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1994 Pontiac Sunbird LE


I have recently purchased this sled and it appears to be in fairly decent shape.

I don’t have an owner’s manual, and I have 3 questions. By the way, I’m really stupid, so bear with me, and thanks for your input.

1) I cannot figure out how to activate/deactivate the high-beam lights. I can’t find a separate switch on the dash, on the column or on the floor.

2) How do I go about finding a FREE owner’s manual for this heap on-line?

3) The check engine light comes on periodically. It does not appear to be running hot when it does, it does not appear to be burning oil, nor does the gas mileage appear to be going downhill. When the light comes on, I pull off to the side, pop the hood, smell nothing, feel no excessive heat. I let it rest about 5 minutes and start it up. The check engine light does not come back on, I drive off, and MAYBE a couple weeks later, the light comes back on and the scenario repeats itself. What could it be?


1&2) you may have to pay for a replacement manual. Nothing is free. Except us.

  1. the check engine light is not an indicator of overheating or low oil (pressure). These problems have their own lights. The check engine light is an indication of erratic engine operation, one of the many sensors malfunctioning, or a sensor having detected a problem with an emissions system. You’ll need to read the code(s) stored in the computer to start off. Many parts stores do this free. You likely have an OBD-I diagnostic system in that, so the “codes” won’t be as clear as with a newer system, but post them here and we’ll try to help.

Have you done any tuneup work since purchasing the car? Checked anything out? That light could be caused by the need for a simple tuneup.

The low/high beams are usually controlled by pulling the stalk of the multi-function switch back towards you.


Mountainbike’s answer is right on target, as usual.

I can only add that, since cars this old have frequently not had all required maintenance performed in a long time, it is very important to have the most recent “major” service done on it. By “major” service, I am referring to the ones done at intervals like 30k, 60k, 90k, 120k, etc. These include changing ALL fluids, all filters, spark plugs, etc, and can be expected to cost a few hundred $$. There is a very good chance that simply doing this type of maintenance will stop the CEL from illuminating. E-bay is a good source for a reasonably-priced Owner’s Manual.

And, proper maintenance is still far cheaper than repairs that result from deferred maintenance. Additionally, the maintenance schedule is one more example of the type of information contained in that Owner’s Manual that you need to buy. Just as one example of how important these services are, those who do not change their transmission fluid every 30k or so can usually look forward to transmission failure anytime after 100k miles.

Oh, and in an attempt to give you some timely help prior to the arrival of your Owner’s Manual, I would suggest that you try gently pulling back on the directional signal lever when you want to change the headlights from low beam to high beam. Since this has been pretty much standard procedure for…maybe 25 years or so, I would be surprised if this was not the correct way to activate/deactivate the high beams. However, do it gently, just in case this is not the procedure on this particular model.

Thanks! I’m on it!

Thanks! Told ya I was stupid!

You’re the best! Told ya I was stupid!

No you’re not. You simply lacked knowledge. Truely stupid people never ask the questions.


As Mountainbike stated, you are not stupid. You are just lacking information/knowledge on this topic.

The category of “stupid people” includes those who automatically assume that they know what they are doing, but never seek information to confirm their knowledge. The fact that you sought information indicates that you are not stupid.

I used to think I knew some things, never about cars, of course, but the older I get, the more I realize I need help and that there are wise people like you and Mountainbike out there who can guide me. I am grateful.

Thank you for the compliment. “Wise” is definitely not a word I’d use to describe myself. I just know a little about cars, that’s about “it”.

I like physics too, but know probably about .000001% of all the physics there is to know.

I can boil eggs, too.

digya mountainbike. If you were a woman, I’d probably hit onya

Forget about free. Something may, at first, appear to be free; but, later, it will prove to be otherwise (except, our advice). Beg, “borrow”, steal, even buy the repair manual for your car. A Haynes, or Chilton’s, will do nicely.
The check engine light is your EARLY WARNING SYSTEM that something isn’t quiet right in EngineVille. The repair manual will instruct you in using a straightened paper clip to jumper the connector under the dash to get the trouble codes. It will, also, list the codes and what they mean.