New 98 Park Avenue Owner, What to look for?

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1998 Buick Park Avenue
Hi. I have a 1998 buick park avenue.
I had actually won it in an auction for a price of 430 dollars.
The only glaring issues it has is: rocker panel rust(though under the car is spotless), passenger door handle doesnt work from outside, the trunk key hole doesnt work that great(button works), the rear defroster doesn't appear to work, the driver door arm rest has a big cut in it, and someone put tape over it, the headlights are yellow, some climate control backlights dont work, some leaky valve covers, the radio keeps trying to "eject" a tape, and it has an unknown cause for a misfire.


I havn't owned a buick park avenue before, the closest vehicle I own is a 1990 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royale Brougham, which shares the same motor just from a previous generation. The car is not an ultra(im okay with that), and it has about 160,000 miles. Gran Touring suspension(unknown if it has the proper parts to make it work, though), and I fixed the common gas gause issue already.

What is everyone's two cents on the car? Its an internally comfy, nice leather interior car.

Any of the issues I describe common? What kind of things should I look for on the car?

Starting tomorrow I plan to do basic maintenance like oil, air filter, cabin air filter, spark plugs, wires.

The biggest issue I would like to fix would be the P0300. The misfire.

Im looking forward to spending years with this car as my current daily driver, a 2001 Oldsmobile Aurora, has a dying motor(bless her heart).
 

MikeSS

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1995 Park Avenue
Most of the things you mention you can fix yourself (as you appear to know already). 160K isn't all that many miles for that drivetrain. They often go 300K or more. I just sold miy '94 Olds (same drivetrain as yours) with 191K on it. Delivered it to Florida from San Diego in 2½ days going 90 - 110 most of the way with no road or wind noise. Great car for long trips. It used half a quart of oil on the 2800 mile trip. I wonder why your Aurora is dying? I think it's probably got the same engine . . . they usually last forever.

Once you restore your new car it should last a long time. I get reliably 29+ MPG on freeway driving. Probably around 20 stop and go in city. Comfortable car. Good luck with it.
 
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P0300 Code sort of explained here.
OBD-II Trouble Code: P0300 Random/Multiple Cylinder Misfire Detected

There is a laundry list of potential causes, but I am betting those pluugs and wires you are about to install might just get rid of it.

The things you describe about this car are common, well only for vehicles that have had approx zero upkeep and maintenance. But like stated above, most of it is pretty straightforward to fix and not too involved or complicated.
I do believe that in a very short period of time, you will become VERY familiar with the vehicle since the mild repaires you need to perform are all over the car.

Things to look out for I think will depend a slight bit on gographic location. Rust belt, etc. Northwest= water issues weatherstrips, southwest= crumbling wiring. Northeast=lots of rust and so on. In general I think if you put $1,000 into repairs, maintenance and upgrades, you will end up with a perfectly fine $1,500 car that will go the distance over the next decade.
 
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And don't put the poor aurora out to pasture just yet. Drive it while you are getting this one sorted out and once you are driving the Park Ave daily, then you can fiddle with the Aurora and possibly bring it back from the brink just enough to use as a second vehicle in a pinch because things break down unexpectedly and it is good to not need to ride the bus lol.
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2007 Lucerne CXL, 1995 Lesabre currently, past 1973 Riviera, 1968 Riviera
Spend as much time on the forum and Google "1998 buick park avenue problems" there's a wealth of information about your car, which as you are working on it you can check if it's a problem. When getting a vehicle with a unknown history or service background assume that it could be bad until you check. There is usually a set of common problems, when you do a search if it comes up 10 times it's common LOL, so see if that area or part has been serviced.

The brake lines would be a concern along with the fluid if you are in the salt rust belt, I didn't see a gas filter on your list but it may have been omitted. TB and MAF cleaning may be something to put on the list as basic mantinance or at least check, again just ideas when getting the unknown vehicle and trying not getting the unknown surprise, good luck on your new car.
 
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Also, Lately I have been doing a lot of repairs on different vehicles that I have and I have found that my nephews advise was really good (For a change) when he suggested YouTube how-to videos to get a good idea of what is involved in certain repairs. A 96 Infiniti I30 has a great running and reliable engine, but working on that thing absolutely Blows and I would have been totally lost and recieved many unwanted surprises attempting a simple waterpump replacement if I had not watched the videos first. (It's INSIDE the engine) I can't reccomend YouTube videos enough, it is awesome info.
 
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1998 Buick Park Avenue
I have a lot of mechanical experience, I even had a 3.8l before(just series 1). I was just looking into what owners HERE find and if anyone had any insight into some of the issues i posted. I definitely will post them as their own threads if I cant figure it out or find other threads, but just looking into owners' experiences.
 

MikeSS

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1995 Park Avenue
When chasing parts or components other than the body/trim, keep in mind the Oldsmobile of the same year is exactly the same under the skin. I don't know which models, but GM used that same drivetrain for one of their Pontiac models and one of their Chevy models too. I've never had to track down the info on the Chevy or Pontiac models but the point is, if you're anywhere near a junkyard there may be many more sources for parts than just those on a Buick Park Avenue of that year. The main thing (if anything) that will vary is the ECM, but if you match the number on the ECM to the one on your car, it'll work. I replaced one for $30 or so that parts places wanted several hundred dollars for - dealers I think.
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Hmm Thought I was being insightful or helpful

As for my experiance it's just 40 years of 98% diy across all brands and many models. As for my experience with this particular vehicle and opinion of it, I think it is an over-rated, Overpriced POS with an overabundant and inexplicable use of cheap flimsy plastic as well as having The Absolute worst electrical system in the Entire Industry.
But I doubt that is either insightful or helpful
 
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1998 Buick Park Avenue
Uh I think you mis read me bro, I wasnt trying to be offensive. I apologize if it came out that way. Im 20 and just happen to learn a lot about cars and fixing them.
Im not discoutning youtube, I use it all the time. Its probably the best resource where people can share information especially if you are a visual learner. I do know how to do that stuff, so I was saying I know more than the average person my age, because Im new no one really knows me on this forum.

And did you have bad experience with your buick? Do you still have it?
And on electrical systems, I can agree to the extent they make lightbulbs in dash, radio, etc UNCHANGEABLE. Who the hell thought that and why arent they retroactively fired.
 

MikeSS

New member
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Buick Ownership
1995 Park Avenue
Uh I think you mis read me bro, I wasnt trying to be offensive. I apologize if it came out that way. Im 20 and just happen to learn a lot about cars and fixing them.
Im not discoutning youtube, I use it all the time. Its probably the best resource where people can share information especially if you are a visual learner. I do know how to do that stuff, so I was saying I know more than the average person my age, because Im new no one really knows me on this forum.

And did you have bad experience with your buick? Do you still have it?
And on electrical systems, I can agree to the extent they make lightbulbs in dash, radio, etc UNCHANGEABLE. Who the hell thought that and why arent they retroactively fired.
 

MikeSS

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1995 Park Avenue
My '94 had 117K miles on it when I bought it in a little town in Oklahoma near the Arkansas border. It had 191K on it when I delivered it to its new owner in Florida. That was the most amazingfly trouble-free car. The fuel pump failed at 175,000 or a little more and the shop put in a crap O'Reiley's pump that failed within thirty days. I suggested they put in a better quality pump since changing it out is such a hassle but no . . . the shop (whose doors I'll never darken again) put the same brand back in saying, "We normally don't have any problem with these pumps." Van's Automotive, Steve the owner for many, many years, told me those words. Of course the second one failed too, just outside the 30 day warranty but I was on my way to Vegas when it failed so what would that shop have done . . . had it towed back to El Cajon to put another crappy fuel pump in? I doubt it. I stumbled across a good shop in Barstow that put in an AC Delco, which is what I had suggested to Steve of Van's Automotive. "Naw . . . we never have any problems with these O'Reilly crap pumps we put in . . ."

Except for those fuel pump problems, totally the fault of old age on the factory pump and the fault of a cheapo shop on the following two failures, that car never gave a bit of trouble, electrical or otherwise.

This '95 I've got however is a different story. Plugging a GPS in to the ashtray socket blew a fuse, the system has a slow leak that will bring a battery from 12.7 to 12.35 in two days. The solenoid certainly is electrical - could you answer that question about whether my ignition switch goes through a relay before it opens the circuit from the battery to the solenoid? Seems like it would have to eh?

I tried the "hammer trick" on the solenoid. It actually started to catch on the first turn of the key but then nothing but clicks. Banging on it with a hammer did provoke a change in behavior so I'm convincing myself more and more that I just need a new solenoid. Or have the old one rebuilt - which is my preference unless I learn more about the situation.

This '95 has the digital panel - which is scary. My '94 had normal needle and scale gauges. This electronic dash is an "upgrade" but it's a bit scary thinking how just one little short or bad fuse or something might take out the whole panel. I'm not reading a lot of complaints about the digital dash though . . . so maybe it'll be okay. With all the electronic stuff, seats, dash, traction control, radio & electric antenna, just a huge bunch of circuits going everywhere including the mirrors (even the inside rear view mirror has some kind of electronic compass built into it). Fighting electrical stuff is something I don't want to do with this '95 so your comment about electrical systems on these cars is not encouraging.

I've no idea how this '95 is going to act. I'm not real impressed with it at this point because of the battery drain and the starting problem (which only started once I got the car home!!) How could a dealer fix it so a car will start instantly when someone arrives unexpectedly to look at it?

I think the Iraqi car dealer put a curse on it as I drove it away. Those people always leave me with the feeling I need to check my pockets after being around them. It was a hugely nice looking car and I know my way around them to some extent so I bought it at the dealer's price, 2800. Time will tell if these initial troubles are just simple coincidence or whether they are indications of more electrical troubles down the road.
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I have been doing vehicle based forums since back in 1998 and I have definately noticed that some are better than others as far as information and how-to tips etc. I have seen some where the best technical advice there, was,"You better have that checked out" LOL No, Really ! And then there are others like my fav Mopar Forums that are like the Holy Grail of Technical info sharing, with diy'ers, hot rodders and even racers ready to chime in and help out. There are forums that cover many models of only old cars and some that cover many models of only newer cars and some that do both. Then there are the forums that are extremely model specific and are only about every gen of only One Model It is sometimes difficult to find really good ones that cover many models both new and old that are very informative or that are very busy.. I have seen some so slow they didn't have even 2 new posts in a week and others where One Week would send you back 20 pages. Where this one falls in the grand scheme of things is as yet undecided. I registered almost a year ago, asked a question and didn't get much of a response. I came back a couple days ago to ask another question and again didn't get much of a response, so we shall see. My standard might be high, but I've been spoiled and if this forum doesn't cut it I will move on to better if I can find one.

This car, the 94 Park Ave I still have it. Originally bought it for my Mother back in 2005 with 135K on the clock. It was maintained fair and went a good many miles and years without needing too awful much. Mom allowed my neices and nephews to beat it up a bit and I would always be fixing it when I came from out of state. Well, Been here taking care of Mom the last 5 years and this thing has been parked for the most part since 2014. she recently died so I ended up getting this thing back again and so far it feels like somewhat of a "Ha Ha, In Your Face" kind of thing because the more I inspect it, the more needs to be done to it.
When it comes to "Light bulbs that can't be replaced" I haven't run into that yet, but dry cracked crumbling apart wiring I definately have, I'm just glad I haven't needed to crawl under the dash to locate the REAL horrors, but eventually I might need to. I was undecided whether to fix it and keep it, to part it out and scrap it (Was Higher Probability) Or to sell it "As Is" for a few hundred bucks and call it a day. My Nephew said he wanted to find a car for his "Baby Momma" and I told him he could HAVE this thing, it just needs a bit of fixing. He never came to get it so it just sat. Then his now Ex-girlfriend "Baby Momma" called me and asked me about it, saying he had mentioned it to her and that she had moved back to the city and had no transportation. So I decided to go ahead and fix it myself and then turn it over to the single mother who is now driving my spare 04 Ford Escape until I get this thing sorted out.
The harmonic balancer has been replaced twice now, so I would keep an eye on that other things like
2017 HARMONIC BALANCER:
2017 A/C RECHARGE
2017 BATTERY (had to register so needed a smog test and Niece borrowed for couple months brought it back beat to hell)
2013 A/C FILTER SCREEN/ORIFICE:
2013 A/C DRIER (Evaporator/Accumulator):
2013 A/C COMPRESSOR:
2013 REAR SHOCKS
2012 TIRES: ALL 4
2012 ALTERNATOR: 130 AMP:
2012 IGNOTION CONTROL MODULE:
2012 CRANK POSITION SENSOR:
2011 STARTER MOTOR:
2010 MOTOR MOUNT, PASS SIDE:
2010 WATER PUMP:
2010 SPARK PLUGS AND WIRES:
2009 TRUNK PULL DOWN MECHANISM
2009 HEATER HOSES:
2009 HEATER CORE:
2008 WINDOW MOTOR Rear Pass
2008 A/C & HEATER BLOWER MOTOR:
2008 RADIATOR
2007 BRAKE PADS:
2007 ALIGNMENT: Firestone Lifetime: Been Redone Several Times As Needed.
2007:FRONT STRUTS
2007 TIRES ALL 4
2006: HARMONIC BALANCER:
were mostly done by me when I either A lived nearby B came to visit from afar Or C after I moved here to take care of Mom. There might be other things I am not aware of and I am going off memory on others so I am positive this is a partial list. All of this is between 135K and 190K miles
and the list of repairs I am working on so far since June I have done both Power Steering Hoses, Both Trans Mounts, Torque Strut Mount, All 20 Lug Studs And New Lug Nuts (Impact Wrench Damage To All) And I am getting ready to install a TransGo Shift Kit (The Whole Kit) Nothing wrong with the trans currently but going to replace all of the solenoids, switches, wire harness, pump bearing, Vacuum Modulator, Channel Plate Sleeve, etc. etc. while I am in the side case because it is NOT fun to get into the trans at all and don't want to have to do it all again in a year because of a 200K mile wearout of an electrical part inside., From there I will move on to the Window Motor Driver front. I already have all these parts just need to get it done as soon as I can find an answer to my Trans Question. From there I am going to move on to Sway Bar Bushings (because I saw damage while dropping the subframe), Power Radio Antena (because it never worked) Air Shock Compressor and Air Lines (because air lines always had a slow leak and now compressor is SHOT), Both Fenders have the telltale Park Avenue CRACK in them just in front of the front doors (which I have seen quite a few that way) so I am thinking about replacing those also. And I am Positive the list will get much longer because every time I decide to fix something,, .... I see something else that is in need of attention. and then there is the Power Window Buttons Constantly Break and have been replaced more times than I can remember. Always the passenger window switches because if the contacts get worn everyone seems to think forcing the switch more forward will make it work and SNAP there goes another cheap plastic switch lever. and that is likely why they are no longer designed tall like that and plastic. Back in the day the tall switch levers were METAL and Never Broke, now all of them are Flat Rocker Style that can't be forced that way Oh and that little handle in the back seat on the cieling? Do NOT Ever Let Anyone Use It, it will pull off in their hand and it rips out of the cardboard headliner backing. The little clips are tricky to get unlatched and the plastic will fall apart making it useless. I have been to the junkyard quite a few times in an attempt to replace those, only to have someone rip it right out again. I could likely go ON and ON and really I already have, so I should stop before I go into full rant mode on the deficiencies of this vehicle. But asside from all these things, if it is maintained well and treated with ANY kind of respect, it can be a really good and reliable car that gets great HWY mileage.
 
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Oh, Oh, I just remembered. Power Mirror Assembly. There is a reason they are now sold as a Complete Unit.
They use to sell just the glass that has little plastic pieces on the back that need to be pressed into the power unit. The power unit is attached with three screws to the main housing. The problem is that the plastic power unit has mounting holes that stick out like little rabbit ears rather than going through the main body of the unit and are very thin and easy to break. The mirror glass piece is a SUPER tight fit so when you try to push the mirror piece back into the motor unit, the little rabbit ear pieces will snap right off and then the entire mirror and motor unit will just fall out of the housing and dangle.
I found out about that once when some scumbag who didn't want to buy a new glass piece for their own hoopdie tried to pry the mirror glass off while Mom's car was parked in a busy supermarket parking lot in the handicapped zone right in front. When I saw this I asked what happened and she didn't know, said that it was just like that when she came out of the store. So, I went to the junkyard, easily popped off a glass piece, brought it home, removed the old one and then attempted to "pop" the replacement into the motor unit by pressing it in with my thumbs. It Would NOT "pop" in, it was a Super Tight Fit. I tried a bit more thumb pressure, No Dice. I tried thumbs as hard as I thought the glass could take and still nothing, it wouldn't go. So I thought about it a few minutes and decided that perhaps a quick jolt might do the trick, so I hit it with the side of my fist, not real hard, but a quick jolt and Still No, so I increased the force of the quick fist jolt a little more and a little more and then it finally "Popped" into the motor unit.
The next day driving the car Mom told me her mirror was hanging out by the cable. WHAT???? I looked at it and apparently the prongs on the mirrir glass that dictate the angle and tilt of the glass is such a tight fit going IN that the force required to install the glass breaks the motor unit mounts. How Cool Is That ?? TRY to find a new mirrir glass today, might be hard to locate, Do a search for Park Ave Mirror and what comes up looks to be the entire unit, glass, motor and housing with the two mounting bolts sticking out the bottom with the direction cable wires and all, ...... For Under $30 but NOT in a color that matches your vehicle.
So, if someone tries to steal yours, or the glass gets broken or cracked in any way, you can say goodbye to having matching color mirrors unless you want to sand it, prime it and paint it to match yourself. Best bet for a color match is to find a same color Park Ave at the junkyard that is still in good shape and tear the door panel apart and unbolt it and hope that the motor still works. Which reminds me, I have one of those I need to install Again, but it is not silver like the car, it is the color of the Only One at the junkyard that people had not already tried to pry the glass out of, Dark Maroon LOL so I need to sand and paint it before I put it on.
The list gets longer Hahahahaha.
 

MikeSS

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1995 Park Avenue
"The mirror glass piece is a SUPER tight fit so when you try to push the mirror piece back into the motor unit, the little rabbit ear pieces will snap right off and then the entire mirror and motor unit will just fall out of the housing and dangle."

That's when it's time to visit Wal-Mart and buy a can of two-part epoxy, otherwise known in some quarters as "bondo".

With interior of mirror body cleaned, a big ball of bondo is pushed into the mirror casing and the glass with motors attahed is then pushed into the still pliable adhesive. Get the glass at jiust the right angle you want in case you've buggered the motor mirrors, but you probably haven't. The motors to adjust the mirror will still work if you haven't bondoed everything in place so completly that nothing can move.

I did that, ugly as it sounds, and it worked okay. I also used bondo to glue a mirror back onto the door body. When parked on the street even somebody on a bicycle can knock one off but unless one is exceptionally lucky, replacing a mirror that's been sideswiped by something will need to be done. Taking door panels off and unbolting the mirror support and replacing the mount is the correct fix but that's a lot of work.

Nobody will ever know your mirror is being held in its protective body with hardened putty. If it ever comes loose, just re-do it.
 
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1998 Buick Park Avenue
Interesting. I hope mine of the next generation, since yours was a 94, will yield less issues.(but when has that ever really been the case)
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Quite a few years back I scouted a nice pearl white 98 Ultra for my niece to buy, it was owned by an older guy (to me that's like 80 yrs old) but never had the need to see if the mirror motor was the same design. Might find an exploded view somewhere, it should be easy to spot the mount holes (dainty little circles) outside the perimeter of the motor unit housing.
But I would imagine that if a general search for "1998 Buick Park Avenue Mirror" only brings back images of a complete unit, then all bets are off lol
 
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"The mirror glass piece is a SUPER tight fit so when you try to push the mirror piece back into the motor unit, the little rabbit ear pieces will snap right off and then the entire mirror and motor unit will just fall out of the housing and dangle."

That's when it's time to visit Wal-Mart and buy a can of two-part epoxy, otherwise known in some quarters as "bondo".

With interior of mirror body cleaned, a big ball of bondo is pushed into the mirror casing and the glass with motors attahed is then pushed into the still pliable adhesive. Get the glass at jiust the right angle you want in case you've buggered the motor mirrors, but you probably haven't. The motors to adjust the mirror will still work if you haven't bondoed everything in place so completly that nothing can move.

I did that, ugly as it sounds, and it worked okay. I also used bondo to glue a mirror back onto the door body. When parked on the street even somebody on a bicycle can knock one off but unless one is exceptionally lucky, replacing a mirror that's been sideswiped by something will need to be done. Taking door panels off and unbolting the mirror support and replacing the mount is the correct fix but that's a lot of work.

Nobody will ever know your mirror is being held in its protective body with hardened putty. If it ever comes loose, just re-do it.
That sounds like a workable solution if as you say, you don't get so much in there that it gets between the glass and the motor unit. Only problem right now is the one that I need to replace ,.... Has badly sunburned glass and you can't see anything out of the top 3/4 of the mirror. So, replacement is required. Hmmm, unless I do a graft by prying the good glass out of the Maroon one, then pop it into the busted tab motor and then glue it in. That way I would still have matching color. Not sure I would want to chance breaking the replacement glass though.
Also, Bondo is a two part epoxy but is only designed to be used in thin layers. it always cracks and falls apart when it is too thich (1/4 inch or more) so it would likely not last. Me, I'd use some PL Construction Adhesive, it's thick and tacky, skins quickly and is indestructible when cured. That would last forever and if the mirror housing were pumped full it would be heavy and Solid. So the next time a cyclist sideswiped your car, you wouldn't be wondering who to go after for car damages, ....... But They might want to Sue You for the Busted Hip LOL
 
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MikeSS

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1995 Park Avenue
I knew there must be something better than bondo for that mirror job but didn't think hard enough. Construction adhesive sounds like a much better idea.

I sold that car not long after I'd fixed the mirror so if the bondo cracks the new owner will need to do the repair. I'll tell him. Thanks!
 

MikeSS

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1995 Park Avenue
Interesting. I hope mine of the next generation, since yours was a 94, will yield less issues.(but when has that ever really been the case)
No, I think the mirrors are the same on your '98 as on the '94.

Parked on the street, damned if my new '95 didn't get the driver's side mirror knocked loose too. I haven't fixed it yet. Fortunately, the mirror and motors are intact. Someone just hit the mirror housing and broke the mounting where it joins the door. I'm planning on using JB Weld to glue it back to the mount base. AND I'm going to keep this car in my driveway.
 
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