1990 Buick Electra Park Avenue too hot to handle


New member
Buick Ownership
1990 Buick Electra park avenue
I have owned a 1990 Electra Park Avenue for several years and have experienced all its gremlins over the course of that time. It came with a mystery power drain that was random and infrequent but was simply bypassed by the previous owned with a battery cutoff switch. This was a satisfying solution. The car over the course of time has had cranking problems when the engine is hot. The condition gave that weak battery effect where it slowly turns over but not enough to start the car, then gives out after a few turns. After it sits and cools, it becomes happy again. Early on this condition was rectified by a new alternator, new battery, or replacing that battery switch with a version that was a little more durable. The car does have all its records and noticeably consumes an alternator every four to five years. Over the last year or more, the issue has become more persistent and the engine compartment does seem to become roasting hot in an extremely short amount of time. I have a tendency to park it with the hood up to buy some time. For some reason, cooling the alternator quickly helped for a while but made little logical sense as to why. I thought alternator again but it has been replaced and the one that was removed is fine, so I ride with a spare. I thought maybe the starter is just worn after thirty years and binds some when hot, but a new one had no effect. A weak water pump seemed like a possibility and rather inexpensive, so gave it a try even though it had been replaced along with the radiator and hoses five years prior. The check engine light had been own when there was no problem, but I had thought maybe something new might have registered, but it only read low voltage at TPS. It was damaged and was replaced but seems entirely unrelated. It did not effect the check engine light either. It goes off as it is given gas down the roadway but returns at cruising speed. It has taken longer and longer to cool. During the slow driving and frequent stopping conditions following the hurricane it developed a leak that seemed to be at the very front corner of the engine because of the lack of parts stores or mail service and the need to search for supplies, I had toss in one of those sealant products, which worked for a little while but since the options were still waiting long periods for cooling or to leave it running, it was clearly loosing air around the intake manifold. Once mail services resumed these parts became available to me again and the intake manifold gaskets clearly were failing, but it seems to have just been a symptom of warm condition rather than the cause. I cleaned a lot of carbon from the intake, throttle body, whatever that weird little device was from the exhaust to the intake (it was constricted to only a quarter of its air flow. I cleaned the injectors as well. The thermostat has been removed (as these have a reputation of being faulty from the manufacturer and I live in rather warm conditions year round). The motor seems to have more power and this activity somehow fixed a sluggish shift between first and second gear that it developed when started the day?, but opening that restricted pipe from the exhaust thingy seems to have exasperated the over heating problem. Earlier the idiot light on the temp sensor only came on when the leak emerged and failed to click on when it should have after that. I did replace the sending unit fearing it to be faulty. It did come on while idling briefly at a friends house and cutoff while driving back towards my home. The car seems to idle too high in my opinion but adjusting the throttle position sensor does not seem to have an effect (that is I can adjust it higher but not lower). The heater core, I have chosen to bypass since the digital controls have never let me access the heater and I feared air bubbles interfering with things, plus I did detect a leak emerging with the hose when I was unable to secure the exact part but could find a long bypass hose that size immediately. It has allowed me to verify the pump is working fine as that hose and the radiator become hot immediately and the system does not leak water anywhere. This 3800 v6 system reaches a hot pressurized temp so much more quickly than the older relics from the yard that it really baffles me. It becomes to hot to crank again in only a few short miles and some basic things I am just unsure. Is there any way to lower the idle on a car with these computers, sensors, and fuel injectors like a carburetor once had? Maybe the radiator, radiator fan, oil pump, oil cooler, or something is a little less efficient now than they need to be? Could any off these sensors be malfunctioning without sending a code? The car ran for several years without such significant issues, but I do not feel the intake or radiator fan set up matches as it should. The radiator has one large fan but the parts supplier list a left and a right. The intake has water flowing through the back by the throttle body but not up front, while the heads themselves obviously have a port present to circulate the coolant through an intake in this area. Since this worked before, it should still work as such, but something has changed over the years and I hate to drive it until it blows if there is some simple fix. I need to take it on a long journey to find a replacement vehicle, as my needs have changed towards a heavier duty vehicle, and I not only need it to make this trip but would like to see it move onto the next owner in a useable condition.

If anyone has a suggestion on how to keep my cool, it would be much appreciated.


Sustaining Member
Buick Ownership
2000 buick lesabre custom
So this may have absolutely nothing to do with your car but it brought back to memory a car I once owned ( the owner I found out later knew this but didn’t bother to tell me ) it was I believe a 1964 olds holiday or something like that and once the engine got to running temp which was higher than it should have been , would not start or Even turn over until the engine completely cooled off , it was the crank , it was warped .


Junior Member
Buick Ownership
I have a 2002 PA with 230,000 miles. Runs great still. Long ago, I put in a 180 degree thermostat. My cooling fans rarely kick on. Also, put on a transmission cooler. At about 120-130k miles, I replaced the water pump, cam shaft and crankshaft position sensors. They were working okay, but I read these were weak spots, so I just went ahead and replaced them. Bad timing can cause overheating. A high idle can result from advance timing. Hard start when hot sounds like a starter going failing--you replaced it though. High idle can result from a vacuum leak as well. If you put one hand on the upper radiator hose and one hand on the lower, they should be about the same temp. Could be a blockage of some sort. Have you replaced the thermostat? My 3.8 does not warm up instantly. Takes about 4-6 miles.
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