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Overall rating:  Product Rating: 3.5

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'91-'92 Lumina rear brakes a hazard!

by E-trustme:      Mar 10, 2000

Product Rating: 2.0 Recommended: No 

Pros: Ample power from 3.1L, feels rock solid at highway speeds+, parts are cheap.
Cons: Rear brakes corrode and fail quickly, cramped engine compartment makes maintenance difficult, delicate transmission.

This may be the first case when Chevy over designed a brake system. The rear brakes on Chevy's '91-'92 Luminas, before they introduced the anti-lock system on the model, are over designed to the point of being too delicate. When the car is driven in states where salt and snow are a problem, the rear brakes will corrode and fail within 18 months.
My parents bought a used 1991 Lumina in '95 as a "Family shared" vehicle. I learned to drive in the car. That model Lumina is the automotive equivalent of "Teen training wheels". It drove straight, was easy to control around turns, and had plenty of power. The 3.1L V6 gives the Lumina a good horsepower to weight ratio, so it never felt strained. I loved the handling. On one occasion ( don't tell the parents! ) I topped 100mph on a country road.
Handling was this Lumina's forte', but not maintenance. First of all, the Lumina's low front end and hood ( for style ) means a cramped engine compartment. Basic engine tune-ups are a nightmare. In cars with a front wheel drive set-up, the engine is mounted at a 90 degree angle. This means 3 spark plugs in the front, 3 in the back of the compartment. Despite many attempts, neither my father or I could change the rear plugs. The originals remain to this day. I recommend you take yours to a good mechanic for tune-ups. Avoiding the bleeding knuckles is worth the money.
On to the brakes. After 1 1/2 years, and one Rochester NY winter, the Lumina's rear brakes failed. About 30% of stopping power gone almost overnight. We took the wheels off and were amazed at what we saw. On the left side, the caliper and pads had gouged a canal-like crevice in the rotor. I swear the crevice was almost half an inch deep, almost clear through the rotor. The break pads were also fused to the caliper ( imagine the heat it must have took! ). On the right, one break pad was missing! We had to replace the calipers, rotors, and pads. I have never seen such a ridiculous sight in a vehicle since! It should be noted that a Class-Action lawsuit was pursued a couple of years ago against Chevy for the design errors in the brakes.
DON'T buy this model car if you live in areas where snow and salt are a problem. You might be putting your family in danger. We are planning to sell ours, and buy a vehicle better suited for winter weather. If you love Luminas, please save up and buy a '95 or newer model.

Product Rating: 2.0
Recommended: No 

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