Input wanted on a 99 Regal LSE/04 LeSabre?

SilverSleeper

Senior Member
I'm looking for a new daily driver, and came across a 99 Regal LSE. No, it is not supercharged, but I don't really need a GS right now, even though it would be a "nice to have".
Questions I have here,
What is the Grand Touring Suspension?
How reliable is the series 2 3800, (this car has 86k on it)?
What are the common complaints or issues among these cars?

It is a pretty loaded car, beautiful dark green. Leather interior. Traction control, and really nice woodgrain accents.
Has RKE, power everything (PW/PDL/PSeat/PSunroof).
Has the electronic dual zone climate control
The 3800 pulls very nice, shifts feel firm but not harsh. Few minor cosmetic issues which I can easily fix. Only major rust concern is the radiator support, the rest of the car (even door bottom inside edges are clean) and yes, it has been a NY car all its life, so for the age, it is mostly rust free.

It could use some good cleaning, and the leather cared for, but I'm pretty good at detailing interiors, so it doesn't bother me. I only wish it had heated seats and a lumbar support in the drivers seat, since I have lower back problems. Other than that, it was a great test drive, and I have already run a carfax which came back clean.
Any words of wisdom or advice to take in? I will most likely be buying this or another car in a week or so.


My other option, is along the same lines. It is a 2004 LeSabre Custom. Has the 3800, but with 111k on the clock. Beautiful car, equipped with everything. Feels like it pulls even stronger than the Regal, even with more weight to pull and higher miles.
It has OnStar, heated power leather with lumbar support, electronic gauge (you switch between all the gauges showing fuel mileage, tire pressure, battery volts, oil pressure, coolant temp, etc) which is a very nice thing to have, I like having that info at my disposal, even on a daily driver. It is a very clean car, both inside and out, its a silver metallic (which is very nice, it almost matches my 87) and it also has traction control and selectable driver settings.
This car feels even stronger and mechanically sound than the Regal, but I'm not so sure I want something that much bigger. I also have run a carfax on it, coming back with a couple accidents reported, one being a deer hit. But honestly, looking over the car, it appears to have been repaired very well (silverflake is easy to spot repaints and overspray), and the repair dealer is local, and they have a rep for doing great work.

Either car I feel like I can just jump into and drive across country with, but the LeSabre just feels more sound. Plus, it does have OnStar, which, if I get the LeSabre, I would possibly invest the money in the service, seeing as how I would do a lot of traveling with it.

What do you guys think? Those are the two options I am looking at right now. Both would be paid off in under 2 years, and would probably go to my dad at that point when I go hunting for a nice used truck/suv to tow my 87 with.
Anyone have either one? Pros/cons? Like it/hate it? Common issues?
Both are priced fairly according to KBB, at a local dealer with a decent reputation.
Thanks! -Jason
 
Them 3800's run forever only downfall I think they may have is the trans but I had 250,000 on a 91 Bonneville and sold it running the underneath was falling apart (gas lines ,brakelines ect.). I also own a 96 Buick Regal with 181,000 miles on it and it still drives like new. I had never had a trans fail on me but have heard of them failing. I'd buy another and would recommend them any day. I loved mine. I do like the Regal bodystyle better then the LaSabre but I still think the Bonneville's look the best. That's my 2 cents
 
I've owned both cars that you speak of and the two felt very different jumping from one into another. The Regal LSE sounds like a nice solid ride but the leather will give you the chills without the butt warmers. I sold mine with ~130K on it and was having trans issues (it lost OD). The motor was rock dependable and awesome on gas mileage.....I would see 32-33 mpg on long trips. No issues to speak of other than blowing out the paper Monsoon rear speakers and crank sensor. Make sure the recall was done on the front valve cover gasket or do it youself. The car was tight and rattle-free and the handling was decent with a GMPP sway bay upgrade. The suspension in the LSE would be the same as the GS because of the 16" tire package.

The '94 LeSabre that I owned had the self-leveling Gran Touring option with factory 16" rims and that car drove really nice as well. It felt like a much bigger car than it was but got around ok with the 170 hp Series I 3800. I had no issues with that car and would probably still have it if the wife didn't smack a tree in the front corner (airbags never deployed). It had ~60K on it at the time and was a creampuff. This one was a Custom with cloth bench seats and full power. I had to replace an alternator and A/C compressor and that was it.

You really can't go wrong with either vehicle, it just comes down to what features you like.

Good luck with the purchase!
 
The series one has less issues do to not having an egr tube running through the plastic upper intake manifold. but the series two makes more power. regals are easier to work on than a big body series two engines. but other than the melting of the upper intake manifold the only other thing I see day to day is oil pans and valve cover gaskets. The valve cover gaskets have a recall on them. All in all both good daily drivers.
 
the regal should feel stronger than the lesabre.

I have bought many high miles ones. throw a fuel filter , plugs & wires in it and disconnect the battery for 1/2 hour to reset fuel trims ( unless you have a tuner) and I bet it wakes right up.

intake gaskets & front valve cover gaskets like mentioned are issues

the other common ones are window regulators and the tab that stops the wipers in the home position bending from snow load if you shut the car off with the wipers still on and start the car later and let it warm up with snow on the windshield not realizing the wipers are jammed

my daily driver regal gs has 198k miles on original long block and trans ( bolt ons only) and has 150 track passes on dr's on it so if you use them smartly they last very well.

its also super easy to make more h.p. than the gs cars by doing a top swap - swapping from the heads up = heads , lower intake , sc ,tb ,rails ,injectors and related accessories.

from there its a pcm tune and a $35 supplemental harness if you arent handy with wiring

transmission wise the upgrades the gs got were the heavy duty differential and diff cover to fit over it along with upgraded pass axle.

I have sold several top swaps on the regal forum $375 + shipping and the diff upgrade stuff for $150+ shipping but the non hd diff will tolerate a top swap car pretty well as long as you dont hook it up ( slicks or dr's)

I part out regals on the side
 
Wait, why should the Regal feel stonger than the LeSabre? And where did the series 1 come into play? The LeSabre I'm looking at is a 2004 model, with the series 2, rated at 205hp/230lb-ft. The 1999 Regal LSE is rated 195/220. How much weight difference is there? The Regal with GT suspension is faster through the corners, but the LeSabre would eat its lunch going up hills and from a stop. I took both cars along the same route, did exactly the same thing with both cars, step one being a 3 stage hill climb at 3 different speeds. Then turn off onto a straight run for about a mile leading to a curvy lakeside scenic road, to a turnoff point, back around the lake the opposite direction, and down to the main road down a back road with lots of bumps and waves. The dealers run the same route when they want to show off their cars. Its a pretty good testing route. The Regal ate up the corners like nothing, but the LeSabre just flat out killed the hills and straights. With some lower profile wheels/tires and a rear sway bar it could do well.

Main differences I see...
Regal has some rust issues with the lower rad support, some of the outside trim on the rear drivers door is coming off, the cupholder is completely busted apart, and I've read nothing but bad things about the digital dual automatic climate control unit going haywire. I can probably add seat heaters later, I've dealt with leather in the winter anyway (did the same mod to my PT's leather seats). Besides, either car is probably going to get a remote start anyway.
All the LeSabre needs is a good detailing. Its only drawback is the handling and the 25k more miles on it. The plus sides are, that it has seat heaters, lumbar support, the drivers information center, and a better traction control system. Its 5 years newer, and for cars that both spent their entire life in NY, that is a lot less salt and 5 fewer winters for it to rust.
 
the regal should be stronger because it has the same engine in a lighter car.

tune up parts will make a big change in that car by the sound of it

the lesabre is newer with less issues though so I guess you need to factor in the differences in prices which you havent mentioned

I would hope the regal is considerably less than the lesabre being older and more issues?

I find most of my regals and gtp's on craigs list , the one in the middle of my sig pic was $500 neding a stering rack and cosmetic dents on 1 door & fender with 134k - I have around $1800 in it

the one to the left was a 80k car from NC with some nuisance issues I picked up for $2000
 
Well, I've test driven the cars again, after doing some research on both.

The Regal:
The Regal seems to shift firmer, definitely has some ponies hiding in that engine, and it really takes the corners and does feel like a better power/weight ratio. The heat/ac control seems to work fine, although I see a ton of reports where it has gone out, and costs about $600 to replace it. Brakes are excellent, however the TC seems to be really ineffective, as I got on it on a bit of wet road and was met with tons of wheel spin, even with the TC engaged. Doesn't inspire much confidence when I think of this car in snowy roads. Tires are good, but it is way to easy to spin them even with the TC on.
It does have some rust on the passenger rear wheel lip, which was poorly painted over. The paint has peeled back a bit. They fixed the trunk solenoid, so now it opens with the key fob and the glovebox release, instead of just the key. Power mirrors are sketchy. The drivers one has a deep yellowish tint to it.
But the seats are cold, and I test drove it on a rainy day. There isn't much lower back support, but I suppose I could install aftermarket heaters and put a bit more padding in the back cushion.

The LeSabre:
Something happened since the last test drive, and now there is wind noise at the bottom of the windshield on the pass side. Can't see anything, but it is loud. Seller will fix it if I buy, though. Its a bit discouraging though.
Developed some brake chatter, but that could be because of sitting around. Seller says brakes were recently done. Shifts definitely feel less firm than the Regal when pushed. It doesn't slip, but you can't even tell when it shifts unless you watch the tach. It had to have the battery replaced, so it has been gone awhile, so this process is taking longer than I thought. I hear the battery is under the rear seat. That has to be annoying as heck. Ride is definitely floaty. Does not have the firm suspension package, and it shows. But then, I'm used to driving a small 5 speed PT Cruiser with suspension work done, and low profile Bridgestone Potenzas on it, and it out handles a lot of cars. Drivers info center keeps reading the oil pressure at 130psi. ? WTH is wrong with that? All the other parameters seem ok, but the pressure just hovers between 125 and 130 psi. Bad sending unit maybe?
But honestly, there isn't a hint of rust on this car. Not a bit. The paint is near perfect for a 5 year old car from upstate NY. Its needs bit of interior detailing, but that isn't a huge issue. The leather is great, no cracks or tears.

What is there for aftermarket for either platform? I would like to get a rear sway bar on the LeSabre, and some stiffer springs. Also It would be nice to be able to reprogram the shift points. The Regal, it would be nice to get a gauge of some sort to keep tabs on things, similar to a scanmaster (is there a version for it?). How hard is the ac/heat control unit to get a replacement for? The fact I've heard so many people complain about it going out is a real issue, not something I want to deal with in the middle of winter..

And the cost for both cars is pretty close. The LeSabre is about 10% more.
Honestly, if the miles on the Regal were over 100k, I would be 100% to the LeSabre. But with the Regal having 25k less on it, that is a main factor.
 
Well, I've test driven the cars again, after doing some research on both.

The Regal:
The Regal seems to shift firmer, definitely has some ponies hiding in that engine, and it really takes the corners and does feel like a better power/weight ratio. The heat/ac control seems to work fine, although I see a ton of reports where it has gone out, and costs about $600 to replace it. Brakes are excellent, however the TC seems to be really ineffective, as I got on it on a bit of wet road and was met with tons of wheel spin, even with the TC engaged. Doesn't inspire much confidence when I think of this car in snowy roads. Tires are good, but it is way to easy to spin them even with the TC on.
It does have some rust on the passenger rear wheel lip, which was poorly painted over. The paint has peeled back a bit. They fixed the trunk solenoid, so now it opens with the key fob and the glovebox release, instead of just the key. Power mirrors are sketchy. The drivers one has a deep yellowish tint to it.
But the seats are cold, and I test drove it on a rainy day. There isn't much lower back support, but I suppose I could install aftermarket heaters and put a bit more padding in the back cushion.

The LeSabre:
Something happened since the last test drive, and now there is wind noise at the bottom of the windshield on the pass side. Can't see anything, but it is loud. Seller will fix it if I buy, though. Its a bit discouraging though.
Developed some brake chatter, but that could be because of sitting around. Seller says brakes were recently done. Shifts definitely feel less firm than the Regal when pushed. It doesn't slip, but you can't even tell when it shifts unless you watch the tach. It had to have the battery replaced, so it has been gone awhile, so this process is taking longer than I thought. I hear the battery is under the rear seat. That has to be annoying as heck. Ride is definitely floaty. Does not have the firm suspension package, and it shows. But then, I'm used to driving a small 5 speed PT Cruiser with suspension work done, and low profile Bridgestone Potenzas on it, and it out handles a lot of cars. Drivers info center keeps reading the oil pressure at 130psi. ? WTH is wrong with that? All the other parameters seem ok, but the pressure just hovers between 125 and 130 psi. Bad sending unit maybe?
But honestly, there isn't a hint of rust on this car. Not a bit. The paint is near perfect for a 5 year old car from upstate NY. Its needs bit of interior detailing, but that isn't a huge issue. The leather is great, no cracks or tears.

What is there for aftermarket for either platform? I would like to get a rear sway bar on the LeSabre, and some stiffer springs. Also It would be nice to be able to reprogram the shift points. The Regal, it would be nice to get a gauge of some sort to keep tabs on things, similar to a scanmaster (is there a version for it?). How hard is the ac/heat control unit to get a replacement for? The fact I've heard so many people complain about it going out is a real issue, not something I want to deal with in the middle of winter..

And the cost for both cars is pretty close. The LeSabre is about 10% more.
Honestly, if the miles on the Regal were over 100k, I would be 100% to the LeSabre. But with the Regal having 25k less on it, that is a main factor.

there are plenty of scanning options - aeroforce is a popular choice

dont buy things like the hvac control from anyone other than someone parting them out and it will be under $50

the yellowish mirror is the autodimming defrosting mirror most likely

more aftermarket for the regal since its the same w body platform as grand prix

my regals with good tires are fine here in Maine winters
 
I'm gonna go with the LeSabre. The guy reduced the price on it, so its not much more than the Regal, and considering the motors reputation, the 111k doesn't bother me too much. Its a much better car for the money, especially with the rust/paint issues with the Regal. I'm going in tomorrow to see about the issues and if they will fix them without a fight.

My questions now, are...

Can I upgrade the sway bars (or add a rear one) easily?
Is there a programmer for it? (to change shift points, etc)
Can you do a top end swap? (thinking long term here, not right away...) I know I've seen LeSabres on youtube with the blower on them. Its basically the same motor, right?
I picked up a Haynes manual, but its basically worthless, since its so generic in covering all the cars included. Where can I find a good digital copy of the service manual? I know ebay has some sellers, but some claim to sell the service manual, but its a cheap Haynes ripoff in pdf form. (which I ended up buying for the Cruiser). Anyone got a good seller for the manual?
 
97-05 lesabre is on hp tuners supported v6 cars list:

GM V6 Cars
Years Avail. Model Type Single Vehicle
Credits Year/Model
Credits (Per Year)
97-02 Firebird/Camaro 3.8 2 4
00-05 Chevrolet Impala 3.4, 3.8 2 4
06-09 Chevrolet Impala 3.5, 3.9 2 6
97-01 Chevrolet Lumina 3.1, 3.4, 3.8 2 4
97-03 Chevrolet Malibu 3.1, 3.4 2 4
06-09 Chevrolet Malibu 3.5, 3.6, 3.9 (3.5 in 07+ only) 2 6
97-05 Chevrolet Monte Carlo 3.1, 3.4, 3.8 2 4
06-07 Chevrolet Monte Carlo 3.5, 3.9 2 6
97-05 Pontiac Bonneville 3.8 2 4
97-05 Pontiac Grand Am 3.1, 3.4 2 4
06-09 Pontiac G6 3.5, 3.6, 3.9 (3.5 in 07+ only) 2 6
97-05 Pontiac Grand Prix 3.1, 3.8 2 4
98-05 Buick Century 3.1 2 4
97-05 Buick Lesabre 3.8 2 4
97-05 Buick Park Avenue 3.8 2 4
97-04 Buick Regal 3.8 2 4
97-99 Buick Riviera 3.8 2 4
09 Buick Lucerne 3.9 2 6
04 Buick Rendezvous 3.4 2 4
99-04 Oldsmobile Alero 3.4 2 4
07-09 Saturn Aura 3.5, 3.6 2 6
Unlimited Vehicle Group: 70 Credits




let me know if you need a top swap , I always have several in stock $375
 
Murph, I'll have to look you up in about 6 months when the warranty on it runs out and see about that top end swap.
How about the trans in the LeSabre, will it take the extra power ok?
I think it would do better with firmer shifts, if that can be programmed.

One other thing I was wondering about, can the digital climate control be retrofitted into this car? It has the basic sliders for temp control. I have seen a lot of units on ebay. Is it the whole unit, or is it just a control panel only? Anyone with a Regal or LeSabre try and do that swap out?

And is there a better forum for the 3800? I mean, I love this site for its turbo buick knowledge base, and been here a long time. But if there are sites more toward what I'm playing with, could someone post up a few links?
One of the things I really need is the service manual. Anyone know where to get a good digital copy? One of the first things I'm going to have to do is rip apart the stereo. I think I would die without my satellite radio, so that will probably be the first mod, running another car system with the direct antenna adapter like I currently have.
 
LeSabres are light...curb weight is about the same as the Regal. I'd put my money on the LeSabre ;)


All the Bonneville suspension components should fit the LeSabre also, just reference the part #s. The Bonneville GXP is the sportiest model
 
LeSabres are light...curb weight is about the same as the Regal. I'd put my money on the LeSabre ;)

True, I noticed that in my research as well. I think the difference is only about 150 lbs or so, depending on options.

Oh, and

'99 turbo park ave. ultra
13.5 @ 105.9

Do tell... any links to the build? THAT is a sleeper! Gotta love the unsuspecting land yachts!

Check out this guys top swapped (and more) LeSabre! Insane! I love it!
YouTube - Sleeper Buick

These bigger 3800 cars remind me of my 73 Electra, which was totalled in an accident, but I still have the car saved for the motor/trans and other parts. I put a Edelbrock 750, TA headers, a HEI conversion, open air cleaner, and true duals on that boat. For a 73, it had almost every possible option. And yeah, it was a 4 door with vinyl roof. And it ripped up on people. It was funny watching the faces on the young ricers when this 19' long monster ripped their civic/integra/whatever slow a new one back when I was in college. I lived in a town with 3 colleges, one of them a private school, and I loved beating up on their new toy mommy and daddy just bought them with my old blue boat. Sure they got better gas mileage, but heck, what good is gas mileage when its no fun to drive the thing, right? lol

Buicks are in my blood, have my 87 Regal Turbo, now a 04 LeSabre, a 73 Electra, and had a 91 Roadmaster Estate.
 
Thanks murph, I signed up on the GS forum. Posted in the newbie section.

Picked up the car today. They fixed the windshield noise, and re surfaced the rotors. Still no idea on the oil pressure gauge.
It is literally the same color as my 87 Regal, even down to the pinstripe on the side. Cool.
Still finding out things. Like about the automatic wipers, the perimeter lighting, how the RDS radio works, stuff like that. Its a great car. Only a few minor issues, like missing lights in the right half of the steering wheel controls, and some of the radio buttons.
But it rides so nice. Its not too floaty, its just different... since I'm used to the tight suspension and short wheelbase of the Cruiser. I took it home the same roads I drive to work everyday, and didn't feel like I was pushing it over onto the door handles around the corners. But it could use some improvement. I'll have to look into the Bonneville parts.
 
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