2018 Buick Encore Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Vehicle structure, stability control and powertrain issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

The 2018 Buick Encore is a compact SUV meant to bring luxury into the family vehicle. The company claims that the modern lineup is “crafted with purpose,” but unless that purpose is to head to the junkyard, the automaker missed the mark. This SUV has a faulty powertrain, poorly-built structure, malfunctioning air bags and a troublesome electronic stability control system.

Click on other model year to view more problems:  2017  2019

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Problems with the Transmission

The main part of any powertrain is the transmission. With this vital component not working correctly, the entire ride becomes rough and unenjoyable.

That’s exactly what this Edmunds review discusses. “Rented the vehicle for a trip to Southern California. It couldn’t keep up with highway speeds. Acceleration was inconsistent, the transmission was a nightmare because it wouldn’t shift until the accelerator was nearly at the floor and then it would downshift twice before providing a tepid amount of power.”

It turns out that Buick is dealing with a long list of transmission issues. Even Service Bulletin #16NA019 talks about low-speed harsh shifts, flares and slips. The Encore acts like a bucking bronco on the road, which could be quite a sight to see.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2018 Buick Encore Powertrain Problems

TL* THE CONTACT OWNS A 2018 BUICK ENCORE. WHILE THE VEHICLE WAS PARKED AND UNOCCUPIED, IT INADVERTENTLY ROLLED AWAY AND CRASHED INTO ANOTHER VEHICLE. A POLICE REPORT WAS FILED. THERE WERE NO INJURIES. THE VEHICLE WAS TAKEN TO A DEALER WHERE IT WAS AWAITING TO BE DIAGNOSED AND REPAIRED. THE MANUFACTURER WAS MADE AWARE OF THE FAILURE. THE FAILURE MILEAGE WAS 5,200.

Problems with the Vehicle Structure

What’s worse is all of the structure-related issues that have been brought to light with the 2018 Buick Encore.

Another Edmunds review states, “There was one glaring problem: the driver’s side and center rear seat belts were partially missing.  We thought the missing parts were simply down beneath the seats, but extensive efforts to find them were fruitless.  We reported the problem to the rental car company when we returned it.  The car had only 700 miles on it when we rented it and was otherwise was fine, except the rear doors sometimes required a second hard slam to close them.”

Missing seatbelts is a major defective that should never occur. Aside from that, the automaker has been forthcoming about several other structural concerns. One communication, Service Bulletin #PI0281G even discusses underbody component corrosion. Instead of teaching techs how to repair the problem and increase customer satisfaction, the bulletin was released solely to teach the dealership how to address customers. One part of this is to explain what is considered “Acceptable Corrosion.” As it is written in the communication, “General Motors has determined that the performance of some components is not affected by surface corrosion and no longer takes preventative steps on these parts.” In short, this luxury SUV doesn’t have complete corrosion protection, because some parts simply don’t matter.

Problems with the Air Bags

The one system that is specifically designed to keep occupants safe during an accident is the air bag. Modern vehicles are equipped with multiple air bags for maximum safety, but these do no good if they don’t deploy during a crash.

That’s what happened to this NHTSA user. “Airbags did not deploy upon auto accident. Impact area was front corner fender on passenger side. Possible gas released into passenger side of the cabin, smelled electrical and smoke filled passenger footboard area. No loss of coolant from car to explain smoke. Airbag warning light remains on dashboard display. Car was traveling at normal highway speed 30-35 mph, brakes applied, then crashed into a turning car in front – turning from passenger to driver direction.”

As of now, Buick has nothing to say about air bag defects. Instead GM has chosen to remain quiet on this essential system. After all, it’s difficult to tell people that this vehicle is “crafted with purpose,” unless the purpose is to put people in danger. In that case, the Encore was perfectly crafted.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2018 Buick Encore Air Bag Problems

AIR BAGS DID NOT DEPLOY WHEN VEICHLE WAS HIT FROM BEHIND. 2 PEOPLE WHERE INJURED.

Problems with the Electronic Stability Control

The electronic stability control was put on modern vehicles to help retain traction and stay safe, but if the system fails, all bets are off.

One NHTSA complaint discusses ESC issues. “When it rains most of the time the vehicle OnStar sets off alerts for my antilock brakes and stability to be checked. Dealer said it is normal and not concerning but checked at the 1 year inspection for me. NPF. A month later a rainy day, alerts, and the vehicle wouldn’t start. All the lights came on. Press Brake to Start. Appeared but pressing brake did not start it. After an hour of trying various tricks it started with the remote started. A week later same thing.Rain, alerts, and no start. This time 2 hours of trying various tricks (Emergency brake on off/park pushed all the way up, wheels forward, remote start attempts, OnStar diagnostics etc. I had to have it towed. The mechanics from AAA tried and nothing, we towed an hour back to dealership and he tried once more, nothing. Next morning the dealership report NPF. I am picking it up tomorrow but expect to report this happening again soon.”

Again, there are no communications discussing the issues with the electronic stability control. Instead, Buick has left users in the dark, attempting to troubleshoot issues on their own. This Encore was surely “crafted with purpose.” Its purpose is to become the poster child for lemon cars.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2018 Buick Encore ESC Problems

CAR SERVICE FOR ROUGH IDLE AND LACK OF POWER, SERVICE STABILITRAK LIGHT ON AND CHECK ENGINE LIGHT ON WITH AN ERROR CODE OF P0171

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About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 20 years working as an ASE Certified Master Tech and Parts Specialist at multiple dealerships. Brian has become an authority in the industry, traveling across the country to consult for car dealerships and contributing his expertise as a writer for several major automotive publications. In his spare time, Brian enjoys working on pickup trucks, muscle cars, Jeeps and anything related to motorsports.

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3 COMMENTS
  • Patty B

    I am not sure if I got a lemon but the car was a leased vehicle with only 23,800 miles on it. I bought it January 12, 2021.about a month ago I had to put a new battery in it. Now the sensor has to be replaced. I have only put about 4,000 miles on it. I love the car. I just hope I don’t have any more issues. It’s a 2017 Buick Encore. I paid cash for it so there is not warranty. I really do not want to sue, but I need some info about this car. Thank You!

  • Rebecca H

    I own a 2018 Buick Encore that has ongoing starting issues for over 1 year. Car hard to start and Check Engine Light came on. Took car to local GM Certified Repair Shop replaced the battery (2020). Problem persisted. Car hard to start and Check Engine Light comes on. Returned to local GM Certified Repair Shop and was told the Check Engine Light Code stated that the car needed to be driven more. Drove car more. Problem persisted. Car hard to start and Check Engine Light on again. Returned to same local GM Certified Repair Shop. Was once again told Check Engine Light Code read that the Car needs to be driven more. Drove the car even more (15 -20 miles a day) Problem persisted. Returned to same local GM Certified Repair Shop. Told my Car was getting old. Problem persisted. Returned to same local GM Certified Repair Shop. Told to let my car run for an hour each day in the driveway. Did not follow that advice. Took my Car to a GM Certified Repair Shop 40+ miles from home. Replaced Battery Cable. Problem persisted. Returned to same out of town GM Certified Repair Shop. Replaced Battery. Problem persisted. Now I am driving the car twice daily for 15 miles each time. I am sick and tired of having to leave my car run in the parking lot when I need to go grocery shopping or run errands. I am sick and tired of paying each month for a car I do not trust to even start.

  • Cassandra

    I bought my 2018 buick encore 10/10/20. i purchased it from kia of Cleveland,recently i had it serviced and and the coolant was bone dry and I didn’t even know it! Car wasnt running hot or anything. Well i told them to do what they needed to fix it and they also told me tht i needed an alignment because the driver side tire was already wore out! So they fixed all tht and I thought it would be ok to drive to Montana… on my way I was hit in the rear and my air bags did not deploy, I was almost to my destination when the traction light came on and the my vehicle lost power and check engine light came on. Had it checked and its reading p0299 which is the turbo. It’s under an extended warranty but have to wait til monday to even take it to a dealership out here! So now I’m going to have to rent me a vehicle and hope we can fix it!!!

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