PT Cruiser: Rough Idle

So I’ve had quite an adventure thus far and would appreciate some advice.

Initially the PT wouldn’t start. This was the day after thanksgiving, having driven it without a hitch for some 200 miles on the previous night. I poked around online and stumbled upon a feature it has which is its ability to display an error code (if there is one) with 3 turns of the ignition switch without actually cranking. I originally got error code P0522 which all signs pointed to a faulty oil pressure switch. I replaced it. I had rolled the PT down a hill where it was on and tried to crank it. It started then, but was idling rough and eventually the Check Engine light started blinking.

I then received a new error code P0302 which read as “1st cylinder misfire detected” on an online PT Forum. Not being in running conditions, as the vibrations were intense, I had it towed to the dealership where the new problem begins. They said, to paraphrase, that it seemed as if the fuel was been contaminated, looked like lacquer/varnish (girlfriend’s words) and that it smelled strange. On top of that they said they needed to “check the head gasket” among other things totaling out to about $1200, which we don’t even begin to have. And miraculously all of this not covered by her warranty they suggested.

This feels like they’re trying to scam my girlfriend (the owner) since I can’t be there during their operating hours.

And so I turn to the car talk discussions. I remember hearing a recent episode where a woman accidentally filled her tank with diesel and her dealership wanted to charger her $4000 to “fix it.” She meanwhile took the advice of the guys and just had her fuel system cleaned (or something like that) for a fraction of the price and everything was fine. I’m hoping this is something like that.

Enumerated Details:

1. 2009 PT Cruiser

2. ~9,000 Miles

3. Oil Changed a week earlier by me (not my first time).

4. No leaks

5. No Smoke

6. All fluids at their designated levels

7. The night prior ran without issue for roughly 200 miles.

8. It wasn’t snowing, but it was as cold as San Diego can get. (The night/morning it ceased to work)

Apologies if this post was too verbose, I don’t want to have left anything out.

I Was A Loyal Chrysler Owner / Operator For A Couple Of Decades.

A 2009 with 9,000 miles needs a head gasket and it’s not covered by warranty ? What ?

I’d get the car out of there and see if I could take a fuel sample and see if I could get it independently tested for contamination of some kind that would lead to a blown head gasket.

You could try another dealer and see if they are more user friendly.

By the way, I wouldn’t advise working on (I’m not talking about the oil change) or replacing parts on this car while it’s under factory warranty.


I am at a point where I want to get it out of the dealership and have it looked at by a trusted mechanic, but I was certain anything wrong would’ve been covered. I do understand the “not working on a car while one factory warranty” but I was hoping it would start up again so I could drive it to get it checked out instead of having it towed. (Money is really tight these days, and the first “fix” was inexpensive). And as for the problem not being covered,mind you the information was second hand, but my girlfriend told me that they said something along the lines of the fuel being tampered with, and therefore not a problem of faulty assembly or whatnot. This just happened today, so I’ll have to ask her (or call) to clarify.

You Do Have Comprehensive Insurance, Right ? Should You Find " . . . something along the lines of the fuel being tampered with, . . ." You May Be Covered By Comprehensive Insurance.

The dealer mechanic would have to write a statement on the estimate repair order that the fuel was tampered with (vandalized) and that it caused head gasket failure, ecetera.

It would be up to your car insurance company to either pay the bill (less the deductible) or send a claims adjuster to discuss the situation with the mechanic. I would say that if the adjuster shoots them down (or they chicken out) that they would have to go the warranty route. Some companies just have agents write a check for any claims under a certain amount, like 1000 bucks.

Seems to me like it’s one or the other. Either it was a parts / manufacturing defect or it was vandalized, but not both.

Do you have comp ? Do you have an “E-gent” or a brick and mortar agent ?


Get the car out of that dealer, and over to another one.
Sounds like you have a bad dealership on your hands.

Make sure you research the dealer you currently are dealing with, and the new one you are taking it to, just o be sure they aren’t owned by the same parent company, or have other histories of bad customer service.