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Pontiac Bonneville General Maintenance and Repair



  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 60,678
    You need to go to a competent repair shop. A car can't run with a "bent rod", that is impossible. Why are you thinking about engine work at a muffler shop?

    Sounds like lifter noise, possibly from coolant contamination of your oil.

    You might drop your oil and examine it or pull the valve covers off and see what's up.

    How do you know the intake gaskets are leaking?

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  • The problem is that I am new in this town and don't know any reliable mechanic. By the recommendation of my landlord I went to a CITGO gas station shop (AAA approved) and this SOB wanted to charge me 130 bucks just for the gaskets that cost 36 at the store. So I picked Meineke, because it's a chain, and the overall price was 130 dollars less.
    How I know that the gaskets are leaking? I did the pressure test twice (a few months ago and recently) and when they put the radiator under pressure, the coolant leaked from the engine seams above the belt pullies.
    I've never done anything on this car myself. So, how do I get to these valve covers, and do I need any special tools? Is there some special procedure?
    What signs should I look for in the oil?
  • Thanks to all who contributed answers to my question about down shift hesitation. I replaced the plug wires with OEM wires and the car runs GREAT!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 60,678
    Well you may have to keep asking around for a good repair shop. That "bent rod" story really got my suspicions up.

    Anyway, you can check for oil contamination by pulling your dipstick and looking for a milky white substance mixed in with the clear amber colored oil----a streaking of white, like milk mixed in with the oil. That is the reaction of coolant + water + oil, producing the white sludge. If you see this, this would definitely cause lifter noise.

    Probably your best bet is to get the intake gaskets replaced, flush your oil and coolant, and hope for the best that the other noises will go away.

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  • Thanks a lot, Mr. Shiftright,
    That's a relief. Seems, it's still not so bad.
    I checked the oil recently. I didn't notice any foreign matter there, but it's pretty dark, almost black, although I ran only 1500 miles since last change. So I guess I will have to flush the system and change it anyway.
    And maybe you are right and there might be some water in there, because I had some trouble recently starting it up in a really cold weather. Seemed like it was choking for a few seconds and then smoothed up.
    What do you think about that sealant stuff sold at the stores that you pour in the radiator to stop the leak? Is it any good?
    Anyway, I'll check all the issues you mentioned.
    Thanks again.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 22,072
    Always start with the simples and easiest solution then work toward the harder ones~!

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

  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 22,072
    Your coolant could be leaking at a hose connection, from the waterpump bleed hole inside and under the pulley, from the heater core, etc., not just intake manifold gaskets or cracks internally. When you pressure tested did coolant shop up anywhere?

    You state in a later post that your oil is very dark after 1500 miles? HOw much time was that from the oil change and what kind of driving did you do? Lots of short trips?

    Since you may have a lifter making noise, I would change my oil and filter at 12-1500 miles and get a couple of changes of good fresh oil in there dissolving deposites with the fresh additives.

    Let us know what results you get.

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

  • After you mentioned it, I just realized that there was some issue with my waterpump. That's when they first did that pressure test, and I actually had to replace the waterpump that time (last summer). It was leaking coolant around the pump, but now it seems to be O'K. However the engine is all wet along the seams of the intake manifold cover on top.
    I wasn't present during the second test, so can't tell, but his printout says the gaskets are leaking.
    I checked the oil on the probe. It looks fine.
    Also, I didn't mention it before but it seems to exhaust more smoke than normal, and during the cold days the condensate was making a whole puddle under my exhaust pipe.
    So, what do you think about that sealant compound? Should I try using it, or just replace the gaskets?
  • I forgot to mention my driving. Since August (last oil change) I did 7 300-mile trips and the rest is very short trips, like 1 to 5 miles a day. So I had obviously mistaken about 1500 miles, it's been 2500, so it's time to change it anyway.
    What do you think about dealer shops, like those GM Goodwrench? I heard that they usually charge a lot? Would you recommend going to them?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 60,678
    I'm not a big fan of using something in a can to fix an engine problem....I mean, if you think about it, this is basically a last ditch act of desperation. So if you have no other alternative, I guess you could try it, but really you need a) first of all a good diagnosis by a trained mechanic and b) the right solution for a lasting repair.

    Water vapor out the tailpipe isn't necessarily a bad sign at all---water is natural by-product of the combustion of gasoline. But lots of WHITE smoke, (LOTS) after the engine is warmed up, is a sure sign of coolant being burned in the combustion chambers.

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  • The car does seem to smoke excessively, but it's not too bad after it warms up, and I wouldn't call it WHITE.
    But I had to add another quart of coolant yesterday after just 2 weeks and 20-30 miles of driving.

    I agree with you about the right solution and a lasting repair. I don't like quick fixes as well. As I said, the problem is that it is almost impossible to find a specialist in this godforsaken town, Concord, NH (although it's a state capital). Sorry, if I offend any locals. I'll probably go to the dealership, see what they say, and then figure out where to do it.
  • kerukeru Posts: 1
    I have a 97 anniversary eddition bonniville w/ the 3800. The fuse box was emptied and the panel and owners manual removed. Does any one have a diagram of the fuse box so I know what fuses to get and where they go? Thanx guys.

  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 22,072
    Does the cover of the fuse box have a list of the fuse sizes and what each services?

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

  • bilmccbilmcc Posts: 2
    If the temperature flashes on your electronic display, it is most likely the air door mix actuator (part# 16141822 - about $40 delivered from I just replaced mine this week and the flashing of the display has stopped. You can tell if you need to replace it by removing your glove box insert and looking through a small hole in a support brace behind the box watch to see if the lever and metal bar are hanging up or not moving at all - Normal operation is that the lever and rod will move smoothly back and forth depending on the temperature set on the elect. control. Yes, you might be able to move it using either a screw driver or hanger but most likely it will move again since the actuator is going to try to set the right mix of heat and outside air for the temperature set on the electronic control. Changing the part is NOT EASY, but can be done. There is the correct way; removing the dash and changing it, or the way (that I used) is to drill/cut the support brace behind the glove box and work through a small hole. If you go to the dealer to get it replaced be prepared for about a $700-$800 :cry: repair.
  • bilmccbilmcc Posts: 2
    I am not getting heat on the drivers side (or out the rear console outlets) of my 1996 Bonneville SSE. I am sure that the heat is working since I am getting heat from the passengers side just fine.

    Any Ideas?
  • jonkaijonkai Posts: 1
    i bought this car used and no one knows what type of refrigerant it takes. r-12 or 134a. please help
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 60,678
    R12 if it's a 1992 model.

    And yes, it is available, and yes it is legal to use (if you are a licensed AC shop but not if you are a consumer) and yes it is pretty expensive and yes you can convert to R134 but that's not cheap to do either.

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  • Well, NO , I didn't but on your advice I have gotten one from a dealer now, from AC Delco, and installed it, but it didn't fix the problem either. Now what? Could it be a MAF sensor? How to test that, anyone know? Thanks for any help anyone suggests!
  • jk119885jk119885 Posts: 2
    We purchased the 2003 Bonneville in March 06 we enjoy this car very much. My problem is the dust it is everywhere. When you open the doors you have dust around the inside of the doors. Inside the car you have dust around the handles and the vents on the front doors. We have dust around the handles in the back also. We were told this car was not wrecked or flooded. Is this a design problem can it be fixed if so HOW. I enjoy this car other than the dust. I have a medical problem with my lungs.
  • evandroevandro Posts: 1,108
    Have you checked whether the cabin air filter is busted? If you don't that it exists and given that it should be replaced yearly, chances are it's busted.

    But the dust around doors cannot be eliminated if you live in a dusty area.

  • jk119885jk119885 Posts: 2
    Can you tell me where the cabin air filter is located? I can't find it in the manual. Is this something I can do myself or do I need to take it to a shop for repair. I did go ahead and order the part it will be here this week.

    Thank you for your help.
  • haropharop Posts: 59
    Open the hood, look on the left side under the windshiled.
    You should notice a little plastic box. Click it open and
    you can remove the filter. If it does not have one, you
    can put one.
    P.S. I don't own one with, but have 95. A few month ago
    I was in a market for 2002+ Bonny, and I remember checking
    these filters for many while test driving.
  • blewczukblewczuk Posts: 1
    Hi. I've got a 96' Bonneville SSEi. I'm experiencing a couple of problem right now. First, the steering wheel radio controls on the left side of the wheel appear to have lost their 'spring'. This is causing the preset stations to change on their own. I only have to think about changing a station and they change. When I go over a bump...same thing happens. Any idea how to remove the module in the steering wheel of a 1996 Bonneville?

    Next problem: The driver information window, on occassion, goes blank and all the gauges except for the tach and speedometer freeze. I'll be driving and all of a sudden the gauges go all the way down and back up and then freeze and the driver info window flashes with all the info and goes blank. On occassion, it will come back up by itself while I'm driving. More often then not, it won't come back up until I've shut the car off and then restarted it. Any ideas?

  • ioanioan Posts: 1
    Hi. I own a 96 Bonneville SE. The AC compressor would not start so I got a can of R134 and tried to put it in. It took some of it, just enough to start the compressor but then stopped, the can stayed at least half full.The AC "hose" going in the dashboard is cold as ice, the return is warm. Seems that is a clog in the evaporator part of the system (I know nothing about cars except regular maintenance). Is there a product that you could put in like the refrigerant and undo that clog? Or the problem is serious and the repair should be done in a shop?
  • tina65tina65 Posts: 1
    my window seems to have fallen off the track. how can i get the panel off door to get window back on track?
  • I have replaced the intake manifold gaskets and the plenum (turned out it was ready to fail as well), changed the oil, and the sound seems to go away, although it "clicked" for a few seconds after I started the car this morning.
    I checked several oil additives at the store. Some of them are supposed to be added right before the oil change and the car should not be driven before the change, others are to be added all the time for cleaning of the engine and better performance.
    What would you suggest? Should I put the one for "performance" and keep driving or wait till the next oil change and use the tough one for ultimate cleaning?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 60,678
    I wouldn't mess with additives. Just change the oil sooner and let the oil's detergents do the job.

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  • smith26smith26 Posts: 1
    I have a 2003 Pontiac Bonneville se and the interior lights have quit working. The vanity lights nor the dome lights will work. I've replaced the fuse and it blew and I replaced the relay switch. After replacing the relay switch they worked for about 15 minutes and then quit working again. I have also taken the vanity lights out which caused the other lights to work for a very short period but have now quit also. I'm sure there is a short somewhere but I don't know where to start looking. Any suggestions? Thanks!
  • jtraynorjtraynor Posts: 1
    I have a 95 3.8l Bonneville, 150k miles good condition-
    Problem - the engine just cuts out at start up, driving, at idle, you name it.... today it is warmer and it seems to do it more so than other times. I put it in N and restart, sometimes it stays on for 15 minutes other times it shuts down again
    Replaced fuel pump, 02 sensore, crankshaft positioner, and mapping sensor... NOTHING helps ANY SUGGESTIONS ANYONE
  • azuazu Posts: 84
    I just had major problems with my 95 Bonny and it was dirty ground contacts. Take the three under the hood off and sand them off to see if this helps. Also it could coolant temp sensor or air flow sensor. Good Luck!
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