Reader Question: Hot Battery’d PT Cruiser?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply! 

Tammy writes: My (non-turbo) PT has 60,000 miles on it. The check engine light started coming on; I read the code from the car said camshaft sensor. I changed it, then the battery cables got hot; I replaced them and the battery is still hot. Took to mechanic he said alternator so he ordered one but it was no good. Ordered another car ran ok for couple weeks then check engine light back on stopped running read PCM. Do you know about PT Cruisers?

My reply: I think you’ve been taken for a ride, Tammy.

I’m not sure where to begin, but let’s start with the code thrown over the camshaft sensor thing. Why this would affect the battery escapes me. And the battery getting hot is dangerous. It could literally explode. This could be caused by overcharging, which a defective alternator could cause. A competent mechanic ought to be able to perform a quick diagnostic on the charging system (alternator) to establish whether it’s working properly. And while it is possible a new/rebuilt alternator could be defective – this happens – that doesn’t address the problem with the car. A second “good” alternator ought to fix the charging system issue, if there’s a problem with the charging system.

In any event, do not run/drive the car if the battery is being overcharged.

The PCM = Powertrain Control Module, which is the computer that runs the engine. These do go bad and your PT may need a new one. But you need to find a mechanic who is competent to make that determination before you start paying to pull/replace parts.

Please keep us posted!

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  1. When a code says “sensor” it doesn’t necessarily mean the sensor is bad!

    Even so called “mechanics” (sorry, “technicians”) sometimes make this mistake. If the sensor is reading out of spec it could (even probably) mean that something else is wrong and the sensor is just telling the truth.

    In this case, an overcharge could be frying all of your electronic components 🙁

    • Anon, so right you are. Countless times that bad sensor code has nothing to do with the sensor itself but is indicative of another problem. Hot battery? Always suspect the alternator or a shorting hot wire or occasionally a ground wire.

      I always wonder when I see a new car burned up on the shoulder(don’t know why they don’t move off the road)if it wasn’t simply a voltage thing caused by a short. I had a battery cable get against the frame on a pickup down deep in a hole where the holder for the hot wire had broken. It ruined the wire and the battery. I was lucky though, it could have smoked the entire wiring harness.


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