How to Fix the Radiator Hose on a PT Cruiser

by Nathan McGinty

Introduced for the 2000 model year, Chrysler's PT Cruiser was an immediate hit and continued production through 2010. The car was critically acclaimed for its style and its platform (The PT Cruiser was built on the well-regarded Neon chassis). The PT Cruiser featured a traditional 2.4-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine. Such engines have a water pump that circulates coolant through the engine and radiator to keep it the engine's operating temperature low. A radiator hose carry coolant from the engine to the radiator up top, and another radiator hose carries the fluid from the radiator to the engine at the bottom. Occasionally these radiator hoses, made of reinforced rubber, can burst. If one of your PT Cruiser's radiator hoses bursts, don't try to patch it. Replace it. Luckily, it's not hard to replace a radiator hose on a PT Cruiser.

Park the PT Cruiser in a location that will give you some room to work comfortably around the front grill. Don't park in front of a wall, fence or other obstruction. Place the PT Cruiser's transmission in park. Put on the emergency brake, turn off the engine and pull the keys out of the ignition.

Open the PT's hood. Allow the engine to cool for at least 1/2 hour. Use the wrench to disconnect the negative (black) battery cable. Remove the radiator cap by turning counterclockwise. You may need to press down as you turn in order to pop the cap off.

Jack up the driver's side of the PT Cruiser. This is the side where the drain plug is located; jacking up the car will give you enough room to work comfortably. Place a block of wood or a brick behind one of the rear wheels. Locate the driver-side jacking point, which is indicated by a triangle marked on the undercarriage just behind the front driver-side wheel. Insert the jack and lift up the PT Cruiser enough for you to slide a jack stand underneath the PT's frame rail beside the jack. Slowly lower the jack until the PT Cruiser is resting on the jack stand. Ensure that the car is steady on the stand before working underneath.

Locate the drain petcock for the radiator, which is on the underside of the radiator. Place the drain pan underneath the petcock. Open the petcock and allow the fluid inside the radiator to drain out. Close the petcock tightly once all the fluid has been drained.

Locate the radiator hose that you want to fix. Loosen the hose clamps at either end with a screwdriver. Pull the clamps to the center of the hose, then pull the hose off the engine.

Smear a thin coating of dish soap on the inside opening of both ends of the new radiator hose. Slip the hose clamps from the busted hose over either end of the new hose, and loosely tighten them. Slide one end of the hose over the nipple on the radiator. Position the hose clamp so it covers both the hose and nipple, then tighten. Slip the other end of the hose over the nipple on the engine. Tighten the hose clamp on this end.

Refill the radiator with a 50/50 mixture of radiator fluid and distilled water. Reconnect the negative battery cable. Start the engine. Allow the engine to reach operating temperature. Top off with distilled water.

Shut off the engine. Replace the radiator cap. Raise the PT Cruiser high enough that you can easily remove the jack stands, then lower the PT to the ground. Replace your jack where it goes.

Items you will need

About the Author

Nathan McGinty started writing in 1995. He has a Bachelor of Science in communications from the University of Texas at Austin and a Master of Arts in international journalism from City University, London. He has worked in the technology industry for more than 20 years, in positions ranging from tech support to marketing.