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GM's triplets Venture, Silhouette, and Montana



  • jrdwyerjrdwyer Posts: 168
    We just got back from a family trip in our 2001 Olds Silo (37K miles). The last two tanks of gas brought 24.7 and 29.2 mpg.

    The 29 figure was due to cruising the Natchez Trace Parkway from Natchez, MS to Nashville, TN. I cruised at 53-54 with a speed limit of 50 (Shame on me). The Trace is a nice escape from frantic interstates with little of no traffic, scenic and historic stops, and restricted access(no braking). I filled up in Jackson and still had 1/2 a tank left when I got on I40 near Nashville (354 miles later). When I got home I did the math and found that the Trace is about 1 hour slower than the interstates from Jackson to Nashville.

    The van drove great but I did notice a little rattle from the second and/or third row side windows. Just a faint rattle, but I also noticed the same noise on my aunt's 98 Olds Silo. Does anyone know if applying a conditioner to the gasket material will make this go away? Thanks.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,572
    Great mpg - great drive too, although I've never driven much of the Trace north of Tupelo.

    Only an hour's difference? That's pretty amazing - I need to link this to I Don't Like SUVs as a reason to build some auto-only roads. The interstates are nuts anymore.

    I'd try something on the gaskets; maybe try some 303 Protectant, or VinylX or that Shin Etsu grease that the Honda dealers use on Odyssey sliders.

    Steve, Host
  • If you have the VIN # of a van you want to buy, how can you use it to see what factory equipment the van has on it.

    I am looking at purchasing a van long distance at a great price but the auction house has no one to go out and check the equipment for me.
  • montanafanmontanafan Posts: 945
    You could try a local dealer, they would be able to get a build report based on the VIN, or you could try calling the Customer Assistance Center for which ever brand you are looking at, they might be able and willing to do it. Should be able to find the number somewhere at their web site.
  • lct1lct1 Posts: 21
    2002 Venture WB Van purchased 5-24-02 List of repairs since new.
    7,380 miles: Belt squeal, serpentine belt replaced.
    12,130 Miles: Pass. Rear door motor assembly replaced, door opens while driving (recall), Driver side rear door latch replaced, Serpentine belt and tensioner replaced (belt squeal), Rear brakes replaced, Rough idle, can’t duplicate. Front suspension bushing replaced(noise) alignment checked.
    14,473 miles, Serpentine belt replaced(squeal,chirping).
    14,990 miles, Water leaking at rear hatch, Rear intake leaking oil( oil pan bolts, oil filter, drain plug tightened) Questioned fix and was told that’s how they fix Honda’s., Front alignment( Paid by me)
    17,578 miles, Serpentine belt squealing and chirping( belt replaced) Water in LR taillight(replaced)
    19,696 miles, AC pressure valve blew out.(replaced) AC air is warm and spitting water out vents. This is Aug. 2003
    19,826 miles, Told AC is working Fine, use recirculate to cool Vehicle. Water coming out of vents normal. Was told no problem with serpentine belt, tensioners, pulleys etc. Belt squealing and chirping normal. Some belts do this(This is 4th belt since new) At this time I made the mistake to contact GM Customer Service, then the BBB. Both said they would help me neither did. All I have ever got is to be told to take it in for repairs. Dah! That’s what I have been doing.
    20,752 miles, AC recharged, Vents stopped spitting water, Air cool at times but not close to what it was, mostly warm and humid. Belt squeal was used on belt many times and did not fix. Belt noise to be fixed for last time Per area Service Manager. Dealer saturated the belt with belt lube, then told me they could not duplicate problem. Belt still squealing and chirping. E-brake not holding, brakes not stopping van. Rear brake parts fell apart.
    21,380 miles, Belt problem addressed again, pulleys not lined up properly, seems to fix. AC still not working right, told cannot fix unless hot outside. Begged them to fix so I could travel to Arizona and Florida, they refused. Pleaded with them to compare to other like vans( I did) they refused. 60 degrees outside, drive all day long will AC full blast and not be cold.
    Arbitration Hearing, IMPARTIAL Tech. Determines AC is working properly( 35 Degrees outside) Failed to mention noise in vent for which there is a TSB on. Offered extended warranty, Told GM I couldn’t get it fixed with the one I had.
    23,296 miles, Loss of power, bad gas mileage, Oil leak, anti-freeze in oil, rough Idle( intake gasket replaced) engine oil overfilled 3/4 Qt. AC checked(warm outside) No Problem found. Although dealer claims they did not work on AC, works a little better.
    24,000 miles to current 25,600 miles, Oil leak continues, Oil dripping from engine since May 2003. Engine stumbles or bucking while driving, Transmission slams into gear and slips. Driver window slow or almost stops midway. AC Blows warm humid air with moldy smell. Before AC was repaired you could have made ice-cream and van smelled new. I had to turn rear unit off cause kids were too cold. Dealers have never driven Van more than 2-3 miles. Vehicle never wrecked or abused and serviced above normal.
    25,848 miles, Engine problem caused by spark plug wires not attached properly when intake was done. Bracket not connected and wires shorted out on egr tube. Had AC checked by a private tech. To confirm AC was not working properly. Then had GM dealer check again. Both agreed it was not right and has low charge. After 3 last chance to repair and 5 attempts to get fixed in almost a year I had an attorney file for repurchase under lemon law. GM refused my claim on that primary concerns have been fixed and AC problem cannot be duplicated. GM has flat out refused to fix the AC and properly diagnose problem since Aug. 03. At times AC vents look like a steam iron and now Recirculate/outside air switch will not work. I have gone to different dealers. Yes this is a true story, I wish it wasn’t.
  • Just my thoughts.
    Has anyone tried to use a radiator stop leak in the 3.4 engines? If so, How did it work?
      If this has happens to most of the 3.4 engines, why hasn't someone sued GM?
  • mthomasonmthomason Posts: 1
    I echo many trouble that others have had: air bag light (reset not yet tested), weeping intake manifold gasket (first identified at 75K miles - requiring appx 1/2 qt of coolant, now still weeping at 100K miles - but not very much at all, no troubles -- yet), fried passenger power window switch (dealer actually said the regulator needed replaced, est $500 vs the $ 30 switch!), oil level light on steady and off at times since 93K miles (we keep a very close eye on the oil on the dipstick, no indications of any trouble), various broken cheap interior trim pieces (the front seat cushions an materials are of not such great quality), second set of brakes at 94K miles (no rotors yet needed!), poor headlamp performance, and slightly slipping/squealing transmission since 75K miles -- up smaller hills and on tighter corners (I am sure its gonna give some day!).

    All other items are continuing to work well, the paint/exterior has held up quite well compared to other cars we have had, as well its performance has been quite good: economy is near 22 mpg --combined driving, handling in the snow and icy conditions are quite good (good tires help emensely (sic)).

    Our only major concerns now are the transmission and engine, we hope they hold out for a while. The 2005 looks like a Subaru - UGLY! How could a division like Pontiac have such nice looking cars (Bonneville, Grand Prix, Firebird, GTO,...) also have such ugly ones (2005 Montana, Aztek...)???
  • dcurrensdcurrens Posts: 2
    Read the posts regarding after-market replacement shocks for triplets with the auto-leveling feature. Gabriel and Monroe do not list any available shocks in their books for models with the above listed feature. However, I emailed Monroe Tech support, and they said their model MA824 was a direct replacement.

    I ordered a pair and sure enough, they were an easy 20 minute swap. The hoses were a perfect match, and what a difference in ride with good shocks. For what it's worth, don't always trust your local parts guy to know what will work on your car.
  • vanman1vanman1 Posts: 1,397
    We still have 0 issues with our 04 Montana Sport. We bought because friends love their 99. 04 has a 5 yr power train so I'm not worried about the 3.4 really. Tranny should be rock solid.
  • Regarding your "Window Rattle" --

    I recently bought a '99 Montana and about 30% of the vans I test drove (all used) had a window rattle/creak, including the one I bought.

    After digging into the problem, I discovered the window on the sliding door was actually LOWER than it should have been -- just slightly. Kinda as if it was "sagging" ... Since the windows are recessed from the door beneath it, at times (usually during a bump) the glass would barely touch the metal where the recessed part ended and the main portion of the door below began.

    You just need to readjust the window to position it a little bit higher. You need to adjust the inside lever which allows you to open the side window is mounted to the door. From inside with the door closed, look where this lever mounts. You'll need to hold back the door's rubber seal on the rear side to expose 2 bolts which hold the lever to the door.

    I think it's best with 2 people (1 inside and the other outside) -- just loosen both bolts and have the outside person try to lift the window, then retighten the bolts. It took a lot of upward pressure for us to get the latch retightened only 1/8" higher than it was, but we eventually got it. Now, no more rattles or creaks and it didn't cost anything to fix it :)

    Good luck!
  • I have a '99 Bonneville and a '99 Montana, both which use the newer "Red" coolant.

    I've heard the red coolant doesn't cohabitate too well with GM's gaskets, and a common problem is antifreeze leakage into the crankcase due to gasket failure. (I need to occasionally top off the coolant in both vehicles -- maybe 1x or 2x a year, so I don't know if I have a gasket problem or not.)

    Both vehicles need their coolant system flushed. I was wondering if there are any pros/cons to using the older-style green coolant after I clean out the system... ?

    My Bonne has 100k and the Montana has 79k miles.

  • n7donn7don Posts: 188
    Red Coolant = Dexcool
    There probably isn't a good answer to your question. Certainly Dexcool isn't without controversy.

    My 98 Montana came with Dexcool however I've changed it a couple times during it's 104K life. Personally I think the manifold gasket problem wasn't related to the coolant. When I changed the gasket (which was only seeping at the time) the coolant passages were very clean with no signs of corrosion.
    Also in the recent past I found a link to a discussion on Dexcool that may answer some of your questions. I think it violates the terms of this board to post this link however if you do a google search and use "dexcool stant 10231" as your web search terms there's only a few hits. Recalling it was the article at imcool. In any case I did change the pressure cap to a Stant 10230 as recommended in this article.
  • dirkworkdirkwork Posts: 210
    It sounds like the vast majority of your troubles can be traced to a poor repair department at the dealer. The belt, the coils, the intake manifold problem, and more than likely, the air recirc door is not installed right. Heck, I diagnosed your belt trouble at the first time I read about it early in your message. This took them 3 trips?. No serp. belt wears out a 8k miles unless there is a major problem with the setup.

    The AC issue - I live in Houston and can tell you about humidity. You MUST use Recirc with AC to get most cooling and humidity reduction, mixing with outside air will give that fog from the vents and/or warm air.

    The smell? Like a drink can removed from a cooler outside in the summer, the cold AC evaporator becomes dripping with water from the air condensing on it when you use it. Leaving it wet when you park the vehicle can encourage mold and other things in the system. This is a common problem among cars with AC, its not only a GM problem. I turn off the AC about a block from my destination and let the thing warm up with air blowing over it to dry it off somewhat.

    You can also buy a product that foams and is supposed to get sucked into the AC core. Perhaps if you sprayed into the compartment for the AC air filter it would get sucked in.

    Too bad the dealer has such baffoons working on your van. I honestly think that is why people have trouble with vehicles after about 120k miles, is because of the things the "shops" have "fixed" start to accumulate and the vehicle eventually is unreliable and a rolling junk pile.

    I do my own repairs and have 105 miles on our 98 olds van and its solid, gets 23 mpg has been paid for a long time. I just got new Michelin tires with a 60k warrenty, so I guess we'll drive this for about 4 more years!

  • infinia1infinia1 Posts: 174
    my 02 venture ls, at 35,850 miles, is almost out of the window of opportunity to purchase the gm major guard extended warranty. while i am covered until 39,000 miles under the gm certified warranty, i am concerned about the long term past that. i plan on keeping this van for at least 4 more years and average about 15,000 miles per year. although i cannot really afford it, the intake manifold gasket seems to be a given future failure which would cover the cost of the warranty anyways. originally, i was not going to get the extended warranty and just chance it, but now i am having second thoughts. however, i don't have much time or miles left to decide! does anyone have any suggestions?
  • dirkworkdirkwork Posts: 210
    If you can get the warrenty for the cost of the gasket job (750), it might be pretty attractive. I heard that GM changed the gasket as to not leak but I'm not sure when that phased in.

    You might have some trouble with something else and then the warrenty might be good. BUT (big one) realize they have a deductible and some repairs are not considered covered like brakes or other wear items, so you'd need two failures to probably recoup the cost.

    In closing I'll just say they make money on these. The majority of the time they come out ahead. If you consider you're only making like 2-3 payment equivilants, its sometimes worth it to forgo the warrenty.

    Also, most folks have found these vans to be pretty reliable overall. That's why you bought it.

  • infinia1infinia1 Posts: 174
    i checked into the warranty today. i can get the 3 year/36,000 mile major guard, no deductible, for $1095. it's not as long as i would like, but cost is a big consideration at this time. i can put 10% down and pay the rest over 12 months with no interest. that's about $83 a month.

    almost all items are covered by major guard, including some wear and tear items. the exclusion list is minimal. the new gasket was phased in february 2003 so i have the old one.

    the biggest repair i had under the new car warranty was the replacement of the ac compressor. that cost gm about $900. my biggest worries are the intake manifold gasket, the ac system, and the transmission, which has shifted oddly only about 7 times in 20,000 miles.

    i'll think about it tonight. peace of mind just may be worth it since money is tight. my venture is very reliable. that and because of previous excellent chevrolet vehicles is why i bought it. plus, it was priced very well. a comparably priced odyssey had twice the mileage. and it's now known honda's aren't perfect (auto transmission problems).
  • I just got the van I purchased long distance and am trying to fix her up. Van runs great now that I debugged the smoging problem.(needed fuse replaced for sig lighter to pass)

    I keep running into problems getting body panels used. I can get them from the dealer but would rather run other options first. All the wrecking yards around here say that they don't have any vans in there yards and don't find any on thier searches.

    2000 chevy venture: looking for front right fender, and front bumper.(lt brown) I would also like to find the jack compartment tools and cover. (tan)

    Any help would be appreciated.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,572

    Steve, Host
  • dirkworkdirkwork Posts: 210
    Hard to belive that all vans that are undrivable get crushed instead of parted out. You may need to indeed look around or call some close by big cities autorecyclers. I'm in Houston and we have some yards, but the ones near me are small and never have what you want. I have some minor items I was thinking of looking for in a yard but never has it gotten to a priority for me. Let us know how you fare. There are cheap body replacement parts made for some cars but they are not the same quality - on a Shadow I had a hood that didn't fit 100% and it started to rust. Depending on how you're going to use the van and how nice you want to get it would determine the best option for you.

    How rough is it? How much did you pay?

  • Could someone please tell me where the low coolant sensor is located on my 2000 montana 3.4? Thanks Charles
  • n7donn7don Posts: 188
    On our 98 Montana it's on the passenger-side radiator end-tank just below the top transmission cooler return line. Typically this sensor will be on the side of the radiator where the bottom hose is located.
  • n7donn7don Posts: 188
    In a previous post I recall you had replaced the front struts on your van. At 104K miles the Montana is under damped and has a slight wander. Nothing unsafe but noticeable to me (wife doesn't notice it)
    There's no obvious "play" in any of the componets. It appears both Gabriel, Monroe & Delco make replacement struts. I liked the Pontiac's handling but have no idea how these replacement units compare to the OE FE2 option suspension components. Any recommendation(s)? Did you replace other components such as ball joints, rack & pinion unit and/or strut bearings?

    On a side note, I still use 5W-30 Mobile 1 @ 104K miles in Arizona. Occasionally pull our popup tent trailer. I did install an aux. transmission cooler & temp. gage. Transmission fuild temp. rarely exceeds 200F & still has firm shifts. I installed a drain & annually change the filter & replace 6 1/2 qts. of ATF. Wife loves driving it.
    I'd agree dealer repair errors can make or break a customer's experience. While I'd agree the problems shouldn't exist in the beginning, not repairing them correctly for the long-term can really reflect in a customer's opinion. I had several problems when our van was new. It took an extra ordinary effort to "convince" the service dept. that 50 deg rear discharge air temp. (which was the same as their shop temp) was not satisfactory. I finally installed a RadioShack temp. probe on the rear suction line to show it was near ambient. The rear unit TXV wasn't opening! There are differences in dealer service dept. however unless a warranty item I try to avoid them altogether.
  • dirkworkdirkwork Posts: 210
    Well, the strut job really was a pain. I consider most jobs a challenge to my brain and toolset, but honestly I am not sure I'd do that one again.

    I went with Gaberial struts to match the rear air shocks. I had other vehicles with Monroes, I don't know if there is much difference for this application. The rears made the most difference, but the fronts are stiffer and you don't get front end dive like I used to and cornering is good enough to elicit my wife to yell and curse at my technique long before its even close to squealing the Michelin's. The handling of the Olds (not sure of the other makes) will surprise people. I did not replace anything else, the strut bearings are usually OK, and I had done the outer tie-rods before. Grab the wheels when its jacked up and try to move them side to side, if you get just about ANY play, something is messed up. If you suspect the ball joints try out and in from the bottom for play.

    Anyway, I had the factory manual (a waste of money in my opinion, nothing like the excellent Dodge manuals I've had) and it said "remove top bolts, remove lower bolts, remove strut." or something like that. The upper bolts are located way far under the dash and with the engine and windshield wiper linkage to contend with, its barely accessable by humans. You have not even enough room for a 1/4" socket wrench and socket, nor a air-ratchet, you have to use a hand wrench and only can turn it like 1/4 turn at a time! Adding to the frustration is that the nuts are dented ones that are a sort of "lock" nut and will not spin off in your fingers once loosened up, they must be turned all the way off with a tool. I'd recommend getting those new fancy ratchet box ends (from Craftsman or some quality brand like that. Yea, they are like $50 but this job is perfect for them!! An excuse to get some new tools too!) I didn't (???) as I was already into it (had planned on using my air ratchet but it didn't fit). Oh well.

    The lower bolts on the hub use large fasteners, it helps to have a FULL set of metrics, I'm talking like a 24 or 26mm. Then the bolts must be driven with a small sledge hammer - the book said nothing, I had to call a mechanic friend.

    Anyway, its doable. I haven't even covered using the spring compressor to change the struts. I used a air wrench to make that go faster, turning by hand might take a while.

    If you don't have the above tools and like using them, its not for you!

    I also found earlier when I bought the van used was the outer tie-rod end was worn out, but I replaced that and the front end is solid. The wierd sensations you get turning a lot like in a parking garage are I think the struts/spring package and many GM FWD vehicles have this same feeling.

    5x30 sounds thin for such a hot climate, I use 10x30 synthetic on my '98 that now has 107k on it. I used to use Mobil 1 (its great) but the Wal-Mart Tech brand synthetic is a dollar less /qt and for such an old van seems to work well and not burn off. I don't have to add any until nearly 5k miles on a change, and I change it about then anyway.

    I need to change the trans fluid and coolant soon, but I'm waiting for a free weekend.

    Hope this helps -

  • zitfacezitface Posts: 6
    I'm having a problem with the power window on the drivers side of my '98 Trans. I had trouble with the window going up all the way and it seemed to be the actuator (arms were bowed) Some nice person broke out same window so I replaced the window and the actuator.(motor included) All was well for a couple of weeks. Now all of a sudden the same problem has reoccured. Anyone had this problem? Any ideas? Thanks.
  • n7donn7don Posts: 188
    Thanks for the feedback. I've got a good compliment of tools, including metric, air compressor and even a cooler place to work on it. During the summer we live at our cabin in northern Arizona. I saw how the upper bolts were buried and the ratchet box end would be ideal.
    Previously I had changed the leaking OE rear air shocks with Gabriels. Also removed the rear resonator muffler that was close to the leaking shock and replaced with straight pipe. No noticeable difference in sound, both inside and out.

    The worst job I ever undertook on the van was changing the thermostat. The manual stated to remove the cross-over exhaust pipe which looked to be more difficult than the one paragraph in the manual! So I made a "curved" wrench.... and 5 hrs later it was changed! Later I found it was much easier if the upper manifold was removed.

    Oil..... I've used 5W-30 for many years without a problem however I change oil around 4000mile intervals. Walmart's brand of synthetic is harder to find on a regular basis. I looked yesterday in a super WM store and none in stock.

    Yes the van does handle reasonably well. The Pontiac came with the towing package which included FE2 suspension option. I replaced the OE General tires (noisy and harsh) with Michelins. I think they would run forever but I hit a curb and damaged the sidewall and couldn't blame it on my wife (she was with me!) So I had Costco put on a set of BFG's.... and quite honestly was pleasantly susprised. They are quieter and less harsh than the Michelins however don't know how long they'll last. About 1/2 the cost.

    While it sounds like a job for the not-faint-of-heart I'll probably delay doing until next spring. Again thanks for the info.
  • dirkworkdirkwork Posts: 210
    Try putting some lube in your window tracks. Sounds like there's a lot of friction. Silicone spray works well. TA's have large door windows and you could get a lot of friction.

    BTW, this is a GM van forum, in case you wondered.

  • dirkworkdirkwork Posts: 210
    Oh yea, I put on the strut on drivers side and then found some of the mounting bushings were left on the floor - DOH!

    After all that work to reinstall, I had to take off those upper bolts - again, and drive out the lower bolt - again, then remove the spring from the strut, again, and then reassemble. I guess that's why it was so tramautic. And the wife kept coming outin the driveway asking me "is it done yet? what's taking so long?"
  • vanman1vanman1 Posts: 1,397
    We took our 04 Montana out for a week at a rental cottage this week. 2 adults and 2 kids with the back loaded up. Flawless and wonderful performance from our new van. I was a bit worried about power but the 3.4L was fine. We also found a plug in at the back for our Koolatron cooler which was great. The Montana may be a bit on the old side now in design, but it suits our needs perfectly all at an affordable price!
  • I was disappointed by the volume of air from the AC and heater. I kinda chalked it up to the space it had no work with and was willing to live with it, kinda like my Durango had. Till I remembered about what I read here and pulled the cabin filter. Whoa! What a mess. It was apparent that the previous owners had never cleaned it. It was packed with leaves, pine needles, and five or six papers (8.5x11).

    After washing and blowing the filter out 3 times I re installed it. WOW what a difference. The cab actually cools down fairly quickly with some real force in the air now.

    I'm adding this to my regular maintenance now and recommend that if you haven't done so yet that you do it. you might be surprised.
  • dlubindlubin Posts: 66
    After two Montanas (a 99 and a 2001) we're finally moving on. Taking advantage of a great 2yr lease deal on an 04 Odyssey. Will miss the inflator and the 8 passenger capability, but to be honest not much else... Fuel economy never approached our 99, we blew a tranny with only 20k on the car, and the dealer has been almost consistently awful. With all of that, I still enjoyed driving them, though in retrospect should have kept the 99!

    Still underwater on our trade even after three years of 0% payments on a van bought below invoice! (GMS pricing)... The new one, while leased, is $150 less payment-wise then the Montana, tough to beat

    Good luck everyone!

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