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Pontiac Bonneville General Maintenance and Repair



  • theicemantheiceman Posts: 736
    Sorry to hear about your '02. Many of us have had those vibration problems - I am not so cursed, fortunately.

    Congrats on your new GTP - I'm sure it will serve you well!

  • mem300mmem300m Posts: 12
    I have a 94 B'vile w/114,000 miles. Last night the a/c fan went out. Regardless of mode (a/c, vent, defrost, heat), the fan will not blow at any speed or any switch position. Is this likely the fan motor itself dying or is there a circuit breaker or fan relay that might be at fault and if so how could I easily diagnose to see if it's fan motor or something else?

    please email me with ideas at


  • tdistancetdistance Posts: 1
    I just purchase a 1995 bonneville sse at the auction with 130k got a really good price for the car. Seems to be in pretty good condition however reviewing board I see a great deal can go wrong I have been driving for 2 days I noticed that the thermostat gage stays a notch above the overheat point when driving during the day and at about 200 at night. Is this normal?

    The a/c is not working. any suggestions.
  • I had a similar problem on my Bonny SSEi 1988. It was the Blower Control Module that Gm wanted at $500 plus installation.

    Went to a junk dealer and got it for $35 and put it in myself. Mine was in the engine dept by the blower. It is an electronic module in the SSEi in 1988 , probally the same in yours.

    Good luck
  • mfahey1mfahey1 Posts: 419
    When it runs hot, stop and check to see if the fan is running.
    Also, you might be long overdue for a coolant change and system flush along with hoses. If you do the hoses, I think the 95 still had the little bypass hose around the water pump. GM had the "wisdom" for awhile of using a plastic threaded nipple for this hose that had the nasty tendancy to break. If yours is plastic, the replacement is metal and would be worth a few bucks for peace of mind.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 21,319
    I can second the little bypass hose with the plastic tube threaded horizontally into the intake manifold. Mine had started leaking. I'd smell antifreeze at times, but only when having run hot so the pressure had been built up enough to leak. Other times, not smell.

    When I finally found water sitting on the engine top area underneath, the dealer couldn't get to it for a couple of days. I pulled slightly on the hose checking it when I got home and the thing burst. It could have burst at any time on the road.

    So I'd replace it and save the tow bill.

    Running at edge of hot: does the water pump look like it's been replaced since new?
    How does the antifreeze look? A flush on your own and replacement of antifreeze would let you look at the ends of the radiator tubes for corrosion buildup.

    Did your car have an air dam underneath to lift some air up in front of the condensor and radiator? Is it still there? The one on my 93 (LeSabre) was easily rubbed on parking blocks and yours might have been broken away.

    2015 Cruze 2LT, 2014 Malibu 2LT, 2008 Cobalt 2LT

  • jeromy1jeromy1 Posts: 5
    My mechanic has traced my '95 Bonneville's (6 cyl. SE 3.8L) starting problem back to the starter (of all things). He says everything else--all the wires, chargers, alternator, you name it--looks good. The car has gotten the bad habit of shrieking instead of starting 4 times out of 5 when the engine isn’t warmed up. It’s gotten progressively worse, to the point where I can’t depend on it starting at all, so I took it in.

    I’m not much of a mechanic. I could try to fix it myself, but not this time. The mechanic quoted $249 for parts and labor for replacing the starter. It’s a new starter with a lifetime warranty that costs $120.

    Is this a reasonable quote?
  • alcanalcan Posts: 2,550
    Starter replacement labour is 1.1 hours.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 21,319
    Just had mine redone at 4000 miles by dealer. The force balance had changed from the earlier run at 1400 miles. He also reduced the tolerance on the balancer to zero. He explained that the usual tolerance of 1/4 ounce can leave 1/4 oz on both sides of the tire, causing more than that in imbalance.

    The tires have been problems through the years. The force balance measures the out of roundness due to uneven sidewall crushing while rolling. Less than 17 is acceptable. They replace some with Michelins to get that tolerance. Mine were 9 or lower to begin with. They had not found a wheel hub to be off center on any problem cars. It's all in the wheels and the light weight of the aluminum suspensions on Bonnie, LeSabre, Deville, Seville, ...
    It makes them much more sensitive to wheel runout and balance. So if your dealer just balances to nearest 1/4 oz and doesn't care, lots of luck... My service manager was checking it all out this second time around when the balance vibration came back. He used a vibration analyzer on the seat frame after the rebalancing and couldn't get a reading that anything was in harmonic motion in the car.

    I couldn't feel anything either on the way home...

    PS One additional factor mentioned by radio mechanic was tires slipping on rims. He suggested marking rim and tire with a dot of fingernail polish. I can see hard braking letting
    the tire slip if installed with too much lubricant. The lube stays around for a while and can
    let the tire slip. A tire slipped changes the runout if it was matched to the rim for minimum
    runout. I don't hotrod this car, but emergency braking could cause a tire to slip.

    2015 Cruze 2LT, 2014 Malibu 2LT, 2008 Cobalt 2LT

  • rcastonrcaston Posts: 1
    turns out there is a defect on the intake manifold's on most of the GM car lines, like the Bonni..

    basically, they crack around 60,000 miles, pouring engine coolant into your engine, as in, where the OIL is.

    So I hyrolocked my engine, it won't start, and I had to replace the manifold, and drain coolant out of my engine before it ruined it.

    total bill, $1200... tho some people's bill reach into the 4k range if they blow other gaskets, like the head.

    I signed a online petition with 5,000 other people with this same problem.

    My advice to anyone who has this car, get it check'd out around 50k ...
  • wnewellwnewell Posts: 14
    rcaston where can I find this online petition?

  • montanafanmontanafan Posts: 945
    1995-1998 GM cars with the 3.8L non-supercharged V6 engine can have a coolant leak caused by upper intake manifold degradation. Over time EGR gases heat the upper intake manifold causeing degradation of the material near a coolant passage (near the throttle body). The coolant will start to leak into the manifold. This condition is noticed by the loss of coolant in the overfill tank. If no other sources of coolant loss or leak are found, this condition could be the cause. Eventually given enough time the leak increases in size and volume. The lower intake manifold gets filled with coolant. The final stage would be coolant getting into a cylinder and hydrolocking it. The repair is to replace the lower intake manifold and upper intake manifold. Costs are about $900 plus what ever other additional repairs are done. Sometimes this can occur before 70,000 miles (California & Other states warranty limit), but people who have this happen usually report mileage between 90,000 and 125,000.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 21,319
    On 98 LeSabre occured at 70K: friends 98 Bonnie, 50K.
    Had seen small loss of coolant over a few months before
    even in cold weather. Had smelled coolant but couldn't find
    leak one time at very slow, driving on mountain road in
    Gatlinburg, with engine showing higher temp than normal
    which turned on coolant fans.

    Someone had put links on this or Bonneville group showing
    pics of old vs new lower (metal part) of intake manifolds which
    were replacements.

    2015 Cruze 2LT, 2014 Malibu 2LT, 2008 Cobalt 2LT

  • scrajscraj Posts: 10
    90k miles. Teal.
    Took car for 90k service. Same dealer and same service person for the past 6+ years.

    Was told that one of the rear shocks are leaking. They replaced them with Monroe shocks since GM had discontinued the electronic shocks which can be controlled using the Perform Ride and Normal Ride buttons next to the shift lever. Did anyone else go through this one? The shocks got so stiff in a couple of hours, i felt that i was drving an empty u-haul truck..jumping all over the road. Went back to the dealer. Was told the monroe's shocks rubber had gone back into the shock and twisted itself. They showed me the shocks and the damaged line on the rubber. They said the compressor for inflating the shocks or whatever is not working fine and needs replacing. I told them that it was fine till you diagnosed that the shock had started to leak. I did not find any symptoms in the past 7 years. They replaced the shocks with new monroe shocks and it seems ok now. The ride command switches are disabled now. I can live with that.
    At the same time, the radio quit on me. If i rotate the knob the volume would come up, but, would die down gradually in a few seconds. Asked in outside shops for aftermarket. They said the steering wheel controls will not work with any aftermarket radios. So, asked the dealer. They said that they would put in a refurbished piece for $375. (The stereo with a single CD player and manual equalizers - exactly the same as my previoius one - i had no issues with that). Done. And, now, the stereo holds the volume for AM radio. But, for FM radio and the CDs, the volume would increase automatically from the begining and the radio would quit after some time.Took it to the dealer. They said it was the amplifier problem and ordered a new one. Yesterday i was told to come over and get the new amp. Yesterday evening i was told that when they connect the new AMP it still does the same thing. But when they disconnect the amp, the stereo works fine. I checked and it seems to be true. They said that PONTIAC has information about the stereo,but, they do not have any specific information about the amp. There is a seperate Music/Base gain knob below the stereo (A 5 inch long plastic plate with a moveable knob) which increases the base. That one does not work without the amp. The dealership said that they have to field test to figure out what is going on and they (and i) have to wait till they can locate any bonny with the same kind of stereo and base gain moveable knob below the stereo. Too much time and frustration for a problem that looks so silly. Any information on this issue will be greatly appreciated. Sorry for the really long post.
  • 1badsidekick1badsidekick Posts: 135
    My parents have a '93 SSEi with the exact same radio as you're mentioning here. It has the manual equalizer controls and the gain slider control right under the stereo. The FM band on this radio has seen better days, and it will barely pick up anything anymore. The CD player quit working correctly 2 years ago, and the power antenna died in the up position about 4 years ago. The buttons on the steering wheel to control the radio now only half function, it feels like the buttons have slipped off the contact patch below, but not sure. They were going to trade off the bonny about a month ago, only to find that the dealer could only give them $2,000 for it trade in. Mom said "it's worth more than that to me, I'll keep driving it." It now has about 110k on it.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 21,319
    They might do better selling it individually.
    Lots of 92-95 Bonnevilles and LeSabres in our area
    are showing up in the hands of owners who put what looks like $2000 worth of chrome wheels on them and all kinds of customization. Probably their own radio which makes the radio problem

    If it's been an import honda or toyota I probably would have been facing some major expense for maintainence and would have spent a fortune at dealer on 30k checkups required and had a sludge problem or trans problem.

    But I had little expense out of the 93. Lots of little irritations with things that didn't work part of the time -- had ground problem with connection at left of driver's seat under carpet. but had changed spark wires with original equipment at 120K for second time.
    That group of car is good for 150K plus with good care in the past. Engine and trans were great on car I traded with 150K on it. Car acted good for 200K. My wife made me trade it. She got a Crimson Red LeSabre... with chrome wheels and Michelins. She twisted my arm. But I still miss the green 93.

    2015 Cruze 2LT, 2014 Malibu 2LT, 2008 Cobalt 2LT

  • 1badsidekick1badsidekick Posts: 135
    I was told of a common problem with the 92-95 bonnevilles that was transmission related. We also know someone who has a '92 SSEi and had to replace the engine a few years ago. So far this one has been pretty good, but it hasn't been without problems by far. It has required a new alternator every 20k-40k miles, the latest only lasting 8 months. Put on in August of '02, replaced in May of '03. We were wise and bought from Adanvanced Auto Parts, with a lifetime warranty. Now I just walk in with original receipt in hand, and walk out with a new alternator. Thank god it's easy to get to! Other problems have been several water pumps, a starter, lots of electrical issues like malfunctioning power door locks, windows and the like, plus about 30k miles ago the ABS/Traction light came on, and I think it's sensor related. Besides all of that, it rides and drives very smoothly, and is very comfortable. It is also by far the "nicest" vehicle my parents have ever had.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 21,319
    Re the Bonnie locks and windows. Pull up the carpet beside the drivers seat next to the door. You should find a boxed in area with the grounds from the dash area coming together for commond ground ( I think it's G200 on the schematics ).
    Tighten and clean those so they make good contact. I was told that will fix the problems coming from dash like AC manual style control cutting in and out, door locks not working at times, windows may ground there too.

    I looked it up in my 93 lesabre manual but traded the car before I got around to working on the box.

    What's the common trans problem that 92-95s have?

    2015 Cruze 2LT, 2014 Malibu 2LT, 2008 Cobalt 2LT

  • 1badsidekick1badsidekick Posts: 135
    I've heard of several people who have had to replace the tranny completely. I don't know exactly what the problem was, but it was fatal to the trans.
  • 8sparks68sparks6 Posts: 1
    I used to be active in Town Hall, but lost my password, changed ISPs and could never log in. I've re-registered and hope to participate a bit (lurk mostly) once again. I have a '93 Bonneville that was parked for a few years. I just put it thru the shop for belts/hoses/fluids and anything else it needed, plus new tires, a couple of months ago. I turned 28,000 miles on it last week. I have had a noise since it was new and am hoping someone can point me to a solution. When accelerating from a standstill, I get a clunk that seems to come from the rear of the car, sounds like maybe from the rear suspension. I vaguely recall something about a TSB on this ??? It's a nice car and a joy to drive - and I expect it will be even better once it's broken in ;-)
  • ayratayrat Posts: 26
    Drove from nj to az my 1992 SE. Stuck in Denver, CO, as bearings/inserts, reportedly broken. Got knocking noise from the engine...Was suggested to look for another car here, rather than fixing it (replacing engine with junk one plus labor $1,500 plus no guarantee it will run), perhaps will look for used import pickup truck. Anyone willing to purchase it for parts here in Colorado? Original Aluminium wheels and BFGoodRich tires(20K only) , almost new OEM windshield, just replaced brake booster with rebuilt one, cranksensor 1 month ago, oxygen too. Clean interior, nice chairs. Let me know. Dent in the driver's door and cracked LH mirror. It was a comfortable car...
  • scylarkscylark Posts: 5
    Intermittently on normal turns, and or hard acceleration/braking I hear a popping sound that sounds like its coming from multiple areas, i.e. pillar between doors on drivers side, shock area on drivers side, and middle of the rear end. I have had it in several times and nothing turns up wrong. It is not an interior noise as I have taken the trunk and most of the back seat area apart, and it still does it. I can not reproduce the sound when the car is sitting still. I saw a similar post in message 534. Any answers? This is a 2002 Bonneville SE.
  • idntnvuidntnvu Pulaski, VirginiaPosts: 254
    Hi all, "the user formerly known as 1badsidekick" here...the parent's '93 SSEi is having a fit again. My mom took it to Gatlinburg TN this past weekend, and on the way up into the mountains, it overheated, and wouldn't start again for a while. She finally got it restarted, and didn't drive it the rest of the time they were up there. She and her sister got in it to come home yesterday, and the thing was heating all the way home (about 4 hours, 230 miles). She kept the climate control on 90 the whole way, and considering the temperature outside was 87, they were a little warm. Now, the question is, what is causing this? The fans at the radiator seemed to work intermittantly, but they did work. I know the engine has to reach a certain temp before they kick in. What else could this be? Thermostat? Water pump? Any help is appreciated. I'm going to try to get it to the garage today for them, but I'd like to get it in there and halfway know what to expect, rather than going in there with a blindfold on. (Even though the mechanics at our garage are good, they tend to "throw parts" at the problem, rather than knowing immediately what it is.) Any advice??
  • chevydude2chevydude2 Posts: 36
    Got a '98 Bonneville SE -- great car -- 135M and minimal problems -- still gets 28-30 MPG on the highway... Guy that works for me had his car vandalized the other night -- kids put SAND in his tranny fill tube, gas tank and Oil fill pipe -- All while his ALARM was set... So, I checked the factory alarm in my Bonneville .. armed it with the drivers window down and reached in and OPENED THE HOOD and never set off the alarm. Any idea on a fix? Could a local car alarm shop install a hot switch on the hood that would tie in with the factory alarm?? Try yours and see what it does...I was AMAZED...
  • mlm4mlm4 Posts: 401
    The factory alarm is intended to be a theft deterrent system, not a vandalism deterrent system. All it does is lock out the ignition system and honk the horn when someone forcibly opens a cabin door. An alarm shop could install a better system with motion sensors, glass break sensors, and switches for the hood and trunk, etc.
  • daver9daver9 Posts: 1
    my 2001 has developed bare spots at the bottomcorner near the rear door closing. I thought it was weird becuse both sides were the same. car has only 30k on it.
      I talked to someone who has the same yr and his was the same. He is getting his repaired by the same dealer that I bought mine from. They told him all he had to do was pu on the pontiac "mud" flaps and they would paint that area. they told him they had several people complain that there bonneville was doingt the same.
      I called the dealer and they said, at first, We have not heard anything about anyone else having problems and i sounded like a defect. When I gave them the name of the guy who was going to get his repainted without any hassles, the played dumb and said stop by and we'll take a look at it.
      My wife stopped by today and the guy's car that was to be fix was sitting outside ready to be picked up. my wife said it looked like they patched just the area where the paint was of without sanding it. It was uneven in the spot that had been bare. She went inside and went through the same bull..
      the same that they have not had any complants about the bare paint spots in those certain areas. She then said.. well... there's one right out side that you just did! the lady said which car? & my wide NAMED the guy who owned it.
      they again backslid and went on to tell her that they have have several people complain about that area losing paint prematurely.
      now we have to take it back again when the service manager is there.
      SO If your newer style have paint coming off just behind the rear doors, make sure you get it to a dealer so that this problem is recognized and something is done for everyone without going through a HASSLE. If you need pics of the area that is in question, email me at , I will snap a few and send them.
  • idntnvuidntnvu Pulaski, VirginiaPosts: 254
    In case anybody cares, we cancelled the appt to get the SSEi looked at for the overheating problem. Flushed the radiator and replaced antifreeze, and so far so good, no problems, but we'll see.
  • loubanasloubanas Posts: 3
    I have a noise in the engine compartment when my 2003 Bonneville is idling. When I press the gas petal, the noise goes away. I took it to the dealer and the answer was the fuel line is now connected to the fire wall and causing the noise. Didn't have a fix. Has anyone encountered this noise? And possibly a fix?
  • kupper25kupper25 Posts: 30
    Here's one especially for folks like Montanafan and Imidazol (must be a chemist?) who have written such great posts about early 90's Bonnes.

    I am "maintenance coordinator" for a 92 SSEi in my family with 52M mi. The ride on this vehicle is getting pretty mushy, and I am trying to determine if it is worth it to put money into the suspension. Don't know if this means shocks or struts, and don't know if this means full struts or cartridges. Also wondering if it makes sense to do the shocks (struts?) without also doing the springs.

    I think I do know that Bonnes of this year do not have the air-adjustable "ride adjustable" shocks that came later. I have looked over the old posts here, and I see that Snooper was asking about '96 Bonne struts back at post 1022, but I haven't found his answer (and don't know if it would apply to '92).

    In general the car is still working pretty well so I would consider improving the ride if the cost is reasonable and I can count on an improvement. Would appreciate any advice you can give me. Thanks.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 21,319
    The whole strut gets replaced. I put replacement struts on my 93 LeSabre at 45k. Couldn't stand the soft wallow any longer -- it did NOT have air leveling on the rear so it was too soft. I put on Monroe Road Sensing struts. Now they have a different name for it. I just replaced struts on 98 LeSabre at 75 K with load levelers in rear.

    I waited till sears had their 1/2 price on struts sale on Monroe. Only problem is that they get to do the realignment -- not real happy with the quality of their alignment guy.

    I believe the replacement part numbers when I checked on 93 were the same for Olds, Bonne, LeSabre. If the ride you want is really firm, you might want a different strut. On the 93 it was firm. But now the 98 has a nice controlled ride after 5 K are on them -- but not real sports car like. The sensa-trac monroes are more compliant in the middle of the travel and tighten up near the top and bottom, at least that's my understanding.

    Springs should be fine.

    2015 Cruze 2LT, 2014 Malibu 2LT, 2008 Cobalt 2LT

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