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Buick LeSabre Starting/Stalling Problems



  • zunizj37zunizj37 Posts: 1
    ..hello....i have a 97 Buick le Sabre Custom....ummm lately for the last couple months security light would pop on when I go to start the car and it would kill the ignition all the lights would go on but the car would not start, and the light would go off in 3 minutes and i could try it again...sometimes it would do this and sometimes it wouldnt, and the security light even pops on while i am driving too...its very frustrating because you just never know when its going to not start....just wondering if you have any ideas on what i can do to fix this problem.....
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 21,319
    First if you h ave a second key, use it and see if the problem is better.

    Next the key has a resistor chip in it near the head; it's a small black piece about 2 mm x 2 mm with a metal contact on each side. That's what is read by a Theft Deterrent Module each time the key is inserted. Use a pencil eraser and rub the contacts on that black chip.

    Third the contacts inside the key lock cylinder may be worn or dirty. These are the contacts that rub lightly on the chip when the key is inserted and read the resistance of that chip. You can dip the key in rubbing alcohol and insert it quickly to get alcohol on those contacts to try to clean them. They also seem to wear. I would guess if you have a set of keys that are heavy or long and swing back and forth in the lock cylinder as you drive those contacts may be worn.

    Fourth the two tiny wires that read the resistance go down the steering column and are bent and unbent each time the tilt wheel is put up and down. After lots of cycles and years on the car those little wires have individual strands taht break from being flexed. This changes the resistance of those wires and changes the resistance read for the key chip on the other end.

    The system is called VATS. You can search on the internet and find lots of mentions. A solution is to go to the bottom of the steering column and locate the connector for many wires and identify the little orange or other color tube that has the two wires from the lock cylinder inside (they're not two separate little wires).

    You replace the two wires with a set of resistors that you put into their contacts or cut the wires and solder them on the ends. E.g., my resistance for the key chip at the key says about 870 ohms. There are lists of the 15 resistances used for VATS keys on the internet. Find the one closest to your reading for your key chips.

    Buy resistor packs at Radio Shack or a friendly auto alarm installer that replaces that resistance. Alarm installers have premade resistors because they were always replacing the security VATS system with their own and they bypass the resistance. An easy fix might be to have an alarm installer put in the resistors for you.

    The TDM, theft module, has 4 failure modes. One of which is that it decides it's not working right and quits protecting the car in case of the wrong resistance reading. Some people have cut their wires while the car was running to put the module into that mode. I do not recommend that unless you are a car geek who can fix it if soemthing goes wrong.

    With luck yours will default into that mode if the light is coming on and going off while you're driving. That's what mine did. If I change battery, I'm going to jump the cables to keep power to the system so the TDM doesn't go into a check mode again.

    Another factor I found before mine failed in default mode was if I put the key in quickly and turned without waiting to start, it would stall for 3 minutes. If I put the key in, and let the system do its checks, I would start 99% of the time without a wait.

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

  • twohundredtwohundred Posts: 5
    I have a 1995 Buick Lesabre with 184,000 miles on it. The car runs well when it is cold. It doesn't give me any trouble when I drive it 18 miles to work. The check engine light comes on when it warms up and it stalls. I can shift it into neutral and it will start up right away. I have new plug wires, spark plugs and a new air filter. The gas filter was replaced about 10,000 miles ago.

    The car will stall about 5 times in a row when just driving 7 or 8 miles. It seems to always stall a slower speeds and never stalls when I driving over 55 mph on the highway. Someone suggested camshaft sensor. I would appreciate any ideas.

    Thank you,

    Two hundred Plus Guy
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 21,319
    There are many things that can cause your problem. The "good" thing is the check engine light coming on. Take it to Advance Auto, Autozone, whoever in your area does free check for codes. It should have a stored code since the light's been on.

    Be sure to call them if it's not a local place where you know, and ask them if they have the connector to check on your car. There was a year or two where the connector is odd before ALDC II became the standard.

    Remember the code is only a symptom. Don't replace parts based on that. Use that to diagnose. My first real thought is the MAF sensor. Or the IAC may be sticking. Both of these are on the throttle body and can be removed. The MAF can be cleaned but the little wire is fragile. Use CRC cleaners that are for intake cleaning, such as CRC on the shelf at stores.

    Crankshaft sensor usually has people saying it won't restart right away. Yours is up there in miles thought. I'd have to go look for camshaft sensor symptoms. Yours may or may not fit.

    The check engine light code needs to be read first.

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

  • twohundredtwohundred Posts: 5
    I got some CRC Lectra parts cleaner and sprayed it into the connectors for the MAP sensor, Throttle control sensor and the Idle control sensor. This seems to have solved my problem. My check engine light no longer comes on and my car is no longer stalling.

    Thank you for your help,

    Two hundred Plus Guy
  • cgraesercgraeser Posts: 2
    I have a 99 buick lesabre custom 3.8 vin k with 112,000 miles on it and im getting a code for a multiple cylinder misfire ive cleaned my injectors replaced spark plugs and cables replaced ecm replaced maf sensor checked for vacum leaks and everything orignaly i was getting a low volatge for my maf sensor and i replaved it and it then read bank 1 and 2 lean and cylinder 1 and cylinder 4 misfire so i checked my fuel pressure and it was like 12 pounds so i replaced my fuel pump and same thing accept at first it was 48 pounds drove it to the store to have the codes cleared and it stalled out and wouldnt start back and i check my fuel pressure and was getting not a drop of fuel at the rail then all of a sudden bam it had pressure and it crank up and then die a few times then it would run with an erratic idle so i checked my fuel and one day I put my card in the gas pump and walked in to get some coffe and noticed that it took 14 gallons to fill up so my gas gage is wrong well after that it fixed my stall problem until it gets to half a tank but my lean codes and cylinder 1 and 4 codes went away but came back as a multiple random misfire and the car has no power even on flat ground ive just put so much work into it trouble shooting and money and still nothing idles good but give it a little throttel up to 3000 rpms and its starts missing again the check ingine light flashes let it idle on its own and it dont miss sounds good and runs good then put it in drive the rpms fall inbetween 0 and 1000 and starts missing and running very rough ive tried everything and could really use some help someone mentioned crank sensor and dont know if i can spend any more money on something that wont fix my car so9 any help will be greatly appreciated
  • voyager4voyager4 Posts: 2
    Hi, If you got yours to stop with just the cleaner sprayed on the connectors, you're lucky, I took mine to a shop where the owner read the codes and then he said that he just knew what to look at next, It was the MAF sensor, he tried cleaning it ( the two wires you see after removing it that is) but didn't work, I went to a salvage yard and got a used one for $ 20.00 it Runs Fine. Hope this helps :)
  • twohundredtwohundred Posts: 5
    Thanks for the message. I thought my problem was fixed. I found a used IAC sensor and placed it into my car. I didn't have any problems for about a week. I will try the MAF sensor and see if this makes in work again.


    Two Hundred
  • cgraesercgraeser Posts: 2
    Another thing you could do that fits alot of your symptoms is have your ecm checked by autozone they will do it for free and usually takes all of about 15 min to remove it and replace it with a few good tests if tests good check your crankshaft or camshaft position sensor make sure the wires are not crimped and that the connections are clean and tight even though alot of ppl report when bad that the car wont start until after it sits for a while is not always the case I was having the same problem andas u can see fro my post been changing stuff and everything and was told by a buick dealership to try it and It worked the stall and miss are both gone. but just something to try cause its free to test and it controls everything your replacing just as i was.
  • riteaidriteaid Posts: 2
    I have a 92 Buick lesabre and sometimes it won't start We have change the plugs and wires .we also have a new battery. It seems to only do it when it's hot. But no engine lights come on. It also has enough fluids. We think it might be the thermostat. What do you think? Also where is the thermostat?? have any pics?
  • I would go to the library and pick up a service manual on your car. There are at least two that are still out on that model Lesabre. I also go online and look at the parts on the Auto Zone website. Good Luck.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 21,319
    You don't mention the mileage but I'll guess it's over 150K miles...

    Check battery cables at both ends first. If it has the double layer positive cable check between the two positives. Pull the plastic on the copper cables back to be sure they are not corroded down into the cable.

    It might be a crankshaft position sensor, but people sometimes have stalling problems with those. But one symptom is they act up when hot for some people. Try pouring cold water on it--it's beside the crankshaft balancer and tucked behind the edge.

    Could be a contact or connection on the ESC beneath the coils. Some have found a ground wire in the connector that had poor contact.

    Could be fuel pump not pumping with enough pressure. Need pressure gauge and flow measuring capability to see if it pumps enough volume as well as at a high enough pressure.

    Camshaft position sensor may be off, but I think people say those set a code and light.

    Have you taken it to Autozone or Advance Auto to have the codes read. Don't buy anything based on codes; just get them and then go back and check.

    Also some people have had trouble with the buss ground in the door jamb under the driver's foot beside the A-pillar. If you're in an area where the snow and salt or lots of wet weather gets drops of water carried onto the carpet there as the feet go in and out--or the car leaks or the windows sometimes are left open, these corrode. Usually someone will have other symptoms that come and go with the corroded buss like power door locks work and then don't work or power windows or the AC controls cut in and out. link title

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

  • i back out of the drive way and started driving it it then died.i tryed to start it again but nothing happened it wont even turn over. i tryed a jumper cables and a different battery. it has a new starter and the battery was a new one. when i turn the key the lights turn on on the dash but thats it nothing else happens it dosent even crank. is this a security system problem with the key or is there a fuse problem. but what would cause it to die when driving and then not being able to start again
  • michaeltbmichaeltb Posts: 1
    Don’t know if anyone can help me on this, but here goes.
    I am the second owner of a 1997 Buick Le Saber Custom with (dont laugh) 240k, and it has been a great car until now.
    First off, three times of late,(last 30 days) when I turn the key to the on position at start a solenoid beside the glove box keeps rattling, and you can hear the fuel pump going, the fuel going through the rail on the engine, and there is good pressure at the relief/test valve, and returning to the tank, but the pump never quits. Nor will the engine fire on cranking. Is it cycling due to failure of the fuel pressure regulator on the rail? I have examined it for signs of fuel leakage in the stem and tube, but there is nothing there.
    Secondly, before this last bout of fuel cycling and no start of which it has yet to recover from, on our last drive we had a sudden period of high Rpm’s of around 3000, and I noticed a quick but massive discharge on the Alt gauge, check engine light was on and I had to actually hold it back from lunging, yet there was no power/poor acceleration when given the gas. I made it back into town, (4 miles) pulled in and shut it down at the grocery store, I restarted it right then, and it ran at the normal Rpm’s. When we came out of the store it did it’s clicking no fuel routine, I checked all wire terminals, at some point it decided to start again and get us home driving normaly.
    Again upon our arrival home I restarted it several times with no noticed problems.
    The next morning, once again nothing but the solenoid clicking and fuel cycling through the rail.
    Is it a brain box issue? Or fuel regulator?
    If I could just get it started I could drive it to a code reader, and I might get a solid lead, but I hesitate paying to get it towed to a service station, as I am a family of four w/ limited income and am more of a “DIY” person.
    Any ideas on this would be appreciated, as I would love to get a few more cheap miles out of this great Buick.
  • Same symptoms on my 87 and it was the tps (throttle positioning sensor) got it auto zone for 30.00, runs fine now, Eldon
  • Just replaced the tps (throttle positioning sensor) for 30.00 at the auto zone. was not starting and now it is working great, Eldon
  • cheap fix. tps( throttle positioning sensor) for 30.00 at auto zone, runs fine now,
  • I have the same buick, replaced the maf, (mass air flow sensor) and the tps( throttle control sensor) tps for 30.. and the maf for 60.00 at the auto zone. now its running fine, the tps showed a code 21 for your info, Eldon. have other codes if needed for other problems boys
  • I own a 1993 buick lesabre with 150,000 miles on it which was well cared for until i put it away for a year. Once I got back and changed the battery out (forgot to disconnect cables) everything ran fine except for a permanent check engine light. Then it began stalling when coasting around 20-35mph, but would be fine on the hwy. It also had trouble starting every so often. Both problems got more frequent, and I took it in. The shop replaced some vacuum tubes and couldn't get the check engine light off but the problem remained. A buddy recommended that I replace the throttle position sensor which i did three weeks ago. That solved the problem (and the check engine light) for a while but, even though the connector that connects to the TPS was snug, there was no clip to hold it in. Now the problems are reoccurring much more often, but the check engine isn't on anymore. A buddy thinks the new TPS has been compromised because the connection was teased, but it seemed well seated, even without the clip. Does it sound like it's still the TPS, or might there be another problem in the spark or fuel delivery system? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
  • cfd911cfd911 Posts: 1
    hi, i have a 1999 lesabre 3.8l 92,000 miles car runs great with 1 exception, when cold the car starts just fine after i drive it for about a half hour , i shut it off if i come out an hour later from sitting the car has difficulty starting about 5 seconds of cranking then it starts and stumbles for a sec then thens runs fine, good plugs and wires need help any ideas to lead me to a solution???
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 21,319
    Leaking injector?

    But check fuel pressure regulator hose on front of motor for gasoline in the vacuum tube? The fuel pressure regulators sometimes fail and let fuel into the intake manifold. There was a recall on some models because a backfire could occur which might split the ABS plastic manifold. I do not know if that affects your year. Check the NHSTA site for recalls.

    Also try turning the key to ON for two seconds until the fuel pump cuts off and then OFF and back to ON 3 times to thoroughly prime the fuel system. You might have a weakened fuel pump or pressure valve. Has the car been driven low on fuel? That's hard on the pumps in some models.

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

  • The car was running good for a while but now it is stalling and smoking but would crank back up till it just died on me.When it stalled i would pump the gas to help it crank but now it doesnt even sound like it wants to crank.The oil pressure seems to be low and it is running hot.A poof of smoke came from the motor the last time i was trying to make it crank.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 21,319
    If the smoking is white smoke that may be coolant (water) being burned through the cylinders. You need to find out immediately if it is. It could be the upper intake manifold leaking coolant internally. If so, the oil must be changed because coolant in the oil is death on the bearings. If the oil has a chocolate milk look or whitish cast, that's likely to be coolant.

    If the motor does not even turn over, you could have a bad starter motor or a bad connection. The most likely is the cable at the battery on the positive connection. There are two cables, one on top of the other. It must be taken off and cleaned with the plastic cover pulled back.

    Turn ON the key and turn the automatic air conditioner to off. Then turn the key OFF. Now you're ready to remove the negative cable from the battery. Then with it off, remove the positive cable. You'll probably find a white powder between the cables on the positive post of the battery.

    If you hear nothing when you turn the key to CRANK, not even an initial thunk from the starter, your starter could be bad. If the headlights don't dim when that happens, it indicates a bad connection or bad starter.

    IF the headlights dim, that means the starter is drawing current, but your motor could be hydrolocked, a cylinder has water in it and the starter can't crank it.

    If there's water in the cylinder get the old oil out and run motor with new oil briefly to get good oil to bearings. Then repair car.

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

  • What do you mean by then repair?
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 21,319
    If you find the motor is not turning because it's hydrolocked, you need to repair the UIM by replacing and repair the LIM gaskets.

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

  • The motor is turning over but it will not crank.It sounds like it wants to but it doesnt.What could be the problem?
  • I forgot to mention white smoke came out of the tail pipe when i cranked it one time.I seen a poof a white smoke today trying to crank it.
  • son has 1993 buick lesabre. starts fine and will move if very little gas is applied. when stepping on gas the car bucks and wants to stall. car has 92000miles on it.any suggestions?
  • if you have a 3.8L engine usual the air pluenum goes bad and allows antifreeze into the cylinders the engine needs to be replaced
  • if you have a 3.8 L engine the air plenum usually goes bad leaking antifreeze into the cylinders and engine needs to be replaced
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