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Buick LeSabre Starting/Stalling Problems

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  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,046
    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: 18,046
    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: 18,046
    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: 18,046
    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: 18,046
    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: 18,046
    >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: 18,046
    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: 18,046
    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: 18,046
    > 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: 18,046
    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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