I never buy anything that costs over a few hundred dollars without
researching the options. You can research cars online now.
Carsurvey.org & Edmunds.com are good places to begin. Of course,
getting only a hundred or so comments you will get mostly extreme
experiences and views, people who are very angry and people whose
experience is exceptionally positive.
Given that, the Buick LeSabre, anywhere you look, is mostly positive.
Not so for the Buick Rendezvous.
Buick Rendezvous: 2002 and 2003 get overwhelming negative comment from
owners. The 2003 generates a shorter list but some of the big problems
over lap. A consistency in buyer comments is no help from the dealer
and once GM sells a person a vehicle it does not care about you. Front
wheel bearings, electrical problems, fuel gauge failures, Manifold
gasket failures, fluid leaks, transmission failures come up a lot in
comments. 2004 seems to be a bad year and 2005 generates significantly
less complaints. Complaints tend to begin at 25,000 miles and again
complaints cluster around 50,000 miles. 2002 and 2004 AWD model owners
complain about excessive gas mileage for a CUV; though roomy inside,
the CUV seems to have a shorter wheel base than a Ford Taurus.
The Rendezvous does have a lot of bells and whistles, and considering
many of them are electric, that spells trouble in a CUV that is cheaper
than a less luxurious similar vehicle. It is not unusual for owners of
2002 to 2004 models to complain of having to replace two sets of wheels
bearings within 45,000 miles! Air Condition condensers tend to crack
between 20,000 & 45,000 miles. Again, there are owners who complain of
having to replace their condenser more than once. The Rendexvous 2002
to 2004 comes with the troubled GM Series II 3400 V6 engine which was
used in several GM cars, including the remarkable Buick LeSabre.
The series I 3800 V6 was dropped after 1995 or '96. That was one
reliable engine! The Series II 3400 seems to be an excellent engine
with one flaw, the composite plastic manifold. By the way, GM is not
the only auto maker to have problems with its first stab at a composite
manifold. Toyota Camry and Honda Accord 1996 to 1999 generated
considerable owner complaints that at about 45,000 miles (Consumer
Reports rates cars based on surveys of their loyal reader-followers,
who tend to be middle class salary people who buy a new car every 2 to
3 years, so CR doesn't know much about Japanese cars on the long term)
engines would self-destruct. A defect in the composite manifold would
case engine oil to gel and if not caught early enough it would cause an
engine seize of the heat caused type.
Well, the Buick Series II V6 had (or still has) a manifold problem.
Symptoms are usually the car suddenly starts using engine coolant but
the owner does not see any leaking to the ground. The coolant "use" is
internal caused by the plastic manifold gasket warping from heat. If
this is taken care of immediately, the expense is much less than if the
failure is allowed to reach the point where the gasket blows.
Get this, there is a third party solution that a handy owner can buy
and do himself for under $100. Go to Ken-co.com/manifold/default.htm to
read the details. This modification kit for the LeSabre will prevent
the major engine problem from happening. Cost is under $100 including a
new gasket, you must buy for the minifold. 1-800-263-4283
A thought for Rendezvous owners. A few mechanically inclined owners
(wife had to have a Rendezvous) solved the repeat failures problem by
using replacement parts made by companies other than those that supply
GM/Buick. Top local mechanics tell me that GM in general has been
having problems with their wheel hearings.
Some owners say Buick resolved the bearing failure problem somewhat by
putting 16 inch wheels on 2003 and later models. I am not sure about
this because 2003 owners still complain about front bearing failures.
Owners seem to have a love-hate with the Rendezvous after a year or so
of ownership. They love the looks, features, ride, etc but hate the
repairs. Several call their Rendezvous a 'money pit'. Resale is so low
that many people are tempted to buy a one to two year old model. I
would stay away from 2002 and 2003 for SURE. I notice the 2007 models
are going for considerably less than the 2002-2003 models. Today's new
Rendezvous seems to go at Buick LeSabre list price, about 24,000 to
27,000. Not a bad buy, if you are a mechanic