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Ask sprinkles08 Your Own Question
sprinkles08, ASE Certified Technician
Category: Chrysler
Satisfied Customers: 21436
Experience:  ASE Master & Advanced level certified, Chrysler Master Certified, Trans and Hybrid Specialist
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I have a 2003 PT Cruiser GT (Turbo), which recently started

Customer Question

Hi! I have a 2003 PT Cruiser GT (Turbo), which recently started having starting issues. Initially, I'd turn the key once--and it would chug and chug and chug, and sound like...well, like a lawn mower trying to "catch" after filling it up with gas...but the engine wouldn't start. If I then turned the key a second time, it would start up quickly, with no issues--and any subsequent starts for the rest of the day would be with no issue. The next day, however--the first attempt at starting would involve chugging and no starting--and the second attempt would work. (Now, a couple of weeks later, it can take 5-10 minutes of multiple start attempts, before the engine finally starts up.)
In addition, the check engine light comes on, and SOMETIMES when you successfully start it, the engine temperature light comes on, the engine sounds a bit "racey", and sometimes the oil light comes on. Turing the car off, then restarting resolves all of those problems except the check engine light.
I took it to my mechanic, straightaway--and they found no issues, but said it needed a PCM flash: 18-026-03 REV A...and that I needed to take it to the dealer for that.
I took it to the dealer...and they said they "couldn't find" TSB 18-023-03 REV A...but they flashed the car with 18-018-03...and said that other than needing that flash, they didn't see anything else wrong with the car. Since the problem only occurs with the first start of the day, they were unable to confirm that it fixed anything, however.
I drove it home--noting that after the flash, my cruise control no longer worked (I use it everytime I drive anywhere!)--and the next morning, started the car--and the same starting issue was still there...and by the next day, it started taking longer to start it up. Same issue--just no more "1 bad try, 1 good try" routine--more like, "many bad tries...FINALLY a good try".
I took the car back to my mechanic...and they once again are just seeing the same software flash being needed: 18-026-03 REV A--the one the dealer says "can't be found".
So my question is...why would two different places be coming up with two different flashes being needed? How do they determine what is needed? Yes, my car is 13 years old: do they "retire" software flashes just because they don't want to support a car anymore? (Of course, what I REALLY want to know is what the heck is wrong with my car and what can I do next--but that's probably a bit out of scope here. ;))
Submitted: 4 months ago.
Category: Chrysler
Expert:  sprinkles08 replied 4 months ago.

Hello and welcome to JustAnswer!

The independent shop is telling you that the PCM needs to be flashed because they're unable to diagnose the issue and are sending you to the dealer to wash their hands of it. If the dealer flashed the PCM then the software is now up to date, but a software issue isn't going to cause what you're having at this point, it wouldn't start to cause an issue on a fourteen year old car. If the shop is unable to flash the PCM themselves then it's physically impossible for them to even know if your software is even up to date or not.

Do you know what fault codes are currently setting?