Hey, a fellow Chicago Bonne owner. I was surprised at how closely your experience matches mine:
> I think it might be a good idea to list out common problem areas.
> For example on my car I have gone through:
> 2 waterpumps
Okay, this I've been lucky with so far: still on the original at 108K ('93 SSEi)
> 3 alternators
Har! I'm looking for #4 right now. Alternator died shortly after I bought the car in '96. The dealer (Sullivan Pontiac in Arlington Heights) replaced it with a rebuilt at no charge. That one lasted about 40K miles and four years, dying around 97K. Bought a Delco factory rebuilt unit at Trak Auto with the 7 Yr/70K warranty. That one lasted slightly longer than Trak did.
I know they're still going out on the east coast, but I'm in Chicago, where they quit, so it looks like I have to buy another one now.
> 2 dimmer switches
Still on the original so far, although I notice the twilight sentinel is less sensitive to darkness than it used to be, and needs near-total darkness to turn the lights on.
> Popped transmission cooler line (rubber part came loose from connector)
THERE WAS A FACTORY RECALL ON THIS. I don't know if they would still honor it, it might be worth shmoozing your dealer about recall campaign 95-C-68 and see if the factory will still pay for repairs.
Question: Is there a list of Bonneville factory recall notices on this site? (Haven't looked around much yet; signed up last night) If not, we should add one.
> Broken cupholder
In the 24 hours between when I first saw my future car at the dealer'* and when I came back to test-drive it, some moron in the service department had broken the cupholder. Again, the dealer replaced it at no charge before I bought it, and I've been extra careful with the replacement.
As for the other problems people mentioned in this thread:
> Broken console latch
Mine was broken when I first saw the car. Dealer replaced it, then _I_ broke the replacement. Bought another but I never installed it; I'm saving it in the box until I sell, since the cover still stays closed most of the time by itself anyway.
Broke the heater hose connection at the intake manifold: the original plastic (!) nipple sheared off. Helpful hint: If you smell coolant at two stoplights in a row, it'* you.
Local service station swapped in a metal piece instead; no further trouble.
"Low coolant" sensor keeps giving bogus signals; finally just unplugged it for now. (How much is the replacement part?)
Stress cracks in the outer corners of the plastic grille insert that attaches to the lower leading edge of the hood. It'* broken clean through on the passenger'* side, only cracked in back on the driver'* side. (That'* why in my photo at http://chickenboner.com/cartel/andy_green.jpg
I'm standing in front of the passenger'* side
Broke the core of the power antenna one day, so it was running endlessly and wouldn't shut off. Couldn't believe the three-figure replacement price for the entire antenna and couldn't find a core-only swap, so did some surgery and improvised a fix using most of the remaining antenna core. Doesn't go up all the way anymore, but it works okay for now.
A/C is out; service place did a sniffer test and said the evaporator was leaking big-time, and that it'* common for Bonnevilles to do that. Maybe will replace it over the wintertime. I've got the factory manuals for the car and it only goes out on sunny days (or it would, if I had an alternator for it