How much is too much? 1987 Buick Century


New member
Buick Ownership
1987 Buick Century Wagon + 1992 Buick Roadmaster Wagon
I have a 1987 Buick Century that I love but am starting to wonder how much is too much.....meaning how much money should I put into Dorothy. She needs brake lines, fuel lines and a complete exhaust system from catalytic converter back. She is also going to need a radiator as it looks pretty rusty - although not leaking at the moment. Dorothy has the 3.8, which I love and she only has 88K miles on her. But she also has an annoying starting problem that nobody can diagnose, much less fix. She doesn't like to start if it is cold outside - so I have to put an electric blanket over her hood once the temperature drops below 55-60 degrees. She is a little "Woody" and I love her pep but she also needs a glass person to take apart the driver's door and put her crank window back on track before she will pass inspection. So I am probably going to need to put over $1,0000 into her (not counting a radiator). Any thought about when you pass these cars on. Oh, I have been told that her body is solid - which is a miracle for a New England car. This photo shows what Dorothy looks like although she is a year older.



Full Member
Buick Ownership
2007 Lucerne CXL. and 1995 Lesabre currently, past 1973 Riviera, 1968 Riviera
It would be the sale of your car "as is" plus the $1000.00 you didn't spend on repairs, which sounds a little low, towards a replacement vehicle. The doesn't start cold issue is also a concern.

As you have a state inspection it's not like it can be put off indefinitely I assume, we don't have them in Illinois just emissions test on 1996 and newer. I'm not sure on how much you can make on a privite sale for a car that would require work to be legal in your state. If it can be sold out of state with no inspections all the better as it would be drivable.

In the burbs of Chicago what you described on needed repairs, line's, exaust, radiator and door window it's $1500 to $2000 at a shop. Plus add the unknown starting cold problem, I'd consider trading it in on the first warm day and it now becomes someone else's problem.

You have a great car, I had a Celebrity version, but it's the age of the parts and not the milage now which needs to be considered long term if you keep it.


3.8L Member
The Gem State
Buick Ownership
1996, 92 Buick Century
The Buick 3.8 of that era uses a nylon coated, pot metal, camshaft timing gear. Unless it has been replaced, this should be replaced ASAP, if there is any intention of keeping the car long term. The original gear can disintegrate at any time, and these are interference engines, i.e. serious internal damage to the valves and possibly pistons.
This camshaft timing gear design was common to nearly all domestic, light duty V8s, and was adequate. The inherent roughness of a 90 degree V6 that came from a V8 design was entirely too much for a marginal component (it is claimed it was done for 'quietness'). This flaw was corrected when GM did a partial redesign on the Buick 3.8 and designated it the '3800'.
I have 2 Buick Century's ('92 and '96) in rust free Idaho. Be very wary of spending money on your car with the ticking time bomb of the original Buick 3.8 camshaft gear.


New member
Buick Ownership
1993 Buick Century
How much is to much...depends on the situation. The only problem with yours that I don't know about is your starting issue. Other than that, everything else you said is wrong you are looking at maybe $500 in parts and 1 evening working on the car assuming you also do your own work and buy the parts yourself. If you like the car I would just repair it.


Junior Member
Buick Ownership
I had my 94s brake lines replaced by a retired mechanic bud for $50 in tubing and $100 labor.
He also put on new muffler and pipe from cat for $60 labor and parts were $90 buxs.
Muffler shop wanted almost $500 bucks to do it!
Hes gonna replace the heater core $25 for $50.

Sure I put a few bux into my 94 century that I bought for $800 6 years ago BUT it runs great
uses no oil and is a trusty winter rat so my new cars don't get rusted and beat in our brutal
NY winters.
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