The Most Common Pontiac Problems

The most common Pontiac problems are related to faulty engine parts and malfunctioning power windows.
Written by Katherine Duffy
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
The most common problems seen in Pontiacs are malfunctioning power windows, faulty ignition switches, and intake manifold issues, but drivers should look out for engine and headlight problems as well. 
While it’s rare to come across a car without issues, some car models from specific automakers seem to have persistent, recurring problems that can range from annoying to downright dangerous. Even the world’s most renowned automakers have produced cars that suffer the same issues continuously and for no apparent reason. 
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What are the most common Pontiac problems? 

Pontiac was an American-owned car brand that was operated and manufactured by General Motors (GM) until 2010 when GM was forced to terminate the brand after dealing with major bankruptcy and restructuring at the company. You can still buy a Pontiac, although you can only buy used models. 
Considering the brand’s declining sales before GM cut the brand forever, it’s no surprise that some Pontiac models suffer from mechanical issues. Here are the most common problems across all Pontiac models: 
The 2003 Pontiac Grand Am suffers the most issues of all of Pontiac’s models, with 5 major recalls and 331 complaints to the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
. The 2010 Pontiac
, on the other hand, is Pontiac’s most reliable vehicle. While it still has 57 NHTSA complaints, the model has no major recalls and suffers from significantly fewer problems than the 2003 Grand Am. 
Take a look at the table below for a comprehensive look at the most common Pontiac problems across five of its most popular models.
Starting price
J.D. Power reliability rating
Most common problems
Years to avoid
Grand Am
Intake manifold problems, ignition and engin misfire issues, fluid leak issues
1985-2005, depending on the exact model
Grand Prix
Intake manifold issues, transmission problems, leaking fluid, faulty power windows
2002, 2006
faulty light system, malfunctioning door locks, grinding noises, catalytic converter issues
2006, 2008, 2009
$27, 965
power window issues, windshield issues
1995, 2000-2003
Loose gas cap, pulsating brake pedal, loose wheel center caps, excessive oil consumption
earliest models
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Most common Pontiac Grand Am problems 

Average annual repair cost: $311 complaints: 1698
The Grand Am’s most common issue is its failure to start because of a failed pass lock sensor in the ignition lock cylinder. The only way to fix this issue is by replacing the ignition lock cylinder, making this an incredibly annoying issue. 
The Grand Am may also fail to start because of an ignition switch failure unrelated to the pass lock, which also requires service to fix. 
Other Grand Am problems range from incredibly annoying to extremely dangerous, which explains this model’s 1698 complaints on If you’re making a turn in the Grand Am, your
turn signal flasher
might fail altogether and initiate the hazards instead.
Drivers also commonly report engine misfires due to coil housing failures, leaking
power steering pressure hoses
, and a leaking
water pump
, causing your car to lose coolant and leading to a smoky, overheated engine. 

Most common Pontiac Grand Prix problems 

Average annual repair cost: $462 complaints: 1332 
Grand Prix
suffers similar issues to the Grand Am but has a few different issues as well. Its most common problem is that the transmission pressure control solenoid can fail, causing erratic gear shifting. The Grand Prix also has one of the most common Pontiac problems across the board: a leaking
intake manifold gasket
, causing you to lose coolant or even engine oil. 
Other issues to look out for include a leaking power steering hose, failing power windows, and even a failing Engine Control Module. 

Most common Pontiac G6 problems

Average annual repair cost: $471 complaints: 1402
If you plan on driving in the dark, don’t rely on the Pontiac
to get you from point A to B safely. This model’s most persistent issue is its faulty lighting system—expect malfunctioning headlights, brake lights, and door ajar lights. Some drivers have even reported melting lighting plugs and wire. If your headlight is not working, get an inspection promptly.
The second most common issue is that the G6’s door lock system stops responding. If your power door locks are not working, this is incredibly concerning for people who travel with valuable belongings, such as a laptop or work-related hardware. 
Perhaps the most troubling G6 issue is a terrible grinding noise when it turns. According to NHTSA, this grinding noise usually comes from a faulty joint bearing and may cause the U-joint to separate, resulting in a complete loss of steering control and increased crash risk.

Most common Pontiac Vibe problems 

Average annual repair cost: $391 complaints: 145
The Pontiac Vibe has fewer troubling problems than its counterparts, but it still isn’t without faults. 
Drivers most commonly report that the Vibe has a loose
gas cap
, which might cause the “check engine light” to pop up. This can cause emission problems down the line if it’s left unaddressed. 
Drivers also complain that the Vibe’s brakes squeak and pulsate, sometimes causing the whole car to vibrate. The problem persists even after replacing the faulty parts. If your brake pedal vibrates or shakes, you might be stuck with the problem.
Other problems include failing transmissions, loose window regulator mounting bolts (which have caused shattering windows), and excessive oil consumption, making oil changes more frequent and expensive. 

Most common Pontiac Bonneville problems 

Average annual repair cost: $345 complaints: 503
The top reported problem for the Pontiac
is that its power windows completely fall into the door, making for a chilly commute to work in cold climates, and just an annoying problem to fix if you live anywhere.
This problem is usually caused by the Bonneville’s poor quality build—the window mechanism is made of cheap plastic parts that fall apart easily. The worst news is that this problem can cost around $500 per window to fix. 
Other reported issues include leaky windows, engine and transmission malfunctions, and issues with the electrical system. 

Are Pontiac cars reliable? 

In general, Pontiac receives decent reliability scores from experts like Consumer Reports and J.D. Power, but this brand was cut from GM’s brand line for a reason. Most mass-market models made by GM perform better than Pontiacs and have higher quality builds that last longer without problems consistently cropping up. 
According to RepairPal, the average repair cost for Pontiacs in 2022 is $526, which is above the average repair cost for most vehicles. With all of this information in mind, Pontiac cars likely aren’t reliable enough to consider a worthy investment.

The least reliable Pontiac model: 2003 Grand Am

Most common problem: Faulty engine components
NHTSA complaints: 331
Considering the host of troubling engine problems, leaking fluid issues, and even signal light issues, it’s no wonder the 2003 Grand Am is Pontiac’s least reliable model. The Pontiac Grand Am is an iconic American car, but it’s not worth risking the serious problems you could run into while driving it. 

The most reliable Pontiac model: 2010 Vibe

Most common problem: Loose gas cap
NHTSA complaints: 57
Pontiac’s most reliable vehicle, the 2010 Vibe, is also its most affordable at an original starting price of $16,820.  
While the 2010 Vibe still has a few issues, its most reported problem—a loose gas cap—is significantly less worrying than persistent engine problems if it's addressed properly. It’s also newer, making part replacements easier to come by and cheaper to install. 
MORE: 10 Affordable American Muscle Cars

How to buy hassle-free car insurance 

Driving a Pontiac can come with many unpleasant surprises, but that doesn’t mean your car insurance should too.
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On average, a Pontiac lasts between 180,000 to  210,000 miles.
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