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GM's triplets Venture, Silhouette, and Montana



  • Well, the struts are on now. My neighbors are glad my air tools and compressor are away for the night! The upper nuts are the ones that will kill you. Everything else was fairly simple, but the springs on this thing are a lot beefier than the tempo/shadow springs I had messed with before. Even with the compressed springs I had to put weight on the top to get enough threads to start the strut mounting nut.

    Anyway, armed with the knowledge of the technique needed to get the lower strut bolts out, I got all 4 out in 2 minutes with a "mini sledge hammer". Really wasn't too bad once I knew it was OK to beat the living crap out of it.

    The bolts on upper strut on driver's side were about the same or even worse than the pass side. The ABS was in front of them, and there's a brace below the cowl, then there's the wiper arm thing (you need to disconnect the driver's side wiper arm drive, that gets you some clearance.

    A stubbyish 3/8 ratchet and 15mm will get them off, except for the one closes to the motor, that one is right under the support and you need to use a wrench, and my box end only got like 1 or 2 of the notches with each it was like pulling teeth!

    If I had to do over again, I'd take off the entire wiper system and unbolt the ABS controller to give more access.

    BTW, if you fool with struts you need a impact wrench really to make the spring compressor deal faster and to take on/off the upper strut nut. Otherwise with a wrench the strut tube just turns - the air gun gets it off w/o turning the tube too much.

    Anyway, the day I started this my headlight cover I hadn't glued back on fell off in the drive, so I need to fix that with Goop like I did the other one before I go driving around.

    Oh and you'll like this...I found 2 large nuts off the car I couldn't figure out where they went for a minute, then I remembered the new struts came with their own nuts! Doh!

    Give me time to drive it and I'll let everyone know if it was worth it.
  • offhamoffham Posts: 344
    Re your post and the Check Engine light related to the fuel could either be the gas gap not being properly clicked or it is an evaporative problem in the making. This related to a gasket on the gas tank where the fuel sender gauge unit is fitted.

    On the airbag light check all connections under the front seats. When I had the dealer check he wanted to replace $$$$ of parts based on computer readout.

    The warning light should flash 7 times before going out. Twice now it has stayed on and connected to someome using the power door. I immediately turn off the engine and restart.It acts as normal. Don't ask me why it is related but that is the coincidence I have noticed.
  • jeberjeber Posts: 91
    I plan to do mine, probably not for a year or so unless one looks like its leaking/failing...

    To clarify, to get those "splined bolts" off, I'm understanding you put a good, tight wrench or socket on it, then smack it with a hammer until it loosens?

    Extra nuts/parts when you're finished always gives you kind of a sinking feeling, doesn't it? lol...its always a good thing when you can figure out what they're for!
  • hhua1hhua1 Posts: 41
    were on intermittently while driving our 00' Silo last night, especially during a quick start from a stop or a quick right turn. We stopped at a gas station and cleaned out the contacts on the passenger auto sliding door, while filling her up, it seems to fix the problem.
  • To clarify -

    To remove the lower strut bolts, of course jack up both sides of vehicle and take weight off suspension. take off the nut and then turn the steering wheel so that the threaded end is sticking out where you can whack it. It has a unthreaded part on the end for whacking its made very stoutly and doesn't deform. Hit the bolts on the end with a small sledge hammer and drive them out. You can't turn them, they are splined longways and they have no regular bolt head on them anyway. Mine came out in 5-6 serious whacks.

    If you have small/med hands you should be able to do the upper bolts w/o too much hassle if you don't get too frustrated. Figure about 3-4 hours. Recommend a stubby ratchet and some of those new box end wrench ratchets I saw at lowes. Or maybe take to a mechanic and go watch a movie!

    Can't wait to see how it drives. took the maxima to work. That car the manual tranny always feels like its over stressed even in regular driving.

  • jeberjeber Posts: 91
    I had a completely different picture visualized of how those bolts were put together --but I think I get it now!

    I'll have to look in my Haynes book & see what they show...

    I'm gonna rotate tires Sunday, I'll try & take a look when I take off front wheels

    anyway, like I said, I'll probably wait a year or so unless one starts leaking oil or something--plenty of time to get my courage up! The last shocks I did were maybe 3 yrs back, on my 88 4runner (fantastic vehicle, an absolute joy to work on, definitely one of the best I've ever owned, but thats OT, I guess) but I think we put on 4 new bilsteins (sp) in about, oh, an hour including coffee break--lol--them were the days! I guess if I want low tech, easy to work on, I coulda got a 1970 econoline van instead of my silo!

    thanks again for the info
  • I have only driven briefly with new ones but it is much firmer,especially in the rear. If you do nothing else, you can do the rear and improve the handling.

    Anyway, at least the struts don't have much adjustment for camber like some of older ones I had, I have not taken in for alignment check (tomorrow) but it wouldn't seem like could be very far off. That makes installing easier.

    I think I'd pay someone good to replace the struts and leave the frustration to others!

    Oh yea, FWIW, I glued my headlight lens back on with GOOP adhesive after chipping out all the old dried glue and cleaning out.

    If others have the same problem:

    My fog lights had gotten the lens busted from rocks and looked unsightly, and new ones were $$$ at the dealer and would probably suffer a similar fate.
    I ordered "halogen driving lights" from Harbor Freight (purveyors of cheap tools and stuff from China) for about $9.00. If you unscrew the screw and remove the GM lights, then the two bolts holding the bracket, you can use one of the bolts to mount the new lights.

    Granted the new lights have cheap plastic housings and not super quality, but they will work for fog and look better than my broken GM's for very little $.

    jeber - my older sister dated a guy with Ford Econoline van in the 70's, he had mags on it, shag rug everwhere and hair down to his belt. The inside of the van always smelled like incense or something funny (LOL). I think he had a mini steering wheel thing on it and those tiny little windows in the side and air shocks jacking up the back. Oh yea, and glasspack mufflers, of course!

  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    Did that guy look like this guy?

    Steve, Host

  • rylesryles Posts: 19
    I have recently purchased a 2001 Montana and have noticed the fuel computer is about 10% off. Through 2 full tanks, the computer has read 20.5 and 22.5 gallons of fuel used, and I was able to get 22.5 and 24.5 gallons in at fill up. This would seem to throw the avg. fuel mileage off by 10% also. Is this common, or should I have the unit looked at by the dealer? I don't want to waste my time if I'm going to get the old "this is common and the computer is not supposed to be that accurate" kind of answer.

    Also, anyone know of any mild performance enhancements? I find the Montana downshifts in the 70-80 mph range when going up hills. I think a little more torque output might solve this annoyance.


  • tomekktomekk Posts: 310
    On my 2000 Venture the computer is 8% overly optimistic when it comes to gas mileage figures... I didn't bother to try to get it fixed. It is wrong in a consistent way, I know about it, so I leave it alone and apply 8% correction. At least the temperature and distance seem to be exact.
  • I'm planning to install a used DIC in my Silo. Can it be installed by ordinary shops or should it be from a dealer. The DIC came from a totalled van in the parts yard, any comments ?
  • My 2003 Olds Silhouette computer has been 1 gallon off on fuel usage for it's first four fill-ups. That would be about a 5% lower reading than actual fuel usage.
  • Are the tranmissions the same in the 97 Transport and the 00 Montana? The 97 seems to accelerate better than the 00 Montana but 00 Montana gets better fuel economy than the 97. Could it be the gear ratios are different??
  • Hi...I have a '99 Montana ext with about 45K on it. No complaints so far (this is my second one, I had a '98 that was totaled in a head-on collision). Have taken several long trips from NJ with it with 3 kids under 5 (Orlando/Port Canaveral, Hilton Head Island twice). I think I need new front struts. I read the past posts on the difficulty of installing. I will have a someone do it for me. My question is does anyone have a strut brand preference? Gabriel, Monroe, or GM OEM?

    FYI - anyone ever replace their front brake pads on the Montana? I did with Raybestos. Never will again. They ruined my rotors. I got less then 6 months out of the new pads and had to buy new GM rotors (and GM pads). Guess what the dealer says? Don't use aftermarket brake pads on the Montana...... On past GM products (fwd cutlass and fwd grand prix) I never had a problem with aftermarket pads.
  • I can only comment that my autozone Gabriel struts are have about twice as much dampening as the stock ones, but that's not saying you'll feel like you're in a VW golf. I think any aftermarket strut will be valved for the van, not too aggressively, so I don't imagine you'll find a huge difference between brands. They will be stiffer than the crappy stock ones. I wish it was possible to get data on dampning rates before you buy stuff, but I guess that's asking too much from those good'ol boy companies. BTW, some like the gabriels have lifetime warrenty if that appeals to you.

    Replacing the rear is much more of an improvement than the front, put high quality shocks in the back too!! I can feel the front, but its a huge difference in the rear. Over speed bumps in my parking garage it used to bounce twice in the back, now its just down and up. Braking is better as it doesn't drop the nose as much and hugs the road better.

    oh yea, I guess the van isn't a deathtrap as some other brands owners would have you belive if you bought another one. How did you fare in the accident? Can you enlighten us? Hope everyone was ok.
  • bcd99bcd99 Posts: 45
    One way to avoid GM rotors being eaten by aftermarket pads is to not use GM Rotors. Get the higher level rotors from NAPA or such. They seems to be better made right out of the box and have no restrictions like those wafer thin rotors GM is using to save $. Likewise, I have a 96 Cutlass Ciera which needed the original rotors replaced last month, after 98K miles. Always used aftermarket pads when I replaced. My 01 Silo needs new pads real soon, not sure what I may use.
  • We had a coldsnap (27 degrees) here in SC, and the Venture leaked about a tablespoon of trans fluid on the garage floor. Last year same thing, I slightly tightened the bolts at the leak, went away 'til this year. I'm wondering if anyone from colder climates gets this, and how you handle it.
  • jpc47jpc47 Posts: 62
    Going to have the gasket replaced soon. The Venture is a nice van to drive, I'll give them that.
  • tomekktomekk Posts: 310
    Your's is '98, right? How many miles when the leak started?
    A while ago at 25-27K miles I noticed coolant was low on my 2000 Venture (wife mobile) - but the dealer pressure-tested the system and said "nothing wrong". I'm now just out of warranty (3 weeks over 3 years) and 34K miles. Coolant seems low again...
  • jpc47jpc47 Posts: 62
    Had the leak for awhile but just started getting worse. Look at the top of the engine and you should see stains, or even coolant.
  • tomekktomekk Posts: 310
    Thanks for the info. Just went down to the garage, and the top of the engine is more or less clean - although there are very faint stains, not sure what caused them... I guess I'll stop worrying (for now).
  • jpc47jpc47 Posts: 62
    Keep an eye on your fluid. If you are concerned, get a kit from Blackstone and have your oil tested. Small leaks are no problem, but they tend to get large. You have a record of your concerns with the dealer and that may help you in the future. Good luck.
  • I have been noticing a loss of coolant and I look with a flashlight and notice some coolant under thermostat housing where the top radiator hose where it goes into the block, well then I pulled the dip stick out and saw that the antifreeze is now in the oil also. Just put it in the shop today. I think it is the intake manifold gasket or head gasket will find out today what it is and of course dollar amount.
    Van has 119000 miles. Has anyone notice in their van with the brakes seeming spongy?
  • i have a 2000 silhouette that is really loaded, and i cant find the value. how do you find the value when your car/van has options not listed in edmunds? i have heated seats even, and that's not an option.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    I can find heated seats as an option when I do the "customized appraisal" - look for the button after you drill down to your model on the Used Vehicle Pricing page, and the button will be on the Prices page.

    If you have some dealer installed options (running boards or remote starter, etc.), they may not show up in our list. Often these things won't really add much to your selling price but would help the van sell faster.

    Steve, Host

  • I posted over in Maintenance & Repairs about the gauge on my 99 Venture.
  • sintrasintra Posts: 15
    What does the new radio antenna mounted on the rear fender look like? How can it be mounted on it? Is the reception any better? I live in Europe and haven't seen one yet.
  • I was wondering if anyone knows when the GM mini van lineup is scheduled to be refreshed?

    Also, I heard that the Olds Silo is going to be rebadged as a Buick to compete with the Chrysler Town & Country. Is it true?
  • I think Buick should should make a minivan out of the Rendezvous. They probably won't for marketing reasons, but it would be a pretty thing, IMHO.
  • My Venture with 59K miles needs a new intake manifold gasket (thought I had fixed it....hadn't). I'd like to hear from all who've had this work done. Please give relevant info: mileage, warranty, cost, time in the shop, GM shop or independent, if you sought any relief from GM, if you got any relief.

    I'm not too aggravated since the car has only had front discs & pads replaced in the 3 years we've had it, but still, I've never had a car need this fix before, which seems to be common among GM 3.4s.
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