1992 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera S 3.3L V6


Ol' Faithful... but beware of rust


Was rusted out when I bought it (hey, it was an $800 car!). Started with inside passenger doorway and underneath all 4 doors and the bumper, then the rot worked its way down over the wheel wells and underneath the rocker panels, both bumpers, and even the brake lines. Developed a fist-sized hole in driver's side door. If it weren't for duct tape, it would've been Swiss cheese, missing entire body parts, and both bumpers would've been coming loose.

Three of the four tires were dry-rotted. Replaced all four within 2 weeks.

Intermittent check engine light throughout ownership. I suspect it was the catalytic converter and O2 sensors, but never bothered getting it checked out.

Transmission liked to pop out of gear, but only going uphill at exactly 40 mph (between 2nd and 3rd gears). Didn't get any worse until the last 2 weeks of ownership. Then it started popping out of gear going 40 mph uphill and downhill. Soon, it pretty much decided it didn't like 3rd gear unless you slowed down and floored it in 3 or 4 quick bursts, forcing it to shift.

Temperature climbed high when accelerating. Suspected that it needed a thermostat, but never replaced it because it didn't overheat.

Muffler went after only a month. Kept running that way.

Brakes gave out in February 2010. Kept driving on one brake (driver's side front) until April.

Muffler fell off last summer. Hung back up with coat hanger and kept running again for a few more months.

Cover to catalytic converter fell off. Never did replace converter.

Both door latches on driver's side broke. Got front fixed and duct taped rear.

Severe coolant leak developed in November 2010. Sanded radiator filler neck and coolant reservoir filler neck, bled out air, and replaced both caps. Problem solved.

Headliner fell down in December 2010. Repaired using duct tape.

License plate light fell off. Duct taped back onto trunk.

Passenger side rear tire went flat and wheel got stuck. Junked car because it was out of inspection, full of holes, and not worth repairing.

General Comments:

The car idled as rough as it looked. However, once it warmed up, it ran and handled like a new vehicle the same size.

Seat felt like I was driving in a recliner.

Radio sounded good for stock AM/FM with no cassette.

There was enough trunk space to hide several dead bodies (although I never tested that theory).

This car is a real beast disguised as a plain family sedan. Beat it up, and it just screams for more abuse.

Extremely reliable. I could never afford to maintain it properly besides oil changes somewhere between 3k and 5k miles, but it never quit running. The engine was good on gas for a V6 (never dropped below 19 mpg), and delivered enough power to keep me happy and turn a few heads on occasion. I've driven it off-road, without a muffler, through several feet of snow, over 100 mph for the majority of a 20-mile commute to work at least 3 times a week, driven through multiple hail storms, and the only time I was ever stranded was the darn flat tire last week right before I scrapped it. Transmission was probably my fault for driving a 3-speed over 100 mph. There was no tach on the dashboard, but I'm pretty sure I red-lined it more than once.

It's a shame GM forgot to rust-proof these cars, otherwise I'd still have it. It rotted so bad that even the aluminum duct tape and body filler that I was using to start patching it had rust coming through.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 8th February, 2011

8th Feb 2011, 18:07

Did you ever see the movie "Fargo" by the Coen brothers?

These cars came with an optional "true-coat" rust proofing, but most people skimped on it as it was an expensive option.

This car was featured in the movie, great movie BTW.

9th Feb 2011, 03:18

These are fantastic cars - very economical, reliable, and durable. I'm one of those who normally admonish people for abusing/not maintaining old cars (especially with the low mileage of 120-130K), but in this case the original poster was right to do as he did - a severely rusted out unibody car isn't really worth maintaining much. Just get the use out of it, because it's going to fall apart after a while.

9th Feb 2011, 09:25

Red Green, is that you? Didn't you use two of those side by side and duct tape the wheels together to make a poor man's Hummer? Red, you have blown your cover!

1992 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera 3.3L V6


Cheap, reliable


Replaced rear drum brakes.



Also some misc inexpensive/regular maintenance.

My only complaints are:

Hood latch does not always lock in the cold.

Power seat recliner went out on the driver's side.

Whoever designed the hood, didn't have snow in mind. If you have snow on your trunk roof and you open it, snow gets in the trunk, and all over that rear little shelf thing.

General Comments:

It's not pretty, and it is a boat on the road. But it has some decent pickup. Nothing too exciting to drive, but I need it, and it has served me well.

Never been stranded with it, and will start in the winter, unless it is like -40, then it is a little rough.

Great basic car, that I would recommend to anyone needing a cheaper car that would be reliable.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 27th September, 2010