2002 Pontiac Sunfire SL 4-Door from North America - Comments

11th Feb 2005, 20:53

Fortunately I haven't needed the services of the dealership for quite some time now. The car is now at 109,300kms, and it's been behaving very well. The resistor for the blower motor has now failed for the second time, but I've talked to many other owners who all have had the same experience. I haven't had to replace anything else (other than a few light bulbs and wipers), and even the brakes are still at about 50% after 3 years. It's been quite enjoyable, just being able to put in gas, and go.

As for the seats, I find them to be "just" high enough for me in the 4 door. The two door seats seem to be a little closer to the floor, I assume for a "sportier" feel.

For what I paid for the car, I still feel that it has been a very good purchase. I even use it to pull our 14ft aluminum boat about 1000kms each year, without any problems.

22nd Jan 2006, 01:02

Just wanted to know if the 2002 four door sunfires gear shift lights up (auto)? When driving at night only things that light up are the windows, radio, front dash.Which means when I am driving at night I do not know what gear I am in. Is this normal?

30th Jan 2006, 17:55

The gear shift should light up. There's a screw inside the center console and another (2 maybe) in the tray in front of the cupholders. Take those screws out and pull up the console and there will be a bulb socket underneath.

16th Feb 2006, 23:40

Another year, another update. As of today I've now had the car exactly 4 years, and it just turned over 145,000km.

I changed the blower motor resistor that burned out last year, a couple of light bulbs, and decided to change the front brakes (due to pulsation, not wear). Unfortunately the new brakes I put on have also developed the same pulsation. I purchased "economy" off-shore rotors - I think I'm going to spend the extra for some "premium" domestic-made parts this spring. Hopefully that will solve the issue.

I also did a basic tune-up at around 120,000km (plugs and fuel filter). It ran marginally smoother afterwards, but didn't make any huge difference. It wasn't really bad before, I just felt that it was "time", as I rely heavily on this vehicle daily.

I've purchased a slightly larger and heavier boat for it to tow now, so we'll see how it likes it this summer. It seemed alright with it last fall (I towed it a few hundred km and averaged around 27 MPG, but it wasn't loaded down). I installed a vacuum gauge this year so that I can monitor how hard I'm working the engine when towing. It's definitely a useful tool for fuel economy also. I suspect that the towing is also a contributing factor to my brake issue. My only real concern about towing is the wear on the clutch - fortunately it isn't showing any signs of problems, but I try to be easy on it too.

So other than basic maintenance, it's been another enjoyable year of ownership. One more and it'll be paid for! That's the day I'm looking forward to! Really though, for the money I've really got nothing to complain about. In my opinion, its reliability has been superb, considering the work I make it do every day. In 4 years I've spent under $200 in maintenance and repairs (excluding oil changes) - how much better can it get? I guess we'll see what the next year brings.

16th Feb 2006, 23:50

With regard to the question about finding reverse on the 5-speed: I haven't had any issues at all with mine, but I would check the parts of the lock-out toggle built into the shifter. The parts are all plastic, and maybe there's some flashing or something causing a tight fit. It's fairly easy to access inside - just undo the "snaps" on the shifter's boot, and remove the boot (I believe it will detach from the console with some gentle persuasion). You can then actuate the lockout lever and see what's going on. It's pretty simple in there. If that's not the issue, then maybe it's in need of a cable adjustment. I haven't had to touch mine, so I can't help you much there.

A friend of mine had a similar complaint when his father bought a Sunfire in 2001 - his problem was that he was "unaware" of the lockout. I don't know how he got it into reverse at all without breaking anything! I just found it a bit amusing (and I don't let him drive MY car!).

6th Mar 2007, 05:00

Well, my annual update this year is a little worse than before - but I'm still happy with the performance of the car (and I'm down to only two payments left, so that makes it even better to me!)

I figured out the brake pulsation issue - it wasn't the "offshore" rotors at all - it was the rear drums. I'm thinking that maybe I partially submerged them when launching my boat, causing one part to cool rapidly or something - anyway I spent about $30 for a new set of drums last spring, and the brakes have been perfectly smooth ever since. Still lots of wear left.

During the summer, I noticed that the idle sounded a little strange out the exhaust, and I began getting an intermittent Misfire on Cylinder #3 code setting when it began to get a little cooler out in the fall. I began with the basics (new plugs and wires), but it made no difference. All diagnostics done pointed towards an injector, so I changed out the one injector, but still no difference. I then did what I should have done originally and performed a compression test - only 75psi on #3 versus 180psi on the other 3 cylinders. I had a burnt exhaust valve.

I had the head removed and rebuilt (this was at 175000km) with one new valve, and bronze inserts put in for all of the exhaust valve guides. Now the engine runs more smoothly and quietly than I ever remember it running - even my cold morning "dash rattles" are gone, and now I finally know what my valve train noise was that I mentioned way back 4 years ago. Apparently that valve could move back and forth about 1/8 inch, the guide was so worn. Amazingly it still didn't consume any oil.

I also purchased a new set of dedicated winter tires this year - a fantastic investment. I just got some Kelly Magnagrip HT's - slightly noisy in town, but great traction - especially in the sloppy wet stuff.

So now my car's almost paid for, and now that it runs so much more nicely, with the rebuilt cylinder head, full tune-up, smooth brakes, and new tires - I'm still happy with it. This year almost cost me about $2000 altogether, but it's an awful lot cheaper than replacing the car!

Current mileage is about 179,400km. Even with our cold weather this winter (it's -21C here currently), I'm still averaging around 8L/100km, and no oil consumption. Other than a couple more light bulbs, no other issues came up last year beyond the bad valve. Hopefully this year will be slightly less expensive...