Questions for Grand Prix Owners

Messages
482
Location
Speedway, IN
Hi all...I'm mulling over replacing my 234K mile Caprice with something that'll get me a little better gas mileage for my 35 mile round trip commute every day. Right now, I'm *really* high on Grand Prix GTs with the 3800 engine. My budget is a maximum of $4k, so I know based on research I'd be looking at a late 90's GT with "around" 120K miles, give or take 10K. For those of you experienced Grand Prix owners, is there any particular year from the late 90's I should or shouldn't avoid? I've read a lot of good reviews on the car and just wanted to refine my search a little more. I really like the looks of a red coupe with a spoiler, and all the other bells & whistles. Are there any particular problems that are common of GPs of this era? Thanks for any & all info!
 
Messages
1,908
Location
Fort Worth, TX
For that money I'd go with what my parents have: a 2001 OLDS Intrigue with the hot rod "Shortstar" engine. I recently drove it across New Mexico and West Texas at 72-77 mph seeing 27-30 mpg. It hauls butt on the two-lanes, passing more quickly than my wifes 2005 ES 330 Lexus. I changed the plugs one year ago at 88,000 miles, added a double shot of FP-60, fac spec oil in MOBIL ONE, a new oil and air filter. Added some LC-20 on this trip. Barely notice it running, and it REVS!!
 
Messages
4,287
Location
Central Wisconsin
The 'spoiler' is standard on GTs from 98 on.(IIRC). The newer the better. The first few years of that design, 97-99(I think) had headlights that fogged up pretty bad(condensation). Had some problems with window motors. That's it. 3800 is the motor you want, bullet proof.
 
Messages
2,438
Location
Frankfort, Kentucky
If your shooting for gas mileage, the first thing you should do to the GT is get the ubend deleted. As far as years with problems. I don't know, the 97 was the first year of the new body style, but my 97 GTP didn't have any problems.
 
Messages
4,872
Location
MN
Avoid the 97 year because of an older transmission used in the GT. If your really concerned about gas mileage look at a Regal LS, they have a taller gear ratio. The GP SE does too, but I wouldn't recomend it because it's FUGLY.
 
Messages
1,451
Location
Grand Rapids, MI
Watch out for rust below the doors. My parents have a '00 SE and it has huge holes in it. My '01 GT seems to be fine but it is harder to tell since it is covered with plastic down there. I've heard others with the same problem. Other than the dash creaks I've had no issues of significance. Apparently even the 3.8L engines can leak coolant into the oil. Do a UOA on one you are buying if possible. Ask if it has been fixed in the past. I have had no experiences with it myself but there has been plenty of talk about it here on the forum, do a search.
 
Messages
2,287
Location
Middle of Iowa
I will second the idea of avoiding the '97 to '99 models. Few little niggles that were worked out during the first few years. Because I had to search myself...the ubend delete is getting rid of a nasty-restrictive U-bend in the stock exhaust.
 

Pat in Speedway

Thread starter
Messages
482
Location
Speedway, IN
Quote:
If your shooting for gas mileage, the first thing you should do to the GT is get the ubend deleted. As far as years with problems. I don't know, the 97 was the first year of the new body style, but my 97 GTP didn't have any problems.
So to clarify, deleting the ubend will increase the advertised 30mpg highway?
 
Messages
2,438
Location
Frankfort, Kentucky
On an L36(GT or Regal LS) the u-bend is good for dynotested 5 hp and about 2 mpg. DriveHard, I think that avoiding those years will put him out of his price range, unless the cars in his area are going cheap than they are in Texas.
 
Messages
2,287
Location
Middle of Iowa
Shaman - there are 30 GP's year 2000 or higher priced lower than $5000 within 200 miles his zipcode on autotrader. I say $5000 because I would imagine some bargining could be done to get them to the $4K budget.
 
Messages
892
Location
LI, NY
As long as the car checks out clean. Tranny fluid, coolant level and it's been maintained. I've had no major issues with my 97 GTP with 134k on the clock.
 
Messages
3,094
Location
Metro Detroit
Quote:
Quote:
On an L36(GT or Regal LS) the u-bend is good for dynotested 5 hp and about 2 mpg.
What is the best way to go about making this change? I'd love an extra 2mpg.
Visit an exhaust shop. You need to cut the pipe right at the cat and replace it with a straight pipe with a bung for the O2 sensor welded in. It's a pretty straightforward job, given the proper welding equipment, but I understand that some shops are nervous about messing with anything related to the O2 sensor. BTW, the purpose of the U-bend is to allow the O2 sensor to point straight up, where there's no chance of it being hit by any debris. Deleting the U-bend means the sensor has to stick out sideways, angled slightly down. It's a little more risky that way, but I've yet to hear someone complain that this has caused them a problem.
 
Messages
963
Location
Ontario, Canada
Pat, I too asked for opinions of the Grand Prix on here a few weeks ago. I got nothing but positive responses from everyone. There was unanimous opinion that the 3800 is the way to go. Everyone seemed to report excellent gas mileage for a car/engine combo of this size.
 

Pat in Speedway

Thread starter
Messages
482
Location
Speedway, IN
Quote:
Pat, I too asked for opinions of the Grand Prix on here a few weeks ago. I got nothing but positive responses from everyone. There was unanimous opinion that the 3800 is the way to go. Everyone seemed to report excellent gas mileage for a car/engine combo of this size.
Actually that topic prompted me to expand the inquiry a little bit to find out more of the quality of the car itself, not including the work horse pulling it. Are there any tranny issues with them that you know of, aside of, apparently, the '97 model?
 
Messages
2,438
Location
Frankfort, Kentucky
I don’t think there are any trannies issues to note, it’s just that the 97 GT came with a different transmission. There will br problems if you don’t maintain it, but on a GT, unless you boost it or drag race all the time, I think the tranny will be fine at stock hp levels. As far as other things. Never lost a window motor (GM thing), loud PS pump from dirty fluid got replaced at 100K miles. The interior feel isn’t the best, but the HUD and DIC have spoiled me. Because of the gearing, the gas mileage and also the oil is really good. If you get the GT, look into a Dorman or L26 intake manifold if yours hasn’t been replaced. They have a way of leaking coolant into the engine. Get a UOA when you get the car so you will know if it’s happening. As far as the car as a whole, it’s the only car I have had so far that I would buy again. Parts were cheap. Spark plugs from Wally World for 98 cents a pop. Filters can probably be had really easy on Fleetfilter, and you can build a Fenderwell Intake for $50 if you want a little more power. There is a low tire sensor that can sometimes go bad. I think that you have to replace the whole hub. Good call Drivehard. Central Texas isn’t blessed with the cheap under $5k and 100K mi. GPs.
 
Messages
2,438
Location
Frankfort, Kentucky
Sorry, the intake manifold didn’t come out right. The stock manifolds have a way of leaking coolant into the oil, so, look into a Dorman or L26 manifold if yours hasn’t been replaced Also, one more thing. One cold morning I started the car and smelt fuel. A fitting on top of the engine had a seal go out and start leaking. Rigged it with FI line until I found the fitting at NAPA for $11.
 
Messages
2,287
Location
Middle of Iowa
I had a '97 that I fixed the fogging lights by popping off the lense, shining it up with rubbing alcohol and sealing it back up with some auto adhesive. I threw in one of those absorbent packets you get in luggage/beef jerky and it was perfect until I sold the car with 190,000+ miles.
 
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