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Guest Jerry Hunt
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Guest Jerry Hunt

Need advise. Not sure what we got into. I helped my son purchase a 1990 Reatta thru a family friend. Neither one of us have any mechanical skills. we have had the car about 6-8 months with no problems until recently. in the last 2 weeks the drivers window has stopped working, the headlights will not go up and down and today it developed a transmission problem. When put in drive it just revs the engine and does not move. It will go in reverse and it did move when put in first. Question is, he is going to college and does not have money to fix it and we have realized it needs to be owned by someone that not only owns a screwdriver but knows how to use it. Do we put money into it to get it ready for sale or try to sell as is. It was a one owner car when we bought it that was kept up very well by the owner. 1990 Reatta-Maui Blue with less than 90,000 miles. I believe that everything else is in good shape with no body damage on outside or in. any advise would be helpful

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Guest steveskyhawk

At 90,000 miles that car is just broken in. Take it to a good general mechanic. These problems are easier to fix that you might think.

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Guest wally888

You can easily fix the headlight problem w/ little knowledge and cheap parts from Barney!

Sounds like the transmission cable has popped off under the hood. While one shifts from P to Low , another shoud look under hood , L. R. side, for moving cable. Push/pop cable back on. ( Bolt may have come loose holding bracket also) If won't stay on get creative w/ heavy twist ties.

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The problem is mainly attitude. If you have decided you cannot do mechanical things then are probably better off with a recent Honda or Toyota. Any 20+ year old car is going to have quirks.

OTOH if you decide that learning might be great fateher-son project then the Reatta is an excellent choice.

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The first step in making a decision about your car would be to take it to a reputable transmission shop (not one of the chain stores) and have them give you an estimate of what it will cost to fix the problem. Only you know how much you already have in the car and how much you are willing to put into it.

One thing you can do yourself is to check the transmission fluid. If it is low, top it off and see if that corrects the problem. If it does then find out where the fluid went. If it didn't leak out check the modulator valve hose to see if it has trans. fluid in it. If it does, replace the modulator valve. Easy job.. just one bolt to remove.

When you check the trans. fluid level be sure to look for brown colored fluid and a strong burnt smell coming from the fluid. If it is brown and smells burned you can count on about $1800 to rebuild the transmission depending on your location and who you get to do the work.

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The Reatta is many things:

- a lifestyle statement

- a hobby

- a learning experience

On the one hand it is a styling statement that says "I like something different and only need two seats." at the same time "It's a Buick" which means mechanical parts are readily available.

OTOH many mechanics will say "What's that ?" and not have a clue. All of the information is available, it's just not mainstream.

My current rule of thumb today is that a decent running and appearing (class 3) coupe will cost $5000.00, a convertible: $7,000.00. You can either pay it up front and just enjoy or in arrears through cash and sweat equity.

There are three groups of cost items:

Environmental (top, paint) which has a lot to do with how and where it is stored.

Wear which is related to the number of miles driven.

and Age with is related to, well, age.

By this time most original paint is faded and convertible tops need replacing. I'd figure $2,000 for a decent but not show paint job and $1,000 for a nice convertible top. Both of these represent handing to a professional & sweat equity can reduce. Available.

Next, the next good original a/c compressor I see will be the first and it the usual cause of leaks. Unless you live somewhere that never exceeds 85F (only place I know of is Marina del Rey, have experienced 90F in Anchorage) the a/c needs to function. Again probably ten Benjamins to repair with warrenty.

Any glass issue is expensive to repair. Period. They are repairable though.

An imponderable is the electronics. Anything is repairable but if you have to pay someone else to learn the system, you probably should look for something else.

One of the first computer cars, the Reatta has seperate black boxes for everything from engine control to the headlight raising and lowering. It has its own LAN to tie everything together. It is not the simplest car to understand.

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All good points above, and I will only say this: it's your choice.

If you're looking for something just about maintenance free that he can take to just about anywhere and get it fixed fir cheap, I don't think this is the car for you.

As Padgett said, most of the time, you're paying for someones learning curve. They've never worked on one before, and wouldn't even know where to start sourcing headlight parts.

Just about everything you listed (with the exception of the transmission) is pretty easily fixable. The trick is finding someone who knows what they're doing, or is willing to think outside the box.

Not sure where you live, but I know of a good mechanic in Atlanta area that works on a customer's Reatta.

Once you find a guy, You might also give him some phone numbers to call if he gets stuck. You can give him mine, I'm glad to offer any help I can free of charge. I don't know everything, and I'll be the first to admit that, but I can help with most any Reatta specific problems.

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Guest Mc_Reatta

Jerry, Where is the car located? Maybe a nearby forum member can swing by and take a look and give some advice.

Need to figure out the trans problem. The others are probably fairly simple to fix.

Your not going to get much for a car that can't be driven, so that tranny issue needs to be figured out before a decision on what to do with the car is reached.

Unfortunately a Reatta is no longer a car that tends to be trouble free over a long period of time, so unless your able to tackle problems yourself you need to be prepared to pay for necessary repairs which is not cheap for a college student's budget. The major drive train components are as reliable as they come, and will rarely leave you stranded, but the complicated electronics and power bells and whistles that are standard issue are to going to break and will cost good money to have fixed if you can't do yourself.

That's the main benefits of this forum and the sister sites are that they have a wealth of information on how to find out what the problems are, where to get the needed parts, and how to perform the repair. If not for this, I don't think there would be many daily drivers around. They would only be found in the collections of wealthy individuals, the rest stripped for parts and crushed by now.

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Phoenix area - well no problem for spare parts or knowlegable people. Suspect a visit to Maricopa may be in your near future.

Might mention that while my blue coupe has been a learning experience, in a decade it has never failed to get me where I was going including a year when it was my only car.

Edited by padgett (see edit history)
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Guest steveskyhawk

Jerry,

You are in luck. If you contact Mike at buickreattaparts.com I'm sure he will make arrangements for a "house call". He has the parts you may need and may know of someone locally that can fix the car. When shopping for a Reatta mechanic keep in mind that mechanically it is simply a Riviera with 8 inches removed. If the shop/mechanic doesn't recognize this you need to keep looking until you find the right shop. These cars really aren't hard to fix.

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As a last ditch effort I have found Trans X additive to the transmission has "revived" several cars I have owned. A Saab 900 Towing:eek: a trailer overheating thru the desert southwest with the bank temp sign showing 115 degrees out. Got home and had to tow it into Midas.....way too expensive. Put a quart of trans x in and never looked back. Of course it is not going to fix damaged parts or such, but if for an example there is a heat related glaze build up on parts and a product can break that down I am all for it. It is also good for the infamous "not wanting to shift out of first on a cold morning

until the engine is fully warmed up" problem in the red reatta.

Edited by johnemac
addition (see edit history)
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Guest Keith_Milford
Not sure where you live, but I know of a good mechanic in Atlanta area that works on a customer's Reatta.

I would love to know the who and where of this mechanic in Atlanta, please.

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Guest Jerry Hunt

Good news so far. Met with Mike from BuickReattaCarParts. He was amazing, looked at my car and did a little test drive. Had me try a transmission flush and it seemed to work. Talked about the other problems with the car and is going to help me get it all taken care of. Thanks for the advise.

:)

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