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Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera Problems

The Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera is a mid-size car that stayed in the market for 14 years before General Motors stopped its production in 1996. It became a popular model in the 90s, and it consistently received high ratings from J.D. Power and Associates. But despite its great reviews, the Cutlass Ciera is plagued with a few factory problems.

Faulty automatic transmission

One of the common problems the Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera normally deals with is a faulty automatic transmission. Cutlass Ciera owners experience dropped transmission or erratic shifting, which are usually caused by a stuck throttle valve inside the transmission. Sometimes, the bad ground connection of the shift solenoid also eliminates the capacity of the car to shift to the second, third, or fourth gears.

Stalling engine

The Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera engine is known for its stalling issues. Car owners can suffer from this problem when coming to a stop after an extended drive on the freeway. What happens is the torque converter clutch sticks on, causing the engine to stall and restart. The engine and the transmission, however, will start to operate normally again after the components have cooled down for about 20 minutes. To avoid this problem, the torque converter clutch solenoid should be replaced along with the transmission filter and fluid. But keep in mind that this engine problem can also be caused by a failed fuel pump.

Overheating power window motors

Typically, the power window on the door of the Cutlass Ciera may respond slowly or stop halfway. This can be caused by a faulty power window motor, which is among the common issues faced by the model. Usually, this is a case of an overheating power window motor, and replacing it should correct the problem. However, this can also be triggered by a faulty wiring or loose connections inside the door.

Broken door handle

Door handles on the Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera seem to break off quickly from repeated use. Usually, the inside door handle on the driver's side breaks first, causing the door to be only opened from the outside. Other interior door handles also suffer from this fate. However, the door handles on the outside also break, which only heightens the degree of this problem. Cutlass Ciera owners just have to replace these broken components to avoid any discomfort in entering and exiting their vehicles.

FAQs—OldsmobileCutlass Ciera

From the look of it, was the Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera a classy, big-ticket item back in the day?

The Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera was a front-wheel drive, mid-sized sedan, coupé and wagon (after 1984) built from 1982 to 1996, and sold throughout North America. During the car's production run, it sold more than a hundred thousand models.

The Ciera came equipped with either the 2.5L Iron Duke 4 cylinder or the Buick-based 3.0L V6 engines. A new 4.3L diesel engine was also offered, but sold far less than the gasoline engines. Transmissions included 3 and 4 speed automatics, as well as the one-year only (1984) 5 speed manual transmission.

Did the Ciera's run end because it wasn't moving with the times?

In 1995, the Cutlass name was stripped from the sedan leaving only Ciera, while the wagons remained Cutlass Cruiser. While still very popular, Ciera was at the time among the oldest designs on the market, as well as among the last cars to wear the older Oldsmobile Rocket emblem.

My car stalled after extensive freeway driving. Why?

The Ciera's torque converter clutch has been known tostay in the "on"position after extended freeway driving, causing the engine to stall when reducing speed. When this occurs, the engine usually will restart and stall when put into gear. After allowing the engine and transmission to cool down for twenty minutes, the engine will start and the transmission will operate normally. Replacing the torque converter clutch solenoid, transmission filter, and fluid will generally address this concern.

What is causing my car's struggle to accelerate? Do the oil leaks have anything to do with this?

Fouled spark plugs or fuel filters would definitely affect acceleration. Oil usually comes from worn valve guides, rings, or a bad head gasket. Do you check your oil on a regular basis? Do you have to keep adding oil? The cause could be restricted exhaust, or clogged/damaged catalytic converters.

I'm experiencing a bouncy ride and the handling of my Ciera has definitely gotten worse. Why is this happening?

The front struts may be close to wearing out, causing an excessively bouncy ride at freeway speeds. This may begin to occur at around 75,000 miles.The front suspension strut—also calleda MacPherson strut—has the function of both theshock absorber and coil spring, making it lighter and more space-saving.Inspection and replacement of the front struts may alleviate the symptoms and improve handling.

Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera—One of Oldsmobile’s Most Successful Models

Before the Oldsmobile, one of the oldest American marques, was phased out in 2004, it was able to make an indelible mark in automotive history with some of its top-rated vehicles. The Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera was one of the Oldsmobile vehicles to leave a good impression. It was a highly rated auto by J.D. Power and Associates. Among other accolades, it was named Best in Price Class and a Top-ranked American-Made Car in 1992. During the same year, it was cited by Prevention Magazine as Safe Car of the Year. The iconic Oldsmobile even made an appearance in films such as Fargo and the TV series Revolution. It had a 14-year run from 1982 to 1996. During its prime, it became one of the top-selling Oldsmobile models.

1982-1988: From initial production to a series of redesigns

The Cutlass Ciera first rolled out of the assembly line in 1981, initially released as a 1982 model. The mid-size vehicle came in three body styles: 2-door coupe, 4-door sedan, and 5-door station wagon. The Cutlass Cruiser station wagon model was integrated into the Cutlass Ciera’s platform in 1984. Two trim levels were available for the Cutlass Ciera—the base and Brougham. Base models were equipped with 2.5L 4-cylinder Tech IV engine, while the Brougham came with various engine options: 2.8L V6 engine, 3.8L Buick V6 engine, and 4.3 L Oldsmobile Diesel V6 engine. The Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera was given a new look for 1985. It was redesigned with a new grille, sleek headlamps, and a different set of tail lights. For the following year, the grille was designed with expanded ventilation. The coupe got a more rounded roofline compared to the 1985 model. Another facelift was done for 1987, with a new grille and repositioned logo on the steering wheel. The 2.8L LE2 V6 engine no longer became an option for the Cutlass Ciera. International series models were later introduced for 1988, while the Brougham was finally dropped. Available in three body styles, these models featured a standard Buick V6 engine, a dual exhaust system, and a 4-speed automatic transmission, among other things.

1989-1996: Upgrades up to the final model year

A newer, better Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera came out in 1989. It had a modern roofline and was designed with revised body-side moldings. To compete with the Ford Taurus, the updates on the Cutlass Ciera involved less chrome trim. The coupe and sedan both had upgraded rear-end treatments. For 1990, the International Series was officially dropped. Upgrades for 1991 included a better-looking, more functional instrument cluster. For 1992, the coupe was discontinued; the lineup consisted only of sedans and wagons. Although other models from Oldsmobile were launched, the 10-year old Cutlass Ciera was still a top-seller. It was able to sell more than 132,000 sedans and around 7,700 wagons that year. For the following year, the 2.5 L Tech IV engine was dropped and was replaced by the 2.2L OHV engine. Available as an option in sedan or wagon, the Cutlass Ciera S came with better features. A 3.1L engine with a 4-speed automatic transmission was a standard on the wagon but an option for the sedan. In 1996, the Cutlass Ciera was renamed as Ciera SL. This was the final model year.

Although Oldsmobile released other models that fit the lineup of a European-styled, high-end vehicle brand, they failed to create the same following or fan base the dated Ciera had enjoyed over the years.

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