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really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
41,816 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2003 Chrysler PT Cruiser engine problems

engine problem

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2003 Chrysler PT Cruiser Owner Comments

problem #17

Apr 192015

PT Cruiser 4-cyl

  • 85,000 miles


Car stopped at red light. Engine died and smoke began to rise from engine compartment, then flames shot out. Driver could not get door open at first then after short time locks released and driver was able to escape. Fire department extinguished flames and said fire appeared to be started by fluid leakage. This model had been subject to recall due to fires. Car had recall fix on 9/23/04. It now appears the recall fixes were not permanent and the original problem can recur. It is potentially life threatening. Attempts to discuss the problem with Chrysler were unsuccessful. Chrysler stone walled and falsely rigged their response procedure so as to avoid any responsibility. Chrysler refused to allow me to speak with any person in a position of authority. The clerks I spoke with stated that someone would be in touch with me. Finally after three attempts to speak with someone at Chrysler, and after more than one month from original contact, a letter dated May 13, 2015 was received from Chrysler stating they had tried numerous times to contact us and the claim would be dropped if we did not respond in 10 days. This quite simply is a lie! no attempt was ever made to contact us, even after we contacted Chrysler on three occasions asking to speak with someone. The letter instructed us to contact dekra automotive to arrange an inspection. We did and gave them all the information once again. We offered to send photos of the damage but dekra was not interested. On May 27 we received a letter stating they were unable to inspect the car since it had been sold (salvaged) and were closing the file. Thus, Chrysler had created circumstances through obfuscation and manipulating the response time which they felt relieved them of any responsibility, even the need to discuss the issue with us. This fire hazard still exists.

- Arroyo Grande, CA, USA

problem #16

Jul 142011

PT Cruiser 4-cyl

  • 104,000 miles
I am having overheating problems. I have talked with other owners of PT CRUISER who have had the same issues. It overheats at idle and while driving. I have not found a solution to the problem yet. I have had it pressure tested and the thermostat changes and it is still overheating to dangerous levels.

- Fort Wayne, IN, USA

problem #15

Apr 112011

PT Cruiser

  • miles
When starting car in morning, it made a very unfamiliar sound then the sound disappeared. After driving a short distance the car was parked. Upon restarting the car, we heard two loud thuds as if something had fallen to the pavement. We saw nothing under the car, but after looking under the hood two motor mounts were broken and engine was completely dislodged. Mechanic told us this was his third repair of this type because the motor was too heavy for the type of motor mounts Chrysler used in the PT CRUISER. Please call owners to have this problem corrected before official recall damages Chrysler image.

- Detroit, MI, USA

problem #14

Jan 132006

PT Cruiser

  • 97,700 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Chrysler PT CRUISER. The contact stated the passenger side motor mounts bolt fractured causing the engine to lean onto the passenger side axle. As a result, the cv boot fractured from the constant friction of the engine leaning on the axle. The contact took the vehicle to the dealer and the dealer advised that the vehicle was not under recall. The dealer advised the contact that the vehicle was previously involved in a crash therefore, they were unable to assist. The contact stated that the vehicle was previously involved in a crash because of the failure. The contact stated that the motor mount bolts were replaced three times previously but none of the repairs remedied the failure. The failure mileage was 97,700. Updated 03/24/11 updated 1/4/11

- Parkville, MD, USA

problem #13

Sep 152009

PT Cruiser 4-cyl

  • 70,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Chrysler PT CRUISER. The contact was driving approximately 45 mph when the engine exhibited hesitation with a slight loss of power. The failure was sporadic. On a separate occasion, the engine completely stalled without warning. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer six times for diagnosis pertaining to the failure. The technician was unable to duplicate the failure. A mobile computer was installed in the vehicle to possibly detect future failure occurrences. When the engine failure recurred, the mobile computer was unable to project an accurate reading. The technician recommended the oxygen senor be replaced however he could not guarantee that the repair would correct the problem. The contact planned to take the vehicle back to the dealer to have the oxygen sensor replaced. The failure mileage was approximately 70,000. Updated 01/14/11 the consumer stated both oxygen sensors were replaced and the vehicle is operating as designed. Updated 02/23/11

- Gainsville, GA, USA

problem #12

Jul 102009

PT Cruiser

  • 112,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Chrysler PT CRUISER. Thirty seconds after starting the ignition, the engine stalled without warning. The "check engine" warning light illuminated on the instrument panel. He was able to restart the engine and resume normal operation. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic on three separate occasions. The technician was unable to locate cause of the failure. The vehicle was then taken to an authorized dealer on six separate occasions for the identical failures. The engine control module (ECM), four fuel injecters, spark plugs, and both oxygen sensors. Were replaced. None of the repairs have remedied the failure. The failure mileage was 112,000. The current mileage was 113,000.

- Gustine, CA, USA

problem #11

Dec 042008

PT Cruiser

  • 38,000 miles


Lower front control arm bushings and front wheel bearings went bad at 38,000 miles. 2 water pumps went bad on the car and car only has 38,000 miles on it. Camshaft sensor went bad with only 25,000 miles on it. Oil pan on engine started leaking when car had 17,000 miles on it.

- Raytown, MO, USA

problem #10

Jul 152005

PT Cruiser

  • 55,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Chrysler PT CRUISER. While driving less than 65 mph, the vehicle stalled and was taken to the dealer. The failure could not be duplicated; however, an independent mechanic performed a fuel injector flush, cleaned the battery, installed fuel system cleaner in the tank, and also cleaned the throttle body. The repairs did not correct the failure and the vehicle continued to stall repeatedly. The contact heard a thumping noise and the vehicle went from 55 to 15 mph before stalling. In addition, the check engine warning indicator has remained illuminated on the instrument panel since the vehicle was purchased. The failure mileage was 55,000 and current mileage was 150,000.

- El Saobrante, CA, USA

problem #9

Oct 252008

PT Cruiser

  • 15,000 miles
Power failure.

- El Sobrante, CA, USA

problem #8

May 302006

PT Cruiser 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 35,326 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Chrysler PT CRUISER. After purchasing the vehicle the brakes began squeaking. The contact was told that the brakes would be replaced before she bought the vehicle. When she arrived to pick up the vehicle she was informed the dealer that the brakes were still squeaking. The dealer stated that it would take two to three days before the brakes would stop squeaking. However, the failure continued. A few days later the contact returned to the dealer the tires were removed and orange dust was found on the brakes. The dealer cleaned the brakes, but never replaced them. Three weeks after purchasing the vehicle the contact had the air conditioning repaired because it would not blow cool air. In August 2006 the vehicle began running hot and failed while driving 58 mph. The vehicle was towed, and shortly thereafter the failure recurred and the vehicle was towed again. In September 2006 the engine was replaced. On April 19, 2007, a diagnostic test was performed on the vehicle because of steering failure. The contact was told that the steering wheel needed immediate attention because steering fluid was leaking into the bottom of the car and could cause a fire. She was informed that the engine that was installed in September 2006 failed. The contact did not provide an accurate VIN. The current mileage is 50,400, and failure mileage was 35,326. The consumer stated she went to the dealership to have the car repaired and they were rude and refused to help her. Later, the dealership asked for information to rent the consumer a car and the rental place refused to rent her a car if the vehicle was not fixed by smith Chrysler. The consumer stated the dealer sold her a car then changed the name on her paperwork, refused to give her the tags to the car unless payment was provided and told her she had the wrong VIN number for the car. The consumer stated wants her money back for the car and the dealer to take the car back. Updated 07/06/07

- Desota, TX, USA

problem #7

Jan 102007

PT Cruiser 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 51,747 miles


- the contact owns a 2003 Chrysler PT CRUISER. The vehicle would not start. The tow truck mechanic jump started the vehicle. The contact drove the vehicle to a repair shop, the vehicle began to smoke. During diagnosis the repair shop found the vehicle to be operating with our errors. The following day the vehicle would not start and the contact had to jump start the vehicle. The contact purchased a new battery, and while driving at 40 mph the vehicle lost power in traffic. There was smoke under the hood, and the vehicle would not restart. The vehicle was towed to a repair shop where the mechanic removed the head gasket and discovered the motor was burned and would need to be replaced. The vehicle is currently at the dealer waiting to be repaired. The contact stated there were no warning indicator lights. The failure mileage was 51,747.

- Paisley, FL, USA

problem #6

Apr 212006

PT Cruiser

  • miles
My 2003 PT CRUISER, still under the original warranty, has had a serious problem with oil leaks. The first time I took the car in for service was one year ago. Now, within the past several weeks, I have had to bring the car in for oil and/or brake fluid leaks three times. I am taking it in for a fourth time tomorrow. I am simply looking for any and all avenues with which to formally complain about the lack of quality in the vehicle and the lack of quality service at the "five star" dealership I bought the car from. I have notified Chrysler of the problems and the cavalier response was extremely disconcerting. It is quite clear to me Chrysler does not care about quality or its customers.

- Denver, CO, USA

problem #5

Oct 122005

PT Cruiser

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Check engine light comes on, car idles at low RPM, and stalls at anything near 1000 RPM, which is its normal idle speed, at least 25 stalls in the past 2-3 months. So far Chrysler knows there is a problem but can't find it, so they keep giving it back to me.

- Auburn, WA, USA

problem #4

Oct 192004

PT Cruiser 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 10,362 miles
The consumer stated the spark plugs continued to burn out. It was always spark plug #1. the consumer has taken the vehicle back to the dealer on 4 separate occasions for this defect. The owner also stated that the spark plugs have been re-wired and the fuel injector was replaced in March 2004, this happened after the second visit to the dealer. The vehicle acted as though it wasn't getting any gas. The vehicle would buck at red lights and or stop signs with a difficult time continuing to drive. The check engine light had come on and the vehicle experienced rough idle.

- Philadelphia, PA, USA

problem #3

Aug 142004

PT Cruiser

  • Automatic transmission
  • 14,737 miles
Consumer noticed excessive amount of oil in the air filter box, and an oil stained filter. The oil pressure light came on intermittently, back soot on the tail pipe, and there was a distinguished mechanical knocking noise coming from the engine at idle. Vehicle had been in repair shop 3 times. On the third time the oil pressure sensor was replaced, but the knocking noise and excessive oil problem was still present. Upon investigation of the problem, consumer found that an improper machine part, that was related to the valve train/camp shaft, caused the problem. But, manufacturer didn't have a solution for it. If this part failed while driving at highway speeds it could result in engine failure followed by rapid deceleration which could result in an accident. This vehicle was equipped with traction control.

- Columbia, MD, USA

problem #2

May 032004

PT Cruiser

  • 22,000 miles
While driving engine light illuminated and stayed on the remainder of the time that vehicle was being operated. Dealership will be notified.

- Murfreesboro, TN, USA

problem #1

Jun 212004

PT Cruiser

  • miles
While driving at an undetermined speed vehicle stalled, causing the consumer to drift off the road. Consumer had the vehicle towed to the dealer for inspection.

- Fullerton, CA, USA

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