Buick LaCrosse years to avoid — most common problems
Discover the crucial years to avoid when considering a Buick LaCrosse.
Ever since the release of the Buick Grand National Experimental (GNX), the US public holds Buick models quite close to heart. It’s no wonder since they made some quite affordable, yet high-quality models over the years, and LaCrosse is one of those models.
It’s not the flagship model of the brand, but it’s fairly slotted below it and seeks the attention of drivers looking for that extra something in an everyday family sedan. The car proved to be quite well-made, but there are always those that will talk about Buick LaCrosse years to avoid and the issues of the model. That’s why we wanted to explore a bit more and deal with the complaints reported by former LaCrosse drivers to help you narrow things down to the best LaCrosse model.
Why you can trust REREV’s advice on which car model years to avoid: Our car experts look at official data, ask real drivers what they think, and talk to experienced mechanics to make sure our list is useful. This reliable info can make buying a car easier for you. Want to know how we do it? Find out more about our research methodology.
Most common Buick LaCrosse problems
Having in mind that the Buick LaCrosse has been in production for over 15 years, there haven’t been many critical issues reported. Still, there are some problems we just have to go over so you’ll get a clear picture of the qualities and downsides of the model once we are done.
One of the most frequent problems that LaCrosse owners have reported is the steering issue that caused odd noises coming from the shaft. Sometimes, this issue grew into a much bigger problem which led to steering difficulties and this made it impossible for drivers to properly control their cars.
While there weren’t major engine-related issues during the three years of production, the “check engine” light came up on the board quite frequently. As it turns out, it was sometimes an electrical fault and a false warning that can be removed by using a simple trick to turn off the check engine light. However, in other cases, the matter required further attention and it was mostly caused by gas cap leaks.
Drivers also complained about the door locking mechanism failures and suspension-related problems, so that’s why we need to investigate each problem specifically. Don’t worry – this doesn’t mean that you should immediately give up on buying a used LaCrosse, and we’ll double-check that once we go over the issues.
As mentioned, the LaCrosse specifically had a few steering issues that sometimes made it difficult to take turns and control the vehicle properly. One of the main issues was the strange noise coming from the intermediate steering shaft. This shaft is the bond between the steering wheel and transmission, and one of the main symptoms of it going bad is a clicking noise coming from below the seat.
At least that’s how you’ll feel it from inside the driver’s cabin, and this problem could lead to nearly impossible steering and turning. While you could keep somewhat of control over your ride on a straight road, we wouldn’t recommend you tamper with the LaCrosse that has this issue. Your best shot is to entrust the steering shaft inspection to a mechanic you know will do the job right, so you can have peace of mind while driving.
Gas cap leaks
Another problem that affects the crucial systems of the LaCrosse is the leaking gas cap and this one is a more serious issue than it seems. In case there’s a crack in the cap, fuel vapors will get out and this could lead to increased emissions from the car and fuel smell in the cabin. So, if you get a used LaCrosse without proper inspection and are wondering “why does my car smell like gas“, a gas cap leak is probably the cause.
Gas cap insection should be fast and easy for an experienced mechanic, so it’s best to check up on this before buying the car. Not only will it end up in gas odor within the cabin, but the crack may also let dirt and grime inside and contaminate the fuel, leading to poor engine performance.
Door locking mechanism faults
While we are at the most frequently reported issues of the LaCrosse, we can’t overlook the malfunctioning door locking mechanism. This turned out to be one of the most common issues, and that’s both a good and a bad thing. The bad thing is that in case the mechanism fails, you may not be able to unlock or lock the car.
It takes replacing the door lock actuator to cope with the issue, and the good news is – it’s a solid sign of reliability if the most commonly reported issue is something as harmless as this one. Sure, if you don’t have a garage, the car may be an easy target for car thieves, but at least you can easily fix it and it’s not something as crucial as engine faults.
Problems with the suspension
Finally, we must deal with the suspension-related issues that plagued this model. There are quite a few problems with the suspension of the LaCrosse in several generations with the most common one being the disconnected rear suspension due to poorly connected toe links.
These links keep the suspension together and there have been several recalls in an attempt to deal with the problem. The affected model years include the 2010-2013 LaCrosse and the 2017 LaCrosse vehicles, so make sure to check if the unit you are taking for a test drive has been recalled.
Which Buick LaCrosse years to avoid?
Based on all the problems and the history of driver complaints on LaCrosse models submitted to the NHTSA, our team was able to figure out the model years that are best avoided. It’s best to do this by generation, so we’ll start from scratch by taking a look at the first-gen years to avoid.
First-generation Buick LaCrosse (2005-2006 and 2008 model years)
When it comes to the first generation of the LaCrosse, it had more bad model years than good ones and the aesthetics of the car weren’t as sharp as the third-gen LaCrosse. Still, there are some decent models here as well, but you have to avoid the 2005 and 2008 models if you don’t want to spend too much time servicing the car.
The 2005 LaCrosse was the first production model and it suffers from some issues that were later on sorted out for the facelift version. These issues mostly include electrical problems with headlights, interior accessories, A/C heater, and those gas cap-related issues that triggered the check engine light. The 2008 model struggled with the same issues overall, along with seat belt retention and airbag issues, so it’s best to avoid both of these.
Second-generation Buick LaCrosse (2010-2013 model years)
While the second generation of the LaCrosse brought significant interior and exterior improvements, there were still some pretty bad model years. The worst production models overall belong to the second generation, and these were the 2010 and 2011 models.
The 2010 one struggled with engine issues and cooling system problems along with suspension problems, while the 2011 model had a lot of reported issues regarding the steering system. Things were slightly better for the 2012 and 2013 models, but these had issues as well and it’s best if you avoided them.
Third-generation Buick LaCrosse (2017 model year)
It seems that Buick finally got it right with the third-gen model and we have to say that this one is the most reliable and best-looking LaCrosse yet. All the model years are pretty much safe to go with, while there are only slight issues with the 2017 one.
This is when the second round of the infamous rear suspension issues occurred, so the best move is to go with any of the later third-gen models.
Best Buick LaCrosse years
After going through the troublesome details regarding common issues and years to avoid, it’s finally time to get to the point. Our team made a list of the best Buick LaCrosse models you can buy based on reliability reports, so we suggest you go with one of the following models:
- 2009 Buick LaCrosse
- 2014 Buick LaCrosse
- 2015 Buick LaCrosse
- 2016 Buick LaCrosse
- 2018 Buick LaCrosse
- 2019 Buick LaCrosse
As you can see, there’s a decent option for everyone’s taste as you can go for a 2009 model for a first-gen LaCrosse, a 2015 one for the second-gen model, or a 2019 one for a third-gen model. Sure, the 2019 model may cost a bit more since still a relatively recent model, but it’s the most reliable LaCrosse made up to date.
We only recommend that you avoid the problematic years like 2005, 2008, 2010, and 2011 LaCrosse, and things will be fine if you only do the inspection before the purchase.
Is Buick LaCrosse worth buying?
Ultimately, the Buick LaCrosse is worth buying as long as you avoid the listed model years that had a fair share of issues. Still, it’s a common situation with almost any car and it’s a relief that there are LaCrosse models coming with little to no reported issues.
We hope that you will be able to pick the best-rated LaCrosse in terms of reliability thanks to the information listed in this guide and make sure to keep an eye out for the most problematic issues we’ve mentioned.
What year Buick LaCrosse is most reliable?
The 2019 Buick LaCrosse is the most reliable model year so far.
Is the Buick LaCrosse a reliable car?
Buick LaCrosse is a reliable car for as long as you avoid the few problematic model years that are plagued by steering and fuel leak issues.
What is the average lifespan of a Buick LaCrosse?
The average lifespan of a Buick LaCrosse is around 200,000 miles.