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PT Cruiser Brake Problems & Questions

PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Member Posts: 9,372
Having an issue with the brakes on your Cruiser? This is the place to give and get advice!


  • bwalbornbwalborn Member Posts: 2
    I recently had to replace the brakes in my 2001 PT Cruiser Limited Edition. It only had 20,000 miles on it and that seemed way too early for a brake job. The dealer told me that they are seeing Cruisers come in for new brakes between 15,000 and 20,000 miles. If so, there must be others out there who have had to replace brakes. I am considering trading my 2001 in for a 2003 turbo, but if the brakes really are failing this early then I will reconsider my decision. Thanks for any and all input.
  • ldollarldollar Member Posts: 2
    I have a 2003 PT Cruiser with 26000 miles on it. I took it in yeaterday and was told the right caliper was totally worn and that the left was perfectly normal. Any one else with uneven brake problem????
  • tcsmpsitcsmpsi Member Posts: 31
    I have a 2003 PT, but have had no notable wear on the brake components at 45,500 miles.
    In fact, only problem we have had was a power steering problem which was taken care of by Chrysler.

    Ours is the base model with manual transmission.
    We average just a little over 30 mpg (mostly highway).
  • sisusisu Member Posts: 2
    The driver's side front caliper had to be replaced on my '01 Cruiser after locking up. Unfortunately, I was going 75 mph on the freeway at the time. Fortunately, no damage was done. After the problem was diagnosed, the dealer assured me that the other front caliper is fine. But it does make one a bit paranoid. The mileage at the time was higher than yours, around 47000. There were no brake problems prior to that incident.
  • fndlyfmrflyrfndlyfmrflyr Member Posts: 668
    Rare problem and not limited to PTs. My Toyota had a sticking front caliper (pad wore out fast on one wheel).
  • peach1peach1 Member Posts: 2
    Had to have my brake pads changed at 19000 mi. Also had to have my emergency brake changed 4 times and adjusted 2 times and my car only has 25000 mi. I'm now taking it in for ABS and STeering problems. Love the idea of the car but they sure don't make cars like they use to.
  • fndlyfmrflyrfndlyfmrflyr Member Posts: 668
    Not many miles for Cruiser brakes. Have over 20K miles on mine and there is very little brake pad wear. Looks like the pads should last several times what you got out of them. Mine is an 03 driven mostly around town - no long trips.
  • bstackbstack Member Posts: 3
    Since my 02 Touring was new, the rear drum brakes have a noisy, "rotating" squeak when the brakes are applied. Had it to the dealer once, aftermarket place as well. They clean and adjust them, which improves it a little. Just had new tires put on, the mechanic there also cleaned and adjusted to no avail. Any thoughts? On the other hand, brake wear has been phenomenal. At 47k miles, still have 50% on the fronts and 60% on the rears.
  • dd5717dd5717 Member Posts: 1
    Can you tell me what the problem with your emergency brake was - I had my care in nuetral with the emergency brake on (car running) - jumped out to get the mail and the car rolled into a tree. Have had my 2001 PT Cruiser for 36 days and this is the 3rd problem - first was a sensor replaced, then the gear shift cable snapped. Love the look of the car, but getting concerned about its performance. Thanks.
  • norrmanndonorrmanndo Member Posts: 81
    You need to put some muscle behind pulling the emergency brake. Mine stops tight when I pull it, but it will roll when my wife pulls it up.
  • bmw85bmw85 Member Posts: 5
    We own a 2002 touring ed. and we have had a squeeking noise in the brakes since 2000 miles. At 30,000 we were told that the problem was worn out pads and shoes. We paid to have the dealer fix it and 20 miles later it was doing the same thing. It was returned to the dealer and they said there was no problem they all sound like that.
    Now we are having battery cable problems. When will it end. :(
  • mdhestermdhester Member Posts: 3
    You need to do as I did with my 2001 PT Cruiser. Pure Trouble Cruiser get rid of it!
  • jlawyerjlawyer Member Posts: 12
    The brake replacement was probably unwarranted. The PT brake pads have a "cleft" in the center that dealerships use as a standard measure of wear, but the pad maker, and any properly trained mechanic considers the "squeeker clip"(properly called the "wear indicator") the proper wear marker. The wear indicator is a sheet metal tab that scrapes the rotor (and causes a squeeking noise) when the pad is worn to a thickness close to the rivots, or if glued, close to the pad backing. If you explain this to the dealer mechanics, they'll say you run the risk of rotor damage from the pad rivots, but the pad material isn't rivoted, it's "glued" to the metal. Most pads should last anywhere around 30,000-50,000 miles depending on the driver, and driving conditions....But keep in mind to have the rotors checked when the brakes are worn. If the dealer mechanic says that the rotors are worn, you have the right to have the mechanic show you, with a micrometer, that the rotors are worn to a thickness less than the acceptable wear thickness, this measurement is cast into the rotor center. And do have the rotors turned.....Jimmy
  • jlawyerjlawyer Member Posts: 12
    What you're saying is unacceptable to a mechanic. The brake replacement was probably unwarranted. The PT front brake pads have a "cleft" in the center that dealerships use as a standard measure of wear, but the pad maker, and any properly trained mechanic considers the "squeeker clip"(properly called the "wear indicator") the proper wear marker. The wear indicator is a sheet metal tab that scrapes the rotor (and causes a squeeking noise) when the pad is worn to a thickness close to the rivots, or if glued, close to the pad backing. If you explain this to the dealer mechanics, they'll say you'll run the risk of rotor damage from the pad rivots, but the pad material isn't rivoted, it's "glued" to the metal. Most pads should last anywhere around 30,000-50,000 or more miles depending on the driver, and driving conditions....But keep in mind to have the rotors checked when the brakes are worn. If the dealer mechanic says that the rotors are worn, you have the right to have the mechanic show you, with a micrometer, that the rotors are worn to a thickness less than the acceptable wear thickness, this measurement is cast into the rotor center. And do have the rotors turned.

    Second, you've had your "emergency brakes" changed 4 times?It's impossible that they could be worn even once within the period of front pad wear. The emergency brakes are the rear brakes, and almost all braking systems are 65/35 systems, meaning that the braking power is 65% front-35% rear. Braking systems are made this way because momentum and steering are foreward, otherwise cars could spin out upon braking, even worse in rain or snow....Do you drive with the emergency brake on? That's the only reason to replace them early or have them adjusted even once within the front pad life.
  • pj2067pj2067 Member Posts: 1
    I have a 2003 Limited PT Cruiser and have had a problem with squealing brakes ever since I bought it with 13,000 miles.I had ythe brakes done when I first noticed it and it was fine for about 2 weeks the it began squealing again.I took it back to where I had brakes done and they cleaned both front and rear and it was fine for about 2 weeks then it began again.I then took it to the dealer and spent the money to have them do the brakes and they were fine again for about a month and then the squealing returned.The car has been garage kept and maintained well so this is very frustrating.I now have 53,000 miles and still deal with the constant groaning and squealing.Any ideas on how I can stop this once and for all as I really am trying not to dislike my PT but I am getting really annoyed.
  • faithromerofaithromero Member Posts: 3
    I have a 2001 PT Cruiser and the brakes started squealing soon after I bought it. I paid the dealer twice to check the brakes and they said they were fine. They finally gave me the number for DaimlerChrysler and I called them and was told that all brakes will squeal after a while since the government has outlawed using asbestos in brakes. I don't know if I believe that, but that is what I was told.
  • lisaleelisalee Member Posts: 1
    My PT cruiser started making a wretched squeaking noise shortly after I bought it. I've taken it 3 times to the dealer and each time, they said they were dirty, cleaned them and they were ok for about a month. I'm so tired of it and the noise is unbearable. I'm going to contact the dealer to see if there's anything they can do, but I doubt I will ever buy a Chrysler again after this experience.
  • triplesevntriplesevn Member Posts: 4
    My car is a brand new 2006 base model I bought this November. At 1,000 miles, I started hearing the sqeeking noise and thought it was the jeep next to me. I then noticed while pulling up to my parking lot at work, it was my car.

    So I took it to the dealer, amongst other problems I am having, and they checked them out. Nothing was wrong they said. Just dirt most likely the cause. 2 days later, they're sqeeking again.....

    I think I'm going to have to trade this car in, in a few months for something else. I do love the car as far as looks and the interior go, but I can't afford to have a car with problems brand new.
  • gabbygibbygabbygibby Member Posts: 2
    I have the brake problem also. I told them it's a shame you pay $16,000 (PT Cruiser Limited 2004)for a used car and it squeaks, no not squeaks but it's more like a grinding noise and it's embarrassing. I also had problem when I was coming to a stop that the car felt more like an airplane taking off or landing on a runway, vibrating. It turned out after I took it back several times that the roaters were warped. Finally got that one fixed. They still insist that it's because the brakes get dust in them and that's why they squeak, my son is a Master Mechanic for Classic Toyota and he said that's bull. ;)
  • rasrobertsonrasrobertson Member Posts: 1
  • fred0149fred0149 Member Posts: 1
    I have a 2001 ptCruiser, and I have the same problem. I generally get the locks opening and closing, when it's cold outside. If I turn, speed up,and sometimes, just driving,and you start hearing the locks, locking and unlocking. The dome light comes on, and sometimes it's constant. I don't think it's a broken lock, but I have no idea what it is.
  • tasmanmotorstasmanmotors Member Posts: 8
    I have a similar problem on a 2000 Dodge Neon. The rotors had warped only with 2500 miles on it. The dealershiped turned them and replaced the pads and I had not really had any issues since.

    Had the dealership checked the brake calipers. Any grinding sound or feel could mean the ABS is engaging for some reason? It is rare for that to happen but it is electronically controlled so it could also be electrical or an on board computer issue? Just some suggestions or ideas to throw out there.

    Another suggestion maybe to upgrade in the brakes. Meaning, purchase a higher quality rotor and calipers with excellent quality pads. I know The Tire Rack sells Brembo rotors and calipers, you may want to check and see if they have a set that fits your PT Cruiser. You will pay more than you would at Autozone or a Advanced Auto, but it still should be cheaper or about the same if you bought Factory stuff, but it would definitely be of a much higher quality. Good luck on your PT.
  • a1ca1c Member Posts: 1
    I've encountered all the brake problems mentioned here. I have an '02 Limited Edition.

    So far, I've had a bad caliper.. which required new calipers and new pads...

    Also, for the squeaking... for most of the car's life, the rear brakes had a HORRIBLE squeal.. it was a wretched sound. Chrysler mechanics are morons. They consistantly wanted to clean and adjust.. clean and adjust and it never solved the problem. Finally, a random mechanic suggested having the shoes resurfaced. So, instead, I had them replace them. So, the squealing is now gone, but they still squeak when they're cold.

    I've spent close to 1500 bucks on brakes since we got the car in 2003. And I'm so sure that chrysler was dodging the real problem when it was under warranty.

    Now, there's a strange grinding sound on the front brakes... I just had, a couple of months ago, new calipers... new pads.. and a resurface, and now they're grinding...

    It never ends :mad:
  • kpepperkpepper Member Posts: 2
    Hello everyone, I have a question...

    Can anyone tell me why does my dash "break light" turns on, and a single ding sound can be hear when I accelerate.

    Most common when I leave a dead stop traffic light... or when the car down shifts on a hill climb.

    thank you.

  • kpepperkpepper Member Posts: 2
    Well I solved my problem... as the break pads wear down, the break fluids levels drop... if it goes too low, you will get a break light.

    thought you might like to know.

  • angeesangees Member Posts: 3
    Sounds as tho we Americans are being made to swallow bull about the cars we purchase. I bought an '07 in July '07, just 1650 miles on it as of today. I am going to fight until I get some type of result, either my money back or another car. There is not an equal car of value to swap for, so guess I will have to write "lemon" on my bright silver PT. I was told the KIA brand car I traded in, is low on the food chain of cars, but I did not have a problem with it, silly me for trading for a Chrysler made product. We all should write Chrysler, e mail or other mail, band together and demand results.
  • golferdrgolferdr Member Posts: 1
    I have read several people had or still has the same problem with their rear brakes grinding. I have taken my car to 4 different mechanics and they all say my brakes- pads, rotors and drums - are fine. The grinding is driving me crazy and it seems that it is just NOT normal for a car to make that kind of noise without causing some kind of damage. Has anyone found a solution?
  • n2itmann2itman Member Posts: 3
    after getting the same chrysler dealership that i worked for! i finally upgraded my wifes 2001 PT limited breaks to the thermal ceramics. no more squeals so far, and going on 12,000 miles.
  • n2itmann2itman Member Posts: 3
    just noticed mine grinding a few days ago. dealership said they were dirty. huh, whatever. still grinding. i replaced the front brakes with thermal ceramic brake pads and they are working great. if you get an answer please tell me.
  • lindasue58lindasue58 Member Posts: 3
    :confuse: 2 issues-I took my car in because I was getting a creaking sound when steering-only sharp turns like backing or parking, I was told it is the struts. I was also told my right front caliper is sticking even though I didn't have an issue with the brakes. They do make kind of a squeaky grindy noise. I had my car looked at in late Nov. for that. I was told the pads are good, just dirty and that they flushed the brakes. Well, I took it is for an oil change-different place-and they commented on the dirty brake fluid! No one else mentioned the caliper.
    Issue 2-I was told I needed a new thermostat, radiator hose and flush. Okay, the hose and flush I can understand. They wanted to charge me almost $600 dollars for this because they said it is hard to get to the thermostat. Is this true???
    All in all I was told I had $3000 worth of repairs I should get done. I had no troubles with this car until now. For the money I may as well trade it in.
  • tedebeartedebear Member Posts: 832
    They wanted to charge me almost $600 dollars for this because they said it is hard to get to the thermostat. Is this true???

    Which engine? On my wife's 03 turbo the thermostat isn't too difficult to get to. It's near the left front, as you're standing in front looking in the engine bay. Follow the big upper radiator hose from the radiator and it'll take you right to it.

    It looks like on my wife's car I might have to remove the intake manifold but that's no big deal - I did that when I replaced the spark plugs. You just should make sure you get the torque right when you tighten it back down. A PT Cruiser repair CD on eBay or Haynes service manual is a lot cheaper than the $600 they want to charge you.

    Does the noise it makes when turning sound more like a moaning? That is probably the power steering pump if so. Check the fluid level and PS belt tension and condition. Okay, now I remember you asked about the PS about a week ago. Did you look into that mesh screen in the PS reservoir possibly being clogged?

    Why would the brake fluid be so dirty if a shop supposedly flushed the system and replaced with clean fluid 4 months ago? Why do they think the caliper is sticking? Is that wheel hard to turn by hand when off the ground or is there uneven wear on the pads?
  • tomicatomica Member Posts: 23
    We just took our 2004 PT in for a tune up and to fix an assumed problem with the ABS light coming on. Mechanic could find no real problem with brakes. When we left, light was off but within 2 miles it came back on. Anyone have a similar problem?? Did you find a fix??
  • drmmroscoedrmmroscoe Member Posts: 2
    I have a 2001 PT Cruiser and a couple problems bother me and I need some ideas. Lately the brakes seem to be catching with a jerking before the car stops. The brake pedal is also a little soft. I get no brake light.
    Also my oil light keeps coming on and binging. The dealer says there is nothing wrong and not to worry right now. Just the sensor is damp. The binging is driving me crazy. Any ideas on either of these problems?
  • drmmroscoedrmmroscoe Member Posts: 2
    Also standing in front of my car with the hood open, where do I check my brake fluid level? :confuse:
  • trufraggletrufraggle Member Posts: 1
    I have an "01" also and it sounds like you got the same brake issue i have.. with my brother being an ASE certified mechanic, he's been doing all the work on my cruiser. the ABS and traction control lights both come and go on mine. turns out that when he hooked it up to the computer, there's a hydraulic brake malfunction thats causing the problem.... bad part is he's telling me its a $1500.00 fix.. i've had this car since feb 09 with 111k miles and already replaced the timing belt, both front wheel bearings and driver side axle. apparently there's nothing they can do about the sensors, every time it rains my airbag sensor goes off.
  • allianceguyallianceguy Member Posts: 1
    Muffler and brake shops are notorious for doing unneeded work. I've been in the industry for over 40 years and I've got a slew of horror stories. Always get a second and third opinion. Ask folks you know for a reputable place to take your car. Brakes, hoses, and belts are the biggest scams. After I bought new tires for my car and asked for an alignment I found that a tire store in Racine, Wisconsin had actually loosened my front end parts to make the wheels "wiggle" when they grabbed them,
  • limited2001limited2001 Member Posts: 2
    in mt pt cruiser 2001 it was the rear calipers, i sent them for recon and and it was cheap and worked, however after a month one of them was discovered to be leaking and it made the brake pedal soft when applying brakes, but the recon has 2yr warrantty and im sending one back
  • limited2001limited2001 Member Posts: 2
    my pt cruiser is 2001 limited and the handbrake was pulling all the way up, there were three issues

    1. the rear brake plates where the handbrake cable is attached has a small rounded dome which was worn out and had to be welded to form the rounded shape again, you can clearly see it if you remove the brake shoes there will be a worn out hole on the plate, some dont do good electric welding and it can wear out again in 12months or so, so make sure you see the welding before its pt back, it should be a small dome like shape not just a bit of spot welding

    2. when the brake shoes were replaced the handbrake lever will become loose, and if ignored the lever will pull up too much and parking brake will be soft or not work at all

    3. it is essential to open the 4 screws around the long console of the handbrake lever to reveal the handbrake mechanism, there are two bolts holding the lever down, easy to remove and replace if you wish, but you can detach the two rear cables and pull the cable fixed to lever as mch as possible and then insert a lock pin or thin nail to hold the spring, and then attach the two cables back and remove the pin, this will retension the spring in the lever, make sure the handbrake is bolted down when you do this, check handbrake light before returning the console back, there is cigarrete lighter cable attached to the console so just leave console on the side wheile working.

    do this before buying new handbrake cables or handbrake lever
  • limited2001ptlimited2001pt Member Posts: 2
    trac control & abs light staying on in dash on pt cruiser 2001 limited

    well had same problem with my pt cruiser 2001, firstly there is no need to plug in computer under the dash for pulling abs error codes,
    because the problem can be the cracked abs ring on the drive shaft/cv joint,

    turn your steering all the way to left and ask your colleague to see if behind the tyre the abs ring is broken or cracked,
    it is circular like a bracelete with grooves, then turn the steering to the right and repeat the inpesction,

    if the abs ring is cracked then look on ebay or web for pt cruiser abs ring or kia abs ring, should cost about £5-£10 each
    and a garage could heat it up with gas and hammer it into the drive shaft/cv joint for you for about £20-£30,
    takes about 30min to 45mins, make sure the garage dont heat the cv booth kit rubber next to the abs ring when heating it up.

    i heard you can only buy abs ring for front wheels and its not available separately for rear wheels,
    so for rear you may need to buy the whole part it comes on

    the front abs rings are easily visible when you turn the wheel to one side, the rear ones may not be visible as i have not seen them

    so if the abs ring are good then it wil probably be one of the wheel sensors, in this case you you may look for a garage who will hook up
    the computer and pull the code for you, be carefull if the say there are no abs error codes it means the sensors are ok and most of it

    there is no need to buy abs sensor for any wheel when there are no error codes

    on pt cruiser you can pull engine error codes yourself without a computer, just do the key dance on the ignition,
    turn key until dash lights come on then switch off and then again turn key until dash lights come on then swithch off,
    then turn key for third time again until dash lights come on , you will see engine error codes displayed then says done,
    if there are no error codes it will say done, howevere these are engine error codes only not abs error codes,
    abs error codes are pulled using abs diagnostic tool

    incase its a faulty wheel sensor, will cost £45 at dealer or £20 from scrap, then a garage can removed the tyre and plug out the old sensor cable
    and replace it with a new one, one end is easy to plug in but the other end has to be pushed in at an angle,
    its about 30min job and garage can charge £20 or so

    my pt cruiser is back on the road with just one abs ring replaced and it all cost me £30 alltogether
  • shobudsteelmanshobudsteelman Member Posts: 7
    Maybe someone can give me a heads up as to the source of my problem: a few weeks ago while approaching a red light in my 2007 PT Cruiser convertible there was what appeared to be a puff of smoke from the hood and the right front quarter panel. It smelled like an electrical malfunction. A few days later the right front wheel acted as if the wheel was severely out of balance. At my earliest convenience I jacked the car up, pulled the wheel off, and pulled the caliper off and inspected the disc brakes on the passenger side and discovered the inner brake pad had worn slightly to one end. I checked all the parts thoroughly, compressed the piston back into the caliper with no apparent problems, and reassembled everything. All went well for another week or so, although my wife said she thought the car engine was lugging. Finally today I bought a new set of brake pads and installed them on both left and right front wheels. It feels as if the pistons are not retracting after application as both wheels are getting hot even driving short distances and there is a strong smell of burning brakes.

    Everything electrical seems to be working fine, and I found no evidence of any fluids having been ejected on any part of the engine or compartment. But evidently there is something that is not allowing the pistons to release to allow the brake pads to retract off the rotor.

    And ideas?
  • limited2001ptlimited2001pt Member Posts: 2
    i think i have been thru a similar issue couple of times, the garages help me with their wild guesses which i take no notice of at all,

    its most likely your caliper is jammed (i mean the piston comes out during braking but not retracting back after braking),

    this problem will require either get new caliper or recondition the existing ones, (i bought some from from junkyard or salvage and take them for recon and then get a garage to replace them for me, and next time after 2 years i would take the old ones, which came out from my car, for recon if i have to),

    the smoke is probably from leaking brake oil from the brake caliper, or even maybe you had sprayer brake cleaner when fitting or examining brake, yes it does make a bit of smoke but in my case it was only for a day, after i drove the car from the garage and it never happened the next day, it was probably just heat and brake cleaner fluid reacting into smoke.

    good luck.
  • bobcat666bobcat666 Member Posts: 1

    I have a 2002 PT Cruiser. Yesterday both front breaks engaged and would not disengage. By the time it got to the shop the breaks disengaged and can not be duplicated. Now I need new shoes, calipers and rotors. Any idea what happened and what the cause was? This is the second time this happened but the first time was just for a short period.

  • bigjohn51fordbigjohn51ford Member Posts: 1
    My 02 pt cruiser brake pedal goes to the floor whats wrong
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