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Rob's Garage

Get your car's problem diagnosed properly before replacing parts Add to ...

Hi Rob, I am hoping that you can help me with my dilemma.

My 2003 PT Cruiser, (normally aspirated, bare bones vehicle, automatic transmission) has an engine stutter. This stutter occurs while at idle, while stopped, both in gear or in neutral. It also occurs when a mild acceleration is initiated while cruising at 80 km/hr.

Now the dilemma, the plugs have been changed, the distributor cap and wiring have been changed, the injectors have been changed, the timing chain has been checked and is ok, the cam and crank sensors have been replaced, and the computer has been flashed. The stutter is still there. I can describe the stutter as like a temporary miss. Sometimes it is engine-rocking violent, and sometimes it is quite subtle.

To date nothing shows up that can be diagnosed by my service centre and, it drives my wife crazy. Any ideas?

Jim, Squamish B.C.

Jim, If your repair shop replaces part after part after part, they may not be using a systematic strategy to the diagnostic routine.

A shop’s first step should take be to learn from others who have had similar experiences. Technical data bases such as Alldata, Mitchel On-Demand, iATN (International Automotive Technicians Network), etc. can all be useful in diagnosing a problem.

Although it could be argued that it makes sense to replace some of the components you mentioned, your shop should only replace parts that need to be replaced. Replacing pieces until the problem goes away – instead of doing a full diagnosis of the problem – isn’t a great idea.

After a quick search through my Alldata tech information, I came across a service bulletin that describes your problem. I also found a couple of forums that contained discussion threads on this issue, so there is basis in fact that supports a chronic fault in the operating parameters of the on-board engine management computer.

Not knowing if your shop is a Chrysler brand dealer, you will need to take your car to a shop that has access to a DRB lll scan tool and an Interface Bus Cable. Have them refer to TSB# 18-024-05 and follow the (explicit) instructions that are associated with this repair. The detail is extensive and involved.

Sorry Jim, but this might require the shop to start from the beginning – again.

 

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