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Pontiac Vibe Engine Questions

PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 6,369
Having an issue under the hood of your Vibe? This is the place to work out a solution.


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  • Hey all: I have a question about the Vibe's engine temp (base engine). This is the first Toyota motor I have owned, and I've noticed some differences about it from other GM and Ford products I have owned. I have a question about engine temperature.

    We had our first "blast" of winter in Michigan this morning, and I noticed that it took quite a while for my Vibe to reach normal operating temperature, compared to other cars I have owned. I also noticed that when I stopped at the gas station and left the car running while I was inside, when I came back out, the engine temperature gauge had dropped quite a bit, back down to about halfway where it was before. As soon as I pulled away, it quickly moved back up.

    Is this normal? Should I have the cooling system looked at? I haven't checked the coolant level since buying the car (June), so would low coolant cause this? I'm just curious. I've never seen a gauge drop like that in a car that is already at operating temperature except on days when it was maybe like -20 degrees with a fierce wind. It was only about 25 degrees above this morning. Any insight would be appreciated. Thanks!
  • maxx4memaxx4me Posts: 1,340
    well, I can only say that my Vibe takes a long time to warm up during the coldest winter months. Furthermore, since it is a Corolla, my old '89 Corolla took forever to warm up in the winter time. It was a chore just getting the guage to register at all on 20 minute or less trips. I would not sweat it as long as you can pop the hood and see that your coolant overflow jug has the proper amont of fluid in it. Happy Winter!
  • My guess is the thermostat just opened up to start circulating the antifreeze and in doing so cooled down the engine just a little. I would keep an eye on it but it certainly does not seem out of the ordinary.
  • Thanks for the info. I checked the coolant and it was full, so it's probably nothing to worry about, like you say. Have a great Thanksgiving!
  • chuckb3chuckb3 Posts: 4
    I have a 2004 Vibe with about 30,000 miles on it. On a recent trip I noticed very thick exhaust smoke when passing another car. My automatic transmission kicked clear down into 2nd gear, which reved the engine to quite high RPMs. Thick, blue smoke came from the exhaust until the transmission shifted into third. Then, the smoking quit. This only happened once on the trip, but I never shifted into second but just that one time. Any ideas or similar experiences out there? I have noticed that when I change the engine oil and filter and put the 3.9 quarts (called out by the owner's manual) back in, the engine oil is overfilled according to the dip stick. Could that be the problem? The only other thing I can think of, based on experiences with older cars with automatic transmissions, is transmission fluid getting to the engine, but these new cars don't have vacuum operated modulator valves, which would seem to eliminate that possibility.
  • fear_hopefear_hope Posts: 90
    Isn't your car still under warranty? You should run to your dealer IMMEDIATELY for service! At the very least have them check it out and document your complaint and their findings in writing, and get a copy!
  • chuckb3chuckb3 Posts: 4
    I bought the car used, so no warranty. It was a rental out of Nampa, Idaho. I did talk to the local GM Dealer that sells Vibes, but their service department didn't have a clue. In fact, I needed to top off my transmission fluid, and the above-mentioned dealer didn't even stock the T-IV ATF the owner's manual recommends. I have a friend who is the service manager at a Toyota dealership in the next town, and I think that is the place to go. After the smoking episode the engine still sounds and runs great, but I will still have it checked out.
  • hmarhmar Posts: 15
    Am I mistaken in the impression that the powertrain warranty applies for the life of the warranty, regardless of whether it's currently owned by the original owner?
    I think it's just the bumper-to-bumper that's voided after it's re-sold.
  • chuckb3chuckb3 Posts: 4
    I was told by the dealer where I purchased the car that the only warranty I had was theirs and only if I had the car serviced there on their terms at three month service intervals, etc. regardless of how many miles I put on the car during each service interval. I figured it out, and I would probably have paid enough to replace the engine in about two years. As is the case with most dealers, I was probably lead down the proverbial garden path. I suspect I would need to contact GM (Pontiac) to get the truth. There are phone numbers in my owners manual. Thanks for the comments. Incidentally, I contacted my Toyota service manager friend and he said the problem was probably the overfill on the motor oil. I will contact GM and if I get no satisfaction there I will get the Vibe checked over by Toyota. The reason is, The local GM dealer seems to have no knowledge of the Vibe. The fact that they don't even stock the correct ATF was may first clue. My second clue was that they don't know the procedure to check the ATF.
  • hmarhmar Posts: 15
    I would echo what another user said and bring it to GM ASAP. According to, Pontiac offers a 3 yr/ 36K powertrain warranty on its vehicles (strangely, Toyota offers a 5 yr/ 60K on theirs, even though Matrix and Vibe are the same, powertrain-wise).
    I looked at a 2004 Matrix at a non-Toyota dealer, and the powertrain warranty was in effect. Also, if you look at a CarFax report, you'll see that it estimates the remaining life on the warranty. As CarFax is a resource for buyers of used cars, why would it do this if the warranty was invalidated beyond the initial owner?
    Good luck with this, ChuckB - I'm sure a number of us are curious as to how this will turn out.
  • fear_hopefear_hope Posts: 90
    My last auto was a GM. I bought it with 24000K on it, used. I had quite a few things fixed on it under warranty. My daughter also bought a GM used, 18000K on it. She also had warranty work done. The GM factory warranty is good for 36000K, first owner or subsequent does not matter. Please take it back to a GM dealer. If not one in your immediate area to one further away. Call them first and tell them your problem so they will be expecting you. Be sure to have them document your complaint, even if they can't duplicate the problem. Get a copy; you can use it later if a problem develops out of warranty. GM should still honor it because it began while in warranty. Good luck, and let us know how things turn out.
  • chuckb3chuckb3 Posts: 4
    I really appreciate the input from all of you. My Vibe was, as I previously stated, a rental. It appeared to be in near-perfect condition. It is a 2004, but the rental agency took delivery in July 2003, so I don't have much time (July 06) or mileage (6,000 miles) left on the warranty. I will go to the local GM dealer and try to get some cooperation/documentation with regard to the exhaust smoke issue. I'll let you all know what happens. With regard to the low transmission fluid, I recommend everyone check their ATF level regardless of what the owner's manual says, mileage or age of your Vibe/Matrix. The consensus at the GM and Toyota dealers is that my ATF was low from the factory. The car doesn't leak a drop of any kind of fluid, and both dealers say that unless there are signs of leaks, fluid levels are not checked except per factory recommended time or mileage intervals. I added a quart of ATF to bring the level up, which is a lot considering the transmission capacity is only 3.2 quarts. The car was probably driven 30,000 miles a quart low. even though it still works well and the fluid looks/smells okay, I will get the transmission serviced immediately. FYI, My recent trip covered over 1100 miles and I averaged 32 mpg. The Vibe runs well and is a a joy to drive.
  • jstant01jstant01 Posts: 65
    Well, my 2005 Vibe finally refused to start for the first time today after work. Thank God for Pontiac Roadside Assistance which towed it to the dealer.

    For those of you who haven't read through the forums, I'm one of the guys with the mysterious "warm restart" issue on my 2005 Vibe. The car always starts great, except when the engine is warm (i.e. run into a store, come back out, car doesn't want to start).

    Well, today it didn't want to start period. Turned over fine, but the engine just would not catch. Maybe whatever's wrong will fix the warm restart problem also. I'll post what it is for others who have the same issue, if it fixes it.

    I have no confidence in "Toyota" reliability after my experiences with this car. I think next time I'll buy a Honda. I have no desire to give GM any business either. :lemon:
  • scrappydscrappyd Posts: 27
    Here is a link I found helpful. While my PV2005 is still under warranty I'm bringing this doc in to the Pontiac GMC dealer I'm working with and have each of these items checked. Though you have to order the TSB - if your lucky you can ask the shop mechanic at the dealership for the bullentin. Thanks for points on ATF.

    Here is the link: it=Find+TSBs

    I like my PV too..but I miss my Toyota. :)
  • scrappydscrappyd Posts: 27
    When I was shopping for a PV. I ended up getting the 05 PV. I test drove a used one that had the exact same issue you are describing. The dealer was gonna give me a "deal". I didn't get it but the svs mgr called me later and told me they tracked the problem to the battery. When a new one was installed when it went on their lot..the computer did not "reteach itself because the negative lead was removed". He said they had to call around several times to discover this issue. He's the one that instructed me to this web site to find other issues. At least I know what I might be in store for. I miss my Toyota. The Vibe was concieved by GMC and built (by GMC) to Toyota assembly stds (by GMC) with Toyota at joint GM/Toy assembly plant. I wouldn't give up Toyota just yet. Hope this may help. Let us know. :confuse:
  • jstant01jstant01 Posts: 65
    Well, you guys aren't going to believe this one. My car has been infiltrated by "rodents" - probably chipmunks. I live in the country surrounded by fields with lots of critters...

    Anyhow, this is the second time this has happened. A check engine light about a month ago was traced to a "chewed through" crankcase harness, which they replaced under warranty. However, they told me then that they wouldn't cover anything else attributable to the rodents.

    Well, the reason it wouldn't start is because the pests chewed through the entire crankcase harness and then some, so they're still trying to figure it out - on my bill. It appears my insurance company is going to cover it - or at least some of it, however, but I'll be without a car for more than a week. They have to take out the alternator and the radiator to get to the crankcase wiring harness apparently.

    I've lived in the same place for 15 years, and although I have seen some minor evidence of rodents being in my vehicles in the past (chewed nut casings, etc.), this is the first car that they've done this kind of damage too. Unbelievable. :cry:

    I told myself on the one hand I should be happy, since now it appears I don't have a lemon - I just have pesky animal neighbors! But it sucks royally having to go through this, and I sure hope they find and replace everything they've destroyed and get everything put back together correctly. The dealer's been real good about it, which is amazing, considering how most dealer's are less than sympathetic about these kind of things.

    So, word to the wise. If you live in the country or in a rodent-prone area - BEWARE! I'm still trying to figure out what I'm going to do to keep them out of the car when I get it back. Any ideas? I'm thinking about parking over a tarp covered with mothballs... :surprise:
  • herzogtum71herzogtum71 Posts: 470
    The people who used to live next door had squirrels chew through something that caused their car to not start. It happened only once to my knowledge. In colder weather the rodents are attracted to the warmth of the engine, and in this case the squirrels had actually built a nest in the engine compartment, using pieces of the hood insulation as nesting material. I don't think they did anything after the damage had been repaired except maybe look under the hood more often. Maybe you could try putting a bird feeder and suet feeder in your yard. We have both, and the squirrels and chipmunks are just as likely as the birds to dine there. The idea is to give the critters something more attractive to feast upon than wires in your engine compartment.
  • scrappydscrappyd Posts: 27
    Wow! Last week a speeder hit a grey cat and it crawled it's way to leave the land ending up under my 2 day old PV engine..My dad said cats and rodents will seek shelter of cars. I thought it was an urban myth! So after reading the last messages. I googled it since with all our rain and storms in TX we've had an increase of little critters around this area seeking under porch etc shelter. Here were 2 links I thought helpful -

    Mouse Away provides all natural rodent control - made with our exclusive formula that combines pure Peppermint Oil with pure Spearmint Oil in just the right combination to provide maximum repellency. Mouse Away does not harm rodents (mice) at all - they simply hate the smell and move away ASAP. These Essential Oils of Peppermint and Spearmint smell so wonderful that it seems almost a shame to use them for chasing away mice and other rodents but, Mouse Away WORKS. Our friends who live in the high mountains had a terrible problem with mice eating the wiring harness in their car. They tried everything with no luck but, finally, they gave our Mouse Away a try. They just sprinkled it around under their hood and two days later - no more mice. Also, we've sold quite a bit to folks living in the Bronx - so it works on big city rodent problems too. We've had customers who use it in cars, campers, houses, basements, kitchens, warehouses, farms, barns, etc. (one farmer in Maine buys a 5 gal. pail each year).
    Note: don't get Mouse Away Concentrate or Mouse Away Spray on painted, varnished or other finished surfaces or on plastic.

    [holds a home remedy note at the bottom - for the cars]

    I was told moth balls help too..but since we live in a "bird protected area" we're not allowed to put them out...odd cause pest chemicals are okay.

    I guess forewarned is forearmed! :blush:
  • Does anyone know if the Vibe/Matrix Engine Options have a Timing Belt or a Timing Chain or does it depend on which engine you have? I have attempted to extract this info from GM. They haven't responded yet.

    I am assuming that a Timing Chain would last much longer than a Timing Belt, but I would hope this would start an interesting discussion. ;)
  • mikey00mikey00 Posts: 462
    It has a chain, no belt. No maintenance required.
  • Hello everyone:

    I thought I remembered reading in this Forum that GM had issued a TSB for the 05 Vibe regarding the warm restart problem. I did a search and found information about a Toyota TSB for the Matrix, but that's different.

    Anyone know what the TSB was or where I can get it? I took the Toyota one in several months ago and the dealer ignored it. They aren't interested in "non-GM" TSBs.

    It may have been in another Forum where I read about the GM TSB. If I remember correctly, the fix involved changing the Powertrain or Engine Control Module, or perhaps reflashing the software?

    Any help would be appreciated. I'm near the end of my warranty and want to get this problem fixed before my warranty is up. Thanks!
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 6,369
    I've been doing some digging and found reference to a TSB #05-06-04-074. Can't find a copy of the TSB itself yet, but it's about the "hot soak starting issue" with the 2005 Vibe and from what I can gather, involved replacing the PCM.

    Here's a link that might help you as well.


    Need some roadside assistance? - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

    Share your vehicle reviews

  • Thanks! I appreciate the help. Just having the number will be helpful, and I also remember it relating to "hot soak starting issue." Edmunds rocks! :-)
  • jb14jb14 Posts: 2
    Seeing that it is a Corolla and seeing no warning labels on the actual fill bottle and noticing it is Toyota Red, and also assuming that since it comes from the same factory as the Corolla (California) why does the owner's manual say to fill it with orange Dex-Cool? Generic owner's manual for Chev/Gms? I have found several documents on the web saying that the Vibe is not a Dex-Cool car in that it is a Toyota engine etc. Thoughts?
  • mikey00mikey00 Posts: 462
    Vibe is not Toyota Long Life Red. It is actually Toyota Ultra Long Life Pink, same as Corolla. Toyota red goes back a few years. Dex-Cool is more of an orange color and it is also a ultra long life coolant and very compatible with the Toyota Ultra long life pink. The Vibe owners manual is a GM manual and thus the suggestion for Dex-Cool which will work fine. When it is time for a coolant change in my Vibe I think I will pick up some Toyota Ultra Long Life Pink just to keep using the same stuff.
  • jb14jb14 Posts: 2
    you are 100% correct. Thats what I discovered at the Toyota dealer upon investigation. I will be servicing the car at Toyota since underneath that is what it is. The GM manual just says Dex-Cool becuase thats what GM sells.
  • I found a site that's selling the full text of TSBs for even cheaper than Infotraxx. The posted price is just $2 for each individual TSB, which is the cheapest price online. The website is at
  • maxx4memaxx4me Posts: 1,340
    My 2003 Vibe AWD is losing around 2 quarts per oil change. There is absolutely no external leak, and I have not noticed any smoke out the back end. Am I dealing with leaky rings, and if so, how much would it cost me? Second, with the oil mysteriously disapearing somewhere, is it difficult for a mechanic to trace the source? Thanks in advance.
  • n2hon2ho Posts: 5
    There are no miracles. How do you know that there are no external leaks? Did anybody lifted the car and made inspection? What is your oil change interval?
    Two quarts is about a half of your oil change, and it's not a small oil consumption IMO.
  • maxx4memaxx4me Posts: 1,340
    I do all my own oil changes with Mobil 1 at 6,000 mile intervals. I routinely crawl in and under my cars, so I would spot a leak if there was one. You are correct: this is an alarming amount of oil.
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