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Buick Park Avenue, Sedan
#368 of 519 Opinion of 1997-2005 Park Avenues
Dec 12, 2006 (3:16 pm)
I posted a similar question in the Regal forum a few days back, but for those of you that have owned a PA from this time frame, or maybe have owned two+, what is your overall opinion of them?
I presently have a 1998 Regal GS and thought I'd sound out folks on what they think about the other Super Charged car in Buick's lineup. I am doing the math on whether it is worth doing maintenance upgrades/replacements on my higher mileage car or perhaps making the leap into a newer one.
I prefer FWD, the stability of the base 3.8 with the luxury of the SC attached to it, and the overall comfort of Buicks vis a vis other rides. Even when dealing with the gran touring suspension, you are not necessarily talking something that will rattle your bones. I'm not in Buick's traditional demographic, 39, but appreciate their historical virtues (ride/reliability/balance of old and new technology).
Anyway, if anyone is good enough to respond, I'm not asking you to type a manuscript, just what were/are the highlights or lowlights?
Thanks in advance...
#369 of 519 97 Buick PA Front wheel groan
Dec 20, 2006 (2:48 am)
I have a 1997 Park Avenue that I bought last summer with 126000 miles on it. Fortunately 1 week after I bought it from the dealership the intake issue occured and that was repaired under warranty. At the same time I had them look at the front end, because I was experiencing a groaning noise. They replaced the driverside wheel bearing and said that they still noticed something, but it should be OK. A month later I replaced the passenger side wheel bearing which quieted things down quite a bit, but it allowed me to hear that the driver side was still making noise. I put my breaker bar on the nut on the Driver side and found that it was not tight at all, after tightening the passenger side with a 4 foot pipe, it thought that something was wrong. The dealership agreed to free issue a new bearing to me under warranty so that I could replace it myself. Now I am at 140000 and the Driver side is getting really noisy again.
Here is my question? I did not torque it to any specification ( what should it be?), but I did tighten it pretty good ( 4 foot pipe X 250lbs on it with a 3/4" Breaker bar). How critical is the torque? Could the groan be caused by something else, Also it definitely gets more pronounced when I turn to the right.
I called the local NAPA thinking about replacing the CV/drive shaft, but they said I should look at the brakes and go back to the wheel bearings adn that the torques is very critical.
Your thoughts and suggestions are greatly appreciated
#370 of 519 Re: 97 Buick PA Front wheel groan [pboerschlein]
Dec 20, 2006 (5:48 am)
The drive axle nut on a 1998 LeSabre is...107 lb-ft. That means on a 4 ft long bar you would press down with a force of 27 pounds. I would believe the Park A is the same front unit for the wheel. Easiest way is to stop at a dealership, the one giving you the bearing?, and ask them to verify. The guy in the shop who does the bearings will have it memorized. The tech writer may not know unless they have been a mechanic as well.
It's odd the bearing would go bad again unlessthe tightness damaged it. The groan could be tire treads giving a sound on tires that have worn unevenly. I had Michelin X-Ones on a car for several years and started to get a bearing sound from one of the two tires left (I had intentionally worn two faster than other two to replace and get good bite in snow-so older pair had 5 or so years of age). A mechanic in the scout troop said the rubber in tires hardens as it ages when I had him look at the crazing in the rubber treads to see if it was rot.
I got a sound on front and it was still there when the tire was on the rear. New Harmonys to replace the old pair and sound was gone.
I have also read in H-body discussions that a bearing the differential (transfer case I think they called it) part of the transmission can cause a noise. But it wouldn't have gone away with the first bearing replacement. Did your noise go away? That wuold eleminate tires and transfer case bearing.
#371 of 519 Re: 97 Buick PA Front wheel groan [imidazol97]
Dec 20, 2006 (8:51 am)
Even after replacing the bearings both fronts at different times, the noise never completely went away. I recently put new tires on the car(about 3000 miles ago) and did not notice any step change in the sound old / vs new. I saw a TSB talking about a groan and it was telling how to loosen the rear mounts for the transaxle and trying to center them back in their slots. I am going to jack the car up and see if there is any loosness in the bearings. If anything they are to tight and definitely not to loose.
#372 of 519 I like my '97 PA Ultra...
Dec 21, 2006 (8:11 am)
>I posted a similar question in the Regal forum a few days
>back, but for those of you that have owned a PA from this
>time frame, or maybe have owned two+, what is your overall
>opinion of them?
>I presently have a 1998 Regal GS and thought I'd sound out
>folks on what they think about the other Super Charged car
>in Buick's lineup.
>I'm not in Buick's traditional demographic, 39, but
>appreciate their historical virtues
>(ride/reliability/balance of old and new technology).
>Anyway, if anyone is good enough to respond, I'm not asking
>you to type a manuscript, just what were/are the highlights
I really like my '97 PA Ultra, which was the first year of the final PA generation ('97-'05). Handles well (rolls a bit, but grip is good); acceleration is good for a car this size, especially off the line, though I'm sure it's not as quick as your Regal; brakes are very good; mileage is surprisingly good (low 20's in around town mixed driving, 35+ at 55-60 mph, 30 mpg at 70-75, 27 mpg overall across Alabama and Georgia with the cruise set on 80); quiet; comfortable (my wife loves the heated seats and dual zone climate controls); huge trunk; great sound system; keyless entry, etc.; and it's a Q-ship without being too stodgy looking.
BTW, I'm 36. Yes, it's possible for Gen-X'ers to like PA's...the little SUPERCHARGED badge on the trunk helps...I love it when I pull up to a stop light, and the kid in the Civic behind me jumps in the left lane because he thinks I'm going to be slow off the green...hehehe...
One of these days, I'll probably put some exhaust tips from an '03-'05 PA Ultra on it, and I did rig it so I could switch the DRL's off (they are brighter than the high-beams on many cars, aargh--instructions at http://www.lightsout.org), but other than that it's as I bought it. Interior is holding up VERY well, despite the two enthusiastic kids that it regularly transports.
FWIW, here's a Popular Mechanics review of the PA Ultra compared to some other full-size cars, from '98-ish. The PA Ultra rates pretty well:
Performance figures, from page 8:
Buick Park Avenue Ultra
EPA mileage rating: 18/27
PM observed mileage during test: 20.8
0-60: 7.7 seconds
1/4 mile: 15.6 sec, 89.8 mph
Passing acceleration, 40-70 mph: 5.9 seconds
Braking 60-0: 131 feet
PM Slalom: 44.9 mph
Skidpad: 0.72 g (w/all-season tires, not bad)
Interior noise, idle: 52.8 dBA
Interior noise, full throttle: 77.8 dBA
Interior noise, 60 mph: 68.6 dBA
Mine doesn't have the center console, just a fold-down armrest with storage, and the way PM tells it, I'm not missing much.
Considering that you can get a nice latest-generation PA Ultra used for $5000 to $10,000, I'd say they're a good buy, and the used ones are often in excellent shape. I'd definitely get another one. The one thing I might look for that mine doesn't have is one with the optional heads-up display (I'm a gadget geek).
The only downside I see--they are expensive to have worked on, but mine has been pretty reliable, and considering the car now has 145,000 miles (IIRC) it's doing well. I did invest in a factory shop manual, but so far I have had the dealer change the SC belt and serpentine belt for me (requires removal of engine mount on this car, no fun), had a fuel line leak when I bought the car (seller paid for dealer to fix it), and I have replaced the front brake pads/rotors and changed the SC oil and plugs, minor stuff. It needs a set of rear shocks now (it's still on its original set), and I'll probably get those installed this week.
Also, the Ultra requires 93-octane fuel, or else performance and mileage suffer (that's probably true of all the supercharged 3.8's). But to me, the fuel requirement is well worth the increased performance over the normally aspirated 3800.
#373 of 519 Update on a 2000 Buick Park Avenue
Dec 23, 2006 (10:41 pm)
These are remarks about the status of a Year 2000 Buick Park Avenue, which now has 160,000 miles.
Oil consumption is 1/2 qt./5,000 miles running Mobil 1 10w/30 EP (15,000 rated oil between changes) and Mobil 1 2x filter.
Fuel consumption is around 25.8 long term, mostly highway miles running 75-80;
Recent work required:
>> Speedo Cluster PRNDL died, readout of gauges (oil pressure, etc. died); Fixed for $185 by Specmo of Madison Heights, MI, including new cover clear plastic, new power supply. I did the R&R myself. They have thousands of units in stock;
>> New Michelin MVX4 high economy tires, great ride, handling, smooth, roll like crazy, good fuel economy. These replaced identical tires removed, that had 110,000 miles on them, with a little tread left (3/32's");
>> Replaced original struts/rear shocks with Monroe sensatrac gas struts in front, Maxair shocks in rear; Tremendous improvement in ride and control- very close to Mercedes I have owned.
>> Installed all new rotors on brakes- performed by dealer with GM OEM parts- now extremely smooth, transforming the brakes and driving impression;
>> replaced Alternator at 157,000 with GM reman unit, although orig was performing well and had no problems. I was impressed that its bearings were still smooth!
This continues to be a great car and is solid even with high miles, like my prior Mercedes were. No rattles, smooth, still quiet, interior holding up well. Just tried Lucerne and Chrysler 300 and seats in both were not as good IMHO as my 2000 PA. I have the heads up display (HUD), which I really like, regardless of what the car mags weenies say. Also, I have the business console, which isn't the highest build quality, but which performs well- I like it! This car has 3 12v outlets up front- 1- the cig lighter, 1 at base of business console, and 1 inside the storage console between front seats.
Most common complaint I and others have is that the rear speaker for bass, is too loud and boomy for rear seat passengers.
I think this is one of the best cars GM ever made and it is the 6th Buick I have owned. GM never put the junk parts on the supercharged engine, like they did with the standard 3.8. They fixed the standard 3.8 in year 2000 (intake manifold). Also, the year 2000 has the "rolling code" garage opener. I have drived the latest Mercedes E class and they really feel like my PA.
I have hit two deer with Buicks, the latest one with this car and the deer came at the windshield, but did not break through. Thank God For Buicks! They are solid.
I will try to drive this car as long as I possible can- there are no new cars on the market that run as well or are more durable- yes, including Toyota, which is starting to have some quality issues. My 34 yoa daughter-in-law that thought she would hate this car, had to drive it on the freeway recently and was very surprised how well she liked it.."it doesn't feel like a great, big car".
So that is my Buick PS attaboy for the record.
#374 of 519 Thanks for the replies...
Dec 24, 2006 (6:01 pm)
Glad to hear there are other 30-somethings that appreciate what Buick had to offer in these cars. I'm really surprised at your hwy mileage, Ultra97...wow. I think I saw once a listing for the Regal GS that said its 0-60 times were in the 7.3 - 7.4 range, so the extra Ultra weight doesn't hurt it too much in the response time. And, an ultra is the perfect "toy" to have if you enjoy a bit of performance yet want to appear all practical and family-oriented at the same time...and sure does beat a mini-van
Buicks5...you posted this: Replaced original struts/rear shocks with Monroe sensatrac gas struts in front, Maxair shocks in rear; Tremendous improvement in ride and control- very close to Mercedes I have owned.
Not meaning to over-parse words, but did your ride end up smoother or stiffer? I'm guessing you mean stiffer/more controlled/not too stiff though.
I will now seriously put the PA on my Regal-replacement list when the time comes. Later model Regals are very hard to find, that is for sure.
Buicks may have a stodgy image with some, but people who care more about cars usually own and take care of them, making them wiser investments as used vehicles.
#375 of 519 Highway mileage
Dec 26, 2006 (6:06 am)
>I'm really surprised at your hwy mileage, Ultra97...wow.
I'm not sure if this makes a difference, but I run full synthetic oil (Mobil 1), and I have read that for a given viscosity rating, synthetic oil flows a little more freely, and I run the tires at 35 psi on road trips. But the supercharged 3800 is surprisingly efficient when not on boost, and it also helps that the PA Ultra is geared pretty high; at 55 mph, you're turning less than 1500 rpm in 4th gear, and about 2100 rpm at 80 mph, which is probably the big reason for the highway mileage numbers. By comparison, the 4-cylinder Camry I used to own ('87) was turning around 3200 rpm at 80 mph.
#376 of 519 Re: Highway mileage [97ultra]
Dec 28, 2006 (10:34 pm)
Does your dealer carry the synthetic or do you buy it yourself?
For 97Ultra or anyone else reading: Is it best to change to synthetic at "an early age" or can a car with any # of miles safely make the switch?
Also, is it as simple as having a regular oil change your last visit and then switching to synthetic - no other steps needed?
#377 of 519 Re: Highway mileage [bigunit67]
Dec 29, 2006 (4:10 am)
I buy the oil at Advance Auto, but you can also get it at Wal-Mart. It's pricey (~$5/quart) but lubricates better than regular oil, especially at high temperatures (which is why race cars use synthetic oil instead of the dinosaur-derived kind). I use "Mobil 1" brand, and stick with 10W30 weight like the manual recommends. I also like the Mobil 1 filters.
A car with any number of miles can be switched over--it's just a matter of filling it up with synthetic instead of petroleum distillate oil the next time you change it. The only caveat is, if you have oil leaks around gaskets and such, they will leak get a bit worse with synthetic because synthetic flows more freely than regular oil and sludges less, so it's more likely to seep past a bad valve cover gasket or pan gasket.
My PA has 145K miles at the moment, and I'm getting ready to replace the valve cover gaskets for that reason; it doesn't leak much (maybe half a quart in 2000 miles), but it's enough to bug me. I bought a pair of GM gaskets from the dealer and just need to get around to swapping them out.