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I had a 2005 Lacrosse CXL, bought used off someone else's lease with about 18000 miles. I had similar problems from the get-go. The car would turn on in what I called either a "normal" mode - everything running as it should - or "bad" mode (my name sanitized for public consumption). When the car was young, "bad" mode started as just being sluggish on the accelerator. As the miles increased, "bad" mode got worse - transmission started to shake the car, power dropped dramatically on hills, hard accelerations, etc, sounded/felt like an old choked engine running too rich. I could usually suspect "bad" mode within a short distance of driving, and tried to clear it before going anywhere where it might have caused problems. The car never stalled entirely on me, but got close, at which time I traded it in for a non-gm vehicle. I too had dealers look at it, who could never replicate the problem. Part of the problem troubleshooting my car was that it seemed to occur randomly. Over time, it seemed more likely to turn on in "bad" mode if there was a drastic change in weather and/or humidity since it had last been run.
I think the problem is software/sensor related. I think the car's computers initial boot is defective, either because of a software issue or a marginal sensor issue, and the transmission is just being run a slight bit out of sequence. When my car/problem was young, I was able to clear "bad" mode by turning the car off, removing keys, opening and closing the driver door, and starting over. Just turning the car on and off did not do the trick. Long association with software engineers leads me to believe that opening/closing doors leads to a different/deeper reset of the electronics, rather than cycling key on and off, which may leave some of the electronics powered for several minutes (think of the radio and exterior lights held after removing keys, what else stays electrified?). That said, running the car with the transmission operating in an incorrect mode will eventually lead to mechanical damage and by the time I got rid of the car, I believe that had been accomplished. The problem returned ever more frequently and more severely. Maybe this message will help someone else nurse their vehicle along until they can replace it. Maybe with all their ongoing recalls GM will finally step up and resolve the problem. (I had to put a joke in here somewhere)
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