NHTSA — Engine And Engine Cooling Problems


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 3
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
49,299 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

1997 Buick LeSabre engine problems

engine problem

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1997 Buick LeSabre Owner Comments

problem #16

Jan 012009


  • 153,000 miles


The contact owns a 1997 Buick Lesabre. The contact smelled a very strong odor of gasoline. In addition, the steering wheel would shake while driving at any speed. While performing a routine inspection of the vehicle, the contact noticed that half of the radiator fluid was missing. He added more radiator fluid and noticed that fluid continue to disappear in the vehicle every four days. After numerous refills of radiator fluid, he took the vehicle to a dealer and was informed that the upper intake manifold needed to be replaced. In addition, the water pump needed to be replaced and the main gas line was leaking, which caused the strong odor. The manufacturer stated that the VIN was excluded from NHTSA campaign id number 96V116000 (fuel system, gasoline:fuel injection system). The contact believes that the vehicle should be included in the recall. The vehicle is currently at the dealer and has not been repaired. The current and failure mileages were 153,000.

- Woodstock, GA, USA

problem #15

Jan 232009


  • 13,000 miles
The contact owns a 1997 Buick Lesabre. When the contact placed the key into the ignition and attempted to start the vehicle, the engine exploded with a very loud noise. He shut off the vehicle and checked the engine. When he opened the hood, he noticed that the intake manifold and the engine cover were shattered into many pieces. The vehicle was towed to a repair shop and the mechanic stated that he never saw a vehicle with this type of defect. The manufacturer stated that the VIN was excluded from NHTSA campaign id number 96V116000 (fuel system, gasoline:fuel injection system). The contact believes that the vehicle should be included in the recall since the failures are identical. The vehicle is still at the shop and has not been repaired. The current and failure mileages were 13,000.

- New Albeny, IN, USA

problem #14

Feb 242008

LeSabre 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,000 miles
The contact owns a 1997 Buick Lesabre. The driver noticed that the vehicle started to smoke. The fire department was notified. The vehicle was consumed with fire and was totaled. The contact believed that the fire originated under the hood. There were no injuries. The purchase date was not available. The current and failure mileages were about 95,000.

- Lake Toxaway, NC, USA

problem #13

Oct 032006

LeSabre 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 155,483 miles


: the contact stated while driving 60 mph on the highway, the vehicle overheated and was maneuvered off the road on two occasions on the same day. The vehicle was turned off to cool down, while water and anti-freeze was added to the radiator. After the second occurrence, the vehicle was towed to an independent repair shop who replaced the plenum.

- Johnson City, NY, USA

problem #12

Oct 022005

LeSabre 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,104 miles
While driving 30 mph the check engine light came and the engine overheated. This was the first incident of this type. The contact owns a Buick Lesabre that has a plastic intake called a plenum. This device cracked and allowed engine coolant to be mixed with the oil. This caused a vapor lock. Now, two of the cylinders show zero compression, and a third shows a pressure of 60 pounds. The engine was totaled and must be replaced. Vehicle was towed to an automobile repair shop, and the mechanic made these terminations. The contact was referred to a Buick dealer, who said they do not feel that this was a manufacturing defect. At this time, no repairs or corrections have been made.

- Memphis, TN, USA

problem #11

Jun 202005


  • miles
1997 Buick Lesabre backfires at startup, engine light illuminates, and the vehicle stalls without warning. There was a whining noise when the vehicle was started and rear brake noise was intermittent. The consumer requested info in reference to warranties related to his make/model.

- Colonia, NJ, USA

problem #10

May 202004


  • miles


While driving vehicle stalled. Consumer tried to restart vehicle, but was unable to do so. Consumer had the vehicle towed to the dealer for inspection, and mechanic could not duplicate the problem.

- Morganton, NC, USA

problem #9

Nov 152002


  • Automatic transmission
  • 44,800 miles
Mechanic found engine coolent leaking from the upper intake manifold, which is *plastic*. the coolent was also leaking into the engine oil. I stated that such a major deteriortion or failure after only 44,800 miles is absurd and ludicrous.

- Brookfield, IL, USA

problem #8

Mar 242004

(reported on)


  • 59,000 miles
The mechanic noticed a leak in the upper plenum manifold. Upon performing a routine service, the upper plenum manifold was leaking antifreeze into the engine. The antifreeze was mixing with the engine oil. This would have resulted in the engine seizing up if the leaked had gone unnoticed. The dealership is going to replace the plenum manifold with a newer designed manifold. The engine is a 3800 series.

- Roseville, MN, USA

problem #7

Jan 272004


  • Automatic transmission
  • 47,435 miles
Coolant was leaking from the head gasket. An independent dealer replaced the intake manifold.

- Rochester, NY, USA

problem #6

Jun 162003

(reported on)

LeSabre 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


Vehicle exploded and burned at start up.

- Frankfort, KY, USA

problem #5

Jun 042003

(reported on)

LeSabre 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
At start up, the vehicle engine exploded and caught on fire. When the hood was opened, red flames were shooting from a hole that burned on a gray cover in the engine.

- Groesbeck, TX, USA

problem #4

Sep 302002

LeSabre 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,963 miles
Engine coolant destroyed engine due to the degradation of upper intake mainifold materials around the egr stove pipe. Without warning(no warning lights went on) while on the road coolant entered the pistons through the degradated upper intake manifold and caused engine failure. This could have caused a major accident as power was lost and speed dramatically dropped. Seems to be obvious engine design flaw in 3800 V-6 engines produced by GM in Buick lasabres, riveras, regals, Oldsmobile 98S, 88S. Intrigue, Pontiac Bonneville, Grand Prix, & Chevrolet luminas, monte carlos over a period of years dating from 1995-1998 when they changed the manifold design. A service bulletin by GM #01-06-01-007A in July 18, 2001 indicated the GM is aware of defect and has since produced a different manifold to replace and repair problem but will not stand behind these engines when they fail without warning. GM has been uncooperative in this matter. All repairs to this car are documented with biliings, etc by certified GM service dept. Including oil changes and preventitive maintenance. This was a well maintained vehicle with a service history that can be documented. I have pictures of the inside of the engine where damage occurred.the GM service dept. That replaced damaged engine indicated that they had 3 other vehicles with the same engine damaged because of coolant leak through the degradation of the intake manifold in that one month time frame. This is a small dealership and they indicated that this was a indicator of a major problem with this component.

- Tyler, MN, USA

problem #3

Dec 022002


  • miles
Consumer stated that while driving at any speed the engine light comes on and will stay on the remainder of the time the vehicle is being operated. Dealer notified.

- Irvine, KY, USA

problem #2

Sep 162002

(reported on)

LeSabre 6-cyl

  • miles
Consumer states, since purchase of vehicle, it has sporadically stalled out 10 times. 2 dealerships diagnosed via computer but advised that they cannot diagnose the problem without being able to duplicate it. Consumer is concerned that the problem could potentially cause a rear-end collision.

- Bellingham, WA, USA

problem #1

Feb 222000


  • miles
Engine plenum failed causing coolant to leak into the engine causing damage to the engine.

- Langhorne, PA, USA

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