Here Are The Buick Enclave Years To Avoid (2023)

Buick Enclaveby Kevauto —CC BY-SA 4.0

There is no doubt about it: the Buick Enclave is a more luxurious spin on the midsize SUV market. However, the Buick Enclave doesn’t exactly have the best track record in terms of reliability. Here are the Buick Enclave years to avoid.

Usually, we list the problems by year or in some category, but outside of the 2008 models, they all suffer from similar problems. The 2008 Enclave gets special mention because it’s the debut year and is expected to be the most problematic version of the midsize SUV.

Here are some of the problems received by the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA):


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  • Transmission issues
  • Stretched timing chain
  • Power steering
  • Engine light
  • Electrical system issues
  • Failure of airbags to deploy
  • Structural complaints

Buick Enclave Transmission Issues

Here are the Buick Enclave years to avoid: 2008. Transmission problems are common on all Enclaves, but the 2008 model has the most complaints. Owners have mostly noted transmission problems around 91,000 miles. The vehicle tends to shake, make clunky noises, or both when speeding up or changing gears.

Unfortunately, it won’t come as an easy fix like many significant vehicle parts. The cost of a non-warrantied Buick Enclave could cost an owner $3,500 and up to have the transmission fixed or rebuilt. Buick did make some changes for 2009 and up as reports for transmission problems did drop, but they surely did not go away.


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Stretched Timing Chain

Unlike the transmission, the timing chain isn’t as vital. Unfortunately, it can still cost a lot of money to fix. Like the transmission, your vehicle will not run correctly if your timing chain is stretched or broken. Timing chains are known to wear out, but it’s not until about 150,000 to 200,000 miles for most vehicles. Reports show that the timing chain often goes out at around 40,000 miles with the Buick Enclave.

It’s easy to overlook a timing chain issue. But this repair may cost anywhere from $1,700-$2,100 to have fixed. The longer you ignore it, the more expensive the repairs are going to be. Pay attention to signs like loss of power, a rough running engine, and odd sounds coming from the engine compartment. Timing chain issues are something you can’t afford to ignore.

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Power Steering Issues

This problem has the most complaints on the 2009-2011 models. The power steering is a reasonably easy diagnosis for even a non mechanically-inclined driver to notice. If you’re having a hard time steering, you may have lost power steering. This is another costly fix.

But before you head off to the dealership to have them look at it, you might want to take some time to check to see if it has power steering fluid. It’s unlikely this is the problem, but if it is, you could save your vehicle from sitting at the dealership waiting to be worked on and the cost of having someone diagnose a problem that you could have fixed.

If your Buick Enclave has seen about 80,000 miles, you can expect to shell out $1,700 to get your power steering fixed.

Check Engine Light

All Buick Enclave models are prone to check engine light problems. The check engine light can point to several issues. However, it can cause you one heck of a headache for the Enclave.

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Sometimes the engine light can come on, and there is no problem at all.

This can leave owners and mechanics chasing their tails only to find nothing wrong. The problem with this ghost-like engine light problem is you don’t just want to ignore it because if there is a real problem, you could be doing some real damage to your Enclave if you don’t get it checked out.


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Which Buick Enclaves Model Years to Buy as Used?

Most serious problems with the Enclave are more common in older models. From 2012 models and up, the Buick small SUV gets fewer complaints. As you get to the newer versions of the Buick Enclave, they also move up to some more of the technologies they were missing from older models. Although Buick is considered more of a luxury brand, you really wouldn’t know it in the early models of the Buick Enclave.

Here Are The Buick Enclave Years To Avoid

If you’re going to avoid one Enclave SUV, make it the 2008 model. Although models very close to that year still have the same problems as the 2008 model, the 2008 Buick Enclave has pulled in more complaints and known issues than all other Buick Enclaves have.

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The Buick Enclaves are excellent midsize SUVs that even have third-row seating. However, the 2008 model year has too many problems that it’s not worth looking into. This is especially true when the later models like the 2009 onward are much better in reliability.

Summarizing Common Buick Enclave Problems

With its low to average reliability ratings, the Buick Enclave has several common issues that any potential buyer should know:

  • Transmission issues - These problems are no fun, and unfortunately, the Enclave is riddled with transmission problems. The 2008 model was reported to have the most problematic transmission. Reports stated that the vehicle experienced excessive vibrations and clunking noises whenever they accelerated or shifted gears. Appearing at around 90,000 miles, fixing a Buick’s transmission system may cost as much as $3,500.
  • Stretched timing chain - The timing chain regulates the turning of the camshaft and crankshaft. With continued use, timing chains will eventually succumb to wear and tear, but it usually takes about 150,000 miles. Several owners have reported that their timing belts stretched as early as 40,000 miles. The average price to repair a stretched timing belt is $1,700 and $2,050.
  • Power steering problems - A larger SUV such as the Buick Enclave primarily benefits from power steering. Without it, driving the Enclave can be dangerous. Many owners of the 2010 Enclave reported that their SUV’s power steering occasionally fails. As a result, steering the wheel becomes a chore, which can be dangerous at high speeds.

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