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Old 06-30-2014, 11:35 PM   #1
gmach3
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I'm new to GM, please don't flame me...It's my daughter's car

About 6 weeks ago I worked with my beautiful girl to get her first car. I'm a Ford guy (no hate, please), but we found a 2003 Grand Am SE2 4dr v6 that we couldn't pass up. I was raised on Fords, and Chrysler's were tolerated (my grandfather was upset when my dad brought his 1965 Plymouth Barracuda home)

So this is the first GM product with my name on it EVER. I have no history this turquoise colored four door is a nice car. Maybe she'll trade me for the 2004 Taurus I just put a MACH audio in, along with JBL all around.

Here's what I have to ask.... feel free to point me to appropriate forums. I've been around the site, and have seen lots of answers and advice, but nothing specific to what I'm looking for.

The passenger side on the windshield is missing a piece of trim. My father in law noticed it after we bought it. I know I can pay $60 for it at GMParts, but is it functionally necessary?

It has the Monsoon audio, well known for blowing speakers. This has a LOT of questions on the different threads. I saw one where a guy used alligator clips to bypass the woofer for the highs... I'm looking for an alternative. I found a guy on ebay with a dual voice coil sub (2 ohm) that looked promising. If I drop Kenwood 6 x 9s in, and put them on the 4 ohm circuit, and put a 2 ohm 8 inch dual vc sub on the sub circuit (with a proper box, of course) would the Monsoon amp drive it properly? I'm thinking it might, but you guys out here are Pontiac / GM guys, and I'm just asking. Here's the URL for the sub I'm looking at. For $42 shipped, I'm not mad. I already bought the 6x9 before I realized the labyrinth I was getting in to: http://www.ebay.com/itm/371076841382...84.m1423.l2649

Another question... she has the 3.4L v6. I've heard h3ll about intake gaskets, but only with orange coolant. She has green, so that tells me someone already fixed the problem. This particular car had a spectacular service record. Per the salesman, and backed up by carfax, this car stayed in a family since new. It has trackable service records since new. Every oil change fits with a verifyable schedule, up to the 82K miles it has on it since we bought it. Mileage-wise, she's young.

So my cars:

1991 Ford Ranger 4x4 STX ~250K miles (everything works)
2004 Ford Taurus SE 160K miles (Mach Audio, Blaupunkt all the way around)
2003 Pontiac Grand Am SE2 (I described her here...until this one, my pretty girl was driving a 1999 Taurus that I bought as a certified used car that finally wore out)
2013 Ford Escape (nearly new, of course... we've had her for 6 weeks too. It's the wife's car. Dumped a 2006 Dodge Grand Caravan because well... it was a Dodge at 105K)

I sincerely appreciate any help. I'm not looking for arguments or criticisms.

Many thanks to our moderator, by the way, for getting the registration problems fixed. I know it's been a few weeks, but I've been busy working on college stuff.
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Old 07-01-2014, 07:21 PM   #2
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Beware the window sash clips. Things break all the time and I absolutely hate them with a burning passion.

Check the build date on the car (located on the driver's side door sticker. If its during the later half of 2003 chances are it has the new gasket from the factory. If not its possible someone changed it but worth keeping an eye on anyways. Also beware of oil leaks from the top of the engine coming from a bad o-ring on the oil pump drive shaft. I've had that problem several times including right now.
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Old 07-01-2014, 08:40 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by gmach3 View Post

Another question... she has the 3.4L v6. I've heard h3ll about intake gaskets, but only with orange coolant. She has green, so that tells me someone already fixed the problem. This particular car had a spectacular service record. Per the salesman, and backed up by carfax, this car stayed in a family since new. It has trackable service records since new. Every oil change fits with a verifyable schedule, up to the 82K miles it has on it since we bought it. Mileage-wise, she's young.


Well, being that it's an '03 which came with several improvements, including a new LIM gasket design and new water pump design, and that fact that all it's miles came from one owner...

... I would say chances are the car was well taken care of. That's not to say it might not still have minor issues, but hopefully no major ones.

The color of the coolant actually has nothing to do with anything. The difference is between new long life coolants versus old fashioned coolant, which is actually difficult to find now. The new coolants can be orange, red, green, and even yellow, but they are pretty much the same formula. Both kinds of coolant use ethylene glycol as the anti-freezing agent. The difference is the old coolant used a silicone based corrosion inhibitor. The new stuff uses organic acid based inhibitors. They can develop a layer of gunk on top of the coolant when hot if exposed to air, but this is usually not a problem on a properly bled system. Some say the original GM dex-cool formula would eat away the plastic/nylon material in the old LIM gaskets. Whatever the case, GM changed the material slightly and added some compression discs to the gaskets to prevent over tightening and misalignment in 2003. This improved their reliability and life significantly, but they still don't last forever.

I always use the fel-pro premium gasket kit which comes with metal gaskets with molded rubber on them. It's worth the extra money, and if they are installed properly they will last for years with no leaks. I've done several dozen LIM installs with them and never had a leak. As for your daughters car, I would just keep an eye on things. If it's not overheating (200-230 is normal), you don't see any external leaks, and there is no sign of coolant in the oil (orange/foamy looking, weird smell, etc)... they I would leave it alone. No need to fix what isn't broken.


Unfortunately, I don't have much experience with the monsoon audio system, except to say I haven't heard they are more prone to blowing speakers than any other OEM stereo when the speakers get old. OEM speakers aren't exactly high quality. My 2000 does not have the monsoon system, but it does have the factory rear amp for the 6x9's, same as yours. They are a bit of a pain, but I haven't replaced mine yet. I think most people that replace the speakers end up just completely bypassing the factory amp and using an aftermarket amp and head unit. Not really sure though.
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Old 07-01-2014, 11:01 PM   #4
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The OP has a lot of different things thrown into one post and may get better responses regarding the audio issues by asking those specific questions in the audio forum both here and over on GAOC. There's a wealth of audio experience and information between the two sites.
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Old 07-01-2014, 11:07 PM   #5
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Thanks so much! You guys are great!

My dearest and most heartfelt thanks to you guys. I know how some people see car loyalty as a religion, and I see that as absurd. You get those guys that say they'll push their Chevy before they'll drive a Ford, but heck... I'll drive a Yugo or even a (shudder) Smart Car then meet you 2 hours later at a bar when you are done pushing whatever you drive.

I do believe she has a good car. Everything else seems to work.

A bit of further research shows that the Monsoon is a 200w amp, so I've gone ahead and purchased the dual voice coil sub, and I'll find a box.

I might see if she'll split the cost of that trim piece for the windshield. We split the cost of new headlights (one of the originals had fog on the inside) so maybe we can do it on the windshield piece. What I'm still not knowing about is the necessity of it to make it functional. We've had a lot of rain and there are no leaks, but if we need it we need it.

A good friend of mine is a GM mechanic, and I have yet to bring it to him although he did tell me these were good cars. I will ask him if he can double check on the coolant for me. Thanks for the heads up on the different coolant types.

One other thing I forgot to mention. The dash is peeling up at both corners of the windshield. Her friend's dad is a GM guy, and actually focuses on Grand Ams. He says we should buy a new dash. I'm thinking heat gun and epoxy with a heavy bean bag or something to put those corners down. Am I nuts?
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Old 07-01-2014, 11:22 PM   #6
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I will say im not a ford guy. But I dont know you well enough to throw jokes at you and bash you for ford products. theres a few guys I joke around here with but hey we are all car people here. People will agree and disagree. But welcome to the site. I hope the GM treats her well and your empty heart gains some love for GM jk jk
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Old 07-01-2014, 11:43 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by gmach3 View Post
One other thing I forgot to mention. The dash is peeling up at both corners of the windshield. Her friend's dad is a GM guy, and actually focuses on Grand Ams. He says we should buy a new dash. I'm thinking heat gun and epoxy with a heavy bean bag or something to put those corners down. Am I nuts?
This is a VERY common problem on GA's and is basically another GM design flaw in the dash material. Don't waste your time or money installing a new dash (if you can even find one new) becasue it will only do the same thing in time as they all eventually will do. Epoxy usually doesn't work as there's really nothing substantial under there to bond to. Some have just screwed it down which is very tacky.

One fix that seems to work well and is what I did on mine is to get a 5/8" (I think) rubber hose long enough to match the length of the dash. Angle both ends and then wedge the hose between the lower windshield and dash seam to push and hold the dash down. I can take a picture tomorrow to give you a better idea of what I mean. It has worked well but I ended up putting some body moulding tape on the back to keep the hose from sliding out however you can't see it from inside the car. It's not a perfect fix but it doesn't look tacky like screws or epoxy.
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Old 07-02-2014, 12:01 AM   #8
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yes, I've heard of the problem with the dash coming up before. Usually happens on older car and/or those in very hot areas. Some are worse than others. I agree with Starglow that replacing the dash would be more expensive and time consuming that it is worth, and I don't know if epoxy would work (if you could even get it down in there between the dash and windshield). I would just wedge it down in place with a piece of hose as mentioned.

As for the outside trim piece, are you talking about the black plastic that goes around the outside of the windshield? I think that might not really be necessary as far as keeping water out since the windshield is bonded to the frame underneath. It might help keep wind noise down though, and over time if it's not there to keep out dirt, water, ice/snow, etc. I suppose it's possible that a leak may develop. If it's not too expensive or difficult to find, I'd put it in.


And yeah, I agree brand loyalty is pretty much outdated these days. All brands have their good and bad cars. My brother loves mini coopers and I'm looking at a Mazda 3 as a next possible daily driver myself. These grand ams get a lot of hate from some people, but they have one thing going for them. They are VERY easy to work on, and cheap to fix.
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Old 07-02-2014, 10:26 AM   #9
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Eventually the dash will also deform around the gauge pods. Only thing you can do is try to keep the car out of direct sunlight and prevent the dash from getting too hot.

Extreme cold will also cause the dash to curl up.
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Old 07-02-2014, 12:06 PM   #10
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The trim on the windshield along either door, I’ve seen break apart a lot on people. I’ve gotten replacement pieces from Grand Ams and Aleros in the junk yard for like $5 a set. Easy to install, just pull the rubber trim back and 3-4 screws hold it in. I’ve yet to have any issues.

The Monsoon speakers….. After buying my ’02 I learned not everything, but enough about them. The Monsoon setup is neat in some aspects. The connector going to the 6x9’s in the back has 2 channels per speaker so the amp controls the woofer and the midrange components independently. This is cool but also creates a problem when the speakers fail.
- buy OEM replacements
- repair the speakers (I was going to try that and went another route). The foam surround around the big cone is where the common failure is (the foam is disinigrating). There are repair kits in eBay for 6x9’s (new surround piece and glue).
- By pass the amp and install after market speakers.

A friend of mine gave me a pair of Rockford Fostgates that he didn’t need. These had the wires for the woofer and the mid separated until they came to the traditional terminal connections. Because of these being very accessible, we cut the factory plug off my original factory 6x9’s and wired it to the Rockfords (not at the terminal connections, we cut the wires from those and spliced them to the factory connector). They plug in like OEM and work GREAT!!

These went from my ’02 into my ’04 I currently have.

As for the coolant, I’ve dealt with lower intake gaskets on many GM 3100 and 3400 cars with green or orange (Dex) coolant. My ’94 Grand Am never had a drop of Dex, not even from the factory, yet, those gaskets failed. I don’t know the switch over date for sure, but by 2000, GM revised the Dex formula, so anyone that talks about “they lost a class action lawsuit” it has been remedied since. Lower intake gasket failures in my opinion are related to ANY hot fluid with any amount of pressure against the gasket. The gaskets are plastic/nylon and between heat and pressure they can only last for so long. Fel-Pro makes a metal core gasket that is a much better replacement. I’m not sure if this is the style gasket mentioned earlier as being “revised by GM”. If it’s a plastic gasket, it will fail. Color/type of coolant is not a factor in this.

Starglow mentioned the “rubber hose fix” for the dash issue. I have done that one myself. I’m happy with the end results and would recommend that to anyone with that issue.

Hope that helps!
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Old 07-02-2014, 07:51 PM   #11
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I’m not sure if this is the style gasket mentioned earlier as being “revised by GM”.
The revised OE gaskets are different from the aftermarkets. The aftermarket problem solver is a FelPro MS98003T for this engine. The OE revision changed the profile of the silicon sealing ribs but retained the basic nylon frame design. Early design silicon was blue, second was green if memory serves.
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Old 07-03-2014, 08:17 PM   #12
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Thanks for the info. I did not realize the color of the silicon part signified what revision.
Well, if it's style nylon core, I'm confident it will still see a failure, the question is how long. Perhaps the revised ones hang in a little longer, maybe they also improved the nylon/plastic material.
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Old 07-03-2014, 08:41 PM   #13
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I can say this.... not all these cars have the LIMG issue. Its honestly hit or miss. Im the second owner of my alero (first was uncle) so. I know all that was done during his ownership (I can tell you it wasnt much at all!) But the LIMG was not a problem he had.

I bought it from him with 127k miles. I went all the way to 188k miles before I changed the gaskets. (But it wasnt bad!!) There was no sign of the old gaskets giving out, I only had to change them because I upgraded to port/polished upper and lower intakes. There for had to replace the LIMG. I replaced it with the felpro set (90$ from autozone) and from 188k miles to now... 207k still no issues. So for me. I have had no issues with the LIM gaskets failing.
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Old 07-03-2014, 08:45 PM   #14
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Here's pictures of the hose fix for the dash curling up. The pressure from the hose being wedged in there holds the dash edge down. I ended up putting some double sided 3M body moulding tape on there that secures the hose to the windshield because it kept coming out over time....but the tape has fixed that problem so far and the hose stays put now. I should also mention that the large center windshield defrost vent was replaced because the old one broke into pieces, but you can still buy them new.

[IMG][/IMG]

[IMG][/IMG]

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Old 07-06-2014, 01:22 AM   #15
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First up!! No flaming. We, for the most part, have a good group and helpfull crew on these forums!!


I can offer some assistance regarding your monsoon setup. I too wanted something a little more up to date rather then CD off a stock deck. I bought a multimedia entertainment unit. Does everything but make toast!! Records/rewinds live radio. Plays movies, mp3s, built in GPS and even had Internet via wifi.

Anyways.....to use aftermarket equipment including rear speakers. You have 2 options. Bypass all stock set up (don't recommend and I'll explain why) by starting from scratch!! Or....you can buy a modulator allowing you to use an aftermarket head unit while keeping stock options.

Unfortunately, this modulator is about $85 from crutchfield or eBay. I recommend this option because you will retain the stock chimes and if equipped on star features. You can NOT just plug aftermarket speakers into the rear speaker wiring. The stock rears are powered much differently and you will see that by removing the rear seat shelf. 2 glass fuse panels are visible tied into the stock rears. I used a modulator to drive my stock frontspeakers/little tweets built into the front doors and retain all stock chimes and features. The rears are aftermarket 6x9s powered with an aftermarket sony amp also driving 2 rear subs.

Dunno why but GM decided to tie the data bus and all door chimes into the stock deck head unit harness?? Bypassing this caused a loss of chimes and other stock features!! The modulator saves many headaches but the drawback is the extra expense of it!! The modulator I speak of, can be found cheaper on eBay

http://www.crutchfield.com/p_120GMOS...?stop_mobi=yes

Hope this helps?!

Here is my aftermarket setup in my 02 SE
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Old 07-06-2014, 01:24 AM   #16
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Built this into seat. My 5 year old gets a kick out of watchin tv in the back seat.
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Old 07-06-2014, 09:47 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Starglow View Post
Here's pictures of the hose fix for the dash curling up. The pressure from the hose being wedged in there holds the dash edge down. I ended up putting some double sided 3M body moulding tape on there that secures the hose to the windshield because it kept coming out over time....but the tape has fixed that problem so far and the hose stays put now. I should also mention that the large center windshield defrost vent was replaced because the old one broke into pieces, but you can still buy them new.

[IMG][/IMG]

[IMG][/IMG]
You put double sided tape on your dash now Starglow. I might have to try that too. Even w/ the hose wedged between the dash and the widow, the hose pops out where the dash comes up more. My defroster vent is cracked again and I just got the thing maybe a year ago.. Ugh.
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Old 07-06-2014, 08:18 PM   #18
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You put double sided tape on your dash now Starglow. I might have to try that too. Even w/ the hose wedged between the dash and the widow, the hose pops out where the dash comes up more. My defroster vent is cracked again and I just got the thing maybe a year ago.. Ugh.
It's actually mostly on the windshield and part of the dash. You can't see it from inside the car and it's not real noticeable on the outside unless you look real close, but it's light gray so it blends in very well. Here's the tape I used:

http://shop.advanceautoparts.com/p/3...3614/7100055-P

I put the tape on the hose first, then took a hair dryer and applied some heat while rolling the tape smooth around the hose with a small wooden roller. Then I went to the car and peeled back about an inch or two of the red tape covering and starting on the driver's side, I pushed the hose in enough to push down the dash where I wanted it to be and the tape made contact with the windshield. Now I just peeled back the red tape covering a little at a time while pushing the hose in as I made my way over to the passenger side and to the end of the hose....it only takes a few minutes. When you're done the hose should be secure, but I pushed it in more along the bottom edge to make sure it touched the windshield. If you look from the outside you'll see any areas that need to be pushed in more....it's kind of hard to explain.
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Old 07-12-2014, 12:13 PM   #19
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Cool! Thanks for the pic!
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Old 07-12-2014, 12:27 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by The_Maniac View Post
The trim on the windshield along either door, I’ve seen break apart a lot on people. I’ve gotten replacement pieces from Grand Ams and Aleros in the junk yard for like $5 a set. Easy to install, just pull the rubber trim back and 3-4 screws hold it in. I’ve yet to have any issues.

The Monsoon speakers….. After buying my ’02 I learned not everything, but enough about them. The Monsoon setup is neat in some aspects. The connector going to the 6x9’s in the back has 2 channels per speaker so the amp controls the woofer and the midrange components independently. This is cool but also creates a problem when the speakers fail.
- buy OEM replacements
- repair the speakers (I was going to try that and went another route). The foam surround around the big cone is where the common failure is (the foam is disinigrating). There are repair kits in eBay for 6x9’s (new surround piece and glue).
- By pass the amp and install after market speakers.

A friend of mine gave me a pair of Rockford Fostgates that he didn’t need. These had the wires for the woofer and the mid separated until they came to the traditional terminal connections. Because of these being very accessible, we cut the factory plug off my original factory 6x9’s and wired it to the Rockfords (not at the terminal connections, we cut the wires from those and spliced them to the factory connector). They plug in like OEM and work GREAT!!

These went from my ’02 into my ’04 I currently have.

As for the coolant, I’ve dealt with lower intake gaskets on many GM 3100 and 3400 cars with green or orange (Dex) coolant. My ’94 Grand Am never had a drop of Dex, not even from the factory, yet, those gaskets failed. I don’t know the switch over date for sure, but by 2000, GM revised the Dex formula, so anyone that talks about “they lost a class action lawsuit” it has been remedied since. Lower intake gasket failures in my opinion are related to ANY hot fluid with any amount of pressure against the gasket. The gaskets are plastic/nylon and between heat and pressure they can only last for so long. Fel-Pro makes a metal core gasket that is a much better replacement. I’m not sure if this is the style gasket mentioned earlier as being “revised by GM”. If it’s a plastic gasket, it will fail. Color/type of coolant is not a factor in this.

Starglow mentioned the “rubber hose fix” for the dash issue. I have done that one myself. I’m happy with the end results and would recommend that to anyone with that issue.

Hope that helps!
Thanks for the input. That car, so far, has been great.

My understanding on the rear speakers was that the bass was powered by the monsoon amp (200w, I think) with a 2 Ohm load, and the mids/highs were on a 4 Ohm load.

With that in mind, I did put together an 8" sub (2 Ohm, dual voice coil) in a box and ran the wiring from the woofer on the stock to that, and the other wiring to a pair of 6x9s I bought. Those 6x9s now are just playing the tweeter, and the sub is kinda trying... it does sound better than blown speakers though. Perhaps I'm fighting a losing battle.

I really didn't want to pay the ~$80 or so per factory replacement, and a soldering iron is a whole lot more fun.

Many thanks again to all who have responded to this wide variety of topics. Slowly but surely we'll get this car where she'd like it to be.
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