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1996 Pontiac Sunfire

heinzheinz Posts: 1
edited March 2014 in Pontiac
A co-worker complains her 1996 Sunfire has lots of
interior heat while cruising at 100 kph and temp
gauge reads normal. At 110 kph temp gauge drops to
cold and interior heat gets cold. Two thermostats
have been changed to no avail. Someone told her she
had slush in her heater hoses ( mechanic) because
they were cold and felt like slush. Anyone have any
advice for her besides taking it back to the


  • bnormannbnormann Posts: 335
    This IS a tough one... hasn't anyone got a clue??

    your host, Bruce
  • i once had a clue, but lost it.....
  • hollisdshollisds Posts: 1
    I bought a 96 Sun Fire for my daughter in 1996. Brakes needed to be replaced every 6 to 8 months. I had to replace the battery at least every year. The car was so unreliable that we replaced it with a Chrysler.
  • I'm thinking about buying a used Sunfire 95-97, I'd buy an Integra if I had the money. I just had a few questions.
    1) Is the Sunfire reliable?
    2) How long will the car actually last before the engine breaks down?

    If anybody as any comments or suggestions please be free
  • sunfgtsunfgt Posts: 40
    I have a 96 GT with 2.4L and 4-speed auto and I would say that it is fairly reliable overall. I have had no major problems with it, except for a malfunctioning fuel gauge that got me stuck on the side of the road (good thing for roadside assistance). Apart from that, there's been no other reason to visit the shop apart from routine maintainance. The only annoyance I have with it is the tranny, which at times shifts harshly. I suspect that the fluid level is low, but I will have that checked out this weekend.

    I suppose that since you like Integras, you will be going for the 2.4L Twin Cam setup. I don't know of any major problems with this powerplant, mine's been fine so far. I do know that if you are considering a 95 model, stay away from the 2.3L Quad 4, which was dropped after GM found that it was noisy and gave a bunch of problems. The Twin Cam descended from the Quad 4, but seems to be quite different. Also, I think that some of the 2.2L in the 95 models are prone to head gasket failures that allows the coolant to mix with engine oil, and this can lead to big repair bills. GM had a warranty for this, but I think that it has expired.

    Overall, if you want to go for the Sunfire, go for the 96-97 models because some of the problems in the 95 have been fixed for these years.
  • I think it is reliable, overall I am more than satisfied with my Sunfire.
  • inuvikinuvik OregonPosts: 134
    So far my '99 Sunfire has been great. It's been a really fun car to drive and gets good gas mileage.
  • denise29denise29 Posts: 1
    I have a '96 Sunfire Gt which I bought new. I currently have 60,000 miles. Just after 50,000 (& the extended warranty ended) my car's oil and water pump went. Prior to this the steering column tore and I was losing steering fluid every time I turned left. Also, there was a defect where the lights and locks would go off/on without warning as well as the car stopping/shutting down while I was stopped at stop signs or lights. I have not had a lot of luck with the Sunfire and I did take the car into the dealer for all the warranty checks and it still did not fare well. It is currently making a noise and I am looking for another car.
  • I need help! I just purchased a 1996 Sunfire SE and I'm worried that I got screwed. First, I went through Edmund's ratings and listed it as a GT and thought I was getting a new price. But since purchasing it, I found out it was an SE, so I paid retail for it. I like the car but it needs new tires and also I smell antifreeze when driving. I believe it may be the heater core but I'm not sure. Has anyone else had this problem or does anyone know of recalls on Sunfires?
  • Well, apparently the 1996 Sunfire's have head gasket problems too. I just discovered thats what the problem is with mine. Well its a 1995 and 1996 problem so there you go. It isn't all that expensive to fix though, found someone to do it for $235.00 most places charge $400-600 though. I guess I was lucky!
  • sunfgtsunfgt Posts: 40
    I believe that GM has an extended warranty for the 2.2 head gasket problem. As far as I know, the warranty is only for 92 and 93. However, if the head gasket problem has contined, GM may be extending their warranty to cover subsequent years. You should contact GM and ask them to pay for your repair bill, especially since you know that you have the same problem as previous years.
  • xchensxchens Posts: 4
    Our 96 white Sunfire Se is fine, we have the bigger engine(150 horse power), bigger alloy wheels and 2 dr. We have 51.5K now and just did the brake for the 2nd time, had problem with power sliding sunroof(under warranty) and had some gas pedal problem twice.

    We have a 7 month baby so we'd better get a 4-dr, but we just love the sunfire and still want to keep it, so got to find an extra car.
  • sunfgtsunfgt Posts: 40
    What kind of gas pedal problems did you have?
  • xchensxchens Posts: 4
    The gas pedal problem, it was difficult to press down the gas pedal when just started and/or turns or on hills, in local drive(I live near hill). Another thing I forgot was in summer, sometimes you cannot start the engire for 1st time. I had them chked and they found nothing wrong. Now it just happened and remind me.
  • bejordbejord Posts: 1
    I leased my '98 Sunfire SE brand new, after having it for only a month, it started to stall at completely random times. I brought it to the dealership, they looked at it and said that there was nothing wrong with it. This became a regular thing. They have put two new PCM's in it and it is still doing the same thing. The stalling isn't storing any codes in the computer so they say that it isn't happening. The car sometimes will not restart right away, and sometimes it starts right up. Once it idled at 3,000 RPM's and the check engine light came on after I finally got it restarted. Sometimes it just keeps turning and will not catch, once it would not start at all and I had to have it towed. It has been to the dealer 9 times for this problem alone. I am in the middle of an arbitration right now to hopefully get rid of it but do not know if it will be in my favor because the brought the little computer that detects the any codes that are supposedly thrown. They claim that the computer will have a code thrown if your gas cap is off, but for some reason it is not picking up the stalling. I have also had 3 new radios put in because the music would fade in and out. This car has been nothing but a hassle. I will never buy another GM car nor will I ever go back to that dealership.
  • broncodavebroncodave Posts: 26
    Anyone know of the fix for the sticking gas pedal? The thing is hard to press. My wife has a '96 convertible and it has had problems since she got it. The top leaked, the hood and everything else rattled, the brake rotors warped, the rear oxygen sensor burned out, the truck latch won't work and now it is idling rough. The stupid dealer couldn't figure out what was causing the rattles. I figured it out by stuffing rubber gaskets in the hood attahcments. Put together real well huh? I am really pushing her to get rid of it for a Honda Accord because I think it is a timebomb.
  • I bought my 96 GT as the second owner in October of 97. Its been pretty good, but the battery died twice before I had it replaced, then the water pump was on the verge of a breakdown, and the engine kept overheating. Happy to say, the extended warranty paid for the repairs. My brakes currently make a bumping sound sometimes, and the gas seems to go more quickly than it used to. I had the recalls for the airbag and interior light repaired. I have 71,150 miles now.
    I am thinking a checking into cars with a V6 and more horsepower, and all the newer bells and whistles such as power sunroof. I'm thinking about going with a used BMW 3 series, but would also like to get a new car, but would prefer foreign coupe not too much above 20K. I'd like to get a new car before this one decreases in value anymore.
    Any tips or opinions would be great.
  • pat455pat455 Posts: 603
    Hello kimberleekaye,

    Are you looking for tips and opinions on your brake problems and deteriorating gas mileage? If so, you are in the right place.

    On the other hand, if you are looking for buying advice, your best bet in Town Hall is going to be our Smart Shopper conference and (if you are looking for a sedan which it sounds like you might be) our Sedans conference. You can find these conferences using the choice on the left side of the page.

    You can also find lots of car reviews and buying advice for new and used vehicles from homepage - you can access that from here by clicking on the icon in the top left corner of this page.

    Good luck!

    Community Leader/Maintenance & Repair Conference
  • poe3poe3 Posts: 1
    Hi I'm trying to buy a used coupe and I really like the sunfire and cavaliers, but I heard they were "crap" from a couple of people who have never owned one. I would like a 1996-1998 and am wondering if a sunfire is a good car? Are they reliable? Are they at all safe. Would you recomend this car to a college student who cannot afford to by a really expensive car but can't afford to pay for repairs all the time either. I want a car thats good on gas and reliable and sporty looking. Please help if ya can!!!!!
    thanks melinda
  • pat455pat455 Posts: 603
    Hi Melinda,

    You might try the conferences I suggested to another poster, Sedans and/or Smart Shopper, in the post right before yours. You can get to them by using the Conference drop down list on the left side of the page.

    This conference tends to focus more on maintenance or repair issues of vehicles that our members own.

    You might also want to visit the Our Turn conference which focuses on women's automotive issues - there is technician co-hosting that conference who may have an opinion on these vehicles you are interested in.

    Good luck! If you make a purchase and then have any maintenance or repair issues, please come back and see us.

    Community Leader/Maintenance & Repair Conference
  • moram2moram2 Posts: 4
  • moram2moram2 Posts: 4
  • I bought my Sunfire brand new in 1997, right off the bat I had problems with receiving it, I ordered it in late September '96 and didn't get it delivered until January '97.

    The first 3 years were pretty mild, although I have a continual problem with the CD player (at just 4 yrs old, I am on CD player #4). Almost immediately after my Factory warranty ran out I started having problems, luckly I purchased the pricey extended warranty, since my car turned 3 yrs old, my fuel pump has been replaced, my O2 Sensor replaced and the next day the ERC valve replaced, my low oil light keeps coming on although there is oil, my rear driver side speaker went out and my gas petal wouldn't go down.

    I definatly wouldn't buy a Sunfire that is more than 3 yrs old.

    I am opting to trade it in for something more reliable, any suggestions?? GM products preferred
This discussion has been closed.