A car noob with a 94 Buick LeSabre needing help


I’ve been listening to Car Talk for a while now and I finally decided to join the community. I’m interested in learning more about my 1994 Buick LeSabre Limited Edition 4-door Sedan that I lovingly call David.

David is having some problems. I bought him in 2011 from my uncle’s friend who took “good care” of the care and was willing to give me “a good deal,” which was BS. The car had under 60,000 miles on it and was in pretty good shape, as it was only being driven from MN to CA in the winter and from CA back to MN in the spring. This car NEVER saw a MN winter until I bought it. I didn’t know enough about cars at the time and I found out later that I had paid for a “lemon.”

Car has rust all over the undercarriage (I think that’s the right term?) and I found mold growing in the car, which I treated and got rid of with no damage to the carpets. The car would retain water, so I had help drilling relief holes in the car and in the trunk. Since doing this, I haven’t found any water or mold (yay!)

So, I moved from MN to WA and drove my car the entire way. No issues there. In April of this year, my car stalled out twice…on the freeway!

Every time I accelerate my car sounds like a mack truck. It’s even worse when I’m going up-hill. The sound is terrible and I’m afraid there might be something wrong with my engine. I’ve got a V6, 3.8 Liter engine and the car only has 75,000 miles on it. My car doesn’t shake when I accelerate at all, which I think is a good sign. I’m not sure what to do or how expensive this will be to fix. Also, this car doesn’t have any major cosmetic damage. I’ve taken very good care of it for the last 2 years. Would it be in my best interest to keep it or sell it?

Any help would be really appreciated!

Look in the “Mechanics File” section of this site to find a recommended local mechanic and take it to him for diagnosis. Don’t go to a chain shop like Midas or Firestone. A good mechanic should be able to figure it out if it’s a loud noise like you say.

Does it sound like a loud exhaust sound? Maybe an exhaust gasket leak, a crack in the exhaust manifold, or a hole in the exhaust system somewhere. No way to tell how much it will cost to fix until a mechanic diagnoses it. Not necessarily terribly expensive. Exhaust leaks can sound awful but aren’t that hard to fix, unless it’s a cracked manifold that would have ro be replaced.


“rust all over the undercarriage”

Surface rust?

Frame rusted through . . . rust holes?

If it’s the latter, you may want to plan for the next car

@jesmed I found a few good mechanics I’ll be checking out. Thank you! I can’t really tell if it is an exhaust sound, but that could be it. I’ve been thinking it’s the engine because of how loud and close it sounds.

@db4690 There is rust on the frame, but only underneath. The visible exterior is rust free. I haven’t found any rust holes yet. I’m hoping I won’t find any.

An exhaust header leak can be extremely loud and will be coming from the engine compartment, so that could be your problem. Good luck with your new mechanics. They’ll figure it out.

Thanks for your help. I really appreciate it!