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The cost of car maintenance is a crucial consideration when shopping for a new or used car. Well-maintained vehicles run more efficiently and require fewer repairs. But some vehicles are cheaper to maintain and repair than others, reducing ownership costs. Although General Motors discontinued the Pontiac nameplate over a decade ago, this brand’s cars are relatively inexpensive to maintain. Here are three Pontiac models with annual maintenance costs under $300.

1. Pontiac LeMans

The Pontiac LeMans began as a premium performance midsize coupe and convertible but transitioned to a compact from 1988 to 1993. This model has a four-cylinder engine making 74 or 95 hp. Owners have praised the car for its fuel economy, spacious cabin and trunk, and overall reliability.

According to RepairPal, the LeMans is the most reliable Pontiac model, with an average cost of  $204 for annual repairs. No owners have reported maintenance problems to RepairPal, which might be because this model is so old. However, drivers can expect to spend $1,567 to $1,659 to replace the A/C evaporator and $248 to $313 for an alternator replacement. If the brake light switch is damaged, expect to spend $48 to $58, while head gasket replacement costs $1,198 to $1,356.

Pontiac LeMans owners can expect to spend $362 to $409 on engine coolant temperature sensor issues and $1,122 to $1,131 for A/C refrigerant pressure switch replacement.

2. Pontiac Sunbird

RepairPal gives the Pontiac Sunbird a three-star reliability rating based on owner feedback. While reviewers report some problems with this Pontiac model, the average annual ownership cost is only $275.

One of the biggest complaints about the Pontiac Sunbird is that the car fails to start due to the ignition coil or crankshaft position sensor failure, which causes the engine to die. Other owners noted that the engine might stall after an extended period of freeway driving. Technicians say that the problem occurs because the torque converter clutch sticks on, causing the engine to stall when coming to a stop. However, letting the engine and transmission cool for about 20 minutes allows a normal start.

RepairPal reports that the other common issue with the Pontiac Sunbird is the coolant leak in the water pump, resulting in engine overheating. Resolving a leaky coolant requires water pump replacement. Pontiac Sunbird users also report engine control module (ECM) failure cases that cause stalling and transmission drivability concerns.

3. Pontiac Sunfire

GMC General Sales Manager David Lyon shows prospective buyers a new Pontiac Sunfire in December 2001
Pontiac Sunfire | Dick Loek/Toronto Star via Getty Images

The Pontiac Sunfire has an estimated annual ownership cost of $291 and a four-star reliability rating on RepairPal. Owners have reported 19 problems with this Pontiac model, but turn signal switch failure is the most common. Many note this issue in 1995 to 2005 Sunfire models, once the car hits about 120,000 miles. Diagnosing the problem costs $88 to $111.

The Pontiac Sunfire also exhibits window failure issues resulting from window motor problems. Drivers report that the door window might move slowly or stop in mid-travel. The affected window might start working after the motor cools off. Correcting the problem requires the replacement of the failing power window motor.

In addition, owners have complained about check engine light malfunctions due to gas cap issues. The problem usually stems from a loose or worn gas cap, whose testing and diagnosis costs $88 to $111.

Proper maintenance is the key to a long vehicle life. Consumers wanting to minimize repair costs might find a used Pontiac model that fits the bill. According to RepairPal, Pontiac vehicles’ average annual ownership cost is only $460. However, the LeMans, Sunbird, and Sunfire cost less than $300.


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