2001 Pontiac Grand Am SE-1 Quad 4 from North America
At 162,000 miles, this car is still going strong
Rebuilt transmission @ 108,000 miles ($1,400 - broken planetary gear carrier - for the knowledgeable)
Ballast resistor for heater @ 145,000.00 (under $20 for part)
Ignition control module @ 152,000 (under $100 for part)
Other than tires, brake pads, serpentine belt, a battery and one set of spark plugs, only regular (read every 3,000 miles) oil changes have been done to vehicle.
A bit of background about this author - I'm a 41 year old man and from the old-school full framed, V8 powered, rear drive, work on it yourself school. I was not looking forward to @ 103,000 miles driving this car every day after buying my wife a new one. I didn't expect her "old" car to last more than 6 months with me behind the wheel; in fact I resented the change. After three years, it has won me over.
This last year of the Quad 4 was done right - head gasket problems once complained of have been solved. The motor was designed so efficiently, there are no timing belts, EGR or PCV valves to service/replace.
EPA sticker when purchased stated 20/26 city/hgwy; in mixed driving, I average 22.75 to 24.5 mpg. My lowest reading in all city driving was 19.2 mpg (winter snowstorms) ; all highway driving averages 28.5 to 29.75 mpg. I am very happy with the mileage as I drive with a rather heavy foot from a dead stop. I do check the mileage with every fill up; this mileage has been consistent since my day one and has not tapered off with age.
The temp gage will climb to 220 degrees (but never into the red) in summer stop and go traffic, but the fan eventually kicks on and brings it back down to 200 degrees. I used to worry and even changed the thermostat (factory 180 degree unit by the way), but quit worrying about that issue more than a year ago.
This is a great commuter car. The excellent factory converter choice in the transmission makes for a peppy, quick car around the city and lively to 45 mph. Like every other naturally aspirated four cylinder three thousand pound car, it could use a little more power when pulling out onto a two lane 55 mph road. Otherwise, the power is more than adequate and the engine willingly revs to red-line with enough noise to remind you the streets are patrolled.
In a pot-holed laden city (such as here in Chicago), the factory 215/60R15 tires are on the good side of the limit for everyday use. Bigger potholes are met with only a thud and without the bent rims, blown tires and profanity that accompanies lower profiled tires and larger rim sizes. My car has seen its share of less severe hazards and has needed no suspension work; it is still rattle free and runs 80 mph down the freeway straight as an arrow and without any tire wear. Handling and braking are more than adequate for a commuter vehicle. I find myself agreeing with the wider is better promo from Pontiac. It is definitely quicker in wet weather than rear drive vehicles, recovering from wheelspin much more quickly.
Comfort-wise, I rate this car as a good "one hour" car. I'm 6'3" and 205 lbs; I fit in the car just fine with the seat all the way back. Like every other four door I sit in, I look straight left into the pillar post between the doors which requires a duck and croon move every time I change lanes to the left. 5-15 minute trips are thoughtless and efficiently carried out, but after about one hour, I'm ready to get out of the car. It's good that only a few trips in this city last longer than one hour.
Exterior-wise, the metal seems a little more durable than that used in current production. I see less dings (there's only a few) down the side of my car than in a lot of the newer ones I see at the stoplights. Also Kudos to GM for building a car that still has no rust after all its salt covered winters.
Because it is not a car I am out profiling in, I park it in public lots and garages without worry. It has been very economical (my sister has spent more money maintaining/repairing her 152,000 mile 1998 Honda Accord), reliable, and inexpensive to insure and maintain. I see so many others like it on the road, I feel quite anonymous in it, which I like for daily transportation.
Like many men, I spend considerable time trying to figure out its replacement. I hate to admit it, but I'm waiting to find another 2001 low-mileage, no-accidents, priced right Quad 4 powered vehicle...
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 4th January, 2009
19th Jan 2010, 16:29
I used to have a 2001 Grand Am SE. It was pretty and it handled great. I loved to drive it and it looked so sporty. But... alternator problems, brakes replaced twice, short in radio, power window switch problems, headlight went out... all before 50K miles. Luckily I had a boyfriend that could do work on this car and apparently it was an easy car to work on. Dealerships wanted too much money to fix it. I think they are horribly made cars and I'll never own another Pontiac. I had two Grand Am's actually. One was a 97 and then the one I just talked about. Both were crap.