I bought this car VERY used. It is the 3rd 1997 Grand Am GT that I have owned. I obviously love my car!
Yes, there have been many things that have went wrong, but I do all my own work. No, I am not "butch". My daddy is just my best friend.
Off top, within the first week of having the car I did a full tune up. Plugs, plug caps, brakes, pads, rotors, everything that is included in general maintenance. I didn't know how long it had been and didn't want to chance the little things causing big problems.
Now, the problems.
The radiator had a crack in it. I just keep a check on the water and it doesn't cause any problems.
The AC compressor doesn't work to begin with, but I don't see the need to fix it. The bearings were good in it so, we will come back to that.
Day 9 of ownership. The car catches on fire. There was a crack in the coil pack housing and the fuel rail was a little loose ($375).
Nothing goes wrong for 3 months and then, 3rd gear goes out. Along with one of the shift cables. So, instead of just replacing 3rd and one cable, I rebuilt the entire tranny and changed both shift cables. While I was under there, I noticed it wouldn't be long before the clutch went out too, so I replaced that too ($1600).
A couple of months later, the alternator goes. While I am at it I change the serpentine belt ($130).
Almost 3 years go by with only minor things, plugs, brakes, little things like that.
Now, after 5 years of owning my beautiful red Grand Am GT, the bearings seize up in that AC compressor. I knew it would go eventually. But, when it did, the alternator had to work super hard, causing SLIGHT carbon built up on the plugs. Not a hard job, and a compressor from my favorite junk yard was only $40 ($200 from an autoparts store).
I live in Georgia, but the AC is a convenience I can do without. The car doesn't get really hot on the inside, so I have never charged the AC.
Today, the thermostat closed up, blowing a hole in the line to the radiator to release the pressure. ($25) It took 20 minutes and a couple of tools. Standing outside the autoparts store.
All in all, everything that has been wrong with the car was foreseeable and preventable. I absolutely LOVE my car, this is my play toy, my project, my hobby. I have put about $5000 into the car in 5 years, Not bad for the age of the car and the beating it takes from me. While I have spent even more in rims, tires, paint, stereo system, I consider these things as extras. I have never had brake problems, but then again, I downshift then use my brakes.