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Pontiac Vibe Transmission Troubles



  • We have had major Pontiac Vibe transmission problems. Our check engine light came on and the car started to slam into gears. We were told that the torque converter was bad therefore causing metal fragments to get into the solenoid?! It cost $3000 to fix. Yes, we did have the autotransmission service at 48000 miles. Has anyone else experienced this probelm? :sick:
  • Hello i have a 03 vibe with 87000 miles and the check engine light on constantly the code is described as "shift solenoid E" The car drives and shifts fine though. I just hate the light glaring at me. Any thoughts or knowledge please
  • Hi Forum,

    I am a 2003 vibe (base model) owner, purchased in late 2002.

    At 55k (Mar 06), the transmission literally ground to a halt on the highway. Dealer & GM family first worked together to replace my transmission (new one, not remanufactured) at no cost. Worked fine until recently (currently at 80k).

    Current issue
    Starting a couple of months ago, only when cold, I occaisonally would hear a grinding noise when shifting from 2nd to 3rd gear. When car was warm, or if I shifted very slow (to 'feel' the gear engage), no noise. Local shop (non dealer) changed the tranny fluid (used synthetic, don't know what kind).

    However, it's still happening. And, starting yesterday, tranny is becoming more finicky. When warm, once it did not downshift from 5th to 4th (no noise, just pressure when trying to downshift). And, I haven't been able to get it into 1st (at a dead stop) once or twice today.

    Can anyone tell me what the problem might be? I am taking to the dealer on Wednesday and am trying to formulate approach beforehand. (particularly since I am coming up on the 3 year/30k warranty for the replaced transmission).

    This is my first US car, and honestly, I'm not impressed. Instead of keeping this until it drops, I'm seriously contemplating getting the transmission working, selling this, and going back to Asian cars.

    Thanks in advance!

    Boston Jen
  • I too had to replace my 2003 Vibe's transmission at 58,000 miles although I had to pay for it since I was a third owner. I got NO satisfaction from GM. Also my first American car but, I thought I was getting Toyota quality. It's a problem. I've seen it in many in different places on the internet, both Matrixes and Vibes, manual 2003-04. I am now at 76,000 and one year and two month from getting the new, not rebuilt, $3000 transmission (one year warranty) and it's starting to make noises like yours, bad shifting. I would dump this car in a minute, but I owe $5000 more on it than it is worth. So I have no help, just wanted to commiserate. I have filed complaints and they say there are no recalls or service bulletins. BS!
  • After buying American made cars for 30+ years I thought I would try a Toyota with an American name (vibe). Never again. I have a 2005 I bought new and now with 55,000 miles I had to put a $2500 tranny in and after 2 days it went bad again. They put another tranny in and now they say it needs a new computer. Buyers beware.
  • It's caused by the on board computer which is under warranty to 80,000 miles. I'm talking to a lawyer about a class action lawsuit. I had to replace my tranny because of the problem. Should be a recall. GM is hiding the problem.
  • zbadrexzbadrex Posts: 4
    Re: Post #40, Boston Jen: I also posted this info on the Matrix forum, as I have seen many more 5-speed complaints there. I have been dealing with 5-speed tranny issues on my 2003 Pontiac Vibe (same lovely Toyota drivetrain). I only had trouble shifting into 3rd gear when cold, but a noise started that sounded like the throwout bearing - hubby said drive it until we change the clutch. Well, advice to anyone else - don't do it! I had a bearing disintegrate the week after Christmas at 124,000mi that wallowed out my housing to the point of replace rather than fix. I believe that bearing could have allowed enough slop to let the gears bind a little, making it difficult to shift between them. I have been researching other replacement options, and just yesterday purchased a used 6-speed Matrix tranny. The castings are identical except for the end one that houses 6th gear, and I have found only that my Vibe speedo gear will need to be used - I haven't swapped it yet, and will post if there are any problems. From what I have seen, and what I have been told, the 6-speed is a direct replacement. I am including the website where I found my info and purchased my clutch kit: They were very helpful to answer my many questions. I will post again if I run into any problems installing. Thanks, April
  • pennyp55pennyp55 Posts: 1
    Can you please provide more information on the 80,000 mile warranty on Vibe computer system. My transmission is gone (2005), under 40,000 miles and just over 4 years old.
    The service mgr. said he would take care of parts but I would have to pay for labor.
    Any suggestions? Still is going to be over $500.00 to fix.
    Thanks for any additional info....GM no help!
  • zbadrexzbadrex Posts: 4
    Just a quick update - no snags at all. Dropped my 5-speed speedo gear into the 6-speed's bell housing, new clutch assembly(ordered for 6-speed), same old axles, a wire loom holder from the old tranny(not necessary, just picky), and buttoned it all back up. Added synthetic gear lube as recommended, and an oil change too from sitting since December. After charging the dead battery, runs and drives great again!
  • revrbluerevrblue Posts: 1
    Yes I did. What I did was just change my tranny fluid using Castrol Import Oil rated for a Toyota t-IV at 44000 miles. At 54000 miles my engine light came on and the trouble code point to a pressure switch in the tranny. The tranny would shift hard once in a while. So I changed the fluid and screen and drop the tranny pan and cleaned the pan. I found no metal chips just normal band wear black residue. But then I put in Coastal ( autozone ) semi synth. oil again rated for a Toyota t-IV fluid. Well the transmission started shifting hard on all 4 shifts. So I changed the fluid two more times but I used Fluid FROM TOYOTA their T-IV Fluid and the problem was solved and the check engine light went out. To summarize in the Vibe ONLY use Toyota T-IV Fluid or you will have this problem. Sorry to here you paid $3000 on this as I believe it was just the fluid. At a Toyota dealer you could have had the tranny fluid completely changed for $189 which would have fixed the hard shifting. I hope this helps others that like to do preventive maintenance on their car.
  • bob275bob275 Posts: 1
    April, I am curious, did the shifter need any modification? I am assuming the cables hooked right up and bracket to the trans. Thanks Bob
  • I just bought a 2004 Vibe with 26,000 miles on it. Are the transmission problems confined to manual transmissions, or is there something I should be doing now to prevent major repairs?
  • 03 Base Vibe 106K miles.

    I have had no problems with the auto trans. Did the tranny flush at 60K and 90K.
  • lmstlmst Posts: 2
    This mid October I experienced the engine light coming on in my 2005 Vibe. I had purchased the vehicle new. I dealt with the light coming on and off for a week thinking it might be the gas cap. I even had a free diagnostic check done at an auto parts store which indicated everything was okay. However, the next day I felt a slight jar with the car's automatic shifting. I took it in to the dealer who did a diagnostic test (a more thorough one than the free one) and he indicated the PCM[module] needed replacing. With over 78,000 miles on the vehicle, I just made the "8/80 Federal Emissions Warranty."
  • The manual transmission on my 2003 vibe (110000 miles) experienced "catastrophic failure" while I was driving downing the highway nearly causing a serious accident. $3200 to replace. Apparently 2003 Vibes and Matrix have faulty manual transmissions. There are numerous stories of this transmission failing yet Toyota and GM take no responsibility. Please report your transmission problem to
  • My 2005 will drive for about 30 minutes then it quits like the transmission is gone. Let it set for 5 to 10 minutes and it is fine. the check engine light is on. The car has 215,000 miles and general maintaince is all I have done? Any ideas? If the transmission needs to be replaced do you recommend replacing the computer at the same time since from previous posting this seems to cause problems.
  • Vibe manual transmission problems: My 2003 Vibe had serious transmission issues and I urge everyone who can hear bearing noises to get them taken care of ASAP. My manual transmission went out 100 miles over the warranty. Here's wha failed:

    The main drive shaft of the transmission has a small ball bearing. The inner race of the ball bearing was phenolic (plastic) and it shattered. When it shattered it took out the shaft with it. I work at an electric motor repair shop where we replace countless bearings in a month. We aren't allowed to use bearings with phenolic inner races becuase they are very poor quality and a good, all metal ball bearing of that size only costs a dollar or two more.

    Classic example of the automotive industry cutting corners to save cost and forgeting quality. If you have bearing noise get it taken care of immediately!
  • This is EXACTLY what happened to my 2003 Vibe right after the warranty was up...of course! I also had to replace my clutch which I'm not sure if that was related to the transmission issue or not. I looked at my warranty and on further inspection, I saw that I had purchased an extended warranty, but didn't have paperwork to tell me exactly what it covered. Neither my dealership or GM was very helpful in telling me about the warranty since it was three yrs. after I had purchased the car and the dealership had all their records in the Pod out back and it was "too cold" to go check it out. What a joke. I'm still fighting it 2 yrs. later.
  • I urge everyone who has had Vibe or Matrix manual transmission problems to contact the National Transportation Safety Administration. They will lean on GM to issue a bulletin or recall or something and then maybe we can get this crap reimbursed somehow. They sent me a letter saying they have no other reports of problems. I had to replace my 2003 Vibe's transmission at 58000 miles (two years ago); I complained everywhere I could and I follow all these threads. I KNOW it's a problem. I now owe so much more on this BAD VIBE than it is worth-and I can't get rid of it.
  • I have also had many problems with my 2003 Vibe 5spd manual transmission. At about 80,000 miles the transmission seized in the middle of the road. It could not be moved, even in neutral, even when pulled by a full sized truck. I contacted GM about this and they insisted that their "certified" mechanics where the only ones that they would allow to diagnose the problem. After having it towed to the local dealer on my dime, they told me that the transmission had no fluid left in it. I had just had the oil changed a short time before by a national chain that checks all fluids and they stated that the fluid was at normal levels. GM would do nothing for me except tell me that I better sit down when I heard the quote for repairs, $3500. I told them that neither I, or anyone else in my family would ever by their products again, and if they would have told me that this transmission was going to last 80000 miles, I never would have driven it off the lot. They seemed happy and satisfied to send me away with absolutely no concern for the fact that I still owed more for the car than it was ever worth.
    So, I bought a use transmission with 20,000 miles on it and had it installed for a total of $1200. I just turned 140,000 on the car and guess what! Another seized transmission!
    In the end, the only way that anything will be admitted by GM or Toyota is if there is a death as a result of this problem (if there hasn't been already) and they loose a major law suite as a result. Even then, I doubt that most of us will receive any money out of it, because most of the people who have this problem don't pay the same thieves that sold them this faulty product in the first place, to repair the problem.
    Just venting I guess. Best wishes go out to all of you that are still fighting, but I am done.
  • maxx4memaxx4me Posts: 1,340
    Yep, GM tried to take my life (botched axle seal "repair" which resulted in my axle snapping off). I so wish GM would go away. They epitomize everything that is wrong with this country and deserve no one's business. Sorry for your troubles kidmoe. In time, we'll put this pathetic company out of business. Thanks to the government, it will simply take a bit more time.
  • I am having the same trouble with my 06Vibe right now... What is a PCM Module.. ? I would appreciate any help.... Thanks
  • maxx4memaxx4me Posts: 1,340
    Just do a search on Powertrain Control Module on the internet and read to your heart's content:
    A Powertrain Control Module, abbreviated PCM, is an automotive component, an electronic control unit (ECU), used on motor vehicles. It is generally a combined control unit, consisting of the engine control unit (also known as an ECU) and the transmission control unit. It commonly controls more than 5 factors in the car or truck.
  • Same problem (P2716) and I couldn't convince a service mgr that the "universal" fluid they put in helped create the problem. $1,153 later I had to have PCN replaced, filter kit, AC actuator blew so it was causing clicking sounds - all after I paid for car. Bottom line- svs mgr said this is a known problem in the Vibes 2716 and the fix is to replace PCN. Bottom line it seems GMC should have recalled these vehicles because not only did engine light just go on, but the car was jerking so bad I almost got into a serious accident just trying to get to the garage. :(
  • I own a 2005 Vibe, automatic transmission, base model, purchased new. At 33,000 miles and just over the 36 month warranty, it began to shift roughly from 1st to 2nd gear, and the check engine light came on. This happened intermittently for not quite 2 weeks, so I took it to a nearby Firestone. They found the code P2716 and black transmission fluid, so told me to take it to a nearby transmission specialist. I drove it, jerking and hard-shifting, to the tranny place, where I was told that they needed to dismantle the transmission to diagnose the problem, as nothing else seemed to be wrong. Upon taking the tranny apart, he told me there were pieces of metal/grit inside, with black/burned fluid, and I needed a new or rebuilt transmission.

    At this point, I had it towed--in pieces--to the dealership and requested assistance from GM. Dealership told me there was nothing they could do to help with the $$, as the tranny was in pieces and they couldn't tell what was wrong with it. They charged me $4500 for a new transmission. After putting it in, they told me the P2716 code was still on, but wanted me to take it home anyway--I refused. Finally, their computer expert showed up 3 days later and said the PCM was faulty; they replaced this part for free. I had to rent cars for 2 weeks to get to work, as the dealership refused to help with a loaner or renal reimbursement.

    Was there ever anything wrong with the transmission? As in, if the PCM has failed, does that irreversibly damage the transmission? Now that there is a recall on the PCM, do I have any grounds to demand a refund? If you look at this forum, a service bulletin existed prior to my arrival at the dealership, but they did not mention this problem when I arrived, even though I showed them the papers with the P2716 code from Firestone. I called Pontiac today, and the rep I spoke to said "they haven't really told us anything about the Vibe recall". :mad:
    After spending over $1k early Sept 2010 and hearing from Pontiac and 2 other mechanic offices that there is NO RECALL NOTICE prior to my repairs
    :mad: I received a RECALL NOTICE on 9/29/2010 FROM PONTIAC ON 2005 - the PCM has been improperly manufactured. : :sick:
    I am going to try and get some money back. For all who have not registered their car (I bought used but registered car onsite) contact Pontiac Customer Assistance at 1800 620 7668 . The address on their letter head is PO Box 909989 Milwaukee, WI 5320-9989

    I hope they honor this and pay me back for labor and parts of the PCM. Pretty sad that the main pontiac dealer in Austin stated there was no recall unless it truely was coincidental.
  • I live in Austin too and just bought a used 2005 Vibe. I had it 2 weeks and the check engine light comes on. I get two codes: P0455 and P0441. I've been doing some online research and found a bulletin item for these codes that says:

    A check engine light may be experienced with dtcs p0171, p0441, p0455 and/or p2420 - inspect production part number on pcm.

    I'm just wondering if you got the same codes and what you had to do to get it fixed. I'm going to try to call the number you listed, but since I bought used from a private dealership, I don't think I'll have any luck registering the car.
  • Hey - I thought I'd get an email message if someone replied. I just got off the phone with Pontiac. Here is the BAD NEWS FOR ME. Even though I did get a recall notice they are now telling me it was only a prelim announcement and that they have NOT OFFICIALLY RELEASED A true recall. Which is probably why the local Pontiac Dealership told me there was NO recall notice when it broke down. So the short of the long explanation the guy explained to me is that it could be Nov or Dec before they actually announce a recall (probably due to profits and economics and such) - so I can't do anything but to suck up the over $1k it cost to get the darn thing fixed.

    I didn't have your same codes but once the PCM was replaced the car seemed better than when it was actually working. I must caution though for my experience the car started stuttering and shifting was a stop and go to the point that on a drive you are at risk. I got alot of angry honks from people who must have thought me a a new driver or worse so if you experience this try to get to a dealership or authorized repair place since it could stall out completely. For me, my car died and for some reason sucked out my battery life so that had to be replaced too. So combine a tow, battery and new PCM with labor and it's expensive. Good luck

    I can't believe Pontiac way of handling this instead of head on is to postpone this and say "this is just a pretend notice" even though the letter even uses the phrase "risk of crash" - it's all just a drill..... we won't help you ....yet ...or maybe at some point in the future...this is bad leadership on the company's part to allow this to happen. :mad:
  • Revrblue: Not sure you are still following up on this but I just read your message. I had the same thing - P2716 code, and my actuator blew as well which was another $95 for part plus labor. See my other message I just posted on here - I called Pontiac about the recall notice they sent me. Basically they said it's a preliminary notice and not an actual full blown recall - hence no luck in getting a reimbursement - at least not now - and from the sounds and dates of some of these issues some of these people experienced issues over a year ago and Pontiac is no closer to helping their consumers get this resolved. Not good. :cry:
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