Purchased 2003 Pontiac Vibe New Member

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Thrasher
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Joined: Tue Jul 02, 2019 12:53 am
Location: Georgia

Purchased 2003 Pontiac Vibe New Member

Post by Thrasher » Sat Jul 06, 2019 3:20 pm

New member and recently purchased a 2003 pontiac vibe with 66,000 miles on it. Had my mechanic check it over and it looked good. Have already used the forum for lots of info. Battery died and changed it. Changed the transmission fluid with Toyota T-IV doing a drain and fill twice so far as it was probably original fluid. Also decided to change the spark plugs today with the NGK iridium IX and found a small amount of oil on 2 of the coil packs. Thinking about having my mechanic replace the valve cover gasket, or maybe I should tackle this? I do some maintenance items myself but don't mind paying the mechanic either when it's beyond me.
It's getting around 20mpg. Any thoughts on this? Air filter is new, oil good, transmission fluid just changed, and today I just changed the spark plugs. Could the oil from the valve cover gasket and spark plugs be causing the low mpg?
What brake fluid is recommended? Went to Toyota dealer and they only had DOT 4 which was $49 for a large container. They said it would be compatible for cars calling for DOT 3 but didn't recommend it because of the price... Fluid appears to be a light yellow color in the reservoir so might not need to be changed.
Also thinking about having the coolant changed. Any strong recommendations on coolant? Drain and fill or flush? I'm not going to do this myself since I do not have an easy way to properly dispose of it.
Power steering fluid is clear. I bought 2 quarts of Toyota dexron III in case I wanted to change this too.
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2003 Vibe
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Caretaker
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Re: Purchased 2003 Pontiac Vibe New Member

Post by Caretaker » Sat Jul 06, 2019 3:30 pm

In my quick scan of your note, I didn't see that you mentioned from whom you bought the car.......dealer? I'm hoping that the odometer is accurate and not some reprogrammed rollback. At 66,000 miles, and with no one to ask about the history of the car's maintenance, one can assume that the owner NEVER changed any fluids except the oil. So even though the brake fluid looks light yellow, it could be holding a lot of moisture over all these years. I'd change every fluid in it. Never flush out a transmission or radiator if you don't know the car's history. Power jets can end up dislodging varnish and other hard deposits and cause catastrophic damage. If it had been power flushed throughout the car's life, then it still would be OK, but if you can't ask the previous owner, it is drain and fill from here on out. Best of luck with the purchase. If the numbers are right, it looks like you got a rare "barn" find.
Live it up: There will be plenty of time to be old when you die.
** 2009 Vibe: 1.8 liter automatic **
** 2010 Hyundai Elantra Touring **
** 2007 Honda Fit Sport **

Thrasher
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Joined: Tue Jul 02, 2019 12:53 am
Location: Georgia

Re: Purchased 2003 Pontiac Vibe New Member

Post by Thrasher » Sat Jul 06, 2019 3:53 pm

Yes, unfortunately it was a dealer, under body and everything on it is super clean. My trusted mechanic of 10+ years asked me if grandma passed away based on the condition and mileage. Carfax showed 2 owners and it has records of annual mileage for emissions reported. AC compressor had to be replaced before I purchased. I'll continue to replace fluids as you recommend. Thanks!
Switching from a 1994 Ford Explorer that I just sold that had 116K miles on it after owning it for 8 years. I don't drive a lot in general.

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vibrologist
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Re: Purchased 2003 Pontiac Vibe New Member

Post by vibrologist » Mon Jul 08, 2019 5:22 am

Welcome to the forum, thrasher!

It looks like you got a good one. I agree with drain and fill of all fluids. I would also go ahead and replace the valve cover gasket. I have not done this on a Vibe but it sure looks like a diy job.
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'05 Vibe

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tpollauf
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Re: Purchased 2003 Pontiac Vibe New Member

Post by tpollauf » Mon Jul 08, 2019 7:59 am

Welcome to GenVibe :D Location ? Update profile for us. One of us could be your neighbor and not know it! What climate was this car driven in recently ? Snow/salt, heat. wet, etc? As far as your stated MPG, I hope that was a typographical error on your part because 20 mpg is TERRIBLE for these cars !!! Provide more info and possible pics. Auto or manual tranny? You should get at minimum upper 20's and easily hit mid-upper 30's for highway. Glad you found us and visit here often ;)
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Thrasher
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Re: Purchased 2003 Pontiac Vibe New Member

Post by Thrasher » Mon Jul 08, 2019 3:05 pm

I live in Georgia. The car has always been registered in Georgia. Hot summer, mild winters. It has an automatic transmission. I'll see if I can change the valve cover gasket in the next week or two and review the mpg. Getting the brake fluid changed tomorrow. Will ask my mechanic to look at the brakes for possible sticking or dragging.

zbyers
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Re: Purchased 2003 Pontiac Vibe New Member

Post by zbyers » Tue Jul 09, 2019 2:53 am

Changing the valve cover gasket is definitely a DIY task. Essentially take the cover off, take the ignition coils out, then unbolt the cover. remove old gasket and clean up the mating surfaces. when reinstalling, make sure you add just a dab of RTV where it meets the timing cover to prevent the small leak that can occur there.
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andrewclaus
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Re: Purchased 2003 Pontiac Vibe New Member

Post by andrewclaus » Tue Jul 09, 2019 3:28 am

Clean the MAF sensor.

Run some injector cleaner through.

I also wonder why the 20 mpg, unless it was the first tank and wasn't filled up right when you started. I'm mainly a highway driver and routinely get high 30s, even low 40s with a tailwind. I also keep my tires inflated on the high side, 34-36 psi.

I agree on the brake flush. The owner's manual will tell you what fluid to use, but I believe it's DOT-3 for this car.

zbyers
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Re: Purchased 2003 Pontiac Vibe New Member

Post by zbyers » Tue Jul 09, 2019 3:43 am

Cleaning MAF really doesn't do anything on these cars. Other cars? Maybe. Not worth it on these.

Brake fluid should be dot-3, but dot-4 should be fine to use too. As you said, check for dragging brakes.

Coolant, run toyota pink or the zerex blend. do not use the GM stuff.

how are the tires? tires in general have a big effect on fuel economy. biggest effect is the nut behind the wheel. :lol:
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Bookworm
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Re: Purchased 2003 Pontiac Vibe New Member

Post by Bookworm » Wed Jul 10, 2019 3:56 am

Intake manifold gasket - it's the right year for the bad gaskets.

Also clean the throttle body.

To disagree with Caretaker, if done -right-, you can do a full flush and fill on the radiator and transmission. On the transmission that involves cutting a coolant line to allow the old fluid to exit while you have someone pour in new fluid until it runs clean. (I've never done this.)

To do a full flush on a radiator WITHOUT harming anything, you'll need one of those 'flush' kits that Prestone sells, but you won't actually be cutting into the radiator hose. (although replacing the thermostat with an Aisin thermostat for a Toyota Matrix isn't a bad idea, along with the top hose)

Remove the radiator cap. Drain the radiator completely, close the drain. Pull the top radiator hose from the radiator, connect up a piece of garden hose with the above kit, and run the hose either into a bucket (if you plan to try to find a place to recycle it) or into the grass. There's nothing in the stuff that'll cause a problem for grass, you just don't want animals trying to drink it. Fill the radiator with distilled water, _leave the cap off_. Turn on the heat in the car, start the engine, and let it run. Once fluid starts to run out of the hose, keep pouring distilled water into the radiator to keep it topped off (you may end up with some spilling out of the hose connector - you can try plugging that if you want). Once everything has run completely clean, shut off the engine. Reconnect the top hose, drain the radiator completely, and add concentrate. (you can also run the engine a bit longer while adding concentrate, because the engine capacity is larger than the radiator. Once you have put in the right amount of concentrate, you're done)

Then run the engine for another 10 minutes or so to blend the distilled water and concentrate.

If you don't have concentrate, you can use the premixed stuff instead, and just watch closely for the colour change.

That's a COMPLETE radiator flush without putting harsh chemicals into your engine, and makes sure you have only one kind of fluid. I've done this more than once. In fact, it's the only way I've ever changed the radiator fluid, rather than just topping off. You'll still have to clean out the overflow container.

Thrasher
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Re: Purchased 2003 Pontiac Vibe New Member

Post by Thrasher » Wed Jul 10, 2019 7:14 am

Thanks for all the replies. It's looking like the spark plugs might have helped as the gas tank isn't plummeting yet after driving. Will see what mpg we get this week. Got the coolant changed with Toyota 50/50. It had a pinkish red color coolant in it before. Brake fluid is now changed and had the fuel injectors and throttle bottle cleaned.
Air conditioning is cool but leaves a little to be desired. Could just be how it is with this model. My mechanic went ahead and did an evac and recharge at no cost just to see if he could get it better. Will have to see how that turns out this week.
Tires are good.
Just need to change valve cover gasket and power steering fluid and should be set.

Bookworm
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Re: Purchased 2003 Pontiac Vibe New Member

Post by Bookworm » Wed Jul 10, 2019 3:05 pm

Thrasher wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 7:14 am
Thanks for all the replies. It's looking like the spark plugs might have helped as the gas tank isn't plummeting yet after driving. Will see what mpg we get this week. Got the coolant changed with Toyota 50/50. It had a pinkish red color coolant in it before. Brake fluid is now changed and had the fuel injectors and throttle bottle cleaned.
Air conditioning is cool but leaves a little to be desired. Could just be how it is with this model. My mechanic went ahead and did an evac and recharge at no cost just to see if he could get it better. Will have to see how that turns out this week.
Tires are good.
Just need to change valve cover gasket and power steering fluid and should be set.
The Vibe has a GM compressor and A/C system, so it runs best over 2500 RPM.

Thrasher
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Location: Georgia

Re: Purchased 2003 Pontiac Vibe New Member

Post by Thrasher » Thu Jul 25, 2019 4:43 pm

Changed the power steering fluid and valve cover gasket. Unfortunately my daughter broke the exterior door handle on the rear door. :( Ordered a replacement off of ebay. Have to decide if I want to tackle that one.

MPG on previous tank was 19 mpg. The only other thing I can think of is the upper O2 sensor. Don't really want to throw $100+ at it if it doesn't need replacing though, but I cannot think of anything else it could be. Mostly city mileage driving with AC on high all the time.

Bookworm
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Re: Purchased 2003 Pontiac Vibe New Member

Post by Bookworm » Thu Jul 25, 2019 5:57 pm

Thrasher wrote:
Thu Jul 25, 2019 4:43 pm
Changed the power steering fluid and valve cover gasket. Unfortunately my daughter broke the exterior door handle on the rear door. :( Ordered a replacement off of ebay. Have to decide if I want to tackle that one.

MPG on previous tank was 19 mpg. The only other thing I can think of is the upper O2 sensor. Don't really want to throw $100+ at it if it doesn't need replacing though, but I cannot think of anything else it could be. Mostly city mileage driving with AC on high all the time.
Rear door handle is really not a big deal. It takes around an hour, and is more of a grumble mumble than a PITA. The standard black door handles shatter easily after a few years - my previous car, I went through three or four of them. The current one, knock on wood, is painted, and the handles are still holding up.

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