Pontiac Vibe Problems

RepairPal has identified the most common problems with the Pontiac Vibe as reported by actual vehicle owners. We'll tell you what the problem is and what it'll take to fix it.

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13
Known Problems

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 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 window regulator in the Pontiac Vibe from 2003-2004 were assembled using defective bolts that allow the window to fall off track during normal operation. The bolts stretch, loosen, and break, allowing the window glass to move freely inside the door, independent of the regulator. 

The solution is to either replace the electric window regulator, or just the bolts, depending on the amount of damage done to the regulator. 

You may be able to prevent transmission problems by servicing the transmission and inspecting the fluid every 30,000 miles. If the fluid is dark or burned, the transmission system should be completely flushed.

The bolts attaching the front door window glass to the window regulator may come loose. This can cause the window regulator to become damaged and possibly causing the window glass to break. Some 2003 & 2004 models have been recalled for the issue.

Extended life coolant may become contaminated and require cooling system service before the recommended 100,000 miles.

Front brake rotors can wear causing a pulsation felt in the brake pedal. Our technicians often recommend replacement of the front rotors and brake pads as the best option to correct this condition.

Brake fluid can become dirty and may cause problems in the brake system; it should be flushed every 60,000 miles.