In this episode of the Auto Owner Story podcast I’m going to share about a work vehicle I bought. I used it to travel the roads of southern Idaho and eastern Oregon. I was working as a sales representative for an automotive diagnostic equipment manufacture. I also sold point of sale and repair manual software to auto repair shops.
I bought the 2003 Buick LeSabre used with 18,000 miles. It has been one of the most reliable cars I’ve ever owned. It’s like that TV commercial from years ago for the Timex watch. It just keeps on ticking! It’s got 343,452 miles and every time someone goes out to use it starts and runs with virtually no problems.
It’s been semi-retired for years so it sits a lot but when needed it’s ready to go.
My family has used the Buick as a back up vehicle for situations when someone needs transportation while their car is being worked on. My wife likes to use it for short runs in town rather than taking the truck.
The car is a white four door with cloth interior. It has A/C, cruise control, electric windows and locks. It’s a Custom model car but fully loaded. The engine is the famous 3.8L 3800. I believe it’s the best engine GM has ever made. The engine has a lot of miles but it’s as reliable as it can be.
There are slight engine oil leaks but it never needs to have oil added between oil changes. I have replaced some gaskets for oil leaks over the years but the car is 17 years old so that is expected.
A comfortable car for long road trips
I was a sales representative for 15 years. Southern Idaho and eastern Oregon are located in the northwest part of the U.S. The area is sparsely populated. Both states have a lot of farms, agriculture and open rangeland.
Living in Boise Idaho I was centrally located in my territory. Travel times to the far edges of my area were five hours in each direction.
I was successful in my position but to do that it required a lot of windshield time, meaning I was always driving to my next sale.
I chose the LeSabre because it has a long wheelbase compared to many front wheel drive cars. That makes them a very stable and comfortable road car. Something needed when you are driving eight to ten hours a day on the road. The other thing I liked about this car is the abundance of legroom for my 6’ 2” body. There was plenty of room to spread out and move around while driving.
Having been a mechanic and technician for many years I knew the value of maintenance. Oil changes, transmission flushes, coolant services were always done as needed. Even with maintenance the car still needed repair work at times like water pumps, transmission repairs, axle bearings, etc.
The body has been great. Doors and windows all work well. The paint looks good.
The brake pulsation problem that wouldn’t go away
One of the common problems I had was disc brake rotor warping. It caused that pulsation you get when you apply the brakes. I would have a repair shop turn the front rotors and install new brake pads to fix the problem. The next time it needed fixed I’d just replace the rotors and pads.
I started having an intermittent pulsation problem that varied by the type of road surface. It confused me, and two of my shops, for several years. They turned rotors, replaced rotors and checked everything they could think of on the brakes. They couldn’t fix it. One day I was at one of the shops getting an oil change and a new mechanic checked my front end. He found a loose ball joint. We discussed it and determined it could be the cause of my brake problem.
I wanted to get a second opinion from a suspension mechanic so I had a tire store look at it. That turned into a fiasco because the young mechanic who check it said the ball joint was good but that it had a bad steering tie rod end. So I went across the street to another tire store to have them check it. They said the tie rod was okay but the ball joint was bad.
Those are the type of things that happen in the auto repair industry. All service industries have those types of problems. They’re the result of lack of training and education. It’s common in small businesses because it’s hard to spend the time training front line employees. That is not an excuse though. There is a lot of room for improvement.
So I went back to the first tire store and talked to the manager. I wasn’t upset, I just wanted an accurate diagnosis so it could get fixed.
The lead mechanic raised the car. Determined the ball joint was bad and brought me out to the shop to show me the joint. It was bad. They replaced both lower ball joints and aligned the car. The brake pulsation was finally fixed!
So my high mileage Buick just keeps on going.
I just keep doing a little maintenance to the car. I pay the minimal car insurance bill. When my wife or family member needs it, it’s ready to go.
I wanted to tell this story because it’s an example of the type of car stories I’m looking for on the Auto Owner Story podcast. If you have a story about a car you had or have now that is interesting or funny we would like to hear it.
Maybe you have had an experience with a shop where they went above and beyond the norm that you could share with us.
I do have another podcast and website called Auto Shop Connection. I would like to get auto repair shop stories for that podcast. If you are interested in sharing go to Auto Shop Connection and click the Schedule a Recording link.
Sharing positive automotive stories are good for all of us to hear. Most of us are aware of the negative experiences many have had getting their car fixed. We’re not looking for those.
For many of us a first car experience can turn into a great story. Many people name their vehicles. The name may come from its appearance or some other situation that brings out a unique name. We would love to hear your first car story.
If you like these car stories please share them with a friend or family member.
If you’re willing to share you can contact me to schedule an initial informational call or to record your story.