Pros: Styling, Performance, Handling, Ride, Instrumentation, Storage, ALS
Cons: Transmission Shifting, A/C Compressor, "Low Trac" Light, Back Seat Room
UPDATE (11/28/02): I got new tires and even though the old ones weren't terrible, the new tires dramatically changed the way the car handles in the snow. I was really impressed. However, I didn't care too much for the price of the tires. It seems the tires are of a rare size and I had to pay nearly $80 per tire. Most places I checked didn't even carry the tire!
UPDATE (8/29/02): Well, the plastic covering that was ruining the driver side door has now migrated to the passenger side and I have decided to take the car in to the body shop. Also, more problems with the Low Trac light. Now you don't even have to be moving the car, just idling, and it will come on for absolutley no reason whatsoever. Change oil light this time was 1,000 miles late, instead of 1,000 miles early, like usual. You know, I could be wrong, but instead of monitoring the RPMs and all that crap, why don't they just set the light to come on at 2,800 after the last oil change. Nobody goes by the light anyway! Winter is approaching quickly here in northern Wisconsin and I'm scared to be driving over a local bridge which is terrifying enough by itself in the winter. Add a car that isn't good in snow (yeah, that's my new conclusion) and the terrible non-existant salt trucks around here and you're in for a slippery situation. The rear defroster was the most recent thing to go on the car. I hate doing these update things because they make me feel that the car I'm paying $300 a month for is no good! I really still am decently satisfied.
UPDATE (7/02/02): OK... another couple of months and I have a few problems to talk about. The plastic covering (I'm assuming it's a protective covering) on the bottom of the driver's door is peeling off and is trapping mud and dirt within damaging the paint and it looks awful. I'm not going to bring it in, but rather will cut the plastic if it starts hanging down more. A few days ago, I had a flat tire which was caused by a nail and the tire pressure monitor failed to warn me... thanks. Paint is peeling in the back causing me to constantly touch up with expensive primer, paint, and clear coat materials. PROS: Gas mileage is very good (in the mid 20s) with the A/C running constantly, and the temperature gauge stays planted at 200.
UPDATE (5/30/02): A few months since the last update. Everything working just fine still. When I thought the brakes were wearing out, they haven't yet, but I imagine it won't be too much longer. My only new complaint is the incredibly sticky gas pedal which takes a little bit too much effort to press and then when it finally stops sticking, the car lurches forward. It makes me look like I'm an inexperienced driver or something. Also, sometimes when pressing the gas, the car will move in three quick movements and then the Low Trac light comes on. Don't get it...
UPDATE (1/19/01): So I have a couple of questions that hopefully other Grand Am owners will be able to help me with. Well first of all, the Change Oil light comes on just a little after 2,000 miles. We put that many
miles on per month, so changing the oil is becoming a monthly task. Also, when the pavement is dry and you need to slam on the brakes, is the steering a little louder for about three minutes after the hard braking? Is this normal?
Please email me at email@example.com with answers to these questions. I would appreciate very much knowing.
UPDATE (10/20/01): Yeah, now the brakes are wearing out. They squeak when stopping and when stopping lightly they seem to make a scraping/grinding noise. Does this mean the pad is worn down? I'm thinking it does, but I could be wrong.
UPDATE (10/19/01): The CD player's display is all messed up. All the numbers are jumbled. It will work for a while until (or it seems) it warms up and then the screen will bounce back and forth from being normal to going haywire. I've read about this problem on other reviews too.
A few weeks ago, our 1991 Chevy Lumina APV mini-van, which had recently hit the 202,000 mile mark, decided to crap out at the car dealership as we were just browsing. Well, actually it was falling apart slowly, but had stopped for a while and then decided to play catch up at the dealership. What a coincidence, eh? So we thought we would start seriously looking.
The first thing we noticed was the styling of the car. It's gorgeous! Seeing the interior for the first time can be a shocking experience, as you see the vintage sports car gauges and circular vents. There are many details of the interior which are simply genius. For example, the vents are circular so the air can be directed in any direction; the ignition is to the left of the radio on the instrument panel so you can see it and reach it easily. You have to praise Pontiac for their awesome design of the Grand Am's interior (and exterior for that matter).
The performace of the car is great too. At first gear when giving the car a lot of gas, not a whole lot happens. The tires barely squeal, but the car is launched quickly nevertheless. When you get the second gear, that's when the car really starts to show its power. I have noticed with many cars, but especially with this one, that gas disappears so quickly when driving this car hard. I would recommend driving very lightly with this car if you want to keep some gas in it.
The handling is awesome. You can almost turn on a dime. I have noticed that if the car is stopped, the steering is a lot of harder to turn, and when the engine is cold, it groans when accelerating and steering. I have heard of power steering pump failures on this car, so that worries me. UPDATE: Still just fine, steering no longer makes that noise.
The ride is another awesome part of this car. It handles large bumps and holes with percision. The steering wheel isn't jolted from your hands when you cross tracks or anything. It's really great. UPDATE: Have noticed that driving over even good railroad crossings is very loud.
The instrumentaion is awesome. There are warning lights for everything, which can be good and not so good. For example, if your tire pressure is low, it will let you know. When your oil needs to be changed, it will also let you know. Just to help you out a little, whenever a warning light does come on, it will let you know by turning on the chime for a few seconds. This chime is the most obnoxious sounding thing since Michael Jackson. I've had a lot of issues with the "Low Trac" light. It is supposed to come on when there is very little traction, however it has come on a lot when backing up and when taking corners on dry pavement. I think it's just because the wheel stuck while turning.
The glovebox on this thing is huge. It goes way back so you can stick your whole arm in it and it's secure with a lock. There are also map pockets in the door and the usual overhead storage.
I also love the automatic lighting system (ALS). During the day the high-beams are on at low power, however, when it is dark enough, all lights come on and the high-beams switch to low beams. You don't have to do a thing. Just turn the key and it will decide if the lights should be on or not, and it's always right. However, if you want to turn the lights off at night, you can only do so by turning the car off and starting it with the parking brake, but you can only idle with the headlights off. As soon as you start driving, you'll hear lots of quick chimes and then the headlights will come on at 3MPH.
The A/C works fine, however comes on (and wastes gas) when its not needed and you can't turn it off at times (when the defroster's on and when you turn the setting to inside air).
There is also very little back seat room. When the front seats are pushed up a little, its much better. UPDATE: There is a spring that has come loose in the back of the seat... looks terrible.
The gas gauge is very inaccurate for a long time after filling the gas tank. I have talked to others about this and we share the same problems with the gauge. After filling the tank, the gauge will stay at full for at least 50 miles and then will drop. It's very annoying. Also, when you get to about 1/4 of a tank, I would recommend that you fill it then because the gauge jumps from point to point on the gauge. I don't think it's possible to ever get an accurate reading. That may just be our car, however our friend who has a Grand AM complains of the same problem. I've gotten used to it now.
Over all, I would recommend this car. However I would also recommend that you research the history of the car to make sure it has a clean history. We ended up buying a lemon law buyback without knowing it, but have been so fortunate to not have many MECHANICAL problems. Also if buying used, get a warranty, and get a good one!