Buick Enclave is a highly-sought luxury three-row midsize SUV that has been a part of General Motors’ lineup since 2007. If you’re considering making it your next vehicle choice, it’s important to note that some model years outshine others. So, let’s investigate which are the Buick Enclave years to avoid.
The Buick Enclave has faced multiple issues across models. The 1st Gen (2008-2012) had leaks and vibrations, the 2013-2018 models experienced brake problems, and the 2019-2021 models faced transmission and GPS issues. The 2022-2023 models are generally the highest rated, but have dropped slightly in recommendations due to isolated incidents.
The Buick Enclave is built on the same platform as the Chevrolet Traverse. And not surprisingly, boasts many of the same features as its Chevy counterpart. But for those in search of an SUV with more luxurious touches, like three-row seating and captain’s chairs in the second row, gravitate towards the Enclave.
And if you’ve recently explored the pre-owned car market, you might have encountered the Enclave. This crossover SUV is favored by many for its sleek aesthetics, notable engine capabilities, and commendable value for the price.
In 2021, Buick sold over 40,000 units of the Enclave. The following year, the number stood at more than 30,000. Given these figures, it’s clear why this SUV remains a top pick for many.
In fact, it remains one of the few GM models still manufactured in Detroit, Michigan. So if buying a vehicle that is American made is important to you, then the Enclave will most certainly be at the top of your list.
However, before making a decision, there are specific model years of the Enclave you might want to steer clear of. So before finalizing your decision, let’s highlight any safety concerns, defects, or recalls associated with the specific year you’re interested in.
In this guide, we’ll discuss which Buick Enclave years you should avoid purchasing. Let’s dive into this!
Buick Enclave Years to Avoid
The Buick Enclave, a luxury crossover SUV, is designed for both city comfort and fuss-free driving on country roads.
However, some Enclave owners don’t get to enjoy that comfort because of several problems. Some of them include:
- Missing start-stop accumulator endcap.
- Brake failure.
- Power steering pump leakage.
But don’t worry – not all Buick Enclave years and models have issues. The years to reconsider before buying are listed below. Let’s review them.
2008-2012 1st Gen Buick Enclave
People report that their Buick Enclave 2008 occasionally and randomly vibrates and shakes after 91,000 miles of driving. In fact, in an Edmunds forum, people complain that their 2008 Enclave sometimes jerks or has difficulty finding the right gear to switch to. A clear sign of widespread transmission problems.
Moreover, many 2008 to 2012 Enclave owners reported having leaks in their power steering pump. This defect led General Motors to recall these cars. Making matters worsts, they faced a class-action lawsuit over these defective units.
First generation Buick Enclaves suffered from defective airbags. In some instances, the drivers side airbag may explode during deployment.
Another widespread airbag problem resulted in increased resistance in the driver and passenger seat mounted side impact air bag (SIAB) wiring harnesses. The defect resulted in the SIAB and seat belt pretensioners not deploying in the event of a crash.
However, Buick did eventually issue recalls to fix the airbag defects.
So, if you are considering a first generation model Enclave, be sure to check that the following NHTSA recalls have been performed for the airbag problems: 21V246000, 21V782000, and 14V118000.
View the full list of reliability report for this vehicle.
2013-2018 1st Gen Facelift Enclave
The 2013-2018 Buick Enclave introduced some new features and improvements over the previous model years. However, transmission problems still plagued this generation of Enclave. But instead of the transmission jerking, or finding a gear, owners report harsh shifting.
Generally, harsh shifting is often described as a a “thud” feeling when the vehicle shifts from one gear to the next.
Beyond the harsh shifting, wave plate failures haunted this generation of Enclaves. Common smytoms of wave plate failure range from a loss of first, third, five, and reverse gears. Owners additionally report that the transmission will have a slight whine when at speed.
The wave plate fix on average will cost between $4,000 to $5,000 dollars, and has a tendency to fail around the 50,000 to 80,000 mile mark.
There have also been many reports of brake problems with their 2013-2018 Enclave. Some of them are due to faster wear-and-tear. However, some owners reported to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) about complete brake failure.
This is my 2nd buick enclave. The first one was 2007 model which had a major failure to brakes- vacuum assist etc. I was in florida in january 2014 when this failure occurred. It was found by crown buick in st. Petersburg, fl. During a routine oil change. I paid a substantial amount of money approx. $1000 to have it repaired. I did not feel safe after this & traded it in for a new 2014 buick enclave with crown buick. Now my 2014 buick enclave with 64000+ miles is starting to exhibit the same characteristics: mushy – extra pressure applied to brakes to slow it down when in motion on city street & particularly on the highway.Complaint ID: 11365786
In addition, the brake pads on the 2013-2018 1st gen Enclave model generations tend to wear unevenly, resulting in screeching noises when applying brakes. Other complaints with the brakes include the vehicle skidding when applying the brakes normally.
It is safe to say that this generation of Enclave is plagued with a handful of problems.
Additionally, using the vehicle reliability search tool to run a report reveals that this generation of Enclave has faced numerous electrical problems as well.
This generation Enclave also suffered from similar airbag problems as the first gen. Given that the 2013-2018 Enclaves underwent only minor changes from the previous years, it’s understandable that these models might carry over some defects.
However worth mentioning, the 2018 Enclave was the only model year from this generation that did not have widespread airbag problems.
But if considering a 2013-2018 Buick Enclave, check that the following NHTSA recalls have been performed: 21V246000, 21V782000, 14V118000, and 23V334000.
View the full report for this vehicle.
2019-2021 2nd Gen Enclave
General Motors also issued a recall on some 2019-2021 Enclave models due to missing transmission accumulator bolts.
In a report by the NHTSA, they stated, “Missing bolts on the start-stop accumulator endcap could result in a transmission oil leak and may progress to a loss of propulsion, which could increase the risk of a crash.”
Additionally, a leaking transmission oil in the presence of an ignition source could increase the risk of a fire.
So, if you are seriously considering this generation of Buick Enclave, make sure recall N202313440 was performed.
And since 2019-2021 Buick Enclave models are relatively new, they’re equipped with GPS. However, many reported having problems with its navigation system. Many Enclave owners of this generation say their car’s GPS fails to detect the SD card.
Also worth noting, this model generation had it’s issues with the backup camera failures. GM offered a fix under a recall for similar GMN models, but never expanded the recall to the Enclave.
One Enclave owner put it like this:
My Enclave’s back up camera keeps going out and it’s identical to the issue that was under investigation by the NHTSA, which GM ultimately just issued a recall for the Cadillac XT5, XT6 and Acadia models. These cars are basically the short wheelbase versions of the Buick Enclave and the Chevrolet Traverse, and use the same parts for the backup 360 camera failure, so it makes sense that these vehicles would be affected as well. Attached are pictures of multiple times. This is happening which creates an unsafe environment. On the others it appears that it’s a faulty cable. If I turn the car off and let it reset, the camera will work again, but that’s not feasible when in a situation that it is needed immediately. My car is barely out of warranty, I reached out to the dealer and he agreed and it’s the same issue but because these other cars have a recall and mine, doesn’t there’s nothing he can do until a recall is issued.NHTSA Complaint: 11502595
This model generation of Buick Enclave is very hit or miss with reliability – despite General Motors’ efforts to improve and upgrade it.
However, the 2020 Enclave model appears to be the most reliable out of this generation, despite having numerous recalls.
View the full report for this vehicle.
2022-2024 2nd Gen Facelift
Consumer Reports provided data about the 2022 to 2024 2nd gen Buick Enclave – they stated that due to the reliability issues of the previous years, it dropped a few notches from the list of recommended vehicles.
Though uncommon, an article by CARHP.com states that one Enclave owner reported their car’s sunroof exploding while driving the vehicle.
The complaint from the NHTSA noted…
The contact owns a 2022 Buick Enclave. The contact stated while driving 75 MPH, she heard an abnormal loud popping noise coming from the exterior of the vehicle. The contact veered to the side of the road and inspected the vehicle and noticed that the sunroof glass had shattered. The contact stated there was no object that had struck the sunroof nor any other vehicle nearby that could have caused the sunroof to shatter. The contact was able to continue to drive and the vehicle was taken to a local dealer who inspected the vehicle but could not determine the cause of the failure. The dealer replaced the sunroof glass. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was approximately 200.NHTSA Complaint: 11454852
However, it’s worth noting that the 2022-2023 Buick Enclave is still new. Therefore, it’s too early to tell if this Enclave generation has further issues we don’t know about. Again, the concerns about its reliability are mere predictions because of the previous defects and recalls.
Experts’ Recommended Buick Enclave Years
According to Motorandwheels.com, the 2023 Buick Enclave is the most reliable so far – as it’s come a long way from the 2008 model. The 2023 Enclave has had major enhancements, and Buick seems to have fixed the safety concerns with the Enclave.
For older Enclave years, however, they recommend the 2020 model. Therefore, if you’re looking for an older or used Enclave, you can buy that Enclave year instead.
However, all second-hand cars may have hidden issues that the previous owner may fail to disclose. Just to be on the safe side, check if the Enclave you’re planning to buy has similar issues with the previous or similar Enclave years.
The Buick Enclave is a luxury SUV meant to be driven with comfort and reliability. It provides a level of comfort and features that many of it’s rivals cannot match for the price.
However, just keep in mind that there are Buick Enclave years to avoid for issues such as shaky to drive after it hits a certain mileage.
But other years are more dangerous – having defects that can result in an accident, like missing parts and brake failures.
If you’re going to purchase a Buick Enclave, do your research first and make sure it’s not a year or model that poses a safety risk.
And if you found the perfect Enclave that is in your price range, have it checked by an independent car technician to verify that it’s a wise purchase.
Be sure to find the safest and most reliable Buick Enclave model year by using our vehicle reliability reports. These reports are FREE and offer in-depth insights into the dependability of any car, truck, or SUV.
Like any vehicle brand and model, there are certain years that stand out for their exceptional performance and durability, while others may have notable issues.