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Pontiac Bonneville General Maintenance and Repair



  • zzahhzzahh Member Posts: 47
    Loves golf. Loves cars. Loves racing. Big football fan. Unavailable.....I am crushed.

    Anyway, gunk up against the oil pump would seem a very unlikely cause of spiking oil pressure. Perhaps low oil pressure, but exra high? You sound as if you take care of your car, so I can assume this was not the first oil change the car has seen since new. I am not sure of the miles, however, it would seem highly unlikely you would have accumulated that much "gunk" on a '97, even without regular service.

    When my gauge began acting up, there was no rhyme nor reason. It did act up more so at first, when the oil was finally warm. I doubt that the oil gauge has anything to do with the temp gauge unless it is acting up too. Then it may a complete electrical problem in the dash unit. Doesn't sound that way.

    For the cost of an oil change, and some piece of mind, you may want to try changing the oil again, however, I doubt that will cure what ails you. It suspect a sensor, or the gauge. The sensor will be relatively easy to replace, the gauge...... yuck. Good luck.

  • alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    The proper diagnosis flow would be to remove the oil pressure sending unit from the engine, install a mechanical oil pressure gauge, and verify that the oil pressure actually is high.
  • girlwithtoolsgirlwithtools Member Posts: 26
    Well, my afternoon auto date just cancelled due to lovely weather conditions. I guess I will have to take matters into my own hands. For now, I'm going to change the oil filter (perhaps I got it on too tight) and work my way up from there. Nothing like winter grime and oil! I have a sneaking suspicion I'll have to test the pressure and replace the gauge or part of. The thought makes my head spin after a recent bankruptcy filing with my Volvo mechanic.

    By the way, the Bonnie has 84k on it (mostly highway miles - I'm practicing to sell snake oil). ; )

  • gregp96gregp96 Member Posts: 4
    This car has been GREAT 'til now. Suddenly quit on my wife last Friday. Burned up a battery trying to overcome this one.

    The car will start, but cuts out after about 1.5-2 minutes. It seems initially sluggish, but then comes up to normal for a while then just loses RPM and chugs to a stop. If this car had a carb, I'd swear the choke was closing off the air flow. I've checked the air filter, even removed it, and still have the same problem. Doesn't matter if it sits or if I put it in gear.

    I've tried to keep the RPMs up, but the problem overcomes my efforts and kills the car.
  • bonnevillesseibonnevillessei Member Posts: 11
    My 2000 with 9000 miles takes too much foot pressure to apply the brakes when they are wet. No complaint with dry conditions. Do you think new pads will solve the problem? What else would it be?
  • alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    This sounds like the catalytic converter is plugged. To check it without removing the cat, install a vacuum gauge on any manifold vacuum source with the engine at operating temp. Typical readings will be 17"-19" Hg. Increase engine RPM to 2,500 for 15 seconds. Vacuum must remain at least as high as at idle. Even 1" Hg decrease indicates a restricted exhaust system.
  • gregp96gregp96 Member Posts: 4
    Thanks for the input; that's one I hadn't thought of. Probably a dumb question, but should I be able to tell even if the engine isn't warm? It won't stay running long enough.
  • alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    A hot engine is recommended to allow all internal parts time to expand and normalize, giving an accurate vacuum reading. If it won't stay running for long, then try it as best as you can. Vacuum readings may be somewhat lower overall, though. If the cat is plugged, the vacuum gauge needle will take a nosedive as soon as you try to accelerate the engine and force more exhaust gas volume through the cat.
  • bonnyrattlebonnyrattle Member Posts: 1
    Our 93 Bonneville, with 75,000 on the clock, has been trouble free until about 4 months ago. It has developed a slight "clunk" when hitting any size bumps, which is felt thru the steering wheel. Two months ago I treated it to all new struts and an alignment. It handles like new, but the rattle is still there. It has been service every 3000 miles. Anybody out there with a similar problem and solution???
  • gregp96gregp96 Member Posts: 4
    Alcan, your info is good. I haven't been able to make the check yet; I'll update this area when I do. Can't help but wonder though, would this problem normally come on so suddenly? My wife swears it was driving normally up to this point.
  • alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    Sometimes the converter media bed will overheat and break up. Pieces can get lodged in the back of the converter or travel through the exhaust pipe into the muffler, restricting it. If it turns out that the media bed has melted down, be sure to have the reason determined. It's usually from an overly rich fuel mixture. Converters generate heat when they catalyze hydrocarbons, and an over rich mixture (misfire, coolant temp sensor, open thermostat, O2 sensor, etc) will work it overtime, overheating it.
  • gregp96gregp96 Member Posts: 4
    I'm going to try to make the check today. Just an additional piece of info that might matter -- there's no wait time required to duplicate this problem. When the car quits, I can restart it right away and have the exact same problem happen again. Managed to perform this 11 times in a row 2 days ago (that's how I burned up a battery).
  • mandiloumandilou Member Posts: 1
    Ok, this is very weird I guess. My '88 Bonnie about two weeks ago just wouldnt start. I went outside- moved it down the driveway, turned it off, and then came back about 20-30 minutes later and it wouldnt start! I wasnt having any problems. It was turning over at first and just wouldnt start, but then it wouldnt even turn over(I killed the battery). Well, the other day, I was just about to have it towed, and I had an idea about something I had read about worn out keys. I thought "why not". I got a new key made (My other key was worn down pretty bad and a little bent). Then I put another battery in and it cranked on the FIRST TRY!! I was so happy! I drove it for two days, and then this morning it wouldnt start again!! Again it was turning over, but this time I stopped before I killed the battery. I am thinking it has to be something in the ignition, since it was doing fine, and then mysteriously a new key got it to start again. Could starting it with that old key for so long have messed up the computer or something? Does it need to be reset? I have pretty much no clue about cars- but I thought maybe someone could help a girl out! If someone could give me someone some idea of what to try- then I can get someone to do it for me, if it is fairly simple. I am trying to avoid having it put in the shop if it is something minor- it is my only car right now to get myself and two little girls around in. It has been a great car! PLEASE HELP!
  • alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    Try cleaning the 2 key contacts inside the ignition lock with a Q-tip and aerosol contact cleaner.
  • gorinacgorinac Member Posts: 1
    My 2000 SSEi, with 8,000 miles is very noisy --- squeeks everywhere. They have worked on the headliner, but cannot remove all of the noise. The "wonderful" BOSE system has so much base that the speaker covers vibrate and buzz at times. Anyone else with these problems??? Any suggestions??? They seem minor in comparison to the mechanical problems some of you have.
  • didoyfdidoyf Member Posts: 2
    When I insert my key, sometimes I don't get the dash lights and cannot start my car. I have discovered that if I release the tilt lever for the steering wheel, the dash lights come on instantly and I can now start my car. It never happens while I am driving. Since I have figured out how to fix it it has not really been a problem, but I am afraid that it is getting worse. Does anyone have an idea as to what is wrong.
  • alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    Read post #140.
  • ramadurairamadurai Member Posts: 1
    Car has 63000 miles.

    Any ideas on how to minimise the wind & road noise? The seals are perfect. Just replaced the almost bald P225/60R16 Goodyear Eagle Rsa s with Michelin Pilot XGT H4s. Everything seems to be ok, except that there is more wind noise coming into the car, somehow. Dealer pretends as to everything is normal.

    Any ideas to acheive a better isolation?
  • ymandjymandj Member Posts: 10
    In your post 114 you suggested to vico (msg 108)to replace his alternator with a larger 140V alternator. I have the same problem that he had. When I try to start a car ('96 SE) lights are blinking, I hear a clicking sound but the car doesn't start. After the next attempt the battery is completely discharged or dead. Before I go to my mechanic and ask him to put a larger alternator, could you please explain how the larger alternator would help to solve this problem?
  • alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    It isn't stressed as much, larger case, and runs cooler.
  • ymandjymandj Member Posts: 10
    How would I find the proper alternator? Would any 140V do or it s/b a particular one?
  • alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    Your Pontiac dealer should have a Product Service Bulletin for it. A longer serpentine belt is also required.
  • cobrajet7cobrajet7 Member Posts: 3
    Hello. My 92 Bonneville SE, 3.8 L, has 124,000 miles, and runs fine at speed. It has had a rough idle for over two years, whether in park or drive. During the past years, I have replaced the oxygen sensor, ECM, catalytic converter, ignition module, spark plugs, wires, PCV, alternator and had two engine diagnostics. Various mechanics have told me everything from a bad injector to get another engine! This condition has not seemed to worsen over the years, but is annoying. Any ideas? Thanks. Charlie
  • alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    Check the EGR valve/system.
  • girlwithtoolsgirlwithtools Member Posts: 26
    My hubby noticed the speaker cover on the driver's side door popped off today. In conversation, he indicated it had come off once before but he just popped it back into place. Now the prong is broken on the side and will not stay in. Is this just a trip to the dealership for a replacement cover or is there a cheaper way to fix this? (I like to save my money for real shopping).
  • asb313asb313 Member Posts: 1
    I saw steam coming from the engine last week. Would you believe the intake manifold gasket needs to be replaced. Car has less than 14K on it. I'm very surprised given that the 3.8L is usually a reliable engine. I had much success with it in my previous Bonneville. Put 160K on it and it still ran great when I got rid of it.

    I'm concerned that the car won't be the same after the dealer pulls the top part of the engine apart. Also, has anyone heard of this problem with a new car? Thanks,
  • mwthamesmwthames Member Posts: 2
    I have a 1995 Bonneville SLE w/78000 miles. My problem is that I have no dash lights when the headlights are turned on. Everything works, gauges, radio, just no dash lights. The radio clock light works until the headlights are turned on. I've disconnected the battery cables, used a different key, checked that I have the switch turned so that the dash lights should be on. I've never had a problem starting the car like I've read in some other posts here.

    About 3 times before I've had my headlights get stuck on regardless of what position the light switch was in. Disconnecting the battery has always reset it before. Does this sound familiar to anyone?
  • augyaugy Member Posts: 3
    I am new on this site and have many problems with my 92 SSEI, one being that I get a whistling sound that seems to come from behind the glove box area. It seems to modulate with the applied vacuum. Has anyone ever repaired anything like this. I believe that it is a vacuum leak related to the damper motors that control the air ducts.
    If someone has experienced and or repaired this, could you describe the procedure.
  • theicemantheiceman Member Posts: 736
    I'm a proud new owner of a 2000 Bonneville but day 1 had a problem getting it to start. Initially, I thought battery but then realized that ALL accessories worked with full power and there was absolutely NO cranking whatsoever. I called my salesman who told me that it sounded like the sensor wasn't reading the transponder in my key - tried all my keys (they had made 4 for me) and none worked; waved my key over the front of the dash - admittedly a bit of hocus pocus - and the car STARTED!!!

    They had to replace the ignition - took a week to diagnose, get the part in and repair. They say there's been a TSB out on these but I haven't been able to find reference to it. Anyway, they gave me a fully-loaded 2001 Regal GS while mine was in the shop. Not a shabby loaner! Anyway, dealership was A-1, VERY apologetic and the car has since been trouble-free (I am touching wood as I write this).
  • roy41144roy41144 Member Posts: 1
    mwthames Feb 15, 2001 4:39pm

    The problem you are having with your dash boards lights not working is probably because you have a defective "Headlight/Dimmer switch", which is commonly known as your headlight switch. This switch controls your Headlights, parking Lights, tail lights and dashboards lights (About 9 wires are connected to this switch)

    I recently had to replace this Headlight/Dimmer switch on my 95

    Bonneville SE. I was getting the same symptoms you have described. The switch cost me $ 26.00 (37.00 at a dealership) and a connector that goes onto the switch ($ 6.00) at dealer. I was able to install the part myself in about an hour. Figure about 1.5 labor at dealer.

    I highly suggest/recommend that you have that look at. The reason being, when I went to replace the switch, the defective switch caused the connectors and wires to melt, which caused the connectors not to make a proper connection causing my taillights function intermittently. In addition, this could also be a fire hazard in addition to a safety


    I have filed a complaint with the NTSB. I also notice that a few other complaints were registered with the NTSB regarding this issue.

    I don't know if you are aware, but there has been a safety recall

    on 95 Bonneville with Twightlight Sentinel option. The option uses the same switch but with a added part. You might want to check into it.

    I hope this was helpful and please let me know how you made out. I happy to share my experiences with other
  • jbohrjbohr Member Posts: 2
    My 1992 Bonnevill SE starts fine, and when the engine is hot it sometimes wants to choke out. Sometimes it just misses awhile and continues to run, and othertimes the engine dies. My mechanic is puzzeled. He has tried new plug and wires, a new ignitor module, new computer and coil packs. But nothing yet will fix. Does anyone have any ideas what is the problem with this engine?
  • alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    Suggest you get away from the parts replacer and find a good mechanic who knows how to use a scan tool and interpret it's data. The guy you're using is just guessing. Btw, what's the fuel pressure, has the check engine light come on, are there any diagnostic trouble codes?
  • girlwithtoolsgirlwithtools Member Posts: 26
    You're back! We've missed you over here!

  • jbohrjbohr Member Posts: 2
    My mechanic has a scanner and you're right he has had a hard time intrepreting the data. He has checked everything that has come up on the scanner. He had another mechanic from another shop check it out yesterday and they could not figure it out yet. The check engine light has never come on. I don't know what the diagnostic codes have been. I don't know if has checked the fuel pressure. He says he needs to get it on a scope machine, which he does not have. What could the fuel pressure have to do with this problem?
  • sasmith95sasmith95 Member Posts: 13
    I had a similar problem in that the engine on my 97 would just die. The engine was fully warmed up, and it wouldn't matter at what speed I was driving. The car would then restart fine, run fine for a few days, and then the same thing would happen. No check engine or other diagnostic lights came on. I brought it to a mechanic who could not find anything wrong with it but wanted to change the fuel pump. I felt he was just guessing, so I brought it to a dealership. They replaced the crankshaft sensor (problem came up on their computer) and it has been fine since.
  • alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    Yep, a crankshaft position sensor would cause the stall. Not uncommon on 3.8's and 3800's. Can be fun to get out too if they break. Driving the car with a scan tool attached and "movie" function activated allows a tech to record what the engine control module sees from all it's input sensors in real time. The tech can then play back the readings from just before the time of the fault and see which input signal was dropping out, or out of range. With a fuel pressure gauge attached and taped to the windshield, fuel pressure can be monitored. If pressure drops just before the stall it can help zero in on the fault.
  • alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    I'm usually lurking around in the background. I'll try to answer specific questions (make, model, year, engine, stored codes, symptoms, all help) Gripe sessions may make the poster feel better but don't really warrant a response.
  • anitawanitaw Member Posts: 1
    I have a 96 Bonneville that has puzzled a few mechanics. On several different occasions the car seems to "spit and sputter" when stopped at a red light. If you don't put the car in park and rev the engine, it will shut off. Also, if you take a curve and have to slow down considerably, the gas pedal seems to "stick" momentarily. Fuel cleaners have been added and my husband has "blown the carbon" out a few times and it seems to improve for awhile. Then suddenly without any warning, it will start to sputter again. The check engine light does come on and stays on until my husband has taken the car for a drive. Not sure what he's doing to it while he's gone other than driving extremely fast I'm sure.
    Help - Car has 71,000 miles on it and in great running condition other than the above.
  • alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    All late '95 and newer cars are OBD-II equipped and if the MIL has come on there will be a diagnostic trouble code stored in the powertrain control module. The only way to retrieve stored codes in with a scan tool, which will tell any mechanic who knows how to use a scanner which system is affected. It's not a matter of guesswork. Assuming your car has the 3800 series II engine, they are noted for the EGR valve sticking open from small carbon deposits, especially after a highway run. The pintle return spring is relatively weak and may not close the valve off completely under closed throttle, allowing some exhaust gas back into the intake tract at idle. "Blowing the carbon out" is not an effective or recommended procedure for removing EGR system deposits. Try using GM Top Engine Cleaner, and if no improvement have the EGR valve removed and inspected for deposits.
  • willdawillda Member Posts: 1
    I have a 97 bonneville with 44000 miles. During the term of the warranty I kept complaining to the dealer that the car was missing. They made several attempts to find the problem. Finally at 36000 miles they isolated it to the valve body in the transmission. They replaced the valve body as per a repair bulletin issued by "All Data". This repair bulletin is dated February 1997. I purchased my car new in August 1997. No other work was done to the transmission as far as replacing distressed parts. About a week ago the 3rd gear clutch failed completely. Has anyone else had this problem? From the research I have done to date it appears that when the valve body was replaced all distressed parts should have been removed from the transmission and replaced. The dealer never did this. I am not getting much help from the dealer or G.M. G.M. says I may get help if I take the car to a G.M. dealer and have them rip down the transmission and advise G.M. of the problem. I am concerned about the bias of a G.M. dealer to protect themselves or G.M. Any words of wisdom would be appreciated. Currently I am renting a car while I decide how this should be handled but I can't continue to do so much longer.
  • dbacadbaca Member Posts: 20
    Hello everyone! I have a problem with my Pontiac Bonneville 95. I bought this car in January 2001 with 85000 miles on. The story is as follows.
    After two day I had owned this car, I changed the transmission oil, the engine oil and sparkplugs. Then next the day, the warning light "Check engine soon" came on after driving 10 miles. I stopped the car and I started it after one hour. The light disappeared after going few meters. However, this same failure repeated after a week again (the light disappeared after getting the 10 minutes rest to the car). My auto-mechanic recommended changing the oxygen sensor and he did so. But it did not help; the same problem repeated, so he scanned the car for errors on the computer. During this scan, the warning light was not on. The computer showed misfiring and faulty pedal positioner. The pedal positioner was changed; though, it did not help either. Next time, when the warning light came on, I drove immediately to my auto-mechanic with the light on in order to scan the computer when the light is on. It showed that the oxygen sensor is faulty. I changed the oxygen sensor again, but it did not help. The light came on every day in the morning. I stopped the car, waited 10 minutes, started the car and the light came off for the rest of the day. My auto-mechanic checked all important parts, and everything looked fain. Then he recommended changing sparkplugs and sparkplug wires for the original (AC Delco). I did it and then the problem worsened. Now, the light comes on not just in the morning (or the first time I drive the car during the day), but every time I drive the car. The scenario is that since I usually stop the car with the warning light on, the light appears immediately after I start the engine. I drive 100 meters and the light disappears. However, the light usually comes on back after 5 minutes of driving.
    I set up an entire diagnosis test of the car at the dealer. I hope that they will not tell me that my oxygen sensor is faulty because it is not the primary failure; however, it is what the computer shows. Has anyone a clue what this problem could be?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Hmmm...very puzzling, but there are quite a few possibilities....I'm thinkin' here....faulty gas cap, clogged catalytic converter.........
  • ayratayrat Member Posts: 26
    During last oil change I found that power steering reservoir is filled with tranny.
    I almost decided to drain and fill it up with normal p.s. fluid, when one mechanic told Me that, basically, there is no big difference on what to use for power steering, and it should not harm anything. What do you think on this?
  • rooba10rooba10 Member Posts: 38
    My boss drives a 2000 Bonneville SE. By next year when the car has 60K, he will be getting another company car, and I am planning to buy this car from him. I will probably get it for about$9K. he is not a hot rod, and I know he takes it easy on the car.

    Right now, I am driving a 96 Toyota Camry XLE V-6 with 45K miles. the Camry drives very nice. the 200HP V-6 is a jewel. It does 80MPH like it is standing still.

    Am I crazy for even thinking about selling the Camry and buying the Bonneville?
  • augyaugy Member Posts: 3
    Replace the front stabilizer pins. They cost about $8 each. It is allmost impossible to tell if they are gone by visually inspecting them. They are easy to replace, you may need a nut splitter or a recipricating saw if the nut cannot be loosened. You will notice a big difference in handling!
  • oranreneoranrene Member Posts: 1
    GO FOR IT!!!!! I wish I had the opportunity to purchase a 2000 Bonneville! My husband and I were tired of $600 a month car payments and finally decided to purchase a car for cash. We found a White 93 Pontiac Bonneville with 78000 miles for 5G cash. It has tawny colored leather interior and all power. I LOVE MY CAR!! The Bonneville is such a smooth ride and looks sporty as well. I had to have a car big enough to tote around my two boys, but I didn't want an "old fart" car, so this car was perfect for me. We have yet to have any problems and it was well-maintained with new tires.
    I would take a 2000 Bonneville over a Camry any day. I am partial to GMC cars and don't really care for Camry's, Acura's, etc..
    Take that car and run...hope this helps :)
  • mwthamesmwthames Member Posts: 2
    roy41144 Feb 22, 2001 7:55am

    Thanks for responding - that was a big help. I would like to know if you had to take out the dash to replace the switch.

    I found the recall notice (I do have the Twilight Sentinel option) and talked to my local dealer who said that it was not a recall but a technical service bulletin and as such I would have to pay for it. I'm gonna try the 1-800-Pontiac number and the NTSB numbers to see if I can get them to change their minds. Thanks again! MWThames
  • newporscheownrnewporscheownr Member Posts: 3
    Hi Purchased a Dark green Bonnie SLE with gold rims in 95 over the Ford Crown Victoria 210 hp engine. Within the 3 year warranty period had tranny problems at 10 miles, loose body panel noises, and tie rods noises.

    The car is great on Power and maitainance, low cost of ownership but noticed I pay more gas in a V6 from a 4 cylinder car. After the warranty was over I had to pay $900 at dealership for major oil problem with the engine. I replaced the OEM tires (Eagle GA's) with BF Goodrich Comp TA's from - what a big difference. The car currently still has suspension problems (lots of noises from the tie rods (replaced two months ago NEW) - this SLE has the Traction Control, and Touring/Performance Suspension option. The cars trunk also leaks water. After the rain - There is a huge puddle where the spare tire is.

    I love the engine in the car and the power. I love the size and the soft leather seats. But after 50,000 miles, i still have trunk leak, tie rod noises, now body panel noises. Am I ready to sell or trade in for a realiable family car?

    Nope not yet, I will use this as the family/wimter car and brought a Porsche to drive as my weekend car...

    The Bonnie still has more torque and scence of
    power than my Porsche. Plus will hold the family in living room leather seats.
  • mfahey1mfahey1 Member Posts: 419
    Both my daughter's 92 Bonneville and my 2000 SSEi had the same problem with my daughter's leak being much worse. I removed the spoiler on her car and used body sealer for all of the penetrations into the trunk which cured the problem. When I had the same problem with my car, I told the dealer where to look and lo and behold, that was the problem as well.
  • blaine999blaine999 Member Posts: 1
    in our state, we have a lemon law that states if you bring your car in for the same problems 4 times within the first 2 years of warranty, they have to buy the car back. there is a formula for the buyback. gm has mandatory arbitration, which i found to be one sided. guess who's side. but after arbitration, you can litigate. it was very interesting going through the process, but i learned a lot.
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