Small Problems, but Best Car My Family has Owned
When I bought it (at 180,000 miles) the head gasket was out. I live on a farm, so my dad and I fixed it ourselves; slight warping to the head due to overheating by previous owner when gasket went out. Oh, real pain to change head gasket yourself, also... wouldn't want to do it again, and I can imagine that labor costs would be large.
At approximately 200,000 miles the brake lights started having problems. This is due to a faulty blinker switch, as the electrical diagram of the car shows that the brake light wires run through the blinker switch before actually turning on the lights. Don't know how costly this will be to fix, as the airbag may present a problem; however, as long as I pull back on the high-beam/blinker lever when I step on the brakes they come on every time. Pain to do that, though, and I fear that one day I will be rear-ended.
Problems with the paint job: clear coat on bumper is coming off, and have some small spots on trunk where paint isn't the best. Luminas are notorious for bad paint jobs. I don't know why, but the paint just doesn't seem to stick to the body. My friend went through the carwash and when he came out he had a 1 foot diameter chunk of paint missing off the back of his trunk, near the keyhole.
This car is rock solid on the road. After 210,000 miles, I have one small rattle somewhere in the dash that I can't find, but I can only hear it if the radio is off. Car drives smoothly, doesn't pull in one direction or the other steering-wise, gets 28mpg highway in the summer, and is very comfortable to drive even for the 5 hour trips that I take sometimes. Also, very roomy, I have had 5 people in the car and driven for an hour and a half with no complaints whatsoever.
For $800 this car was the buy of my life. I needed to replace the head gasket two years ago (the reason the previous owners sold it), but at almost 200,000 miles that isn't surprising. Since then, I haven't had a single major problem.
THIS IS THE PERFECT FAMILY CAR. This car is reliable, smooth driving, quiet, decent gas mileage ~25mpg, handles great (for a sedan), and has a smaller turning radius than most cars its size (for squeezing into that tight parking spot).
This is also a tough car. Very tough. I have a friend that wants to be nothing, but a race-car driver... truth is, he drives like an idiot. He owns a 1997 Lumina with about 150,000 miles on it, he has put on 80,000 of those miles. Personally, I don't know why that car still runs; if I were that car, I would have given up long ago. He constantly slams on the accelerator; he once drove it off a curve accidentally, which was terraced so that he went down a series of three 5-foot drops, and all that happened was that he bent a support strut on one of his wheels. Even with all the hard acceleration he does and all the extra wear and tear that it causes to the engine, he still gets 25mpg (miles per gallon) and hasn't had to replace any major parts (for example, head gasket). His car is the reason that I bought my Lumina.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 21st February, 2006