Buick Enclave Years to Avoid

You probably heard many mixed reviews when it came to the Buick Enclave. However, you are dead set on getting one. So, what Buick Enclave years do you need to avoid?

If you are on the market for a secondhand Buick Enclave, you should avoid the following:

  1. Enclave 2008
  2. Enclave 2009-2011
  3. Enclave 2014

Undoubtedly the worst year for this SUV was 2008. It has received the most user complaints among all the Buick Enclave models. There were so many negative reports that it forced Buick to conduct a massive recall.

Read on to learn more about the Buick Enclave years to avoid wasting money on a known lemon car.

Buick Enclave Years to Avoid

buick enclave years to avoid
2008 Buick Enclave

Undeniably, the Buick Enclave is one of the most luxurious midsize SUVs ever to hit the market. However, the Enclave is also one of the vehicles with the lowest reliability score.

If you are considering getting a secondhand unit, avoid certain production years to save yourself from headaches.

The 2008 Buick Enclave, the first generation of this car model, had the greatest number of problems. There were also problems with newly-released car models. However, the Enclave had so many complaints that it almost became unsellable.

This article will discuss the problem years for the Buick Enclave and the specific problems they had. This way, you will know the kind of trouble you are getting into when you come across them.

2008 Buick Enclave

The 2008 Enclave was the first generation of this vehicle model line. As you would expect from any new vehicle, it will have problems. However, the 2008 Enclave’s problems were not few, and they were not minor as well.

GM released the first Enclave with high hopes. Buick wanted to break into the luxury compact SUV market. They believed the Enclave would do just that, but it did not.

The 2008 Enclave experienced six recalls due to safety issues and subpar parts that went into production units. These include timing chains that stretch five times faster than they should.

What Are the Common Problems in a 2008 Buick Enclave?

Here are some of the most significant issues that plagued the 2008 Buick Enclave. You will learn why you should avoid this SUV as much as you can:

1. Check Engine Light Issues

Probably, the most stressful thing that vehicle owners can see is the flashing Check Engine Light. You will be seeing it quite often in the Enclave.

There are times when the light would turn on, and upon bringing it to the dealership, there is nothing wrong. The best that they can do for you is reset the warning light so you can continue driving.

The problem with this is that it conditions the driver to ignore the Check Engine light. Nobody wants to waste their time going to the garage for nothing.

When there is an issue, and the driver ignores the warning light, it could worsen the problem. Many Enclave users experienced this.

2. Transmission Problems

The transmission is one of the most important components of any car. However, the one in the 2008 Enclave is not dependable at all. Many Enclave owners complained that their transmissions conked out at around the 90k miles mark on their odometers. This is not that long at all.

It got so bad that many owners had to get their transmissions replaced. The worst part is they had to pay out of pocket since their warranties had already expired. Having a 2008 Enclave transmission replaced or repaired will set you back at least $3,500.

The 2008 Buick Enclave used a GM-Ford 6T75 transmission. It was notorious for having programming issues, which resulted in horrid gas mileage. There were also issues with the engagement of the shift cable adjustment clip.

This meant the driver had no idea what gear the car was in at the time. There were plenty of reports about drivers who were sure to put their Enclave in Park. However, it was still, in fact, in Drive.

Due to these major issues, Buick had to issue a nationwide recall for the 2008 Enclave. This is so that they could have them fixed.

This means that any 2008 Enclave that you see for sale might have already had the “fixed” transmission. However, these new transmissions still failed before the odometer hit 100k.

Transmission problems are among the issues shared by all the model years of the Enclave, not just 2008.

3. Faulty Airbags

Having a not-so-dependable transmission is not the only problem with the Buick Enclave. It also has emergency airbags proven multiple times not to deploy. So, if you encounter a severe vehicular accident, there would be no airbags to prevent serious injury or even death.

4. Unreliable Engine

The 2008 Enclave also had an unreliable engine. Even if the owner is meticulous about regular maintenance tasks, some still reported blown engines. It is a wonder how there are still 2008 Enclaves in the secondhand market with the serious issues they had.

2009 – 2011 Buick Enclave

best year for buick enclave
2011 Buick Enclave

Buick had some time to address the issues with the Enclave. This prompted many to think that the following models would be better. However, they were wrong.

Don’t get me wrong. Buick made improvements on the following Enclave models. However, they find the issues quite hard to fix in advance.

Most of the issues surfaced only after the vehicle accumulated a certain number of miles. They also usually occur after they figure out a specific kind of scenario.

For instance, in the 2009 to 2011 models, Buick still has not fixed the issues with the power steering. This is a serious issue, so avoid buying a 2009 Enclave.

What Are the Common Problems in the 2009 to 2011 Buick Enclaves?

Here’s a little more in-depth discussion about the issues that the 2009 to 2011 Buick Enclaves suffered from:

1. Faulty Seatbelts

You cannot stress the importance of properly functioning seatbelts, which is a problem with the 2009 Enclave. There seemed to be a problem with the steel cable connecting the seatbelt to the front seat.

The cable is not faulty per se. However, the user will have to subject the cable to a lot of wear and tear. After a couple of years, it might not be strong enough to keep him restrained in an accident. This was so serious that Buick had to reissue a recall for the 2009 Enclave.

2. Power Steering Problems

Unlike the newer models, the 2009 to 2011 Enclaves do not have electronic power steering systems. They still used hydraulics, and they were quite unreliable. In other cars, the problem with the power steering is usually an empty or low power steering fluid level. In the Enclave, the pump is the culprit.

2009-2011 Enclave owners complained that their power steering would conk out at around 80,000 miles. It turned out that the power steering pump in their vehicles had gone out of commission.

At just 80,000 miles run, those Enclaves are still relatively new. You usually see these problems in other cars once they hit 200k miles. What’s worse is that it used to cost around $1,700 to fix this issue.

3. Not Durable Timing Chains

Vehicles older than the 2009 Buick Enclave had significantly more durable timing chains. An average car released in the 2000s had timing chains that needed replacing only after 150k to 200k miles.

On the 2009 Enclave, the timing chain has already stretched out. It is in dire need of replacing after just 40k miles. It costs between $1,500 to $2,000 to repair. Worse, a broken timing chain will render the entire engine totaled.

4. Cracked Engine Block

The 2010 Enclave has most of the problems that plagued the 2009 model and more. The most severe issue with the 2010 models was that the engine block was notoriously weak and prone to cracking.

Depending on where you find the crack, a cracked engine block can cause your engine to misfire. It may also leak oil or fail catastrophically.

If the cracked block did not render the entire engine useless, repairing it can cost you between $5,000 to $7,000. This is already the price of a decent secondhand sedan.

Again, what are the Buick Enclave years to avoid? One issue that’s common to Buick Enclaves involves transmission. But, the model with the most complaints is the 2008 Buick Enclave.

2014 Buick Enclave

After a few disastrous years, you may wonder if the 2014 Buick Enclave turned into a much better SUV. Wrong again. The 2014 Enclave team somehow still managed to mess up.

This model year faced six massive factory recalls and an almost endless list of complaints about its jerky transmission.

The Buick Enclave is famous for having a lot of factory defects, and the 2014 version continues this legacy.

What Are the Common Problems in a 2014 Buick Enclaves?

Here are some of the common problems that the 2014 Enclave had:

1. Safety Issues

One of the selling points of the Enclave is that it is a 7-seater SUV. This made it popular for families. The problem is it does not have the best safety ratings. Would you want to place your spouse and children in a vehicle that is not that safe?

Unfortunately, issues with the seatbelts of the 2009 Enclave are still present in the 2014 model. This time, the number of cases has been reduced but not by much. The steel cables holding the seatbelts still managed to separate from their mounting, even though Buick supposedly fixed them.

2. Faulty Fuel Gauges

This is a brand-new problem that the 2014 Enclave had that its predecessors did not. GM used faulty ECM software that made the fuel gauge display more fuel than there was in the tank.

This resulted in drivers running out of fuel in the middle of the highway. The low fuel warning did not even go off.

This faulty fuel gauge is a huge safety risk. It is unsafe not just for drivers of the Enclave but also for other cars on the road. Yet again, Buick had to recall the 2014 Enclaves to fix this problem.

What Year Is the Best Enclave?

do buick enclaves have problems
2020 Buick Enclave Avenir

If you are still dead-set on getting an Enclave, the best model year thus far is the 2020 model. It is precisely the 2020 Buick Enclave Avenir that is the top trim option.

Does this mean that Buick has finally fixed the issues that plagued the previous models? Not entirely. However, there are enough improvements to mean that it will not cost quite as much to maintain.

One of the biggest issues that you will be facing, though, is its price. Because it is the top trim model, the 2022 Enclave Avenir can cost anywhere between $30k and $40k. This will also depend on the condition. Its base price, when released in 2020, was over $50k.

Despite the vast improvement of the 2022 Enclave Avenir, it still has some of the same problems as its predecessors.

These include the not-so-dependable transmission and electrical wiring issues. However, unlike the earlier models, scathing user complaints for this model are few and far between. This is a good indicator.

Tips Before Shopping for a Used Buick Enclave

It is indeed quite tricky to shop for a reliable Buick Enclave. To help you, here are some tips that might make it easier for you:

1. Know the Model Years to Avoid

As mentioned above, you must avoid buying the Enclaves that came out during its most problematic years. This means you should avoid the 2008 model like the plague.

This is even if you find one that is in relatively good condition. There are too many uncertainties about that model year that you should not risk buying it.

2. Check If the Unit Was Recalled

Just like when shopping for other car brands and models, check the service history of your preferred Enclave. You can do so by getting the VIN of the vehicle in question. You can then look it up on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website.

A recalled Buick Enclave is not necessarily a bad thing. The reason is that it also means that Buick fixed the car’s issues. It would be even more sketchy if you find a 2014 model that has not been recalled.

3. Check the Mileage

You would be happy to find a secondhand car on sale with low mileage for most other makes and models. However, in the case of Enclave, where issues start occurring before 100k miles, having low mileage does not mean much.

4. Let a Professional Mechanic Check It

This is when having a friend who is a mechanic comes in handy. If you are unsure about your vehicle assessment skills, take a mechanic with you. This is to check whether the car you are planning to get is good. This applies to all makes and models, but this is especially true with a Buick Enclave.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is the Buick Enclave Reliable?

According to many industry experts, the Buick Enclave is not a very reliable vehicle. Compared to other compact SUVs, you can expect more frequent trips to the mechanic when driving an Enclave. This is more frequent than in similar cars, like the Mazda CX-5 or Toyota Highlander.

Does the Buick Enclave Have a Good Engine?

You will not be left lacking in power while driving a Buick Enclave. It has a 3.6L V6 capable of 310 horsepower, so you will have plenty of power to spare.

It is also relatively quick for an SUV as it can go from 0-60mph in just around six-and-a-half seconds. Therefore, this SUV has enough power under the hood to pass most vehicles on the highway confidently.

What Is the Top-Of-The-Line Buick Enclave?

The Enclave’s top trim model is the Enclave Avenir. This trim option comes with all the luxury trimmings and a high-performance package. This option includes 20-inch aluminum alloy wheels, a honeycomb grill, and an exclusive paint finish.

Is the Buick Enclave Expensive to Maintain?

The average annual costs for repair and maintenance of a Buick Enclave come to around $720. This is if it does not include serious care.

It is expensive as the average annual maintenance and repair costs for similar vehicles usually amount to just $575. Even an average tune-up for a Buick Enclave is expensive. The average price is around $300.

In Closing – Buick Enclave Years to Avoid

If you are shopping for a secondhand Buick Enclave, avoid the following model years at all costs:

  • Enclave 2008
  • Enclave 2009-2011
  • Enclave 2014

Undoubtedly, the worst Buick Enclave years are 2008 and 2009. These models have received the most user complaints so far. There were so many complaints about these vehicles that Buick had to issue numerous massive recalls. This is so they can repair the issues in their vehicles.

However, the Enclave has gotten a lot better from 2015 onwards, but it is still not a perfect midsize SUV. You will love the Buick Enclave if you are looking for a luxurious 7-seater with a good road performance.