1992 Buick LeSabre Custom Gran Touring Suspension Package from North America
Superior comfort combined with sporty handling and powerful, efficient engine create a great sedan
Steering knock, front end suspension parts replaced, around 225,000 miles.
Check Engine light = malfunctioning oxygen sensor caused frequent stalling and trouble starting, especially in traffic when engine is hot. Replaced around 230,000 miles.
Faulty climate control console, replaced around 232,000 miles.
Heavy hammering when brakes applied (warped rotor from extreme braking conditions) replaced around 233,000 miles.
Rust hole in undercarriage of body allows moisture to leak into interior, causing right rear seatbelt spring retract mechanism to rust and become virtually useless. Started having this problem around 237,000 miles, not fixed yet.
Car sits for a year and a half... Rotted seals and oil pan causes oil leakage onto manifolds and surface under car, causing smoke to come from manifolds and the possibility of engine fire. Also, spark plugs go bad, causing car to not start in wet weather. All this was replaced at about 238,000 miles.
Left rear power window didn't work from when the car was parked until about 500 miles after it started to be driven regularly. No idea why yet.
Water hose from water pump to cylinder head rots and leaks, replaced around 239,400 miles.
Water pump failure, replaced around 240,600 miles.
Small exhaust leak where the front of the catalytic converter attaches to the exhaust coming off the engine. Started around 239,000 miles, fixed with gas leak (see below)
Broken right directional signal (right front bulb), popped bulb around 239,000 miles, replaced around 239,500.
Fuel sending unit and fuel lines from the back of the fuel tank became rotted and cause a somewhat major fuel leak. Only leaks when car is parked just after driving for about 15 minutes or sitting in traffic, and leaks more severely when fuel tank is full. Started leaking about 242,600 miles, fixed immediately. In order to access the fuel system, the exhaust needed to be removed. Mechanic suggested new exhaust system due to major rusting, so that was also replaced as well.
Oh, and the air conditioner does not work. Didn’t work when I bought it, either.
It continues to surprise me how well this car performs for its age and its mileage. It runs very smooth, and pulls off the line beautifully due to its 225 ft.-lbs. of torque. It chirps the tires for about a second, hooks up and takes off, goes 0-60 in about 8 seconds at around 80 mph. Pretty respectable considering it's weight and age. However, it gets really piggish on the highways when you have a lot of cargo or a full load of passengers. This car is very temperamental about it’s weight.
The automatic transmission is great. No other word for it. If you want to go faster, it listens and shifts down. It almost instantly downshifts from third to second gear between 25 and 35 miles per hour, but it will only shift down to first from second at about 17 miles per hour if you apply full throttle. Even then, you shouldn’t need to, because the torque will push the car to the high RPMs rather quickly anyways. My problem with it is it shifts from fourth into overdrive too quickly, especially on the highway. The real only way to get it to shift out of overdrive is to let off the throttle and press the throttle again, or floor it, in which case it makes really weird noises for about 2 seconds, then violently shifts down to a gear that you don’t want anyway. It still does this even if I take the gear selector out of OD and put it in D, which is aggravating.
It’s a pretty good sleeper to beat punks in small cars (because most people see the Lesabre as a “granny car”). Its stability is great on the highways, where it shows its outstanding handling capabilities supplied from the factory's optional Gran Touring suspension package. Stiffer shocks, springs, and struts call for a half-inch lower ride height, low body roll which is good for high speed cornering, and excellent stability in straight-line. The optional factory 17" alloy wheels call for lower-profile tires, which aides in the control as well. I've had the priviledge to test my car with the Gran Touring suspension, and a '94 Lesabre with Dynaride suspension comparatively. The difference is completely noticeable. The Dynaride gives a much smoother, bouncier ride, giving the Lesabre it's well known "grandma car" quality. The Gran Touring is much sportier, giving the car a more sporty aspect of its look and feel. Obviously, It's never going to live up to the handling qualities of a high performance four door sedan, such as a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII, But with the Gran Touring package, it's one of the better, handling cars in its class from that couple of years.
The interior is pleasing tan color, which has held up will after the years and mileage. However, there are many noticeable stains on the seats and floor. Armor All interior protectant wipes worked magic on the interior surfaces. The dashboard, door panels, everything shines as if it were fresh out of the factory. My only dissatisfaction is that the gauge cluster has only a speedometer and fuel gauge. Everything else is indicated by dummy lights.
The paint is still intact, which is great, because 1992 was just a few years before the paint/primer problems GM had in 1994 and 1995. Maybe you’ve noticed Chevy Luminas, Chevy Corsicas, Buick Lesabres, all riddled with giant patches of gray. This is because in those model years, GM’s mid-size cars were sprayed with a paint that did not want to stick to the primer. However, it’s not to say the finish on my car is good. The hood has countless fine scratches running horizontally across the hood, and it almost seems to me as if someone who previously owned the car slid across the hood like Bo Duke. The hood also has chips in it, due mainly to bugs, rocks, and other projectiles hitting it at high speeds, and because of the number of paint chips, it tells me that this was a car that was probably used to travel cross country regularly, like from here, in New Hampshire, to Florida every winter, or as an everyday highway commuter.
So, in conclusion, very great car, despite its reliability issues because of its age and mileage. Despite all the mechanical problems, this car has never had me stranded on the side of the road. It always broke down in my driveway. What can I say? I’m definitely a fan of Buick.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 2nd October, 2006
PS... My car has the "L27" 3.8L OHV TPI V6, for those of you who didn't know. It's also called the "Fireball" 3800 Series I V6, and GM used it in most of their mid to full size cars in the mid 90's, like the Buick Park Avenue, Pontiac Bonneville, Grand Prix, Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera, Delta 88, etc. Now, they use the series II and III in cars like the Chevy Malibu, Impala, Oldsmobile Alero, Intrigue, Pontiac Grand Prix, Bonneville, Buick Lacrosse, Regal, etc.
By the way, If you own a car from the 80's or 90's with a GM 3800 V6, be proud. Your engine was on the "Ward's 10 Best Engines of the 20th Century". Pretty amazing, when you think of all the engines out there.
Series I specs:
170 hp, 225 lbs-ft torque
EPA MPG city 18/Highway 28/Observed 22
Series II specs:
205 hp, 230 lbs-ft torque
EPA MPG city 19/Highway 30
All of the series 3800 V6s had supercharged versions as well, adding anywhere from 20 to 40 horsepower to the engine. That's a whole different topic that I don't really have time or experience to discuss anyway.
Also, It goes 0-60 in 8.9 seconds, and runs a quarter mile in 16.9 seconds at 80mph. Top speed is 107mph, unless you do some governor altering, but I guarantee you'll get 2 mph more if your lucky, just before you blow the engine. I just put all this in because I didn't add it beforehand and I think I said it goes 0-60 in 8 seconds at 80mph, which obviously makes no sense. Sorry about that.