The American-made Buick Enclave has earned worldwide praise for its spacious interior and powerful specs. But it is not without its share of problems. In this blog, we’ve outlined all problems you should be watchful for when in the market for a new Buick Enclave. Let’s start with a short answer.
The most common problems in Buick Enclave include transmission problems. The HVAC actuator problems affect the 2012-2015 model years. The stretched timing chain issue is common in first-gen (2008-2017) and brake problems affect the later models. Faulty airbags, seatbelts, and lift struts were other first-gen problems that were solved via recalls.
This is only a summary – a detailed analysis of these problems along with their root causes, symptoms, and potential solutions with repair costs is given in the description below. Read on!
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1. Transmission problems
The most commonly reported problems in Buick Enclave are its faulty transmissions. This car uses two transmissions – the 6T75E 6-speed Automatic Transmission for 2008-2017 models and a 9-speed 9T65 transmission for 2018-present model years. These transmission problems range from transmission slipping, trouble shifting, and sometimes an abrupt transmission failure.
This issue is mostly reported in 2008 Buick Enclave as evident from Car Complaints, with around 112 customers voicing their concerns about faulty transmissions. GM is working on this issue, and subsequent models have much lesser chances of transmission failure.
For those owners whose Buick Enclave is more prone to these transmission problems, this issue will arise early. Customers have reported that they faced these problems as early as two weeks into buying their Buick Enclave. Furthermore, this issue usually manifests itself when the car is at 100,00 – 130,000 miles.
There are several symptoms of a faulty transmission – these range from ‘Check Engine Light’ turning on, burning smell from the engine, car refusing to change gears, and loud noises while transmission shifting.
These transmission problems are caused by a fractured part in the component assembly, low fluid levels – causing overheating, or a faulty torque converter, among others. Depending upon the true cause of the problem, the fixing cost varies from $1,800 – $ 3,400.
2. HVAC Door Actuators Not Working
The HVAC door actuators are responsible for the flow of air in the passenger area. Several users of the first-generation Buick Enclave have reported that their door actuators stop working all of a sudden.
This problem can manifest itself in several ways. If your Enclave’s actuators are only blowing either hot or cold air, or have given up the ghost completely– it might be the right time to opt for a replacement.
The culprit behind these faulty actuators is most likely sensor issues. Taking these HVAC actuators to the dealership for repair will cost you around $400-$600. There is, however, a DIY method to replace these actuators – which should cost you no more than a hundred bucks.
3. Buick Enclave Recalled For Exploding Airbags
General Motors recalled around 550 vehicles of Buick Enclave 2008-2017 which were equipped with faulty airbags. The driver’s airbag is prone to an explosion due to a faulty airbag inflator.
The cause of this problem was found to be a manufacturing defect. The frontal airbag inflator, manufactured by The frontal airbag inflator, manufactured by ARC Automotive, is of inadequate quality and may explode during deployment. This may result in the propulsion of sharp metal particles, causing severe injuries to passengers.
This problem is fixed in the recall. The dealers are directed to replace the faulty airbag modules free of cost. GM’s number for this recall is N212349040.
It’s a scary problem and the Buick is far from the only vehicle to suffer this problem and it’s common (but scarier) in the much larger Silverado 2500 too.
4. Stretched Timing Chain
The timing belt connects the camshaft and the crankshaft in your car’s engine. Made up of hardened steel, if this chain is stretched more than its capacity, it will first rattle and eventually break – resulting in bringing your Buick’s engine to a halt. Buick Enclave users, especially of the 2010 model year, have reported that their car’s timing belts are susceptible to stretching.
The key symptoms that should give away a bad timing chain include the onset of ‘Check Engine Light’, engine misfiring, rattling, and in the worst-case scenario – an engine failure. This problem according to several Buick forums, is not caused by bad driving habits or mileage, rather it is due to the abysmal manufacturing quality of the timing chain.
If you get your hands on a first-generation Buick Enclave that exhibits this problem, you’ll most likely have to pay a hefty fixing fee. The average cost of replacing a timing belt is around $3,100 – $3,500. This hefty price is due to the damage a bad timing chain causes to your car – which will need to be repaired as well.
5. Flexible Steel Cable For Seat Belt May Fail
Buick is known for its overall emphasis on reliability and safety. Unfortunately, one particular problem that we’re going to mention negates their claim of being one of the safest cars out there. The seat belts in the 2009-2014 Buick Recall are susceptible to failure.
The flexible steel cable in the seat belts is of inadequate quality. Therefore, it is likely to fail in case of emergencies. The seat belt anchor plate tensioner is prone to holes and premature wearing.
Since these problems are primarily due to a manufacturing fault, GM has offered a recall for all the affected vehicles. The recall number is 14187 with the title of Safety Recall, and you can get your problem fixed without incurring any cost.
6. Brake Problems
More common in the second generation of Buick Enclave, these brake problems have also proved to be a pain point for Enclave users. The most common brake problems that you might come across in a Buick Enclave include screeching problems and brake fluid leaking.
The screeching sounds are usually produced due to worn-down pads, rotors, or clippers. This problem is more common with Enclaves which have been driven over 100k miles. Poor driving habits such as late braking or overzealous acceleration are some of the most common causes of this problem.
Brake fluid leaking is usually due to damage to brake components such as brake hose, brake lines, or brake pads and are some of the most common reasons for the leaking of brake fluid.
Depending upon the extent of the problem – and the part that is causing the problem (for example brake pads are cheaper to replace – but brake rotors are considerably more expensive), getting your Enclave’s brakes fixed will set you back by around $400-$800.
7. Liftgate Struts May Fail and Liftgate May Fall
The 2008-2012 Buick Enclave also has another problem that you should be on the lookout for – liftgate struts failure. These affected vehicles are equipped with a power liftgate option. When these liftgates are opened, they are held up by gas struts.
Due to a manufacturing fault in these gas struts, they are prone to wear off prematurely. As a result, these struts fail – leaving your liftgates vulnerable to opening or closing abruptly.
Fortunately, GM announced a recall to deal with this problem. In this recall issued in June 2015, around 600,000 affected vehicles were recalled. These vehicle owners were asked to take their Enclaves to the dealership – where their problem was solved free of cost. The NHTSA campaign number for this recall is 15V415000.
If you are in the market for a first-gen Buick Enclave, we suggest you be on the lookout for the vehicles affected by this problem. This issue is solved in the later generations.
8. Ignition Coil Problems
Buick Enclave is also susceptible to ignition problems. Your Buick Enclave’s ignition is controlled by a pack of ignition coils. A bad pack of ignition coil will lead to engine misfiring, and the quality of your car’s drive will be severely diminished.
Your car will show several symptoms when its ignition coils have gone bad. These symptoms are strikingly similar to those caused by a faulty spark plug, and therefore it is important to first determine the actual part that causes the problem.
The most common symptoms of a faulty coil pack include the onset of ‘Service Engine Soon Light’. This will be followed by codes such as P0300 and P0301. Your car won’t accelerate properly and engine misfiring is another common symptom of a bad ignition coil.
These ignition issues are most commonly caused when the ignition coil or the spark plug has given up the ghost. A dead key fob battery or a worn-out 12V battery can also cause ignition problems.
Solving these ignition problems won’t take much of your time. It will only set you back by around $50-$100. If the battery or the coils are at fault. Getting a new spark plug however will cost you around $350-$450.
What is the Worst Year For Buick Enclave?
The Buick Enclave is a luxurious car in the otherwise utility-based SUV industry. Although well known for its high-end features and lofty interior, Buick does fall short when it comes to safety and security standards. This begs the question: Which years of Buick Enclave should you avoid?
The 2008 and 2009 models are notorious for their problems -particularly transmission problems. Although all Enclaves suffer from transmission problems, but they are much more frequent in these model years. Transmission jerks, shudders, and outright transmission failure – the 2008-09 models have seen it all.
The first generation of Buick Enclave (2008-2017) all have some daunting problems. These include ignition coil problems, brake problems, and AC problems. There were also several recalls on these models that subsequently rectified these issues.
The best model year for Buick Enclave is the latest one: 2022. The majority of these problems have been solved and they have doubled down on the luxurious features as well. The latest model of Buick Enclave is your best bet.
His interests in cars, motorcycles, and machines led him to the University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore where he is currently a mechanical engineering sophomore.
His future aims include the development of an energy-efficient prototype vehicle for the Shell Eco-Marathon competition and getting a Master’s Degree in Automotive Engineering from Germany.