The Real Paul Jones

Accept no substitutes

Category: PT Saga! (page 1 of 2)

The misadventures of my 5 year old PT Cruiser which after 5 near perfect years of operation suddenly started stalling out in hot weather.

Castanets in my Cruiser

A couple of weeks ago, the add oil light went on in my fabled 01 PT Cruiser. It had been happy until then and was due an oil change in the next week — already scheduled. Nonetheless, I added 2 quarts of oil just to be safe as oil is cheap and engines aren’t.

My next trip out the engine sounded loud as if there was a flamingo dancer under the hood. The castinetts got louder as the car accelerated and went away at idle. Other then the sound the car performed normally. Normal RPMs at shifts, normal power, no oil light flash etc.

When I took the car in, I ask the dealer mechanics to check out the sound. Other than that the car was only due for a new air filter and oil and lube. The report came back that the car was fine tho slightly low on oil. Under pressure, no leaks were reported.

But as I drove off the castanets continued, but I imagined not so loud as before.

The car continued to perform about the same for about 10 days.

Last night I took about a 40 minute drive to a friend’s place and the sound seemed much much less. The car performed fine.

But this morning, I turned the key and the Check Engine light went on and stayed lit. I ran the diagnostics that display in the odometer and got the following “no” “faults” then the gauge run through and then 05-00. I can’t find this code anywhere. Shouldn’t it begin with a P and if there were truly “no faults” shouldn’t the sequence end with “done” instead of a number?

More after I call in tomorrow.

The state of your car reflects the state of your soul

I think it was Art Kleps who had this insight and who wrote it down for us in the Boo Hoo Bible.

The story, my personal story, is that my car refused to start. It was in the Office Max parking lot within the sad sight of a Wal-Mart during the lunar eclipse last night — alone in the dark. The computer readout was not promising (see article below).

This morning I called the local Chrysler dealer. They said that could see the car on Friday! Today is, ahem, Tuesday. I was dispirited to say the least.

Still I called AAA and asked for a tow to the dealer. In pretty quick time, the AAA tow arrived. The guy got out of the truck and he was covered with every variety of tattoo that might offend a 50+ year old father. He was direct. “Your battery is dead.” He hadn’t even heard the car try to start. I put him in the driver’s seat. All the power equipment worked fine. “Yup, it’s the battery.” But all of the stuff works great. “I’ll jump it now.”

He jumped it and it worked immediately.

Now the car is getting its 7+ year old battery replaced.

It is a new day.

One of my horoscopes says:

You are a peacemaker now, for harmony in your environment seems more important than ever. Loving relationships, giving and receiving affection, and attracting people into your life who are good for you are very likely at this time. Enjoy your day.

PT Saga: stall and odd codes

This has been one of our cooler days. Only 90 as I drove around doing errands. A short trip to Staples — 5 miles. Then to Lowes about 3 miles. Then to Office Max about 2 miles more. Perfect performance. In fact, no PT problems for almost a year. And a recent but not too recent maintenance went well.

But on coming out of Office Max, I tried to start the car. Nothing happened. We had noises but mostly that of the fan and belts. Not even a starter grind. A lot of hopping around on the dials, but the engine didn’t show hot and no lights looked odd.

I did the error display mojo and after the countdown from 11111111 to 99999999 in the odometer. I saw:
Ab5 or AbS

Next up a call to AAA and Chrysler in the morning.

PT Saga Over?

I’ve had absolutely no problems with my 2001 PT since the sensors were replaced. No more stalling and great performance. The end of this past week, I gave it the acid test: 5 hours on the Interstate from here to DC. It worked great. I of course was a little excited as I pulled off the highway to refuel in rural Virginia. I did have my AAA card out and the number on my autodial hot list. But I didn’t need it. Finally. Woo Woo!

PT Sage – Cured?

It’s back! This time the Chrysler folks brainstormed and then took the advice that Dan posted here in Comments. They replaced the camshaft and crankshaft sensors. They kept the car and drive it all over. One guy took his life into his hands and drive it to Burlington. It kept on working. So far so good. But then it never stalled for them in the past either.
I drove the PT home in the rain and it was great. Just like old times. Have to wait for a warm clear day to really test it out. But I feel positive.

PT Saga – Not the Power Train Control Module

I came back from India, hopped in my PT, drive to pick up some stuff and stalled (again). Called the dealer. They called Chrysler in the Sky.
We heard from on high: Replace the Power Train Control Module.
Since this part is covered by the 8 year/80K mile warranty, I liked it.
But last night I picked up the car with its new Power Train Control Module. I drive 3 miles on the Interstate.
As I pulled off on the ramp, I disengaged the clutch. I lost powersteering almost immediately. The engine stalled.
I roll started the PT. Whew!
But it stalled at the next light. Again about 3 minutes to restart.

So Chrysler in the Sky, it’s not the Power Train Control Module.

Back in on Monday morning.

Work done so far: 60K mile tuneup, clean the throttle housing etc, firmware upgrade, power steering pressure sensor, fuel pump, EGR (exhaust gas recovery), multi-switch and shift cable (these not really a candidates), powertrain control module. Also drove around with Co-Pilot installed.


I did get a little stall from the PT after a drive to Saxapahaw on Saturday. The car started almost immediately this time though.
We were on our way to visit with Elizabeth and Zach Exley. Zach ZACK Exley. Zack worked with and with the Kerry campaign on their on-line organizing in the last US Presidential campaign. He’s also a HuffingtonPost blogger.
The scene on Saturday at SXPHW is a very nice one. There’s a little farmer’s market. There is a very cool music series. This week featuring The Breaks and Maxwell/Mosher. And there was great BBQ from our favorite (other than Allen and Son) the BBQ Joint.
Nice weather, good music, good people, hula hoopers, good talk, what more could you ask for.

PT Saga: Co-Piloting

I have Co-Pilot installed in the PT and am ready to stall. I wasn’t disappointed. I drove from the dealer to school without a hitch, but as I pulled into the parking lot, I pushed in the clutch so as to drift in the the parallel space. But suddenly I lost power steering! Yes! I had stalled. And Yes! the PT wouldn’t restart. And Yes! I even remembered to push the famous triangle button on Co-Pilot and record all the info.
No true stalls since then. I need to get three or so. And one false stall.
But we’re off to Saxapahaw, a trip which might just get me the next stalls that I need.
More news as it happens.

PT Saga – Chrysler is my Co-Pilot

The PT has been acting fine. It hasn’t been that hot and I haven’t taken it on the highway. I wanted to over the weekend but I was worried about the stalling out.

After not hearing from the Chrysler in the Sky, I talked to the service manager and the dealer is now installing “Co-Pilot” which I am lead to understand is the car equivalent of an airplane black box. When the car stalls, I push a button and all that has happened earlier will be recorded.

In the meantime, I have a brand new PT loaner. The main redesign work since 2001 is the interior particularly the dashboard. The heating and cooling (of people, not the engine) is harder to get at in the new version. The radio is of cleaner design. There is a little analog clock above the radio, cute and retro. The fuel and engine temp have been rotated a bit. And this car is an automatic, which means I stomp the floor pretty often.

Just got a note telling me how to use Co-Pilot: “It’s very simple to use, just simply press a
triangle shaped button.”

PT Saga – Waiting on the Minds in the Sky

Called the Chrysler dealer this morning to tell him that we still have the stall-when-hot-and-driven-at-highway-speeds problem. The EGR replacement had no effect — except to further reduce my bank account and to frustrate me further. We’ve been at this problem for quite a while now.

He’s out of ideas. He and his tech are calling the big Chrysler PT techs in the sky. They are lighting candles of unnamed scents. They are putting paint on their faces. They are not calling back with any suggestions.

The PT stall saga continues!

A visit to rPath and a PT Saga

Tucker and I took a trip to Raleigh for the ribbon cutting, eating and drinking and talking and celebrating of rPath‘s new space near I-40 and NC 55. Erik Troan (CTO) and Billy Marshall (CEO) have really grown an impressive company and have some wonderful folks working with them including Michael K Johnson, Nathan Thomas and more folks I met tonight for the first time.

Representative Brad Miller of the 13th District was there to help cut the ribbon and to congratulate rPath for having been chosen to receive a $100K Small Business Innovation Research grant from the Department of Energy.

The afternoon temperature was over 100 degrees. The drive over was about 30 minutes at 65 mph. As soon as we pulled off the Interstate, the PT stalled. After about 5 minutes, I could start it again and get to rPath World Headquarters.

On the return, we drove around Cary a little. All was fine. We got on the highway. Sure enough we made it off the ramp and to the first stoplight where — the PT stalled. After 2 minutes, I could restart it only to have it fail soon after. Then after 2 more minutes, I could start it again. By using the handbrake at the next light, I kept the rpms up over 1500 and kept the car working til we got the rest of the way home.

Some how appropriate that RPMs were involved after visiting Erik Troan the inventor of the RPM (Red Hat Package Manager).

But grrrr. We now know that these things don’t fix the PT stalling when hot and driven fast problem: anything in the 60K mile tuneup, cleaning the throttle housing etc, firmware upgrade, power steering pressure sensor, fuel pump, EGR (exhaust gas recovery), and multi-switch and shift cable (these last two not really a candidates)..

PT gets EGR update

So after my crash test dummy experience, I get a call from the dealer. Seems that when the tech was removing the old EGR setup for a replacement, he noticed that one of the shift cables was worn to the point that it had no bushings. If that failed, I could no long shift! Better replace that (+$300).
So now we have had a 60K miles redo, a cleansing of the throttle housing etc, a new firmware upgrade, a new fuel pump, a new power steering pressure sensor, a new EGR setup and a new shift cable.
Will that solve the stalling while hot problem?
We’ll likely get some feedback this afternoon when I drive over to Rawlee in the 100+ degree weather. The perfect test case — and a scary one.

Crash Test Dummy? (PT saga)

I dropped my PT off at the dealer to see if an EGR replacement will fix the stall when hot problem it’s been having. I got there early and heard health stories from the very cordial guy who runs the service department. Then I took the shuttle into town — almost.

After stopping by at Duke with the other rider, we headed down 15-501 for Chapel Hill. But just before the new soon to be improved much much much safer superstreet intersection, the traffic suddenly can to a halt. Not slowly enough for us. The shuttle plowed into the back of a state Highway Department pickup which rammed into the back of a big ole red construction pickup which just missed bonking a police car which was conveniently on the scene.

Although the policeman was on the scene, the scene proceded very very slooooowly. No one was hurt. Only the shuttle was badly smashed.

While we were waiting for the paperwork to be done, the driver tested the shuttle which seemed drivable. So far so good.

Then there was another almost identical fender bender right past us. “Somebody ought to fix this intersection,” said the highway dept guy with a bit of ironic gallows humor.

At Don’s suggestion, I kept an eye out for the D bus. Just as he described it came down the access road right beside us. I waved it down and it stopped and took me to the Morehead Planetarium.

All this before 9:30 am.

Tales of my PT!

After last weekend’s PT stall out, I took the car back to the dealer (again). They kept the car overnight and couldn’t duplicate the problem.
Then the local Chrysler guys got on a conference call to the big Chrysler in the sky.
In consultation with the Mighty Minds, they decided to take a look at — get this — the EGR valve — that sounds familiar! Turns out that at about 5 years, the Exhaust Gas Recovery (EGR) can get a bit flakey. They went had used the computer to put pressure on the valve to see if it would effect the idling. It didn’t when it should have.
New solution: change the EGR.
“We can do that in an hour.” ok. Call back in about 45 minutes. “Err we don’t have the part. There is no PT EGR within 50 miles of here. We can get it tomorrow tho.”
We’ll be on the coast tomorrow. Can I leave the car there?
“Yes and we won’t charge you for storage ;->”

Tales of the PT continue on Monday!

Rudy and Brian’s Wedding Partry (PT stall)

Right after BarCampRDU, I headed back to get to Ruby and Brian’s Wedding, but first my PT, which had been fine, stalled out just off of I-40. It would not start for a loooong time. Finally someone helped me push it off the road and there and then as I was punching in the AAA number, it started and ran fine all the way home.
It was a lovely wedding which will be I’m sure fully described and photo-archived at the Ruby and Brian site. I can say that the DJing was fine, the guests a delight, the food — Indian catered by CurryBlossom — was fantastic, the ice cream on a stick was Loco Pops! The best Mexican treat north of the Rio Grande. Mango-chili yum yum and Mexican chocolate with cinnamon triple yum!
I’ll have to say that Brian’s poetry selections from Pablo Neruda were wonderful (since I helped a bit there and got a couple of my faves in and that I was delighted how appropriate they were for the occassion).
The ceremony began with a selection from the Mass. Decision on Same Sex Marriage being read. The trick is that no one, or not many of us, realized what the source of this odd discussion about the rights and responsibilities of marriage could be until the end of the reading.
Yes they have a Flickr tag-driven photostream.
Many good ones from Doc Searls and by MisterSugar

PT Saga post-0551

Today I took my PT back to the dealer. The Check Engine light was still on. The drive there went fine. It was almost exactly the same distance I drove on Saturday when I experienced the stalls. But no stall this time.
The mechanic drove the car over 25 miles and then drove in town where he never stalled.
He did check the Power Steering Sensor. As the light had reported, it needed to be replaced. It was. Also the multi-switch that does the turn signals needed a replace. Did that.
Watched too much Fox News whilst he did all this.
Then drove back to Chapel Hill via I-40.
Got to Weaver Dairy Road and stopped. Stalled, I think. I could have paniced. Anyhow it started again immediately and with no trouble.
The rest of the trip was uneventful.
More news as it happens.

PT Saga – P0551

Following WillR’s advice posted as a comment in the previous message, I retrieved the diagnostic codes (after some adventures noted in my comment following WillR’s.
I do have a P0551 which is related to idling. the has this to say of a very very similar case:

1010. I have a 2001 BE PT with 59.6k miles. Recently, while going to fill up with gas the engine (MIL) light on dash came on. I ran the self-tests and got this DTC – P0551, Power Steering Switch. Is this something I can fix or change out, or is it a dealer repair. I have always worked on my own cars, and rebuilt many engines in the old days. Thanks in advance. – Roger, from South Carolina.

A DIY’er with automotive experience could probably replace the switch, if it were diagnosed as being faulty. However, as you are probably aware, DTC’s are the result of a system or circuit failure, but do not always directly identify the failed component or components. Personally, I would have a diagnostic run before replacing the switch.

P0551 (M) – Power Steering Switch Failure: Incorrect input state detected for the power steering switch circuit. PL: High pressure seen at high speed.

Power steering pressure switch – A power steering pressure switch is used to improve the vehicle’s idle quality. The pressure switch improves vehicle idle quality by causing a readjustment of the engine idle speed as necessary when increased fluid pressure is sensed in the power steering system.

The pressure switch functions by signaling the powertrain control module that an increase in pressure of the power steering system is putting additional load on the engine. This type of condition exists when the front tires of the vehicle are turned while the vehicle is stationary and the engine is at idle speed. When the powertrain control module receives the signal from the power steering pressure switch, it directs the engine to increase its idle speed.

This increase in engine idle speed compensates for the additional load, thus maintaining the required engine idle speed and idle quality. The power steering pressure switch is mounted directly on the backside of the power steering gear. The replacement procedure is available through the Pit area on the site.

Looks like a job for Chrysler on Monday.

Note: Nothing in this posting at saysing anything about stalling out.

PT Saga Continues

First let me say that I love my PT Cruiser. I’ve had it for over 5 years; it is a first year Cruiser. During that time I’ve only had a few minor repairs and not serious callbacks.
Then the stalling when the engine is hot started.
The occurance of the problem preceded my 60K mile maintenance by only 24 hours so I added a look at the stall to the scheduled maintenace. The 60K is a pretty big deal in which all the spark plugs, wires, hoses etc are replaced or at least checked. The guess of the service guys was that the PT had gunk built up in the throttle housing (?) and that in the heat the gunk became fluid enough to ooze down and cut off the flow. No trouble. Just clean it out.
I pick up the car and drive a bit. The stall is back — or more properly never left.
[inserting forgetten visit here]
I take it back to Chrysler. They have found a tech bulletin of some sort. They download new soft/firmware in to the car’s mind. That should fix it.
In the mean time, Sally’s car, an older Saturn, was stalling too. Her problem was related to the EGR valve.
The PT, even with it’s new brain download, stalls again and again. Some symptoms: fine until driven about 15 or 20 miles in the heat. Then beware on stoplights.
The Chrysler guys next speculated that the problem was the fuel pump. My choices: Drive around with a pressure recorder on the fuel line or Just go ahead and replace the pump.
We replaced the pump. Not cheap but effective or so it seems.
No more stalling — so far.
Thursday I drove the PT about 4 blocks and the Check Engine Light lit up. Finally some data for the poor mechanics. During all the stalling there was no Check Engine and no data or alerts generated.
Now we have something for them to look at.
More on Monday.
[insert Saturday stall outs]
So I take the first good medium length drive today. Over to Durham to hear Barry Varela read from his new novel, Palmer’s Gate at the Regulator. I get almost to 9th Street when I hit a stoplight. The car stalls.
I am cursed in several different languages as I try to restart the car even though I have the e-blinkers on and am in the rightmost lane.
Finally, as usual, the PT restarts. I get to the reading a little late, but I do get there.
After the reading and good talks with friends, I get in the PT. Starts fine. Drives fine. All the way to Chapel Hill. Until I try to turn off 51-501 onto Morgan Creek. Stall again. Yikes.


I spent Friday morning mourning my car and watching Fox News at the Chrysler dealer. The new take on why the lovely PT was stalling at idle when hot is that the fuel pump was dying. Replace now for $500 (included labor) or drive around all weekend with a pressure gauge on the fuel line to see if the pressure is dropping. I finally opted for the replacement and to get it overwith. If this isn’t the fix, errrrrr.

Car Curses

The Brain upgrade of my PT made no difference. I drove to Raleigh on Saturday only to have the car stall at the first stoplight. The trip home was a repeat performance. Drive for 20 minutes on the Interstate. Stall at the first light after getting off. Crank for about 3 – 5 minutes to get restarted. Air con is not a factor one way or the other.

We left the PT at home and took the Saturn to the mountains. But hey this stall is contagious. Sally had had a part replaced about a month ago when the Saturn was dying in much the same way that the PT has been doing. Her car worked great since then. But as soon as we turned off the Interstate for lunch, the Saturn stalled out. Repeat as soon as we hit Asheville. Yikes!

Part of our vacation here will be at the Saturn dealer. Could it be the ignition coil (like the CarTalk guys guess here)?

Older posts

© 2018 The Real Paul Jones

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑