I have owned Automobiles manufactured by Nissan, Toyota, Ford, Volvo, Subaru, Dodge, and Volkswagen. The 1993 Toyota Corolla I purchased new from the dealer was one of the worst cars I ever owned. The thermostat got stuck and overheated at 12,000 miles. The transmission failed at 36,000 miles. The alternator failed at 40,000 miles. The factory tires only lasted one year along with the brakes, and it had electrical problems with the turn signals, and headlights.
The little car would only go 67 miles per hour up a grade near my home with the 3-speed automatic (2nd gear would top out around 60). My 1994 Diesel pickup went up at 95 mph when my wife was in labor.
In addition to all the problems, the Toyota had poor handling, and felt wobbly at highway speeds. The spark plugs were embedded deep below the valve cover, which make them harder to change than my 1991 Jetta.
The worst part about some of the foreign cars including my Corolla is they are priced higher than a comparable American car, and the repair costs are higher. In addition, the Corolla only averaged about 24 MPG, about the same as most six-cylinder Buick's. In my opinion, most new automobiles have good reliability regardless if they are Japanese or American. Of course a percentage of all cars will be lemons.
Given the type of work that you've had done, I would assert that you drive the car very hard, and any car will have the same problems if you drive very hard. I drove my '95 for 30,000 miles per year and replaced the brakes ONCE. I could get in when it was -10 F and it'd start as though it were 90 F. I never had any engine or transmission problems, and I'd still be driving it if I hadn't smashed it. Bottom line is I don't think I'll find a better, more reliable car.
These are just about the most reliable cars out there, however remember that 1995 was THE LAST GOOD YEAR of the LeSabre! After that they were completely ruined by the plastic intake manifold. I have a 1992 Park Avenue - great - but the Park Avenues were ruined with the new engine in 1995, one year before the LeSabres.
I agree that the Buick Lesabre is one of the best cars that is on the road today. My only paid $700 for my Buick Lesabre Limited with only 134,000 miles on it and the only thing that I had to replace was the master cylinder. My car is an 1995 and my father also had an 1994 Buick Lesabre Custom and his car was running until it was hit really bad when parked.
I have noticed that all the negative reviews were written by people who own the LeSabre Custom, whereas the Limited owners mostly report positive experiences. Also one person commented that "You'll be sorry" if you opt for the Custom without specifying why. But perhaps there is a real qualitative difference between the Custom and the Limited editions?
Whether you have a Custom or Limited would not make any difference in reliability. The only difference in the two are small differences in trim, seat designs, and available options. Both cars are mechanically identical. You just pay more for the Limited.
I have a 1997 LeSabre Custom with 148,000 miles on it. It doesn't burn any oil at all, but it does leak some now because the intake gasket finally failed.
So after 148,000, I am finally going to have to put new struts in, and replace the intake manifold and gasket. Most that I have found that do burn oil, are because the intake leaked and the person driving it never bothered to check the oil level, and ran it low several times, thereby wearing out the motor prematurely.
It's not uncommon for people to get 225,000-250,000 miles out of these cars. The GM 3800 series engines are one of the best made by any manufacturer.
As for the person that claimed the LeSabre is a pile of junk; go buy a Chevette if you are looking for a car to beat on, these are not race cars, they are considered a luxury sedan. Personally I will take the added room of the LeSabre and the 30mpg that I'm getting with it and laugh all the way to the bank, especially when I can buy them for $2,000 or less all day long, and drive them for years to come.
I've taken good care of my 95 Park Avenue with the series II 3800 engine. Have put about 60k miles on it since I got it.
It burns about 1qt every 2300 miles. When I first got it, it burned 1qt ever 1200 miles. I had bad valve stem seals and changed them. I also suspect my front valve cover gasket was leaking, because when I changed the starter, it was covered in oil and dirt. The rebuilt starter is still dry and clean after 30k miles. I have learned to live with it now. For me it means adding 1qt every two months or so; not a big deal, plus I'm adding fresh oil. I read somewhere that part of some of the consumption problems could be due to the low tension piston rings used in the 3800. I did my intake gaskets (metal) and manifold about 5k ago. The intake gaskets were failing and the upper manifold was on it's last leg. Consumption has remained the same.
But even with 168k miles on the engine/transmission and car, I still get compliments and people tell me how smooth my car sounds and rides. I'm riding this one all the way to the junkyard. Why get a car note?
You may be riding for a while yet. We sold a LeSabre a couple of years ago with 277,000 virtually trouble-free miles on it.
I recently got a 1995 LeSabre with 146,000. It needs some work, such as replacing a bad front transmission mount (common at this mileage), exhaust gasket, and yes, I'll have to replace the manifold and rocker gaskets sometime as it leaks a little oil. The paint is less than perfect, and it may need a brake job soon. I say BIG DEAL! It was abused (driven by kids), but still runs like a top, the trans shifts perfectly, handles OK, and I paid $550 for it, so I can afford to do a few repairs.
The reason I got the '95 is that I've had two other similar Buicks - a '92 LeSabre and a '91 Park Avenue that have given me EXCELLENT service. The '92 has 191,000, and my daughter is still driving the '91 at 188,000. But that's nothing, check out this link:
This is a site reviewing vehicles used by rural mail carriers. Over 400,000 on gravel roads in the snow belt isn't too bad. Checking other cars on the site, the Buick has done far better than most of them (including Toyota) in this demanding service. I'm not surprised.
By all means, go buy a Toyota. That leaves all the more of these dependable, economical, easy and cheap to repair AMERICAN cars on the market for me!
I have heard the Toyota has great acceleration -- whether you want it or not!
Brakes are replaced when they are worn to their factory limits; usually many years, depending on how and where you drive. Flat country with few stops will produce little wear, hilly country with lots of stopping is going to produce more wear. I live in flat Florida, and drive mostly thruway miles, so brakes last 5 to 7 years. Miles are almost completely unimportant; how much do you use the brakes, that is what wears linings and rotors etc. Time wears out rubber seals and "O" rings.