Buick Century, 82-96

January 2000


Dear Consumer:

Thank you for contacting the Center for Auto Safety (CAS) about problems with your General Motors "A" car (Buick Century, Chevrolet Celebrity, Pontiac 6000, Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera). Introduced in 1982, the A-car was particularly trouble prone in the 1980's and was phased out in the 1990's. GM dropped the Celebrity after the 1990 model year, the 6000 after 1991 and the Ciera after 1996. While GM kept the name, the Century became a "W" car like the Buick Regal, Pontiac Grand Prix and Oldsmobile Intrigue from 1997 on.

Automatic transmission failure (1982-91), power steering loss when cold (1982-88), premature rear tire wear (1985-86) and peeling paint (1985-92) cost plenty to fix. GM issued dealer bulletins acknowledging these defects and many others, but never told owners. Instead GM set up classic secret warranties to cover repair costs for those consumers who complained the loudest. In 1993 at CAS' request, GM agreed to pay for complete repainting for paint peel or delamination through six years and unlimited mileage. In March 1995, GM secretly cut the policy to five years, but if pushed, they will honor the six year policy.

A-cars have been hard hit with 21 recalls since 1982. Brake recalls are common on early models and uncontrolled acceleration on later models. The largest recall was on all 1989 and later models (2.2 million) for rear seat belt anchors that failed Federal safety standards. All 1990-96 A-cars have door mounted automatic front seat belts. When left connected, as they should be, they make entry and exit awkward, especially for older and handicapped people. Even worse, the belts can't keep occupants inside the car if a door opens in a crash.

You'll find more information on GM A-Car problems below and what you can do about them plus a complaint box. Your information will help us build a strong case against GM as we fight for action on these defects.

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 which entitles you 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.


Clarence M. Ditlow
Executive Director

Buick Century Chevrolet Celebrity Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera Pontiac 6000
Technical Service Bulletins listed in brackets by Division.

Brakes: Front brake pulsation 1995 & prior (43-50-09); ABS light on 1991-96 (73-50-26).

Engine: Cruise control fails to engage/resume 1993 Buick (93-5-4),1988-92 Oldsmobile (92-107-8A); Miss/hesitation 1984-93 Pontiac (93-6-8); Piston noise during warm-up 1989-90 Pontiac (90-T-169); Oil leaks at rocker cover - replace rocker covers 1993-95All (47-61-35); Oil leaks 1990-91 Pontiac (91-6-38): Exhaust moan at idle 1993-94, 1994-95 & 1994-96 (336604, 53-66-01, 53-66-03); Knock in front of engine 1992-94 All (306001); Fuel line knock 1989-90 Chevrolet (90-T-197); No start/long crank 1989-91 Buick (91-6E-1); Stalling 1989-90 Chevrolet (90-T-174)/1991-93 Oldsmobile (236007); 2nd gear start in cold 1990-93 Buick (93-73T40-3); Extended crank in cold 1989-90 Buick (90-6E-8); Poor driveability due to fuel injector deposits 1994-98 w/3.1/3.4L (77-63-04A); Oil odor - replace rear main bearing seal 1994-98w/3.1/3.4L (87-60-02A); Timing chain noise - replace chain 1992-96 (87-61-21A); Cold engine tick/rattle - replace piston/pin assembly 1994-96 w/3.1/3.4L (57-61-24A); Squeak from exhaust manifold pipe springs 1990-94 All (236602A); Poor cold start hesitation or sag, poor A/C 1990-93 Buick /Oldsmobile (47-65-17); Poor cold start hesitation or sag, poor defrost 1994-95 Buick /Oldsmobile (47-65-23A); Cold start knock, rattle, tap 1994-96 (77-60-01B); Exhaust manifold seal squeak 1993-95 (43-66-04).

Paint: Bumps/rust spots 1994-99 (43-17-01B). For info on peeling paint, go to GM Paint.

Power Steering: Pontiac /S reduced at low ambient temperatures 1994 & prior (033206); Steering column "popping" 1992-93 (333210A); Intermittent steering column snap or click 1994-96 (56-32-02B); Pontiac /S shudder 1989-91 Chevrolet (91-T-177). Secret warranty for loss of power assist when cold 1981-88, go to GM-P/Steering loss.

Transmission: Grinding, slipping & failures. For more information, go to GM-FWD Transmission.

Other: Hood release difficulty 1989-90 Oldsmobile (90-346-10); Damaged A/C condenser 1990-91 Pontiac (91-1-8); Fuel pump noise and loss of power 1991-92 Buick (92-6E-29); Low voltage reading or dim lights at idle 1990-95 (43-64-07); Knock from accessory drive belt tensioner 1993-95 Buick /Oldsmobile (47-61-36); SIR light on 1994-95 Buick /Oldsmobile (43-90-18); Noises from instrument panel 1994-95 Buick (43-20-03); A/C odor at start up 1993-96 (53-12-12A); Exterior light condensation 1993-96 (63-82-06A); Radio time display with ignition off 1995-96 (43-96-08A); Windrush sound at top of doors 1994-95 Buick /Oldsmobile (53-10-08A); Loose W/S molding 1994-95 Buick /Oldsmobile (53-16-03).

Copies may be obtained from NHTSA's Technical Reference Division at 202-366-2768.


Brakes: 2,848 1993 Century/Celebrity - Right front brake hoses come loose (93V-121); 3,192 1984 Century - Increased stopping distance (85V-104); 1,000+ 1982 Century/6000/Celebrity - Hoses separate from fittings (83V-007); 100+ 1993 Ciera/Century - Reduced brake effectiveness (93V-121); 10,000+ 1983 Celebrity/Ciera/Century - Brake fluid leak (83V-105).

Electrical: 139,542 1994 Century/Celebrity - Door leaks, causes short, starts fire (94V-159);

Fuel Fires: 27,369 1988 All - Fuel leaks & fire (88V-164); 200,000 1982 All - Fuel filler neck & leak (85V-034).

Seats/Seatbelts: 319,181 1990-91 Century/Celebrity/6000, 1990 Ciera - Electrical shorts weld circuit breaker elements together (92V-124); 10,000+ 1984 All - Seat back inertia lock fails (84V-011); 6,083 1988 Century - No child restraint information in manual (88V-007); 2,216,325 1989-96 Century/Ciera, 1989-90 Celebrity, 1989-91 6000 -Rear belt anchorage failure (95V-173).

Throttle/Accelerator: 49,047 1994 Century/Celebrity - Throttle sticks (94V-008); 10,646 1994 Century - Throttle sticks (94V-021); 2,130 1985 Ciera/6000 - Retaining clip interferes with throttle body casting (84V-132); 2,848 1993 Century - Loss of accelerator control (93V-162).

Other: 3,428 1988 Century/6000/Celebrity - Steering loss (88V-048); 100+ 1992 Century/Celebrity - Transmission in reverse while indicator shows neutral (91V-214); 206 1994 Century/Ciera - Front wheel separates (94V-189).