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EMon81

Hi there! I'm new to the W-body platform

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EMon81

I recently purchased a 1992 Buick Regal Limited 3800 with a scant 79,000 original miles from a local scrapyard. It has a few small dings, but no rust whatsoever. I'm used to old Audis, so this is WAY out of my wheelhouse haha. What are the common problem areas? Can it be lowered without sacrificing the ride quality too much?

Pics of it on my Facebook page https://m.facebook.com/eric.mongeur/albums/10156539869041793/

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digitaloutsider

Welcome, glad you found us!

In all honesty, there isn't much to go wrong on that car. The L27 will run forever and ever, usually in spite of itself. The 4T60E transmission is hit or miss, but generally okay as long as it isn't relentlessly abused. So, reliability-wise, you don't have much to worry about. 

Lowering is an issue because of the rear monoleaf. At one point, Intrax and a Canadian firm called Birchmount made rear lowering leafs.  They've both been out of production for quite a while now. Your only hope would be to find someone selling a used/NOS one. As far as ride quality goes, I've never ridden in a lowered first gen that was anything remotely considered "comfortable". YMMV.

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Psych0matt

The best way imo to lower is to do coilovers but it’s probably also the most expensive. But yeah, regular maintenance and it’ll run forever. If you want to be somewhat trailer park I’ve heard a few people have had decent luck with cutting one coil off the front, but unless you have a saggy rear (which most likely you do) it’ll be hard to get it level.

Welcome!

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oldmangrimes

Why do you want to lower it?  

If you just want it to LOOK better and less "grandpa-y" you could swap the wheels out with something that looked sportier.  Wider wheels and tires, and either a spacer or a different offset to push the wheels out a little, would make the car LOOK better and fill in some of that wheel well gap.   For fun, read posts on here with people arguing about 5x115 vs 5x114.3 bolt spacing and hub-centric issues on these cars.   You should be able to find a set of used wheels and tires that fit and really change the look of the car without spending too much money.   

If you want to lower it so it CORNERS better, then there are suspension upgrades that can be done, but I'm guessing on a $500 car that just replacing the stock struts and worn out bushings will firm up the ride.   Tires are also super important to handling.   If you have a lot of time you could get some junkyard thicker sway bars out of sportier w-body models and swap them over.       

But honestly, the best thing about your car is the VALUE.   You bought it cheap, and it can be pretty cheap transportation for you.  Put your next $500 towards maintenance and repairs to make sure it starts, runs, and stops safely.   Then a little money on upgrades, but not much.    If you throw $2000 at it, sure it will be somewhat nicer but it still won't be a $2500 car, and it won't be nicer than a different car you could have bought for $2500.    Feel good that you saved a car from the crusher, and got yourself a comfortable, (hopefully) reliable car.

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EMon81
5 hours ago, oldmangrimes said:

Why do you want to lower it?

I want to lower it for a few reasons, mostly for looks. It's a low mileage car, in near perfect shape, so why not, right?

 

5 hours ago, oldmangrimes said:

 

If you just want it to LOOK better and less "grandpa-y" you could swap the wheels out with something that looked sportier. 

I actually have that covered already... I have a set of 16" 5x115 Enkei basketweave wheels from a similar vintage Pontiac. 

Edited by EMon81
Spacing and quotation issues

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EMon81
5 hours ago, oldmangrimes said:

But honestly, the best thing about your car is the VALUE.   You bought it cheap, and it can be pretty cheap transportation for you.  Put your next $500 towards maintenance and repairs to make sure it starts, runs, and stops safely.   Then a little money on upgrades, but not much.    If you throw $2000 at it, sure it will be somewhat nicer but it still won't be a $2500 car, and it won't be nicer than a different car you could have bought for $2500.    Feel good that you saved a car from the crusher, and got yourself a comfortable, (hopefully) reliable car.

That's more or less the plan... it needs basically nothing right now, and I have an A4 1.8T Quattro for going fast. That car is like a large trench that I happily keep dumping my money into, because it's bewitching the way those cars drive. I really don't need another project lol. I just want a cheap car that looks good, is comfortable, and won't give me too many troubles. 

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pitzel

On a 1992:

1)  Coil spring seats.  GM powder coated most of the suspension parts in 1992, and over time, even in areas without much salt use, the powder coat breaks down, trapping moisture against the metal.  Which eventually causes its failure.  The coil spring seats are notorious for collecting water, holding water against the metal, and suffering failure.  Can be a pretty serious issue, and the only way to fully and properly inspect is disassembly of the entire strut tower assembly off the car.  On-car inspection is not possible.

2)  Lower cooling hose/pipe assembly.  Directly exposed to road grime/etc., and the metal part beneath the coolant recovery reservoir tends to rust out.  

3)  Leaf Spring seats -- the rubber "ends" of the fiberglass leaf spring often 'dissappear' over time, leaving the fiberglass leaf spring end to directly rub.  Makes a bunch of noise when you hit bumps.  But still worthy of inspection and of course, repair when necessary. 

4)  Rear brakes, especially the e-brake.  Tend to seize up and become inoperable.  

5)  Stock front-brakes suck.  If you're doing the inspection and/or addressing the coil seat problem as described in #1, do yourself a favour, hit a junkyard, and get a set of new steering knuckles/strut tower assemblies off of like a 1997 Lumina or something.  Make sure to grab the brake rotors as well.  

Other than that, welcome to the forum!  I have a 1992 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme, and that's basically a synopsis of what I've gone through.  

Edited by pitzel

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pitzel
On 2/4/2020 at 2:14 PM, EMon81 said:

Sounds like it's not gonna be too bad of a time. Thanks for this real valuable info, Pitzel

Was it a Vermont car all its life?  Or imported from the south?  

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EMon81
14 hours ago, pitzel said:

Was it a Vermont car all its life?  Or imported from the south?  

According to Carfax, yes it was a VT car it's whole life. It was purchased new at Handy Chevrolet/Buick/Oldsmobile, driven for about 4 years by the original owner, then the 2nd owner seemingly just parked it in a garage for nearly 10 years, after driving it for a year or 2. Then there's a bunch of records from the 3rd owner, a little old lady. I'm the 4th owner.

Edited by EMon81
Spelling and grammar

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pitzel
2 hours ago, EMon81 said:

According to Carfax, yes it was a VT car it's whole life. It was purchased new at Handy Chevrolet/Buick/Oldsmobile, driven for about 4 years by the original owner, then the 2nd owner seemingly just parked it in a garage for nearly 10 years, after driving it for a year or 2. Then there's a bunch of records from the 3rd owner, a little old lady. I'm the 4th owner.

Yeah then definitely give it a good going over for rust...   

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EMon81
6 minutes ago, pitzel said:

Yeah then definitely give it a good going over for rust...   

It's rust free, aside from a little surface rust on the front subframe. It easily passed VT state inspection 

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