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Buick Park Avenue Maintenance & Repair



  • PAmanPAman Posts: 207
    The easy part: check to see if the belt cut or pulled loose any wires when it shredded. Sounds like something got grounded out (cut wire) or pulled loose.

    The hard part: does the car have spark when you turn it over? What is the fuel pressure on the fuel rail? Check if you have spark and fuel pressure. If you have those two items, and the cam sensor is new, then it sounds as if the timing chain may have broken. This would keep the cam from turning, allowing the ignition system to fire the spark plugs.

    There is nothing on the 3800 that should keep it from starting simply because it lost a belt. In fact, it can run for a while with the belt off. If it stalled, it either overheated or something else coincidentally went wrong about the same time the belt shredded.

    Good luck!
  • PAmanPAman Posts: 207

    You live too far north? Seriously, define 'long time." You can have a cool but humid day, with the back window foggy or frosted and it will clear up very quickly.

    But, the colder the air, combined with greater humidity, the longer it will take to clear the window. And, keep in mind, when you first start the car, it is just as cold and humid INSIDE the car as it is outside.

    If you see someone with the same make and model, ask them how long it takes their car to clear the back window in your weather. Also, if you have another car in your driveway, turn them both on at the same time, and turn on the rear defroster at the same time. If they both take about the same amount of time to clear the windows, yours is fine. If Car A clears in 4 minutes, and Car B takes 15, you may have a problem with Car B.

    If it is taking too long to clear, check the connectors on the glass for corrosion or loose wires, and check the grounding wire for the glass, probably mounted somewhere in the trunk near the glass.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 23,379
    Agree with above post.

    You can check the timing chain's being intact by looking in through the oil opening while someone cranks you motor. You should see action in the rocker arms if the camshaft is turning.

    2015 Cruze 2LT, 2014 Malibu 2LT, 2008 Cobalt 2LT

  • PAmanPAman Posts: 207
    -- I A few weeks ago, the alternator gage starting wavering wildly with the light sometimes going on and the battery kicking in. when I would arrange to take it to the mechanic, it ran normally.
    -- I had the alternator, battery and ignition tested again by AutoZone - all tested good but the guy said the diode in the alternator could be going out.

    -- last night the gage went to the 8, the light came on, my headlamps dimmed and it finally stopped running.

    -- My husband came and jumped it and took it to the Good year garage across from where it died, they tested the alternator, said it was gone and replaced it for 2.5 times the price of buying one at Autozone.

    -- The mechanic I mentioned earlier also told me it needed new struts front and back and new shocks - but said I could put those off since they'd cost around $1,500).

    WOW, so many things to deal with. OK, lets start at the bottom and work up.

    GOODYEAR: Understand that ANY car you take to Goodyear will need SOMETHING other than what you took it there for. A 2008 car with 40,000 miles will need new struts, according to them. Forget that advice. Your car MAY need them, but I seriously doubt it. 54,000 miles is WAAAAY too soon for struts at all four corners. Notice the price of the alternator at Goodyear? Now you know why the struts cost $1,500 there. THEY are the ones having a "good year" with prices like that.

    -- "last night it went to 8...and finally stopped running." No electrical system will go to 8 volts; most cars need at least 11.2 to 11.8 volts for the computer to work. For the voltage to go that low, you need a MAJOR short circuit somewhere in the car's wiring harness or one or more dead cells in the battery. I suspect the battery because if it were in the wiring harness, you would a) be smelling a burning odor or b) calling the fire department. There is also a chance the problem could be in the large cable going to the starter motor, or the starter motor being bad (the short circuit is inside the starter motor).

    -- "I had the alternator, battery and ignition tested again by AutoZone" FUGETABOUTIT. The guy checking your alternator at AZ was flipping burgers or delivering pizzas two weeks ago. He got maybe 15 minutes of training on how to hook up the machine; he is NOT, repeat, NOT a real mechanic in any way, shape, form or fashion.

    BOTTOM LINE: You need a REAL mechanic. Find a good ASAE shop that puts a real warranty behind their work, usually at least 12 months or 12,000 miles. I have had good luck with NAPA shops here in the San Antonio area, but that may not be true for your area.

    The bottom line is, your electrical problem, like most, can be difficult to pin down, but not impossible. For 2-4 hours of labor and a reasonable price for parts, your low-mileage Buick can run like new again, in the hands of a real mechanic. And, not to criticize you or your husband, so far, I don't think a real mechanic has touched your car by taking it to Goodyear or Autozone.

    For example, a real mechanic would be checking the wiring harness the moment you said it used to belong to an elderly person who didn't drive it often. Why? Because cars like that can sometimes become homes for rats, squirrels, and other varmits who can often chew through the insulation on the wiring harness. No, I don't think there is a rat in the car NOW, but there may have been one while it was parked for months at a time.

    Your repair bill may be $800-1,000 but it will be FIXED, not patched. And, that is a small price to pay for a car that only has 54,000 miles on it, when new cars cost $20K and up, right?

    Good luck.
  • 97 PA Ultra. Fuel gauge fluctuates when level falls below 3/4 full, (empty to full). I'm assuming that the fuel sending unit is the culprit, do I have to remove the fuel tank to get at it or is there an access in the trunk. BTW I keep getting a somewhat generic code service engine code.P0441 (Potential - Evap Canister, Vac leak, Fuel cap, I'm thinking it is related. Thoughts?
  • bowfanbowfan Posts: 55
    The bouncing fuel gauge is probably your sending unit. It is replaced by first pulling out all the carpet out of your trunk. The only problem is, you have to be limber to get in there. Unfortunately it is located up under the rear deck. I think the standard recommendation is to replace the entire fuel pump assembly, but if you aren't having fuel pressure problems, you may want to just replace the sender assembly to save a pretty good chunk of money. I know I've seen a standard GM sender unit available that will pop right in. You can do it yourself in an afternoon, if you're slow like me.

    And I'd just reseat the fuel cap and clear the trouble code and see if it comes back. It is a pretty common failure, I've seen the fuel cap lanyard sometimes gets in the way and it pops the P-code. Or sometimes it just didn't get tightened enough. As yours may be 11 years old, and cold temps are the rule this time of year, the seal may be stiffening up.

    I don't think they are related, but again I'd check the easy stuff first like reseating. ;)
  • Thank you very much for the info. I do have a follow-up; so is the sending unit part of the fuel pump assembly...actually in the tank? :confuse:
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 23,379
    The sending unit is the name for the fuel gauge (sender) and associated pipes, wiring, filter, and holder for the fuel pump. The fuel pump can be replaced separately. The senders are available with and without a fuel pump and are available in a wide, wide variety of price ranges. Many people have reported failures of cheap products used for replacements in their cars of the same group as the leSabre, Park Avenue, Bonneville.

    I have seen posts and videos about replacing parts of the sending unit, the slider, which wore. If you are very handy, don't need the car for a while, and want to research in advance that might be of interest to you. I can look up some of those links if you are interested.

    Myself, I'd put in a full strength treatment of Techron Fuel System Cleaner by Chevron (available at Walmart, Advance, PepBoys) and see if the anti-sulfur part of the treatment's effects made any difference. Some senders reacted to the sulfur in gasolines and it's stated on the bottle that it may help that. Without research I assume the sulfur affects the contacts which slide to change resistance that affects the gauge.

    2015 Cruze 2LT, 2014 Malibu 2LT, 2008 Cobalt 2LT

  • bowfanbowfan Posts: 55
    Sorry for the too brief repair description. Yes the sending unit is attached to the FP assembly, and it is contained inside the tank. If you remove the carpeting from your trunk, you will see an oval shaped fuel pump access cover towards the front of your trunk area. I believe the cover is held in place by (7) 10mm nuts. It is advised to clean the dirt/dust around the access cover before removing it.

    The trickiest portion of the repair to me was removing the lock ring that holds the pump down into the tank. I'm sure there is a proper specialty tool to remove this, but I used a common brass drift punch and short throw hammer. You can see some pics to give you a rough idea how to remove it here Again, that is just to give you an idea. You don't actually remove the tank in the BPAs, just the access cover, lock-ring, and then the pump assembly.

    The pump assembly is under pressure from an internal spring and when removing the lock-ring or replacing the lock-ring, you will wish you had a 3rd hand.

    Please use caution as you will be venting gas fumes when you start to remove the pump itself and it is cramped quarters, but not impossible if you are a do-it-yourselfer. I did it... :D

    There is a good write up that someone else did, as well as some helpful pics here: automotiveforums fuel pump replacement

    I forgot to take pics when I did it.

    It looks like the sensor assembly costs a little over $100 from, but I thought I'd seen the actual sensor part for a lot cheaper when taken from a GM truck tank. But unfortunately, memory is not what I need it to be, and I can't find a link to that thought.

    As the writeup says, use plenty of ventilation, a nice breezy day would be good.

    More tips: replace when the tank is near empty, and when you lift the pump assembly from the tank, do so slowly as the plastic unit holds a good bit of gas. You may also want to replace the sock filter while you have the pump out.

    Hope this helps, write back if anymore questions. Sorry about the delay in responding.

    Dont forget to write back with a success story!
  • bowfanbowfan Posts: 55
    Googled up someone else's pics of the sender and FPA.

    I would not recommend using a screwdriver as his photos show. The brass drift will not spark as "steel on steel" may.
  • I just bought a 1994 Park Avenue (not Ultra) from an older lady. It only has 91000 miles but had set up for a while before I bought it (maybe a year) and the next day i noticed that it was hesitating when I would accelerate. Anyway it got worse and then wouldnt stay cranked. It would start but immediately cut off. I replaced all of the coil packs and the plate under them (i think it was called the ignition module) along with the fuel filter. Now it runs but is still cutting out at low rpms. Ive checked the air filter and am in the process of changing the spark plugs. I have all 3 in the front and 1 in the back. I cant get to the other two. I've heard something about an engine mount that would allow the engine to tilt but i have no idea where it is... Does anyone know anything about accessing the back spark plugs and so far with the 4 new plugs in its still skipping and if changing the plugs doesn't work, what next?? Any suggestions would really help.....Thanks
  • I am no help to you, but can commiserate. My 94 Buick seems to run fine, but at highway speeds will occassionally hiccup - jerk back a little like I hit something (but I didn't). I never have gotten an answer to my query about the voltage indicator light waving madly. It finally settled to the left and eventually, I was sitting in the middle of the street with no battery power. The alternator was replaced, but had tested good before the car died. After the alternator was replaced (by Good Year), the needle still wavered. I took it to a different mechanic who searched and searched for a problem, but couldn't find one. But, it has only happend once since then. When the indicator lays to the left, the lights dim and there's a deep humming noise. I'm sure it will come back.
  • I feel ya. mine is a little different mine skips when at idle and feels like im running out of gas but im not.. i have figured out that if i start in 1st gear and keep the rpms kinda kigh and not give it too much gas it runs pretty smooth.. i just found a vaccum line that was barely hanging on and i replaced it.. and a guy on here is giving me advice on troubleshooting so im goina keep trying and hopefully i can get it going because the car is in outstanding condition i mean with only 90000 miles and the interior is flawless the only thing is the headliner if falling but thats like 50 bucks to fix.. ohh and mine makes a whining noise like when you are low on power steering fluid but im not turning and not low on fluid....My needle pretty much stays at 13 ..........But who knows at least i have wheels so i guess i cant really complain about the backing up... But i will complain about the ac not being cold because the power windows dont roll down. I think the ac just needs charging and the windows are possibly a fuse because none of them even attempt to roll down and are completly dead.....I know i talk alot but i heard somewhere that temperature has something to do with it... where are you rrom , is it really hot or really cold?
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 23,379
    >occassionally hiccup - jerk back a little like I hit something (but I didn't).

    That sounds like a spark plug miss or a spark plug wire. If you have 13 years and the plugs and wires haven't been replaced in that time you definitely need wires. Get good brand Belden from NAPA or AC Delco replacements. Use the specified plugs for that year. Get the longer life iridium or platinum tip plugs. Check your wire routing and keep them away from the wire for the oxygen sensor on the back side of the motor. Check for jumping at the coil towers. Clean them. Remove the wires and check the tips for corrosion if they're fairly new.

    For the other problem, clean the battery cables completely. Turn off the auto HVAC with the key on to protect it during restart later. Remove the battery cables and check for corrosion. If your positive side has double cables, cut into the plastic covering and be sure there is not corrosion between them. There's a lead spacer between the cables. Sometimes the corrosion there will cause poor contact on one despite being tight.

    2015 Cruze 2LT, 2014 Malibu 2LT, 2008 Cobalt 2LT

  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 23,379
    >the windows are possibly a fuse because none of them even attempt to roll down and are completly dead.....

    You need to check for power and for ground at the control in the door panel if it's set up the way I recall. Check the owners manual in the glovebox for fuses for power windows. There's a relay center on the firewall and the cover for that may list which large fuse there is for what. There also is a relay center and fuses on the passenger A-pillar. You take off a hush panel cover to get to it if I recall correctly. On top of the hush panel should be a diagram of which fuse and relay is which.

    I haven't looked at a manual for 94 PA but I suspect, suspect the ground buss that's at the A-pillar where the plastic goes horizontal under the door sill and carpet edge may, may be a ground for power windows. If they worked erratically I'd suspect the grounds but no power as you're saying indicates troubleshooting first to be sure power is getting to the wires in the door panel. The switch panel can be lifted; there are snaps at each end usually that can be released with a little pressure from a putty knife to lift.


    2015 Cruze 2LT, 2014 Malibu 2LT, 2008 Cobalt 2LT

  • Thanks for the information. I realize most of you are very accomplished mechanics and I am not, however, I find the information on here essential. I will take as many of the steps you recommend as I can myself and ask for help with the others. Again, thanks.
  • Good afternoon. I have a 1999 Buick PA with about 135,000 miles on it. For some time now my "Service Engine Soon" light has been on. My car, without much notice, will shut off whenever I stop at red lights, stop signs or slow down to turn corners. I took it to AZ and they put a little monitor beneath my dash board. It read "MAS" (Massive Airflow Sensor I believe). I bought the sensor, had it installed and the "Service ..." light went off - but only for about 1 week. Last Sunday, the second week since the light has been off, while driving to a store about 1.5 miles away all was fine. When I left the store, however, a block away my car seemed like it was gasping for air (more like choaking) and cut off. After four attempts to restart it (when I turned the key in the ignition, I would hear it come on but it would not stay on), I finally got it going. It has not gone off since that time, but now I need inspection and I know it won't pass because of that darn light. Also, I've had the car for about four years and it has had a tune-up maybe once during that time. Needless to say, I want it fixed for safety reasons, too! Thanks!
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 23,379
    There are many things. But you've learned that the quick scans and numbers they give don't always point to the problem. So for others, when the desk guy says "MAF" don't put it on. Do some posting and asking.

    I don't know all the symptoms of other things, but from what people have posted, I would check the EGR sticking open. One person had the driver unplug the EGR and drive the car to see if that fixed the problem. I believe unplugging would set a code that would have to be cleared, but it would be an EGR code and you'd know that caused it.

    Other things might be fuel pressure regulator. But that generally causes flooding on trying to start the car.

    When you say it had a tune up, that is only plugs and new wires. Did it get quality wires and AC spark plugs? How many miles back.

    2015 Cruze 2LT, 2014 Malibu 2LT, 2008 Cobalt 2LT

  • tankbeanstankbeans Posts: 585
    I know this isn't a Buick, but this is the closest discussion I could come to. I think my car's power steering is dying a loud death. Whenever I turn it starts making all kinds of noise and once in a while the steering wheel won't turn very easily or it will kick back.

    I think it may be low on fluid, but I can't find the reservoir to check. I've looked under the hood 3 or 4 times, but no dice. If it makes any difference I have the 3800 Series II engine.

    Thank you for any help you can provide.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 23,379
    Go to the alternator on top at back of motor. Go down behind it about 12 inches and you'll see the power steering pump with a cap on top to use for checking fluid level. I think the cap has Power Steering in letters on it maybe in yellow. But they're probably direct now. Look for the serpentine belt around the pulley for the pump. I suggest a good, bright shop light to help you find things. They'll probably be oil splattered and dark.

    I'll bet you're low on fluid. The slight seeps lower the fluid level over the years. It's been 10 years.

    Pick up a long neck funnel somewhere so you can add power steering fluid to the thing.

    2015 Cruze 2LT, 2014 Malibu 2LT, 2008 Cobalt 2LT

  • tankbeanstankbeans Posts: 585
    Thank you for your help. I am going to check on that when it gets brighter out. I'm hoping that's all it is.
  • tankbeanstankbeans Posts: 585
    I just checked to reservoir and it was bone dry. I'm going to pick some fluid up within the next couple days. Is there a special fluid to buy?
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 23,379
    Don't drive the car without refilling. It may already have hurt the pump. If you have another car pick up Power Steering fluid at any place and put some in. There is still fluid in the bottom that's not showing on the dipstick or you wouldn't get pump action to help steer.

    2015 Cruze 2LT, 2014 Malibu 2LT, 2008 Cobalt 2LT

  • tankbeanstankbeans Posts: 585
    Okay. Thank you for the tip. I'll have to pick some up next time I go out. I appreciate the help and advice. This car is old and isn't really worth what it would cost to get it running perfectly, but I still want to use it for a while longer.
  • imidazol97:

    Thanks sooo much for your reply! On the evening I posted my question, I went back to AZ and had another diagnostic test. That reading indicated that I needed to check my Catalytic "xyz" and Massive Airflow Sensor. I told the young man that I received the MAS reading a week or so before and because of that I purchased a new MAF sensor and had it installed. Now disgusted with these new "codes" I took the car to PB so they could a) just fix the darn thing and b) do inspection afterwards. Well, much to my dismay, they called me at work and said their diagnostic test sited that I needed a Body Control Module. They said they could not service my car nor issue me the inspection stickers because the SE Soon light was still on. They told me the best place for me to go is to a Buick dealership. One good thing, though, PB did not charge me the $89.00 + tax for the diagnostic test. When I called the nearest dealership (which is 1,000,000,00 miles away), they gave me a total price of $545.00 for the part and labor ($595.00 when I called a little later in the day to confirm). Disgusted again, I wound up calling an old mechanic friend. He told me to drop the car off on Friday morning and he would look at it. Well, that was April 3rd but I got my car back on April 5th and that was only because I wanted him to drive it around awhile just in case something was to come up. So far, Thank God, my car has been running fine. :lemon: And, at the very least, I have an old friend/mechanic back in my life.

    Thanks, again, imidazol97
  • tankbeanstankbeans Posts: 585
    I filled up my power steering it was pretty empty, but now the car turns like a dream and doesn't yell at me.
  • where is the fuel vapor canister located. I was told my 00 park ave had a leak but I don't know where to look for it. I checked and replaced the gas cap but the check engine light keeps coming on with the same code.

    Any info or suggestions will be greatly appreaciated. :mad:
  • check out your Mass airflow sensor. my 2000 buick had a simular problem and replacing that solved it. to test it simply unplug it and start the car. It should run perfictly smooth and besides losing a little bit of gas milage should drive fine too. your check engine light might come on too but replacing the sensor should reset that :shades:
  • dabodabo Posts: 3
    I have a '94 Park avenue. The temperature numbers (only) on the temperature display will blink on and off about five times when I hit the auto button on the environmental controls console. Since this has started, the heating/cooling is wacky. The fan will set itself on high, and I will get heat out of the driver vents and cold out of the passenger vents. Does the flashing temp numbers indicate a failure or error? Is there a way to reset this system?
  • dabodabo Posts: 3
    The temperature digits flash when the car is turned on, not when the auto button is pushed.
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