22nd Oct 2003, 15:49

I bought my 1997 Trans Sport in August. I did not take the time to check it out thoroughly. I left for vacation the next day and found that I was loosing water and gaining oil. I had to have the intake and head gaskets replaced. I thought everything was fine. Two weeks ago my son was driving it when it lost oil pressure and power. After checking I found that the cam is broken. I wish I had checked the web before buying this vehicle. I do not expect these kinds of problems at 85,000 miles. I am going back to my 1991 VW Vanagon. It has 95000 miles and runs great. Why can't American car companies get it right?

I am replacing my engine and selling this vehicle to a die-hard GM FAN! Back to VW I go.

16th Nov 2003, 02:23

We purchased our 1999 Montana in February of 2002.

First let me begin by saying "What the hell were we thinking?" The vehicle had 49K miles on it at the time of purchase, and unfortunately we made the mistake of not purchasing the extended warranty.

2 or 3 days after bringing it home from the dealership, while driving down a local highway, the low coolant light came on, so we took it to our personal mechanic immediately (we were only minutes from his shop). When we told him what was going on, he opened the oil filler cap under the hood and diagnosed the problem right away. The intake gasket had leaked, causing Dexcool to seep into the oil.

From there we took the van up the road to the dealership where we purchased it, and we insisted that they fix the problem at their cost. The service department manager told us to drive it home and bring it back in a few days, but he could not guarantee that the work would be covered under the 30 day limited warranty that we were given. We refused to drive the vehicle another inch until it was fixed properly, threatened to give the vehicle back if they didn't pay for the repairs, and insisted that they set us up with a rental until the work was completed.

After butting heads with them for 1/2 hour or so, we were sent on our way in a rental, and we were told that we would be hearing from them in a few days. 4 days later we received the phone call from the dealership telling us that they had replaced all 12 lifters, the water pump, and the upper and lower intake gaskets, and that we could come and get the van at any time. We were pleased to know that when we got there, the paperwork/receipt that we were given at the time of pick up said "NO CHARGE, Warranty work".

10 months later on the 26th of December of 2002, we ventured out to do some after Christmas shopping/gift returns. We got two blocks from our house when the oil light came on, heard a loud metallic clunk, and before I could do anything, the engine died. Tried to push the vehicle home on a sheet of ice and got it here, but we were unable to maneuver it into the drive, so we called a tow, and had them take it up to our old faithful friend, Mr. mechanic.

The next morning he called to see why our van was sitting on his lot. Told him that we hoped he could tell us after looking into it. An hour later, he called us back with the bad news. Cam shaft failure at 59,000 miles.

At this point we decided to do some on-line research. This was one of the 1st websites that we found, and after reading the posts listed here, among others from other sites, we were sure that if we reported the problem to the dealership, we might be able to get some relief through them.

Boy were we wrong again! They didn't seem too eager to help us at all. They proposed that they replace the cam shaft only, and the out of pocket cost for such work would run us about 25 hundred dollars. That came with a 12 month warranty. What a joke! Doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that when you have an internal engine component snap in two, there's a good likelihood that there are metal shavings floating around inside the oil/pan/engine housing, and that the possibility of other unseen damages that also had incurred when the cam snapped, were relatively good. Therefore we turned down the dealership's proposal, and went straight to the Pontiac Corp.

They too were not in any way interested in helping us fix the problem, and insisted that it was the owner's responsibility to do whatever was necessary to make it right, even though this was obviously a manufacturer's defect.

We chose to go the route of a brand new GM engine, which cost us 4,000 dollars total with labor through good old faithful Mr. mechanic. (the new engine has a 3 year/50K mile warranty).

We got the van back in early January of 2003, and within a couple of weeks, while on a 2 and a half hour road trip, the transmission started up shifting violently. We managed to nurse the vehicle back home, and immediately took it to a local transmission specialist, expecting to pay out the nose for a complete transmission overhaul. Fortunately the mechanic at the shop told us that he could diagnose the problem just by hooking it up to a computer. He was able to tell us that the transmissions computer codes were showing that it was stuck in over drive, and that all he would have to do to resolve the problem, was reset the codes back to zero.

Needless to say, that seemed to work, but only for about 2 weeks, and then suddenly after making my way home from a local grocery store run, the violent up shift mysteriously reappeared. We attempted to contact the dealership that we purchased the vehicle from once again, to let them know the extent of hassles we had encountered with this van in the whole year that we had owned it. They were merciless and could have cared less about our concerns. Nor did they offer in anyway to seek help for us via the Pontiac/GM Corps.

By this time we were ready to pull our hair out with frustration, and decided to take revenge. That's when we decided to do what we felt we had to do, and we painted lemons and the dealership's name all over the vehicle with tempera paints. After we finished our art work, we proudly displayed it by parading up and down the strip on which the dealership is located during business hours, as we obnoxiously blew the horn, yelled and waved out the windows to people out on their lots looking to purchase new vehicles from them. We were given the thumbs up by by-passers, and we received a lot of attention otherwise. We tried to make some more noise by contacting the local television news crews, but unfortunately we never received a response from them, and therefore we were unsuccessful.

After a second trip into the transmission specialist (with the lemons still in place), he explained that he would have to do a complete overhaul, since he couldn't figure out why it had returned with no tell tale sign of any code disruption on his diagnostic computer. The overhaul cost us 2,000 dollars and another week without our vehicle, while it sat in the shop. The work that the mechanic did came with an 18 month warranty. Sadly enough the overhaul didn't fix the problem, and after about 6 more visits back to the transmission specialist (we went back to him, ONLY because our funds had run low due to my husband being laid off from his job, and knowing that since it was under warranty through this specialist, it wouldn't cost us anything to have it fixed once and for all, no matter what it took to do so), it had to be sent to another GM dealership for further diagnostics (I'd like to add here that we made sure we kept up with the lemon artwork on the vehicle during this time).

The transmission specialist was baffled and nearly as frustrated as we were with it. Came to find out, the transmission wasn't the problem from the get go. The dealership replaced what's called the ignition control module, located in the steering column, and like magic, it was as good as new. Within a couple of days of getting the vehicle back in our procession, we received a phone call from the service manager that was in charge at the dealership where we purchased our van. He insisted to know why our vehicle was seen at another dealership by the GM factory representative with lemons and their name painted all over it! (laugh) I almost choked, but was happy to explain to this gentleman over the phone that I was very dissatisfied and thoroughly disgusted by their customer service antics, with the vehicle itself, and sickened with the fact that we had poured about 6,000 dollars worth of repairs into a vehicle that we expected to be dependable and trustworthy. By the time I got off of the phone with him, he was pretty much begging me to remove to artwork for obvious reasons. I explained to him that I would be happy to do so as soon as they reimbursed us the 6,000 dollars or even a portion of money that we put forth in repairs. It shouldn't surprise you that his reply was "I'm sorry, we cannot do that."

It is now mid November of 2003, and we're coming up on our 2 year anniversary with this lemon in our procession. I am very sorry to say that as I sit here and type this, our van sits in the driveway, yet again, a dead horse. The diagnosis this time...? The alternator is shot at 69,000 original miles. The cost for just the parts alone? Re manufactured alternator: $370.00 ($110.00 core).

The good news? Well, my husband is getting called back to work this coming Monday after being laid off since January, and within a couple of weeks, we should be able to afford to get it fixed. I don't even dare ask "what's next?" because the simple fact is, I don't want to know. One thing is for certain. I will NEVER purchase another GM again!

Other minor problems as follows:

* Power slider rubber weather stripping loose and falling off.

* Brakes (still) squeak after having new rotors and pads put on.

* Driver's side seat showing severe wear and tear.

* Cup holders between front captain seats broken.

* On board air compressor not working properly.

* Heater fan deflector sticks in place, and slams open/closed when changing from defrost to vent.

* Rubber seal around outside of windshield bubbled up, causing wind/road noise (no leaks detected as of yet).

* Outside temperature/thermometer not reading properly (even after calibration).

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to e-mail me at RyanWendy3@aol.com