1988 Pontiac Bonneville SE 3.8 V6 from North America


160,000 km, new waterpump, new fuel pump and fuel line.

215,000 km - Rebuilt transmission, my fault, because a rusty cooler line dumped all the fluid and I burned up the clutch packs.

215,000 km - new front struts, new alternator.

220,000 km - fix minor rust and repaint.

220,000 km - front passenger window fell all the way down due to faulty track - a common problem. I was able to lift the window closed.

230,000 km sensor magnet for camshaft position sensor fell off. I never fixed this because it actually was a good thing. The ECM is designed to revert to a 'batch fire mode for the fuel injection, instead of the normal sequential method. I found I got slightly MORE power in this default mode, with no loss in fuel economy.

235,000 km - Ignition module.

240,000 km - front ball joints and one driveshaft.

258,000 km - New steering rack and starter motor needed.

General Comments:

This car has been in my family since new and has been excellent.

This SE model combines the performance parts of the SSE - sport suspension, aluminum wheels, sporty exhaust and shorter final drive gearing, with the LE cloth interior.

It is very roomy, with lots of glass area. Easy to see out and easy to drive. Engine has ample low and mid-range power. Quick take-off and very responsive. Transmission shifts quickly and firmly.

The handling is excellent, level cornering, good road feel and really hangs on in the corners. Nice, firm ride.

The dashboard has excellent gauges, easy to read and very visible. The stereo is easy to use and sounds okay. The seats are way too flat and not supportive but the cloth is very durable and long-lasting.

Mechanically the car was very reliable, and fairly easy to fix. Parts were cheap.

This car is roomy and large, but quite lightweight. The only bad thing is that the structure is not very rigid. After 200,000 km and a bit of rust, I found the body structure would shake and quiver over bumps. If you stepped on the gas or brake firmly, the whole body would twist a bit... you could feel the doors shift on the door frames a bit.

In the early '90's, GM made the Bonneville structure stronger... but a bit heavier.

I stopped driving the car because there were a couple of small rust holes... but they were in critical areas around the front subframe mounts. The subframe was starting to break loose, and would lead to a loss of control.

This car was excellent and I loved it. I wish I could find another, but up here in the Rust belt, they are all gone.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 15th December, 2009

1988 Pontiac Bonneville LE 3.8 Vin C from North America


Can I buy another one?


Camshaft Sensor (internal engine) broke at 230,000 miles.

Replaced the cam sensor and the timing chain set while we had the front of the engine disassembled.

2 or 3 of the fuel injectors are frozen open at this point (250,000 miles) and the car is out of commission until I get it fixed.

Windows do not roll up or down.

A/C is out.

General Comments:

The car is fairly comfortable.

It gets great gas mileage (34 mpg).

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 9th June, 2008

1988 Pontiac Bonneville SSE 3.8 V6 from UK and Ireland




Alternator recon at 147,000.

Starter motor recon at 147,000.

Engine and gearbox currently being changed due to gearbox clutch bands burning out. Still not sure as to the cause.

General Comments:

I love everything about my bonny, and would never get rid off her. Probably the best car I've ever had.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 31st May, 2008

1988 Pontiac Bonneville SSE 3.8 V6 from UK and Ireland


Cheap luxury and surprisingly economical


When I purchased the car the ABS was kicking in unnecessarily whenever I came to a stop, which meant that the pedal would judder when braking from 10mph down to a standstill. This was caused by a faulty ABS sender which is part of the CV Joint so a new CV joint was needed to fix this fault.

At 135,000km the starter motor failed and had to be reconditioned.

The sunroof leaks, which can be irritating as you tend to get dripped on while cornering when there has been heavy rain.

General Comments:

A very smooth comfortable car with plenty of room for 5 adults. I'm 6 foot 3 inches tall and I find I have ample space although headroom could be better - despite the fact that the drivers' seat adjusts for height. I think the sunroof is the culprit as it eats into roof space. Apart from that the driving position is very comfortable and the seats are among the most comfortable I have sat it - they are soft on the backside yet also offer plenty of support. The steering wheel adjusts for rake.

The cabin looks and feels luxurious although the plastic wood is akin to what you would find in an '80s Rover. However, the leather is of great quality and it all feels very solidly screwed together. The dashboard lights up like a Christmas tree when you switch on the ignition as there are so many lights, dials, and displays.

Equipment-wise it definitely ranks as "fully loaded", and is very impressive for a 1988 car. It has electric seats that seem to be almost infinitely adjustable, automatic climate control air-conditioning, cruise control, electric windows/mirrors/sunroof, power steering, ABS, an engine block heater, an electronic compass display, steering wheel-mounted stereo controls, and numerous courtesy lights. There is even a "Driver Information Center" screen, which warns you about everything from low fuel to low washer fluid and when to rotate the tyres!

It's not terribly fast as it only has 165 horses to haul around nearly 1600 kilos, but it is quick enough for most people and can be made to move quickly by manipulating the gearbox.

The brakes aren't brilliant... Rear drums on a 1600 kilo car? Hmmm.

The steering is a little on the vague side although it is nicely weighted.

The ride is good - not pillow soft, but soft enough.

It handles pretty well, but a lot better than it feels, if that makes sense. The body rolls a bit and the vague steering doesn't help, but you can safely corner at surprisingly high speeds. It is very sure-footed and won't bite - you just have to trust it. There is no tire-squeal and it never feels as though it will lose grip.

Other plus points: It sounds fantastic, and it has a surprisingly tight turning circle so isn't too stressful to park. 25-27mpg from a 3.8 V6 is very impressive too, and makes it manageable as a daily driver.

Overall, a brilliant car for the money (I paid only £700 for it). It still makes me smile every time I drive it.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 22nd October, 2006