nice old car, but safety concerns?

jasper60103August 20, 2009

I bought my mom's 1988 Olds Delta88 years ago, but allowed it to sit in her garage over many years.

After mom passed away Dec '07, I decided to get it and put it to use.

My son is the main driver and it served him well through his high school years.

However, a couple days ago the brakes went out on him. Fortunately, he felt the warning signs and parked it at a friends house.

After looking at it, I discovered a rusted brake line was leaking. All the fluid had drained from master cylinder. I currently have it in shop to be fixed now.

Anywho, my main concern now is for my family's safety. This is a good runner, but is it a death trap? This car setup about 10 years in a garage, but it's been driven regularly since Mar 08. It's beautiful old car with low mileage (~76K), but I don't want to put anyone in danger. Are there other safety areas I should be concerned about for a 20+ year old car?

Services since Mar '08:

regular fluid changes

new battery

O2 sensor

cam sensor

water pump

4 new tires

front brake rotors/pads

front sway bars



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Depends on what you call a safety issue. I believe '88 is before they put air bags in everything so that might be a safety issue to you.

You've already delt with a lot of things that go bad on a car that sets forever. Tires, water pump, brakes. Now on the brakes, the fluid draws moisture and settles in low spots like in the master cylinder, wheel cylinders, calipers. It corrodes and makes pits in those areas. That can cause fluid leaks. Doesn't have to be a safety issue really more than just something else to fix. If whoever did your brakes checked for that and flushed the system you should be ok.

Another potential concern is the condition of the coolant. Old coolant becomes corrosive and can be hard on freeze plugs and gaskets. Again, more of a reliablilty issue than a saftey issue.

Seals and gaskets often times seem to go bad in time whether a vehicle is driven or not.

Aside from what issues an '88 Olds might have had in '88, that's the major old car issues that pop into my head.

I'd say keep it and drive it a while. As far as safety goes, it's about as safe as it ever was. jmo

    Bookmark   August 20, 2009 at 8:19PM
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If you are worried about the brake line you can have them replaced. AQnd the brake hoses. It looks like a nice old car. definatly worth putting money into and using. Only 76,000 miles!!!! That car has a lot of life left in it. Maintenence is the key. My 1981 Bonneville and 1985 Caprice have around 120,000 miles on them and I never worry if they are safe or not. I keep them maintained and if something needs doing its done. They are very safe with doing this.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2009 at 2:45AM
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yes this car is totaly unsafe! deliver to my home as soon as possable and i will take this deathtrap off your hands for 200.00 hurry please.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2009 at 9:20AM
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thanks for the tips. I'll just keep up with the maintenance and not worry about it.


    Bookmark   August 21, 2009 at 12:12PM
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jasper60103, These model cars were some of the best cars General Motors built. I had an 88 Bonneville a sister car buit on the same assembly line on the same platform. And I will have to say it was the best car I ever owned. I put 234,000 miles on it and it still run like a top when I got rid of it. With most of the parts orginial. I would love to have another one with low milage. It would last me the rest of my life. What I liked about them was the visibility you have. Go back and look at your picture. You don't have any blind spots. To me that is more important than airbags when it comes to safety. If you can see to avoid an accident you won't need an airbag. Just keep doing your regular oil changes every 3000 miles. And regular maintance and it will treat you good. Also don't forget to grease the rear suspension. You have 4 fittings in the rear

Good Luck

    Bookmark   August 21, 2009 at 7:33PM
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I'm sick of a computer diagnostic light coming on every five minutes in my modern common-rail diesel and costing me a fortune every time. Modern cars may be clean in the eyes of some, but hell are they unreliable. I have had to reinstate the 1986 Toyota Corolla that the chickens have been living in for the past five years and you know what? Fitted a new battery, drop of petrol in the tank, it fired up first time. Now my 2006 Vectra 1.9cdti has been in and out of the garage with wiring issues for months now. No wonder GM are going bust.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2009 at 8:06PM
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Yes, no airbags and no anti-lock breaks, otherwise if the breaks have been rebuilt and the steering and suspension are sound, its a car I'd have no reservations about driving.

I think I'd avoid long trips at 70+ mph, but great for around town and to the local park/lake/movie...

All three of my current vehicles have all the new safety stuff, but it wasn't until 2004 that I gave my 1990 Galant away. It didn't have any of the modern safety equipment.

I say, nay too, to all the computer stuff with the service engine "light" which must be out for a state safety inspection can cost a lot for simple stuff like a oxygen sensor... where the sensor is bad, but the car runs fine.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2009 at 10:41PM
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yea, I hear a lot of folks liked the 3800 engine. I know GM used it for a long time.
A lot of the parts are still original on it. It also has some rust underneath, which explains the rotted brake lines. The salty winter roads here in the midwest is hard on cars. Anyway, it doesn't qualify as clunker trade-in, so I'll drive it for a while, LOL! Thanks again.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2009 at 4:07PM
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