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Buick LeSabre Maintenance and Repair



  • Your reply is coincidental since last night I did get a window of good weather which allowed me to confirm that only the tail lights and the dashboard lighting group cluster seem to be affected by this electrical problem. Headlights, parking lights, brake lights and turn signal indicators all appear to working normally. So, the only downside is the inability to drive the car at night so that nobody runs into the back of me, although conceivably you could drive with your foot lightly on the brake to keep the brake lights illuminated - although that's clearly not a realistic long-term solution (I suppose . . .).

    Since I already confirmed that the fuse for the tail lights is not blown and since the dashboard (and tail lights) illuminate when you toggle the headlights on, and since I seem to recall that the dashboard lights did come on briefly when I activated the headlights, the night the lights (dashboard/tail lights) failed. I too wonder if some component behind the headlight On/Off switch has failed and could be replaced (or maybe just hot-wired into the headlight circuit), since the wiring circuit to the tail lights and dashboard must have there terminus right there also (since they all turn on together). Good logic in isolating what is shaping up to be the likely cause. Will give this another look over the weekend and try to report back. Thanks!
  • rallyveerallyvee Posts: 10
    I'm following up my initial post, in case somebody else would be searching for help on this issue.

    Turns out that it was the fuel pump, after all. The mechanic installed a Carter pump, and I've since learned a lot of people have problems with them. I got another fuel pump put in, and haven't had any whining sounds since.

    Thanks for the input, everyone.
  • rallyveerallyvee Posts: 10
    Yesterday, I drove 30 miles on highways, then parked the car for about 10 minutes when I got into the city. When I started it again, it sounded as if there was another motor running alongside the engine. At first, I thought someone had started their car near mine, but when I opened the door, the noise was coming from my car. It sounded like the engine was idling way too fast.

    Then I started smelling something burning.

    I turned the engine off, and I heard the normal sound of it going off as it should. However, this other sound--what I'd thought was someone else's motor--kept running. I opened the hood to see what was happening, and some smoke was coming out of the engine. The smoke was coming out the right side of the large plastic cover on the main part of the motor. I really thought the car was going to catch on fire.

    After a few minutes, it finally did stop, though it smelled like burning rubber, and it was still smoking for a little while.

    I called AAA, and they towed my car to a mechanic. He thought it was something electrical, so he ran some tests, all of which came out OK. He started the car, took it for a drive, and it's behaving far. He's going to run more tests, but right now, he's baffled, because he can't recreate what happened to me.

    Someone else I talked to mentioned that this might have something to do with the throttle, and I mentioned that to him.

    The only things I've been doing differently of late are that I have been using the cruise control, and I have forgotten to put any sort of engine cleaner into the gas tank for several months now.

    Anybody have any idea what this might be? If you have any follow-up questions, please ask, and I'll answer them to the best of my ability.

  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 10,824
    Since this model is no longer in production and we have a fairly limited number of LeSabre owners in this forum, you might have better luck posting in our answers section here:

    We often find members with mechanical expertise who pop in and answer questions there.

    Need help navigating? - or send a private message by clicking on my name.
    Share your vehicle reviews

  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,048
    I could picture a starter remaining engaged even though it's supposed to release the gear on the flywheel when the engine speeds up. But driving 30 miles with the starter spinning at a very high speed would have added lots of noise and would have ruined the starter, in my opinion.

    I don't believe an alternator can turn into a motor so that it was driving the engine. I had the older style generators used in the 60s-70s turn into one, but that was inherent in the design.

    If the starter were turning the motor continually in START mode, the speed would have been perhaps 300 rpm, about half of the normal idle. The starter is under the front of the motor, below the hot exhaust manifolds. Smoke from it might have been coming up from below and appear to be coming out under the "beauty cover" on top of the engine.

    If the alternator were providing power to keep the engine turning over, the belt probably would be hot. It's on the passenger side. Was the smoke from the belt area?

    The problem is not the throttle. Your car is fuel injected. When the key goes OFF, the injectors quit and the spark plugs quit. NO gasoline is squirted into the intake. Something else is causing the motor to keep turning.
  • rallyveerallyvee Posts: 10
    @kirstie_h -- Thanks, I'll keep that in mind! :)

    One thing I apparently didn't make clear (sorry) is that I didn't drive 30 miles with that noise in my motor. There were no unusual noises at all, while I was driving the 30 miles, so I had no idea anything was wrong. It was after I reached the city, and parked for 10 min., that the noise began when I started the engine. The best way I can describe it is that it sounded like there were 2 engines in my car at once. I didn't attempt to drive at all.

    The engine itself went off immediately when I turned off the key. This...whatever it was...kept running, then finally stopped after the smoking.

    I wish I knew if the smoke were from the belt area--part of the problem is that the cover hides much of the engine, so I couldn't see where it was coming from. The other problem is that it was a windy day, so the smoke was being pushed downwind. It very well could have been from the passenger side of the engine, as that's the direction the wind was blowing from.

    I took it to a mechanic, spent 2 days running various tests, test-driving the car, etc., but the car has worked perfectly ever since. He's at a loss to explain this--the only thing he found unusual is that I was 2 quarts low on oil--unusual, because neither he nor I have seen the car leaking.

    It's really bizarre, isn't it?

    Thanks so much for your help--if any of this info gives you some idea of what happened, I'm still pretty nervous that this might happen again at some point.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,048
    >that the noise began when I started the engine. The best way I can describe it is that it sounded like there were 2 engines in my car at once. I didn't attempt to drive at all.

    I now understand the engine quit turning when you turned the key OFF. But the extra noise continued. Assuming the key was completely OFF, that eliminates the blower motor and fan blades with it; that would be a noise you could isolate source as coming from the air intakes under the windshield or the firewall.

    So my thinking is the started motor remained engaged. What would have happened is the engine started which speeds the starter's own gear faster than the starter motor is turning; that disengages the small gear from the flywheel.

    However, the starter motor may have continued to turn instead of being turned off. The electrical connection stayed connected. EITHER the ignition switch (not the key assembly, the switch which down on top of the steering column under the dash) didn't disconnect when the key was rotated back from START OR the relay which is engaged by the ignition switch stuck ON and kept the starter turning. There is a relay under the dash that's hard to get to that's part of the antitheft system. AND the starter itself has a relay as part of the solenoid. I do not know if that relay should have disconnected if the Bendix system disengages from the flywheel or not. It's possible the problem is within the starter's solenoid parts.

    A starter being fed the current would continue to spin with a high speed sound of a strong motor. Depending on the style and wear it might make more noise. It would overheat even though it's not working to turn the engine. It's not engineered to self cool while turning with no resistance. So it would overheat.

    If it happens again, try turning the key to START and see if that makes a difference.

    I suspect
  • rallyveerallyvee Posts: 10
    I'm going to print out what you wrote, to give to the new mechanic, when I get the tires rotated on the car. What you say makes sense, and jibes with the experience I had.

    What's odd is that, even though AAA told me not to start the car again just in case, I did have an instinct to try starting it once more, to see if it would start normally (which it has, ever since). I agree with you that there might be a problem with the starter, but I don't think this mechanic put a great deal of effort into looking into the problem. He just kept test-driving the car, which was stupid, because nothing unusual happened while I was driving--just when I started the car. That's why I want someone else to look at the car, and with luck, your post might help them pinpoint the problem.

    Thanks very much for your input, and if/when a local mechanic does find out exactly what happened, I'll post an update to help anybody else who might someday search this forum about a similar issue.
  • So when I first start my car, the AC blows only on window and floor, but not Mid level. No-matter what I do, I cannot get it to change. However, after the car has been running for about 15 minutes, it will gradually change on it's own to blow through the mid level vents. The air is also cold (so that doesn't seem to be an issue).

    Any ideas? I have read that it could be the vent or air door actuator....but could also be a vacuum leak somewhere (although that may make less sense)

  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,048
    edited July 2011

    Try reading in that thread. I'll see if I can find a Bonneville topic where this has been discussed.

    You've either lost vacuum to the programmer box from the motor side or the little distributor plastic connector on the corner of the programmer box is collapsing. Usually they collapse as the car runs longer instead of what you are getting.

    When you turn off the motor and leave key ON, can you hear the vacuum motors move under the dash with the left over vacuum when you press different air flow buttons on the dash control?

    Here is a link to Bonneville topic with same problem:
  • Thanks for the info. I will read through and check out the other discussions. I will also see if I can hear vacuum motors moving after I cut the engine.

    Very strange indeed because there is no discernible loss of power (engine not running you sometimes see in a vacuum leak), and the problem seems to get better (i.e., air comes out of the mid level) if I run the engine long enough.

    Back with you shortly.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,048
    edited July 2011
    If you have enough vacuum to move the motors for 20-30 seconds after engine shutoff, then your underhood llines are okay. It's the connector for the programmer for the 4-5 lines.

    If you don't have much vacuum, check at engine end next to large brake booster hose for rotted rubber end for the plastic vacuum line. Check under Relay Center cover down in bundle of wires for the T connection and ahead where there's a vacuum one-way valve. Check the storage tank under the right front fender behind headlight.

    This is the piece on the corner of programmer box that needs to be bypassed--at least the blue line to the diaphragm for the door for the defroster to make the air come out the dash vents.
  • Thanks! I will let you know how it turns out.
  • I am working on a 95 LaSabre that seems to be leaking condensate from under the dash. What causes this and how do I fix it? Thanks!
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,048
    Almost always that's due to the drain tube being stopped up. Get under the car on the right side behind the wheel and then look at the lower part of the firewall just slightly to the right of center. You should find a 4-5 inch long tube that is stopped up with muck or pollen or dirt.

    Stick something up into the tube and be sure you're not under the tube while you do that. Usually a lot of water will come out.

    When the AC has been running on humid days and the car is parked, is there a drip of condensation that comes out the bottom of the firewall? If not, then the AC drain is stopped up.

    Rarely someone found a leak around another part letting water into the passenger compartment onto the floor. Has there been lots of rain? Does the car have a sunroof?

    1997 Buick LeSabre, 168,000 miles......

    ...I had spark plugs replaced one month before having trouble (did not replace wires)...

    The LeSabre has been having a very small water loss some where but I always kept the water reservoir filled.

    The day of having car trouble,here's what happened...

    I checked the water before starting on small trip...drove about 15 miles and the LeSabre was running real good....

    "NOT ONE TIME did the heat gauge go over to red"...then we came up to an intersection and it stared missing a little...we pulled into Mac D's to eat....

    About 30 min. later, we went out to start it...and all the engine would do is turn over real good.

    Had it towed to my Nephew about 15 miles away...he was able to start it and move it...but it was missing while moving it ...he said it was a head gasket...because it had water coming out the tail pipe...he also said it "DIDN'T HAVE OIL IN THE WATER" which was good.

    I went up yesterday after it has been sitting for over a week and checked it started and ran rough for about 5 min. and moisture or vapors was coming out the back exhaust pipe.

    after the moisture or vapors started running "REAL GOOD SMOOTH" missing...after about 5 min it then started running rough again...I cut it off and checked the exhaust pipe...

    ..."it was DRY AND HAD NO SIGN OF WATER" at all.

    Please help me...please email me at

    Thank you!
    GOD Bless!
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