I want to buy a used PT Cruiser, in Montreal - some opinions would be appreciated

I want to purchase a used PT Cruiser. I love the looks of this car, plus, as I have a medical condition - I find that the seat is very comfortable and this is very important for me. I live in Montreal, Canada where we have alot of very deep snow and slush

>> any opinions on how it is for winter driving? My intention is to keep the next car which I purchase for 15 years (or more!) hopefully. I had an Eagle, Summit wagon, for 16 years, with only 62,000 km. - I took very good care of my car and I was very sad to say goodbye to it. I basically drive in the city only and do not do car trips. My last “deceased” Eagle Summit would still be “alive” today, if only I had been smarter :frowning: !! Unfortunately, I never rustproofed it and as a result, the undercarriage and parts of the body rusted to the point of danger and I was unable to continue to drive it. I wish I could purchase a brand new car but I am unable to. A few months ago I passed by a Dodge dealer and saw a 2006 PT Cruiser, with 33,000km. and it appeared brand new - too absolutely perfect - body was perfectly painted as if it was brand new, and when I opened the hood everything “appeared” so clean and perfect - when I asked the salesman he said that it had been owned by an older couple and they traded it in >>is this a “story” that car salesmen use?. I also saw another PT Cruiser, only a few years old, and it also looked “perfect”! These “used cars” really seem too good to be true - how could used cars appear so perfect!? >> How would I know if they have been in an accident and then “beautified” on the outside…but they are really i.e. not what they appear to be, or maybe even a “lemon”? Plus he mentioned that on some used cars one has the option of purchasing an extended warranty >>is this a good idea! Could it be possible, that the mileage has been turned back, and maybe has been repainted etc…The cost was $8,000. (Canadian dollars!) and I hadn’t even “bargained” the price. The only thing was the colour was very electric, psychedelic blue (which I could perhaps learn to live with), IF I could be assured and trusting that it is indeed an amazing SAFE fantastic purchase. I would be very appreciative of any advice, suggestions and opinions on how to go about purchasing a PT Cruiser, if I wish to keep if for a very long time. What do I need to ask, or be careful of - i.e. the mileage? Your advice and comments are greatly appreciated? My budget is $9,000.-$10,000. maximum, including winter tires! Also, is this a good car for winter?

PT Cruisers are not the best cars on the road and are rated below average in reliability. However, I’m sure it would be a better car than the Summit. They offer decent utility, are inexpensive to buy used and if the seat is comfortable and you like it, go for it.

Be sure to have any car you buy (even if still under factory warranty) checked by a mechanic. Also be prepared to spend a few dollars on a set of winter tires.

As you already know, Montreal is generally considered to be the most diffcult and toughest area in North America to be a car. The exteme in temperatures, high humidity and tons of salt make it 26 times as corrosive as Arizona, for instance.

The PT Cruiser has a reasonably good repair record, and should start easily in cold weather. Like most Montrealers, you will probably have a block heater in it.

My main concern is that a) the PT Cruiser is now out of production, b) Chryler in the past has usually discontinued carrying parts after 10 years, and c) the Chrysler Fiat combo may not survive another 15 years. If enough PT Cruiser were sold in Quebec, you may get parts such as trim later on from a salvage yard.

In other words, I worry not so much about the car as being able to get parts for it in the future.

If you bought a Honda, Toyota, Ford Focus, Mazda you would not have to worry about parts for 15 years.

I would avoid Toyota, Honda, or Mazda because they have high resale value. You would have to buy a significantly older car with higher mileage than a comparable Ford, Chevy, or Chrysler product. A 2007/2008 PT Cruiser can be less than $10,000. A Toyota Matrix doesn’t get into your price range until the 2004/2005 time frame. The Pontiac Vibe is the same car as the Matrix, but still doesn’t get below $10,000 until 2004/2005; it’s a bit less expensive than the Matrix, though. Expect a hot Asian brand to have at least twice the mileage of a comparable car from the Detroit 3. And the older the car you buy, the more dependent reliability is on the specific care it received rather than just who built it. If you can find a PT Cruiser in absolutely great shape, you should seriously consider it.

Winter driving: with good winter tires, it should be comparable to any other economy FWD sedan. With proper technique it should be fine for all but deep snow and sheer ice.

Since you have a medical condition and find this comfortable, perhaps it’s worth a tradeoff in other areas such as reliability. I too have a medical condition that mandates comfort as being a top priority. I feel your pain.

It’s impossible to tell from here if the stories are true. My general rule is “trust but VERIFY!”. One clue is the condition of the brake pedal and shifter. If the odo shows 33,000 kliks, the brake pedal is worn to the metal and the shifter worn smooth, that’s a pretty good clue that the mileage is probably not correct. The wear on the wear items should be consistant with the odometer.

New paint can be suspect. Suspect a possible prior accident. Any good shop can detect repairs. They loo for things like uneven finish, paint sprayed into (filling) seams that would not be like that if the parts were painted seperately, and other telltale signs. I’ve even seen riveted body panels visable only on the lift.

Any used vehicle should be thoroughly checked by your shop before purchase anyway.

Reliability on these vehicles is not known to be good. However, the disability may move that lower on the list for you than it would be otherwise.

Lastly, extended warrantys are a waste of money. Kepp the cash yourself rather than give it to them.

“Reliability on these vehicles is not known to be good.”

I guess that depends on who you ask. CR may rate it below the Matrix, but they don’t tell you much about the difference. MSN Autos rates the PT Cruiser highly, stating that there are no known problems with it. Edmunds provides estimated costs for repairs and maintenance. The 2007 PT Cruiser is expected to have maintenance and repair costs that are $200 less than a 2007 Toyota Matrix. But you can’t compare those two cars, since the OP can’t afford a 2007 Matrix. An affordable 2005 Matrix would have additional $1000 M&R costs since it is an older car. This stuff about the Detroit 3 vehicles being exceptionally unreliable is yesterday’s tomatoes. This is no knock on Asian cars, but everyone is catching up.

You can buy a warranty for ANY vehicle, just not worth it.
Since comfort is your top priority, color shouldn’t matter if you like sitting in it.
Your Summit wagon had 62,000 KMs, or 38,526.8 miles, so you definitely don’t drive much. If you bought it new, then that’s less than 4,000 KM(2,400 miles) per year. So, as long as you keep up on maintenance and such, I don’t see the PT Cruiser being that big of a problem down the road as far as cost goes

As long as you’re not climbing a lot of hills, any car is acceptable in winter if you have good tires.

If you buy a PT Cruiser, get a manual transmission. I don’t think they had the Auto-destruct A604 in the autos, but they did get terrible, abysmal fuel economy compared to the manuals (like most Chryslers). If you ever buy a FWD Chrysler you should get a manual.

BTW, your Summit was a rebadged Mitsubishi. It teaches you nothing about Chrysler reliability.

If you want to make sure it was never in an accident do the following things:

Get a Carfax report. They are not perfect, but they are better than nothing.

Look at the paint, particularly on the rear quarter and the sheet metal in and around the engine bay. Front fenders aren’t a big deal, since those bolt on. Those, doors, and sometimes roofs can be relatively easily replaced. The rest of the car, if it’s damaged, the car will never quite be the same. Good repairs can be done, but it will never be good as new. Anyway, what you’re looking for is any change in the paint…any subtle shift in the way it reflects light. That’s a sign of bodywork, and (particularly with metallic paints) only the best body shops can completely hide it.

You can also bring a magnet. (a plastic refrigerator magnet, please…you don’t want to scratch up the paint) If it doesn’t stick to the surface, that’s a sign of bad body work. This is probably not necessary on a car this new, but you never know.

Look at the underside of the car…if anything looks like it’s been repaired, resprayed, or bent, it’s been in a bad accident. Sometimes people who repair the visible parts of a body will neglect the underside.

Better yet, take it to an expert.

Hmm, Chrysler is an interesting choice but if the car fits you that is important. My brother has a 02-03 pt cruiser in northern illinois so he drives snow and salt but not to your level. It has been a good car but had some issues. At $8k I would get a good independent mechanic to really look the car over. The sales lot is just a sales lot they really don’t know anything about the cars and they have been known to lie. The extended warranty is not a good idea. If the mechanic says the car is not damaged and in good shape then thats ok.

My chrysler really is not so bad I wonder why you dislike them? its a 95 cirrus. It has some issues but for the trips i do the milage is fine. And it is an automatic. Usual miles for a six 2.4 is 24-28. Thats what I get.

The PT Cruiser has some good points. I would avoid any of them with Turbocharged motors. You don’t need the power, and the turbo motors require more maintenance and don’t hold up as well as a regular motor in the PT Cruiser.

While some will say the PT Cruiser isn’t the best car for reliability, they would say even worse things about your previous Eagle Summit. I think the PT Cruiser would hold up well for you and the body will rust eventually (due to the salt used in your area) but no faster than most of today’s cars. The Eagle you had didn’t have the best materials in the body panels and did rust out on you. Newer cars use more rust resistant steel and more plastics and resist the rust better and longer than your Eagle.

As far as used car “looking” perfect. A good “detailer” can take a dirty car and do wonders on the exterior paint, interior, and even in the motor compartment. It is possible to make the car look very good, almost perfect. Some dealers give similar attention to the cars mechanical systems and others don’t. The best way you can tell is don’t take the salespersons word (or story) for anything. Rather find a car you like and take it to a good mechanic of you choice for a through evaluation. The trained eye of the mechanic with the car on a lift can see accident repairs, and tell you a lot about the mechanical and safety condition of the car. A $20.00 inspection isn’t what I’m talking about, a good revaluation of the car looks at the brakes, checks the motor compression and other tests and will cost more money.

The PT Cruiser is a front wheel drive car. It is pretty good in snow due to the
FWD setup. It also has ABS brakes and perhaps even traction control. These features should make it very capable in the snow. If you must drive when the snow is falling, like teachers and nurses, then consider winter tires on all four wheels. If you can wait until the storm has past and therefore you are driving mostly on plowed roads you may do fine with all season tires as long as they have good tread depth. I would rate the PT Cruiser as average to above average as a good winter car choice.

Since you like the “fit” of the PT Cruiser find several and you’ll find one you like. There are a lot on the market and you should be able to get a good car at a good price.

EPA fuel economy may be wrong, but at least it’s consistent…it’s good for comparing one model to another. Most Chrysler autos (at least the FWD ones) have a larger difference between the manual and the auto in terms of fuel economy than do most other makes. Your car appears to be an exception. On some years of PT cruiser, the difference was up to 4 mpg. That’s kind of a lot. Typical is 1.

Then there’s this:

The A604, which they put in just about everything they could, has a terrible reputation. My mom’s Caravan went through a couple of them. Some say “oh, that’s because it wasn’t installed or initialized properly.” Well, guess what. If something has extraordinary maintenance needs in order to not kill itself, it isn’t reliable. (You’ll get the same excuses from Mazda rotary owners.)

Many of the headaches associated with Chrysler ownership are only applicable to the autos. That’s why the OP should get a manual.

If you wish to keep a car for a long time, I would not recommend a PT Cruiser. In general, a unibody constructed car which a PT is, has better chance to withstand road salt with yearly maintenance than body on frame. If used Toyota RAV or Honda CRV is too expensive, I would recommend a Ford Escape if you want awd or Taurus if not for that money. Chrysler products I am familiar with have cost more in the long run in $$$$$ and aggravation…

My 95 Stratus is still chugging along with 170K. Its had very few problems along the way, and most were recall items that were covered at no charge.

Thank you! Here in Montreal there is a law and everyone MUST have winter tires on by December 15th!

Thank you!! I appreciate all of your suggestions and opinions!

RE: getting a manual transmission… >> I can’t. I used to drive manual but now I am unable to, so I will be purchasing automatic.

RE: The Carfax Report >>> do you know if this is available in Canada also? Is it expensive to have this done?

RE: Your advice: "Look at the underside of the car…if anything looks like it’s been repaired, resprayed, or bent, it’s been in a bad accident. Sometimes people who repair the visible parts of a body will neglect the underside."
Can I have your opinion >>> what if it has been “sprayed” as a rustproofing undercoating treatment

will that cover up any rust that is REALLY there? After what happened to my Eagle Summit, in that I did not take care of it properly - as I never rustproofed it each year :frowning:

I am now very concerned about purchasing a used car and that it is showing absolutely NO RUST anywhere!! and that the previous owner has been treating it each year with rustproofing undercoating.

and also, you wrote: "You can also bring a magnet. (a plastic refrigerator magnet, please…you don’t want to scratch up the paint) If it doesn’t stick to the surface, that’s a sign of bad body work. This is probably not necessary on a car this new, but you never know.

Can you please explain if the magnet doesn’t stick - WHY does that mean it is a sign of bad body work?
Thank you.

Thank you! When you write:“Reliability on these vehicles is not known to be good”

can you please explain in what way are the PT Cruisers not reliable?

Thank you for your reply…can you please explain, when you write: …“and are rated below average in reliability.” >>>> in what way would they not be reliable?
My Eagle Summit did NOT have a block heater, and ALWAYS started up on very very cold days - it really was very reliable in that way. The reason I am asking is that I need to rent a driveway (because the area where I live forbids anyone to park overnight on the road). There may be a driveway available for me a few doors down, BUT I do not believe there will be access to any electrical outlet > in order to have a block heater… >>> do you think that I MUST have a block heater installed on this particular car?