Last post on Jul 21, 2009 at 6:16 PM
You are in the Pontiac Montana
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Pontiac Montana, Pontiac Montana SV6, Van
#12 of 21 Re: New 2006 SV6 Pricing??? [colklink]
Jun 26, 2007 (4:11 pm)
Bought an '06 last September for $27900. Only option it didn't have was the rear bumper protector, it has everything! So yes, to me that's a good price. Have been thinking about another one but boy are those Yukons nice looking!
#13 of 21 Buying A Used minivan (2003 Montana)
Aug 29, 2007 (8:07 pm)
The pre-2005 GM family of minivans (Venture, Montana, Silhouette) has gotten such a bad reputation now that depreciation has become exaggerated. The question is whether it has reached the point where they are a bargain? In my view, that point has been crossed. And so, that is part of the reason I bought a 2003 Montana. In fact, I also considered the Ford Windstar and Dodge Caravan. In the end, it came down to the Caravan and the Montana (or a Venture at the same price and equipment level).
Is There A "Trick?"
Is there something that is not obvious to the general public that might get me the best vehicle for the money? I think so. Actually, there were a few things I was looking for. But the simplest tip-off was the wheelbase. In simple terms, if you buy a used one, then you should prefer a short wheelbase version. Here's why:
According to Phil Edmonston's "Lemon-Aid" car guides, the most significant problems for these minivans is transmission and engine failures. And one of the reasons is because they are over-stressed. He says that the load limits are "optimistic". I expect that this is true. However, it does not really matter because I believe that most people ignore the load limits anyway. They just stuff as much into their vehicles as they can. So if you could research it (and I do not expect that you can really) you would probably find that these failures occur mostly for people who overload their vehicles.
How does the short wheelbase help? Well, first, if you check, you will find that the short wheelbase versions start off lighter than the longer versions. If you check the 2007 Uplander sales brochure, the estimated curb weight of the short version was 4043 lbs. and the long wheelbase version was 4470 lbs. The difference is 427 lbs., and if you check back in previous years, the numbers were similar. Yet the motors and transmissions were the same. So even empty of cargo or people, the short versions were easier on the drive train. I am not sure if curb weight includes fuel, but the fuel tank sizes are 75.7 litres for the short version and 94.7 litres for the long version. If curb weight does not include fuel, then a full tank will add to the weight difference.
Now remember what I said above that people probably ignore the load limits and stuff the vans. With 2nd and 3rd row seats removed, the cargo capacity of the 2007 Uplander short version is 120.1 cu. ft. and the long version is 136.5 cu. ft. Again, previous years had similar stats. The difference of 16 cu. ft. Does not sound like much, but then how many cu. ft. does a 150 lb. person really take up? 5? 6? I do not really know for sure, but it probably around these numbers.
What is the limit of my short wheelbase minivan? Well, according to the door sticker, my GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) is 5202 lbs. According to "Car & Driver" the curb weight of my 2003 short Montana was about 3,700 lbs. That leaves about 1,500 lbs. I weigh under 160 lbs., so that leaves about 1,340 lbs. You can play with these numbers if you want, but consider this: Leave me out of the car and try to stuff it with 7 * 220 lb. football players and you would have an overloaded vehicle, without any "cargo" at all -- not even a bottle of Gatorade. And that is the same drivetrain as the long version minivan?
So that is the first, and maybe the biggest "trick" to buying a used minivan. The second is, I think obvious even to the average man on the street: Do NOT get a "fully loaded" used vehicle. The more stuff you add to a vehicle, the more there is to go wrong.
#14 of 21 Re: Buying A Used minivan (2003 Montana) [writer]
Aug 30, 2007 (5:24 am)
You may have a point there. However, I think all vans are run near max weight capacity when hauling 6-7 passengers.
GMs biggest mistake when they redesigned the van in 1997 was to use the Chevy 60 degree V6 though while more compact was less efficient, durable, powerful then the Buick 3800 V6. Until 2005 the 60 degree V6 family of engines had a poor intake to cylinder head gasket design and it didn't help that the intake bolts were loose from the factory!
By 2005 this was corrected but the damage to their reputation was done. My SV6 has the 3900 motor and produces 240hp, it's a night and day difference compared to my old '99.
As to the short wheelbase preference. Too small for us. I considered it, we went and looked at some but decided on the longer one, not enough room to travel or even do a big grocery with all the kids in the car.
The key to motor longevity besides synthetic oil and regular maintenace is to keep the rpms down, no need to spin up 5000+ rpms when taking off or even passing.
#15 of 21 Re: Buying A Used minivan (2003 Montana) [swathdiver]
Aug 30, 2007 (6:30 pm)
Hmm. I do not understand this forum. I do not see any automatic quotation for replying. I will do my best:
The point of the engine choice was probably size. I think if they executed properly (debugged the design before starting to put them in vehicles, and debugging the manufacturing as soon as possible) then the motor might at least have gotten a good reputation in the small vans.
I am curious what the load limit is for the SV6. Could you check that someday and post it here? I expect it should be higher with the new motor and transmission.
I think it is ironic that GM finally seems to have addressed all the shortcomings of these minivans, just in time to discontinue them.
RPMs below 5000+ is a good thought.
Also, regarding my earlier post, and my planned use: I am single with no kids. After 25 odd years of driving 4 seating cars, I do not think I have ever filled 4 seats. The most I have ever carried was 3 people (with varying amounts of luggage). As such, I almost immediately removed the 3rd seat row. I am considering removing 1 more 2nd row seat ("captain's chair"). I expect that will save me at least 150 lbs. total. But then again, the point of my buying a minivan was to cart around boxes of my home and office stuff to and from storage (all because I recently moved my home and office to a high-rise condo), so that savings will not often be a factor -- though it will result in many fewer trips to get things done, which also saves the vehicle (and my pocket book).
#16 of 21 Re: Buying A Used minivan (2003 Montana) [writer]
Sep 01, 2007 (7:14 pm)
This is my first actual report about the used 2003 Montana. It is not thorough and not entirely organized. But it is all I have time for right now:
The odometer when bought was under 134,000 km. Total price (all taxes, etc.) was under $8,000 Cdn., including a 1 year very limited powertrain warranty (the salesman described it as "worthless" and when I read the limits, he was not far off). I will say more about optional longer warranties below.
The radio display was obviously failing, I have not yet decided what I am going to do about that. I might pay for a "repair", or I might go to an audio specialist and get something better. I am not really a sound person. I mainly just listen to a couple of radio stations, and one is mainly for traffic reports. But my impression is that a good quality replacement can cost less than the OEM radio.
Upholstery was excellent but the rugs were dirty (even after the dealer cleaned it up).
The right tail light cover has minor cracks. It is hard to imagine how you could get those particular cracks. It would be too hard for me to describe them. I assume they are impact related, but the locations are far apart. And they are quite small.
It is missing the small cup holder in the front console. This is unimportant because that just leave "big" cup holders. I might buy a replacement.
I think there is some kind of pull-out compartment missing on the bottom of the same console. I am guessing that it is for CDs and DVDs. Or maybe it is just a garbage bin. In either case, that is something I might replace.
I would like to get the grocery net for the back. Actually, I would rather have had a few proper "load securing" attachment points in the interior. I understand that the preference was to give the feeling of being in a big limo, but hey, if I wanted a big limo, I would have bought one. The whole point of a minivan is supposed to be versatility and the ability to carry loads when needed. Securing a load is part of that function.
The tires (low end Firestones) look about 1 - 2 years old. I assume the factory tires wore out and these are the first replacement set.
Thankfully, there is no roof rack. Roof racks are mainly a scam. You almost never see them being used, and yet these can be rust starting points if you are not lucky. I do not like to leave that to luck. Avoid roof racks unless you REALLY need them.
I checked the fluids when bought and they were clean. The motor and transmission seem to be fine. I am considering buying a GM warranty. This will cost about $2,500 - $3,000 for 3 years (not sure about the milage). The used car dealer offered an arguably better warranty (3 years, unlimited mileage, but only main pieces of powertrain, and limited places to do the work) for $1,000, but I decided not to buy that one because of the limitation of where to get work done. I would rather be able to take it to "any nearby GM dealer" if/when a breakdown occurs. Then again, I have a car as well as this minivan, and at the low price I paid, I am also considering not bothering with any further warranty.
I do not like the suspension. I might actually see if an aftermarket shop would replace the springs and shocks next year.
There is a very slight high speed vibration, typical of a slightly unbalanced tire.
I have driven my first tank of gas, mainly city driving (summer with AC almost always on) and I drove 332.3 km on 49.14 litres. That is about 6.76 km/L. (or about 15.90 mi./gal.). A small car like a Sunfire will get about 10 - 11 km/L. range in similar circumstances. Note that a small car will use a lot less for AC, and a good chunk of that mileage was carrying modest loads (maybe around 300 lbs. plus my 160 lbs., but minus the weight of 3rd row seats, probably worth around 100 lbs.). If I used the Montana for regular day to day driving, I expect I would see more like 16 - 18 mi/gal. But then again, that is not the type of use for which I bought it. So this is probably typical of what I will usually see.
(NOTE: According to PG Calc 2.2, 1 US mi = 1.609344 km and 1 US gal. = 3.784985 litres, so km/L. * 2.35188 = mi/gal and mi/gal * 0.42519 = km/L. I do not use "litres/100 km," which after much thought, I find is a poor choice for comparisons in the automotive industry.)
Regarding the crash reports:
I remember when the oblique crash tests were first done and these GM minivans were sited as the worst on the market in that particular test. A local TV station actually showed the video footage of the test. Unfortunately, at that time, I was completely uninterested in minivans, and was not really paying attention. I wish I could see that test again today, and also tests of the other minivans. As far as I know (and I have NOT done any real research into it), there was never any expectation for increased personal injuries. It was just the expense of repair that was in issue.
In any case, I wonder if an aftermarket fix is economically feasible? These minivans have not been supported by aftermarket companies because such companies are more interested in supporting the "enthusiast" market. This is understandable because that is the market where people generally buy such products. But I think it was an opportunity missed.
#17 of 21 Update Report: Mileage
Sep 06, 2007 (6:33 pm)
Having finished my 2nd tank of gas, I can report that I refilled it 56.869 litres at 439.5 km, which gives 7.73 km/litre which is about 18.18 mi./gal. Ironically, this was actually heavily highway driving, but on the last day before filling, I got stuck on the highway, adding about 15 min. to my travel time, which wasted a lot of gas. Then again, in the real world, that is what happens, and the result is what those of us who live in fairly large, busy cities often see. However, on a good week, with a lot of highway driving, I see 20 mpg.
Also, in the Road & Track 2007 Truck Buyer's Guide, I found that the 2007 Uplander GVWR is 6,500 lbs. This number is, apparently, the same for both the long and short wheelbase versions. As I mentioned, the curb weight of the long wheelbase version was 4,470 lbs. giving 2,030 capacity, which means either 2007 version is better than either of the 2003 version vehicles. And comparing the short wheelbase 2007 Uplander adds another 427 lbs. to the payload capacity giving 2,457 lbs. or about 1000 lbs. more "headroom" to work with. So the later Uplanders and Montana SV6's should have far less problems with engines and transmission. At least that is the theory.
#18 of 21 Re: Update Report: Mileage [writer]
Sep 09, 2007 (5:02 pm)
Don't know which motor you have, my 3900 loosended up considerably once she hit about 10-12k on the odometer. Mileage increased by about 1.5mpg too. Of course, using higher octane fuel will get you better mileage as well, sometimes even specific brands are more efficient then others.
#19 of 21 Re: Update Report: Mileage [swathdiver]
Jul 17, 2009 (3:39 am)
Vehicle has about 52K now. The driver's side power sliding door has been most annoying. We don't use it because I'm sick of taking it back to the dealer. Well, it's been about a year and will probably take it back next week to get fixed. Bought the extended warranty. Brakes are about ready to be replaced. 2nd set of tires no alignment needed. The dash up under the windshield has just cracked, the little seat belt guides have broken, one of the cables which allows the rear seats to be raised from the back has frayed. Kids say DVD screen get discolored once in a while, a tap and it goes away.
It gets 23mpg on the highway fully loaded and then some, and around 18-19 in the city, always with the air blowing here in South Florida.
Except for the door the rest of the stuff is minor. Onstar and built in phone is cool! Too bad my beloved GM has been taken over by Marxists. I will not buy another new car until they're free again.
#20 of 21 Re: Update Report: Mileage [swathdiver]
Jul 20, 2009 (8:59 pm)
Hi there swathdiver.
I noticed you do indepth `proactive` research and detailed maintenance of your van. Great stuff!!! As as suggestion, you may want to install an aux tranny cooler in your van as well. My local transmission specialists tells me the 4T65E transmission (in the GM mini-vans) run hot. Even for typical non-towing driving conditions (like soccer parents trips in city driving on a hot summer day), the ATF fluid runs hot. He tells me that a aux transmission cooler for a 5,000 lbs trailer will add many more years to the factory transmission's life. And with more transmission coolering, it helps keep its 3.09L VVT engine a little cooler as well. Thus, win-win in the long run. If wondering, I installed Hayden ATF cooler in my '09 Montana EWB van 2 months ago and its working great. re: http://www.makcotransmissionparts.com/OC-1678.html
Hope this helps improve your new GM mini- van as well...
#21 of 21 Thanks for the Reminder...
Jul 21, 2009 (6:16 pm)
I used to always add a cooler to my cars. This van has heavy duty cooling and tow package option with larger radiator. It's due for a transmission fluid change, going to do the exchange method and replace it all rather then just the pickup screen with 1/2 the fluid. When that is done, it will get Dexron VI synthetic which is superior to Dex V. I just may add the cooler like I used too though now that you mention it!