'96 SE - Have several questions, maintenance, T-shoot & - 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 09-04-2005, 11:36 AM   #1
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Default '96 SE - Have several questions, maintenance, T-shoot &

My Bonnie is a 1996, SE (non-turbo), K-VIN. She'* bone stock - I have done only minor maintenance to her since I bought her about three or four years ago.

I have several questions that I hope some of y'all can help me out with.

First, and most important, the brakes are starting to feel strange. Feeling a kinda "grab" when the car is almost stopped, almost like the rotors are slipping a little in the caliper at this point. I have not heard any squealing from the wear indicators on the pads, but that means nothing. I have checked the rear shoes (well, the pass side one - I couldn't get the drum off of the driver'* side), and they're fine. Also the rear springs, wheel cylinders, and drum surfaces are OK. Master cylinder looks great. Do I need front pads, you think? If so, what should I get for replacement? I see all these metallic, semi-metallic, ceramic, yadda yadda types these days, and I'm a bit clueless on all of it.

I've just hit 60,450 miles. I need to do a 60K service. Looking for recommendations for spark plugs, and anything else I need. Trying to keep costs to a minimum, though. Primarily looking for reliability, but increased performance would be nice! While keeping fuel economy up, of course (with gas reaching $3+ per gallon these days).

I would like to know of recommended RELIABILITY and performance upgrades that can be done inexpensively - biggest bang for the buck here, I suppose.

Also, what do you recommend I check/replace at this point (or soon) due to your experience? I know to check for warped rotors and to keep an eye on the intake manifold, but that'* about it. I've not seen a need to replace the thermostat, as it runs in the 180 range (via the dash gauge) normally - I suspect the previous owner may have had it replaced, or the dealer did it after the intake issue became known. Anything else?

Another thing - it'* not really "maintenance" related, but it'* been annoying me for a while. The stock CD player skips like you wouldn't believe. I took it to the dealer right after I first noticed it, and they told me to "clean the lens with one of those kits". I've cleaned the crap out of it, and still no improvement. I actually LIKE the stock head unit (aftermarkets always look out-of-place, IMO, and proper-sized aftermarket units are either gaudy, hard to find, etc), and I'd like to either have it repaired if possible, or obtain a reconditioned/new unit. Where can I go to get one at a reasonable price, or to have it repaired?

Thanks much
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Old 09-04-2005, 10:28 PM   #2
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I have a 97 SE now with 80K, so I know where you're coming from.

At 60K you probably need a front brake job. Just have it inspected at your 60K maintentance.

Sounds like your intake is good for now. Keep it that way, check your water pump (mine went at 40K) and consider having the coolant flushed and refilled.

Check your battery and cables, and your alternator; all three of mine needed replacing. Get fuel and air filters changed. Consider having the tranny flushed and filled. (I've done all of those.) If your car is running fine, I think your plugs are supposed to be good to 100K, but consider plug wires, they rot over time and make the car hesitate and idle roughly. (Again, mine required replacement.)

Other than that, for performance the limit is your wallet. By far the easiest thing to do is the air intake, I went with the "drop in" K&N filter rather than a CAI pipe, but either one will help, and you can go from single to dual exhaust with an F-body (camaro) muffler, and get a performance kick with a performance muffler like a Magnaflow or Flowmaster, and you can also do a high-flow catalytic converter. I just got a Magnaflow dual exhaust muffler. (Pics to come!)

At this point, I'm pretty happy. The L36 makes plenty of power. You can spend a lot of money to get even more out of it, but I'd lean towards starting out with a more powerful car if that'* really what you want, like a supercharged SLE or SSEi, which have a heavier duty tranny to handle the extra power.

As for your CD player, there'* no harm in liking the factory goods. As a former audio equipment repair specialist, I think your CD unit is bad. My advice is to forget repair and just replace it. Your options are: New, from a dealer, or Used, from a salvage yard, or from anybody who replaced theirs with an aftermarket. Post in "Wanted" in these forums, scour eBay, and check salvage yards. You can also check salvage yards all across the country and have them ship to you.
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Old 09-05-2005, 04:37 AM   #3
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I just checked eBay, there'* plenty of factory radios available there. I searched Pontiac CD and found lots of them.
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Old 09-05-2005, 10:04 AM   #4

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The above poster is right on the mark for maintenance. Only thing I suggest is pulling the plugs and regapping them or replacing them. Plugs are cheap. I personally put 100K on my chevy truck. Yeis it'* possible but the gapping was about 3x the sizing it should have been and that is bad for performance.
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Old 09-15-2005, 02:06 PM   #5
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Default spark plugs

Being new, I've tried searching threads for recommended spark plugs. I can't seem to find a thread on what I need. I just want to do a routine tune up on a stock 1994 se engine. What plugs should I use & at what gap?
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Old 09-15-2005, 03:47 PM   #6
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Default plugs

Most guys like the NGK TR55'* for plugs. at advance.
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