I bought (2 yrs ago)what appeared to be a well taken care of 97 from a little old lady with 41k miles. This car has kept my mechanical skills sharp as I have had to repair this car more times since I have owned it than any other car I have owned. From the usual intake manifold/ gaskets issues to fuel pump, plastic cooling system components failing, weird shifting transmission in warm weather, engine misfires, and the usual "old car" problems like rusted out brake and fuel lines which I would expect on an old car. The car is cheaply made both in the interior and the chassis. The steel for the chassis is so thin you have to be careful when jacking up this car. When these cars have seen some salt, the engine cradles rust out thus dropping the engine. There are so many transmission "mods" on these available in the aftermarket to deal with GM's cost cutting measures with the transmission. I plan on trading this car in soon because I haven't been able to depend on it since I bought it. It is a shame because the car looks great, drives and handles very well. I can't recommend them.
It is the worst car I have owned. Poorly engineered engine, transmission and electrical system will haunt you. Leaking intake(s) gaskets, poor upper manifold will leak coolant into engine, so beware. Electrical system, fuel and brake issues are other problems I have encountered. These cars do not age well. Mine "was" the creampuff with very low miles brought from an elderly lady. My advice, stay away from these.
My first car when I was 16 in 2010 was a Buick Century that I bought for $500, fixed up for another $500 and drove 900 miles from South Dakota to Texas. That car ended up having problems (as any $500 car would) and I sold it. I began looking again, put in an offer on a Honda Civic, which also run forever, but the deal fell through and I found a 1997 LeSabre with 96,000 miles on it being sold by a man for his disabled father. He put a new belt, compressor and battery in it. I paid $3,500. It has been two years and 10,000 miles. I don't drive too much and under the hood is the best engine ever made. As my co-worker said they stopped making them because they last so long and they can't get anyone to buy a new vehicle! I work at an auto shop now while in college and have only done preventive maintenance. At 110,000 miles now she still starts up everytime. I drive city and get between 17-19 mpg unfortunately. I honestly could of used a smaller vehicle but all my pals say this is a rolling cloud. I've tinted the windows, added keyless entry, aftermarket radio with AUX, new headlights and on the mechanical side I've had the transmission flushed, injectors cleaned, brakes done, a/c serviced, alignment. Hope to go another 100k! Here is to no car payments!
Bought used from a friend with 227,000 miles and 11 years old. Now with 271,000 in Nov '10. All I do is change the oil ($10 at local dealer). Repaired a couple of minor things (rear springs and struts, front struts and both wheel bearings, rear defroster repair and auto A/C repair), but for as old as my car is, and with as many miles, it gives me excellent service every day. 14 years old, 271K miles, and I still get 26-27 mpg, YES! 27. No need to buy a new car to stretch your gas dollar; if you can find one of these late-90s in good condition with low miles, snatch it up! (would make a good second car in case your new expensive one your making payments on leaves you stranded).
MPG, MPG, MPG Ride and handling Dependability and affordability Lack of required expensive maintenance
I live in Alaska and this car is absolutely awesome. I have owned a few cars in the past 34 yrs. up here and NONE are as comfortable for me to drive on the snow and ice as this one. Driving in winter is not my favorite, but this car does so well, I don't mind anymore. I've had it five years now. It's roomy and visibility is great in it and gas mileage is anywhere from 17 to 24 mpg for me. Oh, and it's pretty! Heater works great too!
ABS and FWD and super heater and defroster and comfortable.