Helpful Buick Tips

by George Nenadovich, Vinni Vondera, Ron Rygelski, Dave Knutsen, Matt Senkow, Karl Koenigstein, Robert Moses



For 350/455 intake PCV grommet, use HELP 42051

When replacing your ac ducts, use Motormite and order the 2.75" diameter, part #96008. Typically runs $19 w/tax for a 6 ft section which will replace all original fabric-style ducts. The oil pressure sending unit for the gage pack is NAPA(for a 70GS455) is made by Echlin Part#OP6650. You can also use the one from 80-87 full size pick-up trucks.
Valve cover breather Edelbrock 4405 for 455 valve covers to replace breather hose to air cleaner.
71-2 Buick 455 belts: PS 15-435 to 15-450 Alt 15-490 AC belts...small dia AC pulley 15-625, large AC pulley 15-640
68-72 Skylark/GS455 radiator hoses: Upper Hose: NAPA 7715 Gates 20980 Goodyear 60683 Goodyear 60675 for 72 models If not using the GS air cleaner: Gates 20577 or 20869 Lower Hose: Goodyear 107 lower hose Gates 20597 NAPA 7359
For 65-67 Skylark/GS models needing rear window molding clips, visit NAPA and get part #665-1319 For replacement suspension springs contact or order thru a local parts store such as Autozone. Part numbers for GS455, 70-72, from Autozone are FCS5398S for front and RCS5385S for rears. See the article on the site for more spring info. Springs For Edelbrock Performer intakes, use PCV valve Deutsch #PCV118 or Motormite #42056 or Help #42056 If you want to keep the stock air cleaner/breather arrangement, use Motormite #42061 or Help #42061
For rust prevention, go to Home Depot and buy some Behr Concrete Etcher / Rust Remover. Works great, it contains Phosphoric Acid. Price is about $12 a gallon. Do not get it on your bare skin, it will burn. Below is a pic of the plastic, 1 gallon container.

For Nailhead motor mounts, order 1962-3 Impala HD 283 mounts. Elongate the
holes and they will fit perfectly. The nice feature about the HD mounts is
interlocking feature of the metal plates. It will prevent the fan going
through the rad. shroud in case the mount breaks.

Some early full size cars such as the Riviera, Tornado have bench seats that are split and use the A-body bucket seat headrests and bucket trim.

Use neoprene front and rear seals for your Buick. Rear seal is Fel-Pro #BS30135, front seal is Federal-Mogul #470543. They can also be ordered from Torque Tech, TA Performance or Postons, all are listed on our vendors page. You can also use National Oil Seals, front 450446 (Be aware... that seal is not a direct fit..You need to open the hole up, to allow .005 or so interference fit. If you try to jamb it in, more than likely, something is going to have to give, either the seal, or the timing cover.. that hole is typically .030 smaller than the outside dia of the seal) and rear seal 5068.

Looking to install a 700R4 behind a nailhead 401/425, contact: Rod N Racin, 715 East Main St, Belleville, IL 62220, 618-257-0567. Price for the adapter kit is $295.

For 67 Star Wars air cleaners, you can order an air filter from GM which is A180C aka GM#6420137 or contact Atlanta Buick Specialties which is listed on the vendors page.

When installing a replacement alternator, measure the clearance between the cooling fins and the front of the case. There should be about 0.085" clearance. If not, your ac belt may contact the front of the cooling fins if you use the 15mm wide belt. Some alternator rebuild companies use a 0.080" washer in addition to the factory shim which causes this problem. Remove the pulley nut and pulley to remove this washer under the cooling fin disc. Reassemble and install. Also, buy either a lifetime warranty unit or one from Autozone since Autozone does a complete rebuild not just replacing the bad parts. Your choice!

If you are lookin for a switch pitch transmission, get one from full size BOP cars from 1965-7. Some 67 cars have shortshaft TH400 so they will be a direct bolt in. Others use a longshaft TH400 so you will need to get a shortshaft and combine the two to make one. The s/p trans can be identified by three dimples in the pan plus the impression/depression of a shoe heel in the pan. You will also see a s/p switch connected to the throttle linkage or downshift linkage.

Not all brackets interchange among Buick engines. Make sure when you install the ac brackets which consists of three pieces, they all come from the same engine. The lower brackets appear to be the same while the upper triangular piece and the alternator adjustment arm are different. You will notice a difference on the triangle piece when looking at the rear slider (slotted) area. If using the taller TA valve covers, use the bracket which has a cut-out to clear the valve cover. You can see the difference when comparing the two brackets. The alternator adjustment bracket is different from the 350 to the 455 cars. There are two different 455 alt. adj. brackets which vary in length by 3/4". Check everything before assembly.

If you are looking for a three spoke Buick sport steering wheel, check out the 75-9 Buick Skyhawk similar to the Chevy Monza. They are quite common.

If you need to repair your plastic grille, use ABS/PVC cement to replace portions of the grille that are missing or broken.

For a good deal on radiators, call Orlando Radiator Wholesale for a quote at 1-800-626-2285. They carry Modine and several other name brands.

Interested in detailing the chrome highlights around the ac vents and instrument panel needs to get a paint marker by Testors and sold at all Kmart stores in the toy model section. For excellent results, clean the desired areas with RM900 Pre-Kleano and then outline the area as required. The marker is called a gloss paint marker and the color is silver. They cost about $3.

Interested in going to an electronic ignition while still keeping the stock distributor cap, there is a product called Ignitor. This system replaces the stock points and condensor with a magnetic pick-up somewhat like a HEI unit. The best price for this unit is $57. It is available from Northern at 1-800-831-0884. You do not have to remove the distributor to install the upgrade. One hour installation time.

Fan Shrouds-the 70-2 Riviera and Electra use similar fan shrouds as the GS455 Skylarks

Buick 455 engines weigh about 616 pounds total less a few minor pieces but including all operating equipment. Other engines Chevy 454@719 lbs, Pontiac 455@636, Olds 455@655.

If you plan on installing a 12 bolt Chevy rear axle, you will need an offset u-joint made by Neapco part #3-3130. An offset u-joint has one axis a different size than the other.

What do Trans Ams and Skylarks have in common? You can use the front 1.25" sway bar and rear wheel disc brakes and master cylinder. The sway bar is a direct bolt-on while the rear discs are basically a bolt-on with some minor welding required. Make sure you get the master cylinder since it is a rear disc brake-only master cylinder. New ones are not available and rebuilt ones cost about $200. The rear disc brake set-up is found only on 1979-81 Trans Ams. Rear factory sway bars, #00394926, are still available from GM. Contact your local Chevy dealer and ask for the 1968-72 Chevelle rear sway bar, price is about $88.

All 70-2 Skylarks are wired for speed-alert speedometers. In the main wiring harness, directly behind the speedo, you will see two pink wires which share a common plastic female connector. This plugs into the back of the speedo.

Many four door hardtops(no metal frame around the door glass) have factory gage packages in them. The package has individual needles for oil pressure and water temp instead of idiot lights. Be sure to get the sending units and the short 6 inch wire harness connector attached to the package. If you forget the harness, you will need to rearrange the wires in order to get the gages to work.

1972 and up 455 have larger carbs 800 vs 750cfm.

1970 windshield washer bottles are a different design than the 71-2 versions. The 70 bottle mounts directly to the fenderwell while the later versions use a holder mounted to the fender. See helpful pics article.

1970 radiator overflow bottles have a clear(translucent) top while the 71-2 versions have a black top. See helpful pics article.

70 GS hood front chrome trim is slightly different than Skylarks. The lip is 1.5" wide on the bottom side while Skylarks are 1".

70 rear license plate holders have narrower screw holes than 1971-2. You can not interchange the two. The 1970 holes are 3.5" apart while the later ones are 4.5" apart.

70 had a chrome back rear view mirror with grey trim around the edges. The later ones have a black vinyl texture back. 1971 was the last year for the chrome mirror. In 1972 Buick changed to a black mirror with black trim. Chrome mirrors are not available as repros. A nice touch is to add a mirror map light which is most common in full size Buicks.

1970 is a one year only gas tank. In 71 GM switched to a closed ventillation system. The 71-2 tanks have several extra tubes when compared to the 70 versions which are vent lines connected to the carb and charcoal purge canister located in the LF fenderwell. The tank filler tubes are also at a different angle since the opening is lower on the 70 than 71-2 to fill the tank with gas.

70 hood latch mechanisms and supports are different than 71-2. Since the 70 front bumper has a lower center section, the assembly is located lower. The 71-2 version will work only with some modifications.

68-72 convertible front windshield top stainless trim is a convertible-only piece.

68-72 rear convertible seats and armrests are convertible-only pieces.

A power bucket seat uses different floor brackets than a manual seat. The studs for a power seat are 11.5" apart while the manual ones are 15" apart. The manual brackets are available from, OPG, Year One and the power bucket seat brackets are available from Precision Pontiac 614-258-3500 Columbus OH, Year One, Parts Place and OPG, (See vendors page for contact info.)

Late model consoles, 73-77, will work in 70-2 Skylarks by trimming the lower section below the stainless belt line. The upper portion of the shifter is the same as the early ones. The lower portion is not and neither is the shift cable. Make sure you use a 6 teeth per inch jigsaw blade for a smooth and clean cut. The handles are black on 1973 and up cars versus woodgrain for the 70-2 cars.

70 front turn signal housings in the front bumper are slightly smaller than 71-2 and do not interchange. See helpful pics article.

The turn signal and tilt actuating arms for 1970 are 70-only pieces. Full size cars use the same parts.

The heater/ac controls on the full size cars are the same ones used in Skylark/GS.

The cruise control set-up found in full size Buicks use the same parts as a Skylark/GS except for the indicator light.

The 70 Skylark grills use the same stainless trim as the GS grilles.

The 72 Skylark grill is the same as the GS. See helpful pics article.

Use a B&M tranny plug kit,#8250, available for $8. It makes changing tranny fluid very simple and mess-free.

If you are using aftermarket gages(orig idiot lights are useless and the factory gage packages are not very accurate) use an Autometer copper oil line kit, #3224, available for $8. DO NOT use the plastic oil line supplied in most kits since the plastic becomes brittle and is an accident waiting to happen.

Looking for painted sport mirrors for your 70-2 Skylark/GS? They are hard to find and usually in poor shape especially the mirror surface. Sport mirrors on F-bodies (Camaro/Firebird)use the almost the same mirror. The pedestal is at a different angle than the Skylark ones. If you mount the F-body version on the Skylark with no modifications, the mirrors will be tilted toward the glass instead of sitting parallel with the ground. Use a file to trim the pedestal and take your time with it. Eventually, you will be able to get the mirror close to parallel. DO NOT use mirrors with the words"Objects in mirror are closer than they appear." If you are wondering what those letters on the mirror glass mean such as 8-DMI-1, they are date codes for the car. Eight means August and one means 1971.

For cars with a hot cam in pre-72 models with air, install a 72 and later idle speed solenoid on an ac equipped Buick. The solenoid increases the rpm when the compressor runs. Sometimes the additional load of the compressor will cause a rough idle. The solenoid can be spliced into the green wire running to the compressor with wire tap-in part #64-3052 at Radio Shack for $1.70/10. After splicing it in, set the non-air idle by using the screw on the carb and the air idle speed by unscrewing the plunger in the solenoid(see picture below with arrow)

If your cars sits long periods of time before fire-ups, especially in the summer, gas will evaporate from the fuel bowl. You will spend some time cranking the engine in order for the fuel pump to fill the float bowl. Use a small funnel with an inner diameter of 3/8" and place it over the float bowl vent tube and pour some gas into the bowl. You will save wear and tear on the starter and engine. Your Buick will fire up on the first attempt.

Convertible owners take some time to put your top down and position the pads over the top mechanism. The pads have a tendency to move and mechanism usually pinches the top just above the rear side windows. Also, check to make sure you have a cable on each side of the top which prevents the top from moving towards the center. If you need to refill your top reservoir, use auto trans fluid.

To keep your exhaust manifolds looking like new use Calyx Manifold dressing 1-800-313-5671. This is the only product I have found that lasts.

If you are installing an aftermarket glass hood, change the tension springs to 79 Jeep Wagoneer springs. The Jeep springs are a lower tension rating and are slightly smaller in diameter. The original springs work with the metal hood only. DO NOT try them with the fiberglass hood!

If you are changing brake hoses and need to stop the brake fluid from running out, use a sharpened golf tee to plug the line while you do the swap.

If you are tuning your car, use a vacuum gage to set the timing and idle mixture screws. Maximum vacuum indicated optimum engine performance. Typical vacuum draw is 18-19". If you have hard starting problems when the engine is hot, reduce timing to 16-17" of vacuum.

Place underhood decals/labels on a magnetic sheet(like refrigerator magnets) to keep them looking like new. This way they are never exposed to heat or dirt. After the show, place them in the glove box.

When removing door panels, use 2 putty knives on the panels to pop the plug ins from their retainers. Place one knife on each side and gently rotate the knives to lift the panel from the door frame.

When removing the stainless trim around the windshield and rear glass, use a trim removal tool and a towel. Lay the towel on the glass to prevent the tool from damaging the glass.

Use a towel and can opener to remove the drip rail stainless trim. Place a towel over the trim and gently pry upwards.

When installing rear drum brakes, check the self-adjuster to see that it rotates freely. If not, clean the threads and apply some Permatex Anti-seize to the threads.

When removing plastic grills, use a pair of Vise-Grips on the studs on the grille side of the core support to hold them from rotating while you loosen the nuts. If you do not prevent the rotation while loosening the nuts, the stud will rotate in the grille and break the grille.

When installing the front bumper bracket bolts(connects the main bumper bracket to the frame) use a small parts grabber to line up the bolt and pull it through the bracket and frame for the second bolt(closest to the firewall.) If you do not, you will end up dropping the bolt in the frame and you will have to go get the grabber anyways!

Trunk lids for the 70-2 Skylark/GS are the same as the 68-72 Chevelles and 70-2 Monte Carlo.

Power trunk set-up-Many full size Buicks, Olds and Pontiacs have power trunk release set-ups. Use the set-up that has the solenoid attached to the back of the latch. Modify the mounting holes in the trunk lid on the driver's side and the latch will line up. You will also need to cut a 3/4" hole in the mounting surface for the solenoid to actuate the latch. Run a power wire to the fuse box marked BAT and place the switch in a desirable location. The switch was originally located in the glove box. See power trunk article.

Wheel well opening stainless trim is a pain to remove if you do not have a special tool made for this task. The Phillips head screws are easily stripped and sometimes the heads break off. The tool looks like a ratchet and comes with both standard and Phillips screw tips. The tool costs about $17 and once you use it, you will not use anything else. It is made by Lisle and is called a right angle ratcheting screwdriver. Stripping one screw will make get one!

Door wobbles? Have you checked your doors lately? Most old Buicks still have their original hinges and over twenty years of service takes its toll on the hinge bushings and shafts. If you grab the driver's door handle and with the door open, lift up, you will probably notice play in the hinges. If you do not repair the hinges, the door becomes more difficult to close and open. A rebuild kit is available for $20/kit and takes an hour to install.

Changing headlights? The three trim ring screws have a tendency to rust in place and if you try to remove them with a screwdriver you may end up stripping them. The trick is to remove the headlight assembly(headlight, trim ring and socket) as a unit. Use a small pair of Vise-Grips to grab the the fluted end os the screw and break the screw loose. After 20 years of not being removed, they can sometimes be difficult especially on high beams. The trick comes in handy when trying to get those old T-3 headlight at the salvage yard.

Ever encounter locking lug nuts in the salvage yard with no key? No problem! First method is to try banging on a socket and hope it fits without splitting the socket. The second way is to use a small dull cold chisel and a hammer. I state dull because you do not want to cut the nut. Hit the chisel at an angle so the impact causes the nut to rotate and break loose. If that doesn't work sells bolt extractors that work great!