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 Post subject: Never ending battle
PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2018 9:24 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jan 21, 2018 1:18 pm
Posts: 52
Location: Alberta, Canada
Year and Trim: 96 Bonneville SSEi
I’m pretty sure I bought a Bonneville that hates me. This *dang* car has been trouble since the day I bought it and has been nothing but headaches and kicks to the ribs while I’m down.

96 SSEi with 205,000kmin very good condition and only 2 owners. You’d think it would be a great purchase at $1000 for a nice old daily driver. This car has been one thing after another in a domino effect of unexpected repairs and failiures over the last 5 months. I’ve managed to only put 3000km on this car in almost 6 months of ownership.

I’ve had to replace the water pump when that started leaking. The belt tensioner cracked in the block and leaked. Both belts needed replacing. Needed a coolant flush and then 2 days ago the rad tank cracked and leaked under the tranny cooler line. Oil pan gasket is on the to do list. One rear shock is broken and the other is leaking oil and new ones will be here tomorrow. Had to replace a front hub. Had to replace the blend door actuator, and that was the job that married me to this car, 8 hours of pulling and reinstalling the dash was miserable. Spark plugs were one of the first things needing attention. New fuel filter. And in the meantime I’ve been trying to get all the modifications done on it. Every time I fix something, something else goes.

There are days like yesterday I just want to set the *dang* thing on fire, but I keep outing money and time into this stupid thing because I love it for some unknown reason. I drive it for a day or 2 and something else goes wrong. This has literallly been the best worst car I’ve ever owned. It’s a sleeper and a wonderful car to drive. I’ve learned so much working on this car and even though it’s bern a pain in the ass, it’s been a great learning experience for me.

I feel like I just needed to vent. I was frustrated yesterday working on it. My daily LeSabre never gives me a problem. I’m glad I had something reliable and trusty that I can rely on while I fight the monster that is my Bonneville.

Lol, thanks for taking the time to read this. It’s pretty much a frustrated rambling on. :btruestory:

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'96 Bonneville SSEi - White on Teal - ZZP Stage 1 Kit, 3.6" Modular pulley, ZZP ported TB w/spacer, L3 short ram intake w/K&N filter, ZZP Power Log, ZZP DP w/high flow cat & 97+ manifold, ZZP SC coupler, ZZP HV ignition coils w/10.5mm plug wires, 16" Gold crosslaces w/Yokohama Avid tires, Olds LSS T-handle, Sony HU.

2000 Buick LeSabre Custom - Daily - Sony double DIN headunit, ZZP plug wires, ZZP TB spacer, L3 short ram intake - Dark Bronzemist Metallic on taupe


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 Post subject: Re: Never ending battle
PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2018 9:55 am 
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Joined: Mon May 10, 2010 6:11 pm
Posts: 8950
Location: Chicago, IL
Year and Trim: 2003 SLE
It's a 22 year old car with over 200,000 miles. I'm not sure why you are so surprised!

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"Penelope" - 2003 SLE - 180k Miles
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 Post subject: Re: Never ending battle
PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2018 10:48 am 
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Joined: Sat Dec 11, 2010 9:09 pm
Posts: 277
Location: Newtown Square, PA
Year and Trim: '97 SSEi
One must consider that once a car has 200k, anything can and will happen. Could be a very nice car and once brought up to spec can even be pretty reliable but older cars need TLC, no two ways about that.

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'97 SSEi, Majestic Teal / Beige interior, Bose, HUD, iPod ready! - SOLD! :sad: Check it out!
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 Post subject: Re: Never ending battle
PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2018 11:18 am 
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Joined: Wed May 13, 2009 10:45 pm
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Location: CHICAGO
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Carl beat me to it.

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Retired Bonneville Owner and former GM Tech:
2004 Pontiac Bonneville GXP: Black/Ebony *SOLD*

Summer Toys: Combined 827 RWHP / 877lb/ft RWTQ
2004 Pontiac GTO: Impulse Blue Metallic/Black/M6: lots 'o mods, 415 RWHP / 405lb/ft RWTQ!
2006 Cadillac STS-V: Light Platinum Metallic/Light Gray/A6 - Spectre CAI, Magnaflow exhaust, Speed Inc. tune, 412 RWHP / 472lb/ft RWTQ

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2009 Chevrolet Impala SS: LS4 V8, Victory Red
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 Post subject: Re: Never ending battle
PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2018 6:05 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jan 21, 2018 1:18 pm
Posts: 52
Location: Alberta, Canada
Year and Trim: 96 Bonneville SSEi
Well of course it's an old car. That's obvious that things will go here and there. Also, it's just under 130k MI. I figure that's fairly low for a car that age. My 2000 LeSabre has more miles on it.

I knew this car was going to have some gremlins given the age and all the bells and whistles attached to an SSEi. And my favourite quote is "Do you know how to tell when a 3800 has oil in it? It leaks." But this car just hates me lol. It's sitting in the driveway at the moment in a puddle of every possible fluid, with a broken strut, exhaust cut off and no radiator. All of this is going to be repaired by the end of the weekend. Then I'm sure something else will break lol.

It's a labour of love. I love the car for what it is. It's more tempermental than my ex, but atleast it doesn't yell at me. :D

_________________
'96 Bonneville SSEi - White on Teal - ZZP Stage 1 Kit, 3.6" Modular pulley, ZZP ported TB w/spacer, L3 short ram intake w/K&N filter, ZZP Power Log, ZZP DP w/high flow cat & 97+ manifold, ZZP SC coupler, ZZP HV ignition coils w/10.5mm plug wires, 16" Gold crosslaces w/Yokohama Avid tires, Olds LSS T-handle, Sony HU.

2000 Buick LeSabre Custom - Daily - Sony double DIN headunit, ZZP plug wires, ZZP TB spacer, L3 short ram intake - Dark Bronzemist Metallic on taupe


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 Post subject: Re: Never ending battle
PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2018 2:52 pm 
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Joined: Tue Aug 25, 2009 8:32 pm
Posts: 4401
Location: Dearborn, MI
Year and Trim: '93 SSEi
'05 STS-4
'97 Camaro
'97 LeSabre
My experience with two cars so far has been if it sits (old and low mileage) things go bad faster than if it's used a lot.

My 1989 LeSabre, 130k miles on it when I got it for $350, needed everything. Luckily I had most of the parts on hand on my 260k mile '86 among other parts cars, so I haven't had to buy a lot new. But everything... PCM, fuel injectors, MAS, EGR valve, intake manifold gaskets, water pump, power steering pump, starter motor, two alternators, O2 sensor and wiring, both overflow tanks, knock sensor and wire, both front wheel bearings, brakes, one C/V axle, brake lines (done right before I got it), fuel lines and tank and sending unit and pump and filler tube, sway bars and links, ball joints, outer tie rods, shocks/struts and mounts, water leaking in windshield and rear window, etc.... The upside, is that actual downtime has been limited to weekends, and it's been a reliable winter car. Usually I just leave things until summer (when I don't drive it every day) unless it has to be fixed. Right now it has a mystery coolant leak, and one of the rear sway bar brackets is broken and needs welding, and the water leaks around the windows aren't fully fixed. But with a car like this you have to differentiate between what "must be fixed" and "what needs to be fixed" to determine if it's reliable. I will say that this car has been reliable, in that even when it's been broken it still starts and drives every time and the heat works brilliantly, and anything that keeps it from that state is usually fixed in about 30 minutes.

Another car I am working on for a friend is a '96 SSEi that has less than 90k miles on it. Motor went bad (cam bearings trashed and low oil pressure as a result), starter went bad, lifters went bad, etc. We just started on it, and I'm sure that there will be more soon enough.

Low mileage either means the car was driven every day for about 5 minutes, or it sat for a long time. Either is not a good combination, and I expect to have to deal with some spider webs as a result.

And Kudos to you for keeping it out of the scrapper for what I completely understand to be a frustrating example of what is normally a very reliable car. Being able to DIY stuff really does help control costs at least.

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Runs:
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'97 Chevy Camaro - 3800, T5, T-tops, Getting ready for some major upgrades!
'05 Cadillac STS - V8, AWD, her DD
'92 Olds Trofeo - Fair weather DD
'84 GMC Sierra Classic - Twin turbo 3800
'97 Buick LeSabre - L67 winter DD
'92 Pontiac Bonneville SSE future project

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'87 Buick LeSabre T-type - future victim
'67 Buick LeSabre - future victim


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 Post subject: Re: Never ending battle
PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2018 7:19 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jan 21, 2018 1:18 pm
Posts: 52
Location: Alberta, Canada
Year and Trim: 96 Bonneville SSEi
You’re absolutely right. Every low mileage older vehicle I’ve owned has been nothing but trouble. I say, if it’s older with high miles it’s a safe bet because it’s been reliable and maintained. I’ve owned vehicles with over 300 and 400k km on them and they’ve been some of the best I’ve had.

I am happy to report I reinstalled my plastic welded rad and my ZZP downpipe his afternoon and fired up the car for the first time in over a week. Started right up, ran it for a good 20 min. The rad is holding up and the car ran great. I just need to tighten a few exhaust manifold and downpipe bolts to eliminate 2 leaks I heard. Once the new rear shocks go in, its roadworthy again. I’m excited to take it for a spin with all its new goodies. I then need to send my pcm for tuning so it’ll be more downtime while that’s being done.

But hooray, success of some sort!

_________________
'96 Bonneville SSEi - White on Teal - ZZP Stage 1 Kit, 3.6" Modular pulley, ZZP ported TB w/spacer, L3 short ram intake w/K&N filter, ZZP Power Log, ZZP DP w/high flow cat & 97+ manifold, ZZP SC coupler, ZZP HV ignition coils w/10.5mm plug wires, 16" Gold crosslaces w/Yokohama Avid tires, Olds LSS T-handle, Sony HU.

2000 Buick LeSabre Custom - Daily - Sony double DIN headunit, ZZP plug wires, ZZP TB spacer, L3 short ram intake - Dark Bronzemist Metallic on taupe


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 Post subject: Re: Never ending battle
PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2018 10:52 pm 
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Joined: Wed May 21, 2008 11:47 pm
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Location: Philly
Year and Trim: 95 SLE
Just for future reference or anyone else reading, the dash doesn't need to come out for the blend for actuator. It's rough to do it with the dash in but its quicker.

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 Post subject: Re: Never ending battle
PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2018 2:19 am 
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Joined: Wed Apr 01, 2009 7:11 pm
Posts: 2400
Location: Alberta, Canada
Year and Trim: 2004 GXP, 2008 STS, 2008 DTS
It is an older car, but it does only have 127,000 MILES. Keep in mind that this owner is in Canada and has specified an odometer of 205,000 KILOMETERS.

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 Post subject: Re: Never ending battle
PostPosted: Thu May 24, 2018 11:29 pm 
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Posts like an L67
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Joined: Fri May 23, 2008 12:26 am
Posts: 1211
Location: Charlotte, NC
Year and Trim: 96 SSEi- 157K
95naSTA wrote:
Just for future reference or anyone else reading, the dash doesn't need to come out for the blend for actuator. It's rough to do it with the dash in but its quicker.


When I read that step in the FSM, I was like, LOL NO. Just scratched up my arms a bit and had to do some finger acrobatics, totally worth the FSM defiance. And then there's that special sore spot in the middle of your back from lying on the weather stripping/ door sill :lol:

OP, sorry about your Bonneville experience so far. Not to beat a dead horse, all 20 year old cars need lots of help. If you research the forum and find common issues, maintenance recommendations, etc, be proactive and tackle as many things as you can when you have the time and energy. It'll save you a lot of grief and lower your car stress levels. Bonnevilles are stone cold reliable if you stay on top of things- they can just be a little needy, even by old car standards. Our 98 Corolla doesn't give me half as much to do in a year as any Bonneville I've owned, but I'd rather drive a 90's Bonne any day. No contest. That's probably why I've had 6 of them.

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 Post subject: Re: Never ending battle
PostPosted: Fri May 25, 2018 11:23 am 
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Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 10:40 am
Posts: 1643
Location: West Point
Year and Trim: 2003 SSEi
MattStrike wrote:
My experience with two cars so far has been if it sits (old and low mileage) things go bad faster than if it's used a lot.
Agreed. I had a 67 Camaro that was great as I drove it daily all summer. I’d park it in the winter and in the spring it would leak, tick, squeak, etc. My thought is that the gaskets and rubber parts get hard and crack when they sit and that bearings dry out and are prone to condensation & corrosion.

MattStrike wrote:
Another car I am working on for a friend is a '96 SSEi that has less than 90k miles on it. Motor went bad (cam bearings trashed and low oil pressure as a result)…
I thought I was the only one that ever had cam bearings go bad on this motor. A cam bearing actually fell out of my 93. Found it in one piece in the oil pan. Beat to crap, but in one piece. :dontknow:

ddalder wrote:
...it does only have 127,000 MILES. Keep in mind that this owner is in Canada and has specified an odometer of 205,000 KILOMETERS.
This.

95naSTA wrote:
Just for future reference or anyone else reading, the dash doesn't need to come out for the blend for actuator. It's rough to do it with the dash in but its quicker.
And this.

zuper8 wrote:
…research the forum and find common issues, maintenance recommendations, etc…
And especially this.

zuper8 wrote:
95naSTA wrote:
Just for future reference or anyone else reading, the dash doesn't need to come out for the blend for actuator. It's rough to do it with the dash in but its quicker.


When I read that step in the FSM, I was like, LOL NO. Just scratched up my arms a bit and had to do some finger acrobatics, totally worth the FSM defiance. And then there's that special sore spot in the middle of your back from lying on the weather stripping/ door sill :lol:
For me it was like oh, HELL no. This is where searching this forum would have saved you many cuss words that you could have used on another project.

Being an old guy (but not nearly as old as Dick (Archon)), it took me about 5.7 seconds to discover laying across the door sill was not an option. Took me another 5 minutes to pull the passenger seat for better access. Alas, it did add about an hour to the job because I fell asleep stretched out on the floor with my feet up on the rear seat.

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 Post subject: Re: Never ending battle
PostPosted: Sat May 26, 2018 1:25 pm 
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Joined: Mon May 19, 2008 10:30 pm
Posts: 8715
Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan
Year and Trim: 2014 Cadillac XTS Vsport.
I was just sitting here, minding my own business and watching as the Bonneville gods imparted their wisdom, when one of them cast a bolt of lightening at me. I'm going to grab my shawl, head to the porch to sit in my rocker, and yell at all the young whipper-snappers who get close to walking on the lawn.

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*Gone, but not forgotten* - Black 2000 SSEi, HIR Headlights, Angel Eyes fogs, 3rd brake light overlay, hi-flo cat, 180 degree thermostat, HS 1.9 rockers, LSx yellow springs, Intense FWI, PCM, shift kit, push rods, and 3.4 Pulley. ZZP Power Log.


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