1997 Pontiac Grand Am SE 4-cylinder from North America


The biggest mistake you'll ever make


Replaced three sets of brakes and counting.

2 water pumps since 60,000 miles.

Air conditioning pump caught on fire and shot debris throughout the entire system, cost $2,000.

Clock is really screwed up. It makes funny shapes and never looks right.

The recall cost me a new battery.

Lights on the dash come on and off as they feel free.

Occasionally stalls right after being started for no reason.

Also, it sometimes has a mind of its own and revs up so hard that I am forced to apply the brake as hard as I can to avoid driving out into traffic.

General Comments:

This car is probably one of the poorest manufactured cars I have ever seen.

There is no room in the front seat and you can't see on the sides because you sit down so low (I have hit numerous curbs).

They lose value way too fast.

The only thing good about this car is the gas mileage (30 mpg).

The carpet on the driver's side is worn down to almost nothing in some spots.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 22nd August, 2002

20th Sep 2002, 09:34

Am having the same problem after starting the car stalls almost daily now.

10th Oct 2002, 22:45

I am in complete agreement with you. I have had ALL of the same problems except for the engine revving part... but the water pump has been replaced twice on mine as well, at the cost of more than $300 to repair each time, and the brakes, uh huh, I agree totally, what is it with those??? I knew I wasn't that bad on brakes. I also had a problem with water leaking into my driver side floorboard. Took it to the dealer and a few other shops, no one could seem to find where it was coming from. And the recall, yes, it also costs me 3 alternators and 2 new batteries.

BUT...with all the problems I had with my grandam... i do have to say, I loved the ride, the look and the way it handled. I speak in past tense because I was in an accident last week and it was totaled. SAFETY rates on this vehicle would be a 10 though... the airbags deployed properly and I was told if I had been driving a different type of car I could have been killed.

OVERALL...I loved my Grand Am and I would definitely own another though.

21st Apr 2003, 08:09

Yup, I have the same problem with the car stalling and reeving up also the brake are always going. And when I first bought it the windshield leaked. Also replaced the water pump for $500.00!!!

26th Oct 2005, 06:02

I have had the same exact problems. My 1997 Grand Am has well over 150,000 miles. I have just discovered I have to have the water pump replaced for the 2nd time in the last 2 years. It seems like I am replacing the brakes once a year (or more), the ignition switch is shot to the point that I have to mess with the gearshift and listen for the ignition to release my key. The clock also does crazy things to the point you cannot read it. However, I would buy another Pontiac. I have definitely enjoyed this car over the years and after putting 150,000+ on it, you would have to assume it would be time to start replacing parts. I just wish the water pump wasn't $300 or more.

1997 Pontiac Grand Am SE 2.4L twin cam from North America


Pretty, potent, yet painful to maintain


Tires needed replacement when I got the car (62,000 miles).

Alternator replaced at 70,000 miles.

The automatic transmission is shifting erratically, and very roughly into second.

Antilock Brake System motor replaced on front passenger's side.

Constant Velocity shaft replaced on passenger's side at 78,000 miles.

Paint peeling behind the driver's side door.

The same radio volume control knob problem that seems ubiquitous to all 1997 Grand Ams (can't distinguish between up or down).

Brake rotors are warped.

Interior door inserts are falling apart.

Whine from the power steering pump.

Overheats at random intervals.

Dies when running downhill for an extended period of time.

General Comments:

I was seriously pleased when I got this car... It has plenty of getup, and 4 cylinder engine is hands-down the best offering with this car, with its flat torque curve and generous horsepower.

But this car has steadily become a nightmare to maintain, with seemingly a new problem every time I drive it.

It sticks to the road, but feels overly heavy in spirited maneuvers. Like all N-body type cars, it's a little longer and heavier than I think it has any business being, but looks sharp overall.

I think the seats are quite comfortable, but I'm a little taller than the average driver, and that could be a factor... But the interior is cheaply assembled, and the door panels and switches start off looking tacky, and end up just plain broken.

I would truly enjoy owning this car, be it not for its continual problems... A few suspension mods could make the handling a bit more springy, and the acceleration and low end power of the engine is impressive, given its fuel economy numbers. And flat-out it's a joy to drive, solid steering, and tight cornering with minimal torque steer... My only other gripe is that every 3rd car I pass is a Grand Am.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 1st August, 2002

2nd Jan 2003, 21:18

I do agree that this car does need maintenance occasionally, but the main problems are the altenator and the window motors otherwise I love my car and will never sell it willingly for a different car. But I know the owners of this car enjoy the handling, speed, looks, and just the feel of the car.

1st Jul 2003, 13:14

Just bought my 1997 Grand Am GT 3.1 V6 fully loaded! It drives great except for a bad ball joint I have to fix along with a power steering leak. The car has 146,000 miles on it, but has a new transmission. I've only owned Grand Am GT's and this one is the best of all! I think the 3.1 engine is easy to maintain. I've realized through the years if there is a problem, fix it NOW and don't make the excuse of having no money because you'll pay more in the long run. My concerns with any car are the motor and transmission whether it can get me another 100,000 miles or not. The fliuds looked great on this car compared to Grand Ams I saw with lower mileage. It's really how the car is taken care of.