The Buick Encore’s accessible and practical luxury style made it Buick’s bestselling vehicle for nearly a decade, until the Encore GX unseated it in 2020. Frequent design overhauls addressed lackluster speed by adding a turbocharged engine. The Buick Encore is undoubtedly a good-looking and popular luxury car, but it is prone to severe and potentially dangerous malfunctions. Stay prepared with this complete overview of Buick Encore reliability.
Buick Encore Reliability by Model Year
The Buick Encore’s sleek appearance, quiet cabin and smooth driving have won it many positive trade reviews. Drivers appreciate how the Encore offers a luxury feel and impressive cargo space at a relatively affordable price point.
However, the Buick Encore has more serious reliability problems than other vehicles in its class. The Encore has received 13 recalls in its 10-year lifespan, while the average vehicle undergoes only 4 recalls in 30 years. General Motors has made major changes to the Encore each year, so different model years vary widely in their technical specs and reliability.
2013-2016 Buick Encore
Buick Encores made prior to the 2017 redesign have more frequent and more serious mechanical and electrical problems than later model years. Many drivers report the check engine light turning on frequently, along with engine performance issues and engine failure. Software glitches and spotty electrical systems can also cause unresponsive brakes due to the Encore’s Electronic Brake Assist feature.
2017-2018 Buick Encore
The 2017 redesign gave the Buick Encore an attractive new look and also addressed several of the earlier models’ engine and brake malfunctions. While many vehicles do not encounter problems, a small but significant subset have the same serious Buick Encore reliability issues as early model years.
In several cases, Buick Encore engines caught fire before the car reached 15,000 miles. The turbocharger added in the 2017 redesign is also prone to burning out and stalling, further damaging the engine.
2019 Buick Encore
General Motors recalled the 2019 Buick Encore because of a dangerous software glitch that kept the airbags from deploying during crashes. Additional software glitches may still affect the car’s braking systems.
2020-2023 Buick Encore
More recent model years have fewer complaints than earlier model years, but some owners report major issues. In 2020, Buick issued a recall because many of its models, including the Encore, were missing bolts in the powertrain’s start/stop accumulator.
Electrical system issues also persist through later model years. Many of the Encore’s electrical problems originate from its software, which is difficult for mechanics to diagnose and repair.
3 Serious Buick Encore Reliability Issues
Buick Encore malfunctions are not widespread, but when they do occur, they are unusually severe compared to other crossovers.
1. Engine Fires
Excess air from intake leaks frequently damages Buick Encore engines across model years. These scanned check engine light codes can be a sign of too much air in the engine:
Excess air throws off the balance of air and fuel necessary for a mechanically sound combustion reaction. Coolant leaks are another common problem with Buick Encore engines. In extreme cases, this combination causes engine fires.
Later Buick Encore model years compensate for these engine problems by drastically reducing engine performance while the check engine light is on. Colloquially, mechanics refer to this as the Buick Encore’s “limp mode.” This feature can help shield the engine from more serious damage, but ultimately, the vehicle still requires a major repair.
2. Turbocharger Failure
Complaints of slow speeds led Buick to include a turbocharger with later Encore models. A turbocharger is a device that uses a car’s exhaust to power a miniature air compressor attached to the engine. Compressed air contains more oxygen, allowing fuel to burn longer and faster than it can with uncompressed air. This can allow the engine to achieve higher speeds once the requisite amount of exhaust builds up.
When a turbocharger stops working properly, it can disrupt the balance of air and fuel in the car’s engine and cause damage. A bad turbocharger can also cause a loud and unpleasant whining noise while driving.
A failing Encore turbocharger causes a P0299 engine code, which GM dealerships may clear without actually resolving the issue. Once the vehicle is out of warranty, a new Buick Encore turbocharger costs $1,000-$2,000, plus $500 for the labor of replacing this part.
Coolant leaks around turbochargers are also common Buick Encore reliability problems. Navigating around or removing the turbocharger can cause all engine diagnostics and repairs to cost more than they would on a non-turbocharged engine.
3. Electrical System Failure
The Buick Encore’s demanding electrical systems drain batteries faster than other vehicles, even at highway speeds. Several Buick Encore owners across model years report concerning electrical failures on Buick’s owner forums.
Many of the Encore’s safety features are linked to the vehicle’s electrical system, making a loss of power while driving potentially dangerous. The Electronic Brake Assist system may lose power temporarily, causing the brakes to be less responsive and require more force to operate. This commonly leads to squealing brakes and other braking issues. Some drivers have reported a loss of power to the dashboard while driving, disabling the speedometer at highway speeds.
Even standard safety features such as airbags and locking seatbelts can fail along with the electrical system. Be sure that any Buick Encore made before 2019 has received a software update to address its airbag deployment issue.
Protect Yourself from Expensive Buick Encore Reliability Problems
The Buick Encore is a popular luxury vehicle that is an excellent fit for many consumers. While some lucky drivers can go years without any Buick Encore reliability problems, others face steep repair bills at relatively low mileage numbers compared to other cars. At autopom! we aim to provide peace of mind while driving, and one smart way to protect your finances is to invest in a vehicle protection plan. Our plans keep you from paying out of pocket for the major malfunctions that can affect the Buick Encore. Contact us for easy and affordable coverage.
By Mike Jones, President & CEO of autopom! Insurance Services, llc