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Pontiac Montana

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  • mjb56mjb56 Posts: 170
    We've got a 1999 Montana with 45K mi. and just found a coolant leak which the Pontiac dealer diagnosed as a leaky manifold gasket. Price of repair $500. Has anyone else experienced this or know of any secret recalls involving this problem? The garage told me that they've seen a few of these but I find it troubling that this happened with only 45k. We're about to head south, so I'm glad I caught this in time but I'm still not happy about it. Just happier than if I would have discovered it in the middle of the night somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Any help is appreciated.
  • mizeumlmizeuml Posts: 50
    Hello mjb56. I just had my 1999 Montana fixed about two weeks ago. It was covered under my GMPP 100k warranty and cost GM about $320. Scroll up 20 messages and checkout my postings #608 and #610. I noticed mine started leaking around 21k and didn't start dropping the level in the overflow bottle till around 55k. If you are not adding any coolant to the overflow bottle, then you are probably alright to take the trip and go for a while. I ran a long time with mine, from 21k to 66k. But if it is running out on the ground, then get it fixed. I added some coolant the last couple of oil changes, but just decided to go ahead and get it fixed while it was in for other warranty work, it has 66k on it now. Let me know if you have any additional questions after reviewing #608 and #610.

    Good luck,
    Matt
  • montanafanmontanafan Posts: 945
    You mention heading south, what state do you live in? When did you purchase the van? The Intake Manifold and Gasket are covered in the Northeast Emissions States for 36 months and 50,000 miles. If the leak had been occuring for a while you could make a case for coverage if older then 36 months.
  • mjb56mjb56 Posts: 170
    Thanks for the advice. I'm in Wisconsin so I doubt that the warranty would cover. We are in the 36 month window though. I've had to add coolant twice in a month and there's been a little coolant sitting on top of the engine so it really needed to be fixed. We just had the "low coolant" light come on about a month ago. I'll try to pursue the warranty angle, just out of principle. Thanks.
  • dirkdaddydirkdaddy Posts: 313
    Hey folks, how about we all start posting on the GM tripets board instead of the chev/olds/pont van boards?

    Also, my 98 is losing coolant, but I can't see it. Has anyone seen other signs that go along with the manifold leak problem, such as water in the oil, discolored spark plugs, etc? I'm trying to narrow down what it might be. Could be heater core(s) and associated plumbing as well. Thanks for help. I plan on getting a cooling system pressure tester soon and see if I can ID what is going on.

    DD
  • mjb56mjb56 Posts: 170
    Well, we got our 99 Montana back today after having the lower intake gasket replaced along with the following items: spark plug wires and 2 coils (replace due to severe corrosion), 2 hepa filters and an oil change. Final tab: $743.00
    I've got to believe that there is some sort of design problem here. Those gaskets looked like swiss cheese so something is fishy. This should not have happened to a 2 1/2 year old van with 45K on it. Do you think it would help to complain to some GM regional office?
  • dirkdaddydirkdaddy Posts: 313
    agree something is fishy regarding intake gaskets. If designed right and made from proper materials, these should last the life of the engine! I'm not sure if its a engine design problem or saving $1 on each gasket (that would be the GM way), but they should not be failing. I also have coolant leak, but will be investigating the cause before tearing into the motor.
  • The drivers side fog light went out on my 1999 montana. Has anyone changed it themself? I bought the bulb but can't find out how to remove the old one.
  • georgiogeorgio Posts: 3
    REGARDING # 639

    The whole front bumper/air dam needs to come off or cut holes in the back fairing. We took ours to dealer after looking it over carefully and since we didn't have the time to do ourselves it went to the dealer. $115 labor...OUCH, but I watched and they earned it. If you have a dealer do it, the labor price is the same for one or two lights so it makes sense to replace both or wait until the other one is dark too. Venture and Siloutte are the same but maybe a better labor rate at Chevy ? Another big surprise about having to disassemble your Montana is just to replace the battery....have lots of tools....the cross member plus other parts must come out just to access the battery. Lastly, if replacing front struts, go to a shop who has never seen a Montana and hope they quote $30/40 each labor...same problem, no room, have lots of special tools.
  • montanafanmontanafan Posts: 945
    From the 2001 Montana Service Manual.
    1) Partially remove the front fender liner to gain access to the fog lampb assembly( two screws inboard of the lamp)
    2) Remove the fog lamp bulb/socket from the fog lamp by rotating counterclockwise.
    3) Disconnect the electrical connector from the fog lamp bulb
    4) To intall reverse steps. Careful no to touch the new bulb.
  • mizeumlmizeuml Posts: 50
    Hello mjb56. What were the symptoms for the corroded coils? We replaced plug wires due to corroded posts on the distributor cap. I sanded the rust from the distributor cap posts and left it. Once in awhile the van does not want to start easily and today it died after starting, but the a/c was on. Are the coils under the distributor cap, how many are there and how easy is it to get at them?

    I wonder if this is covered under the GMPP warranty coverage?

    Thanks,
    Matt
  • Thanks for the info on how to change the fog lights, that is a major pain to change just one bulb!!! I guess that's why the manual doesn't mention them at all. It seems like someone wasn't thinking when they designed the lights there, $115 labor to change a bulb?
  • montanafanmontanafan Posts: 945
    Jeff, I think you will find that the Service Manual procedure gets it done in less then 10 minutes.
  • mjb56mjb56 Posts: 170
    mizeuml, there are 3 coils and they are towards the back of the engine. Quite hard to see much less get to. They could not tell me why they were so corroded but,indeed, they were. Oddly enough, only two were corroded. The third was like new. I must say, the van runs great now. It was beginning to run sort of rough but that's all changed. It, too, was starting to start roughly but now just fires right up. I don't believe there's a distributor on this vehicle.

    I did hear back from GM to my e-mail. They assigned a case number to me and said they'd get back to me by 3/22 with a decision on the coolant leak. They responded in 1 day. I was pretty impressed so far. Wish me luck.
  • Reading with interest the stories about coolant leaks on Pontiac Montanas. Just went thru the same experience. Seemed to be filling up coolant reservoir about every 3-4 weeks but could see no evidence of a coolant leak. Engine started to make valve ticking noise which was quite pronounced. Thought I had a sticky hydraulic valve lifter, so I put in some aftermarket stuff in the oil. When i opened the oil filler cap, the cap was filled with a brownish gluey substance which I had never seen before. The additive did nothing to stop the valve noise, so I took it to my GM dealer who diagnosed the problem as a leak in the Intake Manifold Gasket. Approximate cost to repair $950 Cdn. My car has 60,000 miles on it (100,000Km). The explanation for the valve noise is that the manifold leak reduces oil pressure in the engine enough to affect the hydraulic lifter performance and thus the valve noise. I was lucky enough to have caught the problem before the coolant could contaminate the oil and destroy the bearings.
    I contacted GM who offered to pay for one third of the cost. After the repair was completed, the car runs as quiet as it did when new.
    This type of problem should not happen to a modern computer-designed engine with only 60,000 miles on it. Toyota...here I come!
  • In late January I took my 98 Trans Sport (55,000 miles) in for a routine oil change at the Pontiac dealer. Afterward, the service manager advised that my coolant level was very low, excess steam coming from the crankcase and I would need to keep a constant eye on the oil to make sure it didn't appear "milky". He gave me a few horror stories about what he had seen with this particular van, coolant leaks mixing with oil, etc. I was thinking $$$ were going to soon be out of my wallet.

    Not under warranty and not taking chances; I traded it in for a new Acura.

    That and the lousy IIHS offset crash scores were the final straw. Has anyone here ever visited the IIHS website and viewed the scores of the Pontiac Montana/Trans Sport Death Trap?. Look at the side by side pictures with the Toyota Sienna....Scary.
  • mjb56mjb56 Posts: 170
    I'm now waiting to hear what the verdict will be about covering this problem. I think I caught the problem in time and, I agree, the engine and vehicle now run great. Just like new. It seems like this has been a bigger problem on Montana's than Ventures or Silos. I hoping for the best because we really like our vehicle. I'm supposed to hear by Friday 3/22 what action, if any, will be taken.
  • mizeumlmizeuml Posts: 50
    Sounds like the GM dealers really stick it to you for fixing the intake manifold gasket. I had mine fixed last month under the GMPP warranty plan and it cost GM about $320. I think the labor was about 4.5 hrs at $60/hr with about $50 for the parts; oil, oil filter, gasket, coolant... This seems to be a very poor design considering the number of folks having the problem. I think mine only ran down the engine block. I never noticed any coolant in the oil.

    My Air Bag light started coming on intermittently again, 4th time. It has been fixed three times already. Has anyone else had this problem repeatably? The problem seems to go away for about 10k to 15k miles after being fixed each time. What did they do to fix the problem each time?

    For anyone planning to purchase this van, you may want to consider a 100K warranty. It will be worth the money and piece of mind.

    I sure would like to know what the folks at Pontiac are doing. My other vehicle is a 1995 GMC 1500 EXT cab pickup and has 51k miles. I drive this truck 4 miles total each day, get in, crank it up and go. Knock on wood, it has been virtually trouble free since going out of the standard GM warranty. I had the intake manifold gasket and ABS module & modulator valve both replaced under 36K but just outside of the three year period. Both times the dealer was good enough to fix it under warranty even though it was just past three years. Maybe Pontiac should talk to the GMC folks.
  • dlubindlubin Posts: 66
    My air bag light came on a few times on my '99 (we have an '01 now), they never found a solution...

    -Dan L.
    '01 Montana, Montanavision
  • psgpsg Posts: 72
    My 2000 Montana now has 48k on it and has developed a creaking noise in the rear end. You can hear it when driving or if you bounce the van up and down. The dealer lubed all the bushing and concluded the noise is coming from the driver side rear shock. It does not appear to effect the shock's function but they could not eliminate the noise. Since I have air shocks they want close to $300.00 to replace the one shock.

    Should I:
    1. Ignore the sound?
    2. Replace only the offending shock?
    3. Get a second opinion?

    BTW, this is the first major complaint I have had with this otherwise flawless (for GM) minivan.

    TIA,
    Phil
  • baveuxbaveux Posts: 175
    Should I:
    1. Ignore the sound? Can you ;-) ???

    2. Replace only the offending shock? No, should always be changed in pairs.

    3. Get a second opinion? Not a bad idea.

    At 48 k it's time for you to consider new shock anyway, it's not because they dont leak that they are not worn out. You will realize that the day that you will ride on new shock.

    My question. do you REALLY need air shock ? Regular shock are cheaper...
  • carnaticcarnatic Posts: 3
    I wrote the post MISERABLE MONTANA, earlier this month. MY Warranty is expiring. Considering all the trouble that I have had with this vehicle, does ANYONE know how I might go about getting my warranty extended, either by the dealer or GM??? And I mean at no cost to me. The dealer that sold me this nightmare on wheels was supposed to get back to me after I complained to them several times, but has failed to do so. I have 11 months left on the lease, and than I can be free of this most troubling, undesireable vehicle. Also--does anyone know of a sure fire way to get out of this lease early--without costing me too much. In conclusion--anyone in the market for a minivan, either new or used--PLEASE,PLEASE take my advice. STAY CLEAR OF A PONTIAC MONTANA.
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 41,009
    These links may be of interest, but usual disclaimers!

    swapalease.com
    leasetrading.com
    GM Offers Early Lease Termination

    Steve
    Host
    SUVs, Vans and Aftermarket & Accessories Message Boards

    Moderator
    Need help navigating? stever@edmunds.com - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

  • corlissrcorlissr Posts: 2
    I have a 1998 Toyota Corolla and I love it. But it is too small. I bought it when we only had one child. Now we have three. We don't fit any longer. I have about $2000 left to pay on it with 70,000 miles. I found a 1993 Toyota Previa minivan with 101,000 miles on it for $6995. The salesman says he will take my car in trade and pay off what I owe, but I will owe him what he pays off. I also found a 1997 Pontiac Trans Port Montana with 99,000 miles on it that I could get for around $9,500. Which is a better deal? I like the idea of only having a few more payments for the amount of miles with the Toyota, but it is older even though it has about the same amount of miles. Which one is going to be a better car and last longer? The Pontiac looks very attractive, doors on both sides, one electric. Both cars have power locks and windows, A/C, Automatic. Both have back heater and air controls. I like the roominess of both. Both have bucket seats in the middle row. Appreciate your opinions on this to help me decide, or if you have any other suggestions.
  • dirkdaddydirkdaddy Posts: 313
    I think that transport is a bit overpriced IMHO, but do some bluebook (kbb.com) or here at Edmonds to see what the "suggested" value is.

    These probably drive, handle differently and have different features. Which do you like better?

    I have a used '98 olds I got with 62k miles and fully optioned for $11k. Most of us here have not had trouble with the electric door and when you use it everyday, you discover how nice it is (this coming from a guy who thought it was bogus as first). The dual doors is a must now a days, espec. with your 3 offspring.

    Toyotas are good with resale usually. The GM vans have very good powertrain reliability and excellent fuel milage for their size, as well the fact they are made for americans and not small people.

    You need them to simplify the deal so you are clear on each item.

    1. get the price of the van negotiated separately, in cash price, not payments

    2. then negotiate the trade-in. Know your car's trade value, and have it washed and cleaned (pay if you have to get this done). Getting out of a car for the remaining payments may be a good deal or it may be a rippoff. KNow what you have left and what your car is worth.

    3. There are tons of used vehicles out there with the recent low-interest rate new car deals and extended warrenty offerings. DON"T FALL IN LOVE with one, usually there are always more if you keep looking. This gives you much more leverage in negotiating than if you are in dire need of a vehicle. Your car is working and you don't have to trade, so you have the upper hand. Keep going back if you like the Pontiac but low ball them and keep walking out if they don't match your lowball offer. At the end of the month go there and get serious.

    4. try autotrader.com and local newspaper classifieds for comparables on both the sell and purchase side.

    5. try credit unions and carmax as alternatives to dealer financing and trade-in. I got a USED car rate at 6%, less than my home note!

    see the info here on edmonds on used car purchases. there is a lot of info.

    Good luck. I think you would like the Pontiac, but I suggest if you like a luxury ride, check for a used Olds too.

    DD
  • jrdwyerjrdwyer Posts: 168
    One problem with the Previa is that it has rear wheel drive. In snowy or icy regions this leads to poor traction. In fact, my old boss had a tough time getting his Previa up his sloped driveway in the winter. The GM vans have front wheel drive, as does the Toyota Sienna.
  • corlissrcorlissr Posts: 2
    I posted a question earlier about the Previa and the Transport. From reading the posts earlier about the Transport, there seems to be a lot of different problems with it and a lot of complaints. So I was wondering if anybody could tell me which would be the better value and that I wouldn't have to be taking in it to repair all the time. The Transport was listed as $11,995 and I got the price down to $9,500 and they said they would be willing to look at my car again to see if they could give me more. But, If I trade my reliable Toyota with no problems for a Transport with problems I will be very unhappy. I don't live where it snows much, western Washington, and I don't need a lot of power, but the Transport has leather seats and a lot of luxury things. The Previa is also loaded (no leather seats) power windows and doors, A/C, but only one sliding door. I don't want to be sidetracked by a lot of fancy things just to get a car with a lot of problems. Also, the previous owner of the Transport had smoke coming from the fuse box and he cut the wire. The repair bill was about $1800. I am also worried about the post earlier about all the plastic in the interior to be broken by my 3 year old. The visor is already broken, and they are suppose to fix it if I buy it. I think I am leaning towards the Previa, just because I know most Toyotas are very reliable, but if the Transport is also a reliable car, I would like driving it better. Thanks again for the suggestions.
  • dirkdaddydirkdaddy Posts: 313
    Hard to say what your experiences would be on the '97. It was the first year of production, however, for a GM vehicle, most people have found the GM vans to be great vehicles and very reliable. My dad had a '80 citation that was a clunker so GM was not my first choice. I didn't expect much when I saw one but after looking was impressed.

    Consumer Reports lists the reliability of the Vans as above average. The interior/exterior trim was something that people had trouble with. But if you're going to have trouble with a vehicle, wouldn't you rather it be that mud-flap came loose and needed reattaching (like on my van)or some major drivetrain problem that leaves you on the side of the road?

    The electrical systems of these vans is pretty complicated - at least my GLS is. All those electrical gizmos and power equipment see to that. Re: burning fusebox - You might be buying a lemon, I'd get someone at another dealer or something to check it over before you sign on the dotted line. I have read here stories where the orginal batteries leaking acid, and that on one occassion dripped on and shorted out the wireing harness. You'd need a decent skilled mech to get it all solidly wired back up again so the connections wouldn't be half-asked(G). You might also need to get the alternator serviced (common problem), but I have not heard of other electrial items giving trouble. The headlight leaking water is not a electrical problem and can be easily fixed.

    Personally I find the Toyota vans reliable but about exciting to drive and look at as watching paint dry. granted we're talking minivans, but the toyotas are DULL. I don't know what you look like, but I'd feel like a real dud driving one of those things around.

    Also, I'm trying recall the specifics of the Toyota model your' referring to, but I think it has a big motor hump inbetween the seats and a old van style access from inside the van. I belive it has a very weak 4cyl motor that will be slower than molassas in January. I find the Old's flat floor and 4 bucket seat arrangment wtih the asile down the middle very handy, and the 3.4 v6 to be economical and very peppy - more than my dodge truck with a 360cid v8 ever was.

    you may think I'm biased against imports, but I'm not, I also own a '00 maxima SE.

    If you like smaller, underpowered vans like the Toyota, also see the Mazda MPV - not a bad design but over-worked motor IMHO.

    Also, compared to other "active" boards, the GM vans have few complaints. I doubt the low production Toyota vans of that vintage even have a forum. Also see the Olds and Chevy van archives

    good luck
  • The way you make it sound is that your only going to get $2000 for a 1998 toyota. I would put the car in the paper, you should get alot more than that. Without looking up any numbers, I would think the car to be worth $5000 to somone. Also, look around for a lower mileage van. We have a 98 montana with 48k miles that my wife loves(I rarely drive it). There are to many used cars out there to settle on the deal you mentioned.
  • w2323w2323 Posts: 60
    My moms Montana with 32k, 1999 Montana. Had coolant problem, went to dealer they recommended the 30k mile checkup. 150 miles after the service no oil was on the dipstick and it was losing coolant. Brought it back to them.

    Gaskets replaced, coils replaced which appears to be a problem in all Montanas. My mom told them she wants a new engine they are giving her one.

    They will give her a new engine 0 miles, and will extend the warrenty another 5 years on the powertrain.

    I just want you guys to know so you can get the same thing she got. Don't put up with the crap that some of the inferior dealers tell you. This appears to be a problem for sure.

    Hope this helps you.
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