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Buick LeSabre General Care & Maintenance

suydamsuydam Posts: 3,239
My son has a '98 LeSabre that just turned 60,000 miles. He was told that something called a "fuel injector flush" is recommended for this vehicle. Is it necessary?
'14 Buick Encore Convenience
'17 Chevy Volt Premiere


  • jgwin621jgwin621 Posts: 1
    I know this is a question that's been answered, so pardon me for asking it again. I inherited a 2001 LeSabre from my Mom. I recently took it to my "maintenance" mechanic to have the coolant changed (the car is very low mileage, and I wanted to freshen the coolant before I took it on a long trip) and he could not find a drain for the radiator. He seemed to think the bottom hose was too far up the block and the radiator to drain it properly. He said the coolant was nice and pink and smelled fresh, so not to worry, but now I'm curious. Any help out there?
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 21,498
    I couldn't find a drain cock on mine and the service manager couldn't see one either. I drained it myself with the bottom hose. Filled with distilled water. Ran to warm it up to circulate. DRained. Filled with distilled water. Ran to warm it up. Drained. Put in the proper amount of DexCool and ran it to get the air bubbles out and put the rest of the needed DexCool into the reservoir.

    The DexCool should be changed every two years... just like the regular stuff. Many claim you won't have any of the alleged problems that DexCool might have caused in the past from being in too long. It's cheap insurance for me.

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

  • Take off the big plastic cover on the bottom of the front of the car. It uses those plastic plugs that you pull out on the pin and they let go. Kind of like drywall anchors. There are lots of them as this cover goes from the lower bumper back to the frame. You should be able to see the drain plug once this thing is removed. Yes, it the plug is plastic so so be too hard on it. Don't forget there is a metal drain plug on the block too.
    When done, make sure you follow the procedure in the owner's manual for bleeding air out of the system by opening the bleed screws.
    While you are doing this, I recommend using a new Stant radiator cap. Kind of a long story, but Dex-cool does not mix well with air, and if you have a cap that leaks or has sediment on it, it allows air into the system causing problems.
  • pacecar3pacecar3 Posts: 4
    Hi All,
    I have a 1996 Buick LeSabre with about 100,000 miles on it. I am very happy with the car. The only concern I have is that the rear of the car rides high and stiff. It all started after taking my three kids, luggage, cooler, and other goodies on a long trip. After unloading the trunk, instead of the car drifting down to its normal level, it rides high. It seems stuck in this mode. Sometimes it will ride lower and softer, but then it will ride high and stiff for weeks at a time. Is there an easy backyard mechanic fix?
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 21,498
    Crawl under the (right?) rear of the car and find which side has the auto level control sensor. This will be a short rod connecting the moveable suspension part to the body above it. There will be a small box like a playing cards box with a lever that rotates as the car goes up and down. Be sure the rod is connected; if it's off that makes the car go high trying to level itself.

    I've read about vent valves not working back at the part that's behind the rear wheel that controls the adding air and venting air. You'd need to test connections there. You also might trying moving the wires that come out of the trunk and around those parts. My 98 had a broken wire that was in the air and water wash behind the right rear wheel. So the system wouldn't do anything. The wire had broken from being moved around in the wash behind the wheel.

    You need a service manual with a wiring diagram to properly track what's happening. I traced power from the front fuse panel to the rear before I found this problem. Since your car sometimes seems to operate properly you may have a broken wire making contact sometimes or a bad connector--but they're pretty well made so that's less likely based on my observation.

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

  • pacecar3pacecar3 Posts: 4
    Thanks imidazol97,
    I'll purchase the Haynes manual for it (good to have anyway) and follow your lead during the next backyard oil change or perhaps this weekend if time allows. Thanks again. :)
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 21,498
    I don't personally recommend the Haynes Chilton type manals. I'd look for the official Helm manual--try Ebay for a used one. Check the original (I forgot what year you've got) at
    Look at doityouself DIY for pricing. They might have a sale on yours. 996&Category=&Keyword=&Module=&mscsid=5TJL6M3L6SAP8NDC6R5WE3TWA8DL9JMA

    The $130 is for a multivolume set, two or three. I buy them when my car is new and get my money's worth out of it. Otherwise I'd check the used market; the internet has made that easy.

    Also, some major libraries have access to car manual copies like those. A major city near us has them online but you need to apply for their card to get a local user number--then you can access the info, and print, free.

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

  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 21,498
    It's only necessary for the shop owner's yacht payment due on the 15th of the month.

    If there are no major running problems indicating injectors being uneven, that's the least of the things to check.

    If it's never had the upper intake manifold, plastic, replaced, he needs to fill the coolant tank carefully when cool to a mark, and then watch when the car is cool to be sure he doesn't start using coolant.

    The transmission should have had the pan dropped and the filter replaced and then refilled with 6.5, approx., quarts of Dexron III transmission fluid. The rubber gasket on the tranny should be reused-it's special. Don't put on an aftermarket gasket.

    If he wants to treat the injectors, go buy a bottle of 20 oz fuel system cleaner by Chevron, called Techron. That's the name of their additive in their fuels at their stations. Follow the directions on that bottle. It's available at Meijers, Advance Auto, Walmart. Be sure to get fuel system cleaner if he can. There also is an injector cleaner. He'll notice a difference after a few miles when he puts that in if the injectors needed cleaning. That will be $9-10 compared to $50-$100 at the shop. The smaller size for up to 12 gallons is $7.

    Have him try the Techron and report back what he thinks.

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

  • suydamsuydam Posts: 3,239
    >It's only necessary for the shop owner's yacht payment due on the 15th of the month.

    That's what I thought. His car is running just fine.
    '14 Buick Encore Convenience
    '17 Chevy Volt Premiere
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 21,498
    I buy 90% of my gas from name brand, quality brand locations. I rarely buy from a cheapie place where there might be a low quality or skimping on additives in the fuel.

    I don't worry much about injector cleaning. Like I say, I put in $6 bottle about twice or less a year to keep them clean. It does make a difference in how they run with the Techron. If I bought cheap gas, I'd put it in more often.

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

  • mad_dogmad_dog Posts: 7
    Last year I bought a very clean 03 Lesabre with 32,800 miles. To me the oil looked dirty - much much worse than my 2 other cars which have 60,000 miles (a '99 Grand Marquis) and 91,000 miles(an '89 Chevy on which I've changed the oil and filter every 3K). But he gave me all the maintenance records which show oil/filter changes according to schedule. He used synthetic oil. I changed it and filter at 33K, 36K, 40K, 44K, using the synthetic oil. Each time the oil looks dirtier than that of my other cars. Now the Lesabre has 47K and it already looks dirty to me. The D.I.C. says the oil life is at 72%.
    So, my question is, does synthetic oil normally look that way, compared to regular oil? Or could there be dirt in the engine?
  • luvjoyluvjoy Posts: 5
    Maybe, I hope, you can help me with my mpg on my 1998 Buick Sedan. Bought the car a few months ago. Mileage is.... NO KIDDING .... 10 around town and 14 or 15 on highway! Car has 90K on it now.

    I was out of it for a while, (sick) but just recently had my mechanic do a tuneup. Told me car had same wires since it was built, so I thought it would help. No such luck! Do you think this fuel injector stuff would be something to use or try at least. I dont know what to do, engine light isnt on, and car drives reallly good. Only thing I notice is when I turn it on is a slight hum, which I believe is the pump, and I guess it stays on I just dont hear after the radio's playing.
    Thanks so much for any assistance you want to give me right now, cause I dont know what to do, and I dont reaaaaaaaaly want to bring it into the dealer car service in town!
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 21,498
    If the Service Engine Soon light is not on there probably is not anything drastically wrong.

    My question is how do you get your numbers for the town part and highway part? The 1998 did not have a driver info readout. Are you calculating the mileage the right way?

    Is your driving all short trip? Is your city driving stoplights every block or is it suburban type. Is the highway driving a long, several hundred miles trip, so that you use most of a tank of gas before refilling? Is it interstate or just typical state route highway?

    Our 1998 seemed to get about 22 in short trip and going to work (stop sign every one mile cross country, 40-45 mph roads) and about 31 on highway at 70 mph on long interstate trips.

    If the car has very high miles, over 150K, that could have enough wear to lower mileage. The only other thing is oxygen sensor and I would not replace those without knowing it's a real problem and only replace with GM sensor. That's what I've read elsewhere.

    How many miles are on the car?

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

  • luvjoyluvjoy Posts: 5
    Good Morning,

    Happened to check board this morning and found your reply, for some reason the board didnt notify me anyone answered.
    Thank you for that!

    My driving is mainly around town, 2 mile hike into town. not too many red lights in town. Stop to shop here and there.
    Highway driving is about 100 miles at 70MPH.

    I have filled the tank and calculated mpg that way, which is usually a mix of some highway, but mostly around town, and it always averages about 14-15mpg. Also calculated long trips on interstates at 70mpg and got about 15-16mpg.

    But since most driving is just around town, etc. I put in gas as soon as the red light goes on and calculate it from there. That is never more than 11mpg.

    The car, when I purchased it had about 80K and now has about 90K.

    Any suggestions maybe that fuel injector cleaner or something?
    Thanks so much,
  • Maybe you folks can help me. Is there a write-up or procedure listed here that gives me a rundown on how to replace the front wheel/hub assembly on this car?
    The dealer wants way too much money for the job so I think I may tackle it, unless there are some special tools required. What does this take to do it? Thanks for any help.

  • viper2007viper2007 Posts: 1
    I own a 1998 3.8 LeSabre Custom. To replace the serpentine belt you will need a 15 mm Deep Socket and a 18mm Deep socket.
    1.Remove right tire. Remove plastic cover to access engine compartment through right tire well.
    2.Remove Bottom Nut and Bolt from Motor mount that sits between bottom pulleys. There is a bolt with a removable sleeve that allows access with new belt to bottom pulleys. You may have to tap out the sleeve since it looks like a solid bar mounted to the engine block.
    3. Job takes less than 1 hour if done right instead of the 4 and 5 hour nightmare posted on most websites. Your welcome. by joe kenney
  • Karen_SKaren_S Posts: 5,095
    Thanks for posting this! It would make a great guide and would have a better chance of being seen by other owners.

    Edmunds Manager UGC Click on my screen name to send a personal message. Need help navigating? Check out Getting Started in Edmunds Forums.
    Need help picking out a make/model, finding inventory, or advice on pricing? Talk to an Edmunds Car Shopping Advisor

  • tdc1tdc1 Posts: 11
    I have a '98 LeSabre that's had regular antifreeze mixed in with the Dex-Cool due to having sprung a leak in a hose in the middle of nowhere.

    I'm about to take off for a 4000-mile drive, and would like to flush and change coolant entirely, especially now that I have a mix, which is supposedly a major no-no. An amateur shop that changed oil today said they "couldn't get a reading" on the coolant.

    Any expert advice on whether to go with Dex-Cool or not? Buick insists on it, of course, but I've read much bad about it, and nothing good.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 21,498
    You have a problem with the mix.

    You can drain it completely, flush out all the dexcool and green stuff mixture. Then I would refill with DexCool. I took off the lower radiator hose to drain mine every two years. It will take just about the 6 quarts needed to give a 50/50 mixture. I sometimes have to put the extra into the reserve tank.

    If you unscrew a knock sensor on the bottom of the block I'm told a lot more comes out.

    Either way your best bet would be to rinse and fill with dexcool, which is really good and nondamaging to water pump and aluminum. An alternate would be to refill with one of the compatible antifreezes that is supposed to mix with DexCool.

    With aging the mix is supposed to turn blackish and give a gummy residue. I'd drain and fill at least 3 times to get as much of the old mix out as possible. I would run the motor til it circulated then drain again and refill after it cooled a while. I did that 2 times just to rinse out old DexCool (2 years old). Be sure to get the air bubble in the heater out after the motor warms up by reving to 2500 for a few seconds about 5 times--from the owners service manual. Also after that you can bleed the air out at the thermostat screw to get the last air out. Air mixing with DexCool as it circulates supposed causes part of the problems.

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

  • tdc1tdc1 Posts: 11
    Thanks very much, indeed, for the quick and detailed response!

    Three questions:

    1) any reason why you recommend sticking with Dex-cool rather than flushing out completely and starting anew without it? I've read on many sites that it's nothing but trouble, corrodes innards, etc.

    2) any idea which other anti-freezes are okay to mix with Dex-cool? That sounds like a good compromise solution to me.

    3) I assume I can eventually find the plug at the bottom of the block, but where's the thermostat screw?

  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 21,498
    DexCool is not gritty in any way and extends life of water pump. It chemically is great for the aluminum in the engine.

    I ahve heard people on another board discuss a product (Walmart has it I believe they said) that is says it's universally mixable with others, green and Dexcool. It'll say on the label. But your choice should be to flush and drain and get most of the stuff out and put in one new chemical.

    DexCool took lots of grief for the seals leaking around some motor sizes on their intake manifolds and the throttle bodies where coolant is sent up through to keep them from icing. There was a problem with the chemical makeup of early seals, years ago, and those seals were changed. DexCool also formed a brown sludge if air was left in the system. I was told certain designs of radiators for filling, Ford had one e.g., were hard to fill and get all the air out. Those seemed to have trouble after years of running hot with the DexCool breaking down.

    Also adding green stuff to it or using anything like a tester that had a little green stuff in it contaminated the Dexcool causing a sludging to form. I think DexCool gets blamed for problems the owner helped cause by not changing it every two years like regular antifreeze and not watching when it began to look gunky in the overflow and radiator cap area and getting the old stuff out of there.

    I don't know what the knock sensor looks like. It has an electrical wire to it. Myself I avoided trying that just used the lower radiator hose at the radiator. Drain, fill with water, run, drain, fill ...

    The thermostat air bleed is the little brass screw on top of the round hemispherical housing at the end of the upper radiator hose on the right of the picture.


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

  • tdc1tdc1 Posts: 11
    Thanks again - very helpful!

    I ended up getting the universal stuff at WalMart, supposedly Dex-Cool compatible. They had four brands all with the same composition and all claiming they could be mixed with anything. Including Prestone, so I'll assume it's legit. And I'll try to flush very thoroughly.

    Thanks for the photo of the thermostat screw -- very obvious once the plastic cover was popped.

    Now... just as soon as things cool down a bit more...
  • bugzbugz Posts: 1
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 21,498
    Got to one of the local stores, Autozone, Advanced Auto-my favorite, or other and ask them to read the codes for you and turn off the light.

    Do not buy any parts or replace anything. See what the codes mean as symptoms, not an indicator of exact parts bad. I suspect it will be related to the pollution checks on the parts for pollution control, p0442. It probably will turn itself off after a while if the store won't turn it off for you.

    Is the gas cap seal good. Put petroleum jelly on it on the cap and check that the plastic part on the filler is in good shape and clean. The most common problem is the tank doesn't seal tight enough for the vacuum check the car does occasionally to look for leaks.

    The algorithm for checks is tank between 1/4 and 3/4 full (your gauge doesn't work thought). Then the car is restarted when the coolant temp is between two temps (130 and 170 guessing my recall numbers). And the system will check for leaks. I've had a couple and on restart the light turns off.

    Your 2000 has an access cover under the mat in the front of the trunk to get to the fuel pump and the fuel level gauge.

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

  • bridge222bridge222 Posts: 1
    I have a 1994 Buick LeSabre which has the following problem:

    In the morning when the engine is cold the car idle races exceptionally high and the odometer and speedometer do not work. After about 10 miles of driving, when the engine warms up, the idle returns to normal and the odometer and speedometer works again. I do not know how these two could be related and I can't get to the bottom of this problem in order to solve it.

    Thanks, Barry
  • zone2zone2 Posts: 1
    Does anyone have any idea where to get info on light bulbs in steering wheel for 03 Lesabre with radio controls and cruise.Half of the right side is out.Cannot find any info in owners manual....??????
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 21,498
    The light bulbs appear to be a special bulb that used to be available aftermarket. But the problem is the switch and bulb are wired together. Replacement meant soldering. Also The switch is tricky to remove but can be by using paper clips and working the entire swtich up and out The leads are very short. I've read this in a Pontiac group.

    I've not been able to be certain the bulbs are available nor have I had the nerve to try inching the switch out myself.

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

  • rlrufusrlrufus Posts: 4
    I have a 1995 Lesabre with 202,000 miles. The car runs fine but I've noticed that after about an hour of driving the oil pressure gauge pegs itself. If I let off the gas it will come back to normal untill I have to touch the gas peddle the it pegs the gauge again. Can anyone help me.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 21,498
    It is most likely the sending unit. The oil pressure needs to be checked with a gauge that's screwed in to replace the sending unit. These do fail. Don't buy the cheap one; some of those are poorly made.

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

  • clifterclifter Posts: 1
    code says voltage to low replaced sensor same problem car wont idle
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