Engine Seized


really awful
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
53,500 miles
Total Complaints:
2 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. GM should cover replacement as it was covered by TSB (1 reports)
  2. GM should replace - they offered $1,000 trade-in assistance (1 reports)
1997 Pontiac Sunfire engine problems

engine problem

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1997 Pontiac Sunfire Owner Comments

problem #2

Nov 012005

(reported on)


  • 60,000 miles


I bought a 1997 Sunfire brand new.

However, I started to notice an engine noise that occurred at about 2100 rpm when the engine was cold. Like a responsible new car owner, I started reporting it to the dealership where I took it in for its regular maintenance assuming that they’d stand by their product and resolve this problem. They said they couldn’t replicate the noise. They just didn't want to replicate it.

As time went on, the noise occurred every time I went through that rpm regardless of the warmth of the engine. I reported it each and every time I took it in for maintenance and they always said they couldn’t replicate it. I didn’t really understand that as I could hear it so I kept reporting it and got the reputation at the dealership as “the lady who hears those noises”, (ha ha). Eventually, one of the service guys said to me that “a lot of those cars make the same noise…. just ignore it”. I didn’t push it further, although I still reported it, just in case, and tried to ignore the noise as much as possible. That was a mistake.

As it turns out, the symptoms I was reporting are common for something known as piston knock and can lead to engine failure which was what happened. At 100,000 km and only 5 years of careful driving and good maintenance, my engine failed. That’s when life got more stressful.

As it turns out, GM published a technical service bulletin for its dealerships regarding this particular noise. The solution: to replace all the pistons. It didn’t take a lot of work for the mechanic who finally diagnosed the problem and fixed it to find the “TSB” by searching for the symptoms. I find it interesting that Stampede Pontiac Buick couldn’t do the same when I was reporting it.

When my engine failed, I still thought that GM would step up and ensure that a customer is satisfied. Afterall, the power of one person telling everyone they know and those people telling everyone they know about the difficulty with dealing with General Motors would carry some weight. I guess G.M. figures they are invulnerable or they really don’t care if they lose sales.

- , High River, Alberta, Canada

problem #1

Dec 122003

(reported on)


  • 47,000 miles

My brother owns a 1997 Pontiac Sunfire with only 47,000 miles on it and the engine seized needs replaced (estimate $3,500). I understand the car is about 6 years old but the vehicle is driven minimal miles. “Sustainability Is Key, GM's Cullum Tells Harvard Students” (source GM website)- Is this sustainability that GM markets? Is this the kind of performance/quality you want your consumers to hear about your vehicles? With today's standards and product image this is unacceptable. I own a two year old Mercedes, my mother owned a three year old Ford Explorer, and my father owned a 3 year old BMW all over 47,000 miles on them. The engines still work. I even owned a 1992 Saturn that had 108,000 miles on it before the engine ceased up in 1998. My sister (last week) bought a new 2003 Pontiac Grand AM GT with less than 1,000 miles - what do we tell her to expect? What will GM do? GM has defined six core values for the conduct of its business: 1. Continuous Improvement, 2. Customer Enthusiasm, 3. Innovation, 4. Integrity, 5. Teamwork, and 6. Individual Respect and Responsibility. I know GM will do the right thing by following GM’s own defined six core values- GM should make this continuous improvement to this vehicle, GM should promote this existing customer enthusiasm, GM should prove their innovation and integrity (do the right thing), GM and its local dealer should use teamwork to make with process painless for the customer and most important GM should show individual respect and responsibility to the customers who spent hard working family dollars, earned while working for one of the largest auto insurance companies in the United States, on their GM vehicle, not a Ford, Dodge, etc. GM knows consumers have a choice when it comes to buying a vehicle. Hopefully GM will let consumers know they did the right thing. If this vehicle had 70,000, 80,000 or 100,000 miles my expectations would be the engine might go but not at 47,000 miles. Meet your consumer’s expectations. What will GM do?

- , Cranberry Twp, PA, USA

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