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Engine quits

I have a 1989 Buick LeSabre, 6-cylinder, 3.8 liter motor with an automatic transmission. The car has 221,000 miles.

I have always maintained the vehicle with scheduled oil & filter changes, transmission fluid & screen changes, cannister filter changes, Oxygen sensor changes, air filter changes, tire rotations, etc.

I have never had any major repairs other than the normal muffler, battery, brakes and struts.

However, I was driving on the highway at 55 mph and the engine just quit. I was fortunate enough to drift over to the breakdown lane. I then had the car towed to my mechanic.

He let the car sit for the day. The next morning the car started immediately. I asked him to drive it for a few days.

He too experienced the same problem. This has happened 5 times.

So far, he has replaced the coil packs, power control module, crank sensor, wires and a host of other electical components.

The problem still exists.

As a middle-of-the-road American sedan, can I assume that the engine has exceeded its normal life span at 221,000 miles ??

Am I wasting money at this point to try to diagnose the problem and repair the car ??

(The body and interior are both in excellent shape. I would like to keep the car a while longer. It is a comfortable ride, all power windows and door locks, no body rot and the heater and a/c unit are excellent.)

Thank you,


I had to replace a fuel pump on a 91 Taurus a few years back. The car would run for about an hour and then stop. If it sat for an hour or so it would start right up. The mechanic diagnosed the fuel pump by leaving the Taurus running and connected to the diagnostics machine for just over an hour before it stalled. Just a thought.

Ed B.

This stalling out is very unlikely to have anything to do with any major mechanical problem in the engine. There is some small possibility of that, but I doubt it. If you do want to know about the engine condition have the compression tested.

The problem is likely in peripheral systems - either ignition or fuel. I may be wrong, but it sounds like your shop is just guessing and throwing parts at it. Maybe you should have someone else take a look.

Anyway…the parts that have been thrown at it all seem to be aimed at ignition. (And somewhere in there I’ll also guess that the whole power system - including the engine grounds have been checked). See EdB’s comment above - I would hook up a fuel pressure gauge to the rail, run it out from under the hood, tape it onto the windshield where you can see it and drive around until it stalls again. Or maybe a simpler thing is just to check the fuel pressure the next time it stalls out. Assuming that this is fuel injected (I don’t actually know) - if you are keeping pressure at the rails, check the wiring for the injectors for something loose, frayed, etc.

How many '89 Buicks with over 200K are still functional? Not many, I expect. Yes, this car is way past its mean junking time. On the other hand, you like the car, you think it is in good shape, and it might not be that costly to fix with the right mechanic.