If you find CarComplaints.com is helpful ... We rely completely on word of mouth. Talk about us on Facebook, Twitter, tell your mother-in-law. Help us help more people.

2003 Pontiac Grand Am cooling system problems: leaking coolant, intake manifold gasket failure

Leaking Coolant, Intake Manifold Gasket Failure

2003 Pontiac Grand Am (Page 1 of 3)

CarComplaints.com Seal Of Avoid Like The Plague


pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
75,257 miles
Total Complaints:
41 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace intake gasket (19 reports)
  2. not sure (10 reports)
  3. replace the head gaskets (6 reports)
  4. replaced both intake gaskets (5 reports)
  5. replace the intake manifold gasket and head gasket (1 reports)
2003 Pontiac Grand Am cooling system problems

cooling system problem

Find something helpful? Spread the word.
Get notified about new defects, investigations, recalls & lawsuits for the 2003 Pontiac Grand Am:

Unsubscribe any time. We don't sell/share your email.

2003 Pontiac Grand Am Owner Comments (Page 1 of 3)

problem #41

Jul 292014

Grand Am GT Ram Air V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,000 miles


I have always kept up with regular maintenance and kept this car in very good condition. After having it for about two years, the low coolant light came on one day out of the blue. I checked the level of the coolant and it was bone dry, so I refilled it and thought it would be fine. The next day the low coolant light came on once again. I told my dad, who refilled it once again. Then of course, the next day the light was on. We took it into the local repair shop in town and they said intake manifold gasket. We decided to replace the gasket, and get some other work done such as lifters replaced, spark plugs replaced, coils replaced and new belts, since they would have the engine open already. Finally got my car back after all the work was said and done. It cost $1200. The car seemed to be running good for the first day, and then the second day I had it back, the low coolant light came on once again. I couldn't believe it. I assumed that they had forgotten to tighten something or maybe didn't add enough coolant. I checked the coolant and it was pretty low, so I brought it back up to the shop and the mechanic said that since the new gasket had been put on, pressure had been built up in the engine and caused the head gasket to fail and it would need to be replaced also. Another $1600 and I am hoping this will be the end of the big car expenses for this Grand Am. I can't believe it was never a recall, seems like every Grand Am has had some sort of issue with the intake manifold gasket.

- , Madison, WI, USA

problem #40

Jan 242012

Grand Am GT 3.4lV6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 108,010 miles

click to see larger images

leaking coolant, intake manifold gasket failure leaking coolant, intake manifold gasket failure

I keep up with my preventative maintenance on the vehicle and had just put in a fresh $34 Synthetic oil change a week before this happened. I turn my key to leave for school as I typically do and start my drive down the road. All of a sudden the vehicle shudders and my low coolant light comes on. I freak out instantly. Then a second light, my service engine soon light lights up if I recall correctly. I immediately turn around and drive the half a mile back to my home to safely park and hope it doesn’t explode.

Upon opening my hood I see a pretty coolant stripe across my white paint just as it did when my water pump failed. I assume the dreaded LIM Gasket failure though and start to cry thinking of the cost.

A few weeks later she is repaired and of course it was the $750 Gasket that I had suspected. GM and Pontiac had known of these engines having failures for a long time but had done absolutely nothing to stop them in the newer models that they released with the DEX-COOL coolant and the 3400 V6 engine. Malibu, Alero, Grand-AM, Montana, Venture and Silhouette owners everywhere have had this issue or will at some point If they keep the vehicle long enough. There is no excuse for this failure. I had FLUSHED the entire cooling system a year earlier and had a brand new water pump installed. It is unfair to me that GM knows and will not cover the repair although they know they caused this defect in every one of these vehicles with the type of gasket used. I WAS CAR-LESS FOR 3 WEEKS! All because of this stupid failure!!! THANKS FOR SELLING A FLAWED CAR GM…

- , Dunn, NC, USA

problem #39

Nov 202009

Grand Am GT 3.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 108,740 miles

Noticed low coolant light. Didn't see a leak so I topped up the coolant tank. Light came back on every couple of weeks and after using up a full bottle of coolant from topping up the tank I noticed a small leak near the thermostat housing. Took it in to a local rad shop and was told about the intake gasket problem and they usually do this repair at least one a week.

Replaced gasket with aftermarket gasket and coolant.Changed the oil and filter..NO GM parts used. Problem solved

- , Aurora, Ontario, canada

problem #38

Dec 052010

Grand Am V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles


I'm having to replace my Grand Am V6 head gasket. I have heard that this car has this common problem. Think there should be a recall since they have redesigned the gasket. Not good customer service. Is this what buying american has come too. I loved my pontiac. But, is it worth fixing? Deal stats they don't know of any problem with it (head gasket). You come on line you read the list of owners with the same situation. The deal service department will go as far as saying they have not heard of any problmes with the head gasket. Then you go to an auto parts store and they all seem to hear the same problem in the Pontia Gran Am over and over again. This world amazes me. Just fess up! You have a problem.

- , Huntsville, AL, USA

problem #37

Jan 152010

Grand Am GT 3.4L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,000 miles

I went to a local Buick, Oldsmobile, Pontiac and GMC dealer near I-26 in Summerville SC to purchase a nice Ford van for work. My wife rode along to drive one vehicle home. While waiting in 2 hours for vehicle to be ready to leave, another salesman caught my wife looking at a 1999 Pontiac Grand Am and I had to buy it also. 3 years later it had failed intake gaskets and fixed under warranty(ha ha $565 shop fees not covered). Let it go and moved on. Yep, went to same dealer to buy another new truck in 04' and it happened again. Wife seen an overstock 2003 Grand Am GT reduced to sell. We have had ever since. It now has 67,00 miles and coolant reservoir full of oil and slight knocking at start-up. I have to try and fix myself due to lack of warranty and funds. Same dealer I have purchased 5 vehicles from says sorry, but no warranty $1570. I may have to put their name and BIG yellow lemons on as soon as I get it going again. I'll be back to let you know how it all turns out. Good Luck to all !!!

- , Moncks Corner, SC, USA

problem #36

Aug 152010

Grand Am GT 3400 V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

This is the 2nd time this had happened! The lower manifold gasket was replace 4 1/2 years ago under warranty, but it's leaking AGAIN, and now I have to pay for it! THIS SHOULD HAVE BEEN A RECALL!

- , Lake Zurich, IL, USA

problem #35

Oct 012010

Grand Am GT 3.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,800 miles


click to see larger images

leaking coolant, intake manifold gasket failure

I have had this car for about a month and a half. While at the dealership my father and I were checking out the car and noticed this leak, Motor oil has gotten into the coolant and has gummed it up. The problem is the lower intake manifold gasket. It can be a significant problem but I'm mechanically inclined and its not the first time I've replaced a gasket of any kind myself. The full kit, for upper and lower intake manifold gaskets, as well as the valve cover gaskets is what you'll need, and it runs you about $90 at autozone. Overall it seems to be a good car, just with a few important, but easy to fix problems.

- , Collinsville, IL, USA

problem #34

Mar 102010

Grand Am SE V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 73,000 miles

Coolant fluid leaking, making car run hot,took in for inspection, it was stated that the water pump is leaking,and intake gasket.Called place where puchased car at since it is under warranty for engine for first 6,000 miles, or 6 months whichever occurs first. It was stated that that problem is not covered because the warranty is for internal components of the engine,and that the intake gasket,and water pump is external. the casr value is not that great to be bearing that high expense for the repair. But it is a car that I purchased for my daughter who is away at college,and it concerns me about the severity of the problems as far as her being safe in the vehicle.

- , Conyers, GA, USA

problem #33

Sep 012008

Grand Am SE 3.4L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,000 miles

I found out this was a common problem with these vehicles and now I'm smelling anti-freeze AGAIN! This is bullshit....

- , Chicago, IL, USA

problem #32

Mar 012010

Grand Am GT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,000 miles

Purchased new, first problem was a replacement of the rear rotors at 30,000 miles because they had rusted so bad and were grooved beyond turning. Another 5000 miles and the front rotors needed replaced. In both cases the brake pads were ok. The car also has a problem with the extra wide tires that are standard for the car to start cupping well before the stated mileage is up on the tires. I have switched tire manufacture twice and still have the same problem. Because of the wheels I am told that I must buy these very expensive tires.

Just this month the car completely shut off and had to be towed. the problem was the fuel pump, another costly repair. While my car was in the shop for this problem my mechanic noticed coolant on the engine block indicating a manifold leak. He told me that this was a common problem with GMs 3100 and 3400 engines. Waiting for word from my dealer, I am assuming that it will be a waste of time. I am now 68 and have had GM autos all my life, rest assured that this is the last one. Has anyone had any success with GM fixing the manifold problem.

- , Harrisburg, PA, USA

problem #31

Nov 252009

Grand Am GT 3.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 139,000 miles


the car is over heating i park it in a dry spot for hour on or off but no coolant on ground no mixing in oil i took it to a mechanic they told me it was my intake gaskets i got on line and seen alott of people had same problem so im not fixing out of my pocket their should be a recall why did they make those kind of gaskets

- , Chicago, IL, USA

problem #30

Mar 312009

Grand Am SE 3.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

Purchased 2003 Grand Am with a 3.4 L in March of 2007 with 54,000 miles on it, bought an extended warranty. Little did I know when I bought it, it did not cover gaskets and seals, hello, that is what goes out first, what a waste of 1000 bucks. I notice around 65,000 miles my low oil light would come on when it hadn't even been close to the 3000 miles. Then my low coolant light would come on, I called Pontiac today and they said there is no recall on them, yet I see there was a class action lawsuit for this problem in Canada. I am very frustrated with this car, I have owned a 1986 GA and a 1996 GA, these cars were way better cars, my 03 now has 96,000 on it, haven't replaced anything on it yet, scared to find out how much it will cost.

- , White Bear Lake, MN, USA

problem #29

Jan 102009

Grand Am V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 140,100 miles

The 2003 Pontiac Grand Am is a terrible car. I purchased this car with 13,000 miles in late 2003. I need a reliable car with great gas mileage due to my career (I am in sales). Every year there is some major problem that costs thousands to be fixed. I can't afford a new car with all the related expenses so I keep fixing this one. The cooling system problem began when I was making a trip up to the mountains earlier this year and by the time I reached the mountains, my car was steaming and spouting coolant and steam everywhere. I pulled over to a parking lot, left the car overnight, and had my significant other pick me up. Went back to check on the car the next morning, added antifreeze (the crappy DexCool) and drove the car back home with no problems. I stopped long enough to change clothes to go to work and went outside to find a puddle of antifreeze under the car. No going to work that day! Didn't have the funds to fix the car so I let it sit for over two months. Finally took it to a reliable mechanic that we have used for several years and he had to replace the head gasket, replaced all of the hoses, water pump...everything involving the cooling system due to the age and mileage on the car. $2,300 later I was assured that the problem was fixed. Overheated the next day in traffic. Took the car back and after another $550 (he replaced the plastic coolant container as he said it had melted and deformed so the cap wouldn't fit on properly) and there was some other issue (just can't remember everything that is wrong with this car) so we are now up to $2,800. I went to my car to go to work today and it wouldn't start! Guess what, the fuel pump has gone out - another $800!!! I am done with this car, Pontiac can take this POS and dump it for scrap metal. Just to think that I was going to buy a newer car (Honda or Toyota) and donate this to a shelter for unwed mothers. No way would I consider this option now. I couldn't live with myself if a young mother and her infant child were stranded due to the unreliability of this vehicle. My significant other has a Honda DelSol with 260K miles and is still running like a charm. How much has it put into it for emergency repairs? $0 - all preventive maintenance has been performed on his Honda which has kept it running in superb condition. GM thanks for taking our entire tax refund this year. You not only get the bailout money but our hard earned dollars too!

- , Parker, CO, USA

problem #28

Mar 152009

Grand Am GT 3.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,364 miles

I'm glad I came across this problem, and relegated it as soon as possible. Coolant was mixing in with my oil and building up...In another month or so I may not have had a engine anymore. It started yesterday morning with a small knocking sound which happened on each revolution. Also, the low Coolant light was on. The knocking noise went away this morning, but the mechanics said I still had a major problem here with this. If you have similar problems do not hesitate to get this fixed..you may spend $900 now or replace your entire engine if you don't get this resolved ASAP.

Hope this helps!

- , Northville, MI, USA

problem #27

Feb 242009

Grand Am GT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,000 miles

Black smoke was coming out of the back of my car,low coolant light was on last week and added coolant,didn't need much, but last night when smoke was coming out, was almost out of coolant. Put coolant in and managed to drive it 2 mlles to shop, It smoked all the way, I need to replace head gasket. I have all ready replaced starter, battery, fuel pump. Now that I read all of these complaints it's no wonder GMis facing bankruptcy.

- , Traverse City, MI, USA

problem #26

Nov 302008

Grand Am GT1 3.4L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 34,000 miles

Well now I know where my coolant is going after reading this web site. I bought this car new in 2004. It has approx 34,000 miles on it now and I have had to add coolant to it one other time. Recently I added coolant about a month ago and today the coolant light was again coming on. My father retired from GM and I have always bought GM vehicles since I was 16. Our $40,000 Chevy venture mini van was replaced by a Suzuki xl7 because of so many problems with various items. Now it looks as though I will be replacing the grand am with a foreign vehicle. If I can't get something fixed as a GM employee family member, I can imagine how frustrating it is for other people. Well GM I've know you since I first got my drivers license and I'm sorry to say I can't rely on GM to provide me with quality products or service no longer. I have a family and we need competent transportation. I was embarrassed to tell my father that has worked hard for GM over many years that I had purchase the Suzuki....but his response was "You probably did the right thing, in fact my next car will not be a GM !!!!!! From the mouth of one of GM's dedicated retired employees. I had this same identical problem with my 1990 grand am se with the 2.4l and you recalled it and fixed it without question. Well I can say so much more but the final thought is I'm very disappointed in you General Motors and hope you do go out of business for the way you treat others and the way you treat your own GM family members by producing these poor designed vehicles. RECALL RECALL RECALL.....

- , Las Vegas, NV, USA

problem #25

Nov 122008

Grand Am GT 3.4L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 115,600 miles

I have a Pontiac Grand AM GT 2003� 115,600 miles. When I first bought it used in 2006 it had a 65,000.miles. After a few months I noticed it was leaking antifreeze. So I bought some coolant sealant at Auto Zone and didn�t have a problem. Well within the last year and a half; I�ve had to replace the starter switch, Had the wrong size tires on it?, I was hit some dumbass minivan which should�ve totaled it but was pretty much an insurance scam. (if you live in Tennessee NEVER go to Alexander!!! They took 28 days to �repair� my car and they didn�t even reconnect the break line and the brand �new� parts were covered in dirt much like the parts in the wreak..) then the alternator goes out with on the interstate and destroys the battery� 3 months later the fuel pump goes out on my way to work. NOW the manifold and intake gasket are leaking. WHY DID I BUY THIS SCRAP JUNK??? I still have 2 more years of payments! GM in order for you to get the bail out, you should have to fire these selfish bastard CEOs.. at one time you made a good car. But yeah after I get out of this money pit of a car, I�m going to Toyota which is Actually made in the US. Not crap parts from bum f*ck China and half assed put together in the US.

- , Murfreeboro, TN, USA

problem #24

Jun 092006

Grand Am GT Ram 3.4L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles

We brought the car new back in 2003. After 31/2 years and 40K the alternator failed blew the battery and then the mechanic noticed the manifold leak. He estimated $1,200 to fix it. We drove it to the dealership they quoted $1,400 to fix it. We complained and complained to GM and the best they come up with was they would pay 50% towards the cost, if after we paid them $1400 to fix it, they determined it was a factory problem.

For some odd reason I did not trust GM (lol) and paid a local mechanic $500 to fix it.

Needless to say my next car was a foreign one. We still have the Grand Am. It has about 2 or 3 annoying problems I�ll list under Electrical and one huge problem that keeps it in the driveway most of the time. It won�t shift out of first gear unless you back off the gas and then slowly increase. What a car!!!! And GM wonder why the have fallen to number 2 in the nation. I think I would even buy a Hyundai or Suzuki over a GM product.

- , Charlotte, NC, USA

problem #23

Jul 052007

(reported on)

Grand Am SE

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,000 miles

Noticed coolant running down driveway under car. Took into a GM/Pontiac Dealer/Mechanic and was called back within an hour saying the water pump and intake gasket needed to be replaced. Quoted $1100.00. Looks from this site seems this problem needs to be researched. Now I have to bike to and from work while I save the money for the repairs. I GM wants to get back customers that have gone foreign they need to learn what customer service is and get this problem taken care of. its not Quality or Customer Service its Quality AND customer service. Recall this car now for this problem.

- , Wenatchee, WA, USA

problem #22

Feb 132008

Grand Am GT-SC/T 3400 V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 26,324 miles

I performed this repair on my father's car. his Low Coolant light had been flashing on and off, a typical symptom of Lower Intake Manifold gasket failure. I removed the intake manifold and found "banana sludge" coated under the manifold (oil and coolant mixed). I replaced both of the gaskets with FelPro gaskets, and re-assembled the engine and flushed the DexCool out of the engine, and replaced the coolant with the conventional green coolant.

As a mechanic, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND not using DexCool, even though the dealer advises you to. The DexCool coolant is the reason these gaskets fail. I recommend flushing the DexCool out and running normal Green antifreeze. Also, if you do end up replacing the gaskets, I recommend FelPro's Intake Manifold Gasket kit, the OEM gaskets have not been improved on well enough, and are still made of plastic. The FelPro gaskets are metal, and have much thicker material on them.

The total cost of repair was around 150 dollars, the reason for the low cost is that, 1, I did it myself, and 2, I work at a parts store as well and receive a discount. It is not a difficult job as long as you have the proper tools and instructions if you are doing it for your first time.

- , Rochester, MN, USA

Read the next 20 complaints »

Not what you are looking for?