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Pontiac Montana Reliability and Common Problems

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The Pontiac Montana is a minivan that was made by General Motors from 1997 to 2009. It was affordably priced, featured a roomy interior, and had reasonable gas mileage. However, Pontiac Montanas have already depreciated quite significantly over the years. The Montanas made from 1999 to 2006 are only worth around 8% to 12% of their original value. According to AutoPadre.com, the 2006 model is projected to lose 4% of its current value in five years. This means that the Pontiac Montana can potentially be a great deal for buyers interested in getting a used minivan.

Is the Pontiac Montana Reliable? 

Even though the latest Montana minivans have already aged by more than a decade, owners have reported that they’re still satisfied with their vehicle. However, several parts, like the intake manifold gasket, tend to wear out. There are also a few parts like broken tail lights that require immediate attention. But for the most part, it’s as simple as replacing malfunctioning parts. The cause of these problems can even be attributed to normal wear. We’ll cover these issues later in this article.  

Twenty-four owners have given reliability scores for the Montana on RepairPal, and the scores have an average of 3.5 out of 5.0, which is good but not exceptional. Meanwhile, owners on Cars.com seem to hold their Montanas in higher regard as their recent reviews are in the 4.0 to 5.0 range. Most of them report that the vehicle exhibits a few minor bugs that they consider normal for a vehicle of its age. “It has never left us on the side of the road and it drives comfortably. I am happy with it,” one owner says. Many owners echo the same sentiment. 

2004 pontiac montana
Made by General Motors from 1997 to 2009, the Pontiac Montana was affordably priced, featured a roomy interior, and had reasonable gas mileage. Image source: Wikipedia

Pontiac Montana Common Problems 

Even though many owners think that the Pontiac Montana is affordable and decently reliable, some models still have several issues. 

Intake Manifold Gasket Failure 

According to users from RepairPal and CarComplaints, this is the Montana’s most common issue. The Montana’s intake manifold gasket might fail, causing oil or coolant to leak. However, this leak is usually internal and isn’t always visible from the outside. The oil and coolant might mix due to gasket failure. Some owners were able to detect the problem when the low coolant light illuminated on their dashboard. Others experienced overheating issues. When this issue occurs, the engine is at risk of being damaged because coolant isn’t supposed to be mixed with oil. If it is, it will interfere with the oil’s lubricating properties, and then the engine won’t be adequately lubricated.

1999 to 2005 Pontiac Montana models are affected by this issue. Replacing the lower intake manifold gasket should fix this problem for most owners. However, there are a few owners whose engines were damaged as a result of the coolant and oil mixing. These unlucky owners had to pay for expensive engine repairs. To prevent costly engine repairs, owners should have their vehicle checked immediately as soon as the first symptoms of intake manifold gasket failure emerge.

2004 pontiac montana engine
The Pontiac Montana’s most common issue is intake manifold gasket failure. Image source: Edmunds

Erratic Shifting 

Erratic shifting is another common issue for 1999 to 2006 the Montana models. While transmission hiccups are sometimes just a byproduct of aging, the Montana’s transmission problem is caused by a faulty pressure control solenoid. The pressure control solenoid controls fluid pressure to the clutch’s friction plate. The failed pressure control solenoids results in rough and delayed shifts and causes the transmission to make grinding or whining sounds. 

According to RepairPal’s technicians, replacing the faulty pressure control solenoid involves disassembling the transmission, which is costly and labor-intensive.

Tail Light Failure 

Either the rear brake light or the rear turn signals in some 1999 to 2006 Pontiac Montanas have been known to fail. There appears to be something causing the bulbs to stop working, as most owners have reported that even newly replaced bulbs failed to work. But this issue is due to failed sockets, not a faulty bulb. According to forum users, the wires inside the tail light assembly were worn out. 

Replacing the faulty tail light would be an easy fix for this problem. However, there are several owners in forums who have fixed this issue by taking apart the headlight and looking for burnt wires. The cause of the issue is a connector inside the tail light that has been disconnected or become loose. Some owners were able to fix the issue by using new wire segments to connect the two points or by removing the burnt segment and tying the remaining wire segments together.  

Leaking Water Pump 

Owners of some 1999 to 2005 Montanas have reported that their minivans were overheating. Upon investigation, they found that their water pump was leaking. A leaking water pump is a common Montana issue, with 28 reports on RepairPal. The water pump is part of the cooling loop and is responsible for the circulation of either water or coolant through the engine. A leaking water pump will eventually cause the cooling loop to lack coolant, causing the engine to overheat. 

To fix the issue, owners simply need to replace the faulty water pump. Replacement water pumps for the Pontiac Montana cost around $30 to $60. 

Leaking Refrigerant 

Several Montana owners have reported that their air-conditioning stopped working. The A/C failure is caused by leaking refrigerant in the minivan’s condenser. The refrigerant is responsible for absorbing heat and redirecting it away from the cabin and into the condenser, where the heat is dissipated. 

According to RepairPal, GM has developed a new condenser and mounting bracket to prevent it from falling. Nevertheless, replacing the leaking condenser should fix the issue. A replacement condenser for a Pontiac Montana costs around $60 to $100. 

The Pontiac Montana also has problems with other parts like brakes, steering, and air-conditioning, but they’re less common. The most common issues on this list are the ones that Montana owners should look out for. As long as you’re aware of the common problems of the minivan you’re planning to buy, you’ll be able to spot issues before they become worse.

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Vehicle Reliability

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