1996 Buick Century Custom 3.1L V6
I called it Phyllis the Buick - Will miss the old girl!
- Right after I purchased the car, I noticed that the engine would not warm up properly. I took it in to have the thermostat replaced, but the mechanic found that the intake manifold gasket needed to be replaced as the car was leaking coolant. This is an infamous problem with the 3.1L engine, and I ended up with a $700 bill in the second week that I owned it - not a pleasant surprise!
- It did have some minor rust spots around the rear wheel wells, but nothing significant for a 14 year old car that spent its life in salty Wisconsin winters.
- Other than that, it's been smooth sailing with nothing but regular oil changes.
- Everything on the car worked, including the A/C, save the rear door locks (I bought it that way). The motors work, but I suppose there was something wrong with the linkage.
I came to the US for one semester from Europe as an exchange student in early January of 2010, and bought the car two weeks after I arrived here. Initially I was looking for something bigger like a Park Avenue or an Olds 98, but the ones that I did find were either severely abused and/or had over 250k miles on them. I settled for the Century in the end because I knew that this was a good buy: aside from the minor rust spots mentioned earlier, the car looked like it had just rolled out of the showroom (it did after all have only 34k on it). It was dark blue and I think that it looks quite elegant. I drove the car over 8000 miles in less than 5 months and it has been an absolute pleasure! It is smooth, comfortable and quiet, and on the few occasions that I pressed the pedal to the floor, this car really moves. The transmission performs its shifts seamlessly, but it is not very responsive with reluctant downshifts.
The drivers' seat adjusts in all possible directions, so finding a comfortable driving position is easy. It is also very well padded and covered in very pleasant velour. It does not travel backwards quite far enough, though. The rear seat is also very soft and comfortable, legroom is adequate for the size of the car. It also has a surprisingly big trunk.
One thing that I stopped paying attention to after a month of owning the car is the rather iffy fit and finish of the interior, not something I'm used to from my '89 Mercedes that I drive at home. Nothing really fell apart, but there were many rattles and squeaks and panels that did not seem to fit quite right. Some of the interior bits (most notably the disgracefully fake wood trim) I would call tacky, but they actually added to the car's character in a good way!
I don't know the size of the gas tank, but on highway trips it easily got 400 miles out of one tank (I normally filled it with 13 to 16 gallons of gas).
On its last journey I drove it all the way from Madison, WI to Los Angeles, where sadly I was forced to sell it because I am flying home (early June 2010). The journey went without a hitch.
My verdict: This is a great choice for anyone who needs a comfortable car that is reliable and inexpensive buy and operate.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 5th June, 2010
8th Jun 2010, 10:21
These are pretty good cars - it is too bad you didn't buy a 1989-1993 model with the 3.3 liter V6 instead of the trouble prone later model with the 3.1.
Basically with GM cars, anything made in the late eighties till about 1993 is better than anything made later, even if it has several times the mileage on it.