*Serpentine belt needed to be replaced
*Brake system replaced very soon after the car was purchased; brakes seem to need frequent work in general
*Gas gauge died... whole gas system (don't know what it's called) needed to be replaced at $800 (warranty paid for it)
*Ignition problems (key stuck, etc.)
*Radio volume dial has never worked properly; clock also seems to be giving out
*Power locks have died twice... I stopped having them repaired when it became apparent that the repairs lasted a year at most
*Balance/alignment problems... car "shimmies" at high speed
*Possible problem with the heater core (defroster wasn't working properly--problem was never officially diagnosed)
I bought my 97 Pontiac Grand Am SE when I was 2 months out of college. I really should have done my homework better. If I had known anything about cars at that time, I probably would have just bought a Honda or Toyota and saved a little money on the frequent repairs.
Even with all of the problems I've had (see above), I still consider myself lucky. For the most part, my Grand Am gets me to work every day, and the problems I've had have not left me stranded on the roadside. But I've still had plenty of problems and I'm always waiting for the next "thing" to blow out on the car. My warranty expires in 2 months and I'm pretty nervous about that. My car is reliable--for a Pontiac--but that's not the same as having a reliable Toyota!
Sorry Pontiac... you manufactured my first car and it will always be special to me for that reason. But I would recommend this car ONLY if you really don't have the cash upfront for a more reliable vehicle. If you do have the cash, find a car that will be a better investment for the long term, instead of bleeding you dry at the mechanic's.