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Buick LeSabre Starting/Stalling Problems

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  • markfainmarkfain Posts: 1
    This has occurred twice. Both times were after a longer drive 80+ miles on the freeway. I stopped for gas and when I tried to start again, it started and ran rough, like it was not hitting on a cyclinder or two or flooded. I held the gas petal down, but that did not help. I had it towed to the Buick dealer and they let it sit overnight. When they went to work on it, it started and ran perfectly. They tried the codes and could find nothing. The service manager told me he suspected it "Vapor Locked", but I have not heard of that in years. Last week it did the same thing, after a longer freeway run, I parked in my driveway and later it would not start, acting just like before. I let it sit overnight and the next morning, it started right up and ran perfectly and has since. I take it on shorter trips around town and nothing happens.

    Do you have any idea as to the cause??

    Thanks
  • Hi I have a 1994 LaSabre with 148,000 miles on it. Runs like a champ, has a 3800. This has happened to me 3 times and I can't figure out what is going on.
    All three times at night and I have stopped for a light or sign and the car just quits, headlights go off, radio goes out, 12 volt power supply (radar detector) is also off, no dash lights, windows won't work. I open the door and the lights go back on as well as all the other things and I am able restart the car.

    I was thinking the issue is in the wiring harness that goes from the car into the door and it is shorting. Funny thing is all the power goes out and no fuses have blown. Any one heard of this. Don't want to start taking stuff apart unless I am on the right track.
  • background: I drove 30 miles round trip today -- no trouble starting the car at either end. I parked the car and five minutes later my wife tried to start it but it would not turn over. :sick:

    The battery is fine -- 12 v and checked out fine under load at AutoZone. Connections were clean and were cleaned anyhow. 12 v is seen at the fuse box under the rear seat and under the hood. There have been no issues with the car's electrical system or performance.

    With the ignition switch off, the keyless entry works fine. There does not appear to be any change from normal operations when the key is turned to on, i.e., the radio works, wipers wipe, and driving lights turn on automatically (made in Canada). The tranny is in Park.

    What seems very strange is that when the key is turned to start the instrument panel dies and the wipers stop (if I have them turned on), BUT THE HEADLIGHTS KEEP SHINING UNDIMINISHED. When the switch is released back to the on position, the instrument panel come back to life after a second and the wipers start again. The voltage at the battery when the ignition switch is turned to start drops only to 11 v. Now why is that? And where is the problem? :confuse:

    Thanks in advance,
    Al

    P.S. -- I went outside to double check the voltages and had my son man the ignition switch. The first three or four times we still had no crank with a very slight voltage drop from OFF to ON and to START. However, much to my surprise, the next time the car promptly started as did the time after that!! I can upgrade my car from DEAD to TOTALLY UNRELIABLE but I'll admit I am clueless as to what is going on. My mechanic usually wants to see cars when they are symptomatic from an intermittent problem and not when they're working as they should, but that leaves me wondering when and where it will do this again -- hence the hope that someone knows whats wrong so I (or my mechanic) can fix it.
  • CarGuyRon, has a 1993 that did the same thing two different fixes. 1st was the Mass air flow sensor. 2nd time it was the Prom Chip. However, you can buy a can of Mass Air Flow Sensor spray 1st for about $4.00 dollars and spray it into the throttle body. Your Mass Air Meter is connected to the Air Cleaner by a big hose. Remove the Hose and spray it into the screen grid portion of the Mass air meter. If its bad, it may not respond. It usually is good if the check engine light is not coming on. 2nd if the Prom chip. It's located behind the golve box, next to the Car's computer. A parts store can help ya there. Not too expensive...say $40 ish. But make sure you get the right one as they vary from year to year and even month to month within a build year.

    Finally, if all that fails, it could be a fuel pressure regulator near the fuel injectors. Hope that helps..Ron
  • I have a 1993 and have been through 2 engines. Believe it or not, the 1st engine dropped an entire cylinder. It just would not fire right. It was getting fuel but without a rebuild it was toast.

    2nd engine is now doing the same thing, however, if your check engine light is coming on, it is most likely the Mass Air flow sensor. Clean it only with Mass air flow sensor spray or you will ruin it. Next, I had the prom chip go on mine and it did the same thing. That is by the computer behind the glove box. Yep, you have to pull it out. Not a big job, just a few screws but it beats the neck twisting option of trying to dig it out under the dash.
  • Sounds like a bad starter wire connection to me. Sometimes if you clean all the connections and add a little grease they start better. Clean both the battery
    posts as well and add some grease there too.

    Finally, if that is not it, you could have a blown head gasket. As it heats up it expands and may be allowing coolant into a cylinder which will make it run rough or not start at all. A compression test will reveal the answer there.
  • Hello. I'm Jerry and I'm a newbie here.

    I am working on a 1987, 4-door, US-made, Front-Wheel Drive, Buick LeSabre Sedan, with a 3.8 Liter, Transversely Mounted, V-6 engine.
    It has Sequential Fuel Injection and an Automatic Transaxle. The Odometer reading is 112617 miles.

    I got the car from my cousin who has records of service on it from the time he bought it new. It has been well maintained.

    While driving, it stalled at a red light. It was hard to restart, but started within thirty seconds. After driving about two miles, it stalled while I was braking for the next red light.
    The second restart was much slower and it backfired a few times before restarting. I was able to drive it for about another mile when it stalled. I coasted to a stop. It would not restart, and hasn't since. It is in my driveway, now. There was a lot of backfiring, but the starter did turn the engine over. It did seem as though there wasn't any compression, after a few tries, because it seemed to crank over too fast, and the backfiring soon stopped. Now, it justs cranks over and over, but still will not start. After changing the fuel filter, I tried again. No luck.

    Before disconnecting any battery cables or going any further, I plugged-in my SunPro code checker into the ALDL jack. It threw only a code 12 over and over and over.

    So, I checked the spark by removing the wire from the spark plugs, one at a time, on the left bank---the side of the engine closest to the firewall---and grounding-out a 12-volt, simple, probe-type test light to the engine block. Using wooden clothespins to avoid shock, I placed the needle into the end of the spark plug boot and touched the metal contact while my neice cranked on the ignition switch. No fire.

    I only checked only that one side of each coil. There are three coils plugged into the top of the ignition module. I figure that all three of the coils wouldn't go south at the same time, and that if one side was good, the other should be, as well. So I disconnected the negative battery cable and removed the coils and the ignition module. I took it to the auto parts store and had them check it. They checked it three times. They tapped it on the counter to simulate vibrations while they checked it. It checked-out fine. They can't check coils. I would like to know the resistance values for these coils, however, in case I ever need to check one. I understand that the crank position sensor could be faulty, as could the cam position sensor, and the ECM. I need instruction on how to test these, and the proper resistance values that I should obtain with a multimeter.

    I understand that the rubber part of the harmonic balancer could have deteriorated and caused damage to the crankshaft sensor, by wobbling and beating it up. I think that the harmonic balancer can be pulled through the fender well, but I'm not sure. I need as much info as possible before a further undertaking of this repair. I would like to know how to test the crank sensor.

    Haynes and Chiltons manuals do not even approach usefulness for my purposes.

    If anyone can help, or have any ideas or comments, please post them. I have no reliable transportation.

    Thank you for reading this.

    Jerry.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,524
    Not an expert on dead motors. But I've had some experiences. Have you looked inside the valve cover through the oil filler to see if the valves are operating, i.e., is the camshaft turning. If not then the timing chain may have gone on you. The easy cranking without compression might be the clue there.

    I don't recall if the cam sensor or the crankshaft sensor is needed for the basic spark signal. But I'm guess the camshaft is not turning or is way off calibration. Mileage is low for a failure though. Maybe near 200K it might happen.
  • I really appreciate that, Keith.
    I'll be sure to do that.
  • I have a 1997 buick lasabre and it too will not start. On my way home from work, it was sputtering like a car that has water in the gas or kind of like the fuel injectors are blocked in some way. Either case, when i got home, I took off a fuel line and turned the key on and its getting gas, the fuel pump is working, the spark plugs are getting a spark at the coil. I am at a lost to why it will crank but not start. Any ideas?? An auto shop told me it could be the EGR valve but thats for emissions and I cant see that as a culprit to it not starting. Does anyone have any ideas that I can check. Sounds a little to me like it jumped time or the timing chain broke..Any suggestions would be helpful :confuse:
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,524
    Have you been losing coolant? Lots of vapor out the back when you first start up in the morning? Could be leaking coolant into the intake manifold>

    Or you might have low fuel pressure
    Or you might have an electonic ignition problem
    Or you might have a MAF sensor that's coated with goop giving bad readings.
  • There is no water leaking anywhere in or around the engine compartment, or steam out the tail pipe.. We have had the car over a year and in teh morning, it has like vapor which is gone in a few minutes, but it losing water had started saturday and by tuesday the car wouldnt crank. I have had to add water everyday.I noticed that on one of the coils when I took the sparkplug off, it had alot more spark and I mean alot more than the other 5, does that mean anything? Can one coil overcharge or something to that nature that would cause it to not start. Plus one of my codes was random cylinder misfires, what could be the cause of that?
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,524
    Is your Buick an '87 or '97? If it's a 97 it could be an intake manifold leak around the seals at the throttle body or onto the lower metal intake portion.

    The three coils are independent. Random misfires could be water fouling the plugs.
  • My car is a 97 buick lasabre and I just found out that is needs an upper intake manifold. That explains where the water is going, which was out the tail pipe and I just didnt see that. I am somewhat of a mechanic...lol....How hard is it to replace the part myself as the garage wants a 700.00 to fix it. Can someone explain the installation of that part so I can save some money
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,524
    Check to see if your UIM has the three round date stamps on top. One is the year, one is the month, and the date if I recall to see if yours is the original factory UIM.

    I can get you a description of doing it. I have helped. It is doable if you work carefully and slowly and label the small screws and things that come out so you know where they go back. Unbolting the brackets for the injectors and wiggling the to get them loosened so they pop out for you is the most tedius. The exhaust crossover pipe does not have to be removed if yours is like the 98 I helped work on.

    The throttle body is held on the end of the UIM by 3 small bolts. One is partially blocked by a small black bracke that helps lift the weight of the throttle body. That bracket can be tapped toward the front of the car out from under the small bolt and then it can be accessed straight on from the right.

    You will have to decide whether you are going to redo the gaskets between the lower metal intake and the block/heads. If so it becomes a bigger job with more tedious pieces. The car I worked on did not change them.

    The Dorman UIM sold by Advance Auto and others has replacement EGR pipes that come up out of the Lower Intake Manifold and carry the hot gases through part of the Plastic UIM. These are smaller than the originals and leave more room around the outside for intake air coming into the manifold to cool the pipe and the plastic. I'd recommend that kit. The little pipe is a press fit into the aluminum LIM plate.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,524
    Be sure to drain the oil out as soon as possible. If coolant gets into the oil rather than burning away completely it is ruinous to the bearings. Do not continue to drive the car.

    Drain the oil even if you're not ready to work on it and put in a few quarts of cheap oil to flush out any coolant.

    Expect the spark plugs to need replacing also. They can be salvaged by cleaning while they're out. But if you're due for plugs, just change them.

    Occasionally people complain that oxygen sensors are damaged by coolant going out the exhaust. Dn't change it unless there are symptoms afterwards.
  • I have a 2000 Buick Lesabre. The check engine light has been on for a while and I was going to take it into the shop this week. Last week, the car wouldn't start. I jiggled the ignition switch and it started. It worked fine for 4 days. Then one day it wouldn't start again. It will not take a jump. I jiggled the ignition switch and nothing. I took it to the shop and they said the neutral safety switch needed replacing, but they didn't work on transmissions, so I needed to take it to a transmission shop. They have run all kinds of tests on it, and don't know why it won't start. It is acting like it did one time when I accidentally put the spare key in it that doesn't have the computer chip in it. You just turn the key and it does nothing except make a faint clicking noise. The transmission shop is taking it to the dealership tomorrow. Does anybody have any idea of what might be wrong?
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,524
    I know when funny things start happening it can be a weak battery or poor connections at the ground under the rear seat next to the battery. The cables at the battery should be checked. The battery itself should be checked. If it's the original you have an 8-year old battery. It may be newer if it's been replaced.

    From what I've read from other H-body cars including Bonnevilles and LeSabres, strange things happening means look first to the battery and connections to be sure a low or erratic voltage there isn't hurting the systems. The starter not working one day and then working again could be that.
  • Well, after having my car in the 3rd shop to try and figure out why it won't start, I was told today that it was the security module that is bad. I guess it was disabling the car and not allowing it to start. I am glad that they finally found out what was wrong with it, and hopefully they will be able to get it fixed tomorrow!!
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,524
    >after having my car in the 3rd shop to try and figure out

    Was there a difference in skill level or effort or anything about the third shop that made them capable of finding the problem that wasn't there in the first shops? Was the third shop a dealership which usually has more knowledge about quirks that develop in cars via their companywide information sharing?
  • The first place I took it to is the shop where I usually take my car for maintenance and repairs if needed. They told me that it was the neutral safety switch that needed replacing, but to do that the whole transmission had to be taken out and they didn't do anything with transmissions. They suggested that I take it to a transmission shop or a dealership. I went to the transmission shop that they suggested and they spent all day yesterday running all kinds of tests and couldn't find out why it wouldn't start. He said he was beginning to think that maybe it had something to do with the computer in the car or the antitheft/security system, and wanted my permission to take it to the dealership today because they would be able to run more sophisticated tests and should be able to find out what the problem was. I had called the transmission shop back this afternoon as I was out of pocket most of the day, and asked them if they got it to the dealership and they said they did. I was going to wait a little bit before I called the dealership to see if they knew anything, but in a few minutes the guy from the transmission shop that had been working on my car called me and said he had called the dealership and they said it was the security module that was bad. I have been very impressed with the people at the transmission shop. Anyway, hopefully I will have my car back tomorrow.
  • Hello all, I recently tried to start our 97 Limited and the starter wouldn't turn the engine over. After several attempts it cranked but belched white smoke everywhere. It has a little over 200,000 miles so I'm not surprised that it's asking for help. I need some too, I pulled the plenum (upper intake) off and found the lower half full of coolant (no doubt it had run down into one of the cylinders). When I pulled the lower manifold off (on the way to the heads) I didn't find coolant anywhere else.
    My question is: Can you "blow" just an intake gasket and cause all this without having a "blown" head gasket?
    :sick:
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,524
    You have an intake manifold (upper part) that has coolant leaking around the seals which let the coolant go from the lower intake manifold metal to the upper manifold (ABS) to warm the throttle body region against icing. Sometimes leaks around the seals let coolant go to the exterior; sometimes it goes interior.

    Drain your oil immediately if you do your own oil changes. There is likely coolant in the oil. If your oil looks chocolatey or milky that's a sure sign. The symptom that the car didn't want to turn over meant that enough has leaked past the seals (probably when the motor was shut off hot and temperature and pressure went up even more) that it hydrolocked. Usually they won't turn at all and damage is done to starter or motor parts.

    The coolant in the oil attacks the bearings and ruins them. People have fixed the problems only to run their motor a few weeks or months and have them self destruct due to the damage done by the acidic etching on the moving parts.

    If you change your own oil, put in any, cheap oil and run the motor just a minute or so to get fresh, clean oil to the bearings. Then don't run it at all.

    Have the car repaired by towing it somewhere. However at 200,000 you may not choose to repair the motor and instead replace it with one from a recycling yard or rebuilt. Your choice based on what you have. If the motor were running well and the trans is fine and the body is fairly good, you may want to repair and take your chances.

    To assess how likey oil has coolant contamination, use the appearance of the oil on the dipstick and if you can drain it look at what comes out for milkiness. It is possible the coolant leak has been slow enough that the coolant has been burning off in the cylinders with little getting past the rings. It's possible it just increased in volume the last time you shut it off. So you have a decision to make.

    If you have the UIM replaced, have the lower gaskets replaced under the metal Lower Intake Manifold with the aluminum framed- GM gasket. Don't use the original design. Have the UIM replaced with a Dorman units or one that has a modification for the EGR tube that sticks up out of the metal LIM and carries the hot exhaust gases that get recycled. That hot area deteriorates and is often the source of the leak as well as the O-rings in the gaskets on the UIM.

    Replacement might run $300 for parts ($175 Dorman upper, $30 LIM gasket, NEW spark plugs (Delco/GM--originals has white stuff on them from coolant burning). Labor is variable. The oxygen sensor sometimes is hurt by coolant, but likely not. Use only GM oxygen sensor replacements.
  • THANKS FOR THE REPLY! A good keyword search worked wonders too. I have never used a forum for troubleshooting before, I really appreciate knowing this problem is not a new one (who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks! :) ). The oil looked fine, a little dark but last change was October- found no coolant at all, I think the gasket most likely was weeping into the intake for a while but really let go only this week. I have a new gasket set (2nd generation) with the EGR pickup tube, just considering what a light dose of permatex might be worth along with it. Thanks for sharing your experiences (cdpotters, vlanman25, donnamike, gtmush, twalden1 and mostly imidazol97), I have more confidence in putting in just a gasket set for now, I drive it close to home and another motor is way out of my price range.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,524
    Skip the Permatex. Just clean the aluminum LIM. Do I understand you are reusing the UIM? Be sure to check the area around the EGR tube for crystallization by picking at it with a tool to see if it's weakened. That area can also leak from the coolant passages into the UIM interior.The Dorman has a good set of O-rings for the coolant holes; much better than the original GMs. The coolant also goes into the throttle body through the separate gasket on the end of the UIM.

    I still would recommend replacing the LIM gasket at your high mileage. That car's done great!

    You might have noticed an occasional miss if it were leaking for a while earlier. You may have caught it at the earliest major problem.

    Good luck with her.
  • Well, I had wanted to re-use the old plenum.......one of the transfer tube ends was missing a corner and the other fell apart on touch. Dorman to the rescue, $150 more than I wanted to spend but still less than a motor swap and inexpensive for peace of mind. Thanks for pointing it out, I can't tell for sure if the leak originated there (the TB seal was intact & looked better than the UIM seal) but if either leaked at all you wouldn't know till the LIM was full. This engine would have been so much better off if the plenum design had been cast in aluminum, at least the area where all the fluids pass.
  • cuffs68cuffs68 Posts: 1
    My friend as a 95 lesaber...this cars starts and idels fine i noticed on the dash the tep stays at 1/4 of the gage (not a digital dash)....even after its been running for an hour...the next thing i saw was a red light beside the volt gage that flikers some times but keep a 13-14 volt charge ...once in a while it goes high but then goes back to normal....next he removed the cat ....he said the old one was blocked and it was to much to replace it so he just put a piece of pipe.....now the big question....even with all of this...when the car is hot and you excellerate the car boggs down and loses power...like its in limp mode ...but if you let go of the gas the car wont stall just idels....now if you stomp om the gas while rolling its like theres no kick down and starts to bogg again......does anyone have some solotions for me .......or should i buy him a bike ..lol....thanks
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,524
    > tep stays at 1/4 of the gage

    The only way to determine if the thermostat is making the motor warm up to 195 before opening is to use a temperature reading device (infrared, e.g.) or try a little hand test. You can try holding the upper radiator hose after the motor has been running at the full temperature for a while. My subjective description is that it's too hot to hold for more than couple of seconds.

    Another judgement is whether the heater puts out enough heat after the motor has reached that 1/4 setting. If it does, your thermostat is probably okay and it's just the gauge is reading different.

    >saw was a red light beside the volt gage that flikers

    If the light is supposed to turn on to make you notice that charging has dropped below acceptable limits, I'd check first to be sure the battery cables are clean and not corroded. Remove the negative first and use a wire cleaner to be sure you've got bright metal contact. Then take off the positives. If you have a double positive cable with one cable on top of the next be sure to check in between. Reconnect positives and then negatives.

    Be sure to turn off the heater/AC with the key ON before removing cables. A few people think removing cables for a battery change has caused the auto AC units to go crazy.

    Check connetions at the alternator and grounds below the coils and on the fender behind the battery. Move the bolts if they are loose to tighten them for a good connection.

    You're down to a bad alternator regulator or other part. You can remove the alternator and take it to some auto parts stores for free testing. And you can have a test run on the car but I'm not sure if they pick up little quirks like you might be getting.

    >Car bogs down

    Has he had a free code scan run at the auto parts stores? His 95 may be that in between version I and version II that takes an odd connector, but it's worth checking at several different ones to see if they have the ability to scan. Just get the codes; do NOT buy parts based on the codes. YOU have to figure out what is causing the code.

    How did he know his catalytic converter was bad? I have suspicion the same problem with the bogging may be why he thought the catalytic converter was bad. Diagnosis is first in line. Trying new parts instead of diagnosis can get expensive.
  • I had a 93 lesabre and have given it to my son. While I had it it would "stall" without any warning. I would be driving and the engine would stall. I mean completely stop. I put the trans in neutral, turned the key, and it would start and no more problems. This happened to me 3 times and once to my son.There was absolutely no indication and it was like you were coasting. Talked to mechanic and he said he couldn't put the computer on it as there would not be any code. Anyone have any ideas?
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,524
    Battery wires. Does it have the double positive cables with one on top of the other. Check closely for corrosion.

    Ignition switch at base of steering column?

    Crankshaft position sensor.

    You don't say how many miles are on the car. I don't have any real clues as to what is happening--I'm just throwing out some guesses. The immediate restart sounds like what crankshaft position sensors ahve done to some people. But start with the easiest first.
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