1996 Oldsmobile 98 Review

1996 Oldsmobile 98 Regency Elite 3.8L series II V6 from North America

Model year1996
Year of manufacture1996
First year of ownership2006
Most recent year of ownership2008
Engine and transmission 3.8L series II V6 Automatic
Performance marks 7 / 10
Reliability marks 5 / 10
Comfort marks 9 / 10
Dealer Service marks 2 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 6 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
5.8 / 10
Distance when acquired73000 miles
Most recent distance117000 miles
Previous carGMC S-15

Summary:

Good cross country car!

Faults:

* AC broken when purchased. Not fixed, no big deal.

* Pads and rotors. @ 73k miles. I used Raybestos (spelling?) parts.

* Calipers. One at 73k and the other at about 110k miles.

* Belt. It wasn't that bad, but I drive about 25,000 miles per year so I got a new Gates brand belt just to be safe.

* Water pump @ about 90k miles.

* Battery @ 73k (the battery wasn't covered by the state mandated warranty for cars purchased with less than 75000!)

* Electrical connections at the starter and battery became corroded and caused poor starting and charging performance. I cleaned connections myself rather quickly. This happened first shortly after getting the car. I have cleaned the starter connection once since then for the same issue.

* Crank Position Sensor (CPS) @ 75k miles. This was the only time I let someone else work on my car. Even with labor, it only cost me $200; not too bad, but this should have been fixed by the dealer because my car was under state war. coverage for a few hundred more miles, but he wouldn't fix the part unless it totally failed, and at that point it was just a dash light with a slight intermittent stumble at idle.

* Fuel pump, prescreen and tank straps/bolts @115k miles. I dropped the tank via "saws all" and replaced the pump with one from a "you-pull-it" junk yard. Straps were new, although total cost less than $200.

*** The following are things that need to be done:

* Intake manifold gasket. It leaked oil since purchase and now is leaking coolant!

* Oil pan gasket

* All four struts (lots of $$$ even if I do it myself)

* Full tune up with plugs, wires, fuel/air filters

* Cooling system flush

* Trans flush with new filter and pan gasket

* Power steering pump is not as strong as it used to be; sometimes the wheel is stiff when parking with my foot off the gas, and it whines too...

General Comments:

All around a good car. My car was sitting for a long time before I got it from the dealer. I drove it 27,000 miles the first year I had it; I think this caused most of my early problems.

This car has served me well! I have been on 12 or more long road trips with this car in less than two years; it NEVER stranded me or my friends! The car gets about 24mpg (mixed driving) and up to 28mpg (hwy). When the car is fully loaded, it only gets 25-26mpg (hwy). During the winter, it may go down below 22mpg with long warm up and de-ice times.

I am 6'6+, so I would really like something that sits higher like a Bravada or Blazer, but even so the comfort of this car is great! With the front eight-way-power-adjust leather seats moved all the way back, there is still room for a 6 foot tall 220+ lbs guy to sit comfortably. I have had 5 people in my car many times and there has never once been a complaint about space, seats or the ride.

* Driving impressions:

This car has a good balance of under-hood refinement, MPG, Comfort and safety. The car, even at 70+mph is still quiet enough to have a normal conversation with your passengers or enjoy your music. The car has a great ride even on older bumpy, windy back country roads. The Olds handles OK for having bad struts. I can take on/off ramps at 40 to 45mph on good tires.

Bad points: parking takes some getting used to because of the rounded shape of the car and placement of the pillars. My 1977 Olds 98 was much easier to park even though it was much bigger and only had one external mirror (from the factory).

The 3.8L (231ci) V6 has 205HP and 230lbs/ft torque. The 3800 series II V6 is very refined; its smooth and quiet at most RPM from idle on up. At higher RPM, the motor makes a nice sound without being noisy or harsh, so it almost makes you want to push it once in a while. This is an easy car to work on because of the size of the engine bay and the simple mechanical design.

Regular oil changes require only two tools; wrench for the plug and a rag to clean up! The filter and plug are easy to get to and are visible. The only common issue I see with this motor is the intake manifold gasket leaking; it will leak just oil for a while and then it will leak coolant too. Don't leave it too long like I did.

The interior... good so long as you like lots of blue. The dash is padded, not plastic. The leather wrapped steering wheel feels sturdy and sound, and it has thicker grip near 10 and 2 O'clock positions for better feel when driving in bad conditions. The steering wheel controls for the radio and heater are an awesome touch!

Both front and rear seats have a fold down arm rest that doubles as a console. The front arm rest has very functional fold-out cup holders, coin holder and tape/CD storage. The rear arm rest has the same cup holder, but a smaller storage area great for phones and other odds and ends on trips. I find the four map lights are handy and bright.

The car comes with a great tape or tape/CD sound system with eight... yes eight speakers. The tweeters at the top of the door panel really gives music a fuller sound when paired up with the other six normal speakers.

The body of the car is still rust free, even though it's from a salt using state. The car seems to be nearly rust proof with the exception of the brake lines and radiator support.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 2nd December, 2008

25th Jul 2009, 13:50

Wow I never knew it had 8 speakers. My Olds is coming up to 270,000 kms and it's still running like a champ (touch wood). I agree with the engine noise; it sounds great once it gets past 3000 RPM, and it is a REAL fast car for the size of it. I hope it runs for another few more years, but there are some rust spots coming up above the rear wheels skirts, but it's seen its share of winter time salt.

Average review marks: 5.8 / 10, based on 1 review