17th Apr 2007, 15:53

I also have the "ETS Off" problem, in conjunction with the ABS light, but neither seem to have made a difference. The other electrical problem I had was the alarm system, which was disconnected when I bought the car, but which continually shut off the engine immediately after starting.

Since I bought the vehicle used, I don't know what went wrong with it before. In the two years I've had it, I put several thousand worth of repairs into it: the McPherson struts had to be replaced, and the rack and pinion was busted (but didn't adversely effect the driving too much). The result was that the car just wouldn't hold an alignment; I had it done three times and each time it was worse than when I brought it in.

After more than 110,000 miles the engine runs rough, but I'm also in need of a tune-up so that could be part of the problem. I suspect it is, since I'm getting poor mileage lately and at higher speeds (50 and up) I'm getting some sputtering when I gradually accelerate, or try to hold it at one speed.

The worst problem I've been having is the steering and ride. The wheel is permanently cocked a bit off center, even after a successful alignment (which I got after getting the rack fixed). While driving the car has a tendency to pull slowly in one direction or the other, and there's a small dead spot in the wheel. No matter what the state of the tires, it seems like I can feel every tiny bump in the road, which I chalk up to the suspension system. And yes, the car lets in all the road noise you can imagine.

Finally, the horn went bad! When it would get hot outside the plastic on the steering wheel would expand and press on the sensor inside the wheel, causing the horn to go off even though no one was in the car. Very embarrassing. I had to have a horn button installed.

9th Jan 2008, 15:13

I also have a '97 Skylark Custom. Sometimes (especially in extremely cold weather or when I use Citgo-brand gasoline) I also have the Check Engine/ETS Off lights pop on. They'll stay on for a few miles and then disappear. I can't explain what causes it, though, but it goes away.

I bought my Skylark two years ago today and have experienced just one problem--a worn out rear right wheel mount that wound up costing $300. My back left window motor is burned out, but I don't care to have it replaced.

I also have experienced an odd chugging and lurching sometimes when I start the car, back out of my parking spot, and then accelerate. The car almost dies unless I step on the gas. Anyone else notice that?

6th Jun 2008, 12:32

I had my Skylark since 1998 and I've experienced most of the problems on this board, and since I paid off this car 6 years ago, and I've averaged $300-$500 in repair bills each year for the past 3, that is a lot less than 4k in car payments.

Here is my list.

1. 1st month I had the car 26k used, the water pump went and was covered by warranty.

2. Both back window motors went by the 4th year {2001}

3. Alternator went in 2004 {6 year mark of ownership 90k}

4. {2005} New front suspension put in since I live in Boston and the pot holes destroyed my front end.

5. 2006 - coolant mount to the engine rusted out

6. I've personally put in pads & rotors in each year.

7. The 'ETS off' light would come on in very cold weather

8. Horn seems to die after long periods of driving (No Clue)

9. Heater core mount rusted out and leaked fluid 2007. Couldn't go the winter without it.

10. Lug nuts stripped with speed wrench, but able to get off with factory wrench. Replaced with all new lugnuts, no issue now.

11. Seems like vapor lock when I first start driving the car recently {2008}

12. Passenger side window dying; I don't dare put it all the way down anymore because it might never go back up.

13. "Check engine" light on and "ETS off" {June08} and feels like either clogged fuel enjectors or a transmission issue. A lot of boards say it's a vacuum line with a hold in it.

It's been 10 years of ownership in Boston, 11 years old, I paid 9,500.00 and made payments for 4 years and basically did not have any issues until the car was 85k & 7 years old. The car over all has been great, but keeping up with an old car that I've had since my first year out of college is becoming a drag.

At this point I'd be shocked if the car passes inspection in July without anymore money put into it with now 144k.

So my plan is to purchase a new Malibu, and hope that I'll get a few years out of the car after car payments before I've got to sink in my costs.

I have a feeling the car will linger on with someone else after a trade it in. Rumor has it Buick will be coming back with a very stylized {enclave} Skylark in 2011.

26th Jun 2008, 20:49

Purchased a salvaged 1997 Skylark for our daughter. Experienced many of the same problems.

ETS off light is on, ABS light is on & there is a check engine light to go along with them. This appears to be a common problem with this series of cars. There does appear to be a fix. The dealer must reprogram the PROM chip in the car. Apparently there is a software glitch that causes this. Calibration #16238674. The car we put back together runs great otherwise, & gets fairly decent mileage. We did have to replace one power window motor & then removed the other 3 door panels & sprayed silicone lube in all of the other window guides. The windows have all worked great ever since.