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Chevrolet Lumina



  • I had owned the 90 Lumina Euro for three and a half years, but after the AC broke for the second time iabout three weeks ago, I decided to buy a new car and sell it. It had 100,000 miles when I bought it in 1999 and 134,000 miles when I sold it yesterday. During my ownership, I replaced the water pump, windshield washer pump, rear struts, alternator, battery, and two tires. The coolant kept leaking for a long time, and I had to take it to the shop several times until it was fixed completely. The driver's seat belt got stuck, and the remote trunk lid lever broke too, and it had recently started to show multiple oil leaks as well. On the positive side, I enjoyed the power everything and the powerful V6 engine. It was spacious, heavy and sturdy and I felt safe driving in it. It consumed lots of gas, but I didn't mind it that much; after al, it had a big engine! My previous car, Nissan Sentra with a 1.6-litter engine, was a basic model and everything was manual. I didn't even have the power steering! So compared to that, I enjoyed the luxurious feel of a mid-size family sedan. (I especially liked the leather steering wheel!) I had always wanted to drive a good old American car (before the Sentra, I had a 1988 Toyota Carolla), so I enjoyed that too. It was my first automatic, and although I enjoyed not having to shift the gear, I missed the stick, and decided to go back to a 5-speed for my next car, a 2002 Hyundai Elantra GLS. People say that the GLS has a soft suspension, but coming from the Lumina, it sure feels very firm. I bought the Lumina for $2,500 in 1999 and sold it for $1,200. The expenses for maintenance and regular oil changes cost me about $1,800 over the three and a half years. The total cost of the ownership was certainly cheaper than owning a brand-new car, but I figured it was time to move on.
  • When the timing belt is torn and if you have an interference engine, the valves are destroyed and it could cause an irrevocable damage. My Nissan Sentra 1985 had that kind of engine and died when its timing belt got torn out of the blue. I don't think you feel any symptoms in advance. So as a preventive measure, it's a good idea to replace the timing belt even if you don't have an interference engine so you won't get stranded on the road. A mechanic told me that my 1990 Lumina Euro had a timing chain so there was no need to replace it, although I suppose that it too could get torn in the long run.
  • I'm looking for a '97 or '98 Lumina and I'm hoping to find one with either a 3.4 or 3.8L engine. I'm starting to think that they dont exist. Every single Lumina that I've seen so far is equipped with the 3.1L. I was hoping to get some feedback about the different engines and whether or not you're happy with the 3.1. Should I hold out until I find either the 3.4 or 3.8 or should I "settle" for the 3.1? All opinions appreciated. Thanks.
  • I have a '99 LTZ with the 3.8L. I think the engine was an LTZ option in '98 and standard in '99. I don't think the 3.4L pushrod engine has ever been offered. The 3.4L DOHC may have been an option earlier. I'm not sure. That engine was said to be powerful but troublesome.

    I've bought several used cars at General Services Administration (GSA) auctions. A few years ago there were a lot of base Luminas with police options and 3.8L engines being sold. They may still be around.

    The 3.1L has chronic intake manifold leaks and piston slap, serious and expensive problems. You can look at "Common General Motor's 2.8, 3.1, 3.4 V6's engine problems" here on Edmunds and on the Usenet. There are also lots of trouble free 3.1Ls that their owners like. You have to decide. My 3.8L is okay.
  • rjs200240rjs200240 Posts: 1,277
    Has anyone had problems with their 4T60-E? My brother has a 1997 Lumina LS with the 3100 and the 4T60-E. He recently had the "check engine" light come on, and a local shop said the code was "shift solenoid A electrical". I know there is a shift solenoid A and B that controls the shifting. As far as I know, he still has all the gears working. He said it feels sluggish, and sounded like he meant it shifts slowly, but perhaps it is starting in 2nd and he doesn't realize it. Anyway, the repair was quoted at $2,000 so I'm trying to help him find alternatives. Has anyone had success dealing with this problem without having the tranny torn open and the parts replaced? Thanks!
  • I was leaning toward the 3.8L to begin with and after reading your replies I think that's the way to go. Now I just have to find one. Any other discussion on this topic is welcome. I'd like to read as many opinions as possible. Thanks again!
  • pluto5pluto5 Posts: 618
    I have the 3.1 in my 97 which I consider a work car and it is adequate for commuting. Had no problems except for the alternator which seems to be a weak point. No problem with gaskets but engine only has 31K miles. The 3.1 has a good reputation but I would expect some problems if you get one with high mileage. I'm getting the 3.8 in my Impala. The 3.4 is louder than the 3.1 in the Lumina, so given a choice I would go with the 3.8, too.
  • mje33mje33 Posts: 2
    I have a 1999 LTZ with the 3800. I have an intermittent problem that sometimes when I turn the key, there is a slight delay before it starts. It seems to act up more when the weather is cold and damp. I have had it at the dealer a few times but there isn't much they can do if the car won't do it when its there (yes, I brought it there when it was cold and damp). Today it outright wouldn't start (engine warm) on several tries. When I turned the key, all lights came on, I heard a low hum for a few seconds which stopped, then nothing. I gave it a few minutes and then it started. Has anyone else had this problem?
  • Like I said I have a 96 Lumina with a 3.4, it is a vary powerful engine but also very temperamental. you have to take very good care of it or it will not last forever. it is said that the 3.8 is the best best engine ever made by GM for todays cars. I am currently trying to look for one to replace my 3.4. the 3.4 is also a very expensive engine. I have owned mine for just under a year I have put 25000 miles on it and have only had minor problems, but expensive. so if I was you I would keep looking for the 3.8 and don't "settle" for the 3.1 it is a gutless wonder, too small for the car.
  • mje33mje33 Posts: 2
    Update: I tried using a brand new car from my wife's key ring and (knock on wood) I haven't had a problem since. I noticed some wear marks on the old key and the resistor chip embedded in it felt very worn compared to the new key.
  • Hi, I'm an owner of a 1996 3.4L Chevy Lumina... its an awesome car I love it, but I'm running into yet another problem, the fans on the radiator like to come on when the car is cold. today 11/20 it was about 34 degrees out side and when I started my car the fan came right on... I drove it 35 miles to school and when I shut the car off, the fans stayed on. it did it to me before in the summer but then the car was running hot, now that its winter time its not so hot outside and the engine temp. gage didn't say that it was hot.. so what could be the reason for my fans to come on???
  • Coolant temp sensor could be bad, reading hot, but this would usually cause hard starting cold also, I would look for a bad coolant fan relay, first.
  • pluto5pluto5 Posts: 618
    I rode in a Lumina cab in Dallas this week with 3.1 motor. 266K miles. Another happy owner.
  • I have a 98 lumina with 99000 miles on it...dervice engine soon light came on, brought ot to local mech. he said it just need tuneup, after spending a few dollars, light still on, now they want it for annother 3 hrs. to saying its missfireing and needing the injector replaced/repaired..another good buck, i ve been thinking of getting new car, but with this being an issue, is it worth it to repair (hopefully as he wasnt sure that this would correct it) or should just trade in? any body have a good idea?

  • pluto5pluto5 Posts: 618
    take it to a a shop with diagnostic equipment to find out what the problem is before you spend money on fixing anything; may be able to have it done free at Auto Zone
  • hi me again... i just took my lumina in to have the antifreeze leak check, both head gaskets are bad and it cost roughly 850 dollers to have them it worth it or should i trade it in and get a different newer car with less miles?
  • Be careful with that diagnosis, it is more likely int. manifold gaskets, this was very common on the 3.1.
  • i am also an owner of the 3.4 lumina and the fan sometimes stays on or goes on when its not hot ,,but another thing that bothers me recently is when i start the car after a drive within an hour it will start then shut off,,im wondering if a tune up would help,or just spark plugs?? any info appreciated
  • i just want to make it clearer,,,after a drive if i come back to start my car it may start but then shut off within a sec.
  • my 3.4 stalls alot too... usualy only right after i start it but sometimes it will do it when i park it too. im not sure what to say. i love my car but the little things drive me nuts.
  • How do you remove the pressure hose fitting at the rack end? I have a 96 with a 3.1 and I can't find an angle to get a clean grip on this fitting. It looks like I'll have to remove the brake booster to get at it. Any ideas?
  • I just put new KYB's on the LTZ, a fairly unpleasant task. Paid $220 for all four at the Tire Rack. Got the necessary tools from Auto Zone under their free loaner program. When I took the cartridges out of the front struts, they came out in two separate pieces and most of the hydraulic fluid had leaked out. The rear struts felt weak with erratic dampening, so I guess they were shot too. How long are struts supposed to last? The car has 50,000 miles. Have a good'n!
  • pluto5pluto5 Posts: 618
    It depends how much hill hopping you do, but I've got one vehicle with 62K miles on original struts.
  • I just looked it up, and Yahoo autos says struts generally last from 30 to 60 thousand miles. I didn't know that. The only signs that the struts were worn is the tires were cupping badly after 15,000 miles. Ruined them in fact. The car passed the bounce test, rode smoothly, handled O.K and there were no external oil leaks from the suspension.
         The new struts provided an added bonus over the expected results. They eliminated a clicking, popping noise from the front of the car whenever I turned the steering wheel, either stationary or moving at low speeds. It sounded like a bad CV joint. They got rid of most of the rattles too.
  • pluto5pluto5 Posts: 618
    IMO this is not a DIY job for most people. You can risk serious injury.
  • If you are not careful, it can be extremely dangerous, especially when compressing the coil springs. You have to follow the instructions exactly.
         I've done most of the work on my cars for years now and struts are nothing new, but if you are unfamiliar with suspension replacement, I strongly urge you to leave it to the pros. I was addressing the people who have enough ability to undertake this repair,and they know who they are, but I was negligent in pointing out the potential for serious injury to those with little or no experience. So pluto5, thanks for bringing this up. By the way, how's the Impala? I've been lurking in that forum for months now.
  • pluto5pluto5 Posts: 618
    Very pleased with Imp, LS is worth the diff over the base IMO and still a great value esp. with all available rebates and discounts. I want to run the Lumina for at least 4 more years and then buy another Imp after I rebuild my GM card earnings since we need 3 cars.
  • All this cold weather has me wondering why the Automobile Manufacturers haven't yet put a small electric heating grid in the air distribution plenum. It would cut down on the warm up time, save gas.
  • badgerfanbadgerfan Posts: 1,565
    Do you mean an electric heater for the passenger cabin air, or an electric heater for the combustion air intake to the engine?

    Either way, it would not save gas. You are using electricity to run any electric heater, and that is generated by the alternator, which uses engine power, thus consuming gas.

    Internal combustion engines by laws of thermodynamics never will be 100% efficient. The waste heat energy has to be dissipated anyway, so part of that waste heat is what is used to heat the passenger compartment in the winter. It is not a good idea to use electricity generated by the alternator to heat the passenger compartment when you have all this "free" energy available anyways.

    Some cars seem to direct the initial waste heat generated after a cold start much more quickly to the passenger compartment than others, however.
  • Passenger comfort was primarily what I was thinking of. Just a small electric heating element somewhere in the duct work. It could sense the temperature of the heater core and shut off when the coolant reached a predetermined temperature. Basically it would eliminate those few miserable
    moments before the engine warms up.
         They've got heated mirrors, heated seats, heated steering wheels and Ford used to have the instaclear windshield, so this just seemed like the next logical step.
         At work people start their cars and let them idle for at least ten minutes to warm the cars. The gas saving I was thinking of would come from less warm up time. Just a thought.
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