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Pontiac Bonneville General Maintenance and Repair

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  • An Old Fart’s simple answers to all the really important car questions

    1. How often should I ……? Just follow the maintenance schedule in the owners’ manual. If you don’t have one, buy one-it helps if you can read (not everyone graduated from Southern Cal).
    2. How many miles will my car last? Most any car will last forever (longer than a young mans morning timber) provided you follow number 1.
    3. What kind of oil should I use? See number 1 above (remember, not all engineers graduated from Georgia Tech).
    4. How fast can I make my car? Money=Speed-the more money you spend on real motor parts (the stuff below the intake) the faster you go (do you really think a “tornado” will improve gas mileage and add 10 more hp).
    5. What kind of air filter should I use? Whatever you bought-provided you follow number 1 above (just make sure it stops the dust from the GTO in front of you).
    6. What kind of oil filter should I use? Whatever you bought-provided you follow number 1 above. I use my hands to put it on and take it off, without the fancy tar on the end.
    7. What kind of tires should I use? See number 1 above. GM/Tire engineers collected large amounts of data and research about the kind/size of the tires on your car long before it came to market. Any time you change from the owners manual strange things like noise, rubbing, sliding down the road upside down, etc happen (remember, not all engineers graduated from Va. Tech and work for Firestone).
    8. What kind of plugs should I use? Whatever you bought-provided you follow number 1 above. After all, it’s the size of the gap that matters-like all things in life.
    9. What kind of fuel filter should I use? Whatever you bought-provided you follow number 1 above. Remember to also use Texaco/Shell gas, and put isopropyl alcohol anti-freeze, Marvel Mystery oil, and Techron fuel system cleaner in your tank 4 times a year. They keep the carbon deposits down, get the water out of the fuel, frees stuck things inside your motor, and makes the brown stuff inside your injectors/carburetor disappear (so you don’t have to use the “tornado”)
    10. What kind of wax should I use? Maguire’s-he really is a car guy, has a great show on Speed, and if you buy his stuff he’ll keep his show on Speed.
  • hoibhoib Posts: 2
    What's the group's reaction to this. 93 Bonneville (non-SE), 142,300 very very happy miles. I've only put an alternator in her and two sets of tires on the front and one set on the rear. Took real good care of her. The other day, I started out from the house for work. All systems normal. About 3 miles into the trip, I noticed I was doing 50 in my customary 60 zone, so I have her some more accelerator, but geez, I'm slowing down! I had zero forward power and coasted off to the right shoulder. No weird noises, no odd sounds, no smells, no shuddering, no bump&grind, just coasted quietly to the side. Put it in P and let it sit for a moment. Tried forward and reverse with no accel to see - no love. I called AAA and my wife to come pick me up. When I got out, there it was - a big slick of reddish tranny fluid drifting off the shoulder from underneath the engine compartment. How sad!

    Anyone care to guess - new tranny? Maybe a seal or a plug let loose and it just voided itself. Dealership won't have anyone to look at it until Tues. I'm dying to find out.

    Any guesses out there? If new tranny, new car probably. Shoot!
  • hoibhoib Posts: 2
    Today I got some real good news. The dealership fixed my 93 Bonne - cost me less than $100 as well. Seems that some mechanic had replaced the metal tubing that runs the transmission fluid through the radiator, with a neoprene tube. I don't recall ever having ordered this but... Since this tube is pretty much exposed to the elements, the salt probably got to it and it rotted out. Replaced it with the correct metal tubing. And fortunately, no tranny damage, and it runs just like before.

    Very very happy, again.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,271
    but I figured seeing red tranny fluid was a 'good' sign. Trans failures usually don't leak...
    Sort of like when my Century leaked fuel in front of the gas tank. It was the tube having come loose from the filter snapon. Easy fix at the dealer. I was on the highway and with wife and kid, so I didn't spend time crawling underneath...
  • mickeybmickeyb Posts: 1
    Previous owner of 85 Bonneville - loved that car till teenagers took it out in a Blaze of Glory. Looking at purchasing 89 SSE - fully loaded - sunroof. Has 196K, excellent int/ext condition. All info could find seems to indicate good car even for age. My 85 Bonne did 500k on original engine. Dealer asking $4500 CAN brought it to SK from BC, passed safety inspection. Anyone know if recall on fuel spillage in rollover affected Canadian cars, will check VIN but don't have # yet. Anything else I should be looking for or asking? Glad to have found this forum
  • jono4jono4 Posts: 8
    transmission would periodically shift hard. was on a long trip when it did it again. uncertain of the reliability i traded in my '98 bonneville with 156,000 miles on it for an '03 Toyota Camry LE. I sure miss the big comfortable ride, but with gas at $2 and rising, no longer can afford it.
    i had some issues with it, but they were minor. enjoy it while you have it.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,271
    I can diagnose that from a distance probably.
    If it has the lockup torque converter valve problem that causes uneveness in the lockup percentage, the hard shifting probably came as a result of the transmission setting a code for inability to control the lockup with the fluid valve. The valve wears the bore in the valve body on the trans. The hard shifting is the transmission's way of going into limp-home mode like the engines can do. It probably reset itself and the hard shifting disappeared.

    Or the hard shift may be actually the lockup torque converter not being controlled properly by the valve. This is how I first noticed a problem a year or two ago on mine. During normal shifts from 3 to 4 or 4 to 3 the lockup is smoothly removed and then reapplied; if the valve is not working properly, that application is rough at times especially on long uphill slopes.

    It's a lot cheaperly to check it out than to trade it. Mine has 100k on it. Has done this for maybe 20K. Am checking into the replacement valve kit from aftermarket (Sonnex). Plan to keep car, so may have a pressure valve replaced too.

    If your Toyota is V6, I doubt you're saving that much on gas. Mine gives 30 to 31 on interstate driving, 22-24 suburban and short trips. I can buy a lot of gas for the cost of trading.
  • theicemantheiceman Posts: 736
    Can't be the only reason. Can be part of the rationalization to spring for a new car, I suppose. I must admit that I've not yet used that one with my wife...

    On my '00 SLE, I've gotten a combined mileage of 9.4L/100 kms (25 mpg) since new (I haven't reset the fuel economy calculator in 2 1/2 years and am compensating for the 3% difference between the DIC and the pump as far as fuel used). I do roughly 30k kms a year (or about 20k miles). At our prices, that works out to just under $C 2000 a year for fuel (gas is a tad pricier here than in most States). If I find a V6 that'd do the same job as the 3.8 and save me 10%, that would amount to a savings of just $C 200/year - or about $US 150. The mileage on my '95 Camry V6 LE was actually worse than on the Bonnie and Toyota "recommended" premium fuel. My annual fuel expenses is lower for the Bonnie even 9 years later! Now, my '92 Camry LE was a 4-banger and it was quite economical. Anemic, to be sure - but economical.

    But, jono, your Bonnie was 5 (or 6?) years old when you traded - you must just have had the itch for something newer. Nothing wrong with that: enjoy your Camry - they're decent cars.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,271
    Earlier in this list Alcan told us how to clean the throttle plate when carbon gums it up. I had a sticking that felt like the gas pedal was sticking inside the car. I checked at the throttle body and it was sticking there. Moving it several times loosened it up.

    But I found Alcan's description was good on how to repair it. I had trouble getting the air screen that looks like a beehive out. I finally u sed a large paper clip to rotate it and it worked its way out.

    Instructions should have included to use your spouse's toothbrush and not your own. It's hard on the toothbrush. I used one that has flexible parts and noticed the flexing was getting softer. When I checked the connector between the parts was softening. Good thing I didn't break off one of the pieces into the air intake!!!

    Use a solid toothbrush!

    Found air intake cleaner at Pep Boys.

    Runs perfect now. That explains the occasional rough idle as it warmed up and I came to stoplights. I thought it was PCV valve at 100K needing replacement!

    THANKS ALCAN!!!
  • xavier64xavier64 Posts: 76
    A few weeks ago, I took the Bonnie back to the dealer since the service bulletin fix for the upper intake manifold gasket. Instead of just replacing the gasket as they had done before, they replaced the upper intake manifold itself. This did fix the issue and there are no more leaks. The dealer asked me to come in that morning and took care of the problem. This allowed a nice trip from Philly to State College and back to go smoothly.

    Steve
  • Does anyone have an answer?

    I have a 2000 Bonneville SLE. Each and every time it rains or snows, the car takes a good 3 seconds to begin stopping. (Very scary in an emergency stop). However, after they "warm" up (or dry out), they have no issues stopping. If I drive for about 10 minutes, they again take a good 3 seconds to begin stopping. Though when it is dry out, there are no problems.

    The problem seemed to be getting worse so I took the car into the shop and had the brakes completely redone -- all pads and rotors completely replaced. The dealer said they had a lot of glazing, but otherwise they couldn't see anything. Well, the problem is better, but it is still there.

    When it rains or snows, it now takes only a good full second to begin stopping. There has been a previous posting on this #546 with the same problem description. The answer to that posting stated that it was probably just due to very heavy rain. However in the exact same weather, this does not happen in my other car. In fact, it doesn't have to be raining very hard at all for this problem to occur. This seems to be an issue with this car only.

    Does anyone know of a solution?
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,271
    Did you go to the Pontiac dealer to see if there's a cause for this problem?

    Were the brakes that we put on original equipment quality? I used Raybestos OEM on my 98 and it was a world of difference from the long life Raybestos I had used on my other car. These felt sticky as soon I touched the pedal.

    Could it be a booster problem?

    Post over in 'got a quick technical question.' Alcan there may have heard of this problem before.

    crankshaft "Got a Quick, Technical Question?" Apr 3, 2004 11:54pm
  • jayare627jayare627 Posts: 16
    My 2000 SSEi is the same way, and so was my 99 GTP. My GTP was 10x's worse than the Bonneville though. I have tried everything from new pads to rotors and was told, "that is just the way it is". Never had that with any other car i've ever had so i'm not sure what the problem is. However, I believe there was a post on here somewhere that stated a dealership had reported it to GM and GM was supposedly checking into it.
  • giamomjgiamomj Posts: 15
    My 2000 Bonneville SE also has a seriously-bad time stopping in very wet weather. Otherwise it's pretty "normal" though I have been in autos that seem to stop on a dime, compared to my Bonne. I will note that my local Firestone Dealership told me flat out that there is a TSB (but no notice to owners) from GM on possible rotor wear caused by some defect in the brake system - and that GM is supposed to fix the rotors free of charge if a braking probllem is found to be this one....
  • I will definitely look into the rotor wear issue and see if I can do some more digging into TSB's -- so far, no luck.

    Since I felt it was a dangerous situation, I made sure that the pad, shoes and rotors were completely replaced with OEM parts from GM. I did not use 3rd party equipment. It helped, but it is still there and quite noticeable. (Maybe cross drilled rotors would make a difference???). I have heard of other Bonneville owners having this same issue too. I would assume that would be a serious safety issue...

    I will also post in that other forum to see what others may have to say.

    Thanks, I'll keep looking into it.
  • wnewellwnewell Posts: 14
    You might check and see if wheels are turned maybe next to curb or something that has pressure on steering wheel lock. Turn the wheel towards the offending object and try again.
    WN
  • danzigdandanzigdan Posts: 50
    I am well aware of the intake issue. I am thinking of buying a 2002 Bonnie SE with 38K from a private individual.

    Is this a recall on the 3800 engine or just a TSB, and does the car have to be leaking or just in warranty?

    Anyone with experience?
  • montanafanmontanafan Posts: 945
    It was a recall. Dosen't have to be leaking and you do not have to still be under warranty. Dealer will add sealant to the cooling system and replace the throttle body mounting nuts.
  • luvmybonneluvmybonne Posts: 13
    Hello to all,

    I am the proud owner of a 1996 Bonneville SSEi that I love. The car currently is in need of front and rear struts. I priced these items at a nearby Pontiac dealership and almost fainted at the quote of $301 each for front, $477 each for rear. I searched GM Parts direct and did not find the items. I have the electronic ride control system.
    Is there somewhere I can obtain these parts without my wallet needing surgery??
  • jwallyjwally Posts: 71
    Problem#1 I have a 96 bonneville with 3800 SeriesII motor and 4T60E transmission with 170,000 miles.I have a vibration/shuttering upon acceleration at around 60-70MPH on highway.If i let off the gas it stops.Its more apparent on slight inclines and when weather is warmer and car is warmed up.I had trans fluid changed(not flushed),filter and an unknown additive put in which seem to help for about four weeks then the shutter came back.No codes came up at fluid change.It does it with cruise control on or off.I changed the plugs and wires 19 months and 42,000 miles ago with GM ac delco wires and 100k plugs.I never changed ignition coil or module.I have tested torgue converter at 50 and 60 MPH by tapping breaks on acceleration at which it seem to stop shuttering and raised RPM by 500.the car otherwise runs great.I had a 89 Bonny with 250,000 miles ran great until a tree jumped in front of me:)A transmission guy told me you can't just change valve body without rebuilding tranny $1500-$2000 is that true?Please post or email me,thanks in advance.
    Porblem#2 When car is cold i hear a noise like a bad waterpump or marble bouncing around for the first 2-3 minutes upon start up. I have a new water pump. Noise sounds like its on driver side. I took a long screw driver with my ear on the handle and listen to all engine compenents with negative results.I hear the noise near air filter and when i put my ear on air filter is sounds louder.
    Problem#3 When a/c or defrost is on the secondary fan(passenger side) vibrates very hard upon start up and slight vibration at running speed.I changed the motor thinking shaft was bent.
    Problem#4 Intake manafold plenum-I had a leak at plastic nipple from intake to tensioner but i got it replaced. I like to know where most leaks occur. I have no leaks now but noticed intake plenum warped about 1/8 of inch where it mounts to throttle body between the mounting bolts.
  • jwallyjwally Posts: 71
    I changed my front struts on my 96 bonny SE about 3 years ago with Monroe struts,Big mistake i thought i was in the ocean.mechanic told me bonneville's are to big for Monroe struts.I went with KYB stuts and they have been great for 3 yaers.
  • jwallyjwally Posts: 71
    Problem#1 I have a 96 bonneville with 3800 SeriesII motor and 4T60E transmission with 170,000 miles.I have a vibration/shuttering upon acceleration at around 60-70MPH on highway.If i let off the gas it stops.Its more apparent on slight inclines and when weather is warmer and car is warmed up.I had trans fluid changed(not flushed),filter and an unknown additive put in which seem to help for about four weeks then the shutter came back.No codes came up at fluid change.It does it with cruise control on or off.I changed the plugs and wires 19 months and 42,000 miles ago with GM ac delco wires and 100k plugs.I never changed ignition coil or module.I have tested torgue converter at 50 and 60 MPH by tapping breaks on acceleration at which it seem to stop shuttering and raised RPM by 500.the car otherwise runs great.I had a 89 Bonny with 250,000 miles ran great until a tree jumped in front of me:)A transmission guy told me you can't just change valve body without rebuilding tranny $1500-$2000 is that true?Please post or email me,thanks in advance.
    Porblem#2 When car is cold i hear a noise like a bad waterpump or marble bouncing around for the first 2-3 minutes upon start up. I have a new water pump. Noise sounds like its on driver side. I took a long screw driver with my ear on the handle and listen to all engine compenents with negative results.I hear the noise near air filter and when i put my ear on air filter is sounds louder.
    Problem#3 When a/c or defrost is on the secondary fan(passenger side) vibrates very hard upon start up and slight vibration at running speed.I changed the motor thinking shaft was bent.
    Problem#4 Intake manafold plenum-I had a leak at plastic nipple from intake to tensioner but i got it replaced. I like to know where most leaks occur. I have no leaks now but noticed intake plenum warped about 1/8 of inch where it mounts to throttle body between the mounting bolts.
  • jwallyjwally Posts: 71
    Sorry about double post my computer froze. My 96 bonneville is an SE model.Any help or suggestions is most appreciated.
  • alcanalcan Posts: 2,550
    #1. Take a close look at all 6 coil towers for any signs of carbon tracking.
    #2. Try running it (for a short time) with the serpentine belt removed to eliminate any belt driven accessories.
    #4. They like to leak where you noticed the warp, behind the throttle body. The EGR tube heats the plastic causing the warpage. It'll eventually fill the valley with coolant, then start ingesting it. Can cause the engine to hydrolock, and antifreeze mixed with engine oil will eventually take out the bottom end.
    http://www.northernautoparts.com/ProductModelDetail.cfm?ProductMo- - delId=9088
  • luvmybonneluvmybonne Posts: 13
    KYB?? Help!!

    Thanks for the info.
  • luvmybonneluvmybonne Posts: 13
    What or who is KYB?
    There has got to be someplace that sells structs at a more realistic price than GM.

    Luvmybonne
  • jwallyjwally Posts: 71
    Where are the coil towers located? I have notice some white marks on plug wires where plugs crossed each other.considering i did the torque converter clutch test by tapping brakes at 50 and 60 mph i noticed rpm's rise and shuttering stops would it seem more likely transmission needs rebuilt?what does TCC TEST MEAN?WORKING PROPERLY?
  • alcanalcan Posts: 2,550
    The coil towers are the part of the coil packs that the spark plug wires plug into. Remove the wires and look for any signs of corrosion in the towers, and for fine white lines on the outside of the towers. What you're describing sounds exactly like a secondary ignition misfire (plugs, wires, coils), especially since it's more pronounced in damp weather. Although 42,000 miles is a bit on the low side, the white marks on the wires sounds like arcing between wires. If the coils look ok, I'd replace the wire set, using dilectric silicone grease in the boots on both ends of each wire.

    When the brake pedal is depressed, the torque converter clutch releases. There is no longer a mechanical connection between the engine and transaxle, and an ignition misfire is less noticeable.
  • luvmybonneluvmybonne Posts: 13
    Thanks much!!
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