1997 Pontiac Grand Am SE 3.1 from North America
Keeps you busy
Over seven years and 120k miles that I've put on it (165k total), the following things have needed attention:
2 water pumps, $20 each installed myself, very simple.
2 alternators, around $80 each, installed myself, very simple.
New Bendix semi-metallic brake pads every two years at $60 a pair, but with every pair you get one free so it's really $30 each.
New economy rotors every year at $19 each.
Replaced both power window motors myself. $50 each versus $325 each price quote form an auto shop.
Same volume problem as virtually every other Grand Am owner.
Nice puddle of water under the driver's floor mat. I keep a chamois there 24/7. I suspect the leak is in the fire wall but I don't want to deal with it.
Both muffler hangers needed to be replaced. Needed to be welded so I had to take it in.
Starter replaced at about $80.
Recently have been having a power steering problem. I replaced the pump ($65) and pressure hose ($25) and still have the same problem. Don't know what to do now. It whines when turning the wheel at slow speeds.
Belt tensioner went out, got that replaced at the shop.
Original transmission, hoses, radiator. A/C is still pumping cold 53 degree air and it's never been charged. I'm getting 26-28 mpg with I'd say 75% of the miles on the highway.
All in all, this car has been very good to me. If I hadn't been able to do a lot of the work myself, I'd hate this car. It keeps me busy on the weekends. It's never left me stranded (until tomorrow probably). Good power, good mpg's and it's easy on the eyes.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 18th May, 2008
This maybe too little too late, but have a look at the steering rack. Mine was bad when I bought the car used. Leaked power steering fluid, and whined when turning; just drove it until I could find a decent priced re-manufactured one. I think it cost me about 170 (CAD). That was 2.5 years ago, and it looks to be going again as I am seeing moisture around and below the rack again (could be something else, but I'm not too concerned as the car is being parted out in the next 6 to 8 months).
Be prepared, as you sound to know your way around a car, but the easiest way to do the rack is to roll the entire engine forward, and pull it out from the top.