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Got me nervous


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I am not so sure that if I had known of all the potential problems with Reatta's that I would have bought one. I had thought they were fairly bullet proof cars like most of Buicks with 3800's are. But now that I own one and look at this site it seems there are several pretty serious issues dealt with a lot. Teeves brakes at the top of the list, crank shaft positioning sensor, glass, headlight kits, frame bushings, coil packs, and some electrical issues. Are some of these problems in high mileage cars only. As far as electrical issues the only thing I have in mine right now is that the alarm goes off at a certain time every day if the car is locked and I could not seem to get a straight answer on a fix for that other than to unhook it. We live in a small town so we just leave the car unlocked.

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These, minus the teeves and glass, are normal for all cars with the 3800. For what ever reason people think that a touch screen makes these cars hard to work on. Granted part can be hard to find, but the electronics are basically the same. All the engine sensors/controls are identical to all other 3800's of the same time frame.

I will say once you get the bugs out of your Reatta it will be a very reliable car. I use min as a daily drive and it is 90 miles round trip these days and rarely have even a small issue. Pluss most parts are fairly cheap, due to the amount of cars that did use the 3800.

Keep one other thing in mind. This is the only place on the web that people come for specialty advise on the unique machines.

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Got the 1 st. one about 1995, now driving # 6.

It is not my daily driver as all the others were but all in all I have spent little on any of them (excluding shocks, tires and brakes).

Teves: Flush the system and enjoy the car.

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I agree. with Daniel The brake system is apparently a challenge (fortunately, I have not experienced problems yet, but every car has at least one quirk) and body/Trim parts are hard to find and expensive. You are talking about a 20 year old vehicle and I don't see that any of this is abnormal for any vehicle of this age.

On these type sites, you are hearing the challenges and coachings of many members accross the country. I am thankful that these conversations are being had so that I can learn. It would not be normal, nor would I see the value to read " My care made it to the store and back without a problem today. "

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You will always hear more about the few cars with problems than the many cars without problems. Most people just do not post to talk about their Reatta being problem free. I have driven my 90 for a year with no real issues to speak of.Remember that these cars are 20 years old.

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I bought my '90 a year ago (my second Reatta) It had 148,000 on it. I picked it up for $2,700. So far I bought new tires (an appearance issue) new wheels (appearance issue) had the brake fluid changed ($50), replaced the A/C compressor, orofice tube, drier and had the system changed to R134A (about $700) and replaced the IAC and cleaned the MAF (about $100), I also fixed the headlights ($100, half of which was preventative), and 2 oil/filter changes for about $25. That makes $975 in expenses not counting gas and insurance or purchase price. I drove about 4,000 miles last year. At 19 MPG, gas equates to about 211 gallons at an average of $2.90 a gallon = $612 for fuel. My insurance was $175. That makes my total expenses for the car for the year $1,762. Divide that by the 4,000 miles and my expense was about 44 cents a mile including a pretty big expense for the A/C repair which I knew about when I purchased the car. I didn't include the tires or wheels as I view them as discretionary when I bought the car, the old ones were perfectly servicable. I also didn't include the purchase price as I figure the car is still worth pretty close to what I paid for it.

If I bought a new car, my maintenence expense would be much less. I'd still have had the 2 oil changes, ($25). If my mileage was better say at 28 MPG my fuel expense would have been less ($414) but my insurance would have been higher ($600). That puts my driving expense at about 26 cents per mile, a savings of 18 cents per mile or $720 for the year. The part that tips the scales towards the Reatta is figuring in depreciation or the cost of car payments for the year as well. An average new car payment is $300 for a total of $3600 for the year. As a new car, depreciation in the first year would probably be at least equal to if not exceed the $3,000.

You can do the math for other scenarios like a slightly used car. But I feel pretty good about my Reatta so far. I expect shortly I will have to replace/rebuild the fuel injectors due to mileage. The other appearance issues I have are recovering the steering wheel (about $250) and replacing the front carpet ($150). I may or may not get to those this year of ownership.

Edited by ol' yeller (see edit history)
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What hurts the reatta most is some one working on the car, This is where the problem gets worse. Never let any one work on this car, with out first reading up on way the service is to be done. From the manual,taking extra care,to clean,lube,and free up frozen fasteners.Plastic interior items need EXTRA care,just pulling down the sunvisor is one.

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I had my Reatta for about 4 years, where it was essentially a daily driver. I had a company vehicle, so used the Reatta for everything personal. Even not being able to do the work myself, I found that by relating information from the sevice manual, or Jim Finn, most mechanics worked on it with no issues. A good mechanic is imperitive. I had those even at Buick dealers, and when a thread fixed the issue, they followed it. Issues were the relays, the accumulator etc., and with help here they were fixed with no problem.

I recently semi-retired and sold my Reatta as unfortunately, the 06 Honda that I was drivng as a company car was a better deal to keep driving on sales calls. Still wish I had the enjoyment of the car and this forum, which I guess you can see I still have.

Tom T.

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Most mechanics, sounds like the NO PROBLEM answer. As they damage what ever they touch. Put a wrench on it, twist and strip,then tell you, this needs replacement. When the owner pays for there mistakes, it will cost you extra.There is many things you can do to remove frozen items,all of which are not used. The improper way to brakes is always used. Just inspect the work when you get the car back.

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I bought my first (the blue 88) in 2001 and it is still my "daily driver". Went through an 18 month period when it was my only car and always got me where I needed to go.

Like any car, maintenance is critical and cars from the rust belt do seem to have more problems than those not. (part of the reason I chose Orlando. Seriously.)

This is the reason when considereing buying a vehicle, I spend more time underneath than on top.

Bottom line, there are places in the country where any car over 20 is probaby a #4-5 just from climatical issues & it is worth you while to buy one from a more benign climate (of course a car that has been garaged all its life and low milage may be good from any location and is likely with a Reatta).

Really the key is to spend a bit more in price and travel to get a nice one and less work will be needed.

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Have owned six, 2 - '89's, 2 - '90's, & 2 - '91's over eleven years. Must say that the '91's were the most maintenance free of them all. Until last summer. Had to put a new compressor in my current '91. Then had to turn around and put a water pump on it. That being said even the '89 & '90 repairs were what you'd expect on cars of that age. Accumulators, water pumps, a light switch here and there. All in all not alot of money spent. As my Father used to tell me, "You can do alot of fixin' and come out way ahead of the cost of a new one." How right he was. Just cleaned and detailed the '91 yesterday. When I was done I stood back and looked at the car. The same thought as always came to mind as with all the others after cleaning. What a cool car. For me they've been worth every penny.....

Mike

'91 Coupe

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Buick 3.8's are largely bulletproof all around. All cars have their quirks. Except maybe Toyota's. Naa-they have some too; those automatic door locks I never trust, I always roll the window down in my bay. My Reatta is quickly becoming the family road car and the Daily Driver!

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