Chrysler PT Cruiser transmissions

This page contains: manual transmission; automatic; repairs/troubleshooting.

The New Venture Gear T350HD five-speed manual transaxle (Magna Powertrain in later models, as Daimler sold New Venture in 2003-04) has a reverse gear brake to stop the gear rotation for easy engagement. To improve durability with higher torque output, the standard Chrysler five-speed manual transaxle was upgraded with a stiffer input shaft, wider gear faces and improved bearings. The transmission, built in Syracuse, had a three-plane shifter, and was synchronized in all forward ratios.

five-speed transmission

The manual transmission includes a gear brake for reverse, so it is easier to shift into that gear. Other changes were made to increase durability of the gears and clutch. The self-adjusting mechanism maintains a consistent clutch spring orientation as the disc wears, where the spring orientation changed with prior mechanisms. Hydraulic clutch actuation provides pedal isolation from power train vibration and noise and provides a positive feel. The part number was 05080980AA for 2001 models and likely following models.

Michael Volkmann wrote that, compared with the transmission used on earlier Neons, “has added reinforcement ribs to the case to increase the ridigity of the unit and allow for larger loading; and the bell housing was changed increase case rigidity and allow for the hydraulic clutch actuation.”

The five-speed manual transaxle used with the 2.0 and 2.4 liter engines had a three-plane shift arrangement with reverse alongside fifth gear. Oil capacity is 2.1 qt (2.0 L) of a special fluid — not plain oil.

Shift forks are fixed to three wide-base rails that operate in Teflon-lined bushings for low friction; shift levers are atop the case for easy access to the shift cables. Each of the separate cross-over (rail selection) and select levers has pure rotary motion which minimizes shift effort. Driver cannot accidentally go into reverse from fifth, due to a cam in the mechanism which moves the crossover lever into the three-four gate without binding or jamming.

The shift knob was made of urethane; the shifter mounting bracket and all cable mounting points were rubber isolated to prevent unnecessary vibration.

All forward ratios were synchronized, with high capacity dual-cone brass synchronizers in first and second gear, and single-cone synchronizers of a paper friction material on the other gears (it is more durable and clash-resistant than brass). The paper-friction synchronizers are on the input shaft, lowering shift effort by cutting rotating inertia. A reverse brake mechanism minimized reverse engagement clash.

Two-piece welded speed gears are shorter than one piece gears, to shorten shift travel and transaxle length. There are needle roller bearing on all speed gears to reduce friction and extend gear life.

The case itself is cast in only two pieces to minimize leak paths; structural ribs strengthen and stiffen the case to minimize vibration and noise with little or no extra weight. The case has good bending stiffness, providing a natural frequency above the exciting frequency of the engine at peak rpm.


The modular 9.0 in. (228 mm) single dry plate clutch maintains low effort throughout its life. The clutch cover is riveted to the flywheel, and the disc is captive inside the assembly. The hydraulically-activated modular clutch is connected to the crankshaft through the same flexible drive plate used to attach the automatic transaxle torque converter.

The modular unit makes the unit more reliable, and more repeatable in assembly; the clutch assembly bolts onto the crankshaft through a flexible drive plate which, with automatics, is used to attach the torque converter. This eliminates the need for different crankshafts. The modular clutch is replaced as a unit. The release lever is contained entirely within the bell housing, cutting the need for a flexible boot.

Allpar has a step by step guide to replacing the clutch on the Neon which is similar.

 Manual Gear RatiosAutomatic Gear Ratios
Final Drive3.943.91
Overall Top Gear3.202.694


When forum member Katie B.’s PT Cruiser stopped shifting, she took it to a mechanic who said he needed to drop the transmission to inspect the clutch.

Bob Lincoln replied:  “They can tell if it's the gearshift/cables without dropping anything. They just need to have someone shift with the engine off while the other person watches the cables at the transaxle.”

Valiant67 added: “The bushings on the ends of the cables are often a trouble source. The dealer usually replaces the entire cable assembly because the bushings are not sold separately by Chrysler.” The aftermarket, though, does sell separate bushings.

The fluid levels in the clutch slave and master cylinders may be low, especially when the pedal is “mushy.”

“dana44” wrote:

The clutch’s fluid is in the round container of about three ounces, white with a black lid, above and to the outside of the master cylinder. If this is low or out of fluid, you will get air into the system and [the clutch will get stiff], and believe me, it takes about half an hour to slowly and gently to get the air out of the system, you actually have to go down to the clutch and push the slave cylinder in by hand all the way and then gently let it return (to suck fluid back into it, too fast and the air bubbles don't go up, they just go back and forth), pressing the clutch pedal doesn't purge the air if it is past the clutch cylinder, and the DOT 4 fluid doesn't let bubbles move very fast within it.

The clutch slave cylinder on the transmission is easy to get to, right center of the front side of the engine, black plastic, not too difficult to push. I replaced my leaking slave cylinder and fount this out, along with making sure the front of the engine is raised a little bit. If you remove the air cleaner cover and then pull the air cleaner box up (held on like the engine cover, it pops off), you will see a cable running rear to front and on top of the transmission. This is the shifter cable, there is supposed to be a plastic piece inside the ring on the end of the cable, in the center is a shift lever pin. If the plastic center breaks out, it will still shift, but just a hair stiffer than it did before, but as long as it doesn't come off the shifter pin, it will be OK.

“ImperialCrown” added

If the stiffness is there with the engine running, it is probably clutch (hydraulics) at fault, not fully disengaging the clutch. If the stiffness is there running or not, it is probably shifter/cable-related.

Proper shift cable adjustment is essential. It should be double-checked whenever cables/bushings are serviced.

1. Remove the center console from the vehicle.
2. Loosen the adjusting screw on the crossover cable at the shifter.
3. The gearshift mechanism and transaxle crossover lever are spring-loaded and self-centering [and don’t need alignment pins]. Let the gearshift and transaxle crossover lever relax in their neutral positions. Place the shifter in 3rd or 4th gear if necessary. Torque the adjustment screw to 8 Nm (70 inch-lbs). Avoid moving the shift mechanism off-center while doing this. Then reinstall everything.

Automatic transmission

The optional four-speed automatic features wide-spaced gear ratios and a new (for Chrysler) final drive gearing to optimize performance and efficiency. Features of this system include electronic, fully adaptive shifting, improved torque management for quick shifts and interactive speed control and engine and transaxle controllers that provide control in hilly terrain.

The most common problem in this transmission is still using the wrong fluid — whether you or your mechanic put it in, or a quick-lube place “topped it off.” The correct fluid is Chrysler ATF+4, not Dexron, and not Dexron + additive. For more troubleshooting, see Allpar's transmission troubleshooting page.

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