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Brad, ASE Certified Technician
Category: Chrysler
Satisfied Customers: 2366
Experience:  ASE Certified Master Technician
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2003 pt cruiser running hot

Customer Question

2003 pt cruiser running hot
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Chrysler
Expert:  Brad replied 6 years ago.
Hello and welcome to!

I've fixed dozens of these by replacing the radiator. What happens is calcium forms on the inside of the radiator coating the metal parts but not restricting flow. Since the radiator flows just fine it shows no signs of being plugged but because of the contamination the heat from the coolant cannot properly transfer to the outside of the radiator and as a result the engine starts to run hot and eventually overheat.

Start it up (make sure the A/C is off) and wait for it to get hot enough for the cooling fan to come on. Once the cooling fan comes on feel the air. It will most likely be hot at first but then almost immediately become luke warm. If it is like this then replace the radiator.

If the radiator was good then the air flowing across it would be really hot the whole time the fan was on.

Once you get the radiator out if you take the time to cut it in half you'll see exactly what has been happening.

Once replaced I strongly recommend that you purchase pre-mixed coolant -OR- use distilled water to dilute it (and not tap water).

Some people have reported some luck using products like CLR in the time consuming flushing process but this often takes several treatments which may or may not help. In my opinion the best option in this situation is to just replace the thing.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
so u r telling me that it is not a blown head gasket? After driving the car less than a mile it is really hot. After replacing the fan car ran fine for several miles with ac on, but then it is really hot and there was water bubbling and spewing from the radiator as it wasnt before. They are wanting to charge me $650 to replace blown head gasket but i dont think that is the problem.
Expert:  Brad replied 6 years ago.
The first time I ran into one of these three summers ago I was about ready to tear the engine apart but as a last ditch effort I decided to give my customer the option of "guessing" at a radiator replacement (it was about the only part we hadn't replaced)

I called my parts supplier and they had 86 radiators in stock for the PT Cruiser. Apparently it was a big issue with this vehicle! I was amazed that fixed it but when I cut into the old radiator it was very obvious why it was getting so hot.

After that it seemed like I was doing two or three each week for this exact problem.

Yes there's also that chance but since the test liquid shows negative and there is no oil/coolant contamination then we have to assume the engine itself is OK.