1984 Oldsmobile Ciera from North America


Stay away from the '84 3.8L Olds/Buick engines!


Engine has thrown a rod twice now, first time at about 50,000 miles and now at 125,000 miles. Engine is the Buick 3.8L EFI.

Mass air flow sensor has died twice.

A/C went out and I had to completely replace it.

EGR valve replaced.

Catalytic converter died.

Power antenna had to be replaced.

Emissions Control Module (ie: the computer) had to be replaced.

Starter replaced.

Alternator replaced.

Headliner detached - I eventually took the car in to an auto upholstery shop to fix and they said that sagging headliners was a common problem in this car - GM apparently didn't glue them in properly.

General Comments:

The car looks wonderful, but I do my own wrenching and it's been awful, just a series of problems.

We got the car for free about 6 months after it threw a rod the first time and had to be rebuilt. That wasn't too bad, and it ran fine for maybe 10,000 miles. Then it started running terribly and the check engine light started coming on intermittently. It took about 6 months of useless part changing by myself and the incompetent mechanics at the dealer before I tried a new MAF which fixed it.

Then it ran fine for another year and a half, then the same problem happened again, but this time a bunch of different error codes. More useless shotgunning followed by another MAF replacement fixed it.

The A/C had died years before we got it and I tried taking it to a shop to fix, they charged $1K and it broke 3 weeks later. I had to eventually fix it myself, by totally flushing all freon lines and putting in a new compressor and other parts.

Then not more than a month after the A/C was fixed, I went out one day and started it up, and the engine made a horrible racket, it had broken another rod.

I loved the interior, seating and layout of this car body style, but I think the 3.8L EFI engine was a bad design. GM probably did a quick overbore on a 3.0 block without putting in stronger rods. And in the 84 Olds cars of this body style, only the 3.8L had fuel injection, so it was probably a first generation.

Another giveaway to that is that the engine just barely fits into the compartment, changing the plugs is a chore.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 4th October, 2001

8th Oct 2005, 04:42

The 2.5 is fuel injected too.

15th Dec 2009, 19:41

The 3.8 in 1984 had the old style oil pump - 50,000 miles was not uncommon for bottom-end issues to rear their head. They phased in a gerotor oil pump and a revised oiling system starting with the 3.0 fuel injected (FI) engines in 1985, with the 3.8 FWD FI getting this system in 1986. Much better - bottom-end problems vanished.