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72,000 Miles in a Grand Prix

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By Milligram46
December 1, 2008

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My 12,000 mile write up is here:
http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=22918095

My 24,000 mile write up is here:
http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=23696666

My 36,000 mile write up is here:
http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=24653225

My 48,000 mile write up is here:
http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=25548703

My 60,000 mile write up is here:
http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=26330514

It has taken 43 months almost to the day to get to 72,000 miles, taking 10 months, almost to the day to go through the last 12,000 miles. This is the longest period of time it has taken to go 12,000 miles since I've owned the vehicle and shows a continued reduction in driving due to several forces, including high energy prices during this period and a lot of business travel, and a change in my commuting habits. When I bought the Grand Prix I was on track for 125K to 130K miles at the end of five years, I am now on track for 90K to 95K.

During this time period there were really no long distance trips, with one trip to Portland and one trip to Vancouver. Normally I couldn't even say that a 100 mile trip would be noteworthy but in this case, there is a 100 mile pleasure drive in the mix.

Conditions of driving has been suburban and urban, with a combination of stop and go traffic, interstate highway and yeoman duty for grocery getting and the like. Mileage increased during the period to almost 23 MPG average city/highway combined. This improvement is in part due to a change in driving habits, the use of hypermiling during the summer oil price peak, and an avoidance of high traffic zones and periods.

PROS

Well, this is where I get to gloat a bit. When I bought the Grand Prix I was mocked for the choice, and told I would be replacing the engine and transmission by 36,000 miles. I'm now double that period, have driven the equivalent of five years of ownership and have had no major mechanical issues.

Well the biggest pro is at 72,300 miles the Grand Prix continues to go strong. The L26 3.8L V-6 continues to be a champ. Starts up, runs smooth and delivers consistent performance. The engine remains available only in the Buick LaCrosse and Buick Lucerne today, and its days are very numbered.

Really as I approach the four year mark the pro is the Pontiac Grand Prix is delivering what JD Power and Consumer Reports said a 2005 L26 power Grand Prix would deliver. Reliable transportation free of issues.

Consumer Reports continues to recommend my model as a used car (with the non-supercharged engine as equipped) as does JD Powers. It has sat atop the premium full size used car category (or near the top) since 12 months after its release. And for those reading this saying I got lucky, there is a mountain of data to support that I am not alone:

http://autos.msn.com/research/vip/Reliability.aspx?year=2005&make=Pontiac&model=Grand%20Prix&trimid=-1&wa=wsignin1.0

I really haven't "learned" anything new as I've reported in previous entries here. I have learned that the hours meter will run if the key is in the run position, but the engine is idled, so the hours on the engine aren't 100% accurate.

I had brought up some wear on a couple of the climate control buttons but this seems to be a fluke on the isolated buttons, no other buttons, most notably the steering wheel audio and cruise controls are showing any wear at all. The interior plastics, carpet, and leather continue to hold up well also. The driver seat is showing normal wear from normal use. The paint continues to be rich, deep, and in an amazing condition practically chip free.

My daughter and I installed an MP3 1/8th" stereo bypass jack. Total cost was $2.73 after tax after finding how to do it on the Internet. Now I can plug in my MP3 player and it plays straight through my stereo, $2.73 well spent!

Using the aircraft model of 5,000 engine hours, I'm still on pace for around 160,000 miles of generally trouble-free operation, so when the car is paid off in April of 2010 it should still have years of useful life left.

Yes Virginia, apparently Detroit can build a good car - and the Grand Prix has met all of my purchasing requirements from back in 2005.

CONS

I had brought up the intermediate steering shaft in my previous review. Although there is a slight amount of play, the addition of steering fluid to the proper level sure did help. I've decided that this is only a nuisance issue and will live with it as it doesn't impact safety or performance.

Normally, I would have run in the Buicks Olds Pontiac Invitational at Bremerton Speedway but I was traveling this year, so I have nothing to report on 1/4 mile performance.

I'll continue to gritch about resale value. The 2008 model year is the last year for the Grand Prix, and GM made only the base L26 engine version and the LS4 V8 version, and most went to rental fleets. Depending on who I use to appraise my car, I've got $1K to $3.5K of equity in it now. However, the resale has now bottomed out, and equity will accelerate.

I had a rental Pontiac G8 that I had wrote up earlier this year, which is the replacement vehicle to the Grand Prix. When Pontiac released the last generation Grand Prix, they claimed it would complete with the BMW 3-series, which was a joke of a premise. In the case of the G8, they have absolutely built a vehicle worthy of going toe-to-toe with the 5-series. I guess not a gritch, but damn, I love the G8!

===========================

Vital Statistics:
Days In Service: 1,318
Date of Purchase: April 12, 2005
Date of Registration: April 13, 2005
Mileage at Registration: 211
Date of 72,000 Miles: November 29, 2008, 72,300 miles at end of period
Engine Hours at 72,000 Miles: 2,272.8
Average Speed: 31.81 MPH (increase)
Hours of Operation per Day (Average): 1.72 Hours (decrease)
Average Economy: 22.6 MPG (increase)

===========================

Warranty Repairs:
None

Service:
One oil change
Front brake pads, caliper kit, and rotors resurfaced ($245)
Four tires, BF Goodrich 225/60R16 ($413) mounted, balanced, road hazard
Replaced cabin air filter (HEPA filter)
Cleaned, serviced, air filter (lifetime Fram Airhog filter)
Low beam headlamps, driver and passenger side
Two tire rotations

Body Work
None

===========================

Vehicle as Owned:
2005 Pontiac Grand Prix GT
Standard Vehicle Price: $24,960.00
3.8L Series III V-6 engine
Electronic throttle control
4-Speed automatic transmission
Magnasteer I steering
OnStar with 1 year of Safe & Sound
Dual stage front air bags
Daytime running lamps
Tire inflation monitoring system
ABS with enhanced traction control
Air conditioning
Rear window defroster
Steering wheel mounted radio controls
60/40 split folding rear seats
Cruise control
Drive information center, 3 button system
Power door locks and windows
Remote keyless entry
Drivers power seat
Front passenger folding seat
Fog lamps
Outside power mirrors
Rear deck spoiler
Dual exhaust tips
16" painted aluminum wheels

Options:

Leather Trim Package: $795.00
Heated driver and front passenger seats
Driver power lumbar adjustment
Leather appointed seating

Premium Audio Package: $695.00
In-dash 6 disc CD changer with 245 watt Monsoon 9 speaker system

Comfort and Infotech Package: $875.00
Automatic dual zone climate control
Trip computer
Heads up display

Power Sunroof: $895.00

Front/Rear Side Curtain Air Bags: $395.00

XM Satellite Radio: $325.00

Remote Vehicle Starter: $150.00

Dealer Installed SPO Exhaust Tips: $145.00

Destination Charge: $660.00

Sticker Price before Discounts & Rebate: $29,895.00