Overheating problems


Asked by pat_paula Aug 18, 2011 at 10:20 PM about the 2002 Chrysler PT Cruiser

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

So my wife's 2002 cruiser runs hot and overheats when idle too long (drive thru, red light etc.). Checked debris between condensor and fan, fan works, coolant full, thermostat works, all relays good, changed egr valve and thoroughly cleaned egr tubing, no cracked head or head gasket problem.  Getting to my wits end and ready to take long drive off short pier.  Any ideas what's wrong or what else I could do to fix this problem?  Please HELP!!!!!

26 Answers

Not Active

is it overheating to a point of boiling,or is the gadge just going up.

81 out of 81 people think this is helpful.
You think this is helpful.

Well, I don't let it get to the point where the light comes on and the gauge is in the red. I turn on the heater and pull over. If I drive on the highway it's fine, stays right at normal temp.

34 out of 34 people think this is helpful.
You think this is helpful.
Omonpéé Petcoff

Ours is doing the exact same thing! We have replaced EVERYTHING in that "arena", too. It is at the shop as we speak.

24 out of 24 people think this is helpful.
You think this is helpful.

Had all the same problems with overheating.Changed fan assembly,flushed out radiator etc.Ordered new after market radiator,installed runs better then new.Found out later they have a problem with small cores in radiator plugging up.Hope thi helps.

15 out of 15 people think this is helpful.

Our 2006 was doing this, found that there is a problem with PT radiator fans, they have two speeds and the low speed often burns out, you can crawl under there disconnect the power and add power and ground to 2 pins then try the other pin, mine wouldnt work on one speed but would did on high. Google this. New fan fixed it. PS about that time it was idling funny and the timing belt went out a week later. Change your belt before 90k, its not as hard as some make it seem if you have a large set of tools and a good jack

19 out of 19 people think this is helpful.
Steven Hood

I had the same problem a couple years ago. The switch that turns on the fan had quit working. Have it checked out.

15 out of 15 people think this is helpful.

Had same problem with my 02 cruiser it turned out to be radiator cap......

24 out of 24 people think this is helpful.

I'm having that same problem.I have a 2001.I've have replaced almost everything.And mine still is over heating .So I ride with the heat on.Any one can help me!!!!

23 out of 23 people think this is helpful.

Check coolant level while cold,warm engine, LOOK at the radiator cap for leaks (do not open while its hot), you could replace this since its cheap. Next test the radiator fan like I said above, its not hard to test or replace. if all is good you can replace the thermostat, easy and cheap. if you have 80k plus miles the water pump could be going out. Replace it and the timing belt and tensioner along with the thermostat since you are right there. You can buy the kit cheap on ebay. You could also do the valve cover gasket and spark plug tube gaskets while you are there. I also pulled my injectors and cleaned them when I did all this. Car runs like a top. I did the full energy suspension kit which put all new bushing underneath and it rides better than new, and they last longer than the factory rubber bushings. Also while I was doing the timing belt I broke the high pressure switch on the AC compressor (down by the lower radiator) this is where you will see what appears to be steam come out when the radiator fan high speed is out, pressure builds (and heat) be careful when doing the timing belt or yours will break too, cheap to fix but a pain since you cant see the snap ring to get special pliers in the holes. I recommend unplugging the connection until ALL work is done and the car is back together and running and the timing is correct which can be tricky with the 2.4 PT motor, miss the cam wheel gears by one tooth and it wont run right. IMO you should mark the gears to the belt (different color for both sides) then do it again on the crankshaft/ timing belt.. Then transfer the marks from the old belt to the new one, then install new belt going from the crank, up the right side to water pump, cams and then zip tie the new belt down tight on each gear, then it wont slip as you work it around the tensioner. So check coolant, radiator cap and fan. Then its either water pump OR head gasket (bent valves? Google-compression test, easy. Autozone will loan the tester.) both require you to get in there. You can pick up a used head at any salvage place (or have yours cleanedup) and order the head gasket on ebay (might as well do the valve cover/sparkplug tubes also). Good luck.

15 out of 15 people think this is helpful.

lol I kept editing my post above because it was at the word limit, guess I could have broken it into 2 posts. I just remembered If the car is out of time by one tooth it will run hot (also stumble, accelerate slowly etc), if its out by 2 teeth it wont run at all. I had both problems when I did my first PT timing belt. Blondy did you do your timing belt recently? what have you replaced? "almost Everything" doesn't tell us anything

4 out of 4 people think this is helpful.

I have the same problem, I got told that it is the head gasket, but I think it's the thermostat. Where can I locate the thermostat?

9 out of 9 people think this is helpful.
Gregory Ross

Under the radiator cap spout two bolts size 10 metric.. But u have to pull the air flow bolts first

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.

I have a problem with my pt cruiser 2002, when I ride car for long time my engine shut off.... but when I drive same distance on highway it is fine. it only shut off when I drive in city for long distance... plzzzz help me

8 out of 8 people think this is helpful.

i have a broken thermostat on my 2000 pt cruiser cruiser, could that mean the problem when it overheats and drinks all my coolant?

16 out of 16 people think this is helpful.
Elizabeth Faehr


15 out of 15 people think this is helpful.

elizabeth, im having that problem, what did it end up being??

7 out of 7 people think this is helpful.

going through the overheating problem now, Im having to clean up some other person " mechanics" bs workman ship. Man if I had the internet back in the day oh how much money/time/and lord knows all the foul language that was said! Back to issue, the radiator cap is rated at a certain psi if your radiator cap is bad it will allow your coolant to run over into the overflow/return bottle and fill it and when it becomes to full it will drain out the back therefore you will be losing coolant thus your car will overheat. Also if you don't bleed the system after changing the coolant etc you can have air pockets created by steam which will cause your car to overheat. Use the small nipple on the side of the thermostat housing I believe a 10mm and turn it slowly to loosen which if you see steam you have an air pocket. Shut it when you see straight water let run then check it again if no steam/air your system should be good in that aspect. If your coolant system is toped of you can start the car when cold (if hot let sit and slowly I mean carefully open the cap if warm) if the coolant shoots out you are getting combustion in the cooling system. Usually a blown head gasket at that point! I will say that if you have heard of Blue Devil engine sealer which repairs cracks, head gaskets, etc, this is a temporary fix and yes I have friends that have gone almost a year and no problems save your money and do it right! Mechanic in a bottle is not the way to go unless you are stuck and its your last option. >> Check Radiator Cap first its the easiest and really cheap fix >> Coolant Level (you need antifreeze as it also raises the boiling point)50/50 mix or close to this >> Coolant Flow >> Thermostat change its another easy and cheap fix >> Run the right octane gas as turbo models require premium gas >> Check your fan relays and fuses (coolant temp sensor as it can read a false temp, I like to add aftermarket gauges I don't really trust factory gauges all that much on older vehicles. >> Do your homework as it may seem hard it really isn't, don't be afraid to ask questions etc.. If you have smaller hands or access to some they will help out as well! Good luck

13 out of 13 people think this is helpful.
Jenny Martinez

My 01 keeps overheating, sometimes right away and other times I can drive all day, cold or warm out. It does tend to warm up fast if going uphill, I also hear gurggling sounds when I turn it off, even when its not running hot. It sometime has heat and others blows cool air. I have replaced the radiator, cap, and thermostat. what should I do next? I have also noticed that the fluid does not stay in the neck of the radiator. when I take the cap off and fill it just goes to overflow never fills up in the neck like I am use to in other cars, is this normal?

14 out of 14 people think this is helpful.
Leroy Smith

no its is not normal with the 2.4 engine cooling system are sealed and you have to bleed them you will find a bleed just under the cap about 3 to 4 inch down have to bleed all the air out of the system or it will do that and over heat

10 out of 10 people think this is helpful.

I have a 2003 PT cruiser I've changed the water pump, radiator, thermostat, timing belt with all new parts and it continues to run hot! It spits and sputters and spits the water back through the over flow!! Can any one tell me what could be wrong? Or what was done wrong? Please help if possible. Thank you

8 out of 8 people think this is helpful.
Randall Cook E

Ive come to the healthy conclusion the Chrysler PT CRUISER is a P.O.S.!!!!I am Suffering with the same Probleml as everyone else.. The Over heating Issue Seems to be a common problem for late model PT CRUISERS !!! I have replaced the Radiator, the thermostat,Timming Cover seal and belt.And Radiator Cap. The Abominable TURD of a car, STILL is undependable, and NOT SAFE to drive !! Its ready for the Junk Yard .. & I Highly DOUBT.. i will ever buy a chrysler vehicle again !!

5 out of 5 people think this is helpful.
Jordan Dill

Yo I'm having the same problem With my 2002 PT Cruiser. Only last time it almost over heat it actually was hot. The first time it did there was plenty of coolant in the reservoir and in the engine. It can't be the water pump because I replaced it. I'm wondering if it is a bad thermostat or a fan causing my problems..

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

PROBLEM SOLVED !! ...Here is what we found. It would run hot! Just as indicated above. What we found was really simple. The Radiator assembly on these cars is sort of a strange configuration. On the front side there is a transmission cooler at the bottom which is about 9 inches tall. Above that is the A/C Condenser. At the back is a full height Radiator for the Engine cooling. There is a space between these A/C and Transmission Coolers and the Radiator for Engine Cooling. Ours had built up leafs and junk in the middle between these two assemblies. The whole one third part of the Water Radiator at the bottom, was blocked by trash. Since you can't see this trash until the two halves are separated? We were quite confused for a while. Upon removing the radiator, we did find the bottom third of the Engine/Water radiator Blocked with trash. No Air could circulate so the car would run Hot. This would happen when the A/C was on and Hot Days. After seeing on the Internet that the Radiators also get clogged internally, we replaced it for $141.00 (( part Cost )) with a Brand New One. Problem Solved. Two of our Known Reliable Service Centers had told us that we had a Blown Head Gasket and needed a Water Pump. As this was my Mother in Laws car since new and in Excellent Shape, we bought it from her for $1,000 cash. At 88,000 miles and a known good service history, The Timing Belt and Water Pump need to be changed as Routine Maintenance. It is scheduled to have the Water Pump, Timing Belt, Tensioner and Idler Pulley changed Monday morning. The bottom line here...... We will have $641.00 invested in Routine Maintenance and the cost of the New Radiator.. Making our low mileage 2003 PT Cruiser final cost to be $1,641 and the car worth over $3,500 dollars. We gambled and Won this time. Hopefully our experience will help someone else. E-mail address here is tvman1954@gmail.com I am willing to answer any questions. Of course we just cleaned out the old radiator that was clogged on the outside and drove it a couple of weeks first. This Did fix the Overheating Problems. The new Radiator, Water Pump, Timing Belt, Tensioner and Idler Pulley are just Routine Maintenance. Best Regards from Ham Radio OP Wade/KJ4WS

5 out of 5 people think this is helpful.

My 2006 does the same thing, the gauge goes all the way up but the engine isn't hot. Isn't there a sensor? I replaced the sensor for the timing belt and it is fine. My overheating is random but getting worse. Could use some suggestions!

William Brown

I was almost guarantee that your heater core is plugged. Take it to a garage and for a little over 100 dollars you can have them do this.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

Respectfully, I have Never seen a Heater Core, cause an Engine to Overheat! A bad/clogged heater core Will cause the Car to have No Heater! Please, explain your logic???????? Best Wishes from Wade tvman1954@gmail.com

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

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