Ownership Verified: My 98 Buick Park Avenue Ultra

Yeah, I have one hell of a mechanic. He's ASE certified, does top notch work, and most importantly he's honest. He doesn't come out and say "Well you need this this this and this and it will cost you $3,200".

He says "Well this will need to be replaced but not for another 20,000 miles, this shows some wear but it's still good, this might look like it's bad but it's in fine shape, and this does need to be replaced but it's still working for now so just leave it alone".

A few months ago I went to him to have an air filter installed, for the AC in the cabin not the engine, and it took over 2 hours. It took that long because they had to remove half the dash to get to the damn thing, he only charged me for half an hour of work.

A few weeks ago I had a near miss in the rain and my traction controll and ABS lights turned on and I couldn't get them to shut off for anything. I took it to him and he said it could be that the ABS sensor went tits up or I could have simply blown a fuse. He checked the fuses first and found the one that blew when I slammed on the brakes. Few minutes later he found a replacement fuse and said "Why don't we just call it $10 even?" I only had a $5 on me at the time and he said "Don't worry about it then, I'll spot you $10 and we can settle up next time you stop by". I stopped by his shop about an hour later with $10 in my hand and just said "As promised".

I can't say enough good things about him and his shop.
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Thanks. Try driving any GM car with a supercharged 3800 (series II or III) and it will surprise the hell out of you.
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I wanted to come in here and bash the Buick (my grand father owned an early 90's La Sabre and a late 90's Park Avenue), but Honestly, your right about the old Buicks vs the later P.A.'s.

I used to joke you could get sea sick in the old Le Sabres they flexed so much, but I rode in his Park Avenue a few times and while the buttons on the radio aren't exactly something you'd find in a '58 El Dorado (mmm stainless steel roof), I can't recall any squeeks or rattles, all the toys in it worked, never broke down except when "a chain link fence skated out in front" of my grand father (he passed out and hit a fence).

One thing I definitely liked about both Buick's was the A/C would freeze your ass out of the car, even if you were in the back on a 100 degree day in the sun. This was important as he lived in the desert and I used to ride in the back.

It's a damn shame their styling is boring, and their materials inside could be of higher quality and class as it is a Buick.
Yes the AC is my Buick will freeze your ass out in a hurry. It comes in very handy with leather seats and summer sun. The AC filter I mentioned in a previous post was the same one it came with from the factory, so it had well over 100,000 miles on it when it's designed to last around 15,000.

I had no idea that it even had a cabin filter till I read about it online. The AC and heater were working fine but I decided to get it replaced anyway. After it was changed out... my god it's like being in a wind tunnel if I turn it up full blast. That just goes to show how strong it is. I normally kept it set to medium before the change out and everything was fine, now level 2 will do.

I still have one of the filters in my garage and I'll take some pictures of it to show just how dirty, nasty, crusty, gooey, and crap covered it is.

Also I love to hear stories like "Well I was just driving along, and this tree jumped out and bit my car".
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This is one of three filters that was changed out. That should be all white, not pitch black. You can see a few bits of the various road crap lodged in there. The filter was acctually sticky with filth when it was pulled out. But I guess that is what happens when you use a filter for 10 years and don't change it.

I just spent about 45 minutes on my back wedged under the front end (I don't own a jack or creeper) fixing a broken air dam/shroud thingamajig. Basically this big hunk of plastic sitting under the bumper that helps direct air to the raidiator.

When the front suspension was bad the nose sat very low and it wouldn't take much for it to start kissing the ground. When the suspension totally gave up any small bump would cause it to scrape the pavement. All that abuse left the shroud warped, torn up, cracked, and hanging on by a wing and a prayer.

Recently it's become so bad that if I go over any dip or bump at all I will hear it rattle and shake.

Apparently GM found it was cheaper to use these strange two part plastic retainer clip things over screws and washers. Some were broken in half and others had somehow gone through the plastic and wound up on the other side.

Some superglue, giant washers from the hardware store, paint, and a little blunt force later the shroud is firmly remounted somewhat resembeling it's proper shape. I think MacGyver would be proud.
A few weeks ago I decided to replace the battery and spark plugs in my baby. The battery was no problem but the spark plugs were. These events are to blame for my quest to get my mom's Ford Taurus running again.

The car had been having trouble starting for a while so I figured it wouldn't be a bad idea to replace the battery and get a fresh set of spark plugs put in. I was able to replace the battery on my own, but wasn't too sure about the plugs. I had planned on having my mechanic put them in for me, but after being mocked by several people (you know who you are) I decided to try it myself.

I took it to the shop and told Tom (the mechanic) what my plan was, so if something went wrong he would be there to save my ass. After watching me spend about 10 minutes in futility trying to get the rear set of plugs out, he came out and litterally layed on the engine to get them out for me. I replaced the front set without problems, and thanked Tom several times for helping me when he should have been working on other cars.

The next morning the car starts misfiring and I don't know why. I take it back to Tom and they spend about an hour and a half trying to find out what the cause is. Spark plug has no signs of being bad, plug wires are fine, check the ignition coil, clean the mass airflow sensor, none of them fix the problem. Finally they decide to yank the plug (number 6 was the problem) and put in a new one. Problem was gone after that.

He didn't charge me a thing and said not to worry about it but I insisted that he take $10 (all I had on me at the time) for their beer fund.
I'm assuming Tom's the nice guy from the top of the page? That's lucky that you know a mechanic like that who keeps an eye out for you and is willing to teach you, instead of trying to make as much money as possible. :D
Yes Tom is the guy. He truly is a rare breed. I wish I had known about his shop when my Buick needed some work done a year ago.
I just got back from having it in the shop. A couple months ago the left front strut started making noise. I had Tom look at it right after it first started happening and he wasn't sure what the cause was. He sprayed it with some lube which helped a little so since then I've been periodically spraying it with WD-40. But the noise just didn't go away. Last friday I couldn't take it any longer and went back to Tom so he could take a better look at it.

They couldn't work on the car till today, but they figured that either the strut or strut mounting kit went bad when I had the whole front suspension replaced just several months ago. They pulled the whole asmebly and found that the strut mount had basically broken in half somehow but the strut was still good. I was there all morning, mostly waiting on a new strut (if needed) and mounting kit to arrive, and wasn't charged anything thanks to the warranty.

It's so nice not to hear that damn thing making noise. It's been like someone tapping me on the shoulder trying to get my attention while I drive.
Warranty on a ten year old car? Or was the new front-end warrantied?
Well to cap off a very shitty week, my Buick is having a few problems. For ages there was a slight noise under the hood caused by one of the idler pullies, it wasn't bad so I just let it go. Till it got louder recently. Since this is once again our only working car, I can't take a risk of having it break down.

I took it to Tom on monday and after taking a look and listen, he figured it was the supercharger tensioner pully assembly that had worn out. The part runs around $140, which I don't really have right now, and you can only get it from the dealer. They have it shipped in from Chicago and I bring the beast in to have it installed this morning.


There is a new noise being produced and it's louder than the old one. Apparently the worn out tensioner pully was hiding a problem with the supercharger. Because it was worn out, it wasn't putting the propper ammount of tension on the belt, now that the right load is on the supercharger it's showing the problem full force.

Tom was stumped. He said he's going to look into it and get back to me. He doesn't know if the whole supercharger is going bad or if it could just be bearings and the snout/nose. I did some looking around online and a rebuilt supercharger would run me around $450, and the parts to rebuild the snout around $65. I hope and pray the snout just needs help because I'm screwed otherwise.

I found a how to guide and it doesn't look too terribly complex, if I had the tools I might be willing to tackle this myself. Tom doesn't deal with superchargers too much, so this could be a learning expirience for both of us.
It makes it a ton easier that the supercharger sits right on top of the motor, so it makes it ALOT easier to do.

You could also try and go for a supercharger off a car in the junkyard. I know that usually strikes fear in alot of not so knowledgable car people, but yuou can find some excellnt parts there. If you find one that got smacked in the rear, chances are the motor is in good condition. Or you may come across a PA that got hit and has very minimal miles. Mainly because of the old person factor (not trying to say anything here!).
I have thought about possibly having to go to a junkyard for a part. I just hope it doesn't come to that.
Well the rebuild was such a disaster it deserved its own thread, http://forums.finalgear.com/showthread.php?t=22109.

A new little tiny problem has sprung up which will drive me crazy sprung up today.


That's the little LCD on my rearview mirror. It's supossed to act as a compass and show simply N,S,E,W, ect. But now it's showing me this jumbled mess. The screen isn't screwed up because I can bring up and change the "zones" on it, but then it goes right back to that.

I hope it's an easy fix such as reflashing/reprograming the computer. If not I'll just turn it off and pretend nothing is wrong. That or I'll hit up the local junkyards.
Well, I don't know how or why, but it's working again. I didn't do anything to it or take it anywhere, all I did was leave it turned off for a couple weeks and then turn it back on over the weekend, and now it's working fine... I hate gremlins.