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GM's triplets Venture, Silhouette, and Montana



  • Last week Hurricane Rita was predicted to come ashore right at Galveston and run up into Houston. An evacuation was called for in my area south of Houston. After the wife and I ran around like chickens with our heads cut off for a while (what are going to bring? What about the fill-in-blank?) we packed up the van, removed one of the rear seats, loaded my mom our 2 kids some bikes on the back hitch carrier and stuff on the roof rack - we tried putting mom on the rack but she protested too much. We headed out and after 20 miles got north of town and then hit the mother of all traffic jams. This was not just slow traffic, this was turn off the car and walk around for a while everything is stopped traffic jam. The sun was shining and our temps were a humid 97+ degrees, so with the kids and mom in the van, we felt like we had to run the AC, although there was talk of not having any gas to refill. We never did turn off the AC, and idled with it on for hours. Now granted I've done most of the maintenace on my van (I've long said most vehicles turn to POS b/c of accumulated sub-standard repairs), but I was super-impressed at how my old van took this abuse. The temp gauge never budged from its normal spot with the AC on, and between it being fuel efficient and having a large gas tank (extended van), we didn't really have to worry like some people in those monster SUV's and cars. After 24 hours of this abuse, we still were over 1/2 tank. The trip computer said we were averaging 8.5 mph on our trip, which is something I could double on my bicycle without much trouble! The "gallons used" feature on the computer was handy as the gauge is not all that great of way of estimating remaining fuel, and on this trip fuel would be of utmost importance.

    Anyway, the rear AC kept mom and kids cooled down, the motor and trans worked very smoothly, the self-leveling suspension kept it from sagging under the heavy load. After we got up to a about Lufkin TX (don't ask how long this took) we found a Walmart that was open and I bought three toys for the van - a 115 volt AC inverter for running my daughter's nebulizer to control her cough, a Sirus sat radio receiver kit and a DVD player with two screens that strap to the headrests for the kids entertainment and our sanity. The '98's did not have a DVD option FYI, but this whole deal was less than $200 and is removeable to work in other cars.

    The many devices were powered by the rear and dual front power jacks, and when my daughter was using the DVD I could turn in the SAT radio and listen with headphones plugged into the rear system.

    We ended up in what was apparently the last motel room in AR after nearly two days in the van. A hot shower never felt so good in my life, I kept washing to make sure I was getting the sweat and dirt off! The next morning, the storm was predicted to come up there and drop 20"+ of rain and flood out the town, so we vacated to a friend's family in MO. Luckily, there was not any traffic at this point.

    On the way home after Rita had taken her northernly jog away from us, I eased the van into a steady 65-70 on the hilly roads and after 200 miles was averaging 27.2 MPG, running the AC and with all 5 of us aboard, a bike rack on the back and duffel bags on the roof! Now granted I'm running a THULE front rack bar and air deflector which I think helps with drag on roof items, but that is amazing milage. We got on some faster roads (75-80 mph) and my wife who is more of a lead foot drove and when we got home we checked the computer said we averaged 25.5 mpg. The van never missed a beat and was abused / driven over 1000 miles on this trip. I am also on about 5k since the last oil change of walmart synthetic and it doesn't even use oil.

    While its not perfect, we were happy to have the van to evacuate in.

    Dirk in Houston
  • Hello,

    I have a 2000 Montana and for the first time, I can't reset the "Change engine oil" warning.
    I used to do it all the time on first try for the past 3 years of ownership (ie 14 oil changes), but since the last oil change, I can't

    Could it be because I waited more than two weeks to do so? Is the van angry at me :confuse: . It only comes on for a minute each time I start the engine, but it annoys me. The van is not supposed to "Talk" to me. Will I have to unplug the battery? Is it going to go berserk if I do so? Please, help me like you do so often!!!

  • I have a 2001 Olds Silhouette with a VCR Player. I put a new Battery in it & ever since the VCR Player keeps blowing 5 amp fuses :confuse: . I also put a 7.5 & a 10 amp in as well, but didn't go any higher for fear of burning wires, etc. The VCR worked fine before changing the battery. I know of no other issues. Any Ideas anyone? :confuse:
  • Could you in the process of changing the battery have caused a short of some kind? You could retrace the steps you did in this process to see if any short is possible.
  • nkairnsnkairns Posts: 27
    Most of my dash lights in my radio for my 1999 Silhouette are not functioning. The lights on the left of my radio (power, etc...) are working and so is the clock / tuner display. I removed the radio from the dash and took off the face cover for the radio. There is a printed circuit board that appears to be glued on the back of the radio face plate and I can't see anyway to get at the lights to replace them. Besides doing the obvious and purchasing an entirely new face plate, does anyone have an easy and inexpensive fix for this problem?

    The radio, tape and CD as well as all the radio control buttons work fine. It's just the lights.

  • nkairnsnkairns Posts: 27
    My 1999 Silhouette has developed a clicking or dull thud coming somewhere in the right front wheel area. It's one simple click or thud (very suttle, but it's there). It can be heard mostly when I back up on a hill or turn left from a dead stop. Sometimes it can be heard from a dead stop accelerating straight forward. I've tried tracing the problem myself and so have several mechanics. No one can isolate where the sound is coming from. These are no issues with the suspension, shocks, drivetrain or CV joints that anyone can find. One clue we have found is if someone has their hand on the right front fender while someone else shifts from drive to reverse with the brake applied and under light acceleration, you can slightly hear the sound as well as feel it in the fender. I am totally stumped. It's been like this for almost 6 months but has not gotten any worse.

    Anyone have any clues?
  • cptpltcptplt Posts: 1,075
    I have a 00 venture, the manual says to depress the pedal slowly x times in however many seconds and it worked that way for the first 4 years, now it needs to be depressed quickly!! GM engineering at its best!!
  • mitzijmitzij Posts: 613
    This may sound silly, but check your floor mat. I've had customers come in unable to reset their oil change lights because the floor mat gets pushed up against
    the accelerator just enough to keep it from going down far enough to reset the light.
  • :blush: Could it be just that :blush: ??? The floor Mat :confuse: Well, I'll try tonight and post the result... :blush:

  • This is simply a complete shot in the dark but here goes... Has anyone looked at the engine mounts? Is it possible that the rubber padding had been damaged and the engine is actually moving causing the metal parts of the mount to hit each other. I had this on another vehicle (a car actually) and the vibration of the engine would travel through the frame because the bushing in the mount was worn. Just an idea.

    BTW which side are you hearing it on, your heading says left but your message says right?
  • offhamoffham Posts: 344
    You already have answers, however I found a sure way to do it. As stated you have to depress the gas pedal three times and if you have mats it could prevent the pedal going all the way down. If you look under the engine you will see a " half moon" type fulcrum which when you press on the gas moves to right.

    With the drivers window down and keys in the ignition, turn to where all the dash lights come on and then go and move the fulcrum three times to the right until it meets the stop. This ensures the reset.
  • nkairnsnkairns Posts: 27
    Sorry Marty...the sound is actually in the right front wheel area (or so it sound slike it's coming from this area) as indicated in the text of my note and not the left front wheel as noted in the subject line.

    I'll check out the motor mounts. I know it's not the top mount as it sems to be tight and the bushing is in place. How many motor mounts are there under the van?
  • Well... It worked... Just have to do it quickly now... Like they say, American engeneering at its best... :blush:

    Thank you again

  • After reading several posts about problem vehicles, I felt I should throw out my .02 worth.
    1. My 1998 Pontiac Transport was a very versatile vehicle. Rode and drove good and would haul an unbelievable amount of stuff. (Short wheelbase version, too)
    2. I kept it 153,000 miles.
    3. I never had to add oil between 3k to 5k change intervals.
    4. It never failed to start, stop, cool, heat, deliver us to our destination.
    5. At 120,000 miles I noticed some anti freeze on the engine. Yep, manifold gasket had to be replaced.
    6. At 125,000 miles I had to replace the rear hatch pulldown strap, maybe $10.
    6. At 148,000 miles I had a check engine light come on and a random misfire was indicated. Yep, head gaskets had to be replaced.
    7. Total repair costs for 152,000 miles was about $1500.
    Given that I would have preferred not to have those problems, that was the extent of my repairs in 152,000 miles. It's probably good for a whole bunch more.
    That doesn't seem exorbitant for almost 8 years of service and that many miles.
    Because of that, I'm now driving a 2004 Montana, (Another Shorty), and at 22,900 it seems to be performing just like the old one.
    Right now I'm thinking I should move this one on at about 100k and maybe my expenses would be almost $0.
    Anyway, just wanted to point out that not all of the owners dislike the vehicle. :)

  • alienalien Posts: 4
    Hello all,

    Regular reader of the triplets board but I haven't posted for a while. Enjoyed reading Dirk's long post about running from Katrina. Charlesew good to hear you are happy with your van but unfortunately GM vans seem to vary from mostly trouble free to totally junk.
    Our 2000 Montana falls somewhere in between I think.
    Continued pistonslap even after the coated replacement pistons were installed is annoying as hell. I am still trying to just live with it and move on. At 52K it is again starting to use oil but no use complaining to dealer as GM has ridiculous guidelines for oil usage.
    My gas mileage has never exceeded 22 mpg even on road trips, EPA estimate for these vans is 26 mpg. On a vacation trip to Galveston TX last summer running 75mph with AC on and full load 4 adults, two kids and a full trunk we got just under 22 mpg. Considering circumstances it was a fair mileage but not great as reported by some.
    More on the down side the other day noticed catalytic converter on our van is cracked by the flange right where it bolts up to the first muffler. Looking at owner's manual it seems cats are warranted up to 7 years so I will try my luck with the dealer.
    Airbag light has not come on now for several months, pleasant surprise.
    Passenger side headlight fills with water during rain or at car wash. Haven't sprung for a new one yet.
    Passenger side air shock is sagging slightly, haven't bothered with repair yet.
    Idle is inconsistent at start-up, like idle air motor or something in those lines.
    Autozone could not pull up a trouble code.
    Van occasionally moves forward on flat carage floor on start-up. Strange but a family member's Buick LeSabre 2005 did the same thing when it was parked in the same spot. Go figure.

    We like the fold and tumble 3rd row seats. Quick to change from one to the other.
    Gas tank is good size, on our trips when we go in two vans (Grand Voyager) we need to fill up less frequently.
    Anyways my wife likes the van and as they say "ain't mama happy, ain't nobody happy".

  • Three years ago we purchased a new Chevy Venture. After 38,000 miles the brakes went without warning. There was no squealing or other whining noises that you would expect when brakes are wearing out. Instead the brakes ground heavily into the rotors causing a lot of damage and giving us a hefty repair bill. The back brake cylinders were also leaking. Calling GM and the dealer hasn't done any good they just said tough its considered wear and tear who cares if the brakes totally failed and you could have been in an accident. Has anyone else had any experience with brakes doing this on a Venture?

    Other than a couple of beaters in college I've always purchased GM vehicles. This was the last. Anyone want to buy a used Venture?

  • dirkdaddydirkdaddy Posts: 313
    I would put money on the issue being the strut / strut mount / bushings. GM Front Wheel Drive vehicles have had this sort of issue for a while. It really doesn't typically harm anything, but it is noticeable. In negotiating a parking garage maze I can feel a slight resistance at some points of the steering, but its something I don't even feel anymore.

    FYI, there was also a steering rack recall on some models.

  • dirkdaddydirkdaddy Posts: 313
    I have a '98 Olds extended, and that is about the normal life of brakes in urban driving. Its a fairly heavy van with automatic and drum rear brakes, so the front do a LOT of the work. I trashed a set of rotors and pads in less than 18 months, so now I have the guaranteed for life rotors/pads as these vehicles go through them, at least on teh front.

    To keep the rears adjusted, use the parking brake, it will cure a sagging pedal in my experience.

    recommendation is to check the brakes every 20-25k. The fact you didn't hear the brakes is not really an excuse for a regular maintenance item. Replacing the pads and rotors is not that expensive is it, compared to a replacement vehicle?

  • The repair bill came to $936 for rotors and pads. The rear brake cylinders were also leaking. I'm not surprised that the brakes were wearing out. I am surprised that I did not get the squealing noise before the brakes ate into the rotors. I've never seen this happen on any other vehicle I've owned. $900 on brakes every couple of years is pretty steep in my opinion.

  • maytummaytum Posts: 9
    I figured it out....
    the battery I put in was of lower cranking amps - it was the only size the store had in stock at that time. since wondering about the VCR issue, my wife had the van not start twice & had to get a jump, both times. so I took the battery out & took it back, then discovered there was a higher cranking amp battery available - this time they had it in stock, so I traded the old one in. The van & VCR now run fine. I am assuming the electronics was saying - 'I need all of the amps to crank over the engine, so I am going to blow the VCR fuse, starting the engine is more important than the VCR" -sound logical?
    the VCR & everything else seems to work well...
    now that the vacations are over for the year...
    any comments anyone?
  • Actually, the problem was that the battery was not supplying enough volts. The VCR needs a certain amount of power, essentially Volts times Amps. Since the volts were low, additional current (Amps) was required. The fuse "measures" amps and thus blew.
  • dirkworkdirkwork Posts: 210
    >The repair bill came to $936 for rotors and pads. The rear brake cylinders were also leaking. I'm not surprised that the brakes were wearing out. I am surprised that I did not get the squealing noise before the brakes ate into the rotors. I've never seen this happen on any other vehicle I've owned. $900 on brakes every couple of years is pretty steep in my opinion.

    Wow, that's incredible amount of cash for a brake job! Good gosh, is that normal? I do my own so I'm not familiar with shop prices, but I can get guaranteed USA made rotors for about $50 each, and the high-end guaranteed for life semi-metalic performace pads are - lets say $30. Rear cylinders require a rear tear-down to replace, but the parts are only going to be probably $50 for both. Even if you replaced both front calipers, parts would only be an additional $100 max.

    I know its all labor, but a brake job on this vehicle is no different than about any modern car, it just flat out ain't that involved. If you got new struts with your brakes, maybe I could see the price. I'd think about complaining about price gauging to the owner if you got some quotes from other shops for same thing.

    If you live near me, I'll do your next one for that much money! :~)









  • n7donn7don Posts: 188
    I bought a set of reconditioned injectors for our 98 Montana from this outfit.
    Approx net cost was $150
    You have to take off the upper intake plenum to get to the injectors. If you are a DIYer that would be a good time to replace the thermostat. Much easier to get at with the upper plenum off.
  • Wipers will work at only one speed. When turned off, they will not come back on until the ignition key is turned off and back on. They were working fine until we had unrelated work done on the engine. However, the wipers were disconnected for this procedure. We have sprayed the electrical connection with contact spray unplugging and then plugging again several times. Think this is a little different from other problems I've seen with wipers on the forum. Thanks for any ideas.
  • dirkworkdirkwork Posts: 210
    Dad and I have a neat tool for fuel injector testing. Its a FI testor and what it does is put a nice pressure gauge on the fuel rail port and then a electronic box hooks up to the injector plug. You pressurize the fuel rail by turning on the ignition (but not cranking motor) and letting the electric fuel pump get everything pressurized. Then, you send some pulses to fire the injector and meaure the drop in pressure on the gauge. If an injector is partially clogged it won't release as much fuel, so the pressure will drop less. Baseline all injectors and you will likely see the ones that are bad and you can only replces those. Pretty neat. Usually its the idle that is most difficult for a bad injector, those small pulses are tough for dirty injectors.

    Also use good Shell gasoline and you will have less trouble :~)

  • Have same problem. Body shop did work unrelated to wipers, but apparently temp. disconnected them. Will only work on 'high' now, and body shop isn't helping.... I hope someone has some suggestions for both of us !
  • At sometime, my 2004 Montana has evidently been cleaned or treated with a product that left streaks down the Charcoal body cladding from the chemical runoff.
    So far, I have tried acid wash, many cleaners, wheel cleaners, abrasive polishes, chemical polishes, the list is quite extensive. I have take it to detail shops and my dealer and the only solution they can come up with is to refinish it. If that truly is the only solution, then I will do that next spring.
    But, since some product caused this staining, why can't I use the same product to stain all the cladding evenly? I just want it to be all the same color and I'm not too particular which color that might be.
    I will try to post a picture that really makes the streaks stand out. It does not look nearly that bad when you look at the vehicle.
    Anyone have any suggestions?

  • Hi:
    It's been 5 days and noone has posted a gripe about their Montana. They must either be getting better or everyone just gave up. ;)
    Actually, I was posting to be sure the forum hadn't gone dead. 5 days with no posts is not like any other forums I visit.

  • ClairesClaires Chicago areaPosts: 1,221
    Hi, charlesew,

    Since everyone here is apparently out admiring their Montanas, you might want to bring your question to the folks in the Paint & Body Maintenance & Repair discussion -- they're likely to have answers for you.


    Need help getting around? - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

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