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Buick LeSabre Starting/Stalling Problems

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  • I have a 2000 Buick LeSabre. The check engine light has been on for a while, and I was told that the MAF sensor needs replacing, but it would be o.k. to drive it for a while. This last week, the heater quit working, and it has been running hot (not in the red but once, but the gauge is a lot further to the right than it should be). Then the other day it started jerking and acting like it was going to die when I was driving, but it never did die. When I let it coast, it doesn't do that, but when I put my foot on the gas it does. I have added coolant twice even though it didn't look like it needed it, but I had been smelling coolant for a while when I turned the engine off. Could these all be related to the MAF sensor needing replacing?
  • stephen987stephen987 Posts: 1,994
    It sounds like two separate problems to me--the coolant/heater/overheating problem sounds like a leaking heater core--feel the carpet in the front passenger floorboard to check for a leak.
  • Thanks for the information. I had someone stand behind the car while I started it, to look and see if anything was coming out of the tailpipe. He saw something clear come out for about 2 seconds when I pressed on the gas. When I put my hand by the tailpipe, my hand was damp, but it didn't have any odor, so not sure if that is something unusual or not.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,182
    The exhaust usually has CO2 and H2O in it. The water vapor will condense on your hand so that's normal. If you got a cloud of water vapor after the car sat for a few minutes that might mean there's coolant getting into the combustion chambers. You're not getting that.

    From what you post it sounds like you are not smelling the coolant smell inside the car coming from the heater blower air stream. The windshield is NOT clouding up when you drive the car with water vapor coming from the heater core seeping inside the car. So that's not happening.

    The coolant smell, based on what I believe you mean, is outside the car coming from the engine compartment after the car is shut off. When you drive the car, the temperature of the coolan increases and eventually builds up pressure in the cooling system. The radiator cap controls that pressure amount. The extra pressure enables the car to run higher than 212 deg. F. for cooling purposes.

    If you are smelling coolant after the car is shut off, that probably means a seep while the car is still pressurized. The high pressure relaxes after 10-15 minutes and the seep under the hood would stop.

    Do you see any coolant on the ground under the motor after the car has been driven, warmed up thoroughly, and then shut off?

    A water pump sometimes seeps when it's failing.

    There is a small plastic pipe about 3 inches long that turns 90 deg sideways that comes out of the side of the metal intake manifold above the water pump that sometimes can seep around either end.

    There is a possibility of a seep in the radiator or one of the rubber hoses, especially at the ends where they are clamped on. Sometmes the clamp is bad, sometimes, the hose.

    A worse case is that there might be a seepage inside the plastic upper intake manifold on top of the motor (after you take off the gray beauty cover). The replacement upper costs about $100 for the part.

    You don't say how many miles are on the car. If the DExcool antifreeze has never been changed, that might make a manifold leak more likely.

    What you need to watch is coolant level. When the car has cooled about 30 minutes or so, use a towel to remove the radiator cap and check coolant level inside the radiator. Fill it there, if needed. Keep the reservoir up to a mark for cold or where it is and mark it with a pencil when the car is cold so you can compare a few days later when the car is cold again if the car has used coolant. Always check inside the radiator to be sure it stays full.

    Take a flashlight and look all around the motor on the end where the serpentine belt is and the radiator and hoses for leaks.

    Let me know what you find.
  • Thanks for the information also. The car has 130,000 miles and I did have the radiator flushed and filled when it had about 110,000 miles or so. I have been checking the radiator level frequently and making sure that I don't need to add any. I did add some twice this week, but not sure that it really needed it, but I did notice after the car was shut off that there was something dripping for a few minutes around where the radiator is. The most worrisome problem for me is the way that the car started acting like it was going to die when I drove it on Friday, but it never did. It has been difficult to start at times lately, mainly when it is hot outside, but I don't like the way that it feels when I am driving it (kind of jerking or hesitating) and I think I smell a smell when I turn the car off that shouldn't be there, so I'm taking it into the shop tomorrow and see what they can find. I just hope that it does not cost an exorbitant amount to get it fixed because then I don't know what I'm going to do. Besides this, the window on the passenger side in the front won't roll up, but that's the least of my worries right now.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,182
    The leak at radiator could be a hose connection or the radiator itself. If you saw coolant that may be your leak.

    The MAF sensor can cause strange symptoms. Often they show at idle and people remove the connector and start the motor and if it runs better, then the MAF may be to blame. The two fine wires can be cleaned with spray cleaners inside the MAF after removing it with two screws that are torx heads if I recall.

    I would check the Fuel Pressure REgulator on the front of top of the motor with small rubber vacuum hoses going to it about the starting. A few of those go bad and leak gasoline into the vacuum hose. So pulling off the vacuum hose and finding liquid gasoline inside is a bad sign that it has failed.

    The rough runniing and bad starting also can be the fuel pump in the tank has worn and lost pressure. That can lead to bad running, stalls, and restarts after a few miinutes. Some strange symptoms that are like other things as well. The fuel pump is accessed through a plate on the floor of the trunk behind the rear seat. It is not an easy job and requires skill and knowledge. The earlier fuel pumps had to be dropped under the car to get the out of the tank. At 130,000 you might be ready fora fuel pump. Rumor has it that if a car is run low on fuel often it wears the fuel pump and heats it up; neighbor had a 95 MonteCarlo go at 65,000 miles because he always ran it low as a second car that had been his dad's.

    Did anyone have the car connected to a scanner at an Advance Auto Parts of Autozone to see what codes it read? Don't buy parts based on that. Those are hints?

    The window regulators from a supplier for 00 and 01 were poorly made and fail often at a connection of wire to plastic slider. They are available repaired on the internet or Ebay where you send it in and in a few days they return it. You have to be able to take off the door panel to get it out of the door. They hold the glass up with something while the part's out.
  • Well, I took my car to the shop this morning and the verdict is that it has a blown head gasket. Will cost $1300 to repair. Right now I'm trying to decide if it is worth getting it fixed as I've heard that once one blows even if it's repaired, your car continues to have problems. But I just hate to get into another car payment when I just paid the car off 2 months ago. There's always something.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,182
    I'd take the car to another shop before I accept that diagnosis. You didn't say the shop found the right symptoms for head gasket rather than intake manifold leaking.

    Did you have bubbling into the reservoir from the hot exhaust gases being pushed into the coolant and escaping through the reservoir?

    Did they check in the radiator neck with a hydrocarbon sensor like used for emissions testing to verify exhaust gases were present in the coolant?

    A blown head gasket on a 3800 is _extremely_ rare, unlike many other cars.

    What is more common is for the intake manifold gaskets to leak or the upper plastic portion to break down where the hot egr gases go through and allow coolant to leak into the air intake that goes to the cylinders. That coolant being sucked in may be causing a miss, depending on how much is sucked in.

    Check the oil on the dipstick to see if it's milky looking. If so that's coolant getting into the oil through the lower gasket under the bottom intake which is metal.

    Again have a shop that knows 3800s check. I can lead you to many forums about the Bonnevilles, LeSabres, and other cars and blown head gasket is an extremely rare find. At worst have a dealer check the problem. You may have to pay to diagnose, but you don't have to have it fixed there.
  • stephen987stephen987 Posts: 1,994
    Dude, check the year on the car. And ditch the personal attacks.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,182
    >at least the Japanese usually fix a problem when they find one.

    I think you're on the wrong tact here. Do you mean transmissions like in Hondas? I can give you the link to the Odyssey discussion specifically on transmission failures. Or the Accords? Or Civics? Maybe we could talk about brakes wearing out early and often on the rears of same brand.

    Or the shifting and vibration problems with the 6,4,3 VCM Accords. Some of them are bad. They have to use a radio sound to try to cancel out the noise. I don't have that problem in my 3800 in my full-sized Buicks.

    or talk about the Camry with the transmission software and design problem of their 2007 transmission in their V6s. They designed the shift controls inadequately and finally compensated by varying the software. The 4-cyl also had problems of some kind. People are still asking about the patch for the programming. Then there are the rattles. This is supposed to be the car that is the example for the US cars in a few people's minds. But there have been problems through Lexus, Avalon, and Camry with transmission and engine adaptation. Do some searches here on Edmunds. I believe brake wear at low mileage has also been meantioned.

    It pays to read the threads for the cars set out as examples--usually they aren't. One difference is that they have had more money to throw at problems out of profits than GM has had because of GM's high labor and management costs. That has hurt GM attempting to leave behind problematic 80s and 90s vehicles.
  • 93 lasabre stalls when stopping but starts right back up...what could be causing this?
  • stephen987stephen987 Posts: 1,994
    Lots of possibilities. One that comes to mind immediately is a defective solenoid on the lockup torque converter. Another is a defective fuel pump or a clogged fuel filter. When it's running, does it idle and accelerate smoothly, or does it jerk or stutter?
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,182
    I agree with these possibilities.

    He could try putting the car in neutral when coming to a stop where it's most likely to stall and see if that avoids the stall.

    It also can be a weak fuel pump.

    It can be a crankshaft position sensor, but those usually give trouble at other times as well.

    It might be a MAF sensor. Those are easy to clean with a spray for MAF sensors or air intake cleaning. The little wires collect dirt. But those wires break easily. I spray and then touch the wires with the hairs of a camel hair artists brush.

    I very likely could be a sticking EGR valve. The connector at the EGR valve could be disconnected when it's likely to be stalling and see if that avoids the stall. The EGR could be sticking on adding EGR gases to the intake causing the stall. By the time the car is cranked the vibration has edged the EGR closed like it should be. Those took can be removed and cleaned, but don't get liquid cleaner up into the area where the control motors are.
  • alex77alex77 Posts: 1
    The problem im having with my car is, the check engine light come on and off. when it on the car rides ruff.when it off it will ride fine for a while then it will cut off. someone told me it was the catlic converter, but that was taken off. what could it be?
  • sandyisandyi Posts: 2
    I just went out and bought new spark plugs and wires to put on for $100.00. I have put $4,000.00 into my car this month and like it perfect. I replace all bulbs and do some work on it so I figured I could do this. I have no idea where to start. Do you think I can do it? I am a 57 year old women who does get takin to the cleaners at the dealership all the time. I need to know what to pull. Thank you. Sandyi
  • sandyisandyi Posts: 2
    Never mind. Got them. Thank you very much .
  • Hello all. Have a 2000 LeSabre Custom with 65K miles. Owned vehicle since new. Highway cruising at a steady 55 MPH steady speed, then accelerate to 70MPH, the engine bucks a bit, but will smooth out after a short time. No check engine light, no pending codes, fuel economy has decreased about 5 MPG. Now the replacement list; Intake Manifold, TPS, Plugs, Wires, Coils, EGR valve, Oxygen Sensor, Fuel Filter, Air Filter, MAP sensor, and Catalytic Converter (it was bad - the elements were loose). Cleaned MAF, cleaned Injectors (while Intake was being replaced). Checked fuel pressure; idle 45 PSI, idle with regulator hose off, 55 PSI, accelerating to 3500 RPM, 55 PSI. Compression check; all cylinders between 200 and 210 PSI - compression builds quickly. Engine oil changed at 3K mile intervals (Mobil 1 10W30) and drinks 1/2 quart between changes. Any ideas? Wish the PCM/ECM would give me a hint. Perhaps ignition module? Knock sensor? Please help me save a few bucks here and get this old ride back in shape. Thank you.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,182
    Sounds typical of wires or plugs. Your wires could be up to 10 years old, if the car were built in 1999. So that should be the first change. Use AC plugs and used AC wires or Belden OEM quality wires.

    You might check the wires with a grounded screwdriver moved over them while running to see if you attract a leaking spark. But I'd just replace the mess of them for $40 or so at NAPA with AAA discount or AC/Delco wires at other volume suppliers.
  • Already replaced wires, coils, plugs with AC Delco. No change. Leaning toward fuel injection/pump problems.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,182
    The ESC unit under the coils might be at fault. Check and clean the connections to it.

    You've changed the EGR already.

    You might try driving with a fuel pressure gauge taped to the windshield (duct tape) to see if something unusual is happening to the pressures at certain times. Fuel pumps can be fickle.

    Your handle is systems analyst. I presume you are computer literate. Consider buying the program and connectors for your laptop to follow what the computer and sensors are doing while driving when that occurs. Or someone you know may already have a setup. Or you can buy a Tech II.

    How did the spark plugs look that you removed? I hope you numbered each one and kept them... Were they white porcelain with slight grey tones on it?
  • i was recenlty given a 95 lesabre that had a few problems. 1st was reapairing an oil leak from a bad oil sensor. now the car runs and drives great at first startup. the car will start right up and drive anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes. car has 105,000 miles. after it starts running bad and stalling, it is very difficult to keep the thing running. i finaly got it home tonight after dying maybe 6 times in about 4 blocks. after i got home a started it and it kept running but with a mis, making the car very shaky when in drive or reverse. i let it sit for a good hour or two and it started right up and ran fine. got it to auto zone but they couldnt check the codes. checked fuel regulator no gas in vac line. and ideas about when the car get hot?
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,182
    Are you saying the miss wasn't there before repairing the oil leak?

    Assuming it was, my first guess would be spark plugs and wires. It should have the correct AC/Delco plugs or NGK equivalent (NGK makes the Delco plugs I'm told).

    You can check to see if the wires give sparks with spraying water on them in the dark from a mister bottle for plants, e.g. Or run a well-insulated screwdriver along the wires and the weak spots will jump to the metal, but make sure you have one with a good insulating handle.

    Coils and the plate under them are another possibility. Coils break down when hot. Also they get corrosion on the contacts they sit down onto that are part of the ESC plate. If you can get a test the computer from a place that has the right cables... why didn't AutoZone get a test? is yours one of the 1.5 type connectors that require the right cable?

    Corrosion on the coils and plate under them or a coil breaking down might show if it gives a miss that's primarily on two cylinders served by a coil.

    BUT 1994 and 1995 H-bodies (Bonnevilles too) seem to have a higher failure ont he computer itself. The ragged running sounds like a neighbor's car that needed a new junkyard computer.

    But breaking down with higher temp sounds like a coil. If you like recycling yards, you might pick up replacement coils and try switching them in--but inspect yours first along with the connector at the end of the plate under them for good connections. Take it off and clean. it.
  • I have a 93' Buick Lesabre it stalls on me while driving usually once to twice a day, and gradually got worse. Most of the time you could wait a few mins and start it right back up, but the last time it set over a half hour before it would start back up. It usually stalls while im slowing down, but the last time was while i was merging on the interstate. It drives smooth when it is running though, ive heard several possible things it could be but nothing from an acually mechanic, Anyone have any clue what is wrong with my car?
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,182
    There are several smaller things to check. Do not throw parts at the car.

    Because it stalls while slowing down, I would check the EGR. I don't recall if it's electric or vacuum on that year without checking an old factory service manual from my 93 I used to have (150 K miles-my wife made me trade it for another leSabre). If it is vacuum, pull off the vacuum hose, and plug it with a golf tee or a pencil or a wooden skewer stick from the kitchen. Then drive it a while. Dirt may be preventing the EGR from closing completely once in a while. The EGR doesn't work until the motor warms up; does it ever stall while the engine is less than full temp on the gauge? But EGR usually closes when the car shuts off completely. That gives a quick restart.

    Another is the MAF sensor. Do not replace with off brand. Rather get cleaner for air intake or MAF cleaner at store and spray the tiny wires to clean them. Do not touch them. I used a camel hair artists brush to clean while they were wet with the solvent.

    Or the crankshaft position sensor behind the harmonic balancer may be failing. Often they act up when hot. Splashing cold water on them if the car stalls will help them cool and the car starts. That's worth carrying a milk jug of water to test if it stalls again.Locate the sensor while the car's cool, then you'll know where to splash the water if it stalls. But crankshaft position sensors should fail just driving as well rather than only when slowing down.

    Also check connections on the end of the ESC under the coils. Someone reported a poor ground connection which occasionally failed. Pull the connector and clean and check all the contacts.

    Another wear item is the ignition switch contacts which are actually down on the top of the steering column near the base. It's operated by a rod from the switch at the top. The contacts inside wear and burn with use and years. The ignition contact may break contact while other contacts supplying power to other things stay connected. But you are saying that it doesn't restart fairly easily...
  • thanks for the advice, no the car only stalls while its warmed up a bit. It was confusing me because the check engine light never came on. I looked at it the other day and it sounds like there might be a vacume leak, not sure yet, but ill keep u posted.
  • 1992 Buick LeSabre serpentine belt broke, was replaced, now car won't start ~ OBD code 58, fuel enable circuit. Car never had remote keyless entry, owner has 1 door key and 1 ignition key (Passkey). How to reset circuit? Is there a procedure to follow if you don't have the remote transmitter? Thanks
  • ljam05ljam05 Posts: 1
    My son has a 97 LeSabre. Its starting to really rot out (Buffalo winters are brutal). Twice now, the car died while he was driving it. One time it was raining the other it was dry for a week. Both times it died, it wouldn't start. Everything worked except the power windows. All the lights, radio, blower, everything worked. The car cranked strong, just would fire. Both times we waited several hours and the car started right up and was fine. I checked all the fuses and cleaned the battery terminals. I'm at a loss when it comes to electrical problems. Anyone have any ideas?
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,182
    > The car cranked strong, just would fire.

    Did you mean, "...just would NOT fire?" If so, I'd starting thinking about corrosion from Buffalo salt and moisture. Check the connection on the front of the coil ignition control (the slab the coils mount on). There's a connector at the front that a few people have commented gives trouble especially the ground wire on it.

    If you could determine when it won't start if there is spark that would help. Pull off a plug wire and put an old spark plug in it and lay it on the metal of the motor and see if you get spark while cranking.

    You _might_ have a crankshaft position sensor giving trouble. It controls giving a pulse to fire the plugs and injectors, but it should have a back up pulse it uses.

    You can see if the injectors are firing by touching one while cranking and feel the click as it squirts. Try it when the car's running so you know what it feels like--or you can disconnect the electric wire at one and put the ends of a 194 little running light bulb into the socket and watch the light flash when the injector is fired while cranking.

    But I'm guessing you need to check the positive battery cables. Cut back into the plastic connectors to see the copper wiring. Separate the two big cables which are clamped against each other by one bolt onto the batter. Look for corrosion between where there's a lead spacer. Those are replaceable. Check the other end of the cable from the positive that goes to the relay center on the firewall. It provides positive power to lots of relays and large fuses there. One person reported a bad wire at that end and replaced the whole thing for $40-50 if I recall. Probably could be repaired.

    Check the buss grounds that are under the carpet on the driver's side and passenger side. They are under the carpet at the door sill right where you feet come into the car with lots of snow and rain dripping on them. There can even be salt in the snow. The ground buss has electrical tape all around it making it look like a bundle until you open it.

    image

    image

    These are not my pictures but are from somewhere on the web. But they show the corrosion on the buss grounds.

    You might have a fuel pressure problem, but you need to have a pressure gauge to check that. Has the fuel pump in the tank ever been replaced?
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,182
    > The car cranked strong, just would fire.

    Did you mean, "...just would NOT fire?" If so, I'd starting thinking about corrosion from Buffalo salt and moisture. Check the connection on the front of the coil ignition control (the slab the coils mount on). There's a connector at the front that a few people have commented gives trouble especially the ground wire on it.

    If you could determine when it won't start if there is spark that would help. Pull off a plug wire and put an old spark plug in it and lay it on the metal of the motor and see if you get spark while cranking.

    You _might_ have a crankshaft position sensor giving trouble. It controls giving a pulse to fire the plugs and injectors, but it should have a back up pulse it uses.

    You can see if the injectors are firing by touching one while cranking and feel the click as it squirts. Try it when the car's running so you know what it feels like--or you can disconnect the electric wire at one and put the ends of a 194 little running light bulb into the socket and watch the light flash when the injector is fired while cranking.

    But I'm guessing you need to check the positive battery cables. Cut back into the plastic connectors to see the copper wiring. Separate the two big cables which are clamped against each other by one bolt onto the batter. Look for corrosion between where there's a lead spacer. Those are replaceable. Check the other end of the cable from the positive that goes to the relay center on the firewall. It provides positive power to lots of relays and large fuses there. One person reported a bad wire at that end and replaced the whole thing for $40-50 if I recall. Probably could be repaired.

    Check the buss grounds that are under the carpet on the driver's side and passenger side. They are under the carpet at the door sill right where you feet come into the car with lots of snow and rain dripping on them. There can even be salt in the snow. The ground buss has electrical tape all around it making it look like a bundle until you open it.

    http://i86.photobucket.com/albums/k110/imidazol97/100_1930.jpg

    http://i86.photobucket.com/albums/k110/imidazol97/bussbar.jpg

    These are not my pictures but are from somewhere on the web. But they show the corrosion on the buss grounds.

    You might have a fuel pressure problem, but you need to have a pressure gauge to check that. Has the fuel pump in the tank ever been replaced?
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