Ownership Verified: My 98 Buick Park Avenue Ultra

Nice car, like the color too. I had a Chevrolet Lumina euro sedan in a similar color.

Officially it's called Bordeaux Red Pearl and from what I've seen on other Park Avenue's of the same vintage, it was a real problem for GM. The other PA's I've seen in the same color have the exact same paint problems I do in the exact same areas. I really wish my dad had gotten one in black.
If you follow the annual 24 Hours Of LeMons threads, then you'll know that Quiky sent me the fancy aluminum oil pan that came off the GTP's new engine. Since I just did an oil change not too long ago it will be a while before I install it, plus I'll probably need to invest in some ramps/jack stands or take it by Tom's so I can use a lift to do the job.
Update time.

I still have the old leaky oil pan on the car, and I'll get around to putting the new aluminum pan on, I'm just not sure when.

I'm slowing re-clearcoating the car once again, this time spraying more than a single coat in hopes that it actually lasts this time. Like before, I'm just trying to improve the looks from a distance and try and preserve the paint that's left, I sure as hell can't make things any worse at this point. I also need to replace the brakes since they're squealing, but I'm not sure if it's coming from the front or rears right now. And since it's been over 2 years since a professional has had their eyes on it, I plan to run it by Tom's and have him give it a once over so any other issues can be addressed and taken care of.
Welp, I had to drop the Buick off at the shop very unexpectedly this morning. For a while if I put the window down with the engine running I'd notice a small squeal coming from under the hood, but I just figured "well it's winter, things are slightly contracted because it's cold". Yeah no...

The car was fine yesterday, then this morning I noticed a much louder noise and an almost occasional grinding noise, I popped the hood and found this.


Notice the shiny area next to the battery terminal, the idler pulley had totally given out and the only thing keeping the belt from flying off and stranding me is the motor mount. Luckily I was only a few blocks from Tom's, but since he's closed on the weekends I had to drop the keys off and catch a taxi home. I hate not having a car already, but it's even worse when both of my sister's rides are also out of commission, hopefully all will be fine in a few days.

Also, I snapped a pic of the odometer because of the symmetry.

Well, you were due for a service anyway. :p
Hmm... Looks like I've got about 13000 miles to catch up to.
I called Tom today since I hadn't heard from him yet, and much to my surprise he said the car was already done and waiting. $30 for the new pulley and 2 hours of labor (dealing with the serpentine system is a bitch because of the motor mount) and he didn't replace the belt. If he had called me first I would have told him to replace it no matter what just for cheap insurance, but he said it looked fine and saw no reason to, and since he's been doing this for decades I'll take his word for it. I still need to deal with the brakes and a few other things, but one critical repair in 3 years? That's not to bad for such an old car.
I'm finally getting to my front brakes tomorrow, after putting off for the last year. Here's hoping that nothing goes wrong.
Ok... took a bit more work than I expected, but the job is finally done. I first hit a snag when my cheater bar wouldn't cut it to remove the caliper bolts, so I made my first ever trip (after bolting the wheel back on) to Harbor Freight this morning to buy a couple of breaker bars. Those did the trick for loosening the bolts, then I hit another snag when I realized the pads I bought didn't have an outgassing groove cut into them. They were $30 ceramic store brand from the parts store, so I returned them (after bolting the wheel back on AGAIN) and hit another parts supplier, they had Wagner's which were more or less the same to the first set of pads, but they guy said he also had a set from Akebono. I've never heard of them before and they were twice the price at $60, but I figured what the hell. They had the groove and come with a lifetime warranty.

Then I hit snag number 3, I had everything off and the new pads in place, but because the caliper piston was pushed out too far there was no way it was going to fit over the new pads.


So I had to call in my brother in law for help, he's more car savvy than I am. After about 90 minutes we had both pistons pushed back far enough so they could be reattached and we bled the brakes then gave it a road test. All is good now, no more squeaking when I hit the pedal.
So I had to call in my brother in law for help, he's more car savvy than I am. After about 90 minutes we had both pistons pushed back far enough so they could be reattached and we bled the brakes then gave it a road test. All is good now, no more squeaking when I hit the pedal.

I get around that issue with a set of these and usually no more than 5 minutes:


Also screw you too for having rotors/pistons that area piss easy to fit. :p
I get around that issue with a set of these and usually no more than 5 minutes:

View attachment 13189

Also screw you too for having rotors/pistons that area piss easy to fit. :p

Yeah, I don't have a pair of channel locks big enough. We wound up using a combination of wood, an old C clamp, and prybar to get them pushed back in.
It's been several days now and the brakes are wonderful. The old ones still had some life left in them but there is still a noticeable difference compared to the fresh ones.
Ok, been a long time, but I have updates.

About a year ago while at the drive thru window of my bank, I noticed a very VERY strong scent of gasoline and thought "Wow, that minivan next to me better get that checked out and quick". Yeah... turns out it was my Buick, later in the day after getting home I walked into my garage and got punched in the face with the unmistakable smell of gas, after investigating I discovered the leak was coming from just before the rear drivers side wheel. It turned out to be my fuel filter had rusted and caused a pinhole to form, a new filter was installed and everything was once again fine.

Then about two months ago, a new problem started, the car would just die while I was cruising along at 35mph or so. No reason for it, it would just die. I asked Tom about it and he said it could be that my throttle body needed to be cleaned because carbon built up could be choking it off, so I got some TB cleaner and went to town with a toothbrush, but the problem happened again a week later. And several times after that with no apparent cause, the only consistent thing is that it always happened along this same stretch of road in almost the same spot, and the car would be fine after restarting it.

Back to Tom it goes and he's stumped, the computer isn't kicking out any trouble codes and there is no obvious cause, so he starts doing research on his end while I do the same on mine. In the middle of all this, we saw that my rear brake line had JUST started to leak after 20 years of IL winters, so that had to be replaced. Anyway, Tom's best ideas are that it could be my computer crapping out or some other electrical gremlin at work, while my research makes me think it's my crank position sensor going out.

I read several other reports from people with similar cars (W, G, C, N) bodies also with 3800's, and they were in the same boat as me. The car just dies while driving with no trouble codes, and nearly all of them found a new CPS to be the fix. I tell Tom what I've read and he says "lets give it a shot", and lo and behold it worked, the problem hasn't happened since.

Some other things I've had crop up and/or fixed was a strange electrical gremlin that caused the drivers side headlght to only work when it felt like it, a new bulb made it go away. My wipers get a bit confused on where the proper place to stop is when turned off, probably need to replace the motor but so long as they still clear the rain I can live with it. The bearings in my supercharger snout might be wearing out again, cheap ass chinese bearings, but Quiky was generous enough to send me the snout off the LeMons GTP engine we blew up back in 2011. So I can just swap it over whenever.

She's 20 years old and showing her age, but she's still my girl and I wouldn't get rid of her for anything.
I seem to recall a similar experience with the random shutting off and lower speeds with no reasoning, and it was either the crank or cam position sensor that fixed that, so ditto on that probably being the source of that problem.

The issue with the wipers is also a known problem. It's usually something to do with a little stopper tab on the motor/cam that operates them, it gets slightly bent over time and then the system gets confused. Usually it can be bent back into position to fix it, worst case the part with it can be replaced. I think you just have to remove the plastic cowling to get access to it, maybe one of the wiper arms too. Searching for "wipers park position" or "wipers park up" with either Grand Prix, Regal, or Impala should find some forum threads on it.
The Buick still continues to put miles on the clock, mechanically it's still sound but there are issues that pile up since I can't afford to fix everything the moment it crops up.

It needs a new steering rack and has for over 2 years now, I've been putting it off because for so long because I figured if all I had to do was add some power steering fluid every now and then, it's not a huge deal. That became about once a month, then every 2 weeks and so on. I have a new rack sitting in my garage ready to go in, but I lack the funds the actually have it installed.

I lack the funds because a few months ago I discovered my radiator had developed a leak, one that no magic can of shit could fix. I had just purchased the rack when I found out about this so it took precedent and the rack will just have to keep waiting.

I also most likely need to replace the bearings in my supercharger snout, having last done it in 2007 I think. But this time around I have a spare snout, from the FGR LeMons GTP, sitting around. I'm not sure if Quiky had it rebuilt before the engine blew up so I'm still mulling if I should take the gamble and stick it on as is or go ahead and rebuilt it first.
For reasons unknown, my car has gone through a new battery about every 3 years or so for as long as I can remember. I knew my current one was on the way out since the car had been struggling a bit to fire up, as it is wont to do in winter and when the battery isn't in tip top shape.

Last week we had some bitterly cold temps here, in the neighborhood of -30, so I wasn't shocked when I tried to start the car on Thursday and it was dead as roadkill. When it was about 5 degrees outside I had to push the car into my ice and snow covered driveway so I could take the battery out and head to the parts store.

I bought this battery in Nov 15 and it came with a 3 year warranty, I was fully expecting to just have to buy a new one even though the warranty just expired. They hooked it to the machine and said it was at only 11 volts and would take over an hour to recharge, I said just give me a new one. He asked when I bought it and I told him the same as up above, I even had the receipt with me. Without prompting he took both in the back to talk to his boss and came back out a few moments later to tell me they were going to honor the warranty anyway.

That's good customer service. So I walked out with a brand new battery (with no warranty) and saved $150. Yay.
Update time!

Back in February I had two things break, one because I'm just that lucky and the other because I'm a dumbass.

The first was the outside driver's door handle. It broke about 15 years ago and I lived with it for about 6 months before finally getting it fixed, something I refused to do this time around. The AC Delco replacement is over $120 and the cheaper ones like Doorman have questionable build quality. So the next day I hit up the local junkyard and after about 30 minutes of searching and about to lose all hope, I spotted the suitable donor, a 99 Olds Aurora.

I was going to try getting one off an 2000+ LeSaber if I didn't come across that, they have different part numbers but the handles themselves look identical and they probably are all the same anyway knowing GM.

$10 and about 20 minutes later I had it in my trunk and went home to put it in, which took a bit more doing that expected but at least it's in there. It's also silver and I'm just leaving it that color because I'm not spending $30 in paint to color match a 20 year old part.

Now the second thing that broke was my front passenger window, which happened while I was installing the door handle. I put a 6 inch socket extension on the roof because I didn't have enough hands and it started to roll away from me. I couldn't catch it in time and it rolled off the other side, smacked the window and that was it. Amazingly my insurance covered it and there was no deductible, so that was great. Waiting around for a week and a half for the glass to come in and then driving to the shop at 7AM when it's 15 degrees out and snowing? Considerably less so.
Guess what, I get to replace another door handle, this time it's front passenger side, yay.

I keep saying I need to get back to the salvage yard, hopefully the rest of that Olds is still there. I've needed to go for a month now but either my back will be too fucked up to let me climb over cars (the yard is a fucking NIGHTMARE) the weather has been complete shit (cold and rainy) or I've had something come up that took precedent.
So I'm trying to get the car ready for its first road trip in a decade, and I've been slowly whittling down the list of what needs to still be done.

The coolant level sensor went bad on me, it kept reporting that the level was low and I needed to top it off. I checked the overflow tank, all around and under the engine and radiator, and I checked the oil for signs of contamination, everything was fine. The car also had never come close to overheating, even when it sat idle for 3 hours while I waited for my first covid vaccine shot. So I replaced the sensor and it's all good now.

Instead of going back to the salvage yard to look for a door handle, I opted to get a Doorman brand cheapo unit off Amazon and I finally got around to installing it yesterday. It was a bigger pain in the ass to replace than the driver's side was because the handle just refused to pop out no matter how much I pried and pushed. But now it's in and it works, good enough for me.

I have neglected to clean and recharge the K&N filter for... way way way longer than I should have. It's been years since I did it. But it's all good now.

STILL have to get the steering rack put in and get an alignment done, probably need a new tire, get the transmission flushed out, wet sand and polish the headlights, and install a dashcam. Then she'll be good to go, in theory.
I'm currently on the hunt for a replacement stereo. After 20+ years the volume pot will now decide that a very slight bump means it needs to instantly shoot up to max volume, which will scare the absolute shit out of me. Sometimes it will happen so much I just shut the damn thing off and others it won't happen for days making me forget about the issue, it depends on how it's feeling.

I took it to a local repair shop and while I'm not an expert in the field of audio I do know a few things, this is the potentiometer, the guy said it was the optical encoder and he ballparked me $150 to fix it. He had good reviews on google but even if I didn't feel I was getting dicked around I wouldn't spend that much on this anyway. I can get a salvage unit off ebay and swap it out myself for a third the cost.

The problem is that GM apparently used about a half dozen different part numbers for either the exact same or just slightly different units. I'm doing my research now into finding out which are cross compatible. Assuming I'm able to find one then at some point I'll try replacing the pot in my original unit, something I don't want to risk screwing up without having a backup.

A little bit of bad news, Tom recently told me that while he didn't have a time frame he's getting ready to retire. I'm glad for him but it sucks for me, he's not just a good mechanic but an honest one. He recommended me to another shop less than a half mile down the road, I can only hope they're just like his is.