By Loring Chien
I used to be a GM car buyer because my dad always bought them.
My fist car was a 1972 Buick Skylark. Something bad about the water pump. First one failed at 20,000 miles, Second one at 40,000 miles and third one at 60,000 miles. I sold it at 75,000 miles. Something I heard about the way the belt-driven items were all on one side of the car and a single bearing on the water pump put it in a permanent bind.
My next car was a 1979 Buick Regal. Its fatal flaw was a rubber vacuum hose that went about ¾” over the exhaust manifold. Eventually it would deteriorate the hose and put a small leak in it. All Buick Regals of that year would develop a brake problem at about 16-18,000 miles due to vacuum bleed-off. If you were coasting, there was not enough vacuum to work the power brakes well and you would lose significant braking power for a panic stop. When testing you always accelerated and then tromped on the brakes, this worked OK because the engine vacuum was always higher right after accelerating, so a mechanic who wasn’t familiar with the problem would never find it.
Next I had a 1986 Olds Delta 88. The fatal flaw on this car was the heater core. They circulated engine coolant through the core which was located under the passenger side dash. Besides not stopping the flow when the heater wasn’t used, they also had some metallurgical issue. On this design every 30,000 miles it would spring a leak and soak the passenger carpet with coolant which stinks to high heaven for weeks afterwards. After the fourth failure, each of which cost about $500 to fix, I loaded the coolant with stop leak and sold the car for a song.
I guess I finally realized a systematic design error pattern on GM cars. The next cars I bought were Nissans and they have been real reliable for three or four cars now.