Nv. Sold it because we moved overseas.
#25
Old 10-08-2013, 04:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kenobi 65 View Post
The Cruiser is front-wheel drive; how much would that help? (Other than pouring the sand under the front wheels, that is. )
Sorry.
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