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Timing belt or chain on Buick V6?

I am considering buying a used Buick LeSabre (90s) for my son. Do these V6 engines have a timing belt or chain?

In case anyone wants to rant, I am also considering Toyota Camry or Avalon, and the Ford Crown Vic/Mer/Lincoln triplets. However, I do not need that question answered for those cars. He’s a very tall kid–like 6’4".

Because the GM V6-8’s are pushrod engines, they use timing chains.


These large US cars all had timing chains. The only caveat about the Buick is those models had intake manifold gasket problems. Check carefully for leaks in that area. Otherwise, they were good cars.

Are these leaks like in the 350 of that era, which usually result in a coolant drip?
Or does this act like a vacuum leak, with missing? What do I check for? I do not have a shop…

It was a problem with the dex-cool coolant that corroded the intake manifold gaskets and usually caused coolant to leak into the intake. There was a huge recall out on it where I think they replaced the intake manifold gasket with an improved gasket. It only affected later 90’s GM V6’s, so depending on what you’re looking at it might not be an issue, or it might have already been fixed. Or the other solution to it was just to flush out the dex-cool (which is pinkish-orange) and refill with the green stuff. If you google “dexcool recall” you can read all about it.

If you are looking at a car that was affected by the recall, I believe you can have a GM dealer look up the VIN to see if it’s been fixed.

I wouldn’t know about that problem. My 1998 Regal hasn’t had gasket problems (128,000), and my FIL’s Olds LSS of the same era and his newer Buick Le Sabre didn’t have the problem. All three cars have the 3.8L engine.

For information about he Ford products you mentioned, check and

Yep chain, but they tend to start going out anywhere from 150K to 250K.

Really? I don’t think I’ve ever had a timing chain go out on a pushrod motor.

Really? I don’t think I’ve ever had a timing chain go out on a pushrod motor.

I’ve replaced many timing chains. Often it’s the teeth on the gears that wear, but once the chain skips a tooth, it’s time to change it.

I owned a 1993 Oldsmobile 88 which is esssentially the same car as the Buick LeSabre. I did have to have a manifold gasket, but otherwise had no problems with the engine. I think the car is still in use and must have 200,000 miles by this time.

Do have your son try on the Buick LeSabre for size. I am 6"2" tall and the Oldsmobile 88 didn’t have quite enough leg room for me. The Buick LeSabre may have more legroom or your son may not have shorter legs than I have.