1997 SE Mileage Question - GM Forum - Buick, Cadillac, Chev, Olds, GMC & Pontiac chat


1992-1999 Series I L27 (1992-1994 SE,SLE, SSE) & Series II L36 (1995-1999 SE, SSE, SLE) and common problems for the Series I and II L67 (all supercharged models 92-99) Including Olds 88's, Olds LSS's and Buick Lesabres Please use General Chat for non-mechanical issues, and Performance and Brainstorming for improvements.

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Old 09-29-2009, 02:08 PM   #1
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Question 1997 SE Mileage Question

I have 97 SE it is just turning over 230k kilometers or 150k miles. How long should this engine go. The intake was done 3 years ago when I bought it. Other than tires, oil changes and one tune up I have put no money into it. I did trany oil and filter change when I bought it and it works fine.
So this year the front end is getting a little loose, the brakes are getting worn, the sway bars are groaning and the struts are getting weak.So I imagine when I get under the car the tie rods and ball joints will also we be worn. And the last oil change I notice it was low by 1/2 a liter of oil.
To my knowledge the timing chain is original and should it be replaced? So how long will this engine go and what should I now to do extend its life?

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Old 09-29-2009, 02:36 PM   #2
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We've seen 300K miles on original timing chains etc. The motor itself should be pretty solid.

It'* odd that you used 1/2 quart of oil though. Funny part to that is GM always stated that normal usage on most of their motors was 1 quart for every 3,000 miles.
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Old 09-29-2009, 03:42 PM   #3
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I have a 2001 with 175,000 miles, and she still runs strong. Proper maintenance and stay on top of the repairs. One of our Administrators (Danthurs) has a 97. Perhaps he could give you a few pointers on extending the life of your engine.

Please add the year and model of your Bonneville to your signature line (User CP at top left of this page, and Edit Signature in menu on left). That helps us to understand how to best address your issues.
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Old 09-29-2009, 06:33 PM   #4
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I have a 1999 with 209,000 miles on it. It does not use/burn oil.
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Old 09-29-2009, 07:47 PM   #5
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i was told once that its better if the engine burns a little bit of oil instead of none at all. this way you know that cylinders are getting lubricated. I've got a 94 with 280 K on it and it burns about 1/2 to 3/4s of a liter every 5,000k.
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Old 09-29-2009, 08:58 PM   #6
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I've got a 97 SE as well. The few things I've noticed:
  • The only oil I seem to burn is what slowly leaks out near the valve body. Losing half a liter every 3,000 miles is not bad at all. Just keep up with the changes, especially as it gets older. You can change your own oil and filter in about an hour with common household tools.
  • Radiator cracked on the intake tank a few months ago. Keep an eye on your coolant level. If you're losing coolant, pray that you can see it on the ground. Otherwise, get ready to stop driving and get your intake manifolds replaced. Flush your coolant every two years; if it'* not a pain for you, flush it twice a year. (Check, clean, and/or replace the battery cables at this time.)
  • Do change your transmission fluid every so often. Don't ignore it; the 4T60-E is the weak point of the car. (My transmission is on its last legs; I speak from experience.)
  • There'* a thread here on how to mod your engine. A few of those mods, like a lower thermostat, generally improve engine life as well as performance.

From what I've heard, our engines will give us at least 300,000 miles under optimal conditions -- and that warrants the ever-unpopular option of feeding your car money, I'm afraid.

The real challenge is making the rest of the car last that long. Vacuum your interior, shine your tires, and watch out for low-flying pebbles.
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Old 09-29-2009, 09:53 PM   #7
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As long as you keep up with maintenance, oil, fluids, filters, grease, fix it when it'* making noise instead of when it brakes. The car will last a long time.
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Old 09-29-2009, 11:29 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by martman View Post
I have 97 SE it is just turning over 230k kilometers or 150k miles. How long should this engine go.
Let me answer it this way... How old are you? I have a '95 SE which is going to outlive me. I already told the wife... when I kick the bucket, save money for the coffin, and just bury me in the car. No hearse, just have AAA send over a tow truck to take the car and me to the cemetery.

There are legions of L36s still on the road. Yes, some are just misfits/lemons and went to the yards years ago because they deserved it. But many of them, particularly when you find a gem, will just go on, and on, and on. If you have made it comfortably to 150K mi, you have as far as you want to go, still remaining.

My theory to helping the cars last, is to stay ahead of the curve. Don't let the car operate under strain.

A Delco or Anso 02 sensor watches your fuel and air.

180* thermostat buys you almost 10% reduction in thermal operating and wear.

Gutted air box, K&N filter, and maybe a high flow cat. Good breathing. Yes, they may be considered "performance mods". But they let your car operate more efficiently, not just "pop".

An inexpensive scantool can help you review what is going on under the covers. And should you get a CEL, at least you know, generally what is going on.

I am a major fan of the electrical/charging components. The Series II is particularly good at joining in a conspiracy of dysfunctional operation, and you don't even know it. At least a dozen times, I have seen a charging circuit test fine, but the battery is so swollen, it looks like it could explode.

This falls under the category of issues, which are likened to why your battery cables and connections should be cleaner and sounder than your teeth. The battery and alternator have specific assignments once you turn the car over.. kinda'. A battery which needs continual support from the alternator, takes the alternator'* amps away, from its other important duties... like the fuel pump. An alternator with only enough guts to charge the battery, and little else, you have the same risks of operating under lousy firing conditions. And if the circuit is shorted or interrupted because of the cables... you can get a whole bevy of problems.

There are many other things, but just stay ahead of the curve. If you get any indications, its better to replace something ahead of time, than risk stress on the car by thinking you'll wait for it to get near death before replacement.

The dealbreaker for my '95 would be the transmission. when it goes, she'll have to go.

But even with that... 2 years ago I could tell it was having some noticeable (to me only) slipping from the spindles (whatever) between the gear and overdrive. I thought, "well, this is it" and soon bought the '98 for the anticipated death in the family.

Drained some tranny fluid and replaced it with some Lucas..... She all but healed and has been merrily going along.

The car will not die, it just plain refuses to..

PS Sometime way back i met the biggest fan of the Bonneville i ever met. A handsome blond woman in her 40s, pulled up with me at a convenience store in a mint '97. From my travels in corporate America, I noted she was wearing (about) $1000 Armani business suit. In the checkout line, struck up a conversation. She was a chief financial officer at a fairly well-sized local/regional company. Talk about her car went on, ..225K miles, didn't know much about cars, but knew a lot about proper maintenance, "Yeah, it broke down once.(once?) A few years ago.. the starter went" and she really loved just traveling in her car, her Bonneville. But I had to ask..

"At your level, a CFO would normally have a Mercedes, or Lexus.. something like that. I know you like to drive, I bet you have a BMW 7XX at home....

"No. (grinning) Flashy looking hamburger, never tastes as good as seasoned prime rib."

Ya gotta respect passion.
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Old 09-30-2009, 05:44 PM   #9
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The timing chain is my main concern at this point. And do I put in all the new things it will need, tie rods, sway bar bushings, brakes and struts. Ya know once you start sinking money in, it never stops!!!!
Has been a good car great highway mileage mid-high 30'* on a long trip. I would mabe rather put $1500 toward the next car rather than into this one!!
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Old 09-30-2009, 06:01 PM   #10
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If you are looking at this from a purely monetary perspective, most cars (at least the ones we drive) are not an investment. They are an expense. In my experience the way to minimize that expense over the long run is to buy a good car to start with (which you have) and maintain it until it dies. This approach does not work for someone that gets tired of a car in a couple of years, or wants to constantly trade up for the newer/faster/more expensive cars. If you want to buy a new car and can afford it, go ahead. If you want to minimize the total cost of owning your car (purchase price + operating costs + maintenance costs) fix it, maintain it, and it will serve you well.
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