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The Most Common PT Cruiser Problems Owners Complain About

When Chrysler introduced the PT Cruiser, it’s hard to tell if the executives knew how the public would react. This gangster-style design was completely different from anything with wheels back in 2001. And it indeed had a polarizing effect on car buyers.

Fans emerged who were fiercely loyal and embraced the car with enthusiasm. In the other camp were those who immediately rejected the car’s unique design and gave the car a thumbs-down. Regardless of which team you align yourself with, one thing is certain. This car was drastically different.

And while they’re no longer in production, there are still plenty of fans out there and some who are actively looking to buy one. The PT Cruiser wasn’t without its recurring problems, though. As with many models, there were a few common complaints from those who actually owned and loved them.

No really, the turn signals didn’t work

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It’s kind of a standing joke. When you’re driving, and you encounter another driver who turns without properly signaling, you might kid about his blinker not working. But for many PT Cruiser owners, it was a legitimate malfunction.

More than 190 vehicle owners reported experiencing erratic operation of the turn signal level and some of the exterior lights. RepairPal.com pointed out these issues would sometimes lead to dead batteries. Problems occurred for 2001 through its final 2009 model year, and around 89,000 miles.

PT Cruiser problems with the engines

Some PT Cruiser owners started having problems with their beloved cars not cranking or turning over. The wireless control module (WCM) is the primary culprit. It’s reported to fail due to static electricity.

Remedies were minor, including the WCM replacement. But many owners figured out they could disconnect the car battery’s negative terminal and get back on the road. It’s more of a headache than anything, for at least the 164 PT Cruiser owners logged complaints with RepairPal.com. 

Recalls and technical service bulletins

According to the experts, it’s not uncommon for any given vehicle to have up to four recalls, every model year. The NHTSA usually governs these notices and will post any technical service bulletins (TSBs) for more common mechanical troubles.

The PT Cruiser wasn’t immune to either. Over several model years, one recall involved the high-pressure power steering hose and required complete replacement. If left un-replaced, the transaxle differential cover would wear prematurely.

The 2001 model year has seven recalls posted and a ton of complaints about the peeling of the chrome wheels on CarComplaints. The most recent recall came in 2007, addressing the rear quarter glass fasteners that would fail and allow the glass to separate entirely.

Software updates required, often and regularly

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Another common PT Cruiser problem, straight from the owners, involves the headache of the constant need for software updates. The powertrain control module, responsible for regulating shift quality, required trips to the dealership for many owners.

Others had to return with ongoing issues to address the erroneous CEL software enhancements. More than 100 people pointed this out as a hassle, just to maintain or improve shifting dynamics. Other software updates have been documented as fixes for interior lighting, components, and accessory functions, as well. 

Do you know who loves Chrysler PT Cruisers? PT Cruiser owners do. Everyone else probably falls into the anti-PT camps. Chances are, if you’re looking to buy a PT Cruiser, whether you opt for a hatchback or a convertible, you’ll likely enjoy it.

The more recent production years brought more improvements in terms of power under the hood and added features. Just be mindful of some of these past issues and complaints. It can make your PT Cruiser ownership experience that much better.