1996 Oldsmobile Ciera SL 3.1L from North America


Reliable, but not pretty


Right front wheel bearing went out and camber bolts needed replaced at 200,000.

Alternator replaced at 200,000.

Battery connection cable went bad and had to be replaced.

Both passenger power window motors were bad when I bought it. Replaced front passenger door. Still need to replace rear. Driver's side had been replaced.

Inner and outer tie rod ends replaced at 200,000.

General Comments:

Bought for $500 as a cheap car to get to and from work. I knew that both passenger windows did not work, and the windshield was cracked when I bought it.

Started having power issues, and I had the alternator replaced, ($125 for part new) and a new battery connection because it was not getting a good connection. When I had that done, I had the spark plugs and wires changed (did not have trouble getting them in or out like others), new valve gasket covers put on and an oil change.

I began hearing a grinding noise, and my mechanic said the tie rod ends were bad, so we replaced those. Put new tires on, and was informed that it needed the camber bolts replaced and the front wheel bearing was loose. Went to junk yard and got a new wheel bearing for $15. (new is around 90), but the bolts were seized on so we replaced the whole part at the control arm. Had to order camber bolts, and hope to put them in tomorrow and then get it realigned.

Also replacing driver's door panel with the Century one to match the passenger door (and it's nicer) along with a new steering wheel with airbag, working horn and windshield. Parts cost at junk yard, steering wheel $15, door panel $5 and windshield $25. It's pull it yourself. Have a place here that will put a windshield in for $40 if you pull it yourself.

The car runs good. Strong engine and tranny. Have had it at 80 with no problems. She has at least another 50000 miles left on here if not much much more. Had a friend put over 400,000 on one and still going. Great value for money as long as it's maintained.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 15th November, 2009

1996 Oldsmobile Ciera SL 3.1L V6 from North America


The quintessential American sedan


Alternator failed during my test drive, was replaced along with the battery free of charge.

Driver's window regulator has never worked, window has always been up.

The A/C compressor is bad and VERY loud/whiny, but surprisingly the air conditioning/heat still work just fine.

The left horn button on the steering wheel is cracked, and I replaced the inside driver's door handle a month or two ago, but I am responsible for it breaking in the first place.

Also, the seat track for the driver's seat is pretty stubborn when it comes to moving it forward and back.

General Comments:

This was my first car, bought it in early September of 2007 from a pretty reputable used car lot. I ended up buying it after driving it over the weekend for two grand, and so far it's been one of the smarter purchases I've ever made.

My Ciera is the 3.1 liter V6 automatic, and it is anything but underpowered. It does lag for an instant and then blast into the power band when you push the pedal to the floor, but there is no struggle to catch up to freeway speeds or pass minivans. The transmission is a little quirky and feels indecisive when using a more demanding driving style, but keeps quiet and doesn't impede normal daily driving.

The handling, however, leaves something to be desired. The turning radius is particularly limited (U-turns are generally off-limits for me), so don't expect much in terms of precision and you won't be disappointed. The Ciera does lean into turns, but it's typically proportionate and feels right. Braking is average.

I am about 6'3", and the car facilitates me comfortably. The seats in the front are bench separated by a cup-holder/armrest though, so there's not much in the way of style, unless you're a fan of vintage looks.

Speaking of vintage, the car does sport a very antiquated looks, even for a 1996. People typically think it's four, five, six years older than it is. I think it's plenty attractive and practical, but I am probably in the minority, there.

While it's not plush or loaded by any means (no CD player, no power seat for driver), the '96 Ciera SL does have a decent array of comforts at it's owner's disposal, and has been a reliable and enjoyable car for me since the day I bought it. Definitely recommend this, especially as a first vehicle, can't go wrong with it.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 8th October, 2008