96 Bonneville SE home upgrading - 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 05-16-2009, 04:18 PM   #1
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Default 96 Bonneville SE home upgrading

Hiya! I am new 'round these parts. But I come riding a 1996 Bonneville SE, Green, automatic, so I feel pretty safe in this neighborhood, haha.

This is my first car. Bought it from my boss, he had it sitting around a lot but he loved the car. Man it feels great buying your first car one worked for, eh? Much better than the Lumina I spent my first few years driving, had to kill the poor thing to keep it from crashing into a car full of people. Anyways the body has 171K on it, the engine was replaced it has about 88K if I remember, maybe. The transmission was worked on twice, they didn't do the job right the first time and when my dad took the car for a test drive before I bought it he put it into overdrive, which is the normal gear for riding around, and the tranny blew. My boss said he always drove on D, and not (D), but whatever. I'm mentioning this becuase the tranny is still iffy, it was eating a lot of fluid and eventually I put 2 bottles of stop-leak for transmissions into it. Now the car doesn't jump like a rodeo bull when I shift from park to drive or reverse and doesn't gulp down fluid. But still I'm not 100% sure it'* all sound, so I am mentioning it to keep in mind with everything I want to do.

I've been slowly fixing it up. Had new tires put on it. My friend'* dad showed me how to change brake pads, becuase mine were worn. So I bought Ceramic pads from Auto Zone. Also replaced the passenger rotor. The trunk latch mount screws were off, and since I'm a window installer I happened to have some green capping, I folded a piece a few times, zip-screwed it to the trunk, and then screwed the trunk latch onto that and now my trunk opens again. I bought Predator Pedals at Pep Boys and put them on, since my Brake pedal pad was really worn.

By the way, if anyone knows how to take off the Shifter **** (I have mine on the center console between the seats) I would really like to know since there is a matching shift **** I'd like to put on. Most manual shifters just pop or screw off, I know, but I don't know about this automatic shifter. I don't want to take off the shaft just he ****. And do I need to get a **** with a button to press as well? Because when I apply the brakes I don't need to press the button on the front of my **** to shift.

I installed (rather nicely I'm proud of myself, lol) a LED light strip above my dash becuase my dash lights are out. (more on that in my other thread) With my friend'* help I installed a JVC KD-LX111 CD player. We still have to splice the twitter speakers that are on the front, and figure out why my rear speakers do not work. And I have to buy a sleeve/trim plate to mount my CD player properly, I just put a plastic case under it and squeezed some card board on top and the pressure is keeping the CD player form moving around. Haha how ghetto.

I also had bought two front chair covers with matching steering wheel cover, CD holder and seatbelt pads, so it looks nice. New floor mats. Cleaned it up.

I also took the parts my boss saved that fell off the car and put them back best I could. The two AV vents on the passenger side, a speaker cover, the power mirror ****. The AC vents behind the center console had the fronts cracked and broken out but I still put them back, figured it'* nicer than the big black hole that was there. Replaced missing mud flaps. There are a few more minor interior details like that, but I am hoping to find a '96 SE at some junk yard that I can gut out the parts that need replacing.

Now that I took care of basically everything I could on the cheap aesthetic department, I want to start really upgrading my car. Of course I'd like to be able to do it all myself since I have a tight budget.
I searched around and read some threads so I'm getting a basic idea for what I'd be doing. I found this guide https://www.gmforum.com/t278662/
But I'm not sure if that applies to an automatic. What'* an NA engine? Also what is getting PCM performance tuned, is that something I can do/buy or a shop does? I was musing about a chip like I've seen some guy got for his bonne, but here I read they lose their performance over time. And at about $300, I would put that kind of money into getting my tranny looked at or getting my AC and Heat repaired, especially AC now that summer is here.
On that note can anyone show me a picture of where the little vent is for my Freon? A friend said I can use my keep to press down on the tab and if air/freon starts spraying out then having no freon isn't the problem.

I don't have a torque wrench and never worked one, although I do have a compressor since I do construction work. I've done all the so far with my hands and simple tools like screw drivers, vice grips, pliers, and power drill. I haven't worked on cars before and I've only been able to do what I have by finding guides following their instructions and applying logic and the skills I have from my line of work.

I'd like to do things that improve performance. I don't race, so things like NOS or installing a new engine, supercharging, I'm not interested in. Although sometimes I do have occasions to hit the gas like all do, and having a car that looks stock but performs better... Hehehehehe.
But getting better air flow, finding out what filters improve performance, perhaps something with the exhaust to improve the exit of gases, that PCM tuning thing, I would like to read over the guides to see what I'd be up to handle, and if I even have the tools for it.

I'd be planning on doing this bit my bit buying parts as I get money. I'm debating perhaps just playing it safe and completely changing my transmission, but I've never done anything that big before. If anyone has a link to show me what I would be getting into with my Bonne involving that maybe it would scare some sense into me, lol. When I was changing out the starter on my dad'* F250 one of the screws broke off inside the engine mount, DOH! Thankfully there was about a 1/4th inch of thread sticking out, and I was just barely able to vice grips on it and get it out, phew. I'd had to get stuck like that working on my car.

I also read about changing cams/heads, I saw some pictures and it looks like not something for the amateur to mess with. But If I took a good look at a walk-through I might attempt it.

So, uh... sorry for the long read anyone who stuck around. To sum things up I leave near a pep-boys and AutoZone, so that'* where I would get most of my parts from. I would like to know if anyone has suggested list of what parts I should be get and how to go about upgrading my car'* performance.

I love this car, and with the engine being newer I am hoping that major repairs won't be a problem for a while, I'm gonna run this car till it dies. After I feel safe about the transmission me and my dad were thinking about getting it re-painted since the paint coat is fading in areas and a few spots are getting bad. I think the term for what I am going for is "sleeper"? Yeah I definitely don't want a flashy exterior, but a surprise kick inside. haha! = )

*** Moved from Performance - Kevin ***

Last edited by PaulPool; 05-16-2009 at 04:28 PM.
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Old 05-16-2009, 04:40 PM   #2
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Welcome to the Bonneville forum. Sounds like you have a lot of work to do on this car. You've come to the right place. As for the guide you looked at, that'* mroe for teh supercharged engiens. But some will apply to your NA engine. NA is naturally asperated. Or no boost.

I would suggest picking a few things you want to work on and post in the correct area about it and work on those, then move forward.
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Old 05-16-2009, 04:44 PM   #3
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Thanks I wasn't sure how go about it. Yeah breaking it up into sections instead of everything in one post does seem more logical, probably should have thought of that before hand. Thanks.
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Old 05-16-2009, 04:51 PM   #4
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Not a problem. It'* just hard to address that many questions at a time.
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Old 05-16-2009, 04:52 PM   #5
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Haha I used to be an avid forumer as a kid so I kind of went off the edge there writing everything.

Alright well seeing as you can "guestimate" what kind of work I'd be doing what would you recommend I start with?

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Old 05-16-2009, 04:54 PM   #6
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Sorry..I couldn't get beyond "HiYa"

Welcome to the Bonneville Forum!

Break your post up and post your questions into the appropriate area, and lets see if we can't get some of the great people on this forum to give you some answers.
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Old 05-16-2009, 05:07 PM   #7
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Start with any mechanical issues, make sure all your fluids are good, change filters. Make sure everything is good, then move on.
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