January 26, 2008My wife's '02 PT (purchased in Oct '07) has been failing to start in cold weather and has been to the local dealer 3 times now without satisfactory results. The first time, they couldn't repro (not cold enough outside during the day). The second time they kept it overnight and declared the battery to be the culprit and promptly replaced it (cost: $150). Less than a week later, the car was left outside for 5 hours in -5 degree weather and wouldn't start (the new battery did a great job turning it over, though). So, it got towed into the shop to try again... This time we were told that the problem is "frost buildup on the spark plugs" when it's left out in the cold (causing fouling of the plugs when we try to start it) and that using a block heater is the "solution" (one they'll gladly help us with for another $150).
Has anyone ever heard of this before? I've never heard of anything like this, and a mechanic at my wife's workplace lauged out loud, saying it was a completely ridiculous idea. Personally, I think the fine folks at the dealer either have no clue what's wrong or are just happy to keep charging us for return visits. I work with another PT owner who's never had this problem, even in much colder weather, so I know it is not simply a "PT problem" that we have to live with. Still, it is a black eye on what we had expected to be a very reliable (and fun) car. It is definitely a fun car and my wife loves it, but not starting in -5 degrees is unacceptable for any car made in this century.
I have seen various posts on the web referring to TSB 08-008-04 about a different Champion spark plug that's now supposed to be used in 2.4L PTs due to cold start issues and am trying to find a set since ours has the original plug type in it. However, I'm having trouble finding any in stock at local auto parts stores (and hope to not have to pay the dealer's jacked up prices). I'd like to try this out myself rather than trying to get the dealer to do it (and charge an arm and a leg for it besides).
Any thought or suggestions are greatly appreciated!