All 9 Best & Worst PT Cruiser Years | 2023 Data

The PT Cruiser is a comfortable and fun retro-styled five-door hatchback wagon. Since they are no longer manufactured, PT Cruisers may be fun collectibles used cars for families. An SRT-4 engine with a front-wheel-drive layout powers these minivans.

However, it has had its ups and downs like any other vehicle. The corporation has encountered some controversy over the vehicles’ appearance. Furthermore, some models are total duds, which should be avoided at all costs.

So, I’ll break down the years you should avoid and why they’re bad bets. However, some years have had fewer complaints and can be worth purchasing.

The worst years to avoid PT Cruiser are 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, and 2006. The best years to buy a PT Cruiser are 2004, 2007, 2008, and 2009. This result was concluded from trustworthy sources such as NHTSA, Edmund, JD Power, Car Complaints, and Kelley Blue Book.

Worst Years To Avoid PT Cruiser

Production of PT Cruisers lasted from 2001 till 2010. Minivans had the most complaints from the beginning and middle of the model run. Below are the worst possible PT Cruiser model years to avoid at all costs.

  • 2001 PT Cruiser
  • 2002 PT Cruiser
  • 2003 PT Cruiser
  • 2005 PT Cruiser
  • 2006 PT Cruiser

5. Worst Year: 2006 PT Cruiser (3.88 Rating)

Source: Raleigh classic

The PT Cruiser from this model year is one of the worst Chrysler offers, as Car complaints also labeled it as their worst. Engine stalls and shut-offs while driving were prominent complaints for this model year. Fifty-two of the complaints on Car Complaints were related to the engine.

This minivan sometimes starts shaking. Many individuals find that turning the engine off and on again does not resolve the issue. Most of them had to diagnose the problem and either replace the engine or the battery.

The sweet, burning smell of coolant and blue exhaust smoke from the tailpipe indicated a power spike in the 2006 PT Cruiser. After clearing the clogged fuel filter, the issue seemed to be fixed.

Many 2006 models had issues with the air conditioning not working at all, the windshield wiper not working, and the seat control panel breaking under pressure. Overall, this model should be avoided.

Reviews, Ratings, Recalls & Complaints:

4. Worst Year: 2003 PT Cruiser (3.75 Rating)

Source: Cars and bids

The 2003 PT Cruiser doesn’t offer much more than the 2001 or 2002 model. Common issues with this PT Cruiser include a faulty powertrain, excessive heat, and inadequate cooling. Almost all 2003 owners have had to make some repairs or upgrades during the first few years of ownership.

Obviously, a 2003 PT Cruiser is doomed to have serious problems if you buy it. Problems with the transmission, the steering, and the cooling system are the most typical ones to arise.

PT Cruisers are expensive and difficult to repair in many circumstances, especially when serious problems, such as transmission, reveal themselves. Don’t waste your money or time on the 2003 model year.

Reviews, Ratings, Recalls & Complaints:

3. Worst Year: 2005 PT Cruiser (3.64 Rating)

Source: desert motor

The 2005 PT Cruiser is again one of the worst model years. Most of the problems with the 2005 Chrysler PT Cruiser are electrical; of the 252 complaints filed with the NHTSA, 46 had to do with electrical difficulties.

There are 32 complaints regarding suspension problems on file. One driver reports that their front left control arm has been changed several times, and worn front wheel bearings are a typical problem.

Car complaints report that 75 complaints are about engine issues with the 2005 Chrysler PT Cruiser. Premature clutch failure, whining sounds, power loss, and overheating are other frequently reported issues.

Reviews, Ratings, Recalls & Complaints:

2. Worst Year: 2002 PT Cruiser (3.10 Rating)

Source: YouTube / Auto Ad Builder

The wheel issue reached its peak in the 2002 PT Cruiser. The tires began to leak air when the chrome flaked off. Although this was a frequent issue for drivers, Chrysler never conducted a recall for the wheels.

A damaged dashboard, a failing torque converter, a failing transmission pump, and peeling chrome rims were the most often reported problems. Additionally, a few owners complained that the engine made a clicking sound or would not start.

There have been complaints of the car abruptly stalling or not accelerating correctly, with the torque converter and transmission pump being especially problematic. In addition to being unsightly, the peeling chrome wheels caused air leaks in the tires, compromising the car’s safety and handling.

Reviews, Ratings, Recalls & Complaints:

1. Worst Year: 2001 PT Cruiser (2.57 Rating)

Source: Carsandbids

Unfortunately, given that it was the initial model year, this year won the honor for most recalls and proved the worst of all PT Cruiser models. It was recalled seven times for different problems.

Timing belt problems plagued the first model year’s single engine. It required costly and time-consuming replacement on a regular basis. Timing belt replacement typically costs between $500 and $750, including labor.

The fuel pump module and power steering hose issues were the most serious ones. The most frequent problems owners reported were a damaged dashboard and tires leaking because of low-quality chrome wheels and chrome wheels flaking and creating air leaks.

There were also a few sporadic power problems. There was a fire risk if the fluid from the power steering hose leaked and came into contact with the hot exhaust system. Another issue with the gasoline pump module was reports of the car stalling out of the blue, which posed a serious risk to safety.

Reviews, Ratings, Recalls & Complaints:

Best Years To Buy PT Cruiser

The PT Cruiser’s reliability improved over time. As a result, fewer complaints were lodged concerning these as well. These are the most reliable PT Cruisers on the used market today.

  • 2004 PT Cruiser
  • 2007 PT Cruiser
  • 2008 PT Cruiser
  • 2009 PT Cruiser

4. Best Year: 2004 PT Cruiser (4.02 Rating)

Source: wroom

Regarding the 2004 PT Cruiser, almost everything is mediocre. A complete C-vehicle in every respect. However, it is still better than models from the worst years list.

In 2004, a special “True Blue” Series 3 PT Dream Cruiser was made available. In addition, the Limited and Touring Edition vehicles will feature a turbocharged engine producing 180 horsepower.

The Limited trim level also has the option to purchase the Chrome Accent Group, which features a chrome fuel door and metallic-finish pedals, and a shift knob.

Reviews, Ratings, Recalls & Complaints:

3. Best Year: 2007 PT Cruiser (4.32 Rating)

Source: The Auto Channel

In 2007, Chrysler offered the PT Cruiser as a small wagon as well as a convertible. The wagon’s interior is wide and offers a lot of baggage storage, while the PT Cruiser convertible has a backseat that folds down and is big enough for two adults.

The motivation behind every Chrysler PT Cruiser base model in 2007 is a 2.4-liter inline-4 good for 150 horsepower. The transmission can be either a five-speed manual or an optional four-speed automatic.

The 2007 Chrysler PT Cruiser can be a good compact wagon if vintage styling is your thing; it handles better than the Chevy HHR, another retro-chic option. Just don’t forget to stay away from the base engine.

Reviews, Ratings, Recalls & Complaints:

2. Best Year: 2008 PT Cruiser (4.44 Rating)

Source: Autoblog

Regarding consumer satisfaction, the 2008 PT Cruiser was once again the model’s best year. Even if it didn’t do as well as the 2009 version, it was still the best of the ten years of production.

In 2008, Chrysler no longer offered the PT Cruiser in its sporty GT variant. Furthermore, Chrysler has reduced the number of available trim levels for the convertible model and made some small tweaks to the standard features. However, the PT Street Cruiser Sunset Boulevard Edition, a new limited edition model, will be released later in the model year.

The 2008 model is praised for its smooth handling, roomy cabin, and unique design. However, some drivers complained about weak power and slow acceleration, especially with the standard engine.

Reviews, Ratings, Recalls & Complaints:

1. Best Year: 2009 PT Cruiser (4.47 Rating)

Source: prettymotors

The 2009 PT Cruiser, one of the final models made before Chrysler ended production of the brand in 2010, was the best of the bunch since it received the fewest complaints and no recall.

The 2009 Chrysler PT Cruiser is offered exclusively as a wagon — the convertible body option has been withdrawn. In addition, the Touring line has lost its turbocharged engine option.

The 2009 model was lauded for its roomy interior and useful features, although several drivers complained about its lackluster acceleration and poor fuel economy when equipped with the base engine. Despite these problems, many owners of the 2009 PT Cruiser praised the vehicle for its distinctive looks and comfortable ride. It is definitely the best-used car model of the PT Cruiser.

Reviews, Ratings, Recalls & Complaints:

Common PT Cruiser Problems

Source: YouTube / Scotty Kilmer

Failure of the Engine

One of the PT Cruiser’s most common problems is the engine. Sometimes, you may also have rough idling or a faulty “check engine” light. Other concerns include stalling and trouble starting.

Vehicle Starting Problem

The PT Cruiser’s electrical system is a frequent source of trouble. Customers had a hard time getting the vehicle started, and in some cases, it would stall out in the middle of their journey.

Grumbling Sound

There is reason for alarm when the car makes rattling noises. Although this was a common complaint about the 2009 PT Cruiser, the manufacturer has now addressed the issue. This rumbling could indicate engine damage or loose connections.

To determine the reason, drivers had to evaluate the car as a whole, which was exceedingly time-consuming and costly.

Damaged Clutch

When an automobile has an internal combustion engine (ICE) and a transmission, this component acts as a buffer between the two. It enables the vehicle to shift gears and come to a stop. As a result, it’s crucial to the functioning and security of the system.

Of the few 2010 PT Cruiser faults, this one occurred. Because of this issue, the manufacturer issued a recall on some models.


Is PT Cruiser a Reliable Car to Own?

The PT Cruiser has below-average reliability based on consumer reviews, complaints, and recalls. It is ranked 30 among other 36 compact cars and gets Repairpal’s 3.5 rating on a 5-point scale. A Cruiser from a recent model year is a good option if you’re looking for a cheap used car that still does the job.

Why Was PT Cruiser Discontinued?

After the model was redesigned in 2006, PT Cruiser sales started dropping and continued to fall, decreasing by almost a third in 2007 and then by half in 2008. Chrysler announced that the PT Cruiser would be discontinued after the 2010 model year due to cost-cutting measures taken by then-owner Cerberus Capital Management.

How Long Will PT Cruiser Lasts?

According to vehiclehistory, PT Cruiser drivers commonly report a minimal longevity of 200,000 miles (321,868.8 km), with the highest longevity stretching well above 250,000 miles (402,336 km). But, you’re unlikely to see 300,000 on the odometer on a used car, as you can’t guarantee the prior owner’s maintenance habits.

Is PT Cruiser Expensive to Fix?

According to RepairPal, maintenance expenses for a Chrysler PT Cruiser are $641 per year, with the most expensive common repair costing anywhere from $764 to replace the fuel level sending unit.

Wrap Up

The Chrysler PT Cruiser’s innovative vintage retro styling significantly impacted the car industry. Despite its early success, the PT Cruiser saw several peaks and valleys throughout its lifespan. High complaints and recalls were issued for the 2001, 2002, 2005, 2003, and 2006 production runs.

However, the models from 2004, 2007, 2008, and 2009 were the most reliable, efficient, and well-liked by buyers. Despite its problems, the PT Cruiser is remembered as an icon of the era when retro design was in vogue.

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