1992 Oldsmobile 88 Royale LS 3.8 from North America
Auto transmission issues at about 250,000 km.
Starter needed to be shimmed because it was out of alignment.
Water pump failure at about 253,000 km.
Various build quality issues related to trim items.
Actually a good car overall in terms of ride and power train, but it does show that GM's quality control on even its higher end cars like this one was not the best. Interior trim is coming apart: seats and carpeting are looking terrible. The headliner has discolored near the right rear roof pillar because of a water leak.
By comparison my 1988 Mazda 626 has an interior that's near mint at 338,000 kilometers. Admittedly how an owner treats their car makes a difference, but my Mazda is not really a top of the line model either. But the build quality is far superior in terms of the interior fit and finish and overall dash and instrument design.
On the Delta 88, the carpeting fabric on the interior and the trunk is a really cheap cheesy looking mouse fur that is aging badly. Not exactly a good indicator of quality in what was GM's upper end in the model range.
The car would not always shift into gear when it was cold. This prompted a transmission rebuild.
The water pump failed as well, but provided plenty of advance warning, so it wasn't catastrophic. The problem is that even though it is very accessible, for some reason GM stuck a motor mount and engine strut right in the way. In order to change the unit you have to basically jack up the right side of the engine. Hence a $C300.00 repair bill for the extra labor hours required.
Starter cable corroded and the starter was dragging because it wasn't aligned properly to the flywheel. It had to be shimmed to get it to sit properly.
Alternator went on this car as well, but very easy to change for a do-it-yourselfer. These cars are known for alternator failures as well.
The car has numerous seal leaks that are basically turning the underside of the engine into an oily mess. I don't even want to think about getting that fixed because it means taking out the oil pan, the crank and cam pulleys etc. to get to them. Very expensive.
The engine starves for fuel if you go around a corner when the fuel tank is at about 1/8th of a tank. I have never had this issue with my previous car, a Mazda 626.
The good stuff: the car is very nice to ride in and GM's 3.8 liter engine is a very nice torquey motor. It can easily keep up with traffic and is excellent on the highway. Watch your speed or this car could get you a speeding ticket. Nice growl when it revs up. Sufficiently powerful at 170 hp and about 200 lb-ft of torque.
Very quiet interior at city or highway speeds. That's a great thing when you travel 800 highway kilometers on so-so highways like I do sometimes. My Mazda (which is stored right now pending a sale), is a far noisier and buzzier unit at 120 kph.
Very powerful and effective heating and air conditioning on this car, a GM strong suit. You can comfortably cool down or heat up no matter what the outside temperature.
I love the outside temperature display on this car's interior. It's very accurate too. Instruments are nicely arranged although the dash design is showing its age. The 1995 and up models got a redesign that's much more modern.
Overall the somewhat vague steering and slightly tippy handling can't hold a candle to my previous car's razor sharp reflexes. But the price was right and so my beloved Mazda must find a new home. It would have needed more work anyway.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No
Review Date: 10th October, 2006
The comment about the car starving for gas when taking a corner with 1/8 tank of gasoline is a problem with the gas tank. I had this problem with my 1992 Oldsmobile 88 and was told that I should replace the gas tank. The baffles or dividers in the gas tank have come loose or came off completely. My fuel pump eventually went bad, so I replaced the fuel pump and gas tank. It's been over a year since the replacement and the car has been performing well since.
Thank you for the information. I'll have to see if I can find a used tank in good condition. Funny, it stopped doing it now, but I don't think the problem has gone away.
The car does have an exception heater, that's for sure. I have had a few minus 30C days where I live and it easily overcame the cold.
Interested in purchasing one of these cars. What kind of mileage do they get?