Junkyard Find: 2001 Pontiac Aztek AWD

It takes a lot for a 21st-century vehicle to make it into this series, and the Pontiac Aztek has no problem qualifying. Here in Denver, you see Azteks all over the place, presumably because they make sense for the outdoorsy lifestyle that’s so big here (you also see a lot of Vanagon Syncros, presumably because there are lots of masochists here). That means that they’re going to break something not worth fixing and show up at the local self-serve wrecking yard, and I will photograph them. Today’s Junkyard Find Aztek is in excellent condition and appears to have every single option available when new, from heads-up display to air-mattress-inflation compressor. Let’s check it out.

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Piston Slap: The U Body, The Relay Bad Idle

U Relay Got A Problem? (photo courtesy: APaGttH)

TTAC Commentator APaGttH writes:

Sajeev!

Long time listener, first time caller. The patient: a 2005 Saturn Relay FWD3 with 151K miles, GM 3.5L V6 and 4-speed automatic. I am the fifth owner and this is our grocery getter and general abuse vehicle. I’m the longest owner – 4 years and about 55K of those 151K miles have been in my garage. I can’t comment on how well it was cared for from year 2 to year 6, but I have done everything by the book since 96K miles.

The Saturn developed a rough idle of sorts about a year ago. I swapped out the spark plugs, changed the fuel filter, and flushed the fuel injection. The car continues to idle rough. No CEL and no CEL history.

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Junkyard Find: 1977 Pontiac Sunbird

The story of the Chevrolet Monza and its badge-engineered Buick, Oldsmobile, and Pontiac siblings goes much like the tale of its ancestor and platform-mate, the Vega: many sold, almost none made it to age 15. I hadn’t seen an H-body Monza, Starfire, Skyhawk or Sunbird in a self-service wrecking yard for at least five years when I spotted this one near me in Denver.

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Piston Slap: A Fireball of a 3.8L Oil Leak?

Robert writes:

I have changed the seal 2 times on my 3.8L Chevy and it still will leak. I had a place on harmonic balancer.I put the recommended slave to repair.It was not long enough to cover the bad spot on the balancer.It was close but they seal was damaged.They offer a different one that is $30+.This all occurred just out of the blue.I rebuilt the engine and it has 30,000 on it.I was wondering if there is something causing pressure around this seal.Pressure check on cylinders was good.Any ideas what to do or pressure is good too good.

Thank you sincerely – Robert

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NHTSA: GM Has Enough Parts To Repair All Affected By February 2014 Ignition Recall

Do you or yours happen to own one of the models affected by the February 2014 General Motors ignition switch recall? The automaker finally has a replacement ready at your convenience.

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Junkyard Find: 1988 Pontiac LeMans

Back when I saw this red ’88 LeMans at a California wrecking yard last year, I figured that would be the last Pontiac-badged Daewoo LeMans I’d ever see in a self-service wrecking yard. After all, these things sold poorly, were built like crap, and mostly lasted about five years before being stuffed into the nearest car shredder. But no, here’s another example that I saw in Denver a couple of weeks ago.

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NHTSA Issues Urgent Recall For Takata-Equipped Vehicles In Humid Climes

If you happen to own certain BMW, General Motors, Honda, Toyota, Mazda and Nissan vehicles, and reside in a humid climate, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is urging you to take it in for repairs linked to the Takata airbags installed.

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TTAC AMA: I Own A Pontiac G8 With A Holden Commodore Conversion

This week’s AMA comes courtesy of reader APaGttH, who has a Pontiac G8 GT that has been converted into a Holden Commodore replica. Read on below to hear the story.

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Bark's Bites: Please Stop Ruining Your G8

I have a fond spot in my heart for the Pontiac G8. I was once the proud owner of a White Hot G8 GT. I bought it new in March of 2009 and somewhat regrettably traded it in June of 2012, putting nearly eighty thousand loving miles on it along the way—you can see a picture of mine from the day I brought it home at the top of this page. Sure, I endured the occasional broken crankshaft, and yes, the interior would have been better suited to a $15K Cobalt or G3 rather than a halo car, but what a machine! It combined 361 horsepower derived from a massive 6.0 liter V8 engine with all the interior and trunk space anyone could ever need. Of course, there was also the much-less-desirable-but-still-decent V6 variant, well as the unicornish GXP, which was avaiable with a 6MT and shared the Camaro SS’ 6.2 liter LS3, generating a diff-crunching 412 horsepower.

Unfortunately, the untimely demise of Pontiac led to a very small production run for the G8—fewer than forty thousand of them were made in total. Therefore, on the rare occasion that I see one on the road (I actually saw my old car on the road recently), I can’t help but smile.

Lately, however, when I see one, I’m more likely to cringe than smile.

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Piston Slap: The E-Z Out for My BMW, Minivan

TTAC regular psarhjinian writes:

I just bought a E46 3-Series that needs some care (hey, it was cheap!) and snapped off both bolts holding the alternator to (I think) the oil filter housing. I’ve gotten the alernator off, but the last inch-or-so of the threaded section of one bolt is broken off. Thank you, BMW for using steel bolts in an aluminum block.

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"You Get A Car! You Get A Car! You Get A Car!"

This weekend marks the 10th anniversary of Oprah’s now infamous “Pontiac G6 Giveaway”, where all 276 members of her studio audience won a Pontiac G6. Greg Migliore of Autoblog took a look back at the event, and even managed to track down a few recipients of Oprah’s generosity to find out what happened to the cars.

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Recalled GM Cars See Bigger Price Drop Over Other Used Vehicles

Are your children about to start college? Maybe it’s their senior year in high school? Looking for a cheap vehicle and don’t mind if it’s been recalled to death by its automaker? Then a vehicle caught up in the General Motors recall parade might be the one, as prices have fallen hard as of late.

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Classic Review: 1986 Pontiac Fiero GT V6

The Pontiac Fiero is one of those cars that is forever showing up on lists. A simple on-line search finds that it’s one of the 100 worst cars ever built, one of the ten cars that should be avoided by tall people, one of the worst ever Indy 500 Pace Cars and, because of its poor sales, one of the 10 greatest automotive financial disasters of all time. Other lists, however, rate the little two-seater as one of the best sports cars of the 1980s, call it one of the ten unexpectedly best cars for tall people and even rank it as one of the best choices for future collectability. Oddly enough, the Pontiac Fiero also appeared on my own personal list of potential purchases a few months ago and, despite the fact that I ended up choosing one of its contemporaries, when I recently found a wonderful, low-mileage example at KC Classic Autos in near-by Kansas city, I knew I must see it.

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Junkyard Find: 2003 Pontiac Aztek

Now that we’re all about 21st-century Junkyard Finds this week, let’s admire another JF first: the Pontiac Aztek. A popular TV show really ended up muddying the cultural waters around the Aztek, in a process similar to what happened with the DeLorean DMC-12 in the late 1980s, so let’s try to remember back to a time when each of saw our first Aztek and thought what could The General have been thinking?

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Junkyard Find: 2000 Pontiac Grand Am GT

The final iteration of the Grand Am, which was built for the 1999 through 2005 model years, had all the looked-bad-after-five-years plastic cladding that made 1990s GM cars so forgettable and RAM AIR! GM cars of this vintage are still so commonplace in high-turnover self-serve wrecking yards that it takes something special for me to break out the camera for such a car; in this series so far, we’ve seen this supercharged Grand Prix GTP, this Beretta Z26, this Cavalier Z24, and this Pontiac Sunfire, and now it’s the Grand Am’s turn.

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  • Dwford How many more wealthy performance car buyers does Chevy think they can drag into their showroom full of middle of the road crossovers? I guess they will find out
  • SCE to AUX It's been done before, with varied success:Ford --> LincolnHyundai --> GenesisGM --> XLR (Cadillac), ELR (Cadillac)VW Touareg --> Porsche CayenneI suspect GM is trying to avoid the Mustang fiasco (which is working for Ford, BTW), by not making the Corvette name a sub-brand - only its hardware.(In the Mustang's case, YTD 46% of "Mustang" branded vehicles are the Mach-E, but they share no hardware. GM's plan is much different and less controversial.)Back to the sub-brand: the XLR and ELR experiments were total duds, borrowing hardware from the Corvette and Volt respectively. Both sullied Cadillac's name - not Chevy's.
  • Art Vandelay I don’t care what they do with the brand. But I do want to see how a mid engined platform spawns a 4 door and a crossover
  • Varezhka If they’re going to do this, might as well go all the way and make it a standalone brand instead of a Chevy sub-brand. They already have a unique emblem, after all. Shouldn’t there be enough empty former Hummer, Saab, or Cadillac dealer showrooms to house them?
  • Steve Biro Not only do I not want this technology in any vehicle that I own, I will not have it. As in I will never buy it or, if forced by circumstances to accept its presence, I will find a way to disarm it.