Buick Lesabre Will Die At Stops and Hard To Restart When Hot

Reader Question


I have a question about my 1982 Buick Lesabre Limited. According to the owners manual explanation on how to Id the engine it has a 5.0 307 motor.

My confusing problem is that the car will start fine and run fine but when the car is driven for a while or ran for a while at idling speed… either way the car will all of the sudden die especially at a red light or you shut it off and then it will not restart again. When you try to restart it it will try to restart but it drags like the battery is about dead. The battery is fine and new from autozone.

I even had advance auto parts test the battery and it is good and the right battery for the car. The confusing part is after it sets for a few hrs like overnight the car will start right up and run fine again. I do not what to do about this problem and it has cost me a lot of money as when this occurs i am usually in a middle lane and have to have it towed to the side of the road or into a parking lot. I work up in the next town and can not afford to keep having this problem occurring.

I tried to do some research on this problem on the internet and thought the problem sounded like vapor lock. If it is vapor lock how can I keep it from occurring anymore. As it is very hot here in West Texas I checked and the car has plenty of antifreeze/coolant. As I said I am really confused here and hope maybe you could tell me what is going on here. Thank you for taking the time to read this email and if you have any further questions about what is happening please feel free to email me back or call me.

Thank you very much.

Hi there!

This kinda sounds like a bad ignition module which is inside the distributor. Sometimes with older vehicles like this it is best to replace the entire distributor with a rebuilt unit from your auto parts store. There are other parts inside the distributor which are old and worn and might cause issues later. I think the module costs about $50 or so and the complete distributor probably about $150

Keep me posted, fingers crossed

Austin C. Davis

Reader Follow Up


I got word Friday the 22nd of June that my 1982 Buick Lesabre is repaired now. The mechanic told me the problem was the wiring and a weak starter. What did he mean by wiring? I am confused as to what he meant because that car is original and has never had its wiring messed with before. When he called to say it was repaired I asked him if it was the ignition module and he said my ignition module was good.

I thought I would share the news with you what was wrong with the car. Would you please explain what he probably meant by the wiring? Also what does a starter have to do with a car dying? The total bill is a little high and I was wondering what he probably means. Thank you very much for your time. Tom

Hello Again Tom

I agree “wiring” is a little vague. Inside the distributor there are some ground wires that are pretty common for breaking and coming loose, which is why I suggested replacing the distributor. Maybe he can point out which wires he repaired? The starter motor, I almost suggested to you in your last email.

When a starter motor goes bad it will cause a “dragging” problem….when the engine is hot the starter has a much harder time turning the engine over so it does so slowly and sounds funny. I did not mention that to you because it has nothing to do with dying and did not think you had two separate problems.

The ignition module is common complaint, usually fails when the engine is hot, and controls the ignition timing and if the engine timing is too high the starter will “drag” so I thought the module was more likely the problem.

Anyway, glad its fixed and you are back on the road. Labor costs are high, so it does not take much for a repair bill to get over $500 for something that seems simple and easy.

Austin C. Davis

Posted in: Running Problems

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