Auto Engines,  Auto Parts,  Cars

How To Solve The PT Cruiser Transmission Problems?

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 five-door hatchback cars in 2001.

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

Chrysler has a number of automobile transmissions; these include:

  • Semi-automatic
  • Automatic
  • Manual

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

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

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 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 the transmission fluid of your car, using the recommended fluid is important. All Chrysler six-speed and four-speed automatic transmissions are sensitive to specific transmission fluid. 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 out again. The level should be in the hot region mark on the dip stick. 
  • If you engine is colder and the fluid is at 80 degrees Fahrenheit, the level should be in the cold region mark on the dip stick.
  • 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 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 that indicate problems with the transmission. 

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

A car dealers can also diagnose other problems if your not sure what 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 your 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 tend to cause errors frequently. 
  • If you use an OBD2 scanner or go to a service center you'll be able to clear any code, just make sure the problems is fixed first. Some people will disconnecting 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 engage 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 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 downshift does not take place one of the solenoids may have 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. If the solenoid receives dirty transmission fluid or uneven electric current, it can remain stuck open or closed. 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 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 replacing 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.
  • Bad Input Sensor (Common): When we 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 update 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.