Pontiac Fiero handles like a truck. Can anything be done about it?

My gf and I went to buy a Fiero. Perfect condition. All service records. 25,000 on the odometer. The only problem, she says, is that it “drove like a truck”. Can anything be done about it short of putting the body onto another car?

Can you define “drove like a truck” for us?
This can mean different things to different people.

Are you referring to a stiff, rough ride?
Are you referring to a high level of road noise?
Are you referring to cornering ability that is not very good?
Are you referring to “heavy” steering (i.e.–a lot of effort needed to turn the wheel)?

All of the above?
None of the above?

What YEAR Fiero? All except the last few GT models had a Chevette front end under them…

It’s difficult to say. There isn’t really much of a following in the aftermarket for these cars. They didn’t make very many of them and they didn’t make them for many years. It was also not really intended to be a sports car, but a sporty commuter car. Have you tried to locate a Fiero forum to post this question on?

One theory of mine: Perhaps it “drives like a truck” because it is rear wheel drive? RWD vehicles steer and handle differently than FWD vehicles, and this may be what she is experiencing.

All of the above

I think it was a '94 but I cannot be certain

I would be open to other forums to post my question if you care to suggest any good ones. She is accustom to driving her Passt (or whatever it is) which is front wheel drive so you may have a point there.

I told her: maybe the power steering was weak, easy fix; stiff shocks, also easy fix.
Other thoughts?

The best Fieros are the some of the last GT models built. If this Fiero you’re considering is a very early production model (84, etc.) then you should reconsider this.
I worked for a large multi-line dealer including Pontiac/GMC and did not get involved in these cars as I worked on the import lines.
The early Fieros were coming in on the tow truck hook on a weekly basis with serious engine issues and many with less mileage than what the one you’re considering has on it.
One day in particular really riled up the guy who was responsible for these particular repairs when 3 of them came in on the hook on the same day; all of them the same color no less.

As to the ride, these cars rode a little rough anyway. Maybe the problem with this one is aged and worn out shock absorbers or your GF has been accustomed to driving something a bit more plush before getting into this thing.
My oldest son’s 4th Gen Camaro also feels like a logging truck after driving my Lincoln.

As usual, ok4450 makes excellent points.

This car was never designed to have a plush ride or to be quiet. Originally, this was going to be GM’s “City Car”–i.e.–a cheap two seater designed to take Dad to the train station while Mom drove the wood-paneled station wagon for shopping and picking up the kids from school. Late in its development cycle, this 2-seater morphed from cheap commuter car to inexpensive pseudo-sports car.

Because of its original design goal, GM cheaped out on the suspension components, using their absolute cheapest car at the time (the Chevette) as the source of the Fiero suspension.

Thus, a new Fiero rode like an oxcart. The passing years, with resulting deterioration of shocks and bushings, would only make the ride worse than it was originally. New shocks will help a great deal, but as the old saying goes, You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

And, then there are the mechanical issues aluded to by ok4450. The 4-cylinder engines on these cars had a tendency to run very hot, and they also had the distressing tendency to throw connecting rods through the side of the engine block. I suppose that your intended purchase would have suffered this fate years ago if it was going to do so, but you should be aware that these cars were not exactly GM’s greatest engineering achievement.

It is interesting to note that the same engine (the Iron Duke), when installed in other GM cars, did not have these problems, so something with the Fiero’s basic design (likely the cooling system, with lines running from the rear engine to the front radiator) had something to do with the very real engine problems in these cars.

If this Fiero was made in the last year of its production run, then it is possible that you have one that had most of the bugs worked out of it, as GM’s practice in those days was to put vehicles into production without complete development testing, and to use the early buyers as their test drivers/guinea pigs. With this model, just like many of their other models from the '70s and '80s, they finally became decent cars just before they were discontinued.

The last Fiero was the 1988 model. The 1988 model is the only model that’s worth a damn IMHO. The pre-1988 models Has mish-mash of Chevette and Citation suspension bits. Only the 1988 model had a suspension that was tailored to the car. The V6 model is the one to get unless you enjoy putting out engine fires.

My daughter had one of these cars and she LOVED it. It was a 5-speed and she drove the heck out of it. The 4 cylinder engine is the Pontiac “Iron Duke” and is bullet proof. Heat in the engine compartment IS a problem…The cooling system for the engine is a Rube-Goldberg nightmare with steel tubes running through the center “backbone” up to the laid-back radiator.

These were ALWAYS high-maintenance cars…After 20 years, they are REALLY high-maintenance…Finding parts means finding a parts car.

My gf and I went to buy a Fiero. Perfect condition. All service records. 25,000 on the odometer.
With even the newest Fieros being over 20 years old, you must have the mileage wrong. Has it been in storage for 20 years? Personally I would stay away from this car.

Personally, I like the cars (especially the later GT) but would never want to pay a normal retail price for one. Cheap enough, then maybe I’d consider it.
I don’t remember what the deal was with the early 4 cylinder engines but they were essentially roasting themselves. It was not uncommon to see vehicles with 20k miles needing a new engine.

On a side note, there is a Chevy 350 conversion kit offered for these things. A 383 stroker kit and a nitrous bottle… :slight_smile:

As I remember it, the early 4s had a shortened oil pan to let them fit, resulting in low oil capacity (3 qts?). Folks used to normal Detroit iron wouldn’t check very often, and much over a quart or so low was enough to kill the engine, with rods going through blocks, that kind of thing. The oil would then leak onto the exhaust, starting a fire.

That sounds like a reasonable cause and effect scenario for explaining the fate of many Fieros.

But…A 3 qt oil pan?
What was GM thinking?
Or were they?

If you’re looking for a two seat mid-engined sports car, I suggest looking at Toyota’s 1st or 2nd generation MR2. They were designed from the start as sports cars, unlike the Fiero, and didn’t have anywhere close to the number of mechanical issues the Fieros did. There is also a surprisingly strong aftermarket for them even though they’re relatively rare.

If you are not specifically looking for a mid-engined car, then don’t get one. It takes a little getting used to. It’s much easier to lose control in one if you drive too aggressively.

It gets worse - one source claims it was a typo, both in the manual and on the dip stick, that indicated 3 qts while the real capacity was 4.5 qts, resulting in frequent under-filling and resulting oil starvation, which, combined with defective rod castings (told you it got worse!) resulted in rods breaking/blocks punctured/engine fires…sheesh, what a mess!

Fieros Do Not Have Power Steering. They’re A Man’s Car. I Don’t Have A Problem With The “Armstrong” Steering On Either One Of My Fieros, But If I Wasn’t So Strong . . .

There’s enough plumbing involved with a rear or mid engine car just for the cooling system. Some Fieros added to that with air-conditioning, but none added the headaches of long-distance power steering.

Also, drivers of sports cars, or any cars for that matter that have manual steering (like all cars at one time), know there’s a little technique to steering at low speeds. You don’t sit still with your foot firmly planted on the brake and crank the steering wheel (I don’t even do that with power steering, but I see inexperienced or novice drivers do it.) My daughter’s school bus driver does it and grinds small holes in the asphalt at the end of our driveway.

It’s much easier to get the vehicle moving ever so slightly and then turn the steering wheel, not Rocket Science, really.

I have one of the earliest (first year) 4 cyl. 2.5L, 4 speed manual coupe Fieros and one of the last year, V-6 2.7L, Automatic fastback GT model with 45,000 miles and all documents including window sticker from new. Neither car drives like a truck in my opinion. They don’t cruise nearly as quietly or cushy as my Bonneville, but I wouldn’t want or expect that. Besides, they only carry two people. They do hold the road well and handle curves at speed.

I have a blast driving either car, but the 4-speed is an afternoon car because it’s too hard to drink a couple gallons of morning coffee and shift.

I do remember that years ago I took the 84 in for a RECALL and when I got it back the oil was new, the dipstick had migrated to the opposite end of the engine compartment and there was enough shiny foil covering things that it looked like an experiment from the NASA lab.

Pontiac Fiero handles like a truck. Can anything be done about it?

Go look at something else. Get what other people have. I wouldn’t buy any car I didn’t like.

P.S. I got a good laugh from people who have posted comments without having experienced owning and driving the car first-hand. They have been trouble-free cars.

Well, CSA, you gotta cut us a little break, not many Fiero drivers around! So what, exactly, was the situation with the early I4s? What was the actual oil capacity?

…and what did they have to do to your engine in order for the dipstick to migrate to a different position? Or, did they drop a new engine into it?