Pontiac Bonneville Engine Surging Problems

brumbybrumby Member Posts: 3
edited October 2014 in Pontiac
I have a 2000 Bonneville SSEI with 60,000 miles and I am experiencing a engine surging issue. While on cruise control at 60MPH everything is fine untill you start up a mild to moderate grade and the RPM's start surging from 2000 to 1500 back and fourth and the vehicle starts bucking but if yuo take the car out of drive into third the problem stops with the higher RPM's. This vehicle has recieved a new fuel pump, TPS, and new coil packs as one was corroded and I recently changed plugs and wires. Any Ideas? Help please.


  • mysseimyssei Member Posts: 2
    I have the same problem and I will tell you the same thing I was told. I went the same route to stop the problem as you did but here's the test. Next time you are driving up an upgrade & this starts, gently push the brake while you are still on the pedal, just enough to activate your brake lights, see if the surging stops. If so, you will feel the engine cut back & go on wihtout the surge. If this works on you also, then you have the same problem I do, torque converter lockout issues. The only way I know to correct is to change out the torque converter or have the lockout disabled, but you will loose your overdrive & there will go your gas mileage.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Member Posts: 26,496
    I'm just going on what you said... there is a problem with the torque converter lockup. It is locking and unlocking allowing the engine rpms to vary greatly.

    However the lockup has nothing to do with going in or out of 4th gear, commonly called overdrive. And the lockup is not 100% on the 4T65E's. It varies in percent of lockup to give the great power variation and the smoothness this transmission has. The lack of total lockup smooths engine vibrations that might be sensed at lower engine rpms and higher load.

    There may be a problem with the control valve for the lockup percent control. There may be a problem with a sensor. That sensor could be with the motor or transmission. The sensor could be as simple as one that tells the PCM not to lockup the torque converter because the motor is too cool or too hot.

    The car needs to be checked for trouble codes and I don't know if transmission trouble codes show on the Actron type readers they use at Autozone or Advance Auto. But it would be worth a shot. Those people are great and gracious as long as you don't come in at a typical rush hour for them so a counter person is free to come out to your car and do it. I suggest getting the codes, if any, and not buying any fixit parts. Come back to a forum and run the codes by someone who can troubleshoot what it means and save you putting on unecessary parts.

    2014 Malibu 2LT, 2015 Cruze 2LT,

  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Member Posts: 26,496
    I notice a few complaints in similar years about ground straps under the rear seat where a fuse block is located and the bolt being the ground circuit but screwing against a painted floor area. The threads on the bolt had corroded slightly where the ground contact would be made. Cleaned. Installed star washer for good contact.

    Another is a spark plug wire touching the oxygen sensor. Move so it doesn't touch.

    2014 Malibu 2LT, 2015 Cruze 2LT,

  • mlane18mlane18 Member Posts: 1
    My 94 Bonneville was doing the same thing. It was actually the throttle position sensor hanging up. It came up as some type of tranny code in the computer. My mechanic hit it with some WD-40 and the problem disappeared.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Member Posts: 26,496
    That's good to know. Thanks for reporting it.

    2014 Malibu 2LT, 2015 Cruze 2LT,

  • gmonly4megmonly4me Member Posts: 5
    Hi, I've got a 92' SSEi and the bucking and surging is driving me crazy. I am going to try the WD40 trick but is there a relay in the control center that could be weak and disengaging when hot. I stopped the car for ten minutes and the surging went away for some time but rears its ugly head yet again. HELP,I love this carbut am not going to let someone tell me the tranny needs to be replaced. Any help will be much appreciated, and thank goodness there are forums like this .
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Member Posts: 26,496
    Without feeling the kind of bucking, I can't sense whether it's transmission, engine, engine/transmission mounts, spark plugs, plugs wires, a plug wire close to O2 sensor on the back of the motor on the exhaust pipe, MAF sensor, TPS sensor, fuel pump, clogged fuel filter...

    You also didn't mention how many miles. That can help.

    Another factor on lots of cars is the battery sometimes have bad cells, or broken connectors internally, and MOST often the connection of cables at the battery is corroded. The positive cables on some H-bodies at double; there's one on top of the other. The corrosion between them can keep the top one from getting proper power. It varies with humidity, temperature, etc. Also the cables can have battery acid eat into the copper down inside the plastic insulation. You need to slice the insulation down a little ways to take a look. IN an extreme case battery acid from a seep around the side terminals actually had wicked all the way down the positive cable to the starter and affected the connection at the bottom end.

    You can make your computer read out the codes since you have ALDC 1. You can use a code reader but ALL you have to do is connect a paperclip between terminals A and B on the connector under the dash close to the steering wheel. The letters for the connections are in the black plastic next to the openings. Then turn the key to ON. The radiator fans and other things will turn on in diagnostic mode to show that they can work. The Check Engine light will flash 1 then 2, and repeat that for a total of three times. Code 12 is normal. It's a check for the computer. Then the system will flash codes for any others it has in the memory. Write them all down. When it's done with codes it returns to the 1-2 code.

    I would turn off the heater system before I did this, along with radio, wipers, etc.

    Remember a code doesn't mean a bad part there. It means a symptom. It takes diagnosis.

    Another thing that could be wrong with a 16 year old car and especially in some climates is the crankshaft position sensor. It's next to the balancer on the 9 o-clock or 3 o'clock position. Some people splash cold water on them when they suffer a hot shutdown and strange restarts. Cooling it makes it work again.

    You might have a camshaft sensor where a magnet moves past a sensor to tell the computer what position the camshaft is at.

    You might have a problem with the ground buss on the driver's side of the car under the door sill plastic just where it meets the front A-pillar. If you are in a wet climate where salt and moisture are carried into the car onto the carpet in that area keeping it wet in the winter, sometimes the metal buss bar corrodes. But you didn't mention any other problems such as electric door locks not working, or seat, or windows, or AC system turning on or going into default mode at times....

    That's some things to look at.
    Start with the easiest. Plugs within last 30K miles? Proper wires OEM quality? Within last 3-4 years?

    2014 Malibu 2LT, 2015 Cruze 2LT,

  • gmonly4megmonly4me Member Posts: 5
    Hi, thanks for the quick response.the car has 291,000 km and I have done all the normal things when I purchase a used car. New battery rated for all the options and cold weather, new fuel filter, o2 sensor,plugs and wires, tranny fluid check, oil changed, and auto wrecker coils. Just did that this morning and started just fine but need to test drive. Had a friend do the code reading and it threw the codes for crank and cam sensors. would a dirty oily build-up cause any problems? or do I just pull the balancer and change them out?why would cooling down the car for only 10 minutes change anything if it was these sensors?Is there a relay that operates the TCC in the tranny? Oh ya, the car takes a fair amount of starter turning to fire it up. Could that be a weak fuel pump? Thanks again for your knowledge and effort helping me sort this out.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Member Posts: 26,496
    To test for a weak fuel pump or leakback of pressure when it's off, turn the key to ON and after 3 seconds you'll hear the fuel pump stop. Turn the key OFF and then back ON. Do that total of 3 times. That should repressurize the system. Then turn to START.

    If it starts quickly that's a good sign you've got a problem with the fuel pump and the pressure valve.

    The camshaft sensor is different than the crankshaft sensor. The symptoms worry me. They could be the ISC, the part that controls the three coil packs. Some people have had trouble with them.

    Don't throw parts at it. At 188,000 miles you can have many problems. But most likely you have one problem.

    The transmission could be the problem. Without driving it I can't tell. Does it do it when left in 3rd gear?

    I'll send a longer list of things to your email box that's a part of Edmunds. Your user name plus carspace.com is your address. You access it in the gray bar across the top of each page has white text. The third from the right is your mailbox. You should be able to read an email from me there. Then you can respond here in the forum.

    2014 Malibu 2LT, 2015 Cruze 2LT,

  • gmonly4megmonly4me Member Posts: 5
    Hi again,I changed the coil packs and runs fine( 11.00 dollars) and yes it does do it in 3rd gear, but not in 1st or 2nd, so I'm thinking TCC is culprit. Would new trans filter and fluid with a Lucas tranny adative help this or should I think of installing the crank and cam sensors which is not that big of a deal for me.Oh yes, it seems that when I unlock the convertor via brake switch or adding throttle it doesn't seem to have these symtoms of surging or bucking. It certainly is intermittent so is not a major problem but would be nice to have car run like it should. By the way, I did a road trip last week of approx. 1800 miles and averaged 28 miles per gallon Canadian so the tune seems good. Thanks again for your help. Best regards
  • azuazu Member Posts: 84
    Sounds like it could be as simple as a loose or broken vacuum hose going to the TCC Solenoid. If the hose is fine then perhaps it's time for a new TCC Solenoid. Good luck, these types of problems can be tricky to solve.
  • gmonly4megmonly4me Member Posts: 5
    what are the voltage readings for 1992 SSEi, I,m checking the readings to determine if the tps is no good.thanks
  • doyle64doyle64 Member Posts: 1
    Here it is..I have an 03' Bonneville SE and when I put it in reverse (only when it is not hot) it surges a lot. It doesn't surge in RPM's but you can really feel it surging in the engine. It will also do it when i am driving around 40ish and keep it at 1500. I was told that it probably wasn't tranny failure per se because once the car is warm it doesn't do this. I'm just looking for some answers.
  • asosocargirlasosocargirl Member Posts: 2
    I have a 98 bonneville, I just replaced the upper intake over the weekend, But now while at a stop light my car surges, If i shift to N, the surging stops somewhat, Is there something I missed while changing this out. Has anyone had this problem.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Member Posts: 26,496
    You might have a vacuum leak somewhere. Check your hoses and connections involved with the UIM replacement. Look for rotted areas in hoses near the ends that might have cracked from moving them or stretching them.

    You may have to clean your MAF or IAC if you didn't do that while the throttle body was off.

    Check your screws holding down the UIM but don't overtighten them. They're supposed to be some low amount of inch-pounds--I'm thinking near 90 but don't trust my number.

    Did you put both o-rings on the PCV valve. One at the top and one on the bottom. If not it sucks a lot of air from the crankcase. With the motor running take off the oil filler cap and see if you're getting a noticeable large volume of air flow.

    2014 Malibu 2LT, 2015 Cruze 2LT,

  • cvs20cvs20 Member Posts: 14
    I have a 2003 SSEi with similar problem, but not quite so severe. I also noticed that downshifting to 3rd seemed to alleviate the problem. This does two things; 1) increases engine rpm and power curve usage, and 2) decreases supercharger boost (usually eliminates boost, ending up somewhere slightly on the vacuum side of zero).

    I found out it had a leaking lower intake manifold gasket. When boost was positive, oil, water and air could leak out slightly, due to the pressure, confusing the engine control module.

    Fixed the gasket and the surge went away !
  • kyle120kyle120 Member Posts: 1
    I have a 2000 Bonneville with 130k miles the last couple of months it started this surging thing when on the highway at speeds of 75 mph it feels like I have ran over something in the road but there is nothing there. The problem comes and goes with no apparent pattern I'm not sure if i would call it a surge or a drop in rpm but it is very fast, fast enough I dont loose any speed sometimes it will do it a couple times in a row and is getting progressively more frequent. I put about 60 miles on this car a day. There is no code coming up in the computer, but the service engine light has come on a couple of times but of course goes off by the time I get to the shop. I have heard that it may the the mass air flow sensor or possible the fuel pump the techs i have talked to think that it is the transmittion but sometimes the car will do this at idle as well it comes really close to dying but revs right back up. I have looked at the mass air flow sensor and there doesn't seem to be any dust or anything on it any ideas? A new mass air flow sensor is $150 :( . As to any more clues I can provide the only other thing i can think or is that most of my gauges seem to not work very well or be slow. The oil pressure gauge only moves a little bit when throttle is applied and is always above 40 and the fuel gauge doesn't work very well ether I put $10 of fuel in the other day at empty and it said i had over half a tank which i know to be wrong. Any feed back would be helpful THX
  • jhardy3jhardy3 Member Posts: 1
    I have a 2001 Bonneville and I have been having a tough time trying to figure it out. In the mornings when I start it when it is 50 -55 deg, by the time I get 1/2 mile away from home, it starts to surge and backfire with no acceleration. If I park it and let it warm up, it runs fine the rest of the day including when I go home in the afternoon. It has done this 5 or 6 times already and all have been in the morning when it hasn't been run in 10-12 hours. My local shop hasn't been able to figure it out, they have replace the crank & cam sensors along with the ignition module with no luck. A couple of times it has gotten so bad it had quit and I haven't been able to re-start the car for a couple of hours, but when it does restart it runs fine. Any help would be appreciated.
  • danthemandawgdanthemandawg Member Posts: 7
    Ky le
    I have similar issues with my 99 pont. Bonn sse, no turbo. 140k miles
    I have changed plugs, wires, o2, tbs, and even went as far as replacing valve seals in the motor.
    It runs ok, starts every morning gets me to point Ato B no problem, but does surge (misfire, buck, lack of power), and I notice this happens when I try to accelerate on a on ramp around 35-45mph ( I can hear a clicking ping sound almost like its coming from the exhaust) and when my cruise control is on 70, its surging( bucking, loss of power) more often now.

    I am burning oil, but not leaking anything, this is driving me nuts.
    I have talked with a few techs, and one was telling me that the exhaust system gets clogged which can cause these issues. My engine light is on, the code is for cylinder 6 mis firing, now when I pulled out the spark plug , its bad, really bad, corroded burned out (it only had 10k miles on it).

    Another thing I noticed is, I replaced my oil cap with an after market brand that dosent seem to fit perfect, maybe this is my issue, yeh right, but a 3 dollar part sure beats an engine rebuild. I love this car and dont want another car payment at this point in my life.

    next time this happens im going to hit the brake and gas at the same time to see if it stops, also will try driving in 3rd gear to feel if it stops.

    Wondering if maybe I have a few issues, clogged exhaust, bad gasket (wishful thinking) or does it sound like the motor needs rebuilt??
    Any help would be greatly appreciated.
  • danthemandawgdanthemandawg Member Posts: 7
    Pont, Bonneville 99, no turbo, 140k
    My car did the same thing, it started out this way, after about a year it got worse. These are my symptoms

    1. engine light on (cylinder 6 misfire) 2 more I need to look up
    2. excessive smoke out of exhaust
    3. burning oil, not leaking, I dont see anything on the ground (a quart every 2wks)
    4. 3rd gear still hesitates, also when I try brake and gas @ same time, still hesitates, Its now hesitating in neutral after I start up in the morning.
    5. started out hesitating only a couple of times, progressively is getting worse after a yr.
    6. spark plugs are shot after only 20k, in cylinder 6, I will check the other ones
    7. I have tried several after market products (slick 50) when I change the oil, helps a little bit
    8. I have cleaned and tightened up my battery connections, they needed it
    9. Oil cap, is a aftermarket, that dosent seem to fit tight.
    10.I haven't noticed if it hesitates when Im in reverse, dont go fast enough
    11. I also can hear a pinging noise ( on rare occasions) when trying to accelerate on a on ramp, like a piston ring going bad, but it seems like its coming from the exhaust.

    I have done all routine maintanence, plugs, wires, sensors (map, o2)
    I believe from everything I have read its the lower intake manifold gasket leaking, finally causing the control sensor to go nuts which would explain the surging, the oil burning, plugs going bad, slick 50 helping a little bit.
    I think the exhaust is also finally backed up or clogged somewhere.

    I will try to get it done in the next couple of days and post the results.
    Thanks for everyone help on this one
  • 97surges97surges Member Posts: 4
    what will fix this i have the same problem...up hill at steady rpm will buck like its trying to down shift. thanks
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Member Posts: 26,496
    Most likely plug wires and plugs.

    Replace with quality OEM type and AC Delco spark plug.

    2014 Malibu 2LT, 2015 Cruze 2LT,

  • 97surges97surges Member Posts: 4
    thanks for reply..i left out what i did allready,sorry....new plugs,plug wires and made sure no plug wires touched 02 sensor (#6 was). droped tranny pan replaced filter and fluid. replaced several rubber fittings to hard vac line which direct factory replacements dont exist but got it done anyway (rubber "L's" and "T''s). cleaned two positive side battery connectors (corrision medium). new battery last year. this was my dads 97 sse and has 82 thousand miles. it came off the show room floor and has all options down to the chrome opt. rims. he had this problem for several years and it had its third ecm/com replaced while under warranty. used to be occassional but now its definately daily. its a bad [non-permissible content removed] ride and i cant sell it espically with the surge. all suggestions appreciated
  • 97surges97surges Member Posts: 4
    i had the under load uphill surge like all u guys...did all the stuff per my earlier post. lastnight i just installed a new-adjustable transmission module to the tune of 27.00 and now under hard throttle i can scratch 2nd gear. old module had lost its tension ability on the nipple that slips into the transmission and it was full of tranny fluid...probably do to my dad overfilling the fluid level to the point of filling the dip stick tube which was how he tried to fix the surge at about 50,000 miles. gonna do more uphill testing today but last night it seemed to be gone. module located on drivers side near exhaustmanifold. also comes with new 3 inch long L shape hose to eliminate old funky 2 hose with inline connector. more connectors equalls more chance for vacum leak. also car now shifts more harder than i like so hopefully a few turns of the screw inside the vaccuum nipple will solve that. also front tires burn out with traction controll on now...turning screw now good luck
  • 97surges97surges Member Posts: 4
    surgeing now gone ...still shifts a little hard,,,will try adjustment on modulator after it cools down...way to close to the exhaust manifold to chance,,,probably why everyone has this problem...design flaw or maybe vaccuum modules like 800 degree neighboring parts...not
  • bonniesmombonniesmom Member Posts: 4
    :sick: I have an 89 pontiac Bonneville and everything on my car is original except for 5 internal pieces and a few external. Recently we had a series of problems on the fourth of july my car was running just fine we get to the fireworks show i kill her start to start her back over and she wouldn't crank (this is after all day my driver's side door wouldn't open.. after she wouldn't crank that started opening again and hasn't messed up since) but what it did that night was basically i putted it back to the house. I took it to the shop they swore it was my spark plugs.. nope nope.. then it was my catlike converter.. still not a fix. After my muffler fell off now the only problem i have is once i start hitting 40 and she kicks back down in rpm's she will start vibrating real hard at me as long as i stay on the gas for the majority it goes away. (its real hard to explain its one of those things you just have to drive it.) If anyone has had the same problem or any idea im up for it i just don't know whats going on and please don't say junk the car she is my baby and pride and joy i have more sentimental value in that car then money can buy!
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