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Thread: US Take On Pontiac From Oz

  1. #1
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    US Take On Pontiac From Oz

    here is an interesting CA view of a US driver's experience with the Pontiac from Australia...

    quoted in full. Apologies for the length.

    >>100,000 Miles (161k km) in a Yank Monaro

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Since I ascended into the rarified air of the 100,000 mile (160934 km) club on the way home last night, I thought I'd share how one of the highest-mileage American Holdens is holding up.

    A little background on my driving patterns-I bought on Oct 1, 2004. At the time, I had a relatively traffic-free commute to work of 75 miles each way, up and over the Tehachapi Mountains to the High Desert. In January 2005, I took a higher-paying gig in Los Angeles, which at the time required a five day/week commute from near sea level in Bakersfield, up and over a 4200' pass on the usually wide-open I-5 Grapevine freeway, and through the traffic-heavy hell of the I-5 from Valencia to my work in Glendale..a round-trip drive of 225 miles. As of about a year ago, I was able to work from home more often- now I typically only need to make this drive 3x/week. I do not baby the car- I drive it hard. While I see little point in drag racing, I do occasionally enjoy squirting from stoplight to stoplight. I will usually hit 100mph at least once every commute day (sometimes much higher), and take great joy in using the torque-on-tap to exploit holes in traffic. Off-route excursions to tear up a canyon road is not uncommon. My average gas mileage for this drive is usually ~18.5- 19 mpg.


    System by System:
    Some wear points- the weather stripping at the bottom of the driver's door is torn from sliding my right foot over it. The "fuzzy" weather stripping window seal on the front of the B-pillar is also worn, a reselt of brushing against my leather jacket in the winter.

    The stupid panel under the glove box is constantly falling off. Drives me insane.

    The driver's seat butt-bucket is sagging noticably. No fat jokes- I'm a fairly average (if slightly overweight) 205 lb guy. The leather is holding up well.

    The struts had worn appreciably at ~50k miles- which were addressed by a major suspension revamp by Vette guru Guldstrand Motorsports. Best Mod Evarrrrrr. See below for some details.

    The spark plugs and wires were changed to NGKs and Taylor 10mm wires at 50k.

    The first set of tires (Dunlop FM901s) lasted almost 40k miles, the second set of the same only 20k because of the aggressive suspension tuning. I'm now on my third set of Goodyear Eagle F1 GS-D3s and I dialed the negative camber back a bit so I'm not dropping $1000 on tires every six months (the Goodyears lasted almost 30k miles last time). I miss the old aggressive settings badly.

    I change the oil -- Mobil1 or other high-end synthetics (Redline, Royal Purple, or Amsoil) with good oil filters like K&N or Amsoil only-- every ~7000 miles. In fact, all of the fluids have been replaced with synthetics, with the exception of the transmission, which had been refilled with GM OEM fluid after the last transmission problem. I have the Royal Purple Synchromax- just need the time. Trust me- it makes a huge difference in improving the shift action....and this car needs all the help in can get in that department.

    The Tremec T56 is, in my experience, the car's glass jaw. The first tranny grenaded at 30k miles (failed tail bearing at highway speeds), replaced under warranty after a Battle Royale with the incompetent stealership. At ~78,000 miles, the new transmission began "popping" out of 6th at speed- a problem that will get your attention, as this makes the entire car ring like a bell. After speaking with a frequent poster here who has an "In" with GM, he quickly determined the problem with my T56 to be an issue known since the F-Body days. Driving with the weight of your hand on the shifter causes wear on some plastic (delrin I think) tabs that is a part of the 6th gear synchro. You aren't supposed to drive with your hand on the shifter- but just try keeping your hand off when negotiating LA traffic. Anyway- after trying several dealership I finally found one who lacked the cranial-rectal inversion syndrome which seems to be endemic in P-P-Pontiac stealerships and got the issue addressed and fixed under the extended warranty.

    These are the only times she's seen the inside of a GM service bay.

    Let's face it- the T56 is a cratankerous, imprecise, trucklike transmission. The GMM shifter is a huge improvement over the rubbery made-by-Nerf stock shifter, but it's still a noisy, clunky, tempermental piece of machinery. I've grown to hate it.

    Clutch was replaced with a Centerforce DF at about 65k miles ago...more because I had the money at the time rather than any real sign of it going south, and it's an inevitable wear item. I like the new clutch, but a rather disconcerting sqeak at the point of engagement has started happening when the car is cold.

    Brake rotors fried badly in the first 15k miles because they are so puny on the Oh Fours as to be a complete joke...replaced with Power Slot rotors all around and Hawk pads up front. Big difference- highly recommended. The Hawk pads and OEM rear pads were replaced at 89,000 miles- PowerSlots were turned as well. I cooked the synthetic brake fluid during a hardcore attack on Little Tujunga Canyon at about 92,000 miles- the fluid had to be flushed and replaced. Wow, the stock brakes on the '04s suck.

    The car held together solidly and relatively rattle-free until just after ~90k miles or so...then her GM heritage showed through with a vengeance. Rattles, knocks, squeaks and other annoying percussive sounds have started emenating from various points in the undercarriage. The driveline lash and associated sloppiness and clunking have definitely worsened. If I'm going to end up keeping the car much longer (doubtful at this point) she's going to have to go up on the racks for an IRAN (Inspect, Repair As Necessary) session.

    Wrap-up:
    I bought this car as an unrepetant Bimmerhead. I still have not repented, by the way. After being wowed by the LS1 torque, classy interior, and untouched-by-UAW-hands build quality, I saw the car as a promising canvas to make a (relatively) low-dollar M3-slayer. I consider my efforts to be mostly successful- with a few exceptions.

    I would gladly and confidently take on a stock E46 M3 on canyon roads...provided that it's not too long and thus overly taxing on my puny brakes. If i had to do it again, I would definitely replace at least the front brakes with as large a set as would fit. This is a heavy car and Newtonian physics are intractable.

    Also, this car has definitely not aged as gracefully as my last BMW E46 323i did, given similar driving patterns. At 176k miles, my old Bimmer still shifted surgically and made nary a squeak or rattle. I also had a much more positive experience in my transactions with the local dealer's service department. GM's service departments just plain suck, to the point where I now am 100% certain that this is the last domestically-branded car I will ever own.

    I'm still torn. This car never fails to put a smile on my face whenever I punch it. Its ponderous weight and all-around crudeness gives executing a switchback or decreasing-radius turn a much higher workload than most other IRS-equipped, RWD performance cars...but I think that extra work and experience makes me a better driver. People still give me thumbs-up and walk up to me at gas stations. It's still an excellent car indeed.

    That said, I think I'm done with heavy, overpowered cars. My next car will be a lightweight overpowered car. <<

    Goodbye GM? My immediate project is a pic of a GE [Great Eastern Rly] 1916 4-6-0 B12 steam engine, so I'm merely observing this car thing today... .. or not because that was the year of The Somme.

    Rob [NZ]


  2. #2
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    Re: US Take On Pontiac From Oz

    Good find, Rob.

    Chip H.

    Former owner: 2012 Honda Civic LX, 2006 Honda Ridgeline RTL, 2000 Honda CR-V EX, 2003 MINI Cooper S, 1992 Honda Accord LX, 1999 Mercedes ML-320, 1995 VW Jetta GLX, 1991 Mercury Capri XR2, 1981 Mercury Zephyr, 1975 Chevrolet Impala

  3. #3
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: US Take On Pontiac From Oz

    " I also had a much more positive experience in my transactions with the local dealer's service department. GM's service departments just plain suck, to the point where I now am 100% certain that this is the last domestically-branded car I will ever own."


    This is telling.... sigh.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Kwozzie1's Avatar
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    Re: US Take On Pontiac From Oz

    Rob seems to have the right idea... buy a Holden and then rebuild it yourself ;D

    Holden = Just holdn' t'gether
    Rex
    On the Sunshine Coast, in the Sunshine State Queensland (QLD), Australia

  5. #5
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    Re: US Take On Pontiac From Oz

    Quote Originally Posted by Kwozzie1
    Rob seems to have the right idea... buy a Holden and then rebuild it yourself ;D

    Holden = Just holdn' t'gether
    Chevrolet = Shivers on the road and lays in the garage

  6. #6
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    Re: US Take On Pontiac From Oz

    I dunno about Chevrolet cars, but Holden 4-doors cars are kinda deesigned to be all tthings to all people, which is a hard task.
    Full-on hot-weather performance or 1/2 mile cold-weather...

    Kwozzie has it right. If you want to get subtleties into the machine, performance or handling or body-intergity/sound-proofing, you have to DIY.

    Which is as it was with Britcars.

    Now, if I wanted 500hp 400lbft instead of 300hp350lbft from my Chev LS1. I would have to forego 30mpg capability and fit L97 heads with entirely different valvetrain angles.

    And you didn't warn me!

    At least Jaguar got the soundproofing right. But what can you expect from transported crims?

    see the burdens?

  7. #7
    Senior Member Kwozzie1's Avatar
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    Re: US Take On Pontiac From Oz

    Quote Originally Posted by robmcg

    At least Jaguar got the soundproofing right. But what can you expect from transported crims?

    see the burdens?
    Yeah, gotta agree there.
    Rex
    On the Sunshine Coast, in the Sunshine State Queensland (QLD), Australia

  8. #8
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    Re: US Take On Pontiac From Oz

    Quote Originally Posted by robmcg


    At least Jaguar got the soundproofing right. But what can you expect from transported crims?

    see the burdens?

    Well, 30 mpg would be nice but the Accord gives about 18 in town and the RAV4 about 19. Mind, these are mostly very short runs and are perfectly in line with the current govt estimates.

    Possibly my measuring technique is lacking: check the odometer against actual gallons put in the car over a period of time. To do better, I shall make up some figures, the Accord now gets 26 mpg and the RAV4 32.

    As far as Jaguars are concerned, when the engine won't run there is no way to measure soundproofing.

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