2003 DHS 45K miles - issues and advice on buying ???
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Cadillac DeVille 1985 to 2005 including:
1985-1992 Fleetwood, 1993 Sixty Special, All FWD Forum Discussion, 2003 DHS 45K miles - issues and advice on buying ??? in Past Cadillac Vehicle Discussion; Greetings All I am purchasing a one owner 2003 Cadillac Deville DHS with 45,000 miles on it. The car looks ...
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    markmnj's Avatar
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    2003 DHS 45K miles - issues and advice on buying ???

    Greetings All

    I am purchasing a one owner 2003 Cadillac Deville DHS with 45,000 miles on it. The car looks new all over but has a few small mechanical issues. It has an evap code and the DIC shows a false low coolant message and a check gas cap message. I'm not overly concerned on those and will sort them out. My main question being a newbie is regarding the Northstar head gaskets. Would a 2003 model year with under 50K miles have this as a possibility? I test drove the car yesterday and brought along my laptop and Auto Tap scan tool. I logged the 45 minute road test and played back the results and summarized them below:

    Driving conditions: AC blasting, outside temp of 62F and an engine load that did not exceeded 22%. The coolant temperature changed up and down while driving. Sitting in traffic the temp reached a max of 237 degrees F on my auto tap screen. The dash gauge was around the 1 o'clock position (according to JimL's photo on here) in stop and go traffic. When moving along, the temp would fluctuate between 210-224. What's do you guys think about this 2003 DHS dream boat?

    I discovered this site yesterday and look forward to becoming a reguar here. I will be posting some pictures of my 1973 for you guys and (hopefully) some pictures of this 2003 if I bring it home later today. -Mark

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    MoistCabbage's Avatar
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    Any engine can develop HG issues, and any Northstar can develop the infamous issue with pulled bolt threads.

    In '00, a switch was made to longer head bolts, greatly reducing the likelihood of a problem.

    In late '04, a switch was made to course thread head bolts, essentially eliminating the likelihood of a problem.

    Age and mileage is completely irrelevant.

    Normal driving temps are ~185-210. Fans go to low speed operation at ~224 degrees, or when any A/C function is set. Fans go to high speed operation at ~236 degrees.

    The gauge at the 1:00 position is not normal. It could be a slipping WP belt, a partially clogged purge line, a partially clogged radiator, or the fluid really is low. Running hot while idling, but not while driving, is not a typical symptom of HG issues.

    The coolant level sensors float sticking is a fairly common problem. Sometimes it can be freed by removing the surge tank, filling it with hot water, and shaking it. Otherwise, a new tank is required.

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    Re: 2003 DHS 45K miles

    Here you go ........... and Welcome Aboard !!!

    .......... and either look through Tech Tips for "Purge Line" or Google "cadillac forums northstar purge line" or something close, always preceded by "cadillac forums .......... ".

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    Re: 2003 DHS 45K miles

    Quote Originally Posted by markmnj View Post
    Would a 2003 model year with under 50K miles have this as a possibility?
    Like MC said, anything is possible, just not probable any longer. 103K on mine with no problems.


    What's do you guys think about this 2003 DHS dream boat?
    but then I'm a little partial.

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    Re: 2003 DHS 45K miles

    Thanks very much for the replies. Just prior to the car being offered for sale, the dealer's mechanic shotgun blasted a bunch of cooling system work at it (water pump, thermostat, belt tensioner, coolant cap) but the temp still hit 237 degrees on my test drive yesterday. The dealer called me back a few minutes ago to let me know his mechanic looked at the car again today and was able to get the temp to go to 230 degrees but claims that once driving at highway speed it went back to 215 and pretty much stayed thereabouts.

    Would you call this an abnormal temperature spike? Setting scan tools aside, the in dash temp needle was clearly between the 230 degree mark and the 1 o'clock position in the picture above. I really like the car but definitely do not want to buy a project.

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    Re: 2003 DHS 45K miles

    See the penciled-in black ticks at the 12 o'clock mark in the picture ?? That's where 99.9% of these cars run 24/7/365.

    Once in a long while, with no A/C function (no compressor operation = ECT fan control) set - stuck in heavy traffic - the needle MIGHT approach the first mark past 12.

    Not to say that a poorly maintained cooling system (RUN !!) might not cause that, but even that is unusual. To get that gauge picture and its temperatures several of us had to blank off the radiator with cardboard and disable the fans to get above 235 degrees at idle. ............ as always, YRMV.

    A long-time CF member, JimD, did the first picture and notation. A couple of years ago others added their findings and I posted the fully annotated picture. As always, that's personal observation and you would do well to double check with a decent IR thermometer.

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    Re: 2003 DHS 45K miles

    Would you call this an abnormal temperature spike?
    I would. Mine NEVER leaves the 12:00 position.

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    Mine never goes past the 12 mark either

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    reppinshadyvill is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    On a road trip from Florida to nyc in August I ran the ac for about 15 straight hours and when I hit that DC Metro traffic I got some serious temp spikes. I almost hit the 2nd bar past the 12 position. After I sit down the ac all was well. My avg speed before hitting traffic was about 80 mph btw. In my olds aurora (4.0 liter version of a Northstar) if I sat in really bad traffic, I had to turn on the heat to cool the car off. But that car had no grille in front of the radiator. And I lost the air dam to a truck tire tread on the highway.

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    Re: 2003 DHS 45K miles

    Thanks, I am going in for another test drive today with this discussion in mind. I will also check that purge line for clogging. I'll keep you posted and hopefully have a picture of a nice Cadillac to post -Mark

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    Re: 2003 DHS 45K miles

    Today I took the same drive and the hottest it got was around 220, Fans turned on and engine cooled back down to 200. When I arrived this AM the car was cold and sat overnight. I pulled the line from the top of the tank and it was pressurized enough to give me a bath in cold antifreeze. Good? Or Bad? Also cold starting the car results in a moment of rough running. Engine seems a little noisy as well when cold. Given the 237 degree spike the other day along with today's info, does this sound like a walk away?

    EDIT: To clarify, I pulled the purge line off the tank BEFORE starting the car. Engine was cold from sitting overnight. There was enough pressure to bathe me in antifreeze.

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    Re: 2003 DHS 45K miles

    There should be no pressure left in the cooling system after a night's cooldown. Something is introducing extra pressure there.

    Proper level in the surge tank is half full, cold. Never check/adjust coolant levels warm/hot.

    The 10 -15 seconds of rough running is a nail in the coffin. Possibly a miss from coolant shorting out a spark plug's electrodes for a while.

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    Re: 2003 DHS 45K miles

    Cylinder 2 has 3052 misfires in history #4 has 4419 #5 has 171 #7 has 546. Other cylinders have one or two. Two adjacent cylinders on the same bank with that many misfires on a head gasket prone car with some above normal temp readings...it' magically suspicious! Prob in the early stages of HG failure :-( Ho-hum my Cadillac search continues. Thanks for all the help "boiling" down the potential issues with this one.

    I love these cars and I'm looking for a 2003+ Deville or a 2003+ Seville without a gazillion miles on it for a decent number. I'm in Northwest NJ

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    Re: 2003 DHS 45K miles

    Yeah I would skip this car unless you can do a block test, get the car for cheap and have the HG repaired.

    As far as your search, Seville is going to be hard to find. That's what I had before my Deville (2000 STS) and when I wrecked it I went looking for another one and ended up with a BMW. After a year of that I went looking again only to find an '01 STS that leaked oil and had a blown HG. Sitting beside it was my '04 Deville. I paid $5k for it. 106k miles and brand new tires. 2 owner car (1 a GM lease car, 1 older lady). There are great deals to be had on the Deville's and there is plenty of inventory. What is your budget?

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