1996 Buick Riviera 3.8 normally aspirated from North America


Love at first drive!


Driver's door switch = $125.

Leaks oil -small = $0.

Rattle in steering column = $0.

General Comments:

I've only had the car one month and driven 1000 miles (on mostly bad roads), but had to throw in due to my excitement about this car.

Due to its depreciation, it is a remarkable value.

Typical Buick drivers take good care of their vehicles. There are only a few pitfalls to avoid or expect with this auto that can be very costly to repair. However, if you are a competent DIY'er, this car can win you over - especially for the price!

The first pitfall is early transaxle failure. Expect to pay 1500-2000 to rebuild this. The next significant pitfall is the failure of the plastic intake manifold. This can be repaired for about $100-500 if it was not already done (look for a date stamp on the top of the manifold). The paint is also prone to fail after 12 years. $500-2000 depending on your quality demands.

The joys of owning this car make it worth a bit of effort in maintaining it. To echo a lot of the reviews, it is well made and stylish outside, not lacking any creature comforts inside, it drives like a dream and performs to near sports car status. The fuel economy is surprisingly good. And it handles slick and snowy roads confidently. I look forward to getting behind the wheel each and every time.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 10th January, 2013

1996 Buick Riviera 3.8 Series II Supercharged from North America


Great Acceleration and Value


CD player skips after 40 minutes of playing when got car at 88,000 miles.

Front brake caliper seized at 140,000 miles. The heat from this also made the wheel sensor go bad.

Throttle body gasket bad at 145,000 miles.

Mirror had to be glued back up at 144,000 miles.

Cooling fans always run. Started at 139,000 miles.

Rear gas shocks died at 135,000 miles.

Trunk gas lifts failed at 154,000 miles on a -8 F morning.

Paint on trunk is peeling badly since the Arctic weather came in January. Car needs $1350 of repainting on trunk and rear quarter panels due to deteriorated paint.

There is another gasket problem that I haven't figured out yet, but it doesn't affect how the car runs.

General Comments:

I have put 68,000 miles on this car in under 3 years, averaging over 27 mpg.

Its perfect for a brutal 100 mile daily commute. It is comfortable, efficient, and quiet. I was very pleased with it until about 140,000 miles.

I replaced the rear shocks and fixed the brakes. Surprisingly, a new front brake caliper was only $31. Now that the paint peeled off of half of the trunk in the last 2 months, I am not so pleased. The entire rest of the car is still awesome, but the looks are poor with the paint problem and the shop said the entire car's paint will soon also go bad. I will consider painting the trunk because the whole car is in such great condition otherwise. I have to see what happens to the rest of the paint.

The engine runs great. It has always started instantly and has never stalled once. The interior has held up good with all bells and whistles still working.

The only things I have done are spark plugs and wires, trans fluid and filter, PCV valve, brake pads, new tires, rear shocks, front brake rotors, one front brake caliper, and glued the rear view mirror back up. The things that are original and still doing great are the front struts, exhaust, CV joints, belts and hoses, supercharger, dual climate control, engine, and transmission.

I Plan to keep putting 20,000 miles a year on it until I move closer to work. None of the maintenance or repairs have been expensive yet, and I'm not worried about reliability. The problems I have not fixed like the fan running, the wheel sensor, or CD player are not a big deal. I use the radio most of the time. The paint is the only real disappointment.

The list of good things about this car is long. Mileage, feeling of safety, handling, heated seats, sunroof, electro-chromic mirrors, plush leather, roominess, and the engine. It is a beast with 240 HP and over 280 ft-lbs of torque. The body has never been dinged and there is not a speck of rust. It rides perfect. It is by far the most solid feeling and smooth running car I've rode in at this high mileage. It also handled very good in 6 inches of fresh unplowed snow at 45 mph. I have gotten my use out of it already, but it is probably worth some paint investment because it is otherwise a very well built car.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 20th March, 2007

21st Apr 2008, 15:26

I have also had paint problems with my Riviera. It is a '98 and another family member drove it for a year or so before me. When I got it the paint was extremely dry and not smooth. I did a little cleaning to it but have not kept up like I should have. Paint it pealing from the roof and around the flat part at the bottom of the windows. The rest of the car is fantastic and fast as I need it. I have seen other Riviera's with the same problem.

22nd Apr 2008, 08:01

I have a buick park avenue with the paint issue. Paint started peeling off the roof, then the trunk, and the sides, and now the hood.

22nd Apr 2008, 11:06

Paint peeling with GM products is a very common problem. Especially '96 models in white.