NHTSA — Engine And Engine Cooling: Engine Problems

1998 Buick LeSabre (Page 1 of 2)


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 5
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
45,473 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.

1998 Buick LeSabre engine problems

engine problem

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1998 Buick LeSabre Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #40

Mar 182009


  • 41,000 miles


Bought a used (2 owner) Buick Lesabre in Dec '08 having 37,428. In early March, '09, after less than 4000 miles, started hearing a brief gurgling when engine turned off. In mid-March, while pulling onto a highway from a slight upward grade the vehicle lost power, and a drive train vibration took place for a few seconds....nearly causing an oncoming truck to collide with us.took vehicle into a national franchised transmission dealer for checkup...transmission checked ok. However, technician discovered radiator fluid in manifold intake area. Suspecting leaking intake manifold seal and/or cracked intake manifold cover. Need to use the vehicle, but have to wait for repair until money can be put together. Am a disabled ex marine, vietnam vet.. shouldn't have to put up with this problem, especially when it looks like a very prevalent one, based on what is on the net. Replacement part is only $140 through a national parts company. The auto shops are quoting over $800 to fix. C'mon, let's get something done about this before someone is killed!!! haven't you noticed the power failures in some of the reports??I would think GM would do a volunteer recall, rather than risk reputation, and consumer life&limb. The problem is that GM was using havelin's 'orange' antifreeze (dextrol) and it was faulty. It was congealing in the engine, disrupting coolant flow, thereby causing overheating enough to blow intake manifolds and/or gaskets........seems the 8 auto tech's I've talked to over the past week know this. So, why don't the industry and gov."experts""?"

- Lyman, SC, USA

problem #39

May 172005

LeSabre 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 48,840 miles
My wife drives a 1998 Buick Lesabre. She has a disability and is pacemaker-dependent. On 5-17-2005 she was enroute on the highway toward our town in the Buick when it started running hot. Fortunately, she was able to make it back to our town, where she then pulled over in a wal-mart parking lot. However, she became very stressed over the situation because the temperature guage had gone well into the red but she was afraid to pull over for fear of becoming stranded on the highway. As it turns out, the cause of this problem is a failed plenum, an issue which occurs frequently with the GM 3800 engine. I submit to you that this problem is well-known to the manufacturer, the NHTSA, and many mechanics and repair shops. The safety problem comes from the fact that (as far as I am aware) there have been no warnings issued to consumers who own a vehicle with the GM 3800 series II engine. The potential for situations to occur much worse than ours is not only likely, but it is a guaranteed event. My only recourse at this point is to file a complaint with the NHTSA, a complaint which I feel should be classified as a safety issue. These engine failures are not just merely a 'consumer misfortune', but will become the underlying cause for inumerable road hazards for the car's owners as well as other drivers. The problem is due to an engineering design flaw (materials used) and future safety problems (including loss of life) can be avoided. This issue should be addressed by the NHTSA.

- Crestview, FL, USA

problem #38

Mar 042005

LeSabre 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 71,000 miles
Vehicle stalled. Driver pulled over. Driver was unable to restart vehicle, and had it towed to dealer, and mechanic determined that engine needed to be replaced. The Chevrolet dealer told the consumer that water got into the engine block and locked it up. They removed and replaced the(manifold) plenum with all new gaskets, new oil, anti freeze and new spark plugs.

- Hoover, AL, USA

problem #37

Jan 012005

LeSabre 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 58,486 miles


1998 Buick Lesabre. Plenum gasket on the intake manifold fails and allows coolant to get into engine. Then engine dies in the road causing people to slam on breaks. No wrecks. This is a well know problem with Lesabre's but Buick has failed to correct the problem. I had to pay $1200 to fix car and it now probably has engine damage. I would like Buick to come forward with this and let people know about it. This has to stop!

- Plano, TX, USA

problem #36

Dec 292004

LeSabre 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,483 miles
The check engine light came on in my 1998 Buick Lesabre and I pulled over to discover that there was low levels of coolant. It had just been checked 2 months earlier at an oil change and the week brfore when I got gas. I added coolant and got back on the road. After 5 miles the car quit running in heavy traffic. I had it towed to a Buick dealer who diagnosed the problem as a failed plenum that allowed coolant to foul the plugs. The dealer replaced the plenum, fouled plugs, coolant, and oil for $800 dollars.

- Ann Arbor, MI, USA

problem #35

Dec 132004

LeSabre 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,827 miles
Vehicle returned for inspection with regard to 04V090 12/13/04 complaints poor performance, fuel economy, hard starting, and use of dexcool anti-freeze since recall performed. Decool anti-freeze entering the intake manifold of engine, and engine oiling system from failure or rupture of upper intake plenum near egr passage. Anti-freeze has filled engine lifters causing noise/failure, filling combustion chamber causing hydro-locking of engine, could cause catastrophic failure of engine resulting in possible fire or accident. Dealer refused to repair under 04V090 manifold over pressure condition stated replacement of upper & lower intake, lifter, plugs, oil, anti-freeze at a cost of $1,150 on vehicle that had 77,827 when the recall was done, and now has 80,407 mi. Which is less then 3,000. This could very well have hydro-locked the engine at freeway speed, or caused catastrophic failure resulting in severe damage, injury, and possible fire from engine oil & fuel hitting the hot catalytic converter!

- West Bend, WI, USA

problem #34

Jan 232004

(reported on)


  • miles


Consumer inquired as to why the recall on Park Avenue with 3800 V6 engines extended to the Lesabre as well. The Buick Park Avenue and Buick Lesabre are equipped with the same engine. The consumer saw recall 03V473000 for the Park Avenue and wondered why the Lesabre is not included in the recall.

- Washington, DC, USA

problem #33

Nov 172004

LeSabre 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
While placing the vehicle in reverse a loud popping noise was heard coming from the rear. Then, vehicle stalled. Consumer was unable to restart vehicle, and had the vehicle towed to the dealer for inspection. Mechanic determined that the intake exhaust manifold system, and a head gasket needed to be replaced.. also, exhaust manifold cover blew off.

- Honolulu, HI, USA

problem #32

Aug 082001

LeSabre 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,569 miles
While driving 65 mph consumer noticed fluid leaking from underneath the vehicle. It was taken to the dealer for inspection, and mechanic determined that the water pump needed to be replaced, and replaced it. However, the problem recurred, and the vehicle was taken back to the dealer. Mechanic determined that the engine needed to be replaced.

- Kalamazoo, MI, USA

problem #31

Nov 122003

LeSabre 6-cyl

  • 66,728 miles
The vehicle's plastic intake manifold cracked which resulted in water getting inside the crankcase. The consumer requested reimbursement because she found out that the part had been recall two years ago.

- Villa Rica, GA, USA

problem #30

Jun 182004

LeSabre 6-cyl Diesel

  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,523 miles


While driving on my way to work the vehicle started to slow and the engine light came on. I pulled over and attempted to start the car and the engine would not turn over. I called my auto club for a tow and the car was towed to a connoco station in park rapids. They immediatly knew what the problem was, stating they see a lot of the 3800 engines do this. The intake plenum rotted away allowing coolant to fill a cylinder and stall the engine. GM has issued a service bullitin for the problem, but no recall. This could be a major safety concern with loss of power to the engine the steering and brakes will not function as they should.

- Backus, MN, USA

problem #29

Jan 082004

LeSabre 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 113,577 miles
This is a engine problem with what I believe was a bad part design. The part is failure of intake plenum. The egr pipe from the engine comes through the plastic intake. There is a lot of heat generated at this point. Over a period of time a hole is burned through the intake. This floods the engine with coolant. I bought the vehicle new. The first time the problem occured at 59,000 miles. I had the vehicle repaired at a cost of $1100. I asked the dealer about this. The reponse was. Yes we know there is a problem with the K engine but the factory has not called for a recall. At 113,577 miles the problem occured again. I again had the engine repaired at a cost of $1140.93. Again I asked the dealer about this. I was told that a service bulletin was sent out in 1996. This stated that if a owner complained of a coolent leak around the intake. Not only should the plastic intake plenum be replace but also the aluminum intake should be repalced becaused the factory had replaced the egr pipe with a smaller pipe. This would keep the heat from burning a hole in the plastic plenum. The cost of this repair is to be paid by the owner. I checked out the service bulletin and found the problem covered all GM 3800 series engines form 1995 - 1998 my engine VIN # is 1G4hr52K3wh51080. I was told by the GM service tech. That this problem occured so often that any owner of a 3800 series engine and the new design intake has not been installed you are guaranteed the engine will fail. Again I feel this was a design problem.

- High Point, NC, USA

problem #28

Mar 192004

LeSabre 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 101,000 miles
1998 Buick Lesabre stalled at a stoplight and wouldn't start. After having the problem diagnosed and the intake manifold removed, water was discovered in the intake and in the cylinders.

- Austin, TX, USA

problem #27

Jan 122004

LeSabre 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 38,075 miles
Plastic intake manifold warped allowing coolant to leak through engine block and hydrolocked engine. Call to local Buick dealer comfirms this is not isolated defect. The engine shut down as I was entering the highway. Manufacturer refused to admit responsibility for defective part. My cost $879.98. Possible future engine damage.

- St Louis, MO, USA

problem #26

Dec 162003

LeSabre 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 52,980 miles
The manifold warped, which caused coolant to spill into the engine. As a result the engine needed to be replaced. Please provide additional information.

- Fort Worth, TX, USA

problem #25

Apr 032002

LeSabre 6-cyl

  • miles
When accelerating, the vehicle stalled. The driver stated that the vehicle has a design flaw in the engine manifold upper intake valve. (manifold and gaskets malfunctioned) the oil pan and valve cove was replaced. There was also a fuel injector problem. The dealer found the #4 cylinder misfiring with no fuel drop.

- Bloomington, IL, USA

problem #24

Nov 262003

LeSabre 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 62,750 miles
While driving on interstate 75, engine light came on and the car suddenly slowed down and stopped (I had to quickly move to the shoulder). Noticed no coolant in the coolant reservoir. Towed it to the GMC dealer. Service manager remarks: Due to antifreeze leak from manifold gasket all fluids went through engine block and hydrolocked the engine and causing it to shut down. (the service manager indicated that they had to several Buick Lesabre with the same problem). At least I am lucky that this person knew what was the problem without speculation. I have heard others were not that lucky at other dealer place where they couldn't figure out what is the problem except speculating on the cause of the problem. All I want is that the GMC company pay for the repairs or reimburse for the repairs caused by their poor technical workmanship.

- Marietta, GA, USA

problem #23

Nov 062003

LeSabre 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
The check engine indicator light illuminated. While driving the vehicle engine stalled. The vehicle was towed to the dealer, and they replaced the plastic intake manifold at owner's expense of $985.

- Amherst, VA, USA

problem #22

Oct 092003

LeSabre 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 48,154 miles
When the vehicle was started, there was an explosion. There was a breakage in the intake manifold and melting on the underside of the engine dumping shroud. A small fire was burned on the engine block when the shroud was removed.

- Portsmouth, VA, USA

problem #21

Sep 032003

LeSabre 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 129,081 miles
The intake manifold leaked coolant into the cylinders. As a result the vehicle stalled.

- Wilton, WI, USA

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