Last post on Jun 05, 2012 at 7:22 AM
You are in the Buick Century
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Buick Century, Sedan
#210 of 482 Buick Century Bump Steering to the Extreme
Nov 26, 2001 (11:43 am)
I rented a 2001 Buick Century and drove it the 140-mile round trip between Tulsa and Stillwater OK on the 75mph Cimerron Turnpike. It’s been a while since I have driven a mid-size GM. I could not believe the amount of bump-steer this vehicle exhibited. For those who have never heard of this phenomena, bump-steer is the tendency of a car to change direction after encountering any bump in the road that causes the suspension to deflect. Typically, it occurs because the car frame itself is temporarily twisted or deflected by the forces encountered in the road bump or dip. This deflection points the wheels in a new direction and the car takes off on a new course. You must immediately correct with steering wheel input to keep the car on the desired track.
The problem with bump-steer is that it is tremendously fatiguing. It requires much more effort, concentration and work to keep the car between the white lines. The higher the speed, the more effort. On long trips, it will wear you down and make you much less effective and safe driver. On my 140-mile trip I found myself exhausted with all the effort I had to use to keep the car on track at 75mph. If you have never driven a car without bump steer, then this all seems normal, but believe me, there is a much better driving experience out there folks. All American cars used to exhibit some amount of bump-steer, but as auto makers improved the stiffness of car bodies, many of today’s American cars are much better in this regard. When you hear a manufacturer say something like “greater rigidity” or “greater frame integrity”, they are referring to the bump-steer problem. So it came as a great surprise to drive the Buick Century which exhibited the most bump-steer I have ever encountered. Even the large cars of the ‘70’s and ‘80’s didn’t have this much bump-steer, maybe because they were made with full steel frame.
To test your car for bump-steer, just try holding the steering wheel perfectly steady on a straight road when encountering dips or mild bumps and see if it maintains the original track before and after the dip. Of course if the crown or grade of the road changes, the car will tend to follow the new “fall line”, requiring a new hold on the steering wheel, but modern cars should not change direction when encountering mild bumps.
This bump-steer phenomena is so pervasive that most drivers are unaware of it. As they drive down the road, they are constantly making small steering wheel adjustments to maintain track with out thinking about it. When put into a car with very low or no bump-steer, they continue with this steering wheel adjustment each time they feel the car dip. This starts rocking their passengers back and forth unnecessarily and can even cause carsickness. They are totally unaware they are doing it. It took me a year to break my wife of the habit when we started owning well-engineered cars that exhibited no bump-steer. Our driving conversations would go something like this; “Why did you just move the steering wheel honey? Okay, now at this next bump, try holding the steering wheel perfectly steady and see what happens. There see, the car is still going straight, so you don’t need to move the wheel each time you feel a bump.” That was the nice approach. After a while it would sometimes go like this; “Would you please stop rocking the G.D. steering wheel or let me drive, your making me sick!” Once you have some miles in a car with out the bump-steer, and learn not to rock that steering wheel, you will suddenly find that you can drive much further with out feeling tired. You will never again accept a car with any bump-steer. If you have never experienced it, then you simply don’t know any better and GM can continue to dump flawed cars on an unsophisticated public.
Anyone considering a new Buick Century or one of its similar cousins should seriously think again if they plan to use it for long trips. You will not be happy unless you rarely drive more than 45mph. It’s unbelievable to me that General Motors would be producing new cars with this much bump-steer. But, most of the customers don’t know any better, they are use to it, and have never driven a car without excessive bump-steer. You see them every day weaving back and forth and drifting out of their lanes when slightly distracted. I hope that by making a few of you aware of the problem it will start to bug you enough not spend your hard-earned money on this junk put out by GM. Quality in design and engineering does not have to equal higher prices for production and sale.
Nov 26, 2001 (2:49 pm)
"Anyone considering a new Buick Century or one of its similar cousins should seriously think again if they plan to use it for long trips. You will not be happy unless you rarely drive more than 45mph. It’s unbelievable to me that General Motors would be producing new cars with this much bump-steer."
Well, I own a 2001 Chevy Impala LS (W-Body cousing to the Regal/Century) and the car is an absolute pleasure to drive in the highway, even at 110MPH...just point and shoot, plus at high speeds it feels like it is on rails.
I think it is a blanket statement to say that all GM midsize cars do have a built in problem of Bumper Steer based on a test drive of a RENTED Buick Century. I think the problem you encountered with that car was on that car alone (Perhaps it has frame damage or some other related suspension/front end damage), but I can assure you that in my W-body experiences, I have never encountered the Bumper Steer condition you are referring to.
Sorry to burst your bubble, but GM midsize sedans do not exhibit this condition contrary to what you claim. I will suggest for you to test drive a new GM Midsize sedan, whether it is Impala, Grand Prix, Regal or Intrigue and you won't experience the Bumper Steer condition on those cars, at all.
Finally if you are implying that GM buyers/owners are a bunch of retarded, unrefined people that don't know any better, again you are wrong. I think you are trying way too hard to prove your points while pushing your agenda of "Look how sophisticated I am, I only drive Mercedes Benz while you lowly idiots drive GMs). So spare your insulting, deceiving and ellitist comments with your MB buddies. While your explanation of what Bumper steer is appreciated, your side, flamming comments are not.
#212 of 482 Century is a great car
Nov 26, 2001 (6:59 pm)
I was very interested in reading about the Bump Steer. Indeed, I will monitor my driving habits to see if I am one of the mind-numbed.
I remember this condition with old cars I used to drive, but don't seem to notice it in my recent cars. I have driven a century on long trips and thought it to be an exceptional car. Unlike my German co-workers, I prefer a large car ride for long trips. To me, soft and quiet is the definition of luxury. To boot, the century has good power and great fuel economy.
Nov 27, 2001 (12:29 pm)
I have a 2000 Buick Regal. Practically the same body as Century.
Made several longer trips from my home in South-Central Connecticut, including:
- To Rochester and Niagara Falls, NY, about 400-450 miles each way. Three days trip: Friday evening to Rochester, Saturday in Niagara Falls, Sunday back to home.
- To White Mountains in NH. Pleasure trips, optimized for sightseeing, not the shortest distance. First day I-91 through CT, MA, VT, than rural NH roads through Dartmouth College, route 118 across the Western White Mountains, and I-93 to North. One day driving around White Mountains, including Mount Washington, and return by route 112 and I-93 to North. The last day by I-93 across White Mountains to South, than across the Lake Region of NH to the border of Maine, by NH state highways along the border to the South, by I-95 across the NH shoreline to MA, I-495 to I-90, I-90, I-84, I-91 to home.
- A one-day trip to Cape Cod, MA - to a sand beach somewhere after Truro. This is about 250 miles each way through Newport, RI. Returned the same evening, get home deep in night.
I do not know, if my car does not manifest the "bump steering", or if its comfortable seats and smouth ride are compensating the problem, but I was not tired substantially by driving the distances.
#214 of 482 Century Quiet
Nov 28, 2001 (12:49 pm)
I have a dilemma...I love the ride of the century and feel it is definitely the quietest car in it's price range. However, I'm not all that taken with it's interior appearance. In addition, it has that senior citizen reputation. I have driven a 2002 and was impressed with the engine, despite what people say about it's old design. Any younger century owners out there?(I'm 34)
Nov 28, 2001 (1:18 pm)
I am 30 and own a 2001 Impala LS with the 3800 Series II Engine.
If you like the Buicks, take a look at the Buick Regal GS with the 240HP Supercharged 3800 V6 engine. It is the ultimate ARRP mobile that can take a few MB's and BMW's by surprise at the stoplights..
Dec 01, 2001 (9:41 pm)
That was quite a long rendition of pure garbage. The poor buick was probably maintained like a lot of rentals are. The problem sounds like improper tire inflation and, or, alignment problem. I too have had some bad experiences with improperly maintained rental cars. But I tried not to blame the manufacturer for the maintenance problems.
I do not drive a Century but have driven them as rentals and was a very smooth and pleasant ride in all cases.
#217 of 482 Bump steer THIS!
Dec 08, 2001 (9:31 am)
I have to agree with houndog3. Sounds like Brucec3 has other motives for his post. Although I am a happy owner of a Regal GS, on various business trips I've rented Bonnevilles, Centurys and Impalas; driving them round trip from Denver to Casper, WY. For rentals, all three cars have been great. The Century being the easiest to drive crusing up and down I-25 while the Bonneville demanding a bit more attention due to its size. But the ride and handling was as expected: A highway cruiser happy going 70+ MPH.
Needless to say I have experienced no such bump steer issues in my Regal GS after a pleasurable 16,500 miles. If I have one issue with my car, its that I can punch the throttle half way as I sneak into traffic and still get mild tire spin with traction control turned on. Talk about gobbles of torque!!
#218 of 482 A funny noise
Dec 21, 2001 (6:04 pm)
I love my 2001 Buick Century, and it is running great. There is just this one little noise that is starting to irritate me. This noise would probably not be noticable on most cars. The Buick Century's interior is normally so quiet, that you hear things that you wouldn't on noisier cars.
If any body knows what the noise is I would appreciat some advice. Here is the description:
Noise: A high pitched whine.
Where: Emanates from the entire body of the car. From outside the vehicle, you have to put your ear on the body to hear it. From inside it can be heard throughout the interior, coming from no particular direction. It does not appear to be coming from the engine compartment.
When: This part is tricky. It has nothing to do with the engine speed, you can accelerate and not notice any difference. It only occurs when the vehicle has stopped moving, like when stopped for a red light. However, when you first start the engine and listen before the vehicle has gone anywhere, the sound is not there. You must travel a few yards, and then stop, before the noise starts. Also, after the noise has started (after stopping the vehicle), you can turn off the engine, and then restart it and the noise will be gone - until you move forward and come to a stop again.
I would appreciate any help. I don't think the service people can help me unless I can tell them where it is coming from.
#219 of 482 tomodel...
Dec 21, 2001 (9:09 pm)
Just an idea look around the power brake booster for a vacuum leak.
I am probably 20 feet in the ditch !!! but since there is no noise when you start the car(booster empty)brake not activated, and that you have noise when the booster is operational and in use...
The booster is bolted to the firewall, so this is maybe why you can hear the noise through the body and inside the car...