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Buick LeSabre Starting/Stalling Problems



  • 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: 18,051
    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: 18,051
    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: 18,051
    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: 18,051
    >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: 18,051
    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: 18,051
    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.
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