1997 Pontiac Grand Am SE sedan 3.1 liter 60 degree "L82" V6 from North America
A solid and sporty commuter car for those unafraid to pop the hood from time to time
There is a coolant system leak requiring me to periodically add fresh water to the radiator tank. Idling for extended periods of time between refills and driving in heavy urban traffic can lead to overheating.
The battery and alternator were replaced in the late summer of 2012, but as of 7/28/2013, the battery has died at least twice during hot weather conditions. Each time, unusual warning lights appeared on the dash prior to the incident, and when the vehicle was shut down, attempts to restart it required a jump start from an assisting vehicle. I also noticed sluggish engine response, an unusually loping idle, and my dashboard lights dimmed perceptibly. I suspect running the A/C on high settings to partially cause this, due to the extra drain on battery power.
One of the muffler's metal "straps" has rusted through and actually broken off, causing the vehicle to have a louder and throatier exhaust note; from what I suspect to be an exhaust leak after the catalytic converter, located under the driver's side seat.
During the summer of 2011, a heavy rainstorm caused an electrical short, which resulted in my dashboard gauges ceasing to function. The entire gauge cluster and odometer were replaced by one from a junkyard Grand Am, which had approximately ~120,000 miles on it. Since then, I've passed 140k miles with the new odometer.
Oil consumption is estimated to be one quart every three months or so.
The V6 is a good choice for this vehicle; the low-end torque gives it good "passing power" and good response at stoplights. The four speed automatic transmission's torque converter helps this vehicle make the most of that low-RPM power.
The low center of gravity and wide track give it agile handling for a front-wheel-drive economy car.
The front bucket seats are comfortable, even for a tall fellow like myself, being 6'2". The rear bench seat offers comparably less legroom, however.
One of the front two cupholders won't hold a large soda (McDonald's, Taco Bell, Arby's, etc.) when the vehicle's shift lever is in "park".
During regular operation, I would estimate it gets about 23 miles per gallon during city driving and 27 miles per gallon on the highway when driven carefully. Maintenance must ensure tires are properly inflated.
The 16" alloy rims and fiberglass spoiler are sporty touches.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 28th July, 2013
I should mention: there is something wrong with the passenger's side front window. It won't move up or down more than a few inches from the "closed" position.
Also, being a hotheaded 21 year old, I've already put the poor thing through some abuse. One time, I busted the radiator by hitting a pothole going *WAY* too fast and put a sizable crack in it, which necessitated a $300 replacement. I've also "panic braked" in traffic, causing the tires to prematurely wear down, as well as punishing the brake pads.
Finally I'm responsible for a busted left foglight, as a result of over-eagerness to get some food from the drive through at Burger King this one time... I pulled forward and didn't notice the concrete pole just under the drive through window. It was a light tap, but other than the paint getting scraped on my car, the foglight was the only casualty. C'est la vie!
Finally I should mention the occasional "check engine" light coming on due to the presence of a fouled rear O2 sensor.