How to Disable the PT Cruiser Factory Antitheft System


The PT Cruiser was a retro-styled compact car produced by Chrysler from 2000 to 2010. These quirky little cars were popular for their unique styling, but many PT Cruiser owners have struggled with issues related to the factory antitheft system.

This integrated security system was intended to deter potential thieves, but it has led to no end of headaches for owners when things go wrong. If you’ve found yourself locked out of your PT Cruiser or unable to start it due to an apparent antitheft system malfunction, this guide will walk you through the steps to disable the factory system completely.

Key Takeaways:

  • The PT Cruiser’s factory antitheft system is prone to glitches that can leave you stranded.
  • Disabling the system involves disconnecting and removing several components.
  • This guide covers disabling the system on models from 2000 to 2005.
  • Completely disabling the system means you’ll lose antitheft protection.
  • Consider adding an aftermarket system if security is still a concern.

Now let’s get into the specifics of how to deactivate that pesky factory antitheft system for good!

Overview of the PT Cruiser Antitheft System

Chrysler equipped the PT Cruiser with a factory antitheft security system they called Sentry Key Immobilizer System (SKIS). This was a fairly advanced system for the time and used a few different components to secure the vehicle:

  • Sentry Key: This is the physical key for the vehicle. It contains a transponder chip with an encoded serial number. The system won’t allow the car to start unless it recognizes this chip.
  • Instrument Cluster: There is an antenna ring around the gauge cluster to read the transponder chip in the key. It communicates with the Powertrain Control Module.
  • Powertrain Control Module (PCM): The PCM performs the authentication check to confirm the key is valid before enabling the fuel system and allowing the engine to run.

When everything is working correctly, the system authenticate the key code during start up and disables the fuel system if an invalid key is detected. But problems can arise when the system malfunctions and fails to recognize a valid key. The fix usually involves replacing costly components, so many owners opt to disable the system altogether.

Disabling the Antitheft System on 2000-2005 PT Cruisers

The specific steps to disable the factory antitheft system vary slightly depending on the model year of your PT Cruiser:

For 2000-2001 PT Cruisers:

  1. Gain access to the PCM by removing the kick panel on the passenger side.
  2. Locate the black/orange wire in the PCM harness connector.
  3. Cut the black/orange wire and tape off the ends. This disables the transponder antenna.
  4. Remove the instrument cluster from the dash.
  5. Disconnect the antenna wire harness from the back of the cluster.
  6. Remove the antenna ring from around the gauge holes by twisting to break the tabs.
  7. Reinstall the instrument cluster without connecting the antenna harness.

For 2002-2004 PT Cruisers:

  1. Remove the knee bolster panel below the steering column.
  2. Locate the transponder antenna mounted to the column.
  3. Disconnect the antenna electrical connector.
  4. Remove the antenna by twisting it counterclockwise.
  5. At the PCM, locate pin #35 in the C2 connector.
  6. Use a small pick to pull the pin and remove it completely from the connector.
  7. Reinstall the knee bolster.

For 2005 PT Cruisers:

  1. Remove driver’s side under dash panel to access PCM and wiring.
  2. Locate pin #38 in the C4 PCM connector.
  3. Use a pick tool to depin the Violet/Orange stripe wire from the connector.
  4. Coil up and tie off disconnected wire to prevent shorts.
  5. Reinstall under dash panel. Antitheft is now disabled.

And that’s it – on any model year PT Cruiser, once all antenna wiring is fully disconnected from the PCM, the anti theft system will be completely deactivated. The engine should now turn over and start with any valid Chrysler key.

Benefits of Disabling the Anti Theft System

Disabling your PT Cruiser’s finicky factory anti theft system offers a few advantages:

  • No more stranded drivers: Once deactivated, you won’t have to worry about the system malfunctioning and leaving you stranded with a no-start situation.
  • Use any key: The vehicle will start with any properly cut Chrysler transponder key. No more hunting down expensive “official” keys.
  • Save money: Bypassing the system means you won’t have to keep sinking money into replacement keys and anti theft components whenever issues pop up.
  • Restore convenience: You’ll regain the ability to quickly and conveniently start your vehicle without the hassle of anti theft system headaches.

Potential Downsides to Consider

While disabling the antitheft on your PT Cruiser solves some major headaches, there are a few downsides to keep in mind:

  • Loss of security: Your vehicle will of course be easier to steal or tamper with. Consider adding an aftermarket alarm system if security is still a concern.
  • Resale value: Some prospective buyers may shy away from a PT Cruiser without a functional anti theft system. It may impact resale value down the road.
  • Insurance issues: Your insurance company may take issue with disabling the factory antitheft device. Contact them to make sure it won’t cause problems.
  • Trouble code set: Disconnecting system wiring may set a trouble code and check engine light. This can be cleared with a diagnostic scan tool.
  • Reconnecting wiring: If you later decide to reactivate the system, it may require all new sensor wiring and antenna components.

Tips for Smoothly Disabling the System

To make the antitheft disabling process go as smoothly as possible:

  • Review the factory service manual for your model year PT Cruiser so you understand the system wiring.
  • Label any wires before disconnecting them so reassembly is straightforward.
  • Use quality electrical tape and wire ties to protect any disconnected wires.
  • Clear any trouble codes set after disabling the system. A code reader or trip to a shop can take care of this.
  • Test drive the vehicle and make sure it reliably starts with your keys before reinstalling any panels.
  • Check under the dash regularly to ensure any disconnected wires remain properly secured.

Adding Aftermarket Security on PT Cruisers

Once you’ve disabled that finicky factory system, you may want to improve security on your PT Cruiser by adding an aftermarket antitheft system. Here are some good options to consider:

  • Alarm system: A shock/motion sensing alarm will help deter potential break-ins and theft. Just stay away from overly sensitive systems that false alarm too often.
  • Kill switch: Installing a hidden kill switch that cuts power to the ignition or fuel pump when activated provides an affordable option with peace of mind.
  • Steering wheel lock: A visible steering wheel lock serves as a deterrent and slows down potential thieves looking for a quick grab-and-go. Just don’t forget where you put the key!
  • Wheel locks: Adding locking lug nuts requiring a special tool to remove makes it tougher for thieves looking to quickly swipe those cool PT Cruiser wheels.
  • Tracking system: A GPS tracking device could help police recover your vehicle if it is ever stolen. Monthly fees apply for active monitoring.

Maintaining Your PT Cruiser Post-Anti Theft System

Once you’ve completed the antitheft system deletion, keeping your PT Cruiser in top shape is important. Here are some key maintenance tips:

  • Change fluids regularly: Stick to the schedule in your owner’s manual for coolant, engine oil, transmission fluid, and brake fluid changes.
  • Inspect belts/hoses: Look for cracked belts and brittle, swollen hoses that need replacement to avoid roadside breakdowns.
  • Check ignition system: Make sure spark plugs, wires, distributor cap and rotor are in good working order to avoid ignition trouble.
  • Align regularly: PT Cruisers are hard on front suspension components. Regular alignments help prevent uneven tire wear.
  • Detail interior: Use a quality vinyl/leather cleaner and plastic restorer to keep the retro interior looking its best.
  • Touch up paint chips: To avoid rust and further damage, fill any paint chips with touch-up paint as soon as they appear.
  • Clean battery terminals: Corrosion on the battery terminals can cause hard starting or dead battery issues. Disconnect and clean terminals annually.

Enjoy Your PT Cruiser After Disabling the Anti Theft System

By properly disabling that problematic factory anti theft system, you can get back to enjoying your unique PT Cruiser without the headaches and hassles. Just be sure to take some basic measures to improve security, and stay diligent on general maintenance to keep your Cruiser running strong for years to come.

Here’s to happy motoring on your future journeys! That quirky retro wagon was made for cruising, so relish the open road with the wind in your hair once freed from your anti theft woes.

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