PT Cruiser Transmission
Auto Engines,  Auto Parts,  Cars

How To Solve The PT Cruiser Transmission Problems?

As with most cars, the PT cruiser can have transmission problems. The A604 (41TE) transmissions are generally thought of as a good transmission but can have problems. First, let’s look at common issues.

Here are simple ways to solve the PT Cruiser Transmission Problems.

  • Change the transmission fluid of your car.
  • Dismiss error codes from your computer:
  • Look for symptoms of a faulty Transmission Solenoid.

Start with the simplest solutions, and if you’ve tried a couple of those then the more research and effort you put into figuring out the problem the more clear the solution will become, but at some point using a transmission expert is the best solution to get your car working well again.

Chrysler Automobile Transmissions

HISTORY – Chrysler launched The PT Cruiser, which was sold from 2001 to 2010. PT mainly stands for Personal Transportation. It is a retro-styled Compact car launched as a five-door hatchback car in 2001.

A 2 door convertible was also launched in 2004, and a four-door convertible was added in 2006. The assembly of the car takes place in Toluca, Mexico. The manufacturing takes place in Graz, Austria. 

Chrysler has several automobile transmissions; these include:

  • Semi-automatic
  • Automatic
  • Manual

A transmission is present in most cars to deliver to correct torque and power needed to spin the driveshaft. It allows the force from the engine to be delivered correctly to the tires. 

A transmission goes through plenty of stress compared to most components or parts of the car. The stress can be due to heat generation or friction because of the movement of different transmission parts.

The automatic transmission uses a gear system to transfer power to the drive shaft and drive the car forward or into reverse. The PT used three types of transmissions: the Ultradrive 40TE, the Ultradrive 41TE, and the Getrag. 

Finding out the PT Cruiser transmission problems can be a daunting task. Now, if we discuss the PT cruiser transmission problems, we find they are both mechanical and electrical. 

You may feel vibrations and sounds that aren’t normal. The replacement of transmission parts is expensive. There are a lot of things that can go wrong with the transmission of your car.

Some of the most common PT Cruiser Transmission problems are:

1. Low Transmission Fluid (Most Common)

PT Cruiser Transmission
Photo Credit:

When you change your car’s transmission fluid, using the recommended fluid is important. All Chrysler six-speed and four-speed automatic transmissions are sensitive to specific transmission fluids. Using an ATF+4 in transmissions is a must. You should avoid using Dexron or Mercon. The incorrect filter is also not helpful.

Flushing your system: Flushing the transmission fluid also works sometimes. You will notice clean red fluid oozing out after flushing out half of the fluid. This method is less preferred as only half of the fluid is replaceable.

The best thing to do is to change the entire transmission fluid. You’d need to go to a service shop to pump out all the fluid and replace it. 

Before doing a fluid change, you’ll want to check the levels and color of the fluid.

  • Firstly, you need to put your vehicle on the surface level and turn off the engine.
  • The engine should be warm, approximately up to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. You can check the fluid after having driven for about five minutes.
  • Pull the dipstick handle and wipe off the end. Replace it and pull it out again. The level should be in the hot region mark on the dipstick. 
  • If your engine is colder and the fluid is at 80 degrees Fahrenheit, the level should be in the cold region mark on the dipstick.
  • If you notice a burnt smell or see contaminated particles, then you’ll need to change the transmission fluid as soon as possible. There may be damage already done to your transmission if you were running on low fluid levels for a while or the fluid is dark or black.

​2. Retraining the Computer​


After changing the transmission fluid, your computer may need to know it can dismiss any error code or warnings. Like all modern vehicles, Chrysler cars have an electronic control module (ECM). 

Sometimes the computer might receive data from sensors indicating transmission problems. 


You may see the check engine light for some warning. For example, if the transmission output speed sensor is damaged, the car’s computer won’t know the speed of the car. Your speedometer may not work, and your ECM will report an error code if you use an OBD2 scanner.

A car dealer can also diagnose other problems if you are not sure what is going on with your car’s transmission.

When the computer receives sensor information of a major failure, it may activate Limp Mode. If the transmission is stuck in second gear, this could mean you are in limp mode. To be sure of the problem, use an OBD2 scanner to make diagnosis easier.

What to do to dismiss error codes from your computer:

  • See if there is a warning light on the dashboard. You can also check this video on how to show codes on your odometer. If not, use your OBD2 scanner to check for error codes.
  • Find out what the code means. Some newer scanners show code error meanings. You can also go online.
  • Fix any problems, such as changing the transmission fluid or fixing electrical cables, as they also frequently cause errors. 
  • If you use an OBD2 scanner or go to a service center, you’ll be able to clear any code; make sure the problem is fixed first. Some people will disconnect the battery for a few minutes to reset the computer, but this may cause problems.

3. Transmission Solenoid: Replacement Cost and Symptoms

Automatic transmissions use hydraulic fluid, which is under pressure, so it can help change the gears. When a gear change takes place, the car computer activates a transmission solenoid.

It directs transmission fluid into the valve body, which in turn engages the correct gear. When the car moves down the road, the computer analyzes data sent by engine speed sensors and vehicle speed sensors.

There are various ways in which a car’s computer controls the transmission solenoid:

  • If the vehicle has a Transmission Control Unit, it can close or open the hydraulic circuit using a 12v signal.
  • The Engine Control Unit can control the solenoid’s plunger by turning the ground circuit off and on.

Depending on the complex design, a solenoid can control either a single or multiple gears. There are certain Symptoms of a faulty Transmission Solenoid:

  • The Transmission will not downshift: If the downshift does not occur, one of the solenoids may become stuck open/closed. It prevents fluid from entering the transmission valve body and pressurizes the correct gear.
  • Erratic Shifting – a failed transmission solenoid can cause skipping in the transmission from a lower gear to a higher gear or from higher to lower, repeatedly.
  • Severe delay in Shifting/Stuck in Neutral: for controlled automatic transmission to shift gears, the solenoid must regulate the fluid pressure to activate the appropriate gear. The solenoid can remain stuck open or closed if it receives dirty transmission fluid or uneven electric current. Gear engagement becomes difficult, which causes the transmission to be temporarily locked in neutral.

The ECU then registers an error code and triggers the engine light. The transmission will go into limp mode.

The location of the Solenoids is on the outside of the transmission (see install video). Replacing it may take 2-4 hours to complete. Mechanics may charge $80 – $100 per hour. The cost of the transmission control solenoid is about $100 on Amazon. Make sure to get the correct type for your transmission type. 

Depending on the model of your vehicle and how you fix it, you could spend $100 – $600 to replace the solenoid unit if needed. (Before doing any replacement, always check the electrical connections, as this could solve the problem.)

Other problems that may solve the PT Cruiser Transmission may have are:

  • Ground Strap might be Missing or Broken: If this is the case, your car needs a new transmission or computer.
  • Delayed forward and/or reverse engagement with a double ‘bump’ sensation – 41TE transmission. (Link)
  • PRNDL lights malfunction – 41TE/42LE transmission (1996>) (Link)
  • Speedometer reading when the vehicle is not moving – 41TE transmission / 41TES transmission (Link)
  • Bad Input Sensor (Common): When you look at the screen of a scan tool, you may find a bad sensor error message. Replace the sensor to solve the problem.
  • Upgrading Computer-Firmware: Computer firmware updates may help with some issues.
  • Loose Electrical Connection: There is a possibility that the electrical connection may be loose.
  • Adding Transmission Cooler Fluid: Regular transmission fluid maintenance can double the life of your car’s transmission.
  • Additives: You should avoid additives. But remember to use ATF+4 transmission fluid only to avoid transmission damage.

The major advantages of maintaining your transmission fluid are:

  • It has better anti-corrosion and anti-wear.
  • It maintains correct frictional properties.
  • It controls oxidation and also eliminates deposits of contamination.
  • It is Anti-foaming.
  • It can help your car operate at low temperatures.

Conclusion: If you want to know more about other car’s transmission problems, you may enjoy the following articles:

Why Is My Transmission Shifts Hard When it Hot?

What Happens When Too Much Transmission Fluid Is Added

A Quick Guide to Manual Transmission Maintenance