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Thanks for nothing GM. Buick Instrument Cluster Needs Repair

by James Denison / July 5, 2010 1:35 AM PDT

Pulled it yesterday and will mail to a repair place this week. Cost about $100 to repair. If I ordered the stepper motors and did it myself, then could do for about $40.
Remember those computers that were failing because of bad capacitors? Dell got hit particularly hard and then also tried to cover it up.

GM has done the same with bad stepper motors, but a few at least did get a class action settlement. GM however placed the very same defective "stepper" motors in many instrument clusters across many models and more than just the models that are part of the class action settlement. The NHTSA is worthless it seems in forcing GM do a recall on ALL instrument clusters with the defective stepper motors.

I'll be saving my repair ticket though, just in case justice ever happens. Can you hear me GM? We have two but next time we buy it will be NONE since you've not stepped up to take responsibility for your faulty part. On this particular 2005 Buick LeSabre model, the gas and temperature gauges have quit working properly. I'll be having all 4 stepper motors replaced in it however, just so I don't have to do it all over again for the other two stepper motors when they fail.

Next will be my daughter's 2004 Chevy Impala cluster. Gas gauge on it is not working for past year and I think one of the others is getting bad too. There's quite the cottage industry sprung up by those taking opportunity from GM's sins.

Just look at the problems people have had when the speedometer failed. Any needle readout on the GM instrument clusters can fail prematurely. Supposedly the new type stepper motors don't have the problem like the originals did, but don't hold your breath waiting for GM to admit and fix the problem across all the vehicles they put the defective ones in.

Of course you can pull the instrument cluster and still drive the vehicle, while the cluster is being sent off for repair, unless your wife refuses to drive it without having a speedometer in the car. Thankfully she can use my daughter's car (off in Marines right now) as long as she doesn't need to see a working gas gauge too, sigh.

I've always bought American much as I can, but really thinking Honda for wife's next vehicle around 2011-2012. Meanwhile, my 2003 Dodge Grand Caravan keeps rolling along fine, but while under warranty it had the control module computer die, and a steering hose recall, but since then only a can of freon for the AC. Oh yeah, one auto lock on a sliding back door no longer works, thankfully the driver's side. At least the gauges all work right. Wink
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Good luck James,

since you're doing it yourself,I gather the vehicle is out of waranty.

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unfortunately, yes
by James Denison / July 5, 2010 3:36 AM PDT
In reply to: Good luck James,

I'm going to overnight ship to a place that replaces them with the newer model stepper motor for the wife, may order the motors themselves from Ebay seller and do on daughter's car since I have more time to fix it. Cost should be under $100 for wife's.

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replace link
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I'll trade you Dodge Caravans

Actually, it's not mine but a company car so I can't work a trade. It's a 2008 and has been one problem after the other. So far 3 AC failures of the same high pressure hose, 2 tranny leaks (sealed box so can't even check the level), front brake problems, problems with the audio system and some weird issues with head lamps and turn signals sometimes not working unless I shut off the engine and restart the car....some sort of computer glitch, I suppose. I'm glad I didn't have to pay for this car so I'm lucky. On the other hand, my wife's boring old 2000 Camry has needed only one unscheduled repair and that was for a faulty oxygen sensor. The car has the original exhaust system and not a speck of rust after 10 Ohio winters on our salted roads. I will be considering an American car...probably a Ford...to replace the Camry when the time comes but it's going to have to prove itself to be at least as good as the old Toyota. To be fair to Chrysler, I'll say that the Camry replaced an older Plymouth Voyager (same car as the Caravan then) and that mini-van wasn't too bad. It had a few problems that were taken care of under the extended warranty I purchased but it gave us decent service and remained rust free for quite a while.

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my next vehicle
by James Denison / July 5, 2010 8:27 AM PDT

Probably will be a Ford XL type of pickup, but thanks for the heads up on the new models. I'd heard others complain about them too. I loved the standard Caravan 1994 model we had, gave to oldest girls and they continued to run the wheels off it, then sold it for $800 and still running fine, after some block sealer closed a small coolant leak across the head into a cylinder, making it a Stanley Steamer for a short while. We drove after that sealer "fix" for almost a year before selling. My girls one regret is they wanted to turn it over 200K but was still about 15K from it at sale time.

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Bye-bye old stuff
by Willy / July 6, 2010 11:54 PM PDT

I don't care what you buy nowadays, things have gotten too complicated. Electronics has definitely changed how repairs are made to include themselves. My GMC 1/2t p/u is a PITA with brakes, in fact this is the 3rd time I had to work on them. No wonder they offer replacement parts of items I never would have considered needed changing. These are the brackets, that hold it to together. These rust and push the stainless steel shims closer, thus the brake pads can't slide as easily when brand new. This in turn cause the calipers not to release as easily and/or the brake pads get prolonged contact to rotors which in turn reduces the overall brake performance. Compared to old Ford, this was a non-issue, no such pittance to new style brakes, the old style works well. Don't get me talking about fuel pumps at the tank!!! -----Willy Sad

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Mailed them out yesterday
by James Denison / July 7, 2010 1:29 AM PDT
In reply to: Bye-bye old stuff

I decided to pull both and send in at same time to save on postage both ways. Cost total about $210 considering postage both ways and repair cost. Sent to someone in Minnesota.

Gas pumps. Answer a million questions, finally you get to pump the gas. Last time I'm trying to figure after answering all the questions, why the gas wouldn't flow. I'd been so occupied with the stupid screen and questions I'd forgot to push the octane button. At least I got a car wash out of it, somehow.

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Fuel pump at tank
by Willy / July 7, 2010 4:35 AM PDT

Many newer autos have a fuel pump at the gas tank itself rather than located elsewhere on the vehicle. Whaqt happens is you get a constant non-start because the auto is straved for fuel as the pump doesn't work. That means, you have to drop the tank and remove pump and re-install, of course all due care to selas and such plus connections. If you allow the shop to do this its roughly $300-350 COST AND IF THE DEALER DOES THIS, MORE LIKE $600. If you do it right the 1st time, maybe $150 total. A simple task that can be quite dangerous, if you're doing this in the backyard and such. I don't know anyone that doesn't know someone that had to do this.

As for fuel refilling, yeah, those station terminal do get alittle long in tooth. -----Willy Happy

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Got them back today, but a problem.

UPS damaged one in shipment from the repair place to my house. Box has a punch mark in it not covered with tape and that means it was a new one. I had covered any such defects in the box with tape prior to shipping through United States Postal Service. Repair place received in good shape, repaired, then shipped back UPS.

The repair place did a good job on the Buick cluster and I installed it this same day it arrived. All gauges now work fine in it. Very pleased to have that done.

Unfortunately I now have to deal with a shipper/retailer on getting the other restored to proper condition it was sent in. Here's some pictures of the damage, obvious punch mark which also matches something like a pole that punched through the bottom of the box and hit it.


I might find a replacement lens at a junkyard and charge it back to UPS on insurance, will wait for contact from them first.

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