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97 Buick Lesabre Limited Canadian addition Hiccuping?

Hello everyone in the car talk community I am 20 years-old and I have a problem with my 1997 Buick Lesabre Limited Canadian addition. My grandmother purchase this car from our local mechanics 3 years ago after her 1995 Ford Taurus (this was my first car that I have driven as well) went up to the parking lot in the sky. Our mechanic told us this car was from an old snowbird couple who commuted from Canada to St. Petersburg Florida and decided to sell the car. The car had 167,000 kilometers on it which was fairly new for an old car. The car now has 169,964 kilometers clocked on. A couple months back the engine had to be repaired due to a hole in the manifold and also two spark plugs needed to be replaced. After having the engine flushed and cleaned out my car is now hiccuping and jolting while trying to accelerate more than usually. I don’t know much about cars myself but i read over the manual to see if i could troubleshoot and find out what is causing this problem. I notified my grandmother and as well our mechanic that something is off with the car and each time the mechanics come back with the same response “We could not find anything wrong with the car”. Can the problem be the transmission acting up or overdrive not kicking in properly? Or something else entirely? Please I do not know what to do at this point and I’m worried that I’m damaging my car and the repair might be more costly down the road.

The Canadian version should be no different from the US 49 state version mechanically.

To avoid serious damage, such as hydra-lock you need a competent mechanic to check this out.

Not sure what you mean by the “engine been disassembled” That would cost way over $1000 to do that and put it back together.

I would not drive it further until the problem is properly diagnosed. Hopefully it will be worth fixing at a reasonable price… These are good cars if properly maintained; several relatives have had that model.

@Docnick My apology Not disassembling the engine. All I know is they had to do something to fix the problem. (sorry I am not to good at explaining.) All I know is that they had to do something to the engine and after that problems has been occurring more frequently. It did hiccup in the past but not as bad before then what happening at this point. My family has always been a ford family after the Taurus went away and I agree with you. I like the roomy feeling and as well the height difference. I’m a tall person and this car fits my height requirements. But should I bring this car to a second mechanic and have them locate the issue?

I am surprised the mechanic only changed 2 plugs and not all of them. Is your check engine light on? If it is see if a local auto parts store, Advance, AutoZone etc will read the codes for you for free. In most US states they will, not sure about Canada. The codes will give helpful info, the code will be something like P1234, if you get that post it back here. The rest of the plugs could be bad, the coils or wires feeding the plugs could be bad. The air filter could be clogged, hard to tell at a distance. Ask around to see if someone can give a recommendation of a mechanic they trust and see if they can help you. Go on the test drive with them so you can duplicate the problem with them.

Yeah I can’t imagine anyone changing two spark plugs. Coughing or jerking could be anything from transmission to wires, coil, plugs, crank sensor, fuel pump, fuel filter, air filter, etc. I guess someone needs to do the $100 computer diagnostic and a road test to better isolate the causes.

I’ve known shops that would only change a spark plug or two. None of them are in business today.

No decent shop should change only 2 spark plugs. They should all be changed and it might not be a bad idea to inspect at least or replace the plug wires.

My memory is fuzzy on this but I seem to remember a GM Campaign at one time involving faulty plugs wires on this era of GM products with the 3.8.

A Campaign is a voluntary limited warranty with time and mileage limits so getting freebies from GM is a long dead issue on a 19 year old car.

First question, is the check engine light on? If not, does it light up ok with the key in on but the engine not yet started?

Second question, what do you mean by the shop did an “engine flush”? That isn’t a standard auto-repair term as far as I know.

I’m not sure what to make of the OP’s comments about replacing 2 spark plugs and “hole in the manifold”. As mentioned above, I’ve never heard of a shop replacing less than the full set of spark plugs. I guess that could happen though if one was cracked or something, and otherwise only recently replaced. Usually if there was a hole in the manifold, the manifold would be replaced, not the entire engine. OP, could you explain all this better? Ask your shop to explain it to you, then relay what they say back here maybe.

Without the above info, about all I can offer is a wild guess as to what is causing the symptoms. But lack of info won’t stop me from offering an opinion … lol … My guess is the new engine isn’t 100% compatible with the engine computer & its software version. The engine software likely requires updating. Ask your shop to verify you’re running the correct software versions in all the modules compatible w/ the replacement engine,


I have a pretty good idea this is the hole in the manifold

“A couple months back the engine had to be repaired due to a hole in the manifold”

nobody mentioned replacing the entire engine


This MIGHT be what you’re thinking of . . . but OP’s car is not included, FWIW

oops… misread the OP. You are right db4690, OP didn’t say the engine was replaced.

@db4690, that is not the campaign I was thinking of. The one I’m referring to was for the spark plug wires only which turned out to be a bit of a problem and would lead to severe misfires.

It’s been a long time so I don’t remember what all years and models of GM cars were involved.

One of my sons cars with the Buick 3.8 started running badly and we just happened to hear (from where I do not remember) about the plug wire campaign. His car was several years out of warranty so I called the dealer about this.
They told me to just bring the wires in if not the car and they handed me a new set of wires exchange right across the counter.

missileman: I also remember shops with sandblasting spark plug cleaners. they would also file ignition points and rotor contacts. Spark plugs were at most $.50 each and new points/rotors were even less. Even with very low $5 per hour labor rates it made no sense.

If the spark plugs were reasonably new, replacing only the spark plug damaged by the manifold coolant leak would be economical. Should all six spark plugs be replaced on each visit?

Hello all Thank you for responding and giving me more information to relay back. @SteveCBT The check engine light does what I call “The macarena dance” where the light comes on when I start the car and driving but when I turn the car off and let it rest and start back up the check engine light is off again. When I drive after reaching 30 MPh the car starts jolting and the check engine light is back on. I’m sorry I should have read over my post before I submitted it but the spark wires. I will have to dig up the invoice of the repairs to see what they did exactly and to see if the spark plugs were also replaced. @GeorgeSanJose when they did work on my car they had to flush the old fluid out of the engine because of something gunking up the system. After they did that my oil pressure gauge has been acting up and is not giving the proper reading on it. At First I thought the oil pressure was dropping and not pushing the oil through the engine so I notified them as well and came back with the same response which they told my grandmother the same thing “There was nothing we can find wrong with the car” Bs again. With the hole in the manifold there was steam build up in the engine and puncture a hole in the system which they had to replace. @db4690 yes that was where the hole was found in the upper intake manifold but the hole was a size of a bullet hole. The engine that my car has is a 3.8 OHV 12V V6. And @GeorgeSanJose all i know from what they told my Grandmother and I was two of the spark plugs (I Checked the invoice it was two spark plugs and also two spark wires) shorted out and they needed to be replaced. Tomorrow I will head out to Autozone and ask them to check the system to see what causing the problem and I will notify you all on what they have found. Again I am sorry about not giving proper information on my situation. I don’t know its weird when my family drives the car they tell me that the only problem they have is when accelerating the car jolts and stutters going up hill. With myself driving the weird thing I find is when I turn on the A/C in the car that when the stuttering starts and the car is having a tough time reaching proper speed/not shifting properly. When I reach 40 mph and get past 2000/3000 rpm it drops back down to 1000 rpm and the car starts stuttering and would not want to accelerate past 30 mph. I will let all of you guys know what Autozone finds and get back to you all. Thank you again for helping me out in this situation. I am also sorry about my first post being a bit vague and incorrect this is all new to me.

And I think probably the engine flush was a throttle body cleaning which would be a normal thing to do for a hiccup I think.

I will go with the concensus of the plugs… Nobody should do only 2 plugs…which then begs the question…How are the other plugs…and how are the plug wires now that two of them were molested to change said 2 plugs…

You can figure out a misfire pretty easily…especially if it is constant in nature. I would change all the plugs and the wires …if this was found to be a misfire. However with the manifold also coming into play here, you have the potential for a vacuum leak…so…think along these lines I guess I should say.

I bet its just plugs n wires…you disturb two wires and Blam…misfire…happens a lot actually.


I think I may have found out why the car kept on stuttering and jolting. But the other spark wires do need to be replaced.

Thank you all for your help. Tomorrow I’m bringing this information to my mechanic and ask them to change the spark wires and plugs.