My new purchase - 1997 SE - 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 08-15-2005, 10:29 AM   #1
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Default My new purchase - 1997 SE

I've been doing my homework on a good reliable driver for a couple of months now. I noticed many of the Bonneville'* I looked at had 150k+ miles on them. I started reading on the web about them and came to realize that they have a very durable drivetrain in them. Exactly what I was looking for. I ended up buying a 1997 SE with 93k for $2300 with a rebuilt title. I didn't mind the title much since I knew the body man who rebuilt it. He also took pictures of the damage before working on it. The paint is still curing but he put plenty of clear on it so I can wetsand and buff the crap out of it.

The car does have a couple of problems though. I thought I would post questions here first. Please don't flame as I'm sure they have been asked before.
#1) Drivers seat back seems "squishy". I'm thinking it has been broken. Any common troubles here? Easiest way to fix or should I just disassemble the seat and reweld?
#2) AC discharge line is broken (compressor to condenser). Any easy way to obtain replacement? Other cars which I can look for in the junkyard for replacement? Anyone here with the part that would sell and ship?
#3) Still haven't investigated yet, but turned on the heater yesterday and smelled antifreeze a little. I believe these cars may have a history of leaking heater cores. How hard are they to change?
#4) I hear a slight whistle under acceleration. I'm pretty sure I don't have a supercharger. Any comments on this observation?
#5) I believe the biggest complaint on this car is the plastic intake. What are the signs to look for on a failing intake?

I'm sure I will have many more questions as I transition this car into my daily driver, but thanks for the time now.

Chuck
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Old 08-15-2005, 11:57 AM   #2
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for the intake issue, just keep an eye on your coolant overflow. if you seem to start loosing fluid, without having puddles, and you can't seem to find a leak anywhere else (Check the weep holes on your water pump before you assume upper intake)...

Also, when you do eventually replace your upper intake, make sure you do the lower intake gaskets as well... they can be worse than the upper sometimes...

here'* one of the worst examples I've seen:

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Old 08-15-2005, 12:05 PM   #3
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On the whistling. Wasn't too long ago we had one of those here. Check the PCV valve under the little black cover. Ensure there'* a o ring in there somewhere.

Intake..yes they are a problem, if you are inclined. Pick up the stuff and do it yourself as a precaution.

A/C line. I'd say the best interchange info you will get is from the junkyard.

Coolant... I haven't heard about the heater cores being a problem, but I'm pretty new. It would probably be a major pain.
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Old 08-15-2005, 12:27 PM   #4
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I've put a heater core in a 1987 mustang. That was the worst I could imagine. i actually had to pry the blower/heater/evap vent box apart, change out the heater core, and then epoxy the box back together. That was after completely removing the dash and center console. I wouldn't think it would be any worse than that. I assume that the missing coolant in the case of a bad upper intake would show up in the oil during a change or dipstick check? Anyone with a general idea on parts, cost, and where to get them for the intake change? Any comments on a broken seat? Other common problems?

Thanks for the info on the PCV valve. I will check that. I also noticed the car is quite a bit louder when cold starting. After a couple of minutes warm up time it gets quieter.
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Old 08-15-2005, 12:31 PM   #5
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Default Re: My new purchase - 1997 SE

#1) [Drivers seat back seems "squishy".] I've always been a fan of rebuilding broken seats. Seat frames can be welded or repaired with rivets and sheet metal patches and screws, depending on where the damage is. I've seen the zig-zag upholstery springing break, and you can buy new at an upholsterer and weld or hogring new springing to replace broken springing.
#2) [AC discharge line is broken] See the other forum on this site "Other H body cars". Any of those with the 3800 engine should be good cars for cannibalizing your AC parts.
#3) [Possible heater core leak] I don't have any pre-knowledge on this, I'll let other list members comment.
#4) [slight whistle under acceleration.] You definitely don't have the supercharger. I also have the 97 SE, and while a supercharged SE is an option for certain earlier years, it isn't for 97. It could be many things, an air leak at a window seal, or even your radio. Noises can be really tough to diagnose. You may do better just paying a mechanic or dealer to troubleshoot it. Again, other list members may have more info.
#5) [signs to look for on a failing intake] Look for pooled coolant externally on the engine, look for coolant loss over time, look for steam in your exhaust, look for brown muck in your oil. While the failing intake may be common, don't be overly paranoid about it. It may not hit your Bonnie at all, and if it does, it isn't a death-knell for your Bonnie, just replace the thing and move on. My intake gasket leaked while it was still under warranty, so the dealer re-did it all and I haven't had any problems with it since. I had a wheel bearing go bad, waterpump die at 40K, engine and transaxle seals leak, but all were under warranty and fixed. The battery fell apart and the battery cables were corroded, so I had those replaced. Also had corroded cables in my wife'* 2001 Grand Prix GT with the same engine.

The 97 Bonneville SE is a solid car, mine just passed 80K and it'* about as perfect as when it came off the dealer lot new. I'm the second owner of mine, I got it in 1999 with about 27K on it. It was a former Alamo rental vehicle and was in perfect condition. Maintain your cooling system well and you'll probably do just fine.

-Mark
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Old 08-15-2005, 02:35 PM   #6
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im glad to know now that i wont be the only bonneville in indy.
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Old 08-15-2005, 04:13 PM   #7
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South Bend? Don't you mean only bonneville in Chicago ? J/K
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Old 08-15-2005, 07:38 PM   #8
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Chuck, Check the recliner assembly. You may have a broken recliner on one side of the seat causing the squishiness. I believe the heater core (if that'* the problem) requires major surgery to replace. Do a search in techinfo, one or two of the members here have removed/replaced theirs.
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Old 08-15-2005, 11:51 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuck
South Bend? Don't you mean only bonneville in Chicago ? J/K
im moving down to indy on weds cuz im going to lincoln tech.
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Old 08-30-2005, 10:11 AM   #10
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For reference by others...

I found the culprit of the "squishy seat". For whatever reason the inside pin was missing from the seat back adjuster. The soft feeling was because the seat back was only being supported by one side of the adjuster. I added a bolt and the problem is gone. I still don't know what the whistling is but I can only hear it when accelerating and driving past something that will reflect sounds such as passing another car or dense foliage on the road sides. The whistling seems to sound like something right out of a science fiction movie. Very hard to describe.

Also, I notice a strange noise right after startup from the engine bay. It'* almost as if the engine is noisy (not banging or knocking) and it goes away 30 sec to 1 min after the car is started. Possibly EGR or ????
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