My daughter has a 2008 PT Cruiser. For months she has had the problem of "when she pushes on the gas pedal it doesn't work and the car jerks back and forth." Those are her words. We have taken it to the dealer twice, they keep saying they can't find anything wrong with it, because it isn't doing it when she takes it in. Any suggestions.

  • Are there any codes? It's going to be hard to narrow down the possibilities without more information – Zaid Jul 16 '16 at 8:16
  • We took it to Auto Zone and they put their code reader on it and it doesn't say anything is wrong. It doesn't read as anything wrong. – LDaniels Jul 17 '16 at 1:25

When you suddenly push the gas pedal and the car doesn't react well, doesn't pickup but hesitates it means that uneven fuel mixture is getting in. Or the gas line pressure is low (clogged filter, bad pump) and it is not providing sufficient gas, or the air intake is blocked (dirty filter) and is not giving all the air the engine requires. Check: gas and air filters. Check spark plugs (carbonized = uneven fuel mixture).

Also, it could be bad timing, but I guess if it wasn't touched before, it shouldn't be.

  • Thank you, I also think it must be something in the gas system. Taking it in this week to try again to get it fixed. – LDaniels Jul 17 '16 at 1:29
  • Let us know the outcome :) will be very positive for others with similar issues to know what fixed it. – Aram Alvarez Jul 17 '16 at 1:32

It could be a few things.

  • airflow meter: could need a cleaning, most likely is partially disconnected or has a bad ground connection. Unplug it and replug it to verify the electrical connection, then inspect the grounding wire.
  • poor fuel delivery: likely could be injectors, fuel filter or fuel pump. Test the fuel pressure and take it from there.
  • throttle position sensor: could be defective and therefore incorrectly report data to the ECU. Disconnect and reconnect to rule out a loose connection.
  • water in the fuel: use a fuel treatment to eliminate this possibility.

How often is the trouble happening? Is the check engine light on?

  • It happens every few days or so. It can run OK for a few days then it will happen. I just can't figure out why the dealer can't find anything wrong when we take it in to them. – LDaniels Jul 17 '16 at 1:26
  • @LDaniels Dealerships usually have very poor mechanics. Finding a reputable mechanic is part of most people's life journey. – tlhIngan Jul 17 '16 at 5:16

To me the

doesn't work and the car jerks back and forth.

Is more indicative of a transmission or clutch issue. One obvious and simple thing to check is the ATF level. Make sure it's appropriate as per the manufacturers spec (assuming it is automatic).

I don't fully know how auto trans systems work, much less the one is an '08 PT Cruiser, but you could also check all the basics such as fuses, battery all that. Not sure if your car has a button for overdrive, but also figuring out exactly what combination causes the problem will help greatly in figuring out what's broken without tearing everything apart. As others have mentioned, it could be something injection/fuel related. That is not all that hard to test for.

Another thing that could be having issues I the the TPS or Throttle Position Sensor. If it is feeding wrong info (even briefly) to the injection and/or timing system, this could also cause lurching.

I can put some more accurate information after doing some research, but check all the above as a start.

  • We are two women who don't know anything about cars, but I will print out all this information and take it to the dealer. We are going to try to get in there again this week. – LDaniels Jul 17 '16 at 1:28
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    @LDaniels Ok. I have a feeling that a dealer ship will brush our opinions off, but if not, cool! Otherwise, most of the actions that I've recommended are super easy, and I'm sure you could do them. If they are too advanced for your comfort, offer someone like $40 to check it all. If your are anywhere near Los Angeles, I know some very good mechanics and there are tons of shops. – kyle_engineer Jul 17 '16 at 1:55
  • @LDaniels Checking the ATF (automatic transmission fluid) as mentioned here is as simple as finding the dipstick (under the hood, look for a red plastic handle coming out of a thin metal tube), yank it out and see if the tip is wet all the way up to the markings. Wipe it off with a tissue and see if the colour is pinkish-red. – tlhIngan Jul 17 '16 at 5:15

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