Oldsmobile Regency Review

1998 Oldsmobile Regency 3.8L V6 Series II from North America

Model year1998
Year of manufacture1998
First year of ownership2009
Most recent year of ownership2010
Engine and transmission 3.8L V6 Series II Automatic
Performance marks 6 / 10
Reliability marks 6 / 10
Comfort marks 8 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 8 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
7.0 / 10
Distance when acquired78040 miles
Most recent distance80500 miles
Previous carOldsmobile Bravada

Summary:

Wonderfully comfortable!

Faults:

(At the time of writing this review, I've only had the car for about 3 months...)

I've had to replace the fuel sending unit @ $525. This problem occurred about 3 weeks after purchasing the car. I began to smell a fuel leak near the rear wheel wells. No dripping was apparent. About a week later, I could see gas dripping from the nylon fuel line near the passenger's side rear wheel well. The shop replaced the fuel sending unit (the metal pipes coming off of it were rusted through), which required dropping the tank. The part was about $300. After this job was done, the sending unit was reading inaccurately (when the gauge read "Empty", I actually had about half a tank left). I brought the car back to the shop and they replaced it under warranty with no questions asked.

I've replaced the Electrochromic (Dimming) Driver's Side Outside Mirror. When I bought the car, the mirror was always staying in the dimming mode no matter if it was day or night (the mirror glass was a bronze color, not clear like a regular mirror). After a winter storm, the thermal change from the heated mirror and the cold winter air cracked the mirror, which let the electrochromic fluid seep out. I purchased a used Electrochromic mirror on eBay and swapped just the mirror face itself (I didn't feel like painting the mirror) and it, too, formed a crack in the corner which leaves the mirror half clear and half bronze. I will be looking into a brand new mirror or just replacing the mirror glass with the regular kind. The used mirror was $35 and a new one is $464 at the dealer. You might be able to find a new factory one cheap on eBay.

I've had to replace the two temperature blend actuators for the climate control. The one for the passenger's side has a long metal arm which moves a rod to change the temp. on the passenger's side. This actuator has plastic gears inside which like the break. The only way to fix it is to replace it. You probably want to spend the money and buy new, or you might get one with the same exact problem. You can tell when it's broken because the temperature will tend to stick to hot or cold even when you change the temp. in the car. Price is about $35 used or $85 new for the passenger's side actuator. The driver's side actuator is actually in a big plastic black box called a "Programmer" The programmer is the brain and pneumatic system of the climate control system. Inside is the driver's side motor which looks different than the passenger's. My motor went out (there are no gears in this one to go bad) so I removed the programmer, opened it up, unplugged the motor and replaced it. Cost is about $30 for a used one or $100 for a new one. Beware, the dealer might tell you that you have to replaced the ENTIRE programmer, which runs about $80 used or $400-$900 new.

I've noticed that the transmission has been shifting harshly when the car warms up. I can control the shift feel by letting off the gas when the car is going to shift from 3-4 at 35MPH or when the torque converter clutch engages at 45MPH. This, apparently, is a very common problem with ALL GM vehicles that use the 4T65e transmission. I will be draining and flushing the fluid, along with replacing the filter when the weather gets a bit warmer.

General Comments:

For those who may not know about this Oldsmobile model, the Regency is a close cousin of the Eighty-Eight. When Oldsmobile stopped making the Ninety-Eight in 1996, they wanted to create a car (using a car they already had, the Eighty-Eight) that would appeal to the buyers of the Ninety-Eight.

In 1997, Oldsmobile rolled out the Regency, which was basically a Ninety-Eight in an Eighty-Eight's body. The interior is a carbon copy of the Ninety-Eight with all of its features, and the front fenders, grille, and body molding come from the Ninety-Eight.

Inside, the driver gets a standard 6-way power seat with 2-position memory. The passenger's seat is also 6-way power. Both seats have power lumbar support. The memory also controls the standard power/heated/dimming outside mirrors. The inside rear-view mirror has a built-in compass and is auto-dimming. The inside mirror controls how much the driver's side outside mirror dims at night. Dual-Zone electronic climate control is standard, as is the 6-Speaker AM/FM/CD/Tape stereo. Steering wheel controls for the radio and climate control are standard. The only option on this car is a block-heater and a power moonroof.

Now to the chassis and drive train of the car. The car uses the GM 3800 Series II V6 engine. All-speed traction control is standard as is Anti-lock brakes. The car also has a special feature you cannot find on any Eighty-Eight. The rear suspension is automatic load leveling. There is a small air compressor near the frame on the passenger's side of the car, which pumps up the rear air shocks when you add weight to the car.

Now, after that history lesson, here are my opinions of the car...

I drove a 1997 Oldsmobile Bravada because I liked the fact that it was basically a Blazer or Jimmy, but it was loaded to the gills with standard features. The same is true with this Regency. I reason I purchased the car was because the gas mileage of the Bravada, about 17-19 average. Driving to and from college every day was getting to be expensive. (I am 18, by the way, and I'm not embarrassed to drive an "old man's land yacht")

The good thing about these cars is that you can find them relatively cheap (I paid $1400 for mine with 78K miles) and they usually have very low miles. The down side is that when you're looking for parts, it becomes a little more difficult because of the rarity of the car. Many parts, though, can be found on an older Ninety-Eight, though. For example, the seats in these cars were taken right out of a Ninety-Eight. The climate control unit is also a carbon copy for the Ninety-Eight.

I love the big-car comfort, the excellent gas mileage (I average anywhere from 21-26MPG with mostly city driving) and the suspension system. The car rides just as nice as my father's old 1992 Park Avenue or my grandfather's 1988 Cadillac Brougham.

These cars (or any car with a Series II 3800 engine, for that matter) are known for a couple of issues.

First, is the harsh-shifting transmission. Some say it's because the wearing of the valve body bores in the tranny, some say is the Pressure Control Solenoid inside the tranny going bad. Who knows...

They also suffer from one main engine problem. The intake manifolds on these cars are plastic. The Exhaust Gas Recirculation tube (think: HOT) runs THROUGH this intake manifold and there's a gasket around the tube. Also near the tube is a coolant passageway. So what happens is the plastic manifold or gasket melts away, you get a bit of a coolant leak and then you start getting coolant in your oil, which, if it's not taken care of immediately, will cause the bottom end of your engine to go haywire, spinning rod bearings and all of that junk. If you have a 3800 Series II, make sure you keep a close eye on your coolant tank and perhaps mark a line on the tank. If you marked it when your car was cold, the next time your car cools down after driving it, the level should be the same. Also, check your oil dipstick every week or two. Check for a "coffee-and-cream" look to your oil. If so, you have a leaking intake manifold or gasket.

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

Review Date: 26th February, 2010

28th Feb 2010, 17:13

Yeah the plastic gaskets are just ridiculous, whoever thought that one up needs to be smacked upside the head.

I have two Chevy Luminas, both have the 3.1 "3100" V6 and they too have that plastic intake gasket which disintegrated in both cars around 100k miles. What a pain in the butt! Piston slap is also a major issue.

So a warning to anyone buying a mid to late 90's Lumina, Olds, Pontiac, or any vehicle with the 3.1 or 3.8; be sure to check out the engine good and thorough, or you'll be sorry!

Average review marks: 7.0 / 10, based on 1 review