Pontiac Bonneville General Maintenance and Repair

roma007roma007 Member Posts: 39
edited December 2020 in Pontiac
Hey guys,

I have a '97 SSE. The driver information console
shows that my tail lamp is out. I fixed it, but
the lamp won't go out.

Also, I am not sure how much gas I have in the
car. When I fill it with about 6 gallons with the
needle at almost empty the reading goes up to the
1/2 mark. This is happens every time.

Has anybody else experienced this?


  • scrajscraj Member Posts: 10
    My 96 ssei had the same problem. The tail light went off and the dealer replaced it and the information console is perfect now.

    The gas tank, i guess, the design is different. I had the same issue. When the tank is full, the needle is perfect. It would come very slowly till half and fall down drastically from half to empty. When i asked the service manager, the guy gave me a written notice saying that it is the design of the gas tank and the meter. Don't know what that is. But, got used to it now and i have a habbit of keeping a tab on the no of miles i drive, by resetting the trip meter everytime i fill the tank. I know that the tank would be empty very soon once the no. crosses 350 miles.
  • roma007roma007 Member Posts: 39
    That's right. I have the same thing. When the tank is full the needle is fine, but once it crosses the 1/2 mark it goes down fast.

    I am used to it now. Also, I notice that when the needle is at Empty or below I am able drive for quite a while. I try not to drive more than 10-15 miles so I don't get stranded.
  • jus88jus88 Member Posts: 2
    Anyone no of any problems with the 88 Bonneville besides the fact that it can't keep away from rust???
  • jono4jono4 Member Posts: 8
    Had to replace steering rack at 44,000 on my 98 SE. Pretty spooky to think a car would rupture such a huge part at such low miles.
  • glennb4glennb4 Member Posts: 1
    I just bought a 94 Bonneville and right out the gate I had to replace the alternator. When I disconnected the battery, the radio in it's infinite wisdom, locked on me, and I haven't got a clue what the code is. Any suggestions?
    By the way, I love the car!
  • anonymousanonymous Member Posts: 314
    I'm a very new ssei owner (2 days). I was reading
    ezrapon's message #495 and might have an explanation. I'm just turning in a '98 GC and
    it has a 5.9L motor. I replaced the computer and put in a K&N cold air box (57i), both we ordered from the local Chrysler dealer. The K&N setup for this truck is dyno'd 27hp extra, at the rear wheels....Between the 2 add-ons and the factory 245HP, I surprised many drivers. I'm going to try and run the two vehicles before I give back the GC. I'll let you know.
    As far as everything else goes, the ssei rules supreme.
  • jimi2536jimi2536 Member Posts: 1
    Check your owners manual. If you don't have one you may try to hit mute button on the steering wheel. That worked on my 91.
  • hodgie1hodgie1 Member Posts: 4
    I purchased a 98 SSEI about 4 months ago with 18000 miles on it and have had nothing but trouble with the transmission. The first problem was with the car lurching on the highway from the passing gear back to overdrive, the dealership upgraded the software. I then had trouble with the car hesitating when shifting and bogging down. The dealership said nothing was wrong. The next problem was with the transmission slamming into gear when I needed to slow in traffic, they replaced a selinoid. Now less than 4 days later the car is making a growling noise at parking lot speeds and when I am accelerating. I have also had alternator problems and several other minor issues but I still love this car. Anyone have a similar experience with the Transmission?
  • wschofieldwschofield Member Posts: 1
    We can relate to your story -- almost identical! 1997 Bonneville SE

    Our alternator was replaced at 18K. They decided is was a bad unit from the factory. We took it in because the gauge was reading low and battery charge problems. Surprise -- the replacement was replaced within a few months. They said its rare for the replacement part to be bad as well, we're so lucky.

    Now, our car is having the transmission replaced. A few short months after the warranty period is over. We had complained about bad shifting into overdrive, and they couldn't diagnose (wait until it gets worse). We took it to a transmission shop, their diagnosis was that the torque converter was locking up, an electrical unit that they were ill equipped to diagnose more specifically. So, back to the dealer with this to check out, and the dealer now says the transmission needs to be replaced. Ouch.

    Very disappointing. We like the car also, very comfortable to drive. But, this is the second GM product with major needs at the end of three years.
  • pontihell2pontihell2 Member Posts: 4
    I have a 1994 Bonneville SE that has been giving me fits. First I replaced the Alternator, a few months later the car started to surge at around 2000 rpm. It was like it was shifting from overdrive to drive back and forth. At first it was only when I was driving up hill but it progressively got worse. I ended up taking it to the shop for a diaganostic test and replaced the plugs and wires because the mechanic said it was an emmision problem. STILL not fixed. So I took the car to another guy who said the injectors need cleaning and the transmission fluid needs changing(he said the transmission was fine) and by the way the fuel pump is not suppling enough pressure, he said "this ought to do it" --wrong!!!
    So yesterday I carried the car to a friend of mine and he replaced a bad injector and said he'd seen this type of problem before on bonnevilles but never the less my car still surges back and forth with any type of strain on the motor. I'm in desperate need of sound mechanical advice-any help with this problem would be greatly appreciated.8/31/00
  • bonneville92bonneville92 Member Posts: 1

    im an owner of a 92 bonneville se. for some strange reason the power locks will open and close at random times. even at times the trunk will open every now and then. anybody have any clues as to what the hell is going on with my car? thanks!!
  • mcnabb2mcnabb2 Member Posts: 4
    I have a 97 Bonneville that Jumps in and out of the torque conv. when in OD. Usually only happens when you start up a hill. I can increase the throttle and the torque conv. will stay disengaged, but if I stay at a constant throttle it will continue to bounce between converter lockup and overdrive. It sounds like other people have described similar problems and even have had to have transmissions replaced. I don't know anything about these transmissions but it seems like it must be electronic or torque converter related. Any info on this problem is appreciated.

  • joelb79joelb79 Member Posts: 2
    I am the owner of a '98 Bonneville SLE. i am the second owner of this verhicle, and it operated its first year trouble free, 53,000 miles. Since i have bought it, 5 months down the road, at mileage 89,797, The engine ruptured the intake plentum gasket, causing coolant to leak into the intake. There were no warning lights. I found out when the engine would not run anymore. GM rebuilt the engine, under waranty. now, im out of waranty at 121,000 miles. The engine just siezed up on me after the exact same failure happened. This engine is now siezed up. Anyone else having the problem? I know 2 people who have '98 3800 series II V6's with the same failure.
  • joelb79joelb79 Member Posts: 2
    Also, to add to my last post. I have experienced the Tourque converter problem, only mine was worse. Pressing the accellerator with the tourque converter engaged would not dis-engadge it. you would have to FLOOR the accellerator to get any speed change, up hill or on flat ground anywhere from 45-52mph. after that speed, the dissengadgement would be slow, but would be fast enough to accellerate somewhat normaly. GM answered this problem by saying that nothing was wrong. The told me to dissengade the Tourque converter manually by tapping the break pedal then push the accellerator. This works. But still, this car developed this problem, and i think it is a problem, not one to be ignored.

    second off. Gas millage. since the 1st time the engine was rebuilt, and the torque convertor problem, i have noticed gas millage problems. before the repair, i was geting 450-500 miles per tank. now, i can only get 380 if im lucky. if you do the math, i was getting 33highway, and now i get 24 highway and 24 city. in my oppinion, if a great number of you are experencing these problems, we need to start writing GM and demanding that these problems be fixed. we are getting robbed guys!
  • lucky20lucky20 Member Posts: 35
    There are some specific conditions (throttle position, manifold vacuum, speed of vehicle), under which this trans. may hunt gears under the condition you have mentioned. Before you spend any money on this symptom try simply selecting DRIVE instead of OVER-DRIVE. This will still allow lock up to remain engaged and reduce the load on the eng. and the hunting will not ocur. An other option is to either speed up or slow down under the conditions you have described.
  • kgaigerkgaiger Member Posts: 1
    I have a 94' SSEI and have a problem with some similar issues.I had a problem with every once in a while it would buck beetween D and O.D..I changed plugs and wires and it was fixed,mabye.
    6 months later my service engine light started coming on and the car would run rough,Untill I realized that when I turned the car off and turned it back on, the service engine light would go off and the car would run ok.Now,it is still doing it and now it is making a bad bearing sound once and a while and it seems like the charger is NOT working properly.HELP
  • mcnabb2mcnabb2 Member Posts: 4
    I understand what I can do to sidestep the problem that I have with the transmission but I am concerned that this is an abnormal condition and it may only get worse. From the looks of this board, I am not the only one experiencing this problem. It also appears that there is no easy fix and there could be numerous contributing factors to this problem. I will investigate through a dealer but it sounds like there is no definite fix. I looked up service bulletins concerning this transmission through the NHTSA and hope to be getting them within the next month.


  • pontihell2pontihell2 Member Posts: 4
    I am somewhat relived that my terrible luck was not cast upon me for some evil deed that I'm unaware of, I'm talking about the surging Bonneville problems. It seem quite clear to me that several of us have the same problem which is to say we may all have the same solution. I'm taking the car to a guy who says he has fixed four different late model bonevilles with the same symptoms and he guarentees he'll fix it or it will be free. I hope to be writing you all soon with hopes I have solved the mystery of the surge.
  • hodgie1hodgie1 Member Posts: 4
    I have been working very closely with my local dealer who I must admit has worked very hard to solve my problem (see post 9). They have adjusted software and replaced a selenoid in an attempt to resolve the issues without any luck. Finally the tech spent about 20 minutes with me test driving the car and I was able to reproduce the problem for him. He reset the adaptive memory and thought if the problem persisted it may need a new valve body.
    So far the car has run flawlessly after a 1000 miles. I cant say for sure yet if this was the solution but its been a long time since the transmission has felt this good.
  • mcnabb2mcnabb2 Member Posts: 4
    Thanks for the replys and keep us informed on your solutions. Could you please explain what the adaptive memory is and what it entails to reset it. Thanks for the info
  • bmauzybmauzy Member Posts: 1
    I am currently looking for a new automobile and I think the Bonneville is the one for me, or that was until I read the message board. I'm undecided I was looking at the 2000 no particular model at the present time. Can anyone give me any bad news about the 2000 before I take the plunge?
  • bnormannbnormann Member Posts: 335

    Have you looked in the Sedans conference. All you SHOULD read about in this conference is trouble. Check out the Sedans conference for a more balanced view, but remember, 10 satisfied customers may never say a peep about their experience, but the ONE who has a bad experience is NEVER silent....

    Your host, Bruce
  • pontihell2pontihell2 Member Posts: 4
    Can you find out what "reseting the Adaptive memory" is. I asked a friend and he seemed to think that was the same as "relearning the idle".
    If you can provide this info I would appreciate it. (concering trans. shifting problems at mid-range speed)
  • skyhawk3skyhawk3 Member Posts: 42
    My son has 197K miles on his 88 Bonnie that I passed down to him in 1994. My wife's 2001 SLE will be built next week. All my friends love their Bonnies and none are having the problems that are mentioned. I've only been reading these because I have a new SLE on order and I wanted to see what people are saying. We started out to buy an Aztec but my wife has some physical limitations and she could not easily lift the rear hatch. As soon as she sat in the Bonnie the Aztec was history.
  • dmullertdmullert Member Posts: 5
    Hi Gang!

    Well, I'm happy to post that my 2000 SSEI has reached the 3000 mile mark without any problems; the only complaints I have is some rattling here and there, especially ion the sunroof and the passenger front door (fixed by the dealer), and the lousy designed headrests - other than that, this car is a dream come true.


    Dennis D. Mullert
  • zanginzangin Member Posts: 1
    Well, I am the proud new owner of a 2000 SSEI. I bought it a few weeks ago with 11K miles on it. I love it!! Ok. I have noticed a few problems though.

    1. After coming to a stop, turning the steering wheel is very difficult when the car is not moving; it's much easier to turn when the car is rolling forward or backward slightly. Somebody said it could be a problem with the "Rack" of the car.. He said it was called a "Lazy Rack". Is this something that is easily corrected? I don't know anything about rack & pinion steering.

    2. After driving home (about a 48 mile trip), when the car is idling, before I turn it off, the motor seems to surge a bit, over and over, fluxuating the RPMs just a small amount. This doesnt happen every time, but happens enough for me to notice it. Should I be concerned?

    I'm now at 12K miles. Thanks all!
  • dmullertdmullert Member Posts: 5
    Someone posted a while back that your dealership can adjust the steering stiffness with the computer to allow you to have a smooth power steering or a more sporty feel; you may very well have it set yo the stiffer setting. You cannot fix this - the dealer has to do it for you.

  • steve227steve227 Member Posts: 8
    The torque converters in GM cars do have a history of 'hunting' while going up a hill. What I believe Bonneville owners are experiencing is the shift between lock up on the torque converter and unlocking which is essentially a normal occurrence. Heavy load on the drivetrain and the converter unlocks, reduced load and the converter locks. The process is there to keep the engine from stalling or experiencing detonation (spark knock).In GM cars, the process is jsut more noticeable than in other makes.

    If the the torque converter locks in first or second or fails to unlock when coming to a stop, then there's likely a failure with the TCC switch. This failure is not uncommon in GM cars; my 86 Grand Am experienced it. The switch is inexpensive and should only take about an hour to replace. By the way, my 89 Grand Prix has done that since new. The car now has 221,500 miles on it w/o a failure to the tranny. AND that's with the infamous 440T transmission!

    As to the power steering unit, GM's Magna Steer is not without complaints of erratic performance. While I believe there is a software 'fix', the problem is not related only to Bonnevilles. Seems the unit tends to think it's going slow when it's going fast and vice versa. When the car is going fast, steering effort is supposed to increase and when the cars slows, steering effort is supposed to decrease. There are some reports of Magna Steer units doing the opposite and causing vibration. See topics related to Suburbans for discussions on steering problems.
  • steve227steve227 Member Posts: 8
    On response #31, I meant to say that the tranny in my 89 Grand Prix has 'hunted'when going up a hill since the car was new. I did not mean to indicate that the TCC switch has failed since new. Just wanted to clarify my statement.
  • judym22judym22 Member Posts: 1
  • pat455pat455 Member Posts: 603
    Welcome to Town Hall!

    That is very helpful information, thanks for posting it. I'm sure it will help someone out around here.

    I just wanted to mention, though, that posts are easier to read if they are not in all caps.

    Hope you are finding your way successfully around Town Hall and enjoying what you see.

    Thanks again!

    Community Leader/Maintenance & Repair Conference
  • cr8cr8 Member Posts: 1
    I have a 96 SE. The engine has been turning off under various speeds and conditions for about 3 months. It starts immediately after shifting to park and re-starting. The car has 54k on it and has been maintained on a 3-month/3k schedule. So far my mechanic replaced the 3 ignition modules, but that didn't fix it. Took it in to the dealer where no codes showed up, but replaced split fuel hose to fuel regulator. No problems for exactly 1 week, but the problem occurred again. Took car back to dealer today, we'll see. This is a very dangerous problem as it has happened on the expressway/70mph or in local traffic.
    We have owned 7 various models of Pontiac and never encountered a serious problem before this one.
  • bigbaboobigbaboo Member Posts: 4
    I originally made post #19 regarding similar transmission problems as many of the previous postings. At this point (1 day back from the dealer) my problem seems to be fixed. I am crossing my fingers! The solution is rather odd though...

    After reading the previous posts, I was pretty convinced that I had the same problems as everyone else. When I cruised at 60mph in overdrive and slowly pressed the accelerator, the car would buck violently as though it had a problem shifting. I could alleviate the problem by shifting to drive myself. A friend of mine also witnessed it and thought the same.

    As it turns out the ignition coil pack was failing when the engine was bogged down or under heavy load. The coil pack has 3 sections, each firing a set of 2 cylinders. Apparently, #4 & #6 were not firing. Oddly enough, as I said before, the car ran FINE when going through all the other gears. The problem was easily reproduced when going up a hill at 50mph in overdrive.

    I can't really see why/how a dealer would miss this but I guess anything's possible. The coil is about $70 a the parts store. I paid $240 for 2 hours labor and a $130 GM part. I went with the dealer install because in comes with a warrantee . Hope this helps somebody....
  • pat455pat455 Member Posts: 603
    We have a lot of unfinished stories around Town Hall. It's very nice when someone comes back and posts a resolution - or apparent resolution - because you are right, it very well may help someone else.

    Hope this takes care of the problem once and for all.

    Community Leader/Maintenance & Repair Conference
  • sseissei Member Posts: 3
    Hi guys. I recently found this site & find it quite helpfull.
    My 96 Bonneville recently started bucking after about 50 MPH or when going uphill under light acceleration. I took it to my trusty tranny guy who suggested I check the coil pack & change the plug wires. The coils checked out OK and I was not too optimistic but I changed the sparkplug wires and guess what? Runs perfectly! Shifts perfectly under any condition. Try it. I still can,t believed it's fixed for $50.00.
    He is one honest transmission guy.
  • elazul2elazul2 Member Posts: 2
    Having read some of the posts on transmission issues and surging engines, I am relieved to only be experiencing fit and finish problems. These are mostly in the form of rattles from the dashboard area as well as the cheap plastic trim on the doors. The model has the bench seat, and perhaps the lack of the floor transmission console allows too much play when vibrations/bumps occur. Everytime I hit a bump I am treated to a rattle. Playing the radio at healthy volumes also elicits rattles on the deep bass notes. When the A/C is on it is noticeably worse, and sometimes in reverse I get some rattles coming from the dash. My dealer claims to have tightened things up twice but to no avail. Anyone else experiencing this trivial but nevertheless irritating problem ?
  • elazul2elazul2 Member Posts: 2
    I was so busy describing the rattles that I neglected to mention this is a 2000 Bonneville SE with 3200 miles on it.
  • hodgie1hodgie1 Member Posts: 4
    Im curious bibaboo, if you ever noticed your car feeling less powerful and with a vibration that acted as if the tires were out of balance. This seems to occur when the transmission is acting up. Other days the car runs flawlessly with quick crisp responses.
    Also the Adaptive memory does not seem to be the solution. I ran fine for about 1100 miles and then the car sat for the weekend and on monday it was worse than ever. I also suddenly had a great deal of vibration so severe I could not focus on the cars in my rearview.
    On Tuesday the car ran better but still had more vibration than normal. After having the tires balanced and rotated there was no change.
    The coil pack seems to make sense to me because I keep thinking the car doesnt feel like all pistons are firing properly.
    It goes back in on 9/19 for the 6th time with my patience running out for this problem. Ill let you know what they say.
  • mcnabb2mcnabb2 Member Posts: 4
    I just got my 97 Bonneville back from the dealer because of the torque conv. kicking in and out. The check eng. light also happened to be on. They said the light was on due to "A plug wire breaking down under a load" and that this was probably causing the transmission woes. They installed new plug wires and reset the light and it has stayed off. I have yet to get the car out on the interstate and see how it does. This all makes sense after reading this board. Hopefully this will take care of it. Thanks for all the follow ups.
  • isabelle31isabelle31 Member Posts: 1
    Hi, guys - hope y'all can help me - I'm just a little lady with no idea about cars.

    My 96 Bonneville has 182,000 highway miles on it with no major problems - until today.

    The car won't start, the battery is fully charged, and interior lights work until key is turned, engine tries to turn over, but then everything dies.

    Also, one other little problem I've been living with for a while...car vibrates very badly when going around 70 mph, even on flat roads, no problems around 65 or 75 though. Is this the same type of transmission problem you other guys were experiencing?

    Any help would certainly be appreciated!
  • pat455pat455 Member Posts: 603
    Welcome to Town Hall!

    I was wondering if you had found the Our Turn conference yet? That conference is dedicated to women's automotive issues of ALL sorts - Town Hall is fortunate to have an automotive technician co-hosting there. Her name is Kristina and she posts under the ID of md_tech.

    While you are waiting for a response here, you might want to drop by over there to see if she has any thoughts for you.

    Good luck and again, welcome.

    Community Leader/Maintenance & Repair Conference
  • dmckeowndmckeown Member Posts: 107
    A few months back I left the dome light on in my 93 Bonnie and had to jump start it . After I did that I started to have problems with CD player , which progressively got worse , till last week it completely died and became a clock . Before I sent it out for repair I took a chance and reset the codes in the car by disconnecting the battery for a minute .Bingo , that fixed the problems completely . When experiencing phantom electrical or PCM related problem's , you may want to try this first .
    Also was running a 165 deg. thermostate in my 2000 SSEi to help reduce detonation and after a few days it made the PCM upset and it turned the "SERVICE ENGINE SOON" light on . Changed back to stock therm. but light stayed on till I reset codes by disconnecting battery , then every thing was OK .
  • dmckeowndmckeown Member Posts: 107
    When a battery starts to go bad it will do what you describe , but you said it was fully charged . Did it test to 12 volts or less which would indicate one or more cells are bad . could you jump start it ? Otherwise it may be the ignition switch or short in starter .
    May sound dumb on the vibration issue , but are tires OK ? all in balance and no belts broken , no scalloping of the tread ?
    It's always nice to hear about a bonnie getting near the 200 k mark , good luck . Doug
  • harmarharmar Member Posts: 94
    In addition to dmckeown's suggestion re: dead cell, I've had similar symptoms when the battery cable to the starter gets corroded. Corroded ground strap can also cause them. An easy fix IF the starter is easily accessible (unlikely now-a-days). Good luck!
  • dmckeowndmckeown Member Posts: 107
    On the steering issue , did you try a new SSEi on your dealers lot to see if the steering felt the same as your car , it should with only 11 or 12 k on it . What was the reason they stated for a new SSEi to be for sale , a trade up ?
    What octane gas are you running in it . My 2000 SSEi always liked 93 or 94 octane and runs very smooth , even with modifications I have made for performance . The problem may be that previous owner ran cheap 87 oct. in it . Are you interested in increasing performance in your SSEi ?
  • restrebendtrestrebendt Member Posts: 1
    hodgie1 reported a problem of low response and poor power. I had a similar problem that took 3 trips to the shop to find and fix. It turned out to be a bad "Bulk Air Sensor" that was supposed to be good for 100,000 miles, but mine died at around 55000.
  • jkk6jkk6 Member Posts: 3
    I have a 97 SSEi and about a week ago the alarm went off 3 times for no reason. It happened in 3 different places so I'm sure nothing occured to prompt it. It also happened today twice at work. Could it be a short? I don't think it's the key controller since it has also happened in the middle of the night (happy neighbors, I'm sure!). Is there some kind of a fuse for that or any way of disabling it until I can get it looked at? Thanks in advance!
  • terry4388terry4388 Member Posts: 1
    To #36, The engine shuts off while driving, any speed or time. I had this problem too and all the mechanics would say there are no computer codes showing a problem (bring it back when it doesn't run). The car became almost totally useless, until I found an Oldsmobile dealership which ran it until it stopped. Turns out the problem was caused by a crankshaft sensor, which would heat up and short out. The part was just $40 but the labor was over $200. Have driven the car whith out problem for 3 weeks now. Hope this helps!
  • pontihell2pontihell2 Member Posts: 4
    I had a friend look at my 94 Bonnevile and we decided to go for a drive so that he could feel the problem. As soon as it started he said I had an ingition problem, so we went to his shop and he tested the coil pack. Sure enough one of the three coil packs were bad. The car ran a little better but was still not like it should have been. Next we replaced the computer with one from a wrecked 95 bonneville and it ran great for three days and now the jerking and convulsing motor is acting up again at 2000 rpms,especially in OD. I am totally clueless at to what may be causing these problems.It has new plugs, wires, fuel pump, computer, coil pack, injectors, and fuel filter. Help..........
  • roma007roma007 Member Posts: 39
    Hey guys,

    I have a '97SSE with 78K, and recently my ABS and Traction Control lights came on when I started the car and stayed on. It didn't happen all the time. I took it to the mechanic, and he says the computer shows a "Stuck ABS motor." He is not sure if it is the traction controle module or the whole ABS system needs to be replaced. Apparently there is a whole procedure he has to go through to determine that. Anybody have a similar situation, and what would case this?

    ...by the way my transmission was behaving very similar to what you guys are describing and putting a little fluid in fixed it.
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