COAL: 2001 Buick LeSabre Limited – Grandpa’s Car Part II

We knew that our 2000 LeSabre was getting up in miles (140,000), so it was time to consider getting something newer.  My wife liked the ergonomics and the 3800 engine, but didn’t like my 2007 Buick Lucerne.  OK, so what’s next.  She didn’t want an SUV either, so that ruled out most of what is on the market today.

On our annual trip to Florida, I looked at Craigslist among other sites to see if we could find a senior owned, really low mile LeSabre.  A lot of seniors move permanently to Florida and their cars don’t see much mileage.  When they either pass on or move back home, the relatives usually dump the car for a good price.  The lowest mileage I could find was in the 75,000 mile neighborhood.  I did find a Buick Park Avenue at a Kia dealer in Naples that had 22,000 miles, but the price was high and the dealer wanted almost $900 in dealer fees.  No thanks.  So we didn’t buy a car in Florida to bring back home.


One morning after returning home, I was looking through CarFax and found a 2001 LeSabre with 14,000 miles.  It was two and half hours away in Kent, Ohio.  I contacted the dealer and he told me that the car was fully loaded and in excellent condition.  I told him we’d be down in a couple of days to check it out.  Set a time and date to look at it and off we went.  When we got to the dealer, we saw the car being driven away with temp license tags on it.  The salesman apologized that when he made the appointment, he didn’t know that another salesman had sold the car and failed to note that fact on their records.  Rats!  The salesman did offer to compensate us for gas and tolls to get there, so all was not lost.

OK, so we were close, but no cigar.  The next week, I was searching the local Craigslist at home and found a 2001 LeSabre with only 28,000 miles.  Just posted that morning!  New Michelin tires and new brakes on all four wheels.  Limited model which was only missing the sunroof.  Called the number, but got a recording that it was not in service.  So I emailed the seller, who just happened to be on line.  He put the wrong area code in the ad.  He gave the correct information and I called him immediately.  Told him we’d be there in about an hour (50 miles away).  We got there, looked the car over, took it on a test drive, and told him we’d take it.  My wife was smiling from ear to ear by the time we got home.

Turns out the car was his father-in-law’s and had been driven only 14,000 miles in the 14 years he owned it.  Stored in a heated garage during the year.  The seller’s daughter needed a newer car for her new born baby, so she acquired it when Grandpa decided to stop driving.  Her dad added the tires and brakes to make sure the car was safe.  The daughter racked up 14,000 miles in the year plus that she owned it, so it was still a new car.

In the year and a half that we’ve owned the car, it has needed nothing other than gas, oil, a battery, and the left rear window regulator.  The old battery was still good, but it was 16 years old so why push your luck.  The cable on the left rear window regulator decided to break one day and drop the window into the door.  Found a new one on-line and only had to spend about an hour to replace it.  Thankfully, I had experience on replacing three of them on our 2000 LeSabre.

Note: This fender looks better than it originally was, as I pulled it out at the back and away from the door

Earlier this year, my wife went to visit her sister in Ohio.  The LeSabre was parked in the driveway away from everything, but my sister-in-law was still able to find the front left fender with her Honda CRV.  The damage above is the result.  As there were hundreds of thousands of LeSabres manufactured from 2000 to 2005, I figured that I should be able to find a clean fender in the same color at the pick-n-pull.  The yard I favor has a computerized inventory on-line, but it doesn’t tell you what shape the part is in.  Most of the fenders were either rusted out at the bottom where it connects with the sill or were smashed in whatever accident caused them to be junked.  On my fourth visit, I found the ones listed on-line and each had an issue.  No sale.  I decided to wander through the rest of the GM section just for kicks and what did I find?  Another silver LeSabre with a fender in good shape.  Other than a small dent over the wheel opening, it looked much better than what was on the car.  20 minutes and $35 later, it was mine.

Note: There is a Toro “curbside classic” snowblower in the upper right.  Future post?

This LeSabre is a fantastic car that we will keep for many more years.  The 3800 engine runs like a top and it gets an average of 22 MPG in town and 31 MPG on highway trips.  Great interior room, great visibility, and huge trunk.  What else can you ask for?