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Pontiac Problems

RepairPal has identified the most common problems for 19 Pontiac models based on complaints from actual vehicle owners. We'll tell you what the problem is and what it'll take to fix it.

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Known Problems

A dirty throttle body may cause a lower than normal engine idle resulting in a stalling condition. A stalling condition may also result if an idle learn procedure is not performed if the battery goes dead or is disconnected.

One or more heater & AC (HVAC) air delivery and/or temperature mode door actuator may fail. This can result in incorrect air delivery or temperature. If this occurs, fault code(s) stored in the HVAC control module should be available to assist with diagnoses.

The fuel pump may fail causing engine to stall and not restart.

The exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) tube which connects the EGR valve to the intake manifold may develop an engine vacuum leak, causing the Check Engine Light to illuminate with code P0171 and/or P0174 stored.

The ignition module or crankshaft position sensor may fail causing the engine to die and not restart. Diagnoses will be necessary to determine if the module or crank sensor is causing the no start condition.

The steering may develop a clunk type noise from the upper intermediate steering shaft.  Our technicians tell us that you should check with your local GM dealer to find out what the latest repair is for this condition.

The 2005-2008 Pontiac Vibe 1.8L I4 models have issues with the circuit board in the electronic control module (ECM) cracking. There is no advanced warning for the issue, and when it occurs drivers will experience:

  • Harsh shifting
  • Possible check engine light
  • Engine stalling while driving

Replacement of the ECU is the only solution if this problem occurs. 

The head gasket may fail due to a defect in manufacturing of the cylinder block.

On this vehicle, the head bolts are known to pull the threads out of the engine block, allowing the head to slightly lift, and causing head gasket failure. Symptoms may include:

  • Overheating
  • White smoke from exhaust
  • Rough running conditions and/or inability to start or idle
  • White or cream colored oil on dipstick
  • Check engine light 
  • OBD Trouble Codes P2181, P0300

When the head gasket fails, the bolt holes for the head bolts must be repaired before the cylinder head can be remounted. 

This issue is not always preventable, but to help avoid it, never run the engine if the engine temperature is ever above the normal range. 

The 2009-2010 Pontiac Vibe may develop an excessive oil consumption condition between oil changes, even to the extent of the engine oil warning light displayed on the multi-function display.

This issue is known to be caused by infrequent oil changes causing engine sludge, or worn piston rings. 

The engine should be cleaned of oil sludge, and if oil consumption remains excessive, the engine may need new piston rings, or other internal components replaced. 

To avoid this issue, change the engine oil and filter every 3,000 miles, and ensure the proper grade of oil is used. 

Illumination of the Check Engine Light can be caused by a loose or worn gas cap.

The oxygen sensor can fail causing Check Engine Light illumination and the engine to run rich (burn more fuel than normal).

One or more of the power windows may stop working due to a failed window switch. Failed switches will require replacement.

The timing chain tensioner used for the Pontiac Vibe is designed to use oil pressure to keep tension on the timing chain. When it develops a leak, it can no longer provide tension, and the timing chain will begin to make a slapping or rattling sound at all times.

If left in this condition, the timing chain may fail, leading to costly internal engine repair.

To correct this issue the timing chain tensioner must be replaced with the revised part.

The 2003-2008 Pontiac Vibe has a known issue with the valves that if left unchecked, will cause burned valves and engine performance issues. 

The engine ‘breathes’ through valves that are pushed open by the camshaft, and closed by springs. When valves are closed, they seal against a valve seat. In this vehicle, the valve seat is too soft, so after the valve contacts it thousands of times, it becomes crushed. Once it is crushed, the valve can no longer make a proper seal, and the valves erode due to extreme temperature (burnt valve).

Symptoms related to this issue:

To repair the burnt valves, the cylinder head must be removed and rebuilt, which is a costly internal engine repair, however, this issue can be prevented through inspection and adjustment of valve clearances every 40,000 miles.

The turn signal switch may fail causing the hazard/turn signal flasher to continue to click even when the turn signal switch is off. Replacing the faulty turn signal switch will commonly correct this condition.