, Salem, MA


January 15, 2011

Buick LeSabre's fuel gauge giving the wrong reading

Q: I have a 2004 Buick LeSabre with 65,000 miles. I have been having a problem with the fuel gauge. When it gets down to a half-tank, it goes haywire. It will read a full tank or three-quarters — anything but the right reading. I took it to a garage and was told it could be in the tank or in the wiring harness and would cost about $300 to fix. I asked which one could it be, as I did not want to change the good one. They said that for another $100 they would put it on the computer to find out. The total cost is now $400 — and hopefully they change the right one. I said never mind and that I would reset my trip odometer to zero each fill-up. I fill up every 200 to 250 miles, and it is working out OK. What do you think it could be? I don't like having something that is not working right on my car. I found out that a friend is having the same problem with his 2004 LeSabre, too. Is this a common problem with Buick?

A: This problem is not particular to Buick. Lots of cars have fuel gauge problems. Using the General Motors Scanner, it should not be a big deal to pinpoint the actual cause, which would most likely be the fuel level sending unit. Diagnosis will cost around $100. That should eliminate the guesswork.

Q: I have a 2005 Pontiac Grand Prix 3.8 liter V-6 with 65,000 miles. Every once in a while, the engine sputters on light acceleration. It's been doing this since I bought it five years ago. I had it back to the Pontiac dealer at that time, and they diagnosed a transmission "chuggle" problem. They replaced the valve body, but the problem wasn't resolved. When it happens, it actually feels like a clogged fuel injector. I've tried various fuel system cleaners with no improvement. I've discovered that the problem seems to occur after the engine has been running for a while and then shut down for about 15 minutes. The car starts fine and idles OK, but it doesn't accelerate smoothly. On the highway, it actually feels like it's pulling back, and I'm sure it's wasting fuel. I can clear the problem by shutting the engine off and restarting it, which makes me think it's not a fuel injector issue. Otherwise, the car runs great. I've spoken to the dealer and, since it's an intermittent situation, they suggested bringing the car in when the problem occurs. Unfortunately, that's not so easy to do. Any ideas?

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