1997 Pontiac Grand Am SE 3.1 from North America


A grand hunk of junk


Well, where do I start...

I changed the alternator at 144,000 km, back in March.

After the alternator died, I had to get the brake pads, rotors, wheel bearings (front and back) and fan belt changed in April. Part of my muffler needed changing also during this trip to my mechanic. Total cost was $1,800.

I had to replace the transmission in May at 156,000. This cost me $2,000.

Had a complete tune-up done, spark plug wires were completely corroded, another $200 at the beginning of June.

Various lights (engine, ABS brakes) keep coming on for apparently no reason.

Today, I'm waiting to found out why the car would start, then die immediately afterward. I suspect the built-in anti-theft system is screwy. I had to have the car towed to my mechanic's garage.

I have been told to look forward to changing the head gasket on this car as well. Glad to know I'm not done re-building the vehicle.

General Comments:

When I first bought this car two years ago (used), it was great to drive. It has a V6 engine, therefore wicked speed, but ever since the problems have started, it's been one thing after another.

I will never, ever buy another GM vehicle as long as I live. Various mechanics tell me that all the problems I've experienced are normal for this make, model and year of car. Yippee...

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 2nd July, 2003

25th Jul 2003, 11:09

If you drove the car with more mechanical sympathy you would not have experienced the faults which you have experienced. Why blame the manufacturer when it is clearly down to driver abuse of the vehicle.

7th Jun 2004, 22:44

Um well eventually cars do break. The '97 Grand Ams were weak I will admit, but brake pads and rotors are put under extremely harsh conditions, the only reason they will wear quickly is if you ride them like a granny. Belt, same deal, it happens to every car ever made. My Volvo had a belt go out. Don't complain about routine maintenance, it makes you sound like a whiny baby.

1997 Pontiac Grand Am LX V6 from North America


Costly to maintain


Replaced alternator twice. Someone at the dealer's told me the original alternator had a design flaw which caused it to overheat. Once they installed the "redesigned" alternator, I never had any more problems with it.

The engine mounts had to be replaced after 40000 miles.

Brakes and rotors went bad more times than I remember.

Now there are issues with the heater core and power steering system.

Oh, and don't forget the transmission went out too.

Plus, the electric locks stopped working, the fog lights stopped working, and the passenger side seat won't lock into position. It slides back and forth...

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 21st June, 2003

1997 Pontiac Grand Am SE 3.1 from North America


A nice car if you have deep pockets


Where do I start, well the 1st thousand miles the brake rotors warped, replaced under warranty.

Next at 2800 miles the transmission let go, but service department said it just leaked out so they changed filter and added new fluid (warranty).

At 4,000 miles the wiring harness had to be replaced as all connections were corroded (warranty).

Very bad shake and shimmy at between 30 MPH to 50 MPH, service department could not duplicate. Rebalanced & rotated tires, still have problem. I've taken the car to another garage and they have indicated the problem was in the transmission and drive line. Dealer says nothing wrong with car.

The front floors were continously wet, dealer finally found leak in the firewall (warranty).

Side door panels kept peeling and coming off, dealer used some type of glue that left bumps when they restretched them, not replaced them. Kinda cheap of them I thought.

At 5,500 miles brakes let go again, replaced all calipers, rotors, drums and shoes, not covered under warranty as over one year old, my cost $946.00.

Car sometimes won't start, and when it does and the car is put into gear, the car won't move, the engine revs, but won't move. Service department still out on a fix for that problem.

When starting the car sometimes there is a loud grinding sound and whole car shakes, service department unable to duplicate the problem, funny the car still does it when I try to start it at home.

Valve cover gasket leaking badly, dealer won't replace it unless they actually see the oil gushing out while engine is running.

At 11,000 miles, noticed anti freeze drops in the driveway, went to dealer and they indicated couldn't find any leaks and system didn't need any fill up. Two months later at 12,600 miles, the car overheated and was towed to the shop where the service department advised that I would need a new intake manifold. Not covered under warranty, my cost $750.00. Guess my anti freeze leak wasn't all in my head. Valve cover gaskets still leaking and am losing oil at a rate of 1 quart every 500 miles. Dealer still won't replace. At least when the intake manifold was installed they pressure cleaned the motor and I can now see the engine.

Brakes let go again at 18,000 miles, not under warranty, took the car to an independent garage and had some good rotors and pads put on - 3 years later and odometer at 25,000 miles, still no problems with bakes, rather ironic that GM parts don't last. Brakes don't fade now.

Took car in for a safety inspection at 21,000 miles and was informed the car wouldn't pass, I would have to replace control arm & sway bar bushings, no warranty, my cost $585.00.

At 23,500 miles car wouldn't start, towed to dealer, computer failed, dealer didn't have one in stock, waited 10 days with no car, replaced at my cost of $945.00.

Air conditioning not blowing cold air, and compressor not kicking in, took it to dealer and they pressure checked it, injected dye, no leaks, filled up with 1.2 lbs freon, my cost $285.00.

Three months later air conditioning not working, took car to dealer and lo and behold, found a bad leak, service department fixed, my cost $310.00. Funny that there was no leak before, but a few months later there was.

Muffler bracket fell off while driving and muffler scraped on road. Had to replace muffler and two clamps, cost to me $110.00.

I'm now at 24645 miles, car is almost exactly 6 years old and I'm wondering what else can go wrong? As you can see I don't drive very much and car is stored in an unheated garage out of the elements.

I have taken good care of this vehicle, changed oil every 2000 miles or three months, whichever came first, have been the only driver and made sure car was always cleaned and waxed 5 times a year. At least the paint is still looking good.

General Comments:

Good points of this car;

Car is very sporty looking, handles extremely well, although has a bit of body roll, but does not affect it too much on hard cornering.

Lots of power, but fuel injectors will cut out at 115 MPH, so be careful if you're trying to pass a transport truck.

Seats are not very comfortable, but lots of head and leg room. Of course I'm only 5'6" and weigh 130 lbs.

Lots of trunk space and with the folding down rear seats, you can put almost anything in the trunk.

Great in the snow and with the traction control, it's almost like having a 4 X 4.

All interior gauges and controls within easy reach, and driver's side gives a nice feel of a cockpit style area.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 6th June, 2003

21st Jun 2003, 15:27

I can't believe you have had so many problems with so little miles. I have the same car and have issues too, but have an extended warranty :)

I'm commenting because I think you paid for too many repairs that you should not have. I think your dealer took advantage of you. There's no way you should have been paying for those things in the first 3yrs. I'd avoid that dealer in the future!

26th Aug 2009, 15:00

It seems that the dealer took advantage of you big time and I feel bad for you... but no offense, I wonder if driving 115 mph may have helped cause some engine problems? I would imagine a 3.1 V6 would have to work pretty hard and rev pretty high to go that fast. Too bad about the evil dealership though. I would recommend to anyone being ripped off by a dealership to find a good independent repair shop with a good reputation (after your warranty is up anyway, since I believe warranties usually don't cover independent shops)