Sagging door syndrome is fairly universal with Pontiacs since the hinges and bushings are all very similar. The heavier and longer the door and the more times it is opened and closed, the more likely that its hinge bushings will be worn. This repair procedure will work with virtually any Pontiac, the differences being the location of the hinge bolts, and the fact that some cars have the entire hinge assembly bolted to the doors, while on others the outside part of the hinges are welded to the doors.
Start by checking for hinge wear. This is done with the door open just enough to be able to wiggle it up and down to check for slop. If you hear a clunk, your bushings and/or hinge pins are worn, which causes the door to sag on the hinges, drag on the ground effects, and hit the latch too low. All this necessitates slamming. If there is no appreciable slop up and down on the door, you simply need to adjust, so you can skip forward to that section.
If you have determined that the hinges need surgery, get replacement bushings and pins from Ames Performance or The Paddock, or complete hinges from Year One. We were in a hurry and the shipping would have been too high for such small stuff so we went to the local Pontiac dealership and paid $1.17 for each bushing and $3.37 for each pin. Our total, including tax, was under $15. The trickiest part of the job is gaining access to the hinge attachment bolts. On the Third-Gen. cars, two of the bottom hinge bolts come through from the inside. Remove the kick panel and, if you have electric door locks, the door lock solenoid. You will now be able to remove those inside lower door bolts.
Next close the door. I recommend getting some old carpet from a dumpster behind a carpet shop to lay your door on. I highly recommend getting someone to help you with the next step. When you remove the remaining three upper hinge bolts and one lower, you and your helper should be able to unlatch the door and set it on the carpet. If you have electric windows and locks, you'll have a large wiring harness to contend with, so you will need to have blocks of wood and/or a floor jack to keep the weight of the door off the wiring harness. With the door in a stable position, use a large screwdriver or similar implement of destruction to "pop" the door detent spring out of the bottom hinge. Clean the grease off the bottom hinge pin to find the retaining clip which will need to be pried off. You'll now be able to back the pin out of the hinge, freeing the inner hinge half from the door.
Now, find a socket of a suitable outer diameter to drive the old bushings out. Sometimes, as in our case, they either come out in pieces or there are only shards left. Make sure that your hinge holes are not elongated, and that the detent roller is in good shape. Although the dealer sells new detent rollers, they are a press fit. It's not practical to take them apart at home. Instead, go to a junkyard and get an inner hinge in better condition.
You'll be able to determine if the upper hinge needs repairs also, just by rocking it. If it has slop, you will need to grind or cut off the rivets that hold it together. Ours was fine, so we left it alone, but the bushings and short "bullet" pins for the upper hinges are supplied in the kit.
We used a hammer to tap the new bushings into the hinge. Be gentle; make sure to start it as much as possible by hand as they are sintered bronze and very brittle. They should tap in snugly. Grease the bushings, detent roller and pin and put the inner hinges back on the door by reversing the order of removal. With your helpful friend, place something on the bottom of the doorsill to space the door up a bit (thin plywood works well) and put the door back into its home and latch it. Now, get in through the fender again, and put all the bolts back into the door hinges. Leave them finger tight. Go into the driver footwell and put the two inside lower hinge bolts in. Torque these nice and tight. Open the door, and check how it hangs.
With only the two bottom bolts tightened check the alignment of the door with the body of the car. With the door slightly open, use a floor jack and a piece of wood to push the door up until you get it aligned. Loosen the striker bolt inside the door jamb so it does not pull the door up or down when latched. Once you get good alignment, you should get reference lines (such as the ground effects or top of the door) to align when closed and also when open. The objective is to align the door perfectly, then move the striker a bit to get it to close as well as possible. This takes time and patience.
When you have the door aligned to your satisfaction, go back into the front fender and tighten all the bolts. The door should close easily with two fingers. You will need a vise and some safety wire to set up the detent spring. Put the spring in the vise with just enough coil overhanging at the top to feed the safety wire through. Use the vise to compress the spring, and put the safety wire through the spring, and loop it around and twist it, holding it compressed. Now take the spring out of the vise and turn it 180*, and repeat the procedure. This will hold the spring fully compressed. Now drop it into the detent bracket in the lower hinge, and cut the safety wire, and pull it out.
Our freshly hung door closes with two fingers and no longer drags on the ground effects. It took about 3 1/2 hours (hey, we had to keep stopping to take photos!) and under $15 to do the job.
Update Regarding Part I:
"One Eyed Jack Cure"
A few readers wrote in with some great news for Third-Gen. Firebird owners and Fiero owners with non-working headlight doors. Rodney Dickman at Rodney Dickman Fiero Accessories, www.rodneydickman.com, offers brand-new Delrin drive dampers for only $5 a set, which come with detailed installation instructions. Gaskets for the headlight motor housings and side covers are also available to make repairing your headlight motors a bit easier.
Wouldn't be nice if all the...
Wouldn't be nice if all the Third-Gens. were new again like this one?
Removing the inner fender...
Removing the inner fender requires pulling the centers out of the expanding fasteners along the inside fender lip with a pair of dykes. Grasp it just under the head, and pull the inner expander piston outward. This will allow the fastener to come out. Next, remove the small 7mm screws on the inside edge of the inner fender, and pull out the plastic inner fender to allow access to the hinge bolts. On a classic Pontiac, you may have to remove the entire steel inner fender to gain access to the hinge bolts.
After taking out the inner...
After taking out the inner kick panel, you will be able to remove the two inner door hinge bolts.
Here are the four hinge bolts...
Here are the four hinge bolts accessible from inside the fender (the fender has been removed for visibility). The two rear bottom hinge bolts, blocked in this photo by the detent roller assembly, bolt through from the inside (see last photo).
With the door off the GTA,...
With the door off the GTA, and after removing the retaining clip on the shaft of the lower hinge pin, drive the pin out with a small punch. Ours pulled out easily, because our bushings were virtually gone.
This is why our door sagged,...
This is why our door sagged, and why no matter how much we adjusted it there was no hope of getting it to close correctly. Out of two possible lower bushings, we only had half of one bushing left.
If your upper hinge is sloppy...
If your upper hinge is sloppy too, you will need to grind or cut off the swedge on the rivets (indicated with screwdriver) to get the upper hinge apart.
Here is our original hinge...
Here is our original hinge and the hinge kit. The long pin (note the retaining clip toward the top) and two bushings are for the bottom hinge (pictured). The shorter pins and the other two bushings are for the upper hinge. Our upper hinge was in good shape, so we left it alone.
Tap the new bushings gently...
Tap the new bushings gently into the inner hinge. Grease 'em up and reattach the inner hinge into the door.
Here is the final alignment...
Here is the final alignment of the door. Note that the ground effects line and the top of the door to the body contour line up nicely with the door slightly open. If the door alignment changes up or down when it closes, you must move the striker bolt inside the door jamb to keep the alignment correct. Don't use the latch and striker bolt to align the door. Align the door properly using the hinge bolts to the body for up and down and side to side adjustments. Then adjust the latch to where the door needs it.