Cars

Biggest Complaints About the Pontiac Solstice

The Pontiac Solstice is an underrated and fun compact sports car usually found as a convertible – and on rare occasions as a hardtop coupe. These bubbly and cute little sports cars are driveable, fun, reliable, and inexpensive to maintain, but owners have a few complaints that make this car a little less desirable.

Cast iron and rust

There is one large piece inside the engine bay of the Pontiac Solstice that is made of cast iron: the header. The header is the first piece of the exhaust that comes off of the engine, and in most cases, it is made of some kind of steel or other heat-resistance material. On the Solstice, Pontiac decided to make the header from cast iron and that leads to one major, very common problem. When the cast iron heats up, and then cools down, and heats up, and cools down again, over time the drastic change in temperature wears on its flexibility.

While the engine is fixed into place with motor mounts, the metal of the header has to be somewhat flexible so that it won’t snap or break when the car goes over a speed bump or large rock. In just about every Pontiac Solstice out there, it has had a cracked header at least once. This means the car sounds rough and leaks exhaust fumes from under the hood.

Yellow Pontiac Solstice on display
2008: Custodian Walks By A Solstice On Display As Detroit Area Economy Worsens And Big Three Automakers Face Dire Crisis | Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The Solstice isn’t practical

While the Solstice is a lot of fun to drive, it is far from a practical car. Sure, the seats are comfortable and most people can fit inside the car, unlike the tiny and weird cabin of the Lotus Elise. Some trim levels of the Pontiac Solstice don’t even have real cupholders. A small, pop-out cupholder slides out on the passenger side of the center console at the top of the footwell, but because the plastic in the car is so low-grade it becomes brittle and breaks over time, making it completely useless. Some versions of the car have cupholders that pop-out of the back of the center console, which is more useable but still unfortunate to reach for because it’s behind your elbow.

The Pontiac Solstice also has almost no storage space whatsoever. When you open the trunk of the Solstice you might notice that there is nothing more than a small strip of storage space that wraps around the bump where the convertible top collapses. If you have the convertible top folded down into the trunk, you can barely fit a loaf of bread without having to squeeze it into place. There is minimal storage within the cabin as well, with a small glove compartment and two thin pockets on the back of each seat.

Another incredibly impractical thing about the Solstice is the battery placement. While it may not irritate owners on a daily basis like the lack of storage space might, the battery location is very inconvenient when it does need to be replaced. If the Solstice battery dies and can’t be jump-started, or it dies relatively, the battery needs to be replaced. For most cars, you could go to a Walmart or auto part store, grab a ten-millimeter socket and a new battery and swap the battery right there in the parking lot. Not for the Pontiac Solstice, however. To remove and replace the battery, the Solstice must be jacked up, and the front fender and bracket need to be removed to access the battery.

2006 Pontiac Solstice on stage for its Debut
The 2006 Pontiac Solstice makes it debut | JEFF HAYNES/AFP via Getty Images

The Pontiac Solstice is a great sports car to drive, but it does have some downfalls that might prevent owners from daily driving it. If you have another, larger car for getting groceries or running small errands, the Solstice is a great secondary car to keep for a fun drive.