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PT Cruiser Air Conditioning Questions/Problems



  • luketerluketer Posts: 1
    It first started by blowing the fuse all the time, then only worked when it wanted to and now I cant get any cold air. I can feel it in the engine when it kicks on and off sometimes but only get hot air. Any ideas?
  • Go to Specify the correct year.

    It was $88 for the entire fan assembly and about $9 for shipping. You CAN do it yourself; it's relatively easy. It helped that I had mini drive-up ramps and a floor creeper, but, these are not mandatory.

    Remove the negative battery terminal but don't waste time removing the entire battery and battery shelf. Removing the wiring connector is a little tricky. Look at the connection in good lighting. Slide a small-bladed screwdriver between the (fan side) catch prongs and the body of the connector (the raised hump). Then pull out the (car-side) jack.

    I did not open the radiator drain plug. I just shoved a short piece of plastic tubing into the radiator cap (the metal cap over the front of engine, not the plastic over-flow cap) and after it filled with fluid, I pinched the end and pulled it out to create a siphon. I drained out two beer cans worth of fluid. With the car on the ramps, this was enough to drop the fluid level below the upper radiator hose flange.

    Remove the two lower fan cowling bolts then the bolt on each side. The driver's side bolt is the most problematic - having a thin arm helps. Remove the front grill by removing the four bolts on top and then unsnapping the grill by pulling each side forward until it pops out - you'll see the two snaps on each side as you pull it toward you.

    Twist the two radiator retainers (black oval-shaped plastic about the size of a dollar coin) on the top of the radiator counter -clockwise and pull them off. Lift off the front portion of the rubber hood gasket and set it out of your way. Remove the upper radiator bracket bolts and the one center brace bolt. Remove the remaining two upper fan cowling bolts, tilt the radiator forward and behold! You can now pull out the entire fan assembly. Just install the new fan by reversing the process.

    Easy. Budget about 90 minutes of your time.
  • tobor1111tobor1111 Posts: 3
    Well, I gave up and went to the Chrysler dealer to get a diagnostic on what was wrong. First of all, my dealer charges $98 to program the module. Second of all it wasn't the module after all, it was the low preasure switch. Third of all the first garage had damaged the high-side Shrader valve and all the refrigerant was gone. I paid $247 for Chrysler to fix it and then went back to my local garage, which was, by the way, recommended on Angie's List. And raised hell with them. They apologized and refunded the $182 which they had charged for the labor the first time and threw in an oil change. I don't believe I'll take the oil change though. :>)
    Thanks BThompson. Must be a lot of this going around.
  • Oh, I forgot to mention that you need to un-clamp and pull off the upper radiator hose after you lower the fluid level.
  • Well, apparently, I bought the last $88 fan assembly. It seems that the price has coincidentally gone up to $94. That is still a lot better than $680 or $800! The direct link to the part is below: r_fan_assembly.html
  • kbraut832kbraut832 Posts: 6
    I'm a novice as far as car repair goes and definitely can't afford the dealer fix for this problem. Do you know where I can find a diagram that shows me where the low pressure switch is? I'm having the exact same problem with the ac and the dealer recommended the exact same fix.
  • kbraut832kbraut832 Posts: 6
    Ok, replaced the switch but still having the same symptoms. A/C was charged 2 months ago, would I need to recharge it again?
  • The accumulator is the vertically mounted aluminum cannister on the firewall of the engine compartment passenger side. It is about the size of a small travel Thermos (or a 24-oz. beer can). There is an A/C refrigerant line attached. You will see the LPS mounted on top.
  • Well, the switch need only be replaced after performing the paperclip test to verify the defect. If the A/C was charged two months ago then it should still be charged unless you have a leak. Other possible causes can be the High Pressure Switch located on the compressor, the radiotor fan assembly (as described in this discussion thread), a fuse, a relay, or A/C console switch. Then of course, there's always the worst-case scenarios - bad compressor, compressor clutch, condenser coil or evaporator coil.

    And, in the category of "Just Really Bad Luck", the new switch may be defective. Perform the LPS paper clip test again. If the compressor kicks in when the LPS connector is shorted with the paper clip, then you may need to buy a $10 can of R-134a that comes with a gage (Big Lots), attach it to the low-pressure line and see how much of a charge is indicated.

    Good luck.
  • bthompson40207bthompson40207 Posts: 62
    edited July 2010
    Unfortunately, there is not just a plain ol' "Edit" button to click on for one's previous posts (after log out), so I will elaborate on one of my previous entries. In my reference to the "tricky connector removal", I am referring to the removal of the fan cowling connector, not the negative battery terminal. The cowling connector is located at the bottom of the radiator fan assembly, not near the battery terminal.

    I will reply to anyone who has questions within a reasonable period of days. I have set up my posts to e-mail me of any responses. I do ask that anyone who benefits from these posts to also pass along their "lessons learned".
  • kbraut832kbraut832 Posts: 6
    Ok, put the old LPS back on, attached a paperclip to the two prongs in the LPS, started the car and put the a/c on high and recirculate...Nothing happened, the air would blow but nothing cool, no surging, no compressor kicking in. Stopped the car, put on the new switch I bought yesterday and attached the wiring harness. A/C went back to doing what it used to, barely cool and surging with a drop in RPM's. I put on a pressure gauge that came with a can of refrigerant and started the car again. The gauge was set for the ambient temperature, put the a/c on high and recirculate, at first the guage read that it was low but when the engine started surging again the needle would peg out way beyond the high pressure red zone and then it would come back to the middle of the 10 psi zone between 45 and 55 psi. When it would surge again the needle would peg out once again. Took of the pressure gauge and came in to message you, so this is where I stand as of now. I have not added refrigerant. Any ideas? Do I need to paperclip the new LPS? Getting frustrated and hot!!!
  • bthompson40207bthompson40207 Posts: 62
    edited July 2010
    Whoa. I just realized that your post says that you paper clipped the LPS and not the LPS connector (?!?). If I am misunderstanding and you did clip the connector contacts and not the switch contacts, then the symptoms appear to be that of low-speed radiator fan failure. Does the A/C act any differently when traveling at 70mph?
  • kbraut832kbraut832 Posts: 6
    Yes, being the novice that I am I paperclipped the LPS. So I'm supposed to put it on the clip with the wires attached to it?
  • Hey Again:

    I'm not trying to make you feel like a novice, but I will elaborate further for the other novices out there (like I was recently) .

    The Low Pressure Switch (LPS) cycles the compressor based on the pressure in the accumulator (aluminum cannister that LPS is mounted atop). Pressure is a function of the temperature of the Freon liquid/gas cycle loop. This is why the compressor will not kick in at idle when the low-speed radiator fan is defective but it will kick in if the vehicle is at highway speed, or if the high speed fan can lower the condenser coil temp enough to trip a non-defective LPS. In other words, there must be enough air flow across the condenser coil to lower the pressure to the point that it will close the LPS and kick in the compressor.

    By-passing the LPS via shorting out the connector contacts (the connector with the wires leading from it that plugs onto the top of the LPS) takes the switch and accumulator pressure out of the troubleshooting equation. The LPS switch contacts go to the computer module and the closed switch (such as when the contacts are shorted with a paper clip) signals the computer to tell the compressor to engage.

    So, the paper clip test can not only by-pass the LPS switch and pressure as factors, it can also by-pass the low-speed radiator fan as an issue. In other words, if the LPS connector contacts are shorted, the computer will attempt to engage the compressor even though there may be low Freon, a bad LPS, and a decective low-speed radiator fan (assuming other components have been verified such as fuse, relay, and high-pressure cut-out switch).

    Therefore, IF the LPS paper clip test causes the compressor to engage, then there are three things to check:

    1. Low Freon
    2. Defective LPS
    3. Defective low-speed radiator fan

    The cost to repair, respectively, (assuming DIY) is approximately:

    1. $15
    2. $30
    3. $100

    In my case, I had both problems 2 AND 3.

    As a caveat, if the paper clip tests does kick in the compressor, do not let the compressor stay engaged for more than the few seconds required to verify that it is running. Doing so with low Freon can damage the compressor; doing so with a defective low-speed radiator fan can cause excessive pressure to buld up in the system loop; doing so with a bad LPS can cause the coil to freeze up and produce other damage.

    I am sure that there are professionals out there who can and will correct my explanations and/or logic, and I would welcome any additional information assistance or clarification, but, the above seems to be the mode of operation that eventualy led me to the correct troubleshooting that finally resulted in cold air - and without an outlay of hundreds of dollars (or more).

    I hope this helps.
  • japt2005japt2005 Posts: 1
    2005 PT Cruiser
    I found this older post and was needing to know where the plug is to check

    (You may have a plugged AC system drain. The evaporator and condenser remove moisture from the conditioned air and that water usually drains away while you drive. If the drain is plugged or damaged, the water collects inside the system.)

  • kbraut832kbraut832 Posts: 6
    You're not making me feel like a novice, I am a novice (at a/c work). I put the paperclip ends into the LPS connector, just made a loop with either end in the switch. Started the car, put the a/c on high and recirculate, just blew hot air.
    Took the paperclip out, put the connector back on the LPS and started the car again with the air on high and recirculate, still no cold air, but it does continue to surge with the car in park and idle. The fan on the radiator does sound like it is on. We used to get cold air while driving but as of last Saturday nothing. Thanks for continuing to respond and help with this problem.
  • The "surge" you describe would tend to make me believe that the compressor is being cycled. This could mean low Freon, but, that would be counter-intuitive to the fact that cycling requires a minimum amount of Freon.

    That fact that you used to get cooling when traveling at high speed would make me believe that the low-speed radiator fan is not operating. Since you are no longer getting any cooling when traveling at high speed, this tends to also point to low Freon.

    Use a flashlight to verify low-speed fan operation. The fan should come on as soon as the A/C is turned on.

    You may have both a low-Freon issue and a bad low-speed radiator fan issue.
  • kdlutz41kdlutz41 Posts: 1
    On a recent trip, the air conditioning would run great for about an hour, then it would quit, I would turn it off for about 30 minutes and then it would ran again. Temps were high 90's outside. I could hear the fan running but no air was coming thru the vents. This happened for the entire 6 hour trip. No problems on the way back, ran cold. Any ideas?? This is a 2001 that I just purchased about 3 months ago. Thanks..
  • I have the same thing going on with mine and can anyone help me is what i have...the air is luke warm at idle and when the comp kicks on it makes the car idle real low...It gets a bit cooler when you are up to speed. I have also seen smoke coming from under the passenger side fender well a time or 2...I have did the paperclip thing and the comp cuts on when i jump it. the next deal os the cooling fan. It does not come on when I cut the air I am asking should i buy a fan and put it on or try something else to make sure it isnt the relay or just low on freon....I also notice when the comp kicks on the small a/c line up on the firewall gets really cold fast...any help would be awesome....
  • It sure sounds like the low-speed fan. Swap the low- and high-speed relays located on the fan shroud to eliminate the relay from the equation. You should be able to use a flashlight to verify low-speed operation. If the low-speed does not kick in with engine running and and A/C switched on, the check out my previous post(s) on fan assembly replacement.
  • so i can just swap the plugs on the 2 relays that are on the fan shroud and if it is the low speed fan it should come on when i cut air on...Could the smoking be the fan motor?
  • If memory serves me, I believe that the relay connectors are snap-mounted to the shroud and the relays can be pulled up and off after releasing the snap catches. It is possible that fan motor coil burn-out could have caused smoke.
  • when i swap the plugs the fan should come on when i cut on air....? could i also straight wire the fan to see if it is working?
  • The point of swapping the relays is to eliminate the low-speed relay from the possible list of defects. So, if the low speed fan is inoperartive before swapping and it is operative after swapping, then the relay is the problem (assuming engine running and A/C selected). If the low speed fan is inop in both situations, then seek solution elsewhere.

    Yes, if you have a set of jumper clips, you can attempt to "hot wire" the low speed fan circuit and test operation.

    If you want to pony up the dollars, most shops will charge you around $60 to diagnose your A/C system. If one does verify that the low-speed fan is the issue, then you can proceed with DIY replacement.
  • Congratulations! I know the feeling of elation that you are now feeling. It is a shame that Chrysler has not maintained the standards of quality for its suppliers that it has established for its own manufacturing. The fan assembly and the CAM sensor were designed and manufactured by third-party, lower tiered suppliers.
  • Thanks to all the posting in this forum I got the quick and inexpensive fix to my air conditioning. Per advice and very good instruction by bhtompson I now have cool air again. Just as many others complained mine went out suddenly and blew only hot air. I replaced the LPS switch which cost $30.00 and was lucky to get the last one from Auto Zone in my area. Thanks again for all the advice
  • Let me also say many thanks to the guys who posted their info in this forum...It's save us a lot of $$ and time.

    I took it to a local Meineke and they said they tested everything and freon and relays were good...they thought it was a compressor going out. Told me to take it to Dodge as we only have 46K miles on the car.

    I took a chance with the LPS as jumpering the connector would get us cool the part installed this morning and took a 2 hr round far so good!

    I wouldn't have known this was a common issue had it not been for this post!! Thanks again!

    Just a FYI also that santech part seemed a bit heavier than the OEM part...hopefully this one will last the life of the car!
  • I travel out of town quite a bit so i haven't had the time to work on my a/c issue lately. Today I verified that the fan behind the radiator works, tried to put in R-134a with sealant in and still getting nothing. The old LPS is in (because there was no change with the new LPS in, and it actually blows cool at idle with the old LPS), the a'c blows semi-cool air when sitting still in park if you have your hand right up near the vent. I took the car for a high speed (65-70mph) test for about 8 miles to see if it blew cold like it used to at high speeds............nothing, still hot. It actually seems to be cooler when sitting still than moving now. It was 101 degrees out today during the test drive. So far $60 bucks in with no results.......I have a coupon for a free a/c check at a local repair shop so I guess I'll see if I can get it over there for that. I am on call 24/7 for the next 6 days so getting it there may be a problem. Any other previously unposted ideas that I can do while I have a little time today?
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