Grand AM Newbie - A few questions.... [Archive] - Forum


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01-03-2012, 11:21 PM
Hi Guys:

I'm a big fan of online forums, and subscribe to one for my Suzuki GS motorcycle. I've found about everything I've ever needed to know about my bike on the GSforum, so I'm going to get acquainted here. Why? Because taking my car to a shop is expensive, and I'd just rather learn from people who know what they're talking about. So, here goes.

Just bought a 2000 Grand AM GT from my mother about a month ago. Sharp car. Has all the goodies like the sound package and sunroof. Garaged every night since Mom bought it in '03. There are a few quirks to her I'd like to patch up. Also, if you guys know any conditions the car may acquire that I ought to be looking for (or possibly prevent) please let me know so I can do the work required to keep her on the road for several more years.

So....I've noticed a few issues regarding the Low Trac light coming on at low speed turns. I've poked around the forum and realized that my first step ought to be to clean out the traction senors and reconnect them with dielectric grease. I've yet to do this, but it will be the first real work I'll do on the car. My mother also has the "sport" tires on there....the thin ones...and she got them used if I'm not mistaken. They leak badly and require filling at least once a week. It's been recommended that I get them revalved and reseated, but I think if I can come up with the cash it just might be a good idea to get new tires. Any recommendations on what tires might be the best for this model car?

The headlights are misaligned pretty badly. Plastic is also a little faded. I bought a Mother's headlight restoration kit, which ought to clean up the plastic, but I'm a little confused about how to realign the headlights. There appear to be small plastic knobs directly above the headlight which most likely are used for directional adjustment, but what kind of tool do I need to turn those things without breaking them? Additionally, my rear right side fog lamp seems to have accumulated water (ugh.) Any advice about how to re-seal that lamp and KEEP the water out once I empty it.

Now the annoying issue. Turn signal clicks allllll by itself. It's the weirdest thing. I'll engage the turn signal for either direction, light will come on, make the turn, light will cancel, but the clicking continues at sporadic and random times, sometimes miles after I've turned. I've solved this problem by turning my radio up. =D However, the car fails to click after engaging the hazard lights. This leads me to believe that there are TWO flasher units - one for the signals and one for the hazards. I'm considering pulling the flasher for the signals and changing it, but if it's a wiring issue, that won't handle it. Any experience from the gurus on this one?

Okay maintenance stuff. Love my mom, and she's taken good care of the car in the ways she knows how - oil and whatnot. I'm guess it probably hasn't seen a good radiator flush and fill in a good long time (dexcool, right?). Can you guys give me the basics on that one? Any other fluids I ought to pay attention to? Transmission (it's an automatic), for example? I'm prepared to go through and change all the fluids (except maybe the brake) just to know it was done correctly.

Oh, and one last thing. The frame has some nasty rust issues. My jack points in the front (towards the front side of the doors on either side) are so rusty that I don't trust them any more. When I changed her oil and took her off the stands, it left a nice big crumble of rust on the ground from either jack stand point. I was pissed. Are there other places you can put a jack stand on this type of car?

Thanks guys. Sorry this was a long one.

01-04-2012, 03:48 AM
Welcome, n00b. Lots of issues to address here...

First, what's the mileage? That can really answer most of your maintainence concerns...I'll deal with the others for now.

*The low trac light is coming on, you could try the dielectric grease trick. Does your ABS and Service Vehicle Soon light come on as well? I'm leaning towards it being he hub assembly. For a good quality unit, they do tend to be expensive (around the $140 mark) but they're pretty easy to pop out with the right tools.

*Find the tire size on the car currently, the OEM size with the stock 16x6.5 wheels is 225/50 R16. For your leaking problem, the wheels probably have corrosion and oxidation on the inner bead of the wheels. I've temporarily fixed these sort of issues with a wizwheel and bead sealer, but you really need to have the wheels refinished and repainted to properly remove the oxidation.

*Going by how badly they're hazed up you're saying they new housings. It'll save you a ton of grief. The oxidation is only going to come back again and again. The adjustments are two knobs on the top of the headlights. The inner controls left to right, outer controls up and down.

*The turn signal switch is in the steering column. There's a how to on how to rip it apart and clean it, but the plastic becomes brittle and temperamental in old age. Again, replacing the unit is your best bet. The actual clicking comes from the hazard switch in the center console, next to the traction control button. But that isn't he source of the random clicking.

*Mileage really helps out on what to do with coolant and transmission flushes. DexCool is what these cars come with OEM. The formula is 100x better than years ago, so all the myths of it destroying everything is a thing of the past. Stick with the DexCool, flush every 45,000-55,000 miles and you'll be fine. As for the trans, find out if it has been serviced prior. If it has not been serviced, DO NOT mess with it. You'll only make it worse.

*Those are the pinchwelds, if they're rusty like that, it's been jacked up improperly and it's scratched to bare metal. That section of the underside is painted and primered. You need the pinchwelds for the rear, but you can jack the car up using the sub frame rails on the front.

01-04-2012, 04:46 PM
Yeah, you really shouldn't use jack stands under the sides of the car. Those points really aren't meant to handle it. You can jack the car up and down directly in the center of the sub-frames on the front and back of the car, and the sides of those are good places to place the jack stands as well.

I would recommend flushing and changing all the fluids if they have never been done. Even the brake fluid. Brake fluid accumulates dirt and water over time, and not only will this lead to boiling and brake fade in a high speed panic stop, it will also corrode your brake lines from the inside. Pretty much the same with power steering fluid. Trans fluid and filter should be changed every 5 years or 100,000 miles, but just drain and fill... don't have it flushed! The long life coolant is the same deal. 5 years/100k and it should be flushed and refilled.

01-05-2012, 03:25 PM
Okay mileage is 117700, (roughly) most in city to-and-from work type driving. Been on a few out of state road trips, but not many. It IS a 2 door model.

As far as the ABS/Service Vehicle's come on one time during a turn; after the low trac light popped on (as it usually does). I've only had the car a little over a month, but I drive her a lot - she's never done it a second time.

I'm worried you might be right about the wheels. There's some ugly oxidation going on on the rims. As a matter of it is
The leaking and traction issues lead to a whole bundle of obnoxious alignment issues that causes the car to attempt to veer right at all times. I have the impression it's going to be some effort to get this mess fixed. If I do have to have the wheels refinished and repainted, can anyone give me an approximation about how much that might run me, and who might be able to do it?

The headlights: I'll hit ebay.

The clicking: I figured that was a common issue. I'll poke around and see what I'll have to do to be rid of the clicking once and for all.

Checked with my mother - trans, brakes and radiator have NOT been touched since she owned the car. All of them probably need attention. I'll put the trans off till last, since I'm prioritizing, and get some more thoughts on it's necessity - but I'll probably do radiator right away and brakes soon after.

Jackpoints: okay, thanks for your input. I'll use the sub frame from here on out. Those pinchwelds were a hot mess since I've bought the car, and I was sweating the whole time during the oil change thinking those rusty-ass spots might just give up the ghost and drop a car on my face.

THANKS for your advice guys. I'll be back more in the future as I get some of this work tackled. I'm sure I'll be back to ask for help sooner rather than later. For now, I have my "to-do" list!
The clicking: I figurd

01-05-2012, 04:14 PM
Mileage isn't that bad for it's age. By 03 GAGT is at 150,700 now. lol

*That definitely sounds like a hub assembly gone bad.

*Those tires look shot...and the tires themselves...while the proper tire size (225/50 R16) those off brand Mirada Sport GTXs are atrocious, even when new. To boot, the tread looks wiped, better get some new rubber. Also, I notice the valve cover cores can corrode and fuse to the valve stem and lose air as well. ;)

*Get new tires before alignment, bald tires like that alone can affect the handling and steering wheel position. As for the wheels, google search wheel repair and refinishing, and find a local shop/dealer and ask for quotes.

*There's a good amount of headlights out there for this car, but IMO...stay away from all the projector housings. They make the normal OEM looking housings, which is the cheapest, and black housings, which are a little more, but look sleeker than the normal OEM crystal housings. And if you do nab the black housings, from my own experience, wax and clean them regularly, or they'll haze up in a few years.

*Taking apart the steering column isn't the easiest of tasks, just know what you're doing before attack the job at hand.

*Coolant issues, check the bottle for sludge build up, I see from the pic you have the LA1 3400 V6 motor. These engine are notorious for the dreaded Lower Intake Manifold gasket leak. Ask your mom if she's been adding coolant to the bottle, but no signs EXTERNALLY of coolant leaking. Other than that, flush the system with water through the radiator, water pump, and heater core, and refill with fresh DexCool.

Added: going by your pic, you have an SE model. ;)

01-05-2012, 05:28 PM
Well, if the ABS/SVS light only came one once, then went away and hasn't come back.... I wouldn't necessarily say the hub is bad. The wheel speed sensors do have some occasional glitches, and I've had a couple cars that have had the traction control light go off when doing low speed sharp turns. My grand am has done it a few times, but not regularly, and my old grand prix would do it every single time when backing out of the driveway. It's just because of the big difference in wheel speed between the inner and outer wheels when turning sharply on a tight radius. Newer cars have steering sensors and such that can tell when the car is turning hard and they don't do this. The TC systems in these older cars where pretty simple though. :thumbs:

And yes, as Chris said get new tires before doing an alignment. It could just be the way the tires are worn. Especially if they weren't rotated regularly like they should be to keep wear even. With new tires you might find the pull going away somewhat. With the age and miles on the car though, you should probably still get an alignment done eventually. It does change over time and needs to be checked at least bi-annually. That will help your new tires last longer ;) and maybe help your fuel mileage too.

01-05-2012, 10:41 PM
Guys, this is some truly good stuff. Once I get this car cleaned up and running in a manner that suits my standards, I'm thinking of doing a little boosting work to her, or at least weighing my options.

I'd planned on getting rid of those cheap shi% tires the second I bought the car - this just solidifies it. I figured a lot of my issues might solve themselves if I get a better set of rubber. I'll see if a better brand of tire and a little cleaning job handles the Low Trac issue - if not, I'll shop for some hub assemblies. I'm also hoping the wheels won't require any shop-work, but clearly the only way to know is to just bite the bullet and get new tires.

New headlight housings - there sounds like there are some aftermarket options, so I'll poke about and see what I can find. If I pick up a set, I might need a walkthrough on how to correctly replace them. For now, I'll likely clean and align what I have, and search for a replacement in spring once it warms up a little.

Mom's service record is fairly short - some of them are things I've done for her (like replace her front struts). She is fairly clueless about cars. She'd take it to the shop and let those a-holes tinker and charge her a ton for work she can't prove they did. So the maintenance history is largely unknown. I'm going to check the coolant bottle the next time I'm into her - this intake gasket leak that are common for this engine, would it be evidenced by coolant disappearing, but not necessarily onto the ground? As far as I know Mom hasn't needed to add coolant to her, and has never had overheating issues. But again, hard to know.

I'm investigating the clicking issue - I've done some work on older vehicles, including the ever popular "ripping out the FUC&ing dashboard to get to the heater-core leaking on the floorboards" treat. So my plan is to go slow, be patient, and consult the pros if I run into issues.

You guys rock. Thanks for your help, and I'm sure I'll be asking for advice further into my project for tips and pointers.

Oh, and good eye Chris. She IS an SE. I love my car.

01-06-2012, 05:54 AM
If you need help on what tires to get, I have a huge wealth of info on hand.

01-06-2012, 03:15 PM
The coolant leaking issue is normally from the lower intake gasket and happens at the outside corners where the coolant passages come out of the cylinder heads. It will usually leak on either the inside or outside edge of the gasket, and either run down the outside of the block onto the ground, or leak into the lifter galley and from there to the oil pan. You would notice a milky orange color in the oil and funny smell if that was happening. Or coolant spots on the driveway, and of course the level in the bottle would be dropping. If none of those are present, then it's probably fine.

03-08-2012, 09:37 PM
not bad mileage at all. my 00 gt has 205k still running strong, but its been well maintained :)