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1999 Pontiac Grand Am SE brake problems

tp5tp5 Member Posts: 2
edited March 2014 in Pontiac
I have a 1999 Grand Am with 12,000 miles on the
odometer, and has been to the shop twice to have
the rotors turned. This last trip to the service
department. I met a lady that was in for the same
repairs on her car. She had even less mileage on
her car than I have. The question I would like to
ask is, are there any other Grand Am owners
experiencing the same problems? is this a factory
defect in the braking system?


  • burdawgburdawg Member Posts: 1,524
    I have a 95 Grand Am and it seems to me that the car is hard on front brakes. We us it mostly for around town commuting (lots of stop and go) plus my 18 year old daughter uses it almost exclusively now and she's a little hard on the brakes. I have noticed that rotor wear is high on the car. With 49,000 miles, the front pads have been replaced 4 times, with both rotors replaced last time, since they had been turned twice already, and were too thin to turn again. I have no other real complaints and have just decided that it is an area that needs regular maintenance for this model.
  • raybodraraybodra Member Posts: 3
    I have a '99 SE2 sedan. Its in the shop now for the door trim and a water leak that fills the "well" that is under the front passengers seat after a hard rain. They gave me a loaner, '99 SE1 sedan and right away I noticed that the brakes on the loaner are much smoother with no 'pulsing' as with my car. I guess I got used to my car's brakes pulsing. Needless to say, I will make an appointment to have my brakes fixed. My car just turned 10K miles, the loaner has 16k. Just my 2 cents.
  • esheljeeshelje Member Posts: 2
    I too have a 99 Se2 With brake problems dealer said you have to pay for repairs Ihave 18K on mine and all hiway miles they want $150 for pads and to turn rotors My brakes pulsate and thats due to the anti lock they said. its been in the shop a few times battery twice and gas gauge there's a problem with that but they won't recall them because it's a hot selling car good luck I'm taking mine to a indepentent mech. to have the brakes done for $70.00
  • raybodraraybodra Member Posts: 3
    Got my car back from the shop, I called them while it was in the shop and told them about the brakes. The service manager said they would look at them. When I picked up the car the following day, the service manager said that they had to turn the rotors. They did this free of charge, as well they should have. The brakes feel great now. Eshelje, you should not have to pay for them to fix your brakes, talk to the owner of the dealership if you have too, your car is still under warranty.
  • peepleaterpeepleater Member Posts: 2
    I have 32K+ miles on my 99SE1. Been to dealer 4 times for brakes: pulsing, grinding, steering wheel vibrations. New rotors twice and both sets turned. Very frustrating. I drive 1 hour to work, mostly highway miles. Seems to be trend in this car and I'm afraid I'll be fighting it long after my warranty is up. Eshelje, you DO NOT have to pay for these repairs. If you go to an independent person it will NEGATE the rest of your dealer warranty! Take it back to the dealer! The dealer told me they've seen a trend with this model wearing down brake pads quickly, but I haven't had that problem. Being a female, I think the dealer manager thinks it's all in my head or I'm just a hard braker. I've never seen a car that needs rotor work every 5-6,000 miles.
  • jghjgh Member Posts: 2
    I bought a '99 Grand Am SE in May. I also had brake problems(grinding, pulsating, wheel vibrations, etc.)around mid-august. Car had about 8K when the dealer turned the rotors. Dealer said that this is a "known problem" with the Grand Am.
    It also is covered under the warranty. I also drive to work an hour each way, unfortunately I have to cross the Tappan Zee bridge daily so my brakes get plenty of use in stop and go traffic and I think the problem maybe re-occurring. The car currently has 12K on it. Other than that, I haven't had any of the other problems that I know others have had(knock on wood)!
  • jonesrijonesri Member Posts: 1
    I bought a '99 Grand Am SE in May of 98. I also had brake problems(grinding, pulsating, wheel
    vibrations, etc.). Car had about
    8K miles when the problem really started.I'm just now turning the rotors in September 99. Also, my car has been in the shop three times for the following: right side windows trim, left side windows trim and for the clip inside the door which made my windows inoperable. I going to call the dealership owner as soon as possible. They want me to pay( $86 ) for turning the rotors.I have 19k miles on my car and I think the warranty should pay for the service.
  • mikem99mikem99 Member Posts: 1
    I also had brake problems ( pulsating, wheel vibrating) at 17K miles the dealer turned the rotors no charge (as it should be - this is definitely a defect) I was told that if it reoccurs again they may replace the rotors. They did not admit this is a known problem, however they indicated that they are logging instances.
    With this one exception the car has been great so far knock knock
  • equineequine Member Posts: 1
    I bought a 99 se in 10/98 and haven't really noticed the brakes yet; i sometimes hear a small squeaking noise at parking lot speeds but nothing that makes me worry; i figure that if the car stops, then it isn't that bad. Maybe mine is okey. everything else is great; and just under 10K. I'll keep my ears open though. thanks.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Usually warped rotors is a sign of poor engineering on a car...the rotors are too weak or are being overheated by the amount of work they are trying to do. This kind of thing isn't so easy to "fix", but better pads and, if possible, heavier rotors would help I'd imagine. Either that or lighten the car, but you probably want the back seat, spare tire and trunk lid ;)

    Good luck, I hope the factory makes good on what is obviously a problem with these cars.
  • tkayetkaye Member Posts: 1
  • bchristbchrist Member Posts: 1
    Does anyone know if Pontiac has changed the brakes on the 2000 Grand Am's? I have a '94 and am considering buying a 2000, but I'd like to know that they have solved the brake problem.
  • tp5tp5 Member Posts: 2
    I am now on my third trip to the shop for brake related problems with only 20K on the odometer.
    The dealership/GM still won't cop to a design problem and I can't see waiting until the warranty is used up to see if they will permanently repair this problem. I love my 99 SE2 but the brake problem is heating me up. If GM does not make this right I just have one thing to say....can you say LEMON LAW????
  • rtkayrtkay Member Posts: 1
    I was reading this chat to obtaine information about the Grand Am I was considering buying and had to put in my two cents regarding GM brakes. I now have a 93 Lumina Z34 with 44,000 miles on it.
    I can not begin to tell you how many sets of brakes both front and rear I have put on this car Not to mention sets of rotors due to warping etc. Before I purchased my Lumina, I owned an 88 Cutlass Supreme (front wheel drive) I had the exact same problem and believe it or not, the breaks were even worse. My husband has a 94 Beretta and has replace his brakes 3 times. Do you think that GM might have a problem with their brake design?????
  • mark1521mark1521 Member Posts: 1
    I purchased a 1999 Grand Am SE 4 door Sedan last Christmas 98 and I have had the car back 3 times for brake problems. The first time it was in February with only a few thousand miles. The brakes keep surging as you come to a stop. The dealership first turned the rotors and replaced the pads and it stopped again for awhile. About three months later the same problem came back slowly. This time the dealership replaced the rotors and the pads and it lasted until about a month ago. There is definitely a problem with the design or materials. Other than this problem, I love the rest of the car.
  • karnkarn Member Posts: 8
    i also had the problem of pulsating brakes, but
    usually only during slow stops...the dealer replaced the rotors right away. but while i had the car in the shop i complained about the interior lining coming off at the windows, which they have to take the car back again to fix, and that the steering wheel seemed off center & that it doesn't "lock" when the car is parked. now, the dealer couldn't find anything wrong with the steering, but can someone tell me if the steering wheel is supposed to "lock"? based on what i've read in the manual, i would assume so. but i can't even get a response from pontiac's web site!
  • creasycreasy Member Posts: 1
    Anyone else having this problem? It sounds like a bearing or something is going out. I just bought this used a week ago. I am taking it to the dealer tomorrow to ask the mechanic about it.
  • martha10martha10 Member Posts: 6
    I have had problems with my steering in my 99SE2 since I purchased it. Check postings for "martha10". The last thing the dealer did was to open a call with GM Technical Services. Here is what I have been told: There is a default setup for the alignment in the car. They have adjusted this "setup" for my car. It has helped on the open highway as the car now feels tight and doesnt' run away from me...BUT it seems to have made driving on the off roads worse. I have had a lot of other trouble with this car (as is documented in my postings) and I wouldn't recommend this vehicle it to anyone. I'm forced to keep it til spring when I will be trading for something else.

    Too bad as I my 1995 GrandAm was such a reliable car.
  • davida79davida79 Member Posts: 1
    My Wife and I recently purchased a 1999 Pontiac Grand AM GT1 4dr. It has been a real head ache!!!!!!! It may look good but it has many problems. For example: the leather door panels needed replacing after 8,000 miles (this they say is a "common problem"), all 4 rotors have been replaced due to warping (yet again a "common problem"), the rear main oil seal is leaking @14,000 miles, and now the piece of junk wont start (upon first start). They had to keep our car for about 3 days so GM so graciously provided a rental car from ENTERPRISE (what a joke). Enterprise first wanted a deposit (like it’s our choice the car broke), secondly GM didn't want to pay the extra $7.00 a day because my wife and myself are under 21 years of age. After much arguing though, the dealer agreed they would pay for it “THIS TIME” but next time they would not!!! It’s beyond me that we are old enough to purchase a car from them, yet the company will not pick up the additional $7.00 a day charge for us being under 21. This is Absurd!! I know that we will no longer be buying GM vehicles (GM doesn’t care about their customers.)
    Thanks David A
  • jghjgh Member Posts: 2
    I had the rotors resurfaced on my '99 Grand Am SE.
    This is the second time I had to take my car in for this problem(vibrating/pulsating brakes). It had 8K the first time and 14K this the time. The dealer said that GM doesn't want to replace them. GM wants the dealers to keep resurfacing them(which is pretty stupid since they will become so thin that they need to be replaced anyway! It would be cheaper in the long run to just replace them). Then the dealer said that if I have the same problem again he'll replace the rotors and NOT follow GM's directions(since he thought it was stupid too). I thought to myself at the time that I hope this won't happen a third time, but if it does, maybe the problem would be solved once and for all. Then I read the other postings and it seems that even replacement of the rotors and pads STILL doesn't solve the problem!! I just pray that maybe I'll be lucky, but I doubt it. It's too bad because I do like the car very much.
    As for the steering wheel "locking" when the car is parked and turned off, my steering wheel doesn't "lock" either. I also have a 1996 Honda Civic(an excellent car) and the steering wheel on that doesn't "lock" either so I wouldn't be concerned about it.
    Haven't had any steering problems ...yet.
  • ebakkeebakke Member Posts: 1
    Hi there. I bought my 99 Grand Am 4 door GT in January and have had nothing but problems. At 10 000 MI the car had the following problems: brake pulsation (resurface the rotors), replace cd/radio because of volume control issues, the visor mirror fell off (not even being used), and constant rattling noises in all doors (drivers side in particular.) I now recently (18000MI)took the car back to the dealer for the following: Brake pulsation (rotors), Power Steering (gives funny feel + noise at low RPM), more noise from doors, and a metal swooshing noise when driving at low speed. I had to pay for the rotor resurfacing since it was over 10k MI. The car still have steering problems and funny noises from doors.
    THE CAR IS JUNK! It's a lemon. With a price of $23K this should not be going on. I'm now wondering how I can get rid of this thing before it will cost me to much money. BTW. Does anyone know of a government agency we could contact to report this stuff? thanks.
  • gmknowhowgmknowhow Member Posts: 1
    I to have had brake problems with my GRAND AM SE.
    what I can tell you is that all the problems with the brake shimmy is from the front brake rotors getting to hot and warping (twist out of shape due to heat). what can be done to fix this problem acording to the dealers is turning the rotors which ultimately achieves nothing because your just reducing the metal thickness which makes it easier for the rotor to warp again.
    yes it true technicly if your 10'000 miles into the vehicle life they don't haft to warranty the brakes; but if usually if you talk to your dealer the'll turn the rotors for free. What we all can do is contact pontiac and see if there going to perform a recall or voluntary upgrade on the front brakeing system.
  • rassrass Member Posts: 1
    I also own the '99 Grand Am SE and I love it! The brakes work great and the steering is sharp. To all that are thinking about buying this car please listen to a positive comment about the car. Many have advised against this model, and I understand your concern, but consumers should know that someone out there is a happy camper. I have only 17K on the car, but it's running flawlessly.
  • scantrellescantrelle Member Posts: 2
    I purchased my grand am se in late June of 1998.I have a little over 31700 on mileage. It was just in the shop twice for two parts. A power steering hose that had problems & a brake sensor. My rotors also warped after about 16000 miles. They turned them & then 3 months later had to replace them. They still feel like they are not working well. They feel like they are grinding when I stop & every now & then pulsate. I have been complaining of a vibration in my gas petal, seats & floor boards for months. I have been to 4 tire dealers, & 3 dealerships. All they keep telling me is that it normal road surface that I am feeling. I have to constantly have the tires rebalanced & it is not long before it is not smooth. it has not really been smooth since about 16000 miles or so.Also, I have a swooshing noise when driving at low speeds like something is loose on the front of the car or tires.My radio has been replaced 2 times, both because of the cd player & volume control.My throttle has been worked on twice & rerouted the 2nd time because it kept getting in a bind.
  • burdawgburdawg Member Posts: 1,524
    Which motor do you have, scantrelle? As for the tires, I replaced the Goodyear Eagles (if thats what you have) a long time ago because of the problems you mentioned-constantly out of balance, edge feathering that can't be controlled, and noisy. As for the "road noise", all I can say is that I have experienced the same. I have just over 51,000 on my 95. My brakes have had the same problems as others report, but good quality aftermarket rotors and pads have really helped. Also, getting my 18 year old to change her driving habits (no small feat) has helped. Overall, I'm pleased with car. It has performed about as I expected.
  • scantrellescantrelle Member Posts: 2
    I have a se quad 4 . Since my last reply I am now on a 2nd set of rotors & have almost 33,000 miles. The tires are from the factory & I have considered replacing them but haven't because they still have really good tread left. The tires are BF Goodrich touring.When the rotors were replaced, I instantly could tell a difference in the driving performance of the car.I will put good after market brakes & rotors on the next time because by then the warranty will be out. I hope that will help. In the mean time I am trying to sell the car.In the mean time,I am still stuck with the car.Thanks
  • burdawgburdawg Member Posts: 1,524
    The reason I asked about the motor, scantrelle, is because the 4 has more vibration at idle than the V6. It's better than it was before the balance shaft was added (pre 95 I think). I didn't notice it until the car had over 20K on it. Other owners have told me the same. There's nothing wrong with it, just a characteristic of the design. Besides brakes the only other repair I've done is a fuel pump at about 50,000 miles.
  • chtwthc1chtwthc1 Member Posts: 1
    First thing...I think BRAKES is a big Pontiac problem. I had problems with my 92 Sunbird as well. I just took my 99 Grand Am GT1 in for problems with the brakes and the service mgr told me it was the rotors and said that they turned them but it still made the noise and so he ordered me some new ones. I might add,they covered them under my warranty. I got my car back and as soon as I was driving out of the parking lot, I noticed they were doing the exact same thing as they were when I took it in. It was after hours when I picked the car up and you can bet they are going to see my car first thing Monday morning. I definitely want to get this taken care of asap because I have over 30,000 on my car.
  • dianalyndianalyn Member Posts: 2
    My husband and I own both a 1995 and 1999 Grand Am SE 4-door sedan. We have experienced only normal wear-n-tear problems with the 1995 except for rattling in the front doors. This is bearable since we bought it used and don't know how the previous owners were with the car. However, the 1999 is currently @30.3K miles (bought June, 1998) and we are experiencing more rotor problems, volume control problems & rattling in the front wheel base. The rattling may be something loose behind the hubcaps (what we have been told) but the brakes and the volume control problems are ridiculous! How do we contact the company to push for a recall or guarantee coverage on the rotors past 10K miles? I don't think the brakes are just a Pontiac issue either.
  • mrjust1mrjust1 Member Posts: 2
    I bought a 1994 Grand Am SE new 4 cyl, no overdrive, auto. At 8K, steering wheel vibrations when braking, rotors had to be turned. At 15K, steering vibrations again, rotors turned and new brakes. At 18K rear break cylinders leaking-replaced. At 22K, steering vibrations again, rotors turned again. At 25K, told I need new rotors and brakes. Dash sqeaked like a wall full of rats--3 trips to the dealer, never fixed. Would not attempt to drive in snow, it was all over the road, not a problem in my Nissan Sentra. Just as bad in the rain--traded the piece of crap. Bought a Honda CivivLX, still have it and no porblems at 83K other than normal main. Avoid the Grand AM like the plague unless you like the ideal of getting new brakes and rotors at every 10K miles.
  • captainrichcaptainrich Member Posts: 1
    I'm considering buying a 2000 Grand Am but based on the number of posts for brake problems on the '99's I now have serious reservations.How do I find out how widespread these brake problems are? I'd like to know if the posts here in Edmunds are indicative of a widespread problem or just a small percentage of the '99 Grand Ams currently on the road. I'd like to know if there were any changes made to the 2000 Grand Am brakes and I'd also like to know if the problem is fixed by buying rotors/pads from an independent vendor (non-GM parts).
  • steve227steve227 Member Posts: 8
    For the Grand Am owners... Check to see if your calipers are returning to fully open position after you release the brakes. Lots of GM brake calipers are bolted to the suspension with two bolts per caliper. The bolts also act as slides so that when you apply the brakes, the caliper 'floats' back and forth a bit, following the rotor. Often the slides seize up due to heat from the calipers melting or otherwise degrading the lube that's supposed to keep the calipers floating. As a result many times after brake application, the outside pad stays in contact with the rotor causing the heat build up and lube failure. The result is warped rotors, calipers that no longer follow the rotor and low pad life. As my title above notes, this is NOT a new problem. My 89 Grand Prix, which I believe has calipers designed the same way, has gone through MANY sets of calipers and pads over its life. Often the brake job lasted only 20,000 miles. The only difference is that in the case of my car, the problem is with the rear brakes.
  • steve227steve227 Member Posts: 8
    In my prior submission, I meant to include that I believe that Grand Am brake calipers are of the same design as those on my Grand Prix and that therefore, the Grand Am problem is likely of the same source.
  • jlflemmonsjlflemmons Member Posts: 2,242
    As was noted above, this problem is not uncommon on GM disc brakes. But before you think of a felonious assault on the service department, listen up. With regard to the Lumina: Dual piston calipers are used and aftermarket pads tend to fracture. Go with the GM replacement pads, I think they are called DuraStop. On the Grand Am, steve227 hit it on the head. The calipers tend to bind in the guides and can overheat the rotors, just like riding the brakes while driving down the road. A couple of things to note: If replacing the rotors, (a very easy job on all GM FWD cars) you might try using EIS brand rotors. Old brand, good reputation. Also, make sure the guide pins are cleaned and relubed using a high-temp grease. Also a good idea to use a wire brush on the slides of the spindle guides and put high temp grease there, also. This problem is very common on the pre 99 GM full size trucks. After cooking two sets of pads in 20K miles, I did the above and have had no further problems. Is it GM fault the Grand Am brakes cook. Probably. Is it irrepairable? Nah, you just need to find a mechanic who will do what is right, and not what the warranty guide says to do. Sorry ya'll are having such a bad time with this model car.

  • suemariesuemarie Member Posts: 4
    I have heard of many problems with Brakes for GM cars. If you would like to get a sense of who is complaining and how many people are complaining. Check out the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Association). I found TONS of useful information on my car. I also found many other complaints on the same problem I am having. My car accelerates on it's own. Three dealerships as well as the factory rep for the car and their experts from Pontiac Michigan themselves have told me they have never heard of this problem before, despite the fact that I found many complaints about it on the NHTSA website. You can find complaints from consumners, recall information, as well as tenchincal bulletin posts that the dealerships follow. Here is the website address for the website. Let me know how it goes. Email me, I dont check here often: sferrante@access1.net


    Take care and good luck!

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