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Buick Le Sabre: Electronic/Battery Issues

I love this car. Engineering,ride and drive are superb. I would recommend this car to anyone in the market for a premium sedan. However,there are some annoying glitches which mine has. The worst one is a dead battery which happened twice in three months. the dealer says it was a bad cell. HAS ANYONE HAD THIS EXPERIENCE? It also had the dreaded kazoo windshield noise which was fixed. Now it is also making a popping noise from underneath the car, which I suspect is the exhaust heat shield. The car died and was restarted immediately once on a hot day. The people at my southwest Missouri dealership are first rate and are cooperative. I now carry walking shoes and a cell phone. When the battery goes, so does the standard OnStar. I also fixed a rattle in the dash by installing an old cut up windshield wiper blade between the windshield and the trim covering the A pillar. Thinking about an extended warranty? You bet.


  • I was interested in hearing that you have experienced the popping sound from under your 2000 Le Sabre. That is about the only problem I have had with mine. It has popped since the day I got it. I usually only notice it when I am first getting under way. It is more likely to happen when I change from one grade to another like entering the street from my driveway. You are the only other owner who has mentioned it as far as I know. I have been monitoring this thread for a year and a half. My dealer also thought it might be the exhaust shield but could not find anything unusual. I suspect it may be the self-leveling system but I am not a mechanic. It has not gotten worse over time. I am going in for my 15000 mile service next Monday so I would like to hear back from you if you have any more information.
  • Thanks for your quick response. I printed out the TSB data and will show it to my dealer on Monday. I will let you know how it turns out. I hope you get your electrical problem fixed quickly. I don't know how long you have been monitoring this thread but the dead battery problem has been discussed here from time to time.
  • When two batteries go in a row it is definately time that a good mechanic was taking a good hard look at the alternator/charging system. Has anyone thought of that? You'll replace a lot of batteries until you check out the rest of the system. Two dead cells in a row? I don't think so. The odds are as good as Buchanan winning the election.
  • jimsxnjimsxn Posts: 108
    Car didn't start at all this morning..I had put a new battery just a month back. Upon investigation at Goodwrench, the alternator is down and would cost C$ 450 (USD300)to replace.
  • tboner1965tboner1965 Posts: 647
    If it is anything like the alternator on my '87, it better not take more than about 10 minutes to change it. Mine sits right on top of the engine. Disconnect the battery cables and put it on a battery charger. (A really good way to ruin a new alternator is to immediately ask it to charge a dead battery.) Then, use a ratchet to take the tension off the drive belt at the tensioner pully, slip off the belt, unbolt the two bolts that hold the alternator in place. There should be a plastic connector that is easy to remove, and a wire on the back, held in place by a nut.

    Take tha alternator down to the parts store and have it tested. If bad, get a new one. Have that one tested before you leave. Install in reverse order.

    It will take longer to drive back and forth to the parts store than to actually do the work.

    You can probably do this for $100US. Ask the counter guy for the best lifetime warrantied alternator and you should be all set.

    Again, test the new one before you leave so you don't repeat the R&R.

  • mine tracks straight and true. I don't have to make as many micro-adjustments to the steering wheel as compared to other newer cars. however this car is more susceptible to crosswinds than my 97 Monte and the Olds 98 which was traded for the buick. I attribute this to the optional touring suspension in the Olds. I still am crazy about the lesabre and have not experienced the dreaded battery run down which I griped about in earlier posts. any new readers have this battery run down?
  • jimsxnjimsxn Posts: 108
    My battery change and alternator change were primarily initiated by a battery rundown...first time by a cellphone charger left in the socket and second time by a glove compt light. They were due for a change anyway so I don't mind as much..on the other hand they may have given more service.
    Beware of the lights left on....
  • mbyrnmbyrn Posts: 2
    Our family has always bought Buicks and been Buick lovers until the purchase of our brand new 2000 Buick LeSabre Limited. We HATE this car due to mainly the constant dead battery problems. It is on its third battery and the car only has 18,000 miles on it. It also left me stranded in the middle of the street, downtown, on one occasion.(This problem did actually get fixed). The car has been to the dealer repeatedly to no avail. We only get the run around because they can't find what the real problem is. No more Buicks for us. Anyone considering purchasing one should have second and third thoughts about it.
  • Make sure the your ignition switch is off. It is much easier than other cars to turn the switch back another notch to accessory. My mom has a problem with that and when it happens, it takes a day for the battery to run down. Since your problem is happening downtown, I assume you have not left it for more than a day and you would take your keys with you, eliminating the cause of the problem I am having.
    Please post your fix here. I am still a little worried about this. Otherwise I still love this car.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 21,497
    Sounds like you're still under warranty. If the dealer hasn't diagnosed the problem, why haven't you been to another Buick dealer. In three years I would have been sleeping on the service manager's desk to get it fixed. You didn't say what was the problem that was fixed...

    Have you contacted the Buick 800 number????

    Your dealer should have kept the car for several days while giving you a loaner to drive. During that time they could have looked for a drain on the battery or alternator problem. You have a dealer problem, not a Buick problem. You could insert any favorite name here, Lexus, Honda, Toyota, Infinity, Volvo, etc., and they could all have the problem with batteries.

    Come on here. Let's not be so brutal on the brand, when it could be any car having that kind of trouble.

    Good luck. And try another dealer while you're under warranty especially.

    2015 Cruze 2LT, 2014 Malibu 2LT, 2008 Cobalt 2LT

  • I agree with imidazol97. I also have a 2000 Buick LeSabre limited with 42,000 trouble free miles on it. I have had no problems with my battery. I would definitely go to another Buick dealer and let them keep the car as long as it takes to find out the cause of the problem. It could be as simple as a loose wire somewhere that is draining the battery. Your car is still under warranty, so you have nothing to lose. Good luck and let us know what the problem and solution are.
  • macarthur2macarthur2 Posts: 135
    Doesn't your LeSabre have a power saver that shuts off power to accessories that are left on and will drain the battery (like interior lights) about 10 minutes after the ignition is shut off? I believe this is standard equipment. If so the problem is not a trunk light or glove box light that is sticking on. I agree, go to a dealer who is intersted in servicing Buicks instead of the one you are going to who only wants to sell them.
  • mbyrnmbyrn Posts: 2
    Thanks for all of your advice. We have had our Buick to two different Buick dealers to try and have our battery problem diagnosed. One dealer kept the car over the weekend looking for what was draining the battery but could not find the problem. The battery only goes dead once every three or four months so we think it has a short in something but all the dealers tell us is "we need to drive the car every day at least ten miles" or that we don't drive the car enough. We find this ridiculous. We have contacted the Buick home office but they say at this time they can't do anything.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 21,497
    Neighbor had trouble with Gran Prix Supercharged 3800 with battery draining. The car had an incident early with smoking wiring which dealer fixed, so neighbor thought drain was related to wiring problem.

    But two batteries and lots of jump starts later, another neighbor who's a used car lot type repair what comes in mechnic's knowledge, replaced the starter. Replacement battery from Walmart and no more problem.

    Somehow something on the starter was causing a drain that zapped the battery. Relay or ???? caused the drain. But it wasn't always happening.

    2015 Cruze 2LT, 2014 Malibu 2LT, 2008 Cobalt 2LT

  • spindelspindel Posts: 8
    A year ago I had a problem with a dead battery on my 2000 Buick Lesabre Limited. If the car sat for two or three days the battery would be dead. I took it to the Buick dealer. The problem was with the underhood light. They had to order one. Since then I have not had a problem.
  • kcwolfpack59kcwolfpack59 Posts: 122
    I will try that. I disconnected the trunk light thinking that was the problem and put a mercury switch from the junkyard in. I since found out it was not it and it is on the battery saver program. We had another "incident" last week ago and mom had it towed to the dealer without me knowing. She insisted they put another battery in. I hope these ideas fix it.
  • jimsxnjimsxn Posts: 108
    I had a chronic dead battery problem when I bought my 1994 LeSabre in 2000. All of a sudden, no more starting....I took it to two different places; one changed the battery and the other changed the starter. Problem persisted. Then I did a little diagnostic on my own and found that at one time the glove compartment wasn't shut properly because of too much stuff and at the other time, I had left some interior lights on. I started taking care of these little things and hasn't had a single starting problem in last nearly two years....and I live in cold Canada.

    Buick has so many lights and so much of electronics, something gets left on and it is easy for battery to get drained.
  • romanelloromanello Posts: 1
    We have a new 2004 LeSabre with 1200 miles. It would not crank and the dealer replaced the dead battery. That was two weeks ago. Two days ago it would not crank in the morning but it did in the evening. The dealer could not find any codes listed and would not replace the switch. My 2000 Impala had the same problem when new. Replacing the switch corrected the problem. Any other ideas on this one?
  • Went thru this with my 2000. I think it was my mom turning the key to accessory instead of off, thus draining the battery. With this model it is easy to do. It has not happened again since I showed her.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 21,497
    I have had 3 LeSabres and two Centurys. I replaced one alternator.

    93 LeSabre 70K replaced. Still running at 150K.
    98 LeSabre 120K -running fine.
    03 LeSabre 20K - running fine.
    89Century traded at 120K okay.
    87 Century traded at 98K okay.

    I thinks there's something wrong with certain Bonnevilles that causes alternator failure. Neighbor had 3800SC Gran Prix that had battery drains for 3 years. It had an alarm that seemed to drain the battery and something had burned up a wiring harness early in the cars life. REplaced under warranty.

    But the neighbor, a shadetree mechanic who had worked with used cars all his life, changed the starter and the drain was gone... after 80K.

    The neighbor's dad has a used car lot. He says 3800 in large cars is good for 300K. He sells a lot of used ones with high mileage.

    2015 Cruze 2LT, 2014 Malibu 2LT, 2008 Cobalt 2LT

  • hagrawalhagrawal Posts: 20
    We have a 2003 LeSabre Limited which has 47,000 miles. Yesterday, the GM battery failed and had to be replaced because it will not hold charge. I repaced the GM ACDelco with Interstate.

    It seems to me the battery should have lasted at least 4 or 5 years and is another indication of poor quality of GM parts. Has anyone had similar experience?
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 21,497
    Battery life is not forever. It depends on the car and how the car is used as well as temperatures and so on. When a battery hits 3 years I consider it toast. Any more is borrowed time.

    Did you check the battery hydrometer indicator every few months to see if it was showing green? That usually will give an early warning of some failures. Otherwise the battery can just simply have a cell short out as a conductive path between anode and cathode is built when the battery is recharging and then you've lost a cell.

    I would have replaced with a Walmart Maxx battery with 960 cranking amps and long total replacement free guarantee and a 7 year or 8 year prorated replacement. Interstate seems to have an aura about it from advertising that didn't mean quality in the battery based on some coworkers who bought them in the past.

    2015 Cruze 2LT, 2014 Malibu 2LT, 2008 Cobalt 2LT

  • The battery light comes on and motor runs on battery. Changed Alt twice and it has plently of charge. Checked all battery connections. Battery not getting charge.
  • sounds to me that the battery is bad. Have you had the battery checked?
  • Maybe I didn't make myself clear enough. I thought a car could run off the alternator. When the battery dies the car dies.
  • kcwolfpack59kcwolfpack59 Posts: 122
    This may have been discussed before, so forgive me, but has anyone put a replacement battery in their 2000+ car? If so, what kind? I will probably keep the car one to two more years and since mom drives it, I don't want to take a chance on the battery going bad. It has a vent system attached to it. Should I get an optima, OEM, or just go to Wal Mart and get one of their best batteries?
    I think the location under the back seat is great, but I don't want to put the wrong type of battery in it. I was thinking about putting in an Optima battery, storing the one in it now, and switching them at trade in time and using the Optima in another vehicle.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 21,497
    I had looked at Wallymart and they didn't have one for the number listed in their lookup book.

    If you come up with a good replacement let me know. I've seen people on other groups mention making the vent tubes fit the vents on batteries so they'd vent the hydrogen under the car.

    Since it's on its sixth year, you're wise to start looking. If you don't get any symptoms of weak battery you're probably sitting with some time. Usually batteries fail in the heat and in the cold of winter. We've already had the heat here. The original Delco batteries on GMs are good batteries in my experience. They last long times.

    2015 Cruze 2LT, 2014 Malibu 2LT, 2008 Cobalt 2LT

  • kcwolfpack59kcwolfpack59 Posts: 122
    Thanks for the Walmart tip. I will check around and post my findings. Mom replaced the original in 2001 or 2002 at the dealer when I was out of town. She had a bad habit of turning the car off and leaving the key in the accessory position. It would drain the battery and we would not know why. This happened several times. The car would be towed to the dealer and they would find nothing wrong. How I figured it out was when I noticed the radio was on when I was outside of the car and she had driven it last. Until we discovered it was her and not the battery, she felt better having a new one installed by the dealer. End of problem. To this day, she will not admit what they charged her for the battery. I do like the idea of the battery under the seat. I think it is better for a crash when you need onstar activation. Also a much less hostile environment than under the hood. Maybe even slightly better weight distribution. I like to keep less than 4 year old batteries in her car just for peace of mind, even if she does drive it one more year until she gets a Lucerne.
    Looks like the host was kind enough to make a separate Lesabre electrical issues topic for us.
  • Found one at O'Reilly's, a chain store throughout most of the midwest based here in Springfield, MO. $69 for 880CCA, 72 month warranty, 2 year free replacement. I'm happy.
  • i have a 1992 lasabre and smoke started coming out of the steering colum. removed the steering wheel and found the wire that seems to be causing the problem however i cant seem to find a wiring diagram online for the steering colum for under $19.95. is there a web site where i can download a wiring diagram of the steering colum?
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