questions on the 97 boneville

hi,
i am pretty happy with the 97 bon'eville i got a few days ago but the display on the radio/time display does not work and i wonder if it is something easy to fix or would the problem be involved?
also, i know the arguement about putting low octane gas in the ssei is going to come up,(with swmbo and swmbo-jr), and while i figure the pcm would probably compensate and provide lowered performance, i would like to have a stronger position that just "cause i say so". what do you have for me?
thanks, peter
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What does the manual call for? If it is made to use the higher octane, it will run better with it for high performance, but most engines can do well for "normal" driving on the low stuff.
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Congrats on the Bonneville purchase, they are great cars. I have a 1997 SSEi myself, and love it.

If the rest of the radio works (as in, it produces sound), the problem is usually the light bulb behind the face plate is blown. My radio is in the same shape as yours, but I haven't fixed it yet. You can get the bulbs, and replace it yourself if you want. It doesn't take long, and no soldering is required, as it just screws out and back in.

This argument has been going on for a very, very long time. I have a 1997 SSEi (with the supercharged engine, like yours) and used to have a 1996 SSEi (same engine). Both *require* 91 octane, and that is stated in the owners manual, and usually on a sticker on the gas tank filler door. You can use the 87, or 89, but it isn't worth it. That engine will get close to 30 MPG, if properly tuned, but using the lower octane's you will loose several points off that 30 MPG figure. The money you would save from using the cheaper gas, isn't recouped because you get worse MPG. As for the PCM compensating for the lesser octane gases, if memory serves, the knock sensor does compensate, however if your knock sensor were to not work as well as it should, you could seriously damage the engine. You also loose power, as the engine is designed to run off 91. My Bonnie has almost 300,000 KMs on it, and runs like it's brand new. I always use AC/Delco plugs and wires, and 91 octane fuel. Doing that, and changing the oil every few months, will likely make your new car last forever.
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I had a 92 Park Ave Ultra with the supercharged 3.6 and I always ran the cheap stuff in it. Around town, I consistently got 24-25 and on the highway, over 30. I drive with a fairly heavy right foot and I like to feel a car push me back in the seat when I accelerate, so this was no baby driving. Not sure if it would have gotten any better with 91 - maybe, but I can't imagine it would have been much better.

Amen on the AC Delco plugs and wires. I don't know why, but it does seem to make a difference.
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Correct me if I am wrong, but wouldn't your '92 have had the Series I 3800? I've never owned a Series I with the supercharger on top. A couple without it, but none with it. But, you could of course be very right, however in both of my Bonnie's, they always demanded the 91, and would get bitter without it. ;)

I tired a couple of different brands when I got my first Series II engine, and ended up going back to AC Delco. I found the car performed better, gas MPG was better, and it ran smoother. I remember asking a mechanic once which plugs he recommended, and he said 'the car came with AC Delco, it must like 'em'.
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Ahhhh - you might have a point there sir. Had not thought about that. But yes - the '92 had a Series I, I'm pretty sure. I should have been more clear in what I wrote though. We would put a tankful of premium in from time to time - probably 2-3 times per year. If it seemed to be running "just a bit off" - and I apologize for such a lousy description. For sure, there was some noticable difference in things with premium - I was just too conditioned to go for the cheap stuff, and the difference was not enough to change my mind at the time. Maybe that's because that car flat out moved - even on the cheap stuff. When we did put premium in, we did it for a few tankfuls - maybe 3 or 4 or 5. Certainly enough to see a responsiveness difference. Just never saw a big mpg difference in the car.
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Isn't the power of those engines great? I have seen many 3800 supercharged engines all rebuilt to racing specs, and they sure sound awesome, but I'm quite content with the sound from my stock blower, and exhaust. Hell, it can even kick my '82 Trans Am's ass with 3 cylinder's tied behind it's back...then again, the 1982 305 isn't really a fair comparison to a car 15 years newer. I think the best thing about the 3800 supercharged engines (to me at least), is they seem to last forever, have incredible power (especially when the cars they use them in (Park Ave, Bonneville's, etc.) aren't exactly light, and get great MPG for the power, and weight.
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80 Knight wrote: ...

i carefully disassembled the radio, including unscrewing the circuit board, (which doesn't need to be removed), and finally got the bulb out with the brown base. it looked like a "push" or compression fit so i pulled it out...i am not sure that was a good thing to do as i pulled the two wires off the bulb and they stayed with the base. is the base and bulb sold as a unit? i don't see any id number on the bulb, it is a dealer item? do you know the bulb number? or spec's?

i plan a full tune up and fluid change soon a first thought is to include:
plugs/ wires (its a little early but why not) anti-freeze, oil, p/s, brake, (maybe go to DOT 4) there is separate s/c oil, right? any tricks to changing this? filters, oil, gas, air
am i missing anything?
i have a Haynes manual and for the first time, i find Haynes to be inadequate , what do you guys use.
thanks, peter
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I read your new thread a few post's up, so I think you have the radio problem fixed, or at least will when your part arrives.

As recommended by myself and others, be sure to use AC Delco plugs and wires. They are the best for that engine.

Yes, the supercharger has separate oil. There is a small hole (use an allen key to get the bolt out) on the nose cone (the end where the belt attaches too), that you have to screw out, to empty and re-fill. Just make sure you have the correct screw. Here is a link to a very well done write up (not by me, so I take no credit for it): http://www.paulstravelpictures.com/GTP-Supercharger-Oil-Change/index.html http://www.paulstravelpictures.com/GTP-Supercharger-Oil-Change/GTP-Supercharger-Oil-Change-02.html Also, be sure to use GM supercharger fluid. When I went to change mine, I tried looking all over, Napa, Canadian Tire, PartsMan, and every other parts (new or used) store, and none had the fluid, but a couple suggested I could "try" what they had. Don't bother, just go to your local GM dealer, and pay the $7 dollars (x 2, because you need 2 bottles of the stuff), it's well worth it. And don't mind the smell when you open up the supercharger. That oil is one of the most terrible smelling liquids I have ever smelt.

Sounds like you are covering everything, as far as I can tell at the moment. How does the Air Conditioning work?

Personally, I use http://www.bonnevilleforum.com/ It is *full* of information about Bonneville's, and also has 100's of Bonneville experts who can usually help you diagnose and repair almost anything related to your Bonneville, or any other 3800 powered car. Other then that, I use www.autozone.com as it seems to have alright write up's, but I think they are the same write up's that are in you're Haynes manuals.
Good Luck with your new Bonneville.
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Pete,
Years ago someone posted that if you put lower octane gas in a supercharged car you were only saving roughly $3.00 per tank.
The poster said it was better to use the higher octane as required.
The supercharger does have oil in it. I've heard some people have used a suction bulb to remove the old oil. The oil minght be dealer item only.
I don't know if this applies to a 97 SSE, but your serpentine belt may go around a motor mount. ( another GM trick) It adds about 45 minutes more to the job that takes roughly 90 seconds to change on my Bonneville.
Good Luck,
harryface 91 Bonneville 318,253 05 Park Avenue 84,726
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Perhaps someone in the group has a better memory than me (and can remind me) but I don't remember having a choice of octanes when I filled up with 'petrol' in the U.K. in my youth (circa. 1960) ??
Alan (Canada)
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Alan wrote:

http://www3.telus.net/bc_triumph_registry/smoke.htm
btw, i like the brit cars/bikes
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Me too. My first bike was an 'Ivory White Calthorpe' although is was painted black by the time I got it. My ol' man owned an AJS. While I was at sea he 'gave' the AJS to an engineer next door, who put it in a public collection (Elmdon, Warks - I think), Shortly after we emigrated to Canada, we heard that they'd been a fire and all the bikes had been destroyed.. the owner, an arab, collected on the insurance, so probably all the bikes are still in pristine condition bot in a private collection in Saudia Arabia
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