Edmunds dealer partner, Bayway Leasing, is now offering transparent lease deals via these forums. Click here to see the latest vehicles!

Pontiac Vibe Engine Questions

PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Member Posts: 9,372
Having an issue under the hood of your Vibe? This is the place to work out a solution.


  • jstant01jstant01 Member Posts: 65
    Hey all: I have a question about the Vibe's engine temp (base engine). This is the first Toyota motor I have owned, and I've noticed some differences about it from other GM and Ford products I have owned. I have a question about engine temperature.

    We had our first "blast" of winter in Michigan this morning, and I noticed that it took quite a while for my Vibe to reach normal operating temperature, compared to other cars I have owned. I also noticed that when I stopped at the gas station and left the car running while I was inside, when I came back out, the engine temperature gauge had dropped quite a bit, back down to about halfway where it was before. As soon as I pulled away, it quickly moved back up.

    Is this normal? Should I have the cooling system looked at? I haven't checked the coolant level since buying the car (June), so would low coolant cause this? I'm just curious. I've never seen a gauge drop like that in a car that is already at operating temperature except on days when it was maybe like -20 degrees with a fierce wind. It was only about 25 degrees above this morning. Any insight would be appreciated. Thanks!
  • maxx4memaxx4me Member Posts: 1,340
    well, I can only say that my Vibe takes a long time to warm up during the coldest winter months. Furthermore, since it is a Corolla, my old '89 Corolla took forever to warm up in the winter time. It was a chore just getting the guage to register at all on 20 minute or less trips. I would not sweat it as long as you can pop the hood and see that your coolant overflow jug has the proper amont of fluid in it. Happy Winter!
  • goodvibrationsgoodvibrations Member Posts: 14
    My guess is the thermostat just opened up to start circulating the antifreeze and in doing so cooled down the engine just a little. I would keep an eye on it but it certainly does not seem out of the ordinary.
  • jstant01jstant01 Member Posts: 65
    Thanks for the info. I checked the coolant and it was full, so it's probably nothing to worry about, like you say. Have a great Thanksgiving!
  • chuckb3chuckb3 Member Posts: 4
    I have a 2004 Vibe with about 30,000 miles on it. On a recent trip I noticed very thick exhaust smoke when passing another car. My automatic transmission kicked clear down into 2nd gear, which reved the engine to quite high RPMs. Thick, blue smoke came from the exhaust until the transmission shifted into third. Then, the smoking quit. This only happened once on the trip, but I never shifted into second but just that one time. Any ideas or similar experiences out there? I have noticed that when I change the engine oil and filter and put the 3.9 quarts (called out by the owner's manual) back in, the engine oil is overfilled according to the dip stick. Could that be the problem? The only other thing I can think of, based on experiences with older cars with automatic transmissions, is transmission fluid getting to the engine, but these new cars don't have vacuum operated modulator valves, which would seem to eliminate that possibility.
  • fear_hopefear_hope Member Posts: 90
    Isn't your car still under warranty? You should run to your dealer IMMEDIATELY for service! At the very least have them check it out and document your complaint and their findings in writing, and get a copy!
  • chuckb3chuckb3 Member Posts: 4
    I bought the car used, so no warranty. It was a rental out of Nampa, Idaho. I did talk to the local GM Dealer that sells Vibes, but their service department didn't have a clue. In fact, I needed to top off my transmission fluid, and the above-mentioned dealer didn't even stock the T-IV ATF the owner's manual recommends. I have a friend who is the service manager at a Toyota dealership in the next town, and I think that is the place to go. After the smoking episode the engine still sounds and runs great, but I will still have it checked out.
  • hmarhmar Member Posts: 15
    Am I mistaken in the impression that the powertrain warranty applies for the life of the warranty, regardless of whether it's currently owned by the original owner?
    I think it's just the bumper-to-bumper that's voided after it's re-sold.
  • chuckb3chuckb3 Member Posts: 4
    I was told by the dealer where I purchased the car that the only warranty I had was theirs and only if I had the car serviced there on their terms at three month service intervals, etc. regardless of how many miles I put on the car during each service interval. I figured it out, and I would probably have paid enough to replace the engine in about two years. As is the case with most dealers, I was probably lead down the proverbial garden path. I suspect I would need to contact GM (Pontiac) to get the truth. There are phone numbers in my owners manual. Thanks for the comments. Incidentally, I contacted my Toyota service manager friend and he said the problem was probably the overfill on the motor oil. I will contact GM and if I get no satisfaction there I will get the Vibe checked over by Toyota. The reason is, The local GM dealer seems to have no knowledge of the Vibe. The fact that they don't even stock the correct ATF was may first clue. My second clue was that they don't know the procedure to check the ATF.
  • hmarhmar Member Posts: 15
    I would echo what another user said and bring it to GM ASAP. According to Cars.com, Pontiac offers a 3 yr/ 36K powertrain warranty on its vehicles (strangely, Toyota offers a 5 yr/ 60K on theirs, even though Matrix and Vibe are the same, powertrain-wise).
    I looked at a 2004 Matrix at a non-Toyota dealer, and the powertrain warranty was in effect. Also, if you look at a CarFax report, you'll see that it estimates the remaining life on the warranty. As CarFax is a resource for buyers of used cars, why would it do this if the warranty was invalidated beyond the initial owner?
    Good luck with this, ChuckB - I'm sure a number of us are curious as to how this will turn out.
  • fear_hopefear_hope Member Posts: 90
    My last auto was a GM. I bought it with 24000K on it, used. I had quite a few things fixed on it under warranty. My daughter also bought a GM used, 18000K on it. She also had warranty work done. The GM factory warranty is good for 36000K, first owner or subsequent does not matter. Please take it back to a GM dealer. If not one in your immediate area to one further away. Call them first and tell them your problem so they will be expecting you. Be sure to have them document your complaint, even if they can't duplicate the problem. Get a copy; you can use it later if a problem develops out of warranty. GM should still honor it because it began while in warranty. Good luck, and let us know how things turn out.
  • chuckb3chuckb3 Member Posts: 4
    I really appreciate the input from all of you. My Vibe was, as I previously stated, a rental. It appeared to be in near-perfect condition. It is a 2004, but the rental agency took delivery in July 2003, so I don't have much time (July 06) or mileage (6,000 miles) left on the warranty. I will go to the local GM dealer and try to get some cooperation/documentation with regard to the exhaust smoke issue. I'll let you all know what happens. With regard to the low transmission fluid, I recommend everyone check their ATF level regardless of what the owner's manual says, mileage or age of your Vibe/Matrix. The consensus at the GM and Toyota dealers is that my ATF was low from the factory. The car doesn't leak a drop of any kind of fluid, and both dealers say that unless there are signs of leaks, fluid levels are not checked except per factory recommended time or mileage intervals. I added a quart of ATF to bring the level up, which is a lot considering the transmission capacity is only 3.2 quarts. The car was probably driven 30,000 miles a quart low. even though it still works well and the fluid looks/smells okay, I will get the transmission serviced immediately. FYI, My recent trip covered over 1100 miles and I averaged 32 mpg. The Vibe runs well and is a a joy to drive.
  • jstant01jstant01 Member Posts: 65
    Well, my 2005 Vibe finally refused to start for the first time today after work. Thank God for Pontiac Roadside Assistance which towed it to the dealer.

    For those of you who haven't read through the forums, I'm one of the guys with the mysterious "warm restart" issue on my 2005 Vibe. The car always starts great, except when the engine is warm (i.e. run into a store, come back out, car doesn't want to start).

    Well, today it didn't want to start period. Turned over fine, but the engine just would not catch. Maybe whatever's wrong will fix the warm restart problem also. I'll post what it is for others who have the same issue, if it fixes it.

    I have no confidence in "Toyota" reliability after my experiences with this car. I think next time I'll buy a Honda. I have no desire to give GM any business either. :lemon:
  • scrappydscrappyd Member Posts: 27
    Here is a link I found helpful. While my PV2005 is still under warranty I'm bringing this doc in to the Pontiac GMC dealer I'm working with and have each of these items checked. Though you have to order the TSB - if your lucky you can ask the shop mechanic at the dealership for the bullentin. Thanks for points on ATF.

    Here is the link:
    http://www.infotraxx.com/searchPublic.php?Year=2005&Make=PONTIAC&Model=VIBE&Subm- it=Find+TSBs

    I like my PV too..but I miss my Toyota. :)
  • scrappydscrappyd Member Posts: 27
    When I was shopping for a PV. I ended up getting the 05 PV. I test drove a used one that had the exact same issue you are describing. The dealer was gonna give me a "deal". I didn't get it but the svs mgr called me later and told me they tracked the problem to the battery. When a new one was installed when it went on their lot..the computer did not "reteach itself because the negative lead was removed". He said they had to call around several times to discover this issue. He's the one that instructed me to this web site to find other issues. At least I know what I might be in store for. I miss my Toyota. The Vibe was concieved by GMC and built (by GMC) to Toyota assembly stds (by GMC) with Toyota comp.at at joint GM/Toy assembly plant. I wouldn't give up Toyota just yet. Hope this may help. Let us know. :confuse:
  • jstant01jstant01 Member Posts: 65
    Well, you guys aren't going to believe this one. My car has been infiltrated by "rodents" - probably chipmunks. I live in the country surrounded by fields with lots of critters...

    Anyhow, this is the second time this has happened. A check engine light about a month ago was traced to a "chewed through" crankcase harness, which they replaced under warranty. However, they told me then that they wouldn't cover anything else attributable to the rodents.

    Well, the reason it wouldn't start is because the pests chewed through the entire crankcase harness and then some, so they're still trying to figure it out - on my bill. It appears my insurance company is going to cover it - or at least some of it, however, but I'll be without a car for more than a week. They have to take out the alternator and the radiator to get to the crankcase wiring harness apparently.

    I've lived in the same place for 15 years, and although I have seen some minor evidence of rodents being in my vehicles in the past (chewed nut casings, etc.), this is the first car that they've done this kind of damage too. Unbelievable. :cry:

    I told myself on the one hand I should be happy, since now it appears I don't have a lemon - I just have pesky animal neighbors! But it sucks royally having to go through this, and I sure hope they find and replace everything they've destroyed and get everything put back together correctly. The dealer's been real good about it, which is amazing, considering how most dealer's are less than sympathetic about these kind of things.

    So, word to the wise. If you live in the country or in a rodent-prone area - BEWARE! I'm still trying to figure out what I'm going to do to keep them out of the car when I get it back. Any ideas? I'm thinking about parking over a tarp covered with mothballs... :surprise:
  • herzogtum71herzogtum71 Member Posts: 470
    The people who used to live next door had squirrels chew through something that caused their car to not start. It happened only once to my knowledge. In colder weather the rodents are attracted to the warmth of the engine, and in this case the squirrels had actually built a nest in the engine compartment, using pieces of the hood insulation as nesting material. I don't think they did anything after the damage had been repaired except maybe look under the hood more often. Maybe you could try putting a bird feeder and suet feeder in your yard. We have both, and the squirrels and chipmunks are just as likely as the birds to dine there. The idea is to give the critters something more attractive to feast upon than wires in your engine compartment.
  • scrappydscrappyd Member Posts: 27
    Wow! Last week a speeder hit a grey cat and it crawled it's way to leave the land ending up under my 2 day old PV engine..My dad said cats and rodents will seek shelter of cars. I thought it was an urban myth! So after reading the last messages. I googled it since with all our rain and storms in TX we've had an increase of little critters around this area seeking under porch etc shelter. Here were 2 links I thought helpful -


    Mouse Away provides all natural rodent control - made with our exclusive formula that combines pure Peppermint Oil with pure Spearmint Oil in just the right combination to provide maximum repellency. Mouse Away does not harm rodents (mice) at all - they simply hate the smell and move away ASAP. These Essential Oils of Peppermint and Spearmint smell so wonderful that it seems almost a shame to use them for chasing away mice and other rodents but, Mouse Away WORKS. Our friends who live in the high mountains had a terrible problem with mice eating the wiring harness in their car. They tried everything with no luck but, finally, they gave our Mouse Away a try. They just sprinkled it around under their hood and two days later - no more mice. Also, we've sold quite a bit to folks living in the Bronx - so it works on big city rodent problems too. We've had customers who use it in cars, campers, houses, basements, kitchens, warehouses, farms, barns, etc. (one farmer in Maine buys a 5 gal. pail each year).
    Note: don't get Mouse Away Concentrate or Mouse Away Spray on painted, varnished or other finished surfaces or on plastic.


    [holds a home remedy note at the bottom - for the cars]

    I was told moth balls help too..but since we live in a "bird protected area" we're not allowed to put them out...odd cause pest chemicals are okay.

    I guess forewarned is forearmed! :blush:
  • cybersaurusrexcybersaurusrex Member Posts: 7
    Does anyone know if the Vibe/Matrix Engine Options have a Timing Belt or a Timing Chain or does it depend on which engine you have? I have attempted to extract this info from GM. They haven't responded yet.

    I am assuming that a Timing Chain would last much longer than a Timing Belt, but I would hope this would start an interesting discussion. ;)
  • mikey00mikey00 Member Posts: 462
    It has a chain, no belt. No maintenance required.
  • jstant01jstant01 Member Posts: 65
    Hello everyone:

    I thought I remembered reading in this Forum that GM had issued a TSB for the 05 Vibe regarding the warm restart problem. I did a search and found information about a Toyota TSB for the Matrix, but that's different.

    Anyone know what the TSB was or where I can get it? I took the Toyota one in several months ago and the dealer ignored it. They aren't interested in "non-GM" TSBs.

    It may have been in another Forum where I read about the GM TSB. If I remember correctly, the fix involved changing the Powertrain or Engine Control Module, or perhaps reflashing the software?

    Any help would be appreciated. I'm near the end of my warranty and want to get this problem fixed before my warranty is up. Thanks!
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Member Posts: 9,372
    I've been doing some digging and found reference to a TSB #05-06-04-074. Can't find a copy of the TSB itself yet, but it's about the "hot soak starting issue" with the 2005 Vibe and from what I can gather, involved replacing the PCM.

    Here's a link that might help you as well.
  • jstant01jstant01 Member Posts: 65
    Thanks! I appreciate the help. Just having the number will be helpful, and I also remember it relating to "hot soak starting issue." Edmunds rocks! :-)
  • jb14jb14 Member Posts: 2
    Seeing that it is a Corolla and seeing no warning labels on the actual fill bottle and noticing it is Toyota Red, and also assuming that since it comes from the same factory as the Corolla (California) why does the owner's manual say to fill it with orange Dex-Cool? Generic owner's manual for Chev/Gms? I have found several documents on the web saying that the Vibe is not a Dex-Cool car in that it is a Toyota engine etc. Thoughts?
  • mikey00mikey00 Member Posts: 462
    Vibe is not Toyota Long Life Red. It is actually Toyota Ultra Long Life Pink, same as Corolla. Toyota red goes back a few years. Dex-Cool is more of an orange color and it is also a ultra long life coolant and very compatible with the Toyota Ultra long life pink. The Vibe owners manual is a GM manual and thus the suggestion for Dex-Cool which will work fine. When it is time for a coolant change in my Vibe I think I will pick up some Toyota Ultra Long Life Pink just to keep using the same stuff.
  • jb14jb14 Member Posts: 2
    you are 100% correct. Thats what I discovered at the Toyota dealer upon investigation. I will be servicing the car at Toyota since underneath that is what it is. The GM manual just says Dex-Cool becuase thats what GM sells.
  • mrcoltmrcolt Member Posts: 4
    I found a site that's selling the full text of TSBs for even cheaper than Infotraxx. The posted price is just $2 for each individual TSB, which is the cheapest price online. The website is at http://www.iamsam.com/tsb.aspx
  • maxx4memaxx4me Member Posts: 1,340
    My 2003 Vibe AWD is losing around 2 quarts per oil change. There is absolutely no external leak, and I have not noticed any smoke out the back end. Am I dealing with leaky rings, and if so, how much would it cost me? Second, with the oil mysteriously disapearing somewhere, is it difficult for a mechanic to trace the source? Thanks in advance.
  • n2hon2ho Member Posts: 5
    There are no miracles. How do you know that there are no external leaks? Did anybody lifted the car and made inspection? What is your oil change interval?
    Two quarts is about a half of your oil change, and it's not a small oil consumption IMO.
  • maxx4memaxx4me Member Posts: 1,340
    I do all my own oil changes with Mobil 1 at 6,000 mile intervals. I routinely crawl in and under my cars, so I would spot a leak if there was one. You are correct: this is an alarming amount of oil.
  • mikey00mikey00 Member Posts: 462
    Are you sure it's not leaking into your coolant?
  • maxx4memaxx4me Member Posts: 1,340
    no I'm not sure; how can one tell?
  • gurabitagurabita Member Posts: 3
    :cry: Why is it that there is anyone in this forum. I someimes have questions about my 2005 Vibe but I dont see anyone here.
  • gurabitagurabita Member Posts: 3
    Has anyone had any major problems with their vibe? I have read about people having problems with stuff. :sick:
  • mikey00mikey00 Member Posts: 462
    Just check the coolant overflow tank. With the amount of oil you are using you should have an oily mess in there, if thats the problem.
  • maxx4memaxx4me Member Posts: 1,340
    Thanks mikey00; I was hoping you were going to say that. At last check, it was still Toyota pink !! I'll stick my head back under there when the car returns tonight to do a smell and visual check of the solution inside the overflow jug.
    Looking into the future, if there are no external leaks (and there are none), and if there is no oily slime floating around in my coolant reservoir, can I start assuming it is the rings, or are there other possibilities?

    gurabita: I am one long time Corolla fan who is disgusted with the Vibe. It has been said by many before that it is the worst car to come out of Nummi and I could not agree more. The problems have been too numerous to list here. Mechanically, it has been reasonably sound until my Houdini disappearing oil trick. It certainly was the worst purchase I've made in quite some time. I'll run it into the ground and then it has an appointment with the bottom of a cliff. ;)
  • maxx4memaxx4me Member Posts: 1,340
    OK, what does that mean?? I pulled up a sample of coolant, and it looks tobacco colored. I had my antifreeze flushed out last year, so the color is very bad. What is the fix for this, and what damage am I causing to my engine?
  • cdamechcdamech Member Posts: 31
    This could mean that Oil is leaking into your cooling system. Check the color of your Oil, is it coffee (tobacco) colored? That means Coolant is leaking into your Oil compartment. If Coolant into Oil, this must be resolved immediately as you will have Engine damage. This could be due to a thin engine head gasket in the Engine between Oil and Coolant sections.
    I have not heard of Toyota engines having this problem. However, I did hear of GM 3.4 V6 engine (GM Minivans 1997 - 2004)problems where a thin gasket and DEXCOOL ate into the Gasket near the intake manifold causing coolant to get into Engine Oil compartment. Have it resolved ASAP.

    I also know that some were successful in using Coolant LEAK Material to prevent Coolant leaking to Oil side. It may not work if Oil is leaking to Coolant side.

    Have you been using GM DEXCOOL instead of Toyota coolant? DEXCOOL is know to eat into Gaskets.

    This may mean a engine head gasket replacement and using only Toyota coolant for Toyota engines going forward.

    Comments from others?
  • maxx4memaxx4me Member Posts: 1,340
    thanks cdamech. I think I have coolant in my brain. The oil consumption turned out to be nothing more than the PCV valve. I was burning up to 2 quarts per oil change. The junk in the radiator.... a mystery. Thanks very much for your writeup. Indeed I am using regular coolant in the Vibe. No Dexcool came in these cars. Thanks again for taking the time.
  • cdamechcdamech Member Posts: 31
    So you had a defective PCV that did not return Oil to the Oil compartment and burned it. So is it normal by replacing a $10 to $15 PCV valve? I am interested in the quality of the Vibe Engine to see if it is truely a Toyota engine equivalent to Matrix and Corolla.

    What has been your experience?
  • maxx4memaxx4me Member Posts: 1,340
    I have heard the PCV valve story from other people as well: 2-3 quarts lost between oil changes. I still cannot fathom why I did not see smoke or smell a heavy oil odor coming from the tail pipe if the oil was getting burned instead of recycled? I'm also wondering what effect this had on the catalytic converter.
    As for the Vibe, it has been a fit and finish nightmare; very disappointing coming from Nummi. However, I believe the Vibe's engine is essentially a late 90's Corolla design, and I don't expect troubles from those good production year power plants.
  • maxx4memaxx4me Member Posts: 1,340
    cdamech: I'm back to square one. Just when I thought the PCV valve solved my problem, I'm down oil again and my newly replaced coolant is all full of junk again. So again, I have oil getting into the coolant. You said coolant getting into the engine oil was serious; how about the reverse?
  • maxx4memaxx4me Member Posts: 1,340
    I'm taking it into my mechanic tomorrow. He thinks (on paper) it might be an oil cooler problem. He is going to call someone to find out if the Vibe has one of these. Otherwise, I'm hoping the fact that oil is giong into the coolant is not catestrophic, like coolant going into the engine.
  • mikey00mikey00 Member Posts: 462
    I'm guessing by now your mechanic and you found out the Vibe does not have a oil cooler. He will most likely pressure test the cooling system to see if there is a leak between it and the oil system. Could be a head gasket.
  • maxx4memaxx4me Member Posts: 1,340
    good calls there mickey00. My mechanic insisted all day long that there was nothing wrong with the car, and after I arrived to show the mechanic what I was seeing in the coolant, I was proven wrong. The greying color over the two months since the radiator was drained was mixing between the original Toyota pink, the first radiator service's Prestone Green, and my mechanics generic Orange coolant. The mixing of what colors remained behind from previous radiator drains was causing the grey color. As for the "oil," that was actually particulates from corrosion (82,000 miles) since the material was sinking to the bottom of the tube and not rising to the top like oil would. My mechanic stated that there also are no signs of a head gasket problem: smoke out the back or overheating. Therefore, my oil must be burning "naturally" with the catalytic converter doing its thing so I never see any smoke coming out the back end.
    I'll be curious if the car passes emissions next year, despite the lack of any visible smoke.

    Thanks as always for all your help.
  • mikey00mikey00 Member Posts: 462
    Still something wrong here. 2 quarts between oil changes for a Toyota engine with just 82,000 is far from normal. It might be worth it to hit some of the Corolla discussion groups for some ideas.
  • maxx4memaxx4me Member Posts: 1,340
    I agree. At 2 quarts down on a 6,000 mile interval change at the 82,000 mark means I'm down 2 quarts after 4,000 miles. That's a quart per 1,000. I thought I had heard that that's within acceptable tolerance? Either way, I'm back to the dinosaur oil; no more Mr. Nice Guy serving Mobil 1.
  • mikey00mikey00 Member Posts: 462
    You may want to try one of the dino oils made for higher mileage engines at next change. Quaker State makes one along with others. My understanding is they have additives that help prevent oil consumption in higher mileage engines.
    It sounds like you have oil getting past a seal or gasket somewhere even though you have no visible leaks. Synthetic oil may have been your problem. I know there is article after article stating that synthetic oil does not cause leaks. But there is also a lot of claims that while it may not actually cause a leak, it does have a way of finding exisiting ones that dino oil does not.
  • maxx4memaxx4me Member Posts: 1,340
    good points. I'm very careful about changing my oil after the first 1,000 miles with dinosaur oil. I then do it again at 3,000 with dinosaur oil. I then change it over to Mobil 1 at 6,000, and then do 6,000 mile interval changes thereafter. I want to make sure that the seals have a chance to seat properly when the car is still a newborn. I'm sure the thinner Mobil 1 would find its way around the seals if put in too early. My Vibe's oil consumption has been very disappointing. I've owned Corollas before and never had this problem. Only time will tell if it is just a nuisance or if it becomes a headache.
  • tacomamttacomamt Member Posts: 4
    Greetings, I just purchased a used Vibe (03) and am having the disappearing oil issue. What did you find out about your situation?? Thanks!
Sign In or Register to comment.