Lemon Series: The Chrysler PT Cruiser

There was only one generation of the Chrysler PT Cruiser and we, as a collective automotive world, can be very thankful for that fact.

This car came to us as a front-engine, FWD, small car that was available in two body styles. You could have a five-door hatchback or a two-door convertible and it was made to resemble the cars of the 1930s while giving us the technology of the mid-2000s, but it failed in many ways.

You Know it When You See It

When it first appeared, we were amazed by the 1930s style, but that was about all we liked about this car. Many owners now hand their heads in shape at the decision they made to buy this car. The high roof gave roof for tall passengers, and the high seating position made it relatively easy to see the road well, but this car was not looked at for any positive elements.

The Chrysler PT Cruiser has been Heavily Modified

During the time this car was on the market, it was only given one facelift in 2006, which didn’t do much to improve the car at all. Many owners have gone as far as to heavily modify their PT Cruisers, but we don’t know why. Maybe they were trying to retain that style and find a way to make this car one they could love to drive.

Why Was the Chrysler PT Cruiser Such a Bad Car?

The Beginning

The idea of the PT Cruiser was conceived before the merger between Chrysler and Daimler-Benz. The initial idea was to take the Plymouth Prowler and create a retro-styled carthat would wear the Chrysler name. When the merger was completed the Plymouth name was deleted and the PT Cruiser was born, but regrettably so.

Not Fitting in the Right Place

Does anything about the Chrysler PT Cruiser say light truck to you? No, that’s not a surprise at all. Even so, the FWD, five-passenger layout was made to fit the criteria for a light truck. This was before midsize trucks were developed and grew to what they are now. The Cruiser used a 1.6-liter engine that was later improved to a 2.0 and then a 2.4-liter model. The transmission offered four gears initially and later a five-speed manual was offered.

Several Models, One Update

Chrysler tried like crazy to sell this car. They created it in Classic, Limited, Touring, and Editions models. There were also special variations called Dream and Street Cruiser to give us plenty of options. The single update, for 2006, gave us a car that had scalloped headlights, a revised grille, and round fog lamps. Not enough to make this car one that we wanted to drive.

Sales Dropped Significantly

Early in its delivery, the Chrysler PT Cruiser was relatively popular with 145,000 models being sold in 2001. Unfortunately, near the end of the single generation, the sales had plummeted. In 2009, sales of this car only totaled 18,000 and this number fell to the final year of production, 2010, which gave Chrysler only 9,400 sales of this car. This was not a car anyone wanted to buy.

Drive a Car; Or Not

How would you like to drive down the road at highway speeds and suddenly have your car shut off? If that sounds like fun, you should have been driving a PT Cruiser. If it sounds unsafe, ridiculous, and completely unreliable, you can see why this car was one that we didn’ttrust and why it has become a bad car to drive.

Turn Signals, Use Them, Maybe

If you’re a driver that always uses your turn signals, you would not be happy to have the PT Cruiser. This car had turn signals that would stop working for now reason at all. This wasn’t the limit of the issue, sometimes the exterior lights would stop working and you couldn’t see when you wanted to drive home at night. That would make this car one that would be hard to have in the winter when most working hours end after dark.

Constant Software Updates

The Chrysler PT Cruiser required regular visits to the dealership, not because you needed to have an oil change, but because this car would require more software updates than nearly every other car in the market. Whether it was the PCM, the CEL software, or another electronic feature, if you owned this car, you were always taking it to the dealer for the software updates.

The Chrysler PT Cruiser is a lemon and if you see one, you should run in the other direction. Run fast, run far, just run away from this car.