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Buick LeSabre Starting/Stalling Problems



  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 21,500
    edited July 2010
    >Is this normal?

    Nope. I can't think of any leSabre or related car since 1992 where the 3 coils all went bad at once other than the ones that had all three coils in a single unit by Magnavox I believe.. Did you diagnose that or did a mechanic shop diagnose it? I would be suspicious. Usually one coil gives problems when it is HOT with a weakened spark and strange symptoms which eventually trace to the coil.

    The ignition modules sometimes have failed, but I would recall it's usually at more miles. However the car is 10 or 11 years old. Sometimes connections at the end of the module give trouble with some corrosion. Check those and check the connector wires individually by visual inspection.

    >Is there anything else I should be looking for?

    Possibly a new mechanic. ;) :blush: Were AC Delco plugs put in. Many people believe the Bosch plugs especially don't work well with the GM system.

    What symtpoms are you noticing?

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

  • bobbydingbobbyding Posts: 7
    edited July 2010
    Hi Folks,
    I have a 1997 Buick Lasabre that has a stalling/starting problem with the following symptoms:

    It always starts fine for the first start of the day. In the first hour of running it sometimes stalls, usually when I'm at a light and the motor is idling. When it stalls it won't restart for 10-30 minutes, but always eventually restarts. While it is dead, the motor turns over fine (starter working) and all the lights are normal. This typically only happens during the first hour of running. The problem never seems to happen after driving for more than an hour. If I'm on the highway shortly after starting it (from a cold start), I can feel the motor drop out for a brief moment, but it picks up again in a second and continues running fine the rest of the day.

    Also, sometimes when I make a quick run to the store (shutting off the engine), it won't start when I come out of the store until I wait the usual 10-30 minutes. Then it starts rite up.

    I had this problem last year and my mechanic could not find the issue, even after 4 trips to him. Nor could the dealership, as it always ran great while they had it. While in for a different repair with the mechanic, he called to say they thought they had found the stalling problem... That being my fuel pump wasn't holding pressure. So he put in a new one and the problem went away for 8 months till it started all over again a month ago. Once when it died last week I checked and I could hear the fuel pump running and stop when it reached pressure. I also verified there was pressure by venting some fuel at the nipple on the fuel regulator mounted on top of the motor. I also checked the vacuum line going to the FPR and it was dry inside (no fuel leaking out into the vacuum line), so I don't think it's a fuel issue.

    Last week I picked up a cheap spark tester and when it died I put the tester in line with one of the plugs. There was no spark. It seems that when this problem occurs, I loose the spark (ignition) to the cylinders. I did also put the tester in line when the car was running fine and verified the tester works, as I could see the spark.

    The next time it died I reseated the harness connector to the ignition module (module mounted under the coils). Even though the connectors looked fine, I hit them with some contact cleaner. It did no good. I then waited 20 minutes, and it started rite up, as it usually does.

    I also had a new ignition key made, in case the key wasn't making proper contact. It didn't help.

    Does anybody have any ideas what might be causing this? I've read that the crank sensor could cause stalling issues. Would it cause the issues I've described? Could low fuel pressure stop the ignition from firing? What other things might I look for. I'm guessing a bad sensor, bad module or loose connection, but I don't know where to look from here. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 21,500
    edited July 2010
    Crankshaft position sensor is a good candidate. Locate where it is at the edge of the harmonic balancer with the two wire connector. When the engine dies, throw cold water onto the sensor area. See if that changes the clearance enough that it again senses the manetic pulses.

    It's recommended to change the camshaft position sensor at the same time.

    You did it right by diagnosing for spark when it died. Also for fuel pump problems, hooking up a fuel pressure gauge and driving around with it duct taped to the outside of the windshield until it dies will diagnoses fickle fuel pump problems where the pressure varies. A new fuel pump isn't always a good fuel pump. Did they put on an AC Delco? What I don't like in your description is that the fuel pump seemed to fix the stall for 8 months. Was it just different weather? Or did you have two problems?

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

  • bobbydingbobbyding Posts: 7
    edited July 2010
    Thanks for responding! I used to work at a GM dealership for a couple years back in the early 1980's as a mechanic, but ultimately went with a different career. Cars have gotten more complicated since then, but I still remember some basics. I decided to try and diagnose this myself since I cannot make it fail for my mechanic(s).

    I will try the cold water bit next time around (that's a great trick) and see what happens. Is there a connector for it outside the balancer, or is it inside the assembly? And where is the camshaft sensor located? I don't know the make of the fuel pump. Would the spark cut out if the pressure drops too low? I'll look for a fuel pressure gauge this weekend. I was wondering about the 8 months myself. It may be that when they installed it they disturbed some wiring that is causing the issue. When I brought it to them initially it was brought in several times over the course of two months, as they could not get the car to stall while they had it. After each time I picked it up it would be fine for a week and then fail again. I was thinking that with each trip they went in jiggling wires, etc to make it fail and by doing so they may have temporarily fixed a bad connection. It was my theory at the time. Luckily they did not charge me for these visits, as they couldn't find anything wrong (they're pretty good about that). It could be the weather. I'm in Florida, and the problem seems to come on during the summers. Which down here means lots of humidity to promote corrosion. I tried turning off the A/C in case that was causing it, but that didn't help.

    It could be that there are/were two problems. There was another symptom last year that hasn't happened this year (so I didn't mention it). That is occasionally when I would get in to start it, the engine would not turn over. All the normal lights would be on (dash) but no starter. Not even a solenoid clicking. When I'd put the headlights on they came on full bright, so the battery was OK (it had a new battery then, and I put another new one in last month) If I waited 20 minutes and try again, it started rite up, Back then I hadn't thought of listening for the fuel pump before starting it. Perhaps the new fuel pump fixed that problem and the present one is another.

    Thanks again... I'll let you know what I discover.

  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 21,500
    The connector for the crankshaft position sensor (CPS) is sticking out past the balancer.

    I have read a couple of H-body owners saying they found poor connections in wiring to the fuel pump. Is there a connector back closer to the tank? Like on top of the tank?

    I would see if I can borrow a fuel pressure gauge from one of the parts stores that loan tools. But ideal would be to watch the pressure while you drive. I have read many reports in forums where Bonneville owners have found failing fuel pumps within a year of replacing them. Same goes for China wheel hub bearings.

    I had fuel pump replaced couple summers back. The quality mechanical only shop would not put on anything but AC Delco. He had had too many failures with other, even respected, off brands. He does similar things with various parts for various brands. He keeps track of parts he's had to replace again under his warranty or even later.

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

  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 21,500
    When it does the stall, have you ever noticed the tachometer to see if it is already at zero because the electrical signals from the CPS are gone or if it coasts down as the engine slows to a stop? Try watching for the tach action when it happens, if possible.

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

  • bobbydingbobbyding Posts: 7
    Still looking for a fuel pressure gauge that fits that nipple on the FPR. As far as the tach goes, usually it stalls pretty quick. By the time I notice, it's already dead.
    I will try to grab a look at the tach next time it stalls from idle. Usually I'm too busy nervously watching traffic at the intersections, just in case!!

    It's a very odd issue. Today I was driving somewhere (first 10 minutes of running today) and the motor cut out for about 1/2 second, then recovered, as I was not at idle. Had I been at a light idling, it would have died completely. Sometimes when it dies on the road it restarts immediately if I don't turn the key all the way off. If I turn off the key it's a 10-30 minute wait. Its M/O is to stall or not start within 30 minutes of first starting it from a cold start. It always cold starts fine. I cannot remember it failing after 30 minutes of straight running (no turning it off).

    I'm also gathering bits to make a flexible squirt gun of sorts to shoot the crank sensor with. Looking at that area I found that I cannot directly hit it with water unless I can do a hose twist with a water bottle. I'll have that together soon enough.

    Thanks for your help!!

  • I am auto challenged and think I got "taken" at the dealer the other day. My car intermittently stalls when driving slowly after having driven for a while, and once while stopped at a stoplight. It seems to start back up immediately if I have only driven a short distance around 1-2 miles, but after 5+ miles, it either stops while I am driving, or it will not start back up if I go shop and let it sit for about 1/2 hour. When I come back out to start it, it doesn't start back up but, instead, jumps all over like possessed by a demon or bucks like a bucking bronco - very bouncy and noisy. If I wait another 1/2 hour, it will then start again. Yesterday, I got stuck again and I turned it over about 50 times before it would start. The dealer I took it to, said it was the catalytic converter (note: car only has 85K miles) and charged me $1,400 for a new one. BUT, the problem is still there. In fact, right after I picked it up, I drove for 5 miles, went shopping, and it would not start when I came out. I took it back to the dealer who had it 5 days and could not recreate the problem. Basically told me I was nuts and that the car was running like a charm. Personally, I think it is dangerous and I no longer trust my vehicle. Can't wait to stall while on the freeway, and get rear ended. Oh, and the metal on the key is sometimes very hot when I remove it from the ignition, and the radio cuts out and CLR appears on the digital screen. My GPS would not work when plugged into the socket by the ashtray/radio area. Can this be related to why it won't start? Even so, I don't that that would cause it to stall while driving. I'm ready to trade this in on a foreign car. Any ideas on what is the problem??? THANKS so much.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 21,500
    edited July 2010
    It sounds like a fuel pump stopping after the car is driven a while or more likely a crankshaft position sensor. At 85K miles that is young for a crankshaft position sensor.

    Did you buy the car used?

    I would question how they diagnosed the catalytic converter. I'd be asking them to take it off since it didn't fix the problem.

    The way to diagnose crankshaft position sensor is to keep a spark plug ready and when it won't start, take off the plug wire and stick in the old sparkplug and have someone crank the car to see if the sparkplug sparks when it's lying ont he engine metal. Then you know there is no spark and you have to find out why.

    It might be the spark control plate that's under the three coils.

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

  • dixidixi Posts: 1
    My Buick started missing at 50mph only, then it missed at all speeds. Finally, it missed terribly and then died while driving. It now will not crank and the window/doors will not work unless it cranks over. It will crank over and start and run approx., 06 sec. then only turns over. While it's doing this electricals will not work. I'm femal, live alone, and this is my only means of transport. I need assistance. Thanks
  • I have a 2003 Lesabre with the same problem and I am trying to figure it out. After you fill the tank it stalls for the first few minutes until you get the tank down a little. I think it must have something to do with the evaperative emissions system. What did you find out on your 04? I would appreciate any help you can provide. Thanks
  • rallyveerallyvee Posts: 10
    edited August 2010
    I have a 1996 LeSabre that had similar problems. One day the car finally just died, and it turned out to be the fuel pump. That's definitely the first thing I would suspect, with problems like you're having.

    @wyofarmer: That's another problem I was having, when the fuel pump was going bad. It got to the point where I dreaded filling up the tank, because the car would start running poorly again. For some reason, using fuel injector cleaning fluid would alleviate the problem, until the pump finally just stopped working entirely. Try using a fuel injector fluid that also cleans the carburetor (I found those formulas worked the best), until you can get the problem fixed.
  • I have a 1993 Buick Lesabre. The body has 114 but has newer engine and transmission. I left for work and turned the key to my surprise.....Silence. The lights were bright, and the radio played. I went the next day and checked the starter, battery, cables, and connections. All were in great condition. Then I went and had another key made thinking it would be the Key Pass bar in the key. Still nothing. It wont crank over, not even the clicking noise you here from the solinoid. You do hear the fuel injectors kick on but they kick back off within a few seconds but that is it. The security light blinks but does not go off. I checked all the fuses and seen one where you can't see the inside. I was thinking the Ignition tumbler or the wires going down the steering shaft. I am at my wits end. If anyone has a clue......please help. I am losing out on work cause of this.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 21,500
    edited September 2010
    If the security light keeps flashing for 3 minutes after you turn the key 3 times and it doesn't get the right reading from the resistor in the chip, you probably need to clean the key resistor with a pencil eraser on both sides. See if that makes contact with the metal prongs in the key cylinder.

    Dip the key in alcohol an dinsert quickly into the cylinder to hope to clean off the contacts IF they are dirty.

    But most likely you need to install a bypass resistor set that you build from resistors at Radio Shack. Measure the resistance of your key resistor and see which of the 15 used it matches.

    Insert the resistor link in the two fine wires inside the orange conduit that looks like a wire at the connector on the steering column. Use the wires going to the connector to short across with the bypass.

    If you had not said the security light flashes for 3 minutes and then is ready for another key try, I would have said have someone tap the solenoid on the starter with a hammer while someone turns the key.

    But the flashing light means your wires in the steering column have broken in two from the flexing of the tilt wheel...

    Search for other info on the net with VATS, vehicle anti theft system.

    And places that install alarm systems get the resistors in packs to use to bypass the GM setup. You might know someone there who is used to doing the cutting and splicing for you --without installing their alarm. Just bypass it and the theft system is gone, but your car will start. No one will know your theft system has been bypassed.

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

  • Hello imidazol97,
    It's been a couple months since I posted about my issues with the car not starting and stalling (starter cranks, but no ignition). It's been working well, and I wanted to wait a good period of time before reporting back, just in case. Your suggestion of the crank sensor brought me to the right area for that particular problem. One day when the car wouldn't start I gave the wires going to the crank sensor a gentle but firm tug and it started right up and ran for two weeks without issue (it used to fail at least once a day). Then it did some sputtering on my way home one night after a couple weeks. I repeated the tug on the wires and again it ran without issue for another month before I had to do it again. So I think there is a connection issue there. The next time it is at my mechanic I will as them to check or replace the sensor and wires. Till then I don't mind having to jiggle them once a month. At least I know where that problem is coming from.

    However the other symptom has returned where when I turn the key there is no starter. Similar to the recent posts from others. Turn key, dashboard lights stay on, but no starter. If I play with the shift lever and flip the key repeatedly it will eventually kick to life. Sometimes it takes 5-10 minutes. I haven't taken notice of the security light during these episodes.The next time it happens I'll take better notes on that and other lights. One thing I notice is that the car is usually on an incline (nose up) when it happens. Sometimes just a slight incline. It has never happened when the car is level. I'm wondering if it has something to do with the shift linkage when it's in park. Doesn't the car need to be in park to start? Maybe the contact that tells it it is in park is not making proper contact with the weight of the car rolling back twisting the linkage just a bit. Just a thought. I tried a brand new key from the dealership, but that didn't work. This problem used to happen only once a month last year. Then this week it happened three times (always on an incline). I'll report back with the status of the lights. Maybe it will help somebody else.

  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 21,500
    The car should crank in P and N. Put your foot on the brake and move the shift lever around and from P to N while the key is turned to Crank. See if you get contact in between.

    The safety switch is on top of the transmission where the linkage goes in. You might tug around on it and check the connection there.

    But watch the security light. If the VATS system is given wrong resistance readings three times to Crank, it flashes for 3 minutes before allowing another reading.

    Remember the wires inside the steering column that connect to the key cylinder at the top may shift when the car is in a different position. The tiny copper threads in the wires may make contact then and not in other positions that shifts their weight slightly.

    Also notice if the security light comes on while driving and goes off. That would indicate there is a problem with the resistance readings. Some people have noted that symptom.

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

  • bob252bob252 Posts: 48
    Hey there, I need to find the location for the fan relay (radiator cooling fan) albeit it is an Olds LSS they are the same, is it in the maxi fuse center or inside the car at the right side kick panel? You are the most significant and knowlegeable tech here for those cars, as far as I am concerned. (not that the rest aren't) but any time I read here you go through a great deal of effort for free to those in need these days, and I cannot thank you enough Please tell me from left to right if in the maxi center, or from top to bottom inside the car. I know there is an isse I got a permanent code that stated the relay, I cleared it, but didn't drive the car long enough to see if will re-occur. ( the mice love this car, one commited suicide in it by getting himself jamned between the actuator controls, I found him there due to the wonderful fragrance) Must be the leather upholstry??? Thanks Bob 252.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 21,500
    edited October 2010
    Not sure what year this is for, but it should be close to right. you want the cooling fan relays on the driver's side.

    Remember that several of these relays are the same part number. So if another one such as horn or AC compressor are the same part number, you can interchange them to test one that you believe is faulty.


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

  • bob252bob252 Posts: 48
    I don't know if my 93 is the same, but it had the same problem, it turned out to be the crank sensor, after it was replaced the problem went away, also my 95 started acting out in a similar way, that one turned out to be the security issue from the 210,000 miles on it, but after some time and using the other key the light would stay on and there would be no problem with it dying out, don't know what else to offer, but both of those guys offering info are Excellent in their knowlege of these vehicles. I only hope that this helps. Bob.
  • bob252bob252 Posts: 48
    Thank you so very much Imadoza, also if you are still here I did send another querie again today as it did not post for some reason, thanks again this info is not available anywhere including our local Libraries. Oh and about my rodent friends, Dryer Sheets??? the car is used daily. Bob.
  • bob252bob252 Posts: 48
    Thanks Imadoz, I forgot to includethe year in my second post it's a 97 and only 4 relays are present, but now that I am armed I can change them out with some spares that I do have, I can't thank you enough as I am retired and don't have much cash, stay well..Bob 252.
  • bob252bob252 Posts: 48
    Hi All, I have a code P1651, which was read from my Inova 3100 reader, the code in the book suggests it to be a relay, the car is a 97 Olds LSS, I also looked at some other sites to find what this code is and found other info that is or is not correct, the statement there was PSP input malfuncton, of course the engine light is on. I have replaced the relays and this did not correct the problem, so where do I go from here? Thanks Bob.
  • I think I have a similar problem in a 2002 Buick Century. Starts and idles fine but will not rev. Have changed numerous parts including the computer and have run diagnostics which did not give any codes. I am now suspecting that it is in limp mode. Do you have any suggestions?
  • Your car and mine are on the same platform/engine if you have the 3800..Check your battery connections..the posts in particular. I have just changed the MAF sensor,throttle sensor ,harmonic balancer,battery.. And unfortunately the check engine light remains on...and there are no codes when it is scannned
  • bob252bob252 Posts: 48
    Hi All, this whole problem with my car just appeared, and while changing the relays, which was not the problem at all, as a "P" code is permanent, I found one of those rubber "T's" that was split in half, I replaced it and also from the GM dealer, guess what? everything including my Overdive problem went away. By the way all of the Big Olds Buick and Pontiac cars only use the 3.8 engine.and anyone who owns one that has properly been maintained will tell you of the great fuel mileage and the over 200,000 miles they will return to you for yur investment, and that part was $3.33 + tax amazing isin't it.
  • My mother-in-laws 1995 Buick Regal's battery dies after it has sat for a few days. The battery is fairly new and once the car gets started, the battery charges and alll is fine until the car sits again. I think there is a small load on the battery when the car os off. I can put an ampmeter on the battery and pull fuses to see when the (assumed) load disapears. I was just wondering if someone knows of a problem like this which is common to these cars.
  • rayznrayzn Posts: 3
    I have a 97 Buick Lesabre. I just tried to start my car and it acted like it was out of gas so I got 2 gallons of gas and put it in there. Now my car occasionally will start but shuts off almost instantly after. I recently hit a tire on the interstate it beat on my undercarriage pretty badly. I have been hearing a noise like a bang on the back of my trunk, like someone is closing a door right by my car while driving and sometimes right after I shut off my car. Any ideas or what other info might be needed?
  • rayznrayzn Posts: 3
    Well after all that it was as simple as the inline fuel filter figured i would post incase others have this problem. Thanks for the help everyone...
  • ma56ma56 Posts: 2
    i have a 2002 buick lesabre also had same symtoms ,car was took to auto zone and checked on scanner, they said it was the mass air flow sensor, put new one on but no change.i then started to study my own repair manual and come up with the crankshaft sensor,changed that ,fixed the problem , hope this helps.
  • How tough was it to replace the crank sensor? Was a wheel puller the only special tool required?


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