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Papadopoulos
12-18-2013, 04:38 PM
We've recently bought a 1988 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera Brougham International Series 3.8L V6. It has done 240.000 KM and it does not have any documentation what so ever. We were wondering what we should (and could) check in order to make it a more reliable car. We know the A/C and the Cruise Control don't work but otherwise it seems to work just fine. Anything we should definitely look for? Any weak points?

Thanks in advance!

turbokinetic
12-18-2013, 08:20 PM
We've recently bought a 1988 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera Brougham International Series 3.8L V6. It has done 240.000 KM and it does not have any documentation what so ever. We were wondering what we should (and could) check in order to make it a more reliable car. We know the A/C and the Cruise Control don't work but otherwise it seems to work just fine. Anything we should definitely look for? Any weak points?

Thanks in advance!

Hi, welcome to the forum! By 1988 many of the kinks had been worked out of the manufacturing of these engines and transmissions.

In the domestic market models, I beleive the 3.8 enine was phased out in 1987, but it is entirely possibly it remained available for export.

That's the LG3 engine. These are rock solid and will go 300,000 miles or more. They depend on a good air filtration system without leaks. Leaks let dirty air suck into the engine and wear it out.

The LG3 had one serious factory defect. They all come with a plastic camshaft gear. This gear will fail over time, and allow the crank and cam to get out of time. This causes the engine to be severely damaged.

You can remove the camshaft position sensor and inspect the gear to see if it is aluminum or steel. If it is aluminum it is a TIME BOMB and you must change it immediately.

I bought this car with completely failed timing gear. You would not need to pull the manifold or heads if the gear has not already failed.
http://www.a-body.net/forums/showthread.php?2131

The cruise control is likely a problem with the actuator. There is a foam filter inside this actuator. It deteriorates, then the foam pieces clog the valves. This can be disasembled and cleaned, and a new filter constructed.

As for the air conditioner, these cars were some of the last to use R12 refigerant gas. The problem is most likely the refrigerant gas has leaked out. You would be wise to flush the system and install new synthetic oil and R134A or HFC152A refrigerant. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wkBnhcyO3Y

Hope this helps!

Sincerely,
David

Papadopoulos
12-18-2013, 09:22 PM
Thanks for the reply!
I will look into the timing gear issue, the previous owner claimed to have changed it already but he didn't have any documentation to prove it so I'll see for myself. The funny thing is, the car was built in 1988 but not even registered until 1989 so on paper, it would be built 2 years after the engine was phased out. I'm sure it's original though since all the documentation says it's a 3.8 so I guess that for some reason they kept building a bigger engine for the big-engine-fearing Europeans. Quite odd but I like the big, refined 3.8 nevertheless. The actuator sounds like an easy fix! I've already changed the vacuum leads since they were completely dried out but I haven't been able to test it yet since the car is currently 'suspended' which means it's not insured and taxed at the moment so I can't legally drive her. If I find a quit night I'll test the cruise control with all the vacuum leads replaced before I start messing with the actuator. The air conditioner is probably an issue with the compressor, since I can't get it to run, even when I just shortcut it. Having to remove the compressor to fix it, I'll get it refilled with R134a anyway since all other A/C gasses are illegal over here.
Anyway, your reply helps a lot!

Thanks,
Harm

billkandi
12-18-2013, 10:01 PM
The cruise also sometimes looses the the little round clip off the end of the cable where it attaches to the actuator. The cable will just droop down. That's what happened to my 90.

turbokinetic
12-18-2013, 10:53 PM
Thanks for the reply!
I will look into the timing gear issue, the previous owner claimed to have changed it already but he didn't have any documentation to prove it so I'll see for myself. The funny thing is, the car was built in 1988 but not even registered until 1989 so on paper, it would be built 2 years after the engine was phased out. I'm sure it's original though since all the documentation says it's a 3.8 so I guess that for some reason they kept building a bigger engine for the big-engine-fearing Europeans. Quite odd but I like the big, refined 3.8 nevertheless. The actuator sounds like an easy fix! I've already changed the vacuum leads since they were completely dried out but I haven't been able to test it yet since the car is currently 'suspended' which means it's not insured and taxed at the moment so I can't legally drive her. If I find a quit night I'll test the cruise control with all the vacuum leads replaced before I start messing with the actuator. The air conditioner is probably an issue with the compressor, since I can't get it to run, even when I just shortcut it. Having to remove the compressor to fix it, I'll get it refilled with R134a anyway since all other A/C gasses are illegal over here.
Anyway, your reply helps a lot!

Thanks,
Harm

I searched but can't find the thread where I reworked a cruise actuator. The internet is very slow where I am. Basically, it contains 2 solenoid valves. There is one normally-closed valve and one normally-open valve. The foam filter media is around the NO valve (the vent valve) and the debris will cause this valve to fail to close when the cruise is turned on. Just take the Torx screws out of the actuator cover and carefully observe how all the parts fit together. Then you can clean the parts and fix it.

LOL at the big engine fearing Europeans! I remember driving in the Netherlands, in a rented Audi A1. It was the smallest car I had ever driven. The engine was acceptable being turbocharged and with a manual gearbox. But the car was so small! It was me and 3 of my marine diesel mechanic friends, we aren't small and all 4 in that car was a joke!

I think you'll be very happy with the LG3 powered Olds. It has torque!

As for the A/C, these cars have a compressor design which does not survive well when used with anything other than R12 refrigerant. You may want to consider replacing the compressor with a more modern one from a later model car. It does require modification. But if you want to keep the car, it is worth the time.

babyivan
12-19-2013, 04:12 AM
Yes, the LG3 is a great engine. They do eat a lot of gas if you have a heavy foot and do lots of street driving though.

The nylon tooth cam gear is a big deal, I had mine changed as soon as I bought it thanx to the advice of David (turbokinetic) and this board.

David, as for 1988, I believe the LG3 was the last year it was available domestically for the Ciera. I'm not sure on the Century, but I would imagine it would be the same. 1989 was the first year for the 3300.

Board member David McCoy has an '88 with an LG3 and I believe he's a U.S. guy.

-Ivan

PS, dont know why this is in the X body section, your car is an A body.

turbokinetic
12-19-2013, 09:22 AM
Yes, the LG3 is a great engine. They do eat a lot of gas if you have a heavy foot and do lots of street driving though.

The nylon tooth cam gear is a big deal, I had mine changed as soon as I bought it thanx to the advice of David (turbokinetic) and this board.

David, as for 1988, I believe the LG3 was the last year it was available domestically for the Ciera. I'm not sure on the Century, but I would imagine it would be the same. 1989 was the first year for the 3300.

Board member David McCoy has an '88 with an LG3 and I believe he's a U.S. guy.

-Ivan

PS, dont know why this is in the X body section, you car is an A body.

Thanks, you're right. I'm confusing the A and the C/H body cars. For 1988 the C/H cars had the LN3 3800 engine but the A cars still had the LG3.