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Pontiac GTO Strut Problems



  • eliaselias Posts: 2,147
    To be clear, the tire-wear issue occurred quickly for my 05.
    Luckily I noticed it at 15000 miles, just before the front inner edges had worn through to the belts.
    And just in time to rotate the tires side-to-side and get 25k out of the factory set.
    Also, pontiac insisted on paying for the re-alignment at 15k.
  • I will agree with all counts on this car being one of the most enjoyable to drive, in combination with interior and road comfort.

    Th obvious design flaws are there. The first GTO should have looked like the 06 from the vented hood to the larger tire and rims as standard equipment. VDO and Oil omission is just idiocy to me in a performance car.

    But over-all build (The Commodore) is very good. Paint looks better than average
    and the interior is a real selling point (especially for those who expected the new
    GTO to look more progressive-retro in it's comeback)

    My son came down from Nashville this past week. He is doing a ground up custom on an S-10. I showed him the car (which he had never paid much attention to after seeing it's debut in MT) His first response was, "that's a nice looking car." (as if to attempt a polite compliment to something that didn't really knock his socks off).

    I said, "it's time to drive it" and gave him the keys. He opened the door and his eyes got wide. He said nothing, then sat in the drivers seat and turned the key.
    He perked up and tuned into the car. From then on, his opinion changed about what this car was.The first impressions were obvious. No Overdrive tranny ! 4 speed automatic? This IS your dad's GTO. Where are the oil and VDO gauges?

    Then the conversation moved to the suspension debacle. For him, not a big problem to fix. He is a born mechanic and spontaneous engineer but he couldn't believe that GM could royally screw up the way they did and try to ignore it.

    For as much as he liked the car, he said that for someone like me who has to depend on finding the right mechanic to do the work and pay the price, he would almost get rid of the headache and get a Honda or something.

    That remark didn't surprise me. It's coming from a mechanic who has seen the reality in the cost of owning hi-po cars...even when you are not modding them and just correcting stupid manufacturer mistakes. He was also being my protective son.

    And then...what about a trade for a car in the same price range? How do you know the repairs won't be just as bad? When you at the point where you have put just the necessities in the car and you have another 50% to go, you start to get real cautious about what you spend. Do I trade it now or spend the extra money
    that I will never get back...and will that just be the end of that and on to more?

    So, my car rides much better and all bt passed the pencil test. The strut is still the OEM design with the cup at the bottom and that is the only remaining problem besides rear coils. But that job for the front will cost me in excess of 2 grand.

    Were this not my everyday car, I wouldn't be so stressed about it but you never feel comfortable about knowingly riding in an unsafe car.
  • xtranaut,
    i purchased the pedders rub kit, and its first rate. i have the instructions, and unless your going to replace the struts, you don't have to compress the springs. the work will be done this w/e. although the car is almost 4 years old, it only has 11k miles on the odo, and the tires are almost worn, partly due to the rought pavement in south florida and partially due to heavy throttle foot, and yes, i have the dreaded inner tread wear on the passenger side. still, overall, a low tech repair, and one which is do it yourself friendly, not like an electronic, fuel inj etc. problem. i also just orded new tires, bf goodrich g force sport (summer) . they were about the least expensive tires i was willing to pu on the car, and hopefully, once the alignment is done next week, will last. rr70
  • Yes, the rub kit is quality stuff and gives me peace of mind that the strut isn't going to shift all over the place. The oem bushings, bearings, all matters of strut tower mount, including the shocks, were MAJOR TOAST and this car was driven easy by a woman for 16k miles. I didn't the expect the shocks to be gone (you couldn't budge the piston and there was no oil left to leak) and frankly, I am surprised that the people who did the job weren't actually prepared for that to happen, so the only alternative for me at the moment (if i wanted to leave that day) was to put MONROE SENSATRAC struts and shocks on. To be a non-performance shock, they are surprisingly rough and translate lots of the pavement into the car. Stiff I do not mind but I really do not like sacrificing ride quality for even handling. The car was aligned and within Pedders specs to solve the strut rub problem -- although it still did not leave me a pencil thickness between the bottom of the strut and the inside of my tire. I will put this out there again and maybe you can address this -- A drift racer told me that he solves this problem all the time by heating the outside flange of that cup and knocking it in about 5 mm with a ball hammer. He says it does not hurt anything and keeps the tire from hitting the strut under adverse conditions.
  • eliaselias Posts: 2,147
    i understand something called 'cradle alignment' is required after certain kinds of suspension work such as the pedders/slight-drop i am considering.

    xtranaut as for your comment about knowingly riding in a car that is unsafe, DON'T DO IT, dude. but you may have a different definiton of unsafe than i do, and I've been a VOLVO owner/driver too. Consider a Volvo if you want to max out on safety, dude. Anyway, seems like you are repairing your car's suspension properly. IMHO there is no evidence of these vehicles being unsafe generally or even specifically in your case. They have suspension quirks and a bunch of other little quirks too. It's low-tech stuff and it is not unsafe. I haven't heard of anyone being hurt even if they didn't realize that inspecting their tires more often than once every 15k is a crucial idea, and ended up driving on a belts-visible/shredding tire like I almost did.
    i'm betting the car is remarkably stable even with shredded/popped tires but am careful to check inner edges every 1000 miles. Your drifting pal might know - he may have shredded a few tires along the way!
  • If there was a special alignment other than a normal front-rear align, no one ever mentioned it. Perhaps I can sound a little dramatic when discussing this but I believe that anytime a manufacturer knowingly puts a car on the market with potentially life-threatening defects, designs, or materials, they are criminally negligent.

    Just because we never hear of the ones that were killed or injured because they were cruising at 75 when their tire popped, doesn't mean the issue is diminshed or that the manufacturerer has any less responsibility.

    I have read where some GTO owners have been met with offers of generosity from dealerships to willingly re-align for free. I have never heard of any offering to replace all the junk OEM parts and struts.

    In my experience, after trying two Pontiac dealerships and one being the place where the car was originally purchased, I have only talked to service managers who say they have never heard of such a problem and if no bulletins or recalls were ever issued by GM, they are not obligated to do anything but will charge me $100.00 to check the problem out.

    I don't believe the average driver checks much of anything every 1000 miles. Most drivers barely ever remember to change oil and rotate tires. I know hi-po drivers are the exception but if a dealer actually sold you a new car with that caveat, ("by the way, don't forget to check the inner tire wear every 1000 miles because the tires could shred and explode") you might think twice about buying it and move on to the car with no disclaimed suspicion.

    Let us not forget the fatalities that had to occur even before the NHSTA
    would make any moves in examples like The Audi sticking gas pedals and and Pinto igniting gas tanks..

    After five deaths, TOYOTA recalled 3.8 million Prius for a floor mat interference with the gas pedal design that caused the pedal to stick. Now if it were not for that being an admitted design flaw, people could easily dismiss this as :that isn't the automaker's fault..drivers should move their car mats or not use them"

    I guess my real sense of alarm comes from so many GTO owners who have driven their cars way past the life expectancy of tires, bushings and struts that do not even know, or have never heard, about the tire-strut issue. I see them everyday on message boards asking, "what's this I hear...?" or "why is my suspension gone and my tires showing steel belts..?"

    I will be glad to talk about this with anyone who wants but I think that I probably have P.O.d some folks, for whatever reason. My opinions have been well expressed and are from my personal experiences in attempting to get solid answers and solutions but I will put that to rest now.

    Thanks especially to those who helped me. Mike with Pedders and the folks at Fastlane
  • i installed the new bushings, the old ones were severly crushed. and replaced the bearings and also installed the front radius arm solid bushings. new tires and another alighnment. the car feels brand new, no drift, no following the seam in the pavement. the job was not that difficult and i would recommend anyone with the original bushings and radious arm front fluid filled bushings to etiher do the job yourself or have it done.

    you need a few special tools. the most important would be the tool to hold the strut when you loosen and tighten the nuts. i used a small pipe wrench. you also need a 24 mm box wrench.

    the guys at pedders where great to work with and were very helpful.

  • Glad it all worked out. Did you notice the improvements with your braking?

  • eliaselias Posts: 2,147
    my local GMC/ex-Pontiac dealership says they would install Pedders parts for me but will not warranty the labor.
    That seems unacceptable to me - so my GTO awaits the logistics of getting to one of the two nearest Pedders shops.

    xtranaut, you can probably get a nice price selling/trading your GTO for one of the Priuses you inappropriately mention.
    yes it sure is annoying/inappropriate for anyone to compare GTO struts/bushings/alignment with the vast set of issues with Toyotas recently, To compare like that is to imply wrongly that there has been a nonzero number of GTO owner injury due to the suspension weebling/wobbling.

    99 44/100% of GTOs are far out of warranty now and obviously it's time for all the owners to swap out the wacky GM suspension parts and swap in aftermarket parts.
  • First thing to do is to stabilize the front. The problem areas are the front strut bushings which may no longer be able to saupport the strut shaft in the center, which causes all kinds of strut movement, which affects inside tire wear and excess toe change. The strut bearings should be replaced at the same time due to their design. Also0 there is a 95% chance your bump stops are cut and damaged. Then you should replace the fluid filled front radius rod bushings. These bushings allow upwards of 2 inches of movement fore/aft on your tires, thus causing significant toe changes.

    Pedders Tire rub pakcage addresses all of these concerns.

    Now there are alignments, and then there are the alignments that meet specs, but have the attitiude of "set the toe and let it go!!.

    A really great set of specs for front camber is -.3 degrees. This still give you great street handling, but reduces tire wear. Make sure you have at least a pencil width (1/4 inch) clearance between the tire and the strut.

    For performance reasons, we like to see the toes at .05 degrees at each wheel
  • xtranautxtranaut Posts: 27
    edited February 2010
    Elias, I don't know how I could be inappropriate by making a point that ANY manufacturers negligence, whether or not it results in injuries or death, has the potential to do so and is, none-the-less, knowingly wrongful. (please don't tell me they didn't know what they did when we all know this was a cheap way to get a classic nameplate back on the market) GM was aware of the tie-down transport issues afterward and very aware that they used Tonka toy parts (Opel) in a tank-weight car with no redesign modifications in the front end. (The GTO should have been the G-8)

    It is easy to paint a typical scenario where these problems in the Pontiac GTO occur when they are "out of warranty" to make it appear that GTO owners should be expecting absurd incidences to occur (like having their tires shred and their strut towers collapse).

    I don't know how any consumer could possibly defend the idea that the manufacturer doesn't own substantial liability, or at the very least, acknowledgment of a problem that usually shows itself within the 5 to 10k miles - way before any warranty is out.

    I have read where many New GTO owners have had their cars repaired by dealers for the strut-tire rub issue without question although GM never officially acknowledged this as the widespread, inherent problem that it was in all these cars. Clearly, how dealers treated this problem was on a case by case basis.

    At best, these repairs were done with the same crappy parts GM chose to put in the car that caused the problem in the first place so it wasn't really a fix at all.

    I am as satisfied as I can be with the Pedders strut-rub package and everything was done by a certified Pedders installer. I won't know the actual effectiveness of the fix until I can see how my tires wear over a period of time. I would hope that I can get more than 10k out of a set of Eagle GTs.! (there is another thing I will not accept - getting short life out of a 50k miles tire)

    I will tell you that even though this shop was authorized to do the Pedders installation and was advised to go spec by spec, the alignment was not on spec and there is still not a pencil thickness between the strut cup and the tire. Hey but what can I do about that? After it was done, I couldn't even get a call back about that concern.

    I enjoy driving the GTO but honestly, my car was physically perfect and had 16k miles on it when I bought it. That is less than 3500 miles a year for a five year old car...and the tires were worn and cupped and the front suspension shot - struts were dry, rubber gone, bushings rotted. YOU tell me if that what you consider acceptable and reasonable when Pontiac dealers look at you like you are from Mars when YOU tell THEM ABOUT THE ISSUE, hoping they will at least be a little sympathetic, if not take some responsibility - but they don't.

    So how much money do you put into a loosing proposition when all you bargained for was a great, low miles, performance car to have fun driving while doing regular oil changes?

    My 04 is worth about 10k wholesale. My son rides a bike that cost more than that.
    I would much rather have had some choice as to how to frivolously burn 2 grand into my car than poly-bushings and new struts ... headers..blower...something.

    So i hope you see my point - and if you look at the date on my post you will see
    that my reference to Prius problems was prior to this most recent. But it doesn't matter. What "has" caused and is "likely to" cause injury is just a matter of time.

    Ride safe. Be happy.
  • eliaselias Posts: 2,147
    hello xtranaut.

    I too am evaluating the same trade-off you evaluated -
    whether to sink the /time$ into suspension work and getting to Pedders shop.

    It would be easier to trade the vehicle for one that could be fully serviced locally at one of the 900 car dealerships/shops so conveniently close.

    And the bargains/customer-cash on new GMs are amazing/tempting - you can't swing a cat without getting $8000 off a new GM vehicle.

    The appropriateness of mentioning Toyota's fiasco in context of GTO strut/alignment & shredding tires is a subjective viewpoint over which we agree to differ.
    So far nary a hang-nail or stubbed toe has resulted from GTOs having alignment issues after their long boat-ride and oddball front suspension.
    Each person can be their own judge and compare nary a stubbed toe for GTO owners to 30+ fatalities for recent Toyotas.

    As i said originally, inspecting tires is responsibility of owner, and I was a surprised shocked slacker when my GTO front tires inner edges were gone at 15k! The local ex-Pontiac dealer and the factory peoples treated me fine and fixed the issue, on Pontiac's dime.
    I hope you enjoy any future miles with your GTO, xtranaut sir.
    Keep the shiny side up!
  • elias, i did the pedders tire rub pack on my own car. any decent and experienced shade tree mechanic can do the work. then you get it aligned. if you are in south florida, let me know and perhaps we can work something out. otherwise its still worth paying a shop to do the work. rr70
  • i drive so little, that i can't say the braking feels a lot better. but, on the other hand, the steering and handling is much better. i would recommend the upgrade to anyone who has a gto.rr70
  • eliaselias Posts: 2,147
    1970roadrunner, thank you , I made the same choice last week and a full pedders kit is on order for installation by the authorized Pedders pro in NH, front, rear, muffler bearings, everything.
    It will need new rear rotors too - they have excessive runout and under medium-braking the steering wiggles ridiculously via the loose radius/diameter/tangent rods.
  • xtranautxtranaut Posts: 27
    At what speeds does your steering wiggle? Is it like a very fine jitter? I have had four different road force balances, checked for bent rims, out of round in new tires, everything and still a fine shake in the wheel at higher speed around 7o to 80. This isn't associated with braking though Think rotors could be a problem causing this situation on my GOAT. The car has less than 20k on it

    I do have a weird occurrence when I back out of the garage...on the first roll back, there is a noise like the car is rolling over hard ribbed is definitely something you can feel but I can't tell where it is coming from. ???

    If you don't mind, Elias, share a list of the things outside the strut rub kit that you ordered to put your ca in shape with Pedders...and how much extra did that run you?
  • eliaselias Posts: 2,147
    As long as i'm not braking there is no wiggle - the car is absurdly smooth/stable at any speed including 70/80 and waaay beyond. That's one of the reasons I like it so much.
    The steering wiggle is not speed-dependent - it seems dependent entirely on the amount of braking force and/or the relative amount of energy being disappated by the brakes.
    Under hard braking, it doesn't happen.
    Under light braking, it doesn't happen.
    Only under medium-braking it happens. And it's not a small wiggle/shake - it gets progressively worse over time. Machining the brake rotors makes it go away for a while, but not for long.
    When the rotors are wet, it's REALLY bad.

    re the rollback out of garage thing, hmm... 2 thoughts. could it be the initial ABS-test/diagnostic occurring? Or could it be the typical flatspotting of the tires that you are feeling after car is parked for a long while?
    Does it happen if you roll back in neutral as opposed to in-gear, in case you
    can arrange that test safely?

    Re my pedders order.
    I've apparently never had any issues with strut-rub on my car - even when the alignment was wacky with negative-camber - we looked at the struts but no sign of rub. "a miss is as good as a mile". Possibly the absence of strut-rub is because I have the 17" wheels rather than 18" .

    Also my goal with Pedders was not merely to stablize the front suspension - the kit for that runs about $428. I went for the "GTO street 2" kit with 20mm drop, listed for $1830.

    btw, many GTO rear springs are worn out by now too. check your GTO ride height - it is probably sagging below factory spec - there should be an inch or two between top of tire and fender. (Possibly the rear springs sagged more quickly as another result of the long boat-ride from australia, with suspensions compressed the whole way. )
  • eliaselias Posts: 2,147
    also to answer your specific question, xtranaut. YES I think that rotor runout could be a possible contributor to the steering shake - should be easy for the shop to check that - also it's cheap to machine the rotors so runout is zero and/or within-spec.

    what is the max number and max weight of the wheel weights the
    dealer has on each wheel? if there are lots of big weights on there,
    that is a bad sign about the wheel/tire combo - maybe not truly balancable.

    a possible thing to try is to rotate the wheels front to back.

    also i would bet a dollar that a set of 4 new tires on 4 new wheels will solve the problem. that's an expensive test though! :|

    My last guess is DRIVESHAFT or U-joints, especially given the speed that you report the issue at. The resonant frequency of many cars can be triggered at those highway speeds, due to a driveshaft that is just barely out of balance.
    I understand that past Z28s and current camaro SS have some "driveshaft vibe" issues.
    However a car's resonant frequency is probably much lower than the frequency of the jitter in your steering wheel but maybe the jitter is a harmonic of the car's resonant frequency.

    ps - there's a thing called a vibration analyzer that the dealer can mount
    in the car and see full graphs & spectrum analysis of all vibrations in the car - analysis of those graphs may prove helpful.
  • eliaselias Posts: 2,147
    just got pedders 2-cm street-drop full package installed. it fixed the wild-shake-under-medium-braking and WOW did it improve the handling/ride. THUMBS UP!
  • dmsdesigndmsdesign Posts: 18
    Glad you are happy. It is amazing the transformation it does.

This discussion has been closed.