Thank you for contacting the Center for Auto Safety (CAS) about your Buick Century or Regal, Chevrolet Lumina or Monte Carlo, Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme or Intrigue, Pontiac Grand Prix (GM's W-Car). CAS has received numerous complaints on power steering shudder, stalling, water leaks, excessive brake wear, peeling paint, and seatbelt failure. GM introduced the W-car in 1988 with the Cutlass Supreme, Regal and Grand Prix. The Lumina joined the ranks in 1990 followed by the Monte Carlo in 1995, the Century in 1997 and the Intrigue in 1998.
The reliability of GM's W-cars is much worse than average. The alloy used to make the brake caliper sleeves of 1.4 million 1989-93 W-cars is prone to rust. Some consumers report replacing their brakes as many as five times. GM issued two Technical Service Bulletins (TSBs 93-5-10 & 91-42-45) detailing rear brake caliper service procedures. Prompted by CAS' 1994 petition, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened a defect investigation on rear brakes. Although NHTSA discovered that GM had received more than 20,000 brake complaints on 1989-93 W-cars, the investigation was closed in 1996 without a recall.
GM's door-mounted "automatic" belts on pre-1995s cannot prevent ejection if the door opens in a crash. In 1990, CAS petitioned NHTSA to conduct an investigation of faulty "automatic" lap-shoulder belts and door latches on 5.5 million 1987-90 GM vehicles including the 1988-90 Regal, Cutlass Supreme/Grand Prix and the 1990 Lumina. NHTSA denied CAS' petition even though the guide loop for the passenger-side shoulder belt in the 1990 Lumina sliced the belt in two during a government crash test, allowing the dummy to slam into the windshield and dashboard. GM eventually recalled the 1990-91 Lumina to correct this problem along with issuing two other recalls regarding the defective shoulder belt guide loops. Instead of having safer vertically deploying airbags, 1996-97 W-cars have horizontally deploying airbags that can injure occupants who don't use seatbelts.
Slippage, harsh or delayed shifts, and loss of second gear have plagued the 125-C automatic transmission. GM had so many problems with the "Quad 4" engine that it extended the warranty to 6 years/60,000 miles, waived the $100 deductible on 1987-91s and notified owners about defective head gaskets. An expensive defect on all 1985-92 W-cars is peeling paint. At CAS' request, GM agreed to pay for complete repainting for paint peel and delamination through 6 years/unlimited mileage but, in March 1995, GM cut this to 5 years.
You'll find information on these and other W-Car defects below and what you can do about them plus a complaint box. Your information will help us build a strong case against GM on the defects we know about and help us spot new ones.
We need you to support the Center for Auto Safety in our fight for consumer rights and against poorly designed and unsafe cars. Your contribution is tax-deductible and entitles your to our quarterly newsletter, Lemon Times. Please submit the membership form along with your contribution and complaint. If you contribute $35 or more, we will send you the current edition of The Ultimate Car Book, by Jack Gillis. Every home should have this invaluable consumer guide
Clarence M. Ditlow
GM W-CAR FACT SHEET
All technical service bulletin (TSB) numbers are GM unless otherwise noted.
Electrical: Fuses blow 1989-90 Cutlass Supreme (Olds 90-T-74); Inoperative background light 1990-93 Lumina (Chev 93-161-8A); Cruise fails 1988-92 Lumina (Chev 92 -107-8A); Cruise drops out when wipers on 1997-98 (73-90-19A); T/signal inoperative 1994-95 (43-32-05A); Low voltage reading or dim lights at idle 1990-95 (43-64-07); Inoperative P/door locks 1991-97 (63-10-41B); Radio interference from fuel pump 1996-98 (83-63-17).
Engine/Driveability: Cold start stall 1990-92 Regal with 3.8L (Buick 92-6E-10); Stall 1991-93 (236007); Stall/long crank/surge 1990-93 Lumina with 3.1L/3.4L (Chev 93-291-6E); Miss/hesitation 1990-93 Regal, Lumina, Cutlass Supreme, Grand Prix (Chev 93-35-6D); Fuel pump noise, no start &/or loss of power 1991-92 Lumina (Chev 92-176A-6C); Replace crankshaft pulley 1988-92 Regal with Quad 4 (Buick 92-6-13); Replace Quad 4 1988-90 Regal (Buick 91-6A-11); Knock 1992-94 (306001); Exhaust moan/hoot 1993-95 (436601); Cold engine tick/rattle 1990-94 (476115) & 1994-98 with 3.1/3.4L (57-61-24A); Stall/long crank 1990-93 (336506); Exhaust moan/boom 1991 & 1993-95 (13-66-02); Exhaust manifold seal squeak 1993-95 (43-66-04); Oil leak at rocker cover 1993-95 (47-61-35); Coolant leak near throttle body 1993-95 (57-61-04); Spark knock/excess oil use 1993-95 (57-61-13); Cold engine lifter tick 1991-94 (57-61-09); No start/runs rough in cold weather 1993-94 (47-65-20); Pop/flutter/tick/spark knock/clunk 1995-96 (47-60-06C); Poor driveability due to fuel injector deposits 1994-98 with 3.1/3.4L (77-63-04A); Oil odor - replace rear main bearing seal 1990-98 with 3.1/3.4L (87-60-02A); Reduced performance, restricted fuel flow 1995-97 (73-63-13); Excess oil use 1991-95 (67-60-01); Runs rough, MIL light 1997-98 (87-65-12); Knock from accessory drive belt tensioner 1993-95 (47-61-36).
Paint: Bumps/rust spots 1994-99 (43-17-01B). For more information, see Peeling Paint Woes.
Steering/Suspension: Steering column "click" or "scrub" 1994 Regal, Cutlass Supreme, Grand Prix 1994-95 Lumina & 1995 Monte Carlo (433206); Front suspension "scrunch"/"pop"'94-97 (53-33-07B); Intermittent steering column "snap"/click 1994-96 Regal, Lumina, Cutlass Supreme, Grand Prix & 1995-96 Monte Carlo (56-32-02A); P/S shudder 1990-91 Lumina with 3.1L (Chev 91-174-3B); Reduced P/S assist 1990-91 Lumina (Chev 91-208-3B) & All pre-1995 models (033206); Front stabilizer squawk 1988-90 Cutlass Supreme (Olds 90-T-139); Rear suspension noise 1988-89 Regal (Buick 89-3-11A); Steering column "popping" 1992-93 (333210A); Rear strut thumping/squeaking 1989-95 (13-34-05); Rear stabilizer pop/groan 1997-98 Century, Regal, Grand Prix, Intrigue (73-34-05).
Transmission: Harsh 1-2 upshifts 1993-95 Regal, Lumina, Cutlass Supreme, Grand Prix & 1995 Monte Carlo (57-71-04); "Grinding" &/or "growling" while in "Park," 1992-95 Regal, Lumina, Cutlass Supreme, Grand Prix (57-71-13); Second gear vibration at 3000-5000 rpm 1991-93 (377138A); Transaxle fluid leak 1993-94 (37139); Harsh upshifts 1991-94 (477102); Intermittent loss of drive or erratic shifts 1991-94 (477121). Both 440-T4 automatic over drive & 125-C A/T prone to failure. For more information, see GM Transmission Page.
Other: Oil pressure gauge flutters 1990-91 Regal (Buick 91-8-51); Dead battery 1990-92 Lumina (Chev 92-297-10); A/C odor 1993-96 (53-12-12); Front shoulder belt contacts user's neck 1992-94 (331030); Rear window squeaks 1993-94 (431011); Water leak at header 1992-94 (43-10-41A); Front window scrapping 1993-94 (53-10-05); Left rear door binds 1994-95 (53-10-15); Door glass rattle 1993-95 (53-10-18); Tail lamp condensation 1994-96 (63-15-09); Front seat cushion splits or separates 1992-95 (63-16-08); CD changer malfunction 1995-98 Grand Prix, 1998 Intrigue (83-96-06); Airbag warning light on 1997-98 Lumina, Monte Carlo, Grand Prix (83-90-10); Door glass creak on bumpy roads 1997-98 Century, Regal, Intrigue, Grand Prix (73-10-64); High brake pedal effort 1988-91 Regal (Buick 91-5-12); ABS light on 1991-97 (73-50-26); Front brake squeal, grind 1997-98 (73-50-11A); Defroster doesn't clear W/S 1994-95 (63-11-11); Remote keyless entry range 1997-98 (73-90-09A); Gas pedal hard to depress 1993-97 (67-63-05A); W/S arms/blades park wrong 1997-98 (73-82-05A).
Copies of recalls can be obtained by contacting NHTSA's Technical Reference Division at 202-366-2768.
Airbags: 108 2000 Grand Prix, Lumina - Airbag module could explode (99V-283); 268,146 1995 Regal, 1995-96 Cutlass Supreme - Inadvertent airbag deployment (00V-171).
Brakes: 3,857 1988 Cutlass Supreme, Grand Prix - Park brake caliper disconnects (88V-175); 9,661 1988 Regal - Brake light inoperative & Cruise Resume acceleration (88V-040); 476,422 1989-90 Regal, Cutlass Supreme, Grand Prix, 1990 Lumina - Brake stop lamps inoperative (90V-185); 112,765 1991 Grand Prix - Brake stoplamp switch (92V-086); 199,572 1994-95 Regal, 1994 Cutlass Supreme - Rear hoses leak (95V-061); 3,591 1996 Lumina, Monte Carlo - Booster tabs improperly located (96V-122); 8,328 1988 Regal (88V-109) & 43,213 1996 Regal, Lumina - Left front line leaks (96V-069); 111 2000 Lumina - Right front hose incorrectly routed (99V-357); 1,000+ 2000 Intrigue - Internal fluid leaks in ABS hydraulic modulator (00V-114).
Fire: 11,432 1991 Regal with 3.8L V6 - Fuel feed hose comes loose (93V-145); 25,000+ 1996 Regal with 3.8L V6 - No start &/or engine compartment fire (96V-116); 3,784 1989 Regal, Grand Prix - Fuel return lines leak (88V-188); 1,121 1990 Grand Prix Turbo - Fuel tank crash measures (90V-036); 11, 432 1991 Regal - Fuel feed hose leaks (93V-145); 2,732 '99 Intrigue - Coolant hose leak (98V-241); 168,035 1999 Century, Regal - ABS system short melts plastic fuel hose (99V-170).
Seats/Seatbelts: 5,574 1993 Regal, Lumina, Cutlass Supreme, Grand Prix - Seatback suddenly reclines (93V-035); 1,559 1988 Grand Prix - Shoulder belt web cut by guide (88V-049); 673,000 1988-90 Grand Prix, Regal, Cutlass Supreme, 1990 Lumina - Front shoulder belt guide pulls through door-mounted anchor plate (90V-054); 347,866 1991 Regal, Lumina, Cutlass Supreme, Grand Prix - Front shoulder belt guide loops crack (92V-003); 412,792 1990-91 Regal, 1990 Lumina, Grand Prix, Cutlass Supreme - Belt webbing separates from belt guide loops (91V-005); 50,709 1995 All - Seatbelt anchor fails (97V-065); 135,475 1998-99 Intrigue - Rear shoulder belt jams in retractor (00V-117).
Transmission: 17, 745 1988 Grand Prix, Regal - Transmission cable disengages (88V-045); 10,141 1992 Regal, Lumina, Cutlass Supreme, Grand Prix - Transmission in Reverse while indicator in Neutral (91V-214).
Wheels: 7,775 1988 Grand Prix - Wheel lug nuts come off (88V-035); 160,000 1990 Regal, Lumina, Cutlass Supreme, Grand Prix - Wheel mounting cracks (94V-041); 60,524 1988-90 Regal, Grand Prix, Cutlass Supreme, 1990 Lumina - Kelsey Hayes wheels separate from vehicle (94V-041, 95V-115); 18,574 2000 Lumina, Regal, Century - Rear wheels can shift when spindle rod separates (00V-143).
Other: 349,331 1994-95 All - W/S washer/wiper switch wire (97V-017); 6,013 1991 Grand Prix - Headlamp/fog light (92V-182); 100,000+ 1988-91 Regal, Cutlass Supreme, Grand Prix & 1990-91 Lumina - Steering shaft separates from steering gear (97V-058); 12,457 1988 Regal, Grand Prix - Hood latch does not engage (88V-065); 155,149 Grand Prix, Century, Regal - W/S wipers stop (99V-348); 149,342 1997-98 Regal, 1998 Intrigue, 9,600 1998 Intrigue - Headlight aiming instructions incomplete (98V-102, 98V-103; 411,880 1998-99 Regal, Century - Headlight aiming device improperly calibrated (99V-356)